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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our Brush With Irene

The big news here on the east coast lately has of course been hurricane Irene. From the beginning, our area was forecast to be directly in her path, although she would only be a tropical storm when she got here. We got ready for inches of rain and serious winds. Kelson spent all weekend on the ship instead of doing fun things with me because of problems caused by the hurricane further down the coast that were messing with some of the systems on his ship. That made our last weekend here in Maine pretty lame. Kelson's ship almost had to sail away five days early, which made me really sad. We felt very blessed when he was able stay. We were also blessed on Sunday when Irene weakened and moved to the west, missing our area for the most part. Sunday was gloomy, windy, and a little bit rainy, but it definitely wasn't the huge storm we were afraid of. The big problem around here was power outages, and when we lost our power on Sunday afternoon we were sure we would be in the dark for a long time.
Since we couldn't heat up any food, we ate watermelon. As I was cutting it up so we could eat it like civilized people, Kelson dug in to half of the watermelon with a spoon. We love watermelon! It tastes like summer.

We were surprised and happy when the power company showed up to restore our power after only about an hour.

Still, we were a little bit disappointed that we didn't get to take advantage of any of our hurricane preparations, so we ate dinner by lamplight anyway. In the photo it looks like we lit the lamp when it was broad daylight, but it was in fact dark. 

I suppose we can't exactly say that we are hurricane survivors, but living in the potential path of a hurricane is definitely something neither of us have ever experienced growing up on the west coast. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who had much more devastating encounters with Irene.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Culinary Adventures Part Two: Grandma Would Be Proud!

Some of my fondest memories from childhood are of homemade bread, especially in my Grandma Baxter's house. When I was really little, before she stopped making bread, she would always let me make my own little loaf and bake it in a tiny pan. Grandma was such a dedicated bread baker that she even kneaded her bread on the front lawn while her house was burning down when my mom was a teenager. I have always wanted to be a bread baker, and I have tried out a few things this summer. I have been having quite a fun time.

My first attempt was French rolls.  They were delicious!

The only problem is that they were kind of flat. I am working on that.

The next time, I made them twice as big and we made french dip sandwiches with them.  They were so good!  One of our favorite things we have eaten this summer. I saved half of the dough and used it for a pizza. That was great too.

We have developed a taste for Greek food, so I decided to try making my own pitas. It is kind of like making rolls and then flattening them out like tortillas.

Then you bake them for 3 minutes in a 550 degree oven. If it works right, they puff up like balloons.  However, cooking in a 550 degree oven makes a very hot house, so I am not sure I would recommend this as the best activity for a toasty August day.

Delicious and fun! I cut up part of them and baked them until they were crispy, making my own yummy pita chips that we ate with our homemade hummus, which was also delicious.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kelson's Date Planning Luck

Kelson hadn't planned a date in a while, so I told him last week that it was his turn. His planning got as far as picking up a pizza after work and then driving up a street we hadn't been to the end of before to scope out a good picnic spot. We drove by some neat houses, a cemetery, and the city landfill. Just as we were about to turn around to avoid the dead-end, we realized that the street ended at a recreational area in the woods called Thorne head. That looked interesting, so we got out to explore. We walked up a trail for about ten minutes, came to the top of a ridge and saw this:

I suppose this will make an okay picnic spot. It was one of the most beautiful views we have found yet in Maine.

Kelson tried to convince me he did all of this on purpose. Yeah right. He was lucky.

We enjoyed our delicious Hawaiian pizza on this giant concrete toadstool.

Afterwards, we played with this very sociable squirrel/chipmunk (we had some disagreement as to which it was). We named him Alvin. He was funny.

We stayed until sunset. Gorgeous! I thank Heavenly Father for moments like this. Maybe I should let Kelson accidentally plan our dates every week.  This one worked out beautifully.

Monday, August 8, 2011


We started our Saturday with the Lobster Festival parade in Rockland, which is about an hour east of us.  All of the floats were lobster-themed.  Yay for Maine!

We decided to skip the festival and do some exploring instead.  There were some incredible houses in Rockland.

