Life & Culture – Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel Features news from the Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine and Morning Sentinel of Waterville, Maine. Thu, 22 Feb 2018 01:21:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Don’t fight the flight at Two Gramps Brewing, Gardiner’s newest brewpub Wed, 21 Feb 2018 14:11:15 +0000 0, 21 Feb 2018 09:54:36 +0000 Cookbook review: ‘Plant-Powered Protein’ delivers Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 “Plant-Powered Protein Cookbook.” By the editors of Vegetarian Times. Globe Pequot. $28

Who hasn’t felt the pressure to forgo meat and instead use plant-based protein in their meals? Good for the planet, the pocketbook and your health.

In our house, we have several meatless meals every week, but I stand in awe of the growing number of friends who have adopted vegetarian or vegan lifestyles.

It’s a bridge too far for me, having grown up in a real meat-and-potatoes home. Sunday dinner always meant a roast of some kind, served with mashed potatoes and gravy. The rest of the week you could find meatloaf, Swedish meatballs, Shake ‘N Bake pork chops, shepherd’s pie or fried chicken on the menu.

But there’s also a preponderance of heart disease and diabetes in my family, so for the past 20 years or so, I’ve been serving meatless meals.

The desire to expand those offerings is what drew me to “Plant-Powered Protein Cookbook,” a product of Vegetarian Times.

The book offers an easy-to-understand primer on plant-based proteins, naming the five superstars (legume and beans; whole grains; nuts and seeds; soy and seitan; and eggs and dairy) and then their attributes. It also explains simply the connection between protein and fiber, protein and energy and the importance of protein in your diet.

Once all the science is covered, the reader is introduced to a rich array of recipes. The organization of the cookbook is easy to follow, starting with smoothies and snack foods, then salads, soups, sandwiches, entrees, condiments and desserts. The index makes it easy to look in your pantry (Hmmm, lentils and canned tomatoes), then find a recipe using those ingredients.

The editors at Vegetarian Times know how to make food look appealing. Each recipe is accompanied by an engaging photo, some of which made me salivate.

Artichoke-Potato Medley, a constellation of richly colored roasted vegetables, made me add “2 10-oz. boxes of frozen artichoke hearts” to the grocery list posted on my fridge. Butternut Squash & Greens Kuku, an Iranian egg dish, is next on the must-try list. And a luscious-looking Tofu Creme au Chocolat promises to be as decadent as traditional pudding, but with fewer calories, half the carbohydrates and more protein.

In fact, it was a photo of Curried Red Lentil Soup that made me pause and check for the necessary ingredients in my pantry.

Outdoor temperatures in the teens helped as well. There’s nothing I like better in the winter than a hearty stew and crusty bread. In addition to heart disease and diabetes, I think my family has had a long association with peasant fare.

The meal was easy to make. I’m guessing most folks have the ingredients in their pantries.

And it was delicious. Real stick-to-your-bones food, infused with the flavors of India but not in any kind of overpowering way.

The editors note it is even better the second day, after the flavors have had more time to mingle. I agree.

And a bonus: The meal is both vegan and gluten-free, so it’s a fabulous choice if you’re hosting a gathering where there might be guests with dietary restrictions.

Carol Coultas can be contacted at 791-6460 or at:

Curried Red Lentil Soup

Curried red lentils soup with lemon Photos courtesy of Globe Pequot

Vegan and gluten-free.

Serves 6

2 cups red lentils sorted, rinsed and drained

1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth

1 large onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)

4 celery stalks, finely chopped (11/2 cups)

2 large carrots, finely chopped (11/2 cups)

2 cloves garlic minced (2 teaspoons)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Bring lentils, vegetable broth and 4 cups of water to a simmer in a large pot. Skim away foam that rises to the top. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic; simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Add cilantro, curry powder and cumin, and cook 20 minutes more, or until lentils are soft. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and stir in lemon juice.


]]> 0, 20 Feb 2018 22:00:30 +0000
The Wrap: Here’s your latest Maine restaurant news Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000  

This is the kind of confidence that you’ll only find in cats. Two Fat Cats, the popular India Street bakery in Portland, is opening a second location in South Portland, in a spot where another bakery closed after about a year in business.

Stacy Begin, owner of Two Fat Cats Bakery, is ready to expand to South Portland. Margaret Logan photo

Stacy Begin, owner of Two Fat Cats, confirmed this past weekend that she has just signed a lease at 740 Broadway, the former home of Fernleaf Bakery’s second location. (Fernleaf’s original bakery and coffee shop is in Saco.) Begin hopes to open at the new location in April.

The storefront on Broadway is sandwiched between Tuxedos on Broadway and a Supercuts. There’s a drive-thru for the Tropical Smoothie Cafe in the same development, should you want a Bahama Mama smoothie to go with your Two Fat Cats whoopie pie.

The plusses? Plenty of parking and access to the bakery’s great blueberry pies without having to cross the Casco Bay Bridge.


Ol’ Blue Eyes has apparently left the building. Crooners & Cocktails, the bar and restaurant at 90 Exchange St. in Portland where customers were serenaded by recordings of the Rat Pack, has closed and the space is for lease. Owner Chris Harris did not return a request for comment.


