While we try to adjust to having a monstrously inept and apocalyptically stupid new “leader” with a fifth-grade vocabulary, we need to “go local” with what makes Maine special and different, and possibly a future maritime province of Canada in the Atlantic time zone. Here’s one —
Mussel Ridge Market in Spruce Head! A touch of Primo in So. Thomaston
Have to make this short, and I stay away from reviewing restaurants, but here it is anyway: Mussel Ridge Market, which used to be Spruce Head Pizza on Island Rd. just before the bridge, has to be one of the best things that’s happened in this area for some time. The food is ridiculously good, and more than reasonable – we’ve eaten there twice since it opened just 3 weeks ago – and each time I see the tab my head snaps back and my eyes grow wide. Wednesday is “international night,” Friday is “taco night,” and Sunday (at least when we went) is half-price apps from 4 to 7. Order a “small” calzone, and you’ll have to take half of it home. This is all thanks to owner/instigator Molly Hooper and her crew – amazingly good food at a more than modest price in a cozy neighborhood cafe setting – with an adjoining convenience store and cooler of their homemade goodies, including pints of haddock chowder that seem to contain an entire filet. Gourmet all around. Love it. Yowzer! Be there!
Easy-bake baby brussels sprouts – candy from your oven.
These little jewels come in “net bags” at Hannaford, and since they’re obviously very good for you (fiber, anyone?) the challenge is to prepare them so they’re not only edible, but really tasty. We know folks who will bake them with some bacon fat, or even crumbles of fried bacon or ham, but if you want to cut to the chase try olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lots of black pepper. So —
Preheat oven to 400. Put the whole lot of the baby sprouts in a bowl. Add about 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 capfuls (or 2 tablespoons) of balsamic, sprinkle heavily with pepper, and stir till everyone’s well-coated. You can add other spices if you like – garlic, Old Bay, cayenne – but I think simpler is better here.
Arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, then check them – they should be crispy, even partially black on the outside, and tender on the inside. Maybe 17 minutes. Then serve them in shallow bowls without forks – these are finger foods, crunchy and slightly sweet. I think we’ll have these in our garden next year…
That’s it from the kitchen. Now, random thoughts…
- Why did it take me well into my 60s before I figured out T shirts have little white tags near the lower hem and always on the left side? So easy to put the shirt on frontwards if you just look for the little white tag! In my late 60s! Slow learner!
- In my travels and distant residences, I’ve had lots of exposure to Indian humor. (I use “Indian” with small trepidation, since most Native Peoples I’ve encountered refer to themselves as such). In New Mexico’s pueblos, South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Res, and a few other places, Indians – especially younger ones – love to poke gentle fun at others, sarcasm-free, affectionate, droll, very dry – the kind of kidding around that makes you smile. Sort of the opposite of Bob Marley. Here are a few samples from Indian Country Today Media Network. Love it.
- Is the lowest flame setting on some of your gas stove burners not low enough? I’m sure most Mainers with gas stoves already know the solution, but here it is anyway: ignite the burner and set it as low as possible, then yank off the burner knob. You’ll find a tiny hole and a couple of inches inside a tiny slot-headed screw. Insert a tiny screwdriver and turn the screw counterclockwise to adjust the flame downward. No plumber needed, just a flashlight!
In response to encouragement from fans of e-books, my novels are now all available on Kindle (exclusively!) for $4.95. Something for everyone – hope you’ll have a look.
Oh, and I have a crossword puzzle in The New York Times tomorrow, Monday, Dec. 5. Easy! Hope you enjoy.
See you next time.