Gummi bears are Kelson's favorite, so of course we had to try the gummi lobsters.  They tasted exactly like red jello.

We stopped at a reenactment of a British encampment from the Revolutionary War. We felt like we had stepped back in time.  They were even cooking prime rib on a spit over the fire, and it smelled delicious.

The encampment was behind the Henry Knox mansion. It is a museum, and we spent part of our afternoon touring it. That was one of our favorite things we have done here in Maine. Henry Knox was a fascinating man (you know, Fort Knox, first Secretary of War, etc.)  I didn't know anything about him before Saturday, but now I would like to read his biography.  History is so much fun! It just leaves you wanting more.

It would be a crime if we left Maine without eating lobster, so we decided to splurge. We asked the owner of the candy shop where we bought our gummi lobsters where we could find the best lobster, seeing as there are lobster places every ten feet here. He sent us here because it was authentic Maine lobster (apparently it is essential that it be cooked in ocean water). 

A little bit creepy, but completely delicious!

"Should I bite the hand that feeds me?" Oh, Kelson. You make me laugh.

Finally stepping foot in the Atlantic ocean.  This was the shortest beach I have ever seen-maybe 300 feet long.

Few things are better than wiggling your toes in the sand and letting waves splash on your feet.

Someone didn't wear his sandals, so he missed out. Of course, he wasn't left with sandy feet like me.

We passed through Camden to get to the lobster restaurant. We fell in love with its beautiful downtown. I think we drove by about 100 bed & breakfasts there too.  Tourism is huge around here.

We stopped for ice cream at The Helm. Great way to end our trip!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Some of My Recent Culinary Adventures

I realize I have been a bit of a slacker on my blog posts lately, so I promise to repent. I keep meaning to post pictures of the awesome things I have been cooking lately, so this is a rather lengthy post chronicling some of my successes and one serious misadventure.
    I have always wanted to try making my own noodles, so I tried it out one day.  It was fun! 
Mixed up the dough with a fork and kneaded it into a nice little ball.

Rolled them out and cut them into nice, even noodles

Lacking a proper pasta drying rack, I improvised.

The ones on the spoons dried faster than the ones on the cooling racks.

I let them dry for a few hours and then tossed them into a pot of homemade chicken soup.  It was delicious! I tried it again a week later, but this time put the soup, including the noodles in a crockpot around lunchtime so it would be ready for dinner. By dinner time, the noodles had pretty much disintegrated.  In the future, I will add them at the last minute.  Overall, I would say my first attempt at pasta-making was a definite success.

 My next adventure was more of a misadventure.  I knew that Kelson was having a rough day at work, so I wanted to surprise him with something fun to eat for date night.  I was at the grocery store and noticed that mussels, which Kelson had said were his favorite shellfish, were on sale.  I had tried one at a restaurant the week before and liked it, so I thought I would try cooking them at home. 

We scrubbed them clean and debearded them to get ready to cook. It freaked me out to think that they were still alive, so I tried not to think about that part.  It was definitely weird to see the food I was washing move as they opened and closed.

Cooking them was actually kind of fun. We put them in a single layer in a pan and steamed them until they opened up.  It was a fun date night activity, learning something new together.

Candlelit dinner complete with matching china, salad forks, and fancy salads. I think the rice-a-roni side dish might cancel out the classiness of it all, but we liked it anyway.  We had such a lovely setup.  Things went downhill from there...

I managed to eat about 5 mussels before I started gagging from the intense fishy odor and little grains of sand that were still inside. I finally gave up and satisfied myself with side dishes for dinner. The worst of it came in the next few days.  It took forever to get the fishy smell out of our house, and every time I smelled it I felt like throwing up.  Our sink smelled like shellfish for a week. To make matters worse, we put the leftover mussels in our outside garbage, and animals kept getting into it. We forgot to take the trash out on trash day, so we had to wait another week to get rid of it. Let's just say that our adventures with mussels have convinced me that Kelson will be buying his shellfish in restaurants from now on.

My culinary adventures to be continued in another post...