You can tell spring is near when restaurateurs start announcing opening dates for their new spots. Justin and Danielle Walker announced this week that their eponymous Cape Neddick restaurant, Walkers Maine, will open March 10. The folks at Black Cow, the burger place going into the old Sonny’s spot in Portland, hint on social media that they are about a month away from opening.


Local sommelier Erica Archer announced Tuesday that she’s launching Portland Wine Week this summer, a summer wine festival that will be held June 18-24.

Archer is the owner of Wine Wise, a wine education events company, and the festival will include her signature sunset wine sails, wine education walks in the Old Port and wine education classes. Archer also plans to take advantage of Portland’s reputation as a great restaurant town by featuring restaurant wine dinners and a “passport tour” of local restaurants and their wine lists.

Among the 17 events in the works are six wine dinners: a night of rosé at Sur Lie; a focus on the new release and library wines of Channing Daughters winery at Hugo’s; a southern Italian white wine and seafood pairing at Scales; an evening of natural wines at Piccolo; a tour of Burgundy at Lolita; and an exploration of Spanish wines at Chaval.

Archer is also planning a meet and greet with an Austrian wine expert at Central Provisions; a pasta-making and wine pairing class at Solo Italiano; a wine pairing lunch with Bangs Island Mussels at Scales; and an historical wine list exhibition and talk from Don Lindgren of Rabelais Books.

The week will end with a gala: Cabernet & Cabaret: a Celebration of Red. Five local female chefs, including Ilma Lopez of Chaval and Piccolo and Krista Kern Desjarlais of The Purple House, are on board to create the food for the event, while Circus Maine is scheduled to provide entertainment. Proceeds from the gala will benefit Portland’s Preble Street Teen Center. Find updates and more information at


First, a series of successful restaurants, followed by a James Beard Award. What’s next? Why, a cookbook, of course.

Andrew Taylor, Mike Wiley and Arlin Smith, owners of Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland and Boston, have signed on with the Massachusetts-based literary agent The Lisa Ekus Group to write an Eventide cookbook. The restaurateurs have completed a book proposal with Boston Globe correspondent Sam Hiersteiner and are in discussions with publishers, according to Sally Ekus.

Eventide was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Restaurants in 2012, and Taylor and Wiley last year won the James Beard award for Best Chef: Northeast.

The three men also own Hugo’s and The Honey Paw, both in Portland, and a second Eventide in Boston.


The Lobster Roll World Championship is coming back to Thompson’s Point this summer, but with a new name and some changes intended to help avoid last year’s PR disaster.

Last year, the Down East Lobster Roll Festival, sponsored by Down East magazine, was overwhelmed with ticket holders who paid $10 to get in and then had to wait in long lines at a single lobster roll truck to buy food. Then a thunderstorm rolled in and swept everything away. At least those who purchased $100 VIP tickets to watch the “World’s Best Lobster Roll” competition indoors stayed dry and ate plenty of lobster.

This year, the Lobster Roll World Championship will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on July 7. The event will focus solely on the championship – which means no more $10 tickets – and all ticket holders will be able to sample the 10 finalists’ lobster rolls and vote for their favorites. A judge’s ticket, which includes the sampling and voting, costs $99. The $250 VIP tickets also give access to a VIP lounge with an open bar, a cocktail hour meet-and-greet with the winners from 4 to 5 p.m., drinks, dessert, a gift bag, a VIP entrance and free parking. All tickets will be sold online, in advance.

To enter the contest, chefs must submit a recipe along with a story that explains why their lobster roll is the best. Down East magazine will announce the 10 finalists on May 1. The winner of the event will be featured in Down East magazine and get a cash prize. To buy tickets or get details on entering the contest, visit

Last year’s winners were Ben and Lorin Smaha of Freshies Lobster Co. in Park City, Utah. We know, we know. It sounds like a chef from Michigan winning a Mardi Gras food festival, but relax – Ben Smaha grew up in Cape Elizabeth.


Tickets are also on sale for this year’s Kennebunkport Festival, which will be held June 4-9. Chefs who have agreed to host Art of Dining dinners – small dinners held in private homes – include Portland chefs Josh Berry of Union, Rian Wyllie of Little Giant, Guy Hernandez of Lolita, Matt Ginn of Evo Kitchen + Bar; Avery Richter of the Black Tie Co.; Adam Flood of Grace; Harding Smith of The Rooms; and Emil Rivera of Sur Lie. Pierre Gignac of Ocean Restaurant in Kennebunkport, Romann Dumorne of Northern Union in Ogunquit, Joseph Shafer of Earth in Kennebunk, and German Lucarelli of Ports of Italy in Boothbay are among the other Maine chefs participating.

Art of Dining tickets don’t come cheap; they cost $195. But the dinners offer an intimate experience, giving diners the chance to get up close and personal with a chef and get inside some pretty special private homes, too. You snooze, you lose, apparently: Two dinners are already sold out, and several others have only a few tickets left.

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

Twitter: MeredithGoad

]]> 0, 20 Feb 2018 22:26:00 +0000
Try pork stir-fry bundled in lettuce Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000

Ground pork is cooked with a sauce of rice vinegar, black bean sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil and – a departure – chipotle chiles.Throughout the year, I cook off-the-cuff versions of favorite dishes, such as chili, pizza, beef stew, roast chicken and vegetable soup. I employ subtle variations, inspired by dining out or ingredients and condiments on hand. Never the same dish twice.

