Local Maine salt water farm cookbook recipes, living off the sea and land.
Depending on the season, locally source Maine vegetables, fish, fruit, poultry, meat, anything farm fresh deserves special culinary treatment. The food grown close to home, farm to table is all around us in Maine.
Agriculture is a big part of the Maine family tradition but fishing off the coast of Maine is right up there in importance. Fish farming and life on a salt water farm in Maine has large audience interest. Everything is not meat and potato only. Something pulled from the deep off the coast of Maine gets served up on a regular basis.
My partner, Meg went to Cary Library to scan the Maine section of salt water farm cookbooks.
Meg is a very good cook and often hungry for the story behind a great recipe. Old cook books, church member collections from congregation members who prepared food from memory. Those are the most attractive to drill down into and mine from a local Maine library.
Many of these collections put together during a town’s anniversary or as a church, school fundraiser. In small Maine towns where you know the family names, the recipes are near and dear and tried out in family homes.
This past week, Meg was after old recipes, old Maine sea food ones.
Cook books from native Mainers who could did more than copy down and share old family recipes. The cook who could write about the Maine salt water farm experience and not force her to use a Google search to find the best recipes.
A book called Maine cookbook old time secrets by Robert Tristram Coffin from Harpswell ME perused, got signed out this trip.
Born in Brunswick March 18, 1892, Robert Peter Tristram grew up on his father’s salt water farm on Great Island in Harpswell, ME.
Another book penned by Marjorie Standish, “Cooking The Maine Way” in a worn light green binding library book checked out too this trip.
Marjorie Standish lived to be 114 years old and maybe her cooking had something to do with the longevity. It is fun to instate vacation at new areas of the Maine like along the coastline.
Cooking Downeast was a regular column for Standish in the Portland Press Herald. Now that newspapers are thinner, so are the abundance of salt water farm recipes.
What’s a Maine salt water farm you ask?
A salt water farm definition. You have to ask someone who grew up on one for the definition. And not just a real estate agent or broker trying to promote one for sale.
Like any Maine farm, staying on one in survival and enjoying the bounty of the land requires resourcefulness. Being creative in how you prepare the food in season on your Maine farm is key.
How you prepare the food from the sea or land takes education.
There is secrecy too surrounding the process of how best to prepare what’s placed on the family table.
Much like the richest places to fish or hunt in Maine that are a guarded secret. How to carefully assemble the ingredients from the salt water farm off the coast of Maine was not spread around with loose lips.
Coffin’s mother “cooked by her thumb” and not from a written Maine kitchen recipe.
After her death, Coffin’s respect for his mother’s cooking ability only increased. And like declassified national secrets, how she prepared the salt water farm home grown and seacoast fresh caught food became fodder for his poems and books.
The Maine salt water farm cookbook recipes become more than just what’s for dinner to squash an appetite.
The ruggedness of living on the coast of Maine and enduring a nor’easter. The hardy spirit of a solitary Maine lighthouse signal worker with his herd of sheep roaming the craggy coastal peninsula or far offshore island location .
The way Coffin describes the Maine and his salt water farm and his appreciation to be raised on one. All of that Maine pride is folded in to each recipe he crafts in his culinary tale.
Steaming lobsters In Maine, you only need a half a cup of fresh water for a whole kettle. It gives new meaning to “stewing in your juices”. Coffin is buried in Cundy’s Harbor in Harpswell, ME. On his tombstone is inscribed:
This my country, bitter as the sea
Pungent with the fir and bayberry.
An island meadow, stonewalled, high, and lost,
With August cranberries touched red by frost.
A juniper upon a windy ledge,
Splendor of granite on the world’s bright edge.
A lighthouse like a diamond, cut and sharp,
And all the trees like strings upon a harp.
I, made of clay inflamed with sun,
Something solid still have done.
I have kept the ancient Law,
I have written what I saw.
I was moved by the final lines. He had borne witness to his observations as a local Maine lifelong native.
Recipes from Marjorie Standish? How do her recipes differ to what is promoted online today? Less ingredients and more in turn to simple Maine living. The recipes are hearty, simple to prepare, and classic — the kind of favorite dishes that never go out of style.
This reminded me of my great aunt Hettie Victory Mooers.
She was a World War I nurse and often had “cases” where she would spend a week or two helping someone heal up and get back on their feet. One case in Masardis Maine she told me the mother was bedridden and it was close to supper time upon her arrival.
Aunt Hettie, the area’s local version of Florence Nightingale, hung up her coat and got to work beyond nursing the woman back to health. She looked in the kitchen cupboard, saw a can of corn, some evaporated milk and potatoes, an onion in the dark under the sink.
“Guess we are having corn chowder” was on the limited Maine menu options for the evening dining.
But how it was prepared makes all the difference in the World. What favorite recipes do you use and pass down from your family? Salt water farm cookbooks, have you cracked any of those lately?