It’s getting dark. Really dark. Yesterday I looked outside and it was nearly black. I looked at the clock: 3:48 in the afternoon. The term “afternoon” implies that we are only mid-way through the day. But according to the scene outside my kitchen window, it is night.
We are close to the shortest day of the year and my inner clock is fighting hard to stay awake all day and remain on schedule. I am ready for dinner at 5 p.m. and bed at 8 p.m. Early bird special, anyone?
As if the world isn’t full of enough problems, I just received notice that two of my favorite independent bookstores are closing. In this world of online and discount book buying, Kindles, and chain stores, it’s apparently not easy to keep an independent book store alive and thriving.
The garden has peaked, and is starting its downward slope. This is a cycle of the gardening season that I dread.
It’s a busy time. Notes from a Maine Kitchen, my new cookbook, was released last month, and there's been a whirlwind of activity since.
It’s a cliché at this point, but I’ll say it anyway: there’s no finer time for eating than late August in Maine.
The garden is the best we’ve had in many years thanks to severe spring rains and the hot sunny days of July and August. The eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, onions, and herbs are particularly abundant and inspired this quick, weeknight gratin. An arugula salad, cold white wine, and a bowl of linguine or crusty bread makes for a great dinner, a simple way to say thanks for all the glorious summer weather.
“How hot could it possibly be in Maine?” friends from other parts of the country ask. Well, let me tell you. It’s been hot lately. I mean, really hot.
There were a few days — when the temperature soared to over ninety and the humidity level was ridiculous — that I actually lost my appetite. This doesn’t happen much. I have to be really upset or really hot to lose interest in eating. I munched on cubes of juicy, sweet watermelon and raspberries during those dog days.
This is my fantasy: there’s a barn smelling of wood and hay and the farm that surrounds it. Down the middle there’s a long table, set for dinner guests. Twenty people, maybe more. There are colorful tablecloths and mismatched china and real silverware and wine glasses. Candles provide all the light as the sun sets and night falls. The food? Fresh from the farm-- and plentiful. Flowers, in small vases, run the length of the table. Wine flows, and conversation comes easily whether between old friends or new acquaintances who happen to be seated together.
The garden this year feels a lot like life. For two solid months it rained and was cold and pretty miserable. The ground soaked up all that moisture like a thirsty child. Then July hit and with it came extreme heat (it was over 90 yesterday), humidity, and not a speck of moisture. Everything started to grow in double-time, looking plentiful, but quite parched.
What’s the expression: when it rains it pours? Sometimes life, like gardening, is full of clouds and other times it just beams down more sun than you can take. Aaah, to find a happy medium!
Mead, a fermented drink made from honey, is making a comeback in Maine.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I went to the White House and heard about Michelle’s Obama’s Lets Move Initiative to help fight childhood obesity and raise healthier American children.