February 28, 2012

Blissful Weekends in Maine

Some of our best times in Maine have been packing a picnic lunch and heading up to visit the Western and Eastern Promenades in Portland. It was hard to imagine that this historical beauty was just  minutes away. We would walk along the Prom, feeling the bay breezes and snapping pictures of the massive Victorians, Colonials and Federal homes. We would park ourselves on one of the park benches and just sit and watch the dogs playing, the boats moored out in the bay and people lying in the grass, whiling away a Sunday afternoon. This was pure bliss.  

The Western Promenade is an historic promenade, made up of 18.5 acres in Portland, Maine's West End neighborhood. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes a number of historic properties. It is bounded by the Western Promenade and Bramhall, Brackett, Emery, and Danforth Streets. It includes a number of homes dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The Eastern Promenade (Eastern Prom) is an historic promenade which is composed of 68.2 acres in Portland. The construction of the Promenade began in 1836 and was completed in 1934. The 1.5 miles park was designed by the Olmstead Brothers design firm and experienced its greatest expansion from the 1880s to the 1910s. The Promenade rings around the Munjoy Hill neighborhood and occupies the farthest eastern portion of Portland's peninsula. The Promenade is home to many historical sites, including a mass grave and the mast of a decommissioned US battleship.

In December 1812, following the Battle of Queenston Heights during the War of 1812, the HMS Regulus, a British ship, docked under a truce flag in Portland's harbor en route from Quebec to Boston, Massachusetts due to the presence of fever, malnutrition and dysentery among the American prisoners of war onboard. 29 of the prisoners were taken to the local hospital and a month later 21 of the prisoners had died. The dead soldiers were buried in a mass grave at the foot of Quebec Street on the Eastern Promenade, with a large boulder marking the spot of their grave. In 1887, a bronze plaque was affixed to the stone with the names of the dead soldiers.

These were such lovely Sundays! Once we arrived back at The Maine House, we were ready for a cup of New England Coffee and some of
Estelle's Sweet Potato Cobbler!


1 stick butter
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk

Melt butter in a 2x12-inch baking dish. Mix together the flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk; pour into the center of melted butter. Do not stir.

2 cups cooked but firm, peeled and sliced sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon butter rum flavoring
1/2 cup raisins which have been soaked in spiced rum

Pour this into center of melted butter and batter. Do NOT stir. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until light brown!

February 26, 2012

Good Eatin' Texas Pecan Pie!

A small cafe on the side of the road between Alto and Nacogdoches serves up the best old fashioned country cooking in the state of Texas! Just expect a wait any time of the day. Outside it looks like a farm stand packed with farm trucks. However, once you make your way inside, you will find lots of farm and ranch type folks taking in home cooked aromas, while watching their food being cooked up in the open kitchen. There is no need for a menu....... you just get what is being cooked that day.

This is perhaps the most delicious Southern food you will taste, outside the state of Mississippi of course.  Pork chops, chicken and dressing, heavenly cornbread and homemade scratch pies that will make you want to slap your mama and kiss the dog!

Recipe from Garden of (Good) Eatin’ Country Cafe, Nacogdoches
The recipe comes from owner Dian Avriett’s grandmother.

Pecan Pie from Texas
1 uncooked deep dish 9-inch pie shell
1 1/2 cups pecans, pieces or whole
1/4 cup melted butter
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces light corn syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Be sure there are no holes in the bottom or sides of the pie shell and put the pecans in it. Beat melted butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and flour until well blended. Add vanilla and corn syrup. Beat until this is well mixed. Pour the batter evenly over the pecans.

Put pie in the preheated oven, reduce temperature to 300 degrees and bake for approximately one hour. About half-way through the baking time, rotate pie.

The pie is done when the entire top of the pie is puffed. The edges will begin to puff first and there will be a sunken area in the middle. When the center is totally puffed up, the pie is ready. It will fall when cool. Cook slowly and don’t overcook!

February 25, 2012

Entertaining by the Pool!

In just a few months, or perhaps a little longer, we will be in the new Texas house. This is our going to be our very first time to have a swimming pool, which we are so looking forward to. I mean, after living in Texas for twenty years without a pool, we knew this was a must have on our wish list. I have already been gathering inspirational ideas for our new outdoor living space and plan to look back on these ideas for planning purposes. From the front porch or outside foyer, to the cool oasis in the back, it's going to be a welcoming place to gather....with last!

Lady Banks’s roses atop the cabana make it a secluded and shady spot.
The flagstone terrace is both neutral and natural. Allowing the foliage to look a bit
overgrown adds a dash of romance

Clematis vines  provide a sense of enclosure. Mother always had a Clematis growing.