Same goes for a dish I first made more than three dozen years ago as a young test cook for Cuisine magazine: Minced quail in lettuce leaves. The recipe was part of a feature on the cuisine of Hong Kong.

In those pre-Instagram days, the late food writer, Roy Andries de Groot, captured his eating/research trip to Hong Kong with copious photographs and notes. My co-workers and I were charged with transforming those notes into magazine-friendly recipes that matched the photos. We tested all manner of dim sum, soups, fish, fried rice and even beggar’s chicken wrapped in lotus leaves and clay.

I still cook many of those dishes, but the one I return to time and time again is that quail dish. It’s a simple stir-fry of minced meat flavored with soy sauce and sesame oil. The golden stir-fry gets wrapped in crisp, chilled lettuce leaves, which cut the richness and add a fresh crunch.

Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, in her “Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking,” tells us that wrapping foods in lettuce leaves originated in China’s Guangdong province. Lettuce, a symbol of new life and growth, even hangs over the doorways in Guangdong during the Lunar New Year.

The method of wrapping foods in lettuce, Yin-Fei Lo says, has spread far beyond one Chinese province. Indeed. We now see dozens of variations of that dish in Asian restaurants all over this country. The internet has hundreds more – from authentic versions to diet-friendly blandness. The fillings morph from minced quail or squab, to chicken, shrimp, squid, vegetables and assorted mushrooms.

A recent brunch at Dai Due Butcher Shop & Supper Club in Austin, Texas, featured yet another version: wild boar with winter vegetables, crunchy radishes, lime and chipotle. Exciting – especially with the drizzle of a chipotle sambal and a tangy wild game syrup. Everything gets rolled up in Boston lettuce. Amazing.

Thus inspired, I knew my home version would morph again. This time with coarse ground pork and oven-roasted vegetables.

The ingredients are not expensive, the cooking is easy and several steps can be done in advance, so this lettuce-wrapped pork proves a perfect dish for a crowd. For a smaller group, you can cut the recipe in half, but just know that leftovers are delicious and versatile. I reheat them in deep bowls in the microwave and then serve the bowls topped with a fried egg and a generous squeeze of hot sauce.

There’s quite a bit of chopping to do, so this recipe is a good excuse to practice your knife skills. The chopping does not need to be exacting, since everything gets mixed together in the end. Use a large cutting board, stabilized with a piece of wet paper toweling underneath. Run your knife over the sharpening steel a few times to keep the knife sharp – a dull knife can dangerously bounce off the vegetables and nick a finger.

Like most stir-fries, the higher the heat the better the browning and flavor build. You can cook the pork in a well-seasoned wok, but work in three or four batches to get nice golden edges on the meat. Alternatively, I use a very large (14-inch), deep nonstick skillet and can cook all the pork at one time. Use two skillets if you only have small ones, so you promote browning.

I serve the warm stir-fry with Boston lettuce or small romaine leaves and pass a spicy-sweet dipping sauce. A scoop of coconut rice can be enjoyed alongside or tucked into the lettuce as well. Alternatively, for appetizers, set out a bowl of the warm pork filling (no rice) with spears of Belgian endive or pita crisps. The filling also tastes great tucked into a warmed pita pocket or lightly toasted flour tortilla.


Makes: 8 servings

Ground turkey, lamb or finely diced chicken thighs work well here too. So does shrimp – just reduce the cooking time in Step 5 to 5 minutes. You can prepare the recipe through Step 4 up to several days in advance; refrigerate the items covered.

2 medium golden potatoes (8 ounces total), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 medium-large turnips or section of a Daikon radish (about 8 ounces total), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 large eggplant, trimmed, cut into ¾-inch pieces


Expeller pressed canola oil or safflower oil

1 large (1 pound) sweet onion, quartered, very thinly sliced

4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 pound thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps or cremini mushrooms

1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup Asian black bean sauce with garlic

2 tablespoons fish sauce or tamari soy sauce

1 teaspoon pureed chipotle in adobo

1 teaspoon dark Asian sesame oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped, about 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons peeled minced fresh ginger

2 pounds coarsely ground pork

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup very thinly sliced small or halved large radishes

3 green onions, trimmed, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 or 4 heads Boston lettuce or 2 heads small romaine, separated into leaves, rinsed, patted dry

Sweet and spicy dipping sauce, see below

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Put potatoes and turnip onto a large baking sheet. Put eggplant onto a second baking sheet. Toss each sheet of vegetables with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 or 2 tablespoons oil. Bake in the upper third of the oven, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender and golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven.

2. Meanwhile, cook onion in 1 tablespoon oil in a very large (14-inch) nonstick skillet (or work in 2 smaller nonstick skillets) over medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar; continue to cook, stirring often, until richly browned, about 10 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

3. Add mushrooms and another 1 tablespoon oil to skillet; cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the onions.

4. Mix vinegar, black bean sauce, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, fish sauce, chipotle and sesame oil in a small bowl.

5. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet, along with the garlic and ginger. Cook and stir, 1 minute. Add pork; cook, stirring and breaking up the pork with a spatula into small crumbles, until cooked though and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in vinegar mixture; cook 2 or 3 minutes more to coat the pork thoroughly. Stir in roasted vegetables and the onions and mushrooms.

6. To serve, sprinkle carrots and radishes over the pork, and stir gently to mix them in. Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro. Pass lettuce leaves to use as wrappers for the mixture. Drizzle each packet with the sweet and spicy dipping sauce to taste.

SWEET AND SPICY DIPPING SAUCE: Mix 1/4 cup each agave syrup and unsweetened rice vinegar with 1 to tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon fish sauce (or soy sauce) in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves. Stir in 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Use at room temperature within a week or so.


Makes: 6 servings

2 cups medium grain rice

1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 slices fresh ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Put rice into a colander and rinse under cool running water. Put rinsed rice, coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, garlic, ginger and salt into a medium saucepan. Stir well. Heat to a simmer over high heat. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to very low. Cook until rice is nearly tender, 15 to 17 minutes.

2. Fluff with a fork and put the lid back on. Let stand off the heat for 10 minutes. Fluff again, and fold in the cilantro.

]]> 0 pork is cooked with a sauce of rice vinegar, black bean sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil and - a departure - chipotle chiles. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS)Tue, 20 Feb 2018 21:42:23 +0000
Here’s how you can make gnocchi extra special Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000

Extra means more, as well as more than more.

Tired of sidekick duty, chiming in on extra special and extra clean, extra is going solo. “She’s extra,” adults should note, means excessive.

Snide isn’t a full-time gig. Extra still works its day job, cheering on adjectives, redoubling the efforts of nouns. It notes that gnocchi, delicious solo, are extra delicious paired with extra elements, like spicy greens, toasted mushrooms and truffle salt. The combo adds up to more than the sum of its parts. In a word, it’s extraordinary.


Makes: 3 servings


1 large (3/4 pound) russet potato, scrubbed

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground nutmeg

Up to 1/2 cup cake flour


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup sliced white mushrooms

2 teaspoons rosemary, fresh or dried, chopped


3 ounces baby arugula

Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Truffle salt

Parmesan cheese, in a chunk

1. Bake: Stab potato twice with a sharp knife. Bake at 425 degrees until tender when squeezed, 55-60 minutes. Alternatively, zap tender 5-6 minutes. Halve baked potato and press through a potato ricer. Discard skin.

2. Mix: Drop yolk onto potatoes, scatter on 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grates of nutmeg. Stir with a fork, just to combine. Sprinkle on 2 or 3 tablespoons flour, and mix gently to form a soft dough, adding flour as needed – you may only need half the flour.

3. Roll: Divide dough in four. On a floured surface, roll each portion into a 3/4-inch-thick rope. Slice crosswise into 1-inch segments. Flip pieces over a fork, tines resting on table. Roll each gnocco down the back of the fork, pressing lightly, to imprint grooves.

4. Boil: Drop gnocchi into simmering salted water in batches. Gnocchi will sink, then, in about 1 minute, float. Count 10 seconds. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and cool on a kitchen towel.

5. Sizzle: In a wide skillet, heat butter and oil over medium. Slide in gnocchi and mushrooms; sprinkle with rosemary. Toss until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Pull out with a slotted spoon, and toss with half the vinaigrette.

6. Plate: Toss greens with vinaigrette to taste. Heap on each of 3 plates. Spoon gnocchi and mushrooms on top. Sprinkle with truffle salt. Carve on some Parmesan curls. Enjoy.

Vinaigrette: Let 2 tablespoons chopped red onion mellow in 11/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar for 20 minutes. Whisk in 11/2 tablespoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes and a little garlic mashed with salt.

]]> 0, 20 Feb 2018 21:37:10 +0000
Can a healthier angel food cake still have flavor? Sure. Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000

A lemon and vanilla bean angel food cake in Bethesda, Md., from a recipe by Melissa d’Arabian. Photo by Melissa d’Arabian via AP

Is there anything dreamier than the tender crumb of a light-as-air angel food cake? I’ve loved angel food cake ever since I first tasted it as a child.

In the ’80s, low-fat became the “healthy” battle cry, and angel food cake came into vogue, with no fat weighing it down, but plenty of white processed sugar fluffing it up. In fact, fat-free-but-sugary baked treats were practically a diet fad unto themselves for well over a decade. Of course, modern science (and let’s just say it: common sense) tells us that we could all benefit from cutting down on processed sugar.

So how to re-create the angel food cakes I adored as a child without throwing our blood sugar levels out of whack? Today’s recipe is the solution.

First, I cut the sugar down by about 25 percent over typical recipes and it worked great. Secondly, I skipped purchasing “superfine” white sugar, and tried less-processed organic versions. I pulsed the coarser sugar in the blender to make it powdery-fine. (It’s still sugar, but even baby steps toward healthy eating count!).

Instead of using super-starchy, lower-protein cake flour, I pulsed up regular flour in the blender to mimic the lightness. Also, I made the cake in a loaf pan, which resulted in us eating smaller slices versus tube pan versions by some visual trick of nature that I don’t fully understand, but have proven multiple times with my own family.

