COASTAL KITCHEN: NOURISHING SEAFOOD RECIPES FOR EVERYDAY COOKING by Jenny Shea Rawn; Globe Pequot, 2023; 258 pages, $35; ISBN 978-1-4930-7311-5.


Some people might think reading a cookbook would be a boring waste of time, but it’s actually a delightful experience. It doesn’t matter if you are hungry or not because when you get to that one special recipe
— you’ll be ready to eat. And that’s what will happen when you read through “Coastal Kitchen.”

This is a seafood cookbook containing more than 120 recipes developed by dietician and food photographer Jenny Shea Rawn, featuring
seafood cookery of fish and shellfish, even kelp, as well as seafood condiments, sauces and New England desserts. Recipes are designed “to take the guesswork out of seafood,” and include ingredients, procedures, presentation and special tips, all accompanied by beautiful full-color photographs of the finished dish.

Rawn is also careful with her guidance for buying seafood and proper food safety. In all cases, whether buying fresh, frozen, previously frozen or tinned seafood she advises the smell test — if seafood smells overly fishy or has an ammonia odor, don’t buy it. She also advocates locally sourced seafood supporting sustainable fisheries.

Chapters cover lobster, scallops (sea and bay), oysters, mussels, clams, crab, shrimp, swordfish, tuna, striped bass, white fish (like cod, haddock, pollock, halibut, mahi-mahi), salmon and the abundant but “underutilized and underappreciated” skate, bluefish and monkfish. Recipes include nutritional facts like calories, fats, proteins, vitamins and sodium.

Learn which fin fish is “the poor man’s lobster;” what the No. 1 seafood consumed in the U.S. is (how about No. 2 and No. 3?); the important difference between “wet” and “dry” scallops; why Rawn prefers refrigerated crabmeat; and about the fastest growing aquaculture sector. Finally, did you know that a single scallop has 200 eyes?



THE ROAD TO DALTON by Shannon Bowring; Europa Editions, 2023; 237 pages, $18. ISBN 978-1-60945-926-0.

Dalton, population 1,309, is a fictional small town in northern Maine, anchored by a fumbling lumber mill and home to people who have nowhere to go and no courage to leave.

As the title says, there is a road to Dalton, but readers will quickly wonder if there is a road out of Dalton, and why nobody is high-tailing it out of town. This is Bath author Shannon Bowring’s first novel, a grimly convincing tale of a small town’s small minds, resigned to despair and self-pity.

Bowring gamely and effectively tackles the problems of booze, drugs, domestic abuse, marital discord, even the destructive effects of suicide, as people use silence to protect themselves from their own “feelings, regrets and desires.” Her characters are well-drawn, convincing in their weaknesses, decisions and rare flashes of strength.

The town’s only doctor, a kind man “healing what can never be healed,” is in a discontented marriage of “silent familiarity.” Two wives enjoy an intimacy not shared with their husbands. A woman can’t leave her abuser and everybody knows but doesn’t do anything about it. A bitter old woman lives with her son and daughter-in-law and doesn’t like either one. A newcomer, a young aspiring writer, isn’t welcome or accepted by the townspeople.

An unexpected suicide surprises the town, but that’s just an act. The signs of overwhelming depression were there for everyone to see, but folks just pretended not to notice. The result, however, is simmering resentment with many people angry, blaming each other and the victim for ruining their lives. Meanwhile, one man wallows in his own grief and guilt, and it is doubtful he will ever recover.

There is no joy here, but Bowring ensures we know that people are only as happy as they’ve already made up their minds to be.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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