You can mask the chatter of neighbors and drown out road noise with running water.
The trickle of running water can also make a space seem cooler that it really is, and a simple fountain may be all that is needed to get the same effect.

Randomly placed stepping-stones crafted from local granite lead to this front porch’s wide steps. Hand-hewn posts and railings, along with graceful brackets, are crafted from regionally harvested locust wood to further enhance this cottage’s connection to the land. Local fieldstone clads the porch walls. The Perfect Texas Ranch Style look!

Estelle's has reminded me of a few old Mississippi southern family favorites to serve on a hot summer day! We can't wait for a summer birthday and a pool party! Oh lord.....I better get in shape for bathing suit weather! Times a' wastin'!


1 stick of butter
2 sticks margarine
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
6 eggs
3 cups sugar
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons brandy extract
2 teaspoons rum extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract

Cream butter and margarine. Add cream cheese and continue to cream. Add sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and flavorings. Bake 1 hour and 15 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup light rum
3 medium bananas, sliced
10 fresh strawberries, cut in half

Melt butter in a skillet or medium pan. Add sugar, lemon juice, and rum; stir well. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves (2 to 3 minutes). Add bananas and strawberries, and cook until bananas are soft, but not mushy.

7 regular tea bags
2 cups sugar
1 12-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 12-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 6-ounce can frozen limeade concentrate

Brew tea according to directions. Pour into 1 gallon container. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the 3 fruit concentrates and stir until dissolved. Add enough water to make 1 gallon.

February 24, 2012

A Night for Oscar

A cold and blustery midwinter Sunday evening
And the Oscar goes to.......

 Favorite Actresses

I am old school. The glamour of old Hollywood faded a long time ago. Going to the movies is still exciting, but, how movies have changed. I like being old school. My feet are planted firmly in my childhood and I will hang onto the excitement of movie dates with my family. My first motion picture I can remember was when we first moved to Jackson from Vicksburg. We walked across the street from our temporary apartment, (waiting for our newly built house to be completed) to an outdoor movie theater. Isn't that even hard to imagine nowadays? It was summer and folding chairs were set up on some sort of basketball court in front of a huge outdoor screen. My grandmother took us and there was a swingset over to the side, where little children could play the night away if the movie did not keep their attention. The year was 1955.

She will always receive top billing at The Maine House
Anne Bancroft

I also remember attending the viewing of A Nun's Story with Miss Judy at The Lamar theater. The star was Audrey Hepburn. Probably the stand out movie of my young childhood was Gone With The Wind, which we saw at The Paramount Theater. We shared double dates as we grew into college- aged girls and loved seeing classics such as The Way We Were and Cabaret in New Orleans.

I also attended movie classics with Mother and Daddy. I can recall going to The Capri Theater in Jackson, along with Darling, to see It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Doctor Zhivago, Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang and The Sound of Music. It was like double dating with your parents and it was really a pretty cool thing to do. We always went to dinner afterwards at Primos! Those were great times! Mother and I were forever in love with Christopher Plummer! And Omar Sharif....those incredible eyes.....sigh........

So, Sunday night we pay tribute to The Movies! This year, we have seen three of the movies up for Best Movie.....The Descendants, The Help and The Artist!
My vote goes to.......The Artist!

When Mel Brooks told his Jewish mother he was marrying an Italian girl, she said: "Bring her over. I’ll be in the kitchen - with my head in the oven".

February 23, 2012

Our Sailing Days in Maine

If you ever visit Maine, put sailing down on your bucket list. We were fortunate enough to take each of our children and grandchildren on the two infamous sailing ships in Old Port, The Windameen and The Bagheera.

The 88 foot schooner, Windameen was designed by the famed yacht designer, John Alden. She was built in East Boothbay, Maine, and launched in 1912 when she took center stage in the golden era of fast, sleek ocean schooners. She was formerly owned by the Schlitz family of Schlitz Brewing Company.

The Divine Miss M, Jay and Luke

Mom and Daughter....Our First Sail

Captain Fishstick

Inactive since the 1930s, she was thoroughly restored in the late 1980s and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wendameen is certified by the US Coast Guard to carry 48 passengers on deck and can also accommodate 14 guests for our overnight excursions. She has sailed every ocean in the world!

Rob...Smooth sailing

Greg and Jenn

Greg's  Sailing Lesson

Bagheera is also vintage Alden, featuring long overhangs, a sweet and graceful sheer line and a long bowsprit. For construction, Alden turned to the rich shipbuilding heritage of Maine and found able craftsmen at Rice Bros. Shipyard in East Boothbay.

Sailing with Rob

In the 1920s, Bagheera sailed in the Bermuda Race at least once before being delivered to the Great Lakes, where she won the annual Chicago-Mackinac Race for several years running.