For flavor, since I’m not a huge plain-sugar fan anymore, I added lemon zest and lovely-speckled vanilla bean. I served it with a quick lemony glaze made from Greek yogurt. (You can consider this optional, if you are an angel food cake traditionalist.) Or, try a slice of this cake with a tiny square of dark, bitter chocolate for a perfect pairing.


Servings: 12

2/3 cup organic sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from pod

2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup egg whites, from approximately 7-8 eggs

1/4 teaspoon table salt

3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

GLAZE (optional):

1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup organic powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 F (310 F if using convection heat).

Place the sugar, zest and vanilla bean in a dry blender and pulse until well-blended and sugar is fine and fluffy. Pour about half the sugar into a small bowl and set aside. Add the flour to the remaining sugar in the blender and pulse again a few times to create a fine flour mixture. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar on medium speed just until frothy (under a minute). While mixing, carefully add the fine sugar (without the flour) to the egg whites, a tablespoon at a time. Continue beating the eggs until soft peaks form. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, place a sifter or sieve over the bowl and sift in half the flour and sugar mixture, and fold gently five or six times with a rubber spatula.

Sift in the remaining flour mixture and gently fold until no flour streaks remain. Scrape batter into a standard sized ungreased loaf pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden.

Remove from oven and place the loaf pan upside down, resting on two cans on the counter to cool (upside down, not touching the counter) completely (45 minutes).

Once cooled, remove the cake by sliding a knife around the edges of the cake. Whisk the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle on the cake when serving, if desired.

]]> 0 lemon and vanilla bean angel food cake in Bethesda, Md. This dish is from a recipe by Melissa d'Arabian. (Melissa d'Arabian via AP)Tue, 20 Feb 2018 22:03:27 +0000
What’s your (guilty) food pleasure? Go ahead and enjoy it. You’re not alone. Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000

Ben Hasty of Thistle Pig restaurant in South Berwick holds some of his favorite snacks: Kettle Brand Jalapeño Potato Chips, Fox Family Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips and Late July Snacks Green Mojo Multi-Grain Tortilla Chips. “I love chips. If I open the bag, I come close to finishing them,” he says. Above and top: Staff photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Like a lot of other chefs, Ben Hasty of Thistle Pig in South Berwick lists on his menu the local farms where he buys fresh, unprocessed beef, pork and vegetables. He serves only sustainable seafood. He even has a special “Stay on Track Menu” dedicated to helping his customers keep their New Year’s resolutions with healthy dishes such as a Super Greens Salad and a Spicy Quinoa Bowl.

But put a bag of potato chips in his hands, and Hasty is suddenly powerless.

“I love chips,” he said. “If I open the bag, I come close to finishing them.”

Hasty and other chefs, it turns out, are like the rest of us. They’re human. They talk a good game when it comes to eating great food and avoiding processed junk, but they almost always have at least one guilty pleasure – that snack food or bad-for-you meal that they just can’t resist. Some have even (gasp) been through fast food drive-thrus.

A few find their fixations embarrassing. Take Niko Regas, the chef at Emilitsa in Portland, and Dave Mallari, chef/owner at The Sinful Kitchen in Portland, who both confess to having a thing for Americanized Chinese food. Oh, the horror.

“Normally I don’t tell people this, but…” Regas begins before revealing his love of extra-spicy sesame chicken with a side of beef teriyaki skewers.

Mallari goes all in, visiting all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets where he doesn’t have to wait to order and “some of the dishes are really good.”

“I usually go in dressed like the Unabomber, with a hoodie and sunglasses, so that no one sees me eating there,” he joked.

For Sara Jenkins, chef/owner of Nina June in Rockport, a guilty pleasure break from her classic Mediterranean-style food is a classic grilled cheese-and-tomato sandwich made with white bread and Kraft American singles. But most of the guilty pleasures Maine chefs will admit to are just what you’d expect – salty or sweet treats, or that winning trifecta of salty, sweet and crunchy.

Judy Donnelly, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Nutrition Works in Portland, said when you think about the foods that people crave, such as ice cream and potato chips, they are foods that stimulate the sweet, sour and salty taste bud centers in the mouth. “They’re quick, they’re easy and they taste good,” she said.

Chefs, she noted, understand how to capitalize on these flavor proclivities, turning even salads into bursts of flavor that include, for example, tangy vinaigraitte, sweet candied walnuts and salty feta cheese.

Nothing is wrong with occasionally indulging in guilty pleasures, she said – within limits.

“We don’t have to be perfect eaters,” Donnelly said. “I do think we have to take care of ourselves and eat foods that are going to be protective of our health.”

A lot of Maine chefs have a sweet tooth. Jake Smith at Black Birch in Kittery says his weakness is Oreo cookies – and not the double-stuffed kind, or the flavored ones, just regular Oreos. “I don’t buy them anymore, but if they end up in my house I will eat the entire package in one to two days,” Smith said. “With a glass of milk, of course.”

Guy Hernandez, chef/owner of Lolita in Portland, says he has no willpower when it comes to doughnuts.

“I am hard-pressed to pass up on a basic glazed doughnut and a black cup of coffee,” he said, “even at a sketchy rest area or gas station.”

