I don’t cook, so I didn’t expect to really enjoy the book Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook, but boy, was I wrong. From Governor Janet Mills hilarious introduction to the section on baked beans, my favorite food, I really enjoyed the book.
Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz, who compiled and edited the book, published by Islandport Press, had the great idea of inviting people to submit their favorite recipe, and then selected the best 200 of them.
For me, the best part of the book was the explanations of the history of each recipe by the person who submitted it. Many recipes came from grandmothers and great grandmothers. They were handed down through the generations and remain a family favorite.
You will recognize some of the people who submitted recipes, including Mary Herman (wife of Angus King), Steve King, Bill Nemitz, Chellie Pingree, Jared Golden, and even George Bush.
Steve King’s recipe is for lunchtime gloop, and I loved his explanation: “My kids love this. I only make it when my wife, Tabby, isn’t home. She won’t eat it, in fact doesn’t even like to look at it.” Scary, Steve!
Here are some of my favorites. In her introduction, Janet gives us a recipe for cooking legislators. You’re probably not going to try that one!
There’s a recipe for chanterelle mushrooms, which Linda and I love. One day when we were up to camp, we drove north on the Baxter Park perimeter road and picked 9 bags of chanterelles. For a long time, we enjoyed them with dinner.
There’s a recipe for lots of my favorites from venison to whoopie pies. Pretty much all of my favorite foods are in the book, topped by the section on baked beans. My mom would serve beans and hotdogs every Saturday for dinner, and beans are still my favorite (but not, sadly, Linda’s).
The recipe for maple cottage pudding, a favorite of Russell Libby who was the executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association from 1995 to 2012 when he died far too young, and who lived in my town of Mount Vernon and was my friend, was submitted by his widow, Mary Anne Libby, and is very special.
While you will certainly want to try some of the book’s recipes, you will enjoy every story. Subtitled Celebrating Maine’s Culinary Past, Present & Future, it is that and so much more. And here’s more good news. $2 from every book sold will support organizations fighting hunger in Maine.