The New Deck Hand

Nick and Cat

Our Abbie

Sweet Noah

In her more than 80 years of cruising the world's oceans, Bagheera has crossed the Atlantic, cruised areas of the Pacific, including the Galapagos, and spent many years in the Caribbean Sea. In the 1980s, Bagheera was fitted out in San Diego for the passenger trade. She was transported back home to Maine in the spring of 2002 to serve Portland Schooner Company.

February 22, 2012

Nick's Pie Request.....Sour Cherry!

Nick's loves anything cherry! Every holiday or special occasion, he will request a cherry pie or a cherry cobbler. Topped with a big scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream of course! I have recently discovered some wonderful baking products that will enable you to create a masterpiece of a cherry pie for your family! You may even win the blue ribbon at the county fair!!

This Sour Cherry pie filling is the best on the market today

This pie filling is loaded with plump sour cherries married beautifully with a touch of sugar, lemon, and the tiniest hint of lime!

I also discovered the Pie Filling Enhancer, from King Arthur Flour Baking Company here in New England! This is The Bomb! My last Pie looked and tasted amazing.  It is my perfect solution for a perfect Pie!

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie....Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can She Bake a Cherry Pie, Charming Billy!

Don't be afraid to make your own pie crust! I have learned that Ree's is the most fail-proof and I promise, it will be worth the extra effort! Tender, flaky and will make a huge difference in the quality of your masterpiece!

Ree's Perfect Pie Crust
1-½ cup Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 whole Egg
5 Tablespoons Cold Water
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

 The Best Sour Cherry Pie
9-inch double piecrust, rolled out
3 cans (14.5 ounces) tart cherries, drained
3/4 cup sugar
 1/2 cup pie filling enhancer
(Estelle's uses King Arthur Flour brand)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and place half of the rolled out pie dough into a 9-inch pie pan. In a medium bowl, combine the cherries, sugar, pie filling enhancer, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Let the mixture sit for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the filling into the prepared crust, dot with butter, then top with second half of the rolled pie dough. Crimp the crusts shut and cut a few slits into the top of the pie to allow steam to release.
 Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake for another 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Set the pie on a wire rack to cool, allowing the filling to firm up.
 Slice and serve!

February 21, 2012

Cape Elizabeth....Our Farewell Tour

We are making the rounds of some of our favorite places in the area
before saying
Auf wiedersehen

Two Lights Entrance in Cape Elizabeth

Our favorites spot...What could be more beautiful?

View of House Island

Trying for a self-portrait

Second try...we got the giggles

The third try a charm

It was the perfect picnic spot

Portland Headlight in February

My last picture of Portland Headlight...Incredible there is no snow on a February Day

Visitors at the Lighthouse

Enjoying the view

It's been the best of back to Estelle's for
hot tea and lemon bread

Lemon Tea Bread
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t  baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup milk
2 T lemon zest, divided
1 cup powdered sugar
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat softened butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 1 cup granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beating at low speed just until blended, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon zest. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 8x4-inch loaf pan.

 Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center of bread comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to a wire rack, and cool completely.
Stir together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth; spoon over top of bread, letting excess drip down sides. Stir together remaining 1 tablespoon lemon zest and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; sprinkle on top of bread.

1 lb strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon sugar
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Zest of the 1/4 lemon
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Put the strawberries, maple syrup, lemon juice and zest  into a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 10 mins. Taste and add the the 1 tablespoon sugar if it’s not sweet enough. Mix the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons water and add to the saucepan. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and mash lightly with fork to break up the bigger pieces. If you want a smooth sauce, puree the cooled sauce in a blender. Heavenly with the lemon cake or over ice cream!

Simply Breathtaking

February 20, 2012

Peaches and Cream

Estelle's featured the most delectable dessert this weekend. Do you like Peach Cobbler? Do you salivate over cheesecake? Well, how about combining the two together? This is sooooo yummy!

Darling walked in the house after some outside chores and said, "What in the world smells so good in here?" Need I say more........

Peaches and Cream Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Peaches and Topping
29-ounce can sliced peaches
16 ounces cream cheese
softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons reserved peach juice
Cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a medium or large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cornstarch. Blend. Make a well in the center and add the vanilla, eggs, milk and melted butter. Whisk together until well combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking dish.

Drain the can of peaches, saving the juice. Scatter them over the top of the batter evenly. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and reserved peach juice together until light and creamy. Dollop the cream cheese mixture in tablespoon-sized spoonfuls over the top of the batter and peaches and then use a spatula to evenly spread together to form a creamy layer.  Sprinkle the top of the cream cheese layer with cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 45-60 minutes until the edges are puffed and golden and the cream cheese layer has bubbled slightly on top.