His mother-in-law buys him little powdered doughnuts from the grocery store “because she heard a story about me eating a whole bag when I was little. I resist them as long as I can, but when I get home after work and the whole family is asleep, their siren song is often too much,” Hernandez said.

Other chefs favor salty snacks. Clay Norris, chef/owner of Baharat in Portland, is hooked on Goldfish crackers, which he says are the perfect size and crunch, and have just the right amount of salt. And Hasty isn’t the only chef with a predilection for salty chips. James Beard Award winner Melissa Kelly, owner of Primo in Rockland, is obsessed with the salt-and-vinegar variety. The brand is important, too, she says: They must be Lay’s Kettle Cooked.

“I can eat them until my tongue is raw,” she said. “Embarrassing.”

Another James Beard Award winner, Mike Wiley of Hugo’s, Eventide Oyster Co. and The Honey Paw in Portland, once mentioned that his favorite snack is Andy Capp’s Hot Fries, which are sold at gas station convenience stores. Two years later, his love for them has not diminished. Indeed, it has only grown.

“I’ve recently fallen prey to the siren’s call of Andy Capp’s Cheddar Fries,” he said, calling it “more of a low-octane snack food than the Hot Fries, although I love them both.”


Jeff Buerhaus, the chef at Walter’s in Portland, couches his chip cravings in the guise of doing a good deed. A longtime employee collects old and limited edition food packaging, so whenever Buerhaus goes shopping, or when he travels, he is on the lookout for “unique, funky or limited chips.”

Fox Family Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips, one of Ben Hasty’s favorite snacks. Hasty is the chef/owner at Thistle Pig restaurant in South Berwick. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

He enjoys presenting his finds, and sharing the contents of the packaging with his staff before weekend service so the employee can have the remains for his collection. Buerhaus’ favorites are always changing, he says, but over the years he has found – and eaten – truffle chips, poutine chips, garam masala-flavored chips made by Lay’s for the Indian market, cheeseburger and hot dog chips, and “guess the flavor” chips. The “golden chalice” of chips, he says, is a bag of the limited edition, rainbow-colored Doritos that Frito-Lay came out with in 2015 to raise money for an organization that helps LGBT youth.

Hasty’s favorite chips are Late July Green Mojo tortilla chips, Fox Family BBQ potato chips, and Kettle Buffalo Blue potato chips. When paired with salsa, Hasty said, a chip is “honestly kind of like the perfect bite. It excites your palate, and it’s a change of flavor from what you’ve been tasting throughout the day” in the restaurant.

Sometimes guilty pleasures are borne of childhood memories. James Beard Award winner Sam Hayward, who is a co-owner of Fore Street and Scales in Portland, names ice cream as his.

“My father grew up on a farm in western Kansas, and his family regularly cranked their own ice cream, rock-salt-and-crushed-ice style,” Hayward said. “All through my childhood, his homemade ice cream was a regular summertime weekend treat for our family and friends.”

David Levi, chef/owner of Vinland in Portland, also has a thing for ice cream, as well as peanut butter, licorice and dark chocolate. (He doesn’t feel guilty about that last one, though.) But what he yearns for most is the Austrian rum cake, or Punschkrapfen, of his youth, when he lived in New York City and had access to German and Austrian bakeries.

Evan Mallett, chef/owner of Ondine Oyster & Wine Bar in Belfast and Black Trumpet in Portsmouth, spends his days breaking down heritage hogs and cooking with heirloom beans, foraged mushrooms, and local dayboat fish. But when he gets a craving, it’s for tub cheese. Raised by a single mother who never put potato chips, candy bars or sodas into his lunchbox, Mallett would come home after school, get the tub cheese out of the refrigerator, grab a box of Stoned Wheat Thins from the pantry, and chow down.

“That was my hour of sin before my mother would get home from work,” Mallett said.

Today he prefers Squire Mountain tub cheese, which is made in Standish. But now that he is 49, he is trying to end his love affair with the stuff “because I was turning into a tub of cheese,” he said.

Mallett confesses that he once went through a Burger King drive-thru (and also proudly notes that although he adores Mexican food, he has never been to Taco Bell). Driving up I-95 with his kids, who had been fed, he could not quell his own hunger and was “famished.”

“I pulled off at a rest area and into a Burger King,” he recalled, “and ordered a Whopper Jr., which was the ‘thing’ when I was young and with my grandparents. That was my crack cocaine.”

Biting into the burger, he said, “took me back to that same peak of adrenaline, just wanting to shove the entire thing into my mouth.”

His young daughter scolded him, pointing out that eating the fast-food burger “was against everything I ever stood for.” She needn’t have worried because her father learned his lesson: He spent the next hour trying to get rid of out-of-control hiccups triggered, he says, by the sodium and other stuff in the burger.

Cara Stadler, chef/owner of Bao Bao Dumpling House in Portland and Tao Yuan in Brunswick, uses a drive-thru on road trips, but she’s not loyal to any particular brand. “I did have a problem in China at KFC,” she said. “They sell egg tarts, and they are so delicious and so unhealthy, but so cheap and good.”

Steve Corry, who owns Five Fifty-Five and Petite Jacqueline in Portland, goes through the McDonald’s drive-thru once a year with his two sons to re-create a favorite childhood memory – drinking a minty green Shamrock Shake, which is available only around St. Patrick’s Day. Each year, Corry (a proud Irish-American) orders the same thing: A Shamrock Shake and a McKinley Mac, a secret menu item “which is essentially a Big Mac made with quarter pounder patties instead of the small ones.” (Who knew?) He also gets a large order of fries with no salt. Then he oversalts the fries “so that I can dip them in my shake and enjoy the sharp contrast.”

“My kids seem to add something new to their order every year and walk out feeling as miserable and yet as happy as I do,” Corry said. “It should be noted that my wife does not partake in this debauchery as it does not appeal to any of her sensibilities. But hey, it’s once a year and a tradition of overindulgence that I am sure would make at least some of my Irish ancestors proud!”

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

Twitter: MeredithGoad

]]> 0, 21 Feb 2018 09:28:08 +0000
Colby museum receives gift of German Expressionist art Tue, 20 Feb 2018 22:10:31 +0000 Although she is closely associated with one of the great modern artists in American and Maine art history, Norma Boom Marin has always collected art based on her own personal tastes and likes. Marin, the widow of John Marin Jr. and daughter-in-law of the painter John Marin, began collecting German Expressionist prints after her husband died in 1988. Now, she’s giving 28 of those prints to the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville.

“This gift is such an expression of her commitment not just to the Colby College Museum of Art, but her commitment to the landscape of art in Maine,” said Sharon Corwin, director of the museum, which planned to make an announcement about the gift Wednesday.

Many of the 28 prints are brilliant or rare impressions, Corwin said, and include works on paper from German artists of the early 20th century, including Otto Dix and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. There are five prints by Max Beckmann, a color lithograph by Emil Nolde and a drypoint print by Conrad Felixmüller. Colby will show the prints as its major summer show, beginning July 14.

Corwin declined to put a dollar value on the gift. Its greatest value to the museum, she said, is that “it expands in such important ways our commitment to modernism, and now offers us a global, transnational expression of that important moment in the early-20th century when artists were grappling with the war and other societal challenges and beginning to express their art in the new formal language of modernism.”

The collection enables the museum to present a fuller narrative of global modernism, expanding research opportunities across the curriculum, said Diana Tuite, curator of modern and contemporary art at Colby, who called the gift “serendipitous and sudden.” Last fall, Tuite borrowed prints from Marin by Beckmann and Dix to complement another exhibition. That led to conversations that resulted in the gift.

In a phone interview from her home on Cape Split in South Addison, Marin said she assembled the collection over time, making decisions about what to buy based on how the art made her feel. An early purchase was a print by Lyonel Feininger, which caught her eye at a large print fair in New York.

“It was quite abstract, and it was quite different, on yellowish kind of paper. It was a strong print, so I thought, ‘Gee, this is really good. I like it.’ And I just kept buying these prints, because I liked them very much. If I loved it, I bought it,” she said.

Norma Marin has been a benefactor of the museum for many years and serves as a life member of its Board of Governors. She and her late husband gave the museum many works by John Marin, and she has supplemented those early gifts with gifts of her own, including more than 150 photographs. The gift of German prints is the latest example of her unique tastes, Corwin said. “The thing about Norma, she has one of the most refined eyes out there. She sees art in such a unique way and has such visual acuity, she can put collections together that are rare in their uniqueness.”

The Marin family has deep Maine roots. John Marin first visited Maine in 1914, spending the late summer and early fall on a small island off Phippsburg in Casco Bay. He made near-annual trips to the midcoast and Down East until his death in 1953.

Selections from the museum’s Marin collection will be on view this summer as part of “Modern Wonder: The John Marin Collection,” an exhibition devoted to Marin’s career and the history of the Marin collection at Colby.

“Self and Society: The Norma Boom Marin Collection of German Expressionist Prints” will open July 14.


]]> 0"Tingel-Tangel III," Emil Nolde, 1907-1915. Color lithograph over transfer lithograph on wove paper, 16 ⅞ x 24 in. (42.9 x 61 cm). Colby College Museum of Art. The Norma Boom Marin Collection of German Expressionist Prints, 2017.461.Wed, 21 Feb 2018 00:04:42 +0000
David Rockefeller’s amazing art collection is going up for auction. Here’s a peek Tue, 20 Feb 2018 17:14:26 +0000 LONDON — An art collection amassed by billionaire David Rockefeller could raise more than $500 million for charity when it is auctioned this spring.

Auctioneer Christie’s is selling hundreds of artworks including major paintings by Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, from the collection of the oil-family scion and his wife Peggy .

Rockefeller, grandson of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller, died in March at the age of 101. His family is selling the art collection to benefit cultural, educational, medical and environmental charities.

It includes Monet’s water-lily painting “Nympheas en fleur,” estimated to sell for $50 million to $70 million, and Picasso’s “Fillette a la corbeille fleurie (Young Girl with a Flower Basket),” which has an estimate of $90 million to $120 million.

“You end up running out of superlatives,” Jonathan Rendell, deputy chairman of Christie’s Americas, said at a preview Tuesday. “Some of the things are jaw-dropping.”

Rendell cites Picasso’s “extraordinary” portrait of a young girl, which was painted in 1905 when the artist was in his early 20s, and first bought by writer Gertrude Stein.

Also up for sale is a small painting of an apple, given by Picasso as a gift to Stein, a friend and patron.

“That little apple is a lovely object because it takes you right into the history of art,” Rendell said. “Picasso’s gift to Gertrude Stein, who made his career – it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Matisse’s reclining nude, “Odalisque couchee aux magnolias” is expected to sell for $50 million, breaking the sale record for the artist.

Billionaire philanthropist David Rockefeller was the grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller. 1981 photo via AP

“I expect to see quite a lot of records broken,” Rendell said. He added: “That was my most English understatement.”

Rockefeller’s estate is selling more than 2,000 objects, including modern art masterpieces, Chinese export porcelain, American paintings and European furniture, according to Christie’s. The results could be the largest tally in auction history, according to current and former auction specialists.

Along with major European Impressionist and modern paintings and works by American artists such as Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keeffe, the auction will feature a selection of furniture, jewelry, Chinese bronzes and porcelain – including a dessert service that accompanied Napoleon into exile on the island of Elba.

Highlights of the collection are on display in London from Wednesday to March 8. There will also be previews in Paris, Beijing, Los Angeles and Shanghai before a series of sales in New York from May 7 to 11.

An avid collector, Rockefeller promised about 30 significant artworks to MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, said Fraser Seitel, a spokesman for the estate. Those works will be excluded from the Christie’s auctions.

Rockefeller’s will specified that an Andrew Wyeth painting, “River Cove,” be given to the Portland Museum of Art, Forbes reported at the time of his death.

Christie’s competed for the collection with rival Sotheby’s, which offered the Rockefellers a guarantee of more than $650 million in 2013, according to a person familiar with the matter. A Sotheby’s spokesperson declined to comment.

Christie’s top sale for an estate collection was that of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge, which tallied $484 million in February 2009, according to the firm. Competitor Sotheby’s top estate sale was the collection of its former chairman A. Alfred Taubman that tallied $469 million in 2015 and 2016, according to the company.

]]> 0, 21 Feb 2018 18:05:18 +0000
Peanut allergy treatment showing signs of success Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:12:38 +0000 The first treatment to help prevent serious allergic reactions to peanuts may be on the way. A company said Tuesday that its daily capsules of peanut flour helped sensitize children to nuts in a major study.

Millions of children have peanut allergies, and some may have life-threatening reactions if accidentally exposed to them. Doctors have been testing daily doses of peanut flour, contained in a capsule and sprinkled over food, as a way to prevent that.

California-based Aimmune (AIM-yoon) Therapeutics said 67 percent of kids who had its treatment were able to tolerate the equivalent of roughly two peanuts at the end of the study, compared to only 4 percent of others given a dummy powder.

The study involved nearly 500 kids ages 4 to 17 with severe peanut allergies. They were given either capsules of peanut flour or a dummy powder in gradually increasing amounts for six months, then continued on that final level for another six months. Neither the participants nor their doctors knew who was getting what until the study ended.

About 20 percent of kids getting the peanut powder dropped out of the study, 12 percent due to reactions or other problems.

The results have not yet been reviewed by independent experts, but will be presented at a medical meeting next month.

The company plans to file for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the treatment by the end of this year, and for approval in Europe early next year.

]]> 0, 20 Feb 2018 13:32:21 +0000
South Portland greenhouse plan envisions grow space for multiple restaurants Tue, 20 Feb 2018 03:58:01 +0000 SOUTH PORTLAND — The Planning Board last Tuesday approved an amended site plan for a $500,000 commercial greenhouse in the industrial section of the city.

The proposed 14,200-square-foot greenhouse will be built on a 2-acre lot at 25 Duck Pond Road.

The applicant and developer, John Crowley, doing business as 110 Dartmouth Street LLC, plans on leasing growing space to tenants.

The goal of the project is to provide urban agriculture space for local restaurants.

The design of the greenhouse will be a metal frame with glass panels underneath plastic.

In addition to the greenhouse, a 5,000-square-foot gravel area for soils and material storage, as well a parking area for eight vehicles, several generator pads, a transformer and job trailer are proposed.

“That’s a lot of tomatoes and vegetables to make this commercially viable,” said board member William Laidley, who questioned compliance rates and the experience of the development team in working with similar projects, as well as noting the city has not had a similar project come before the board.

Project engineer Daniel Diffin, of Sevee & Maher Engineers, said no tenants have yet been secured to lease the space. Diffin said he has worked on similar commercial agriculture projects with Backyard Farms in Madison and Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.

Department of Environmental Protection permits have been secured for the project, Diffin said.

As one condition of the approval, marijuana cultivation will not be allowed at the site unless the state and city allow such a use and the necessary permits and licenses are in place, said Tex Haeuser, the city’s planning director. Crowley is not seeking to grow marijuana, Haeuser noted.

Inspection of the site by the city’s code enforcement officer is also a condition of approval.

The greenhouse can be partitioned off into four units, depending on the type of vegetables or herbs being produced. A compost shelter will also be built at the facility, Diffin said.

Some board members questioned how a pesticide management plan would be developed and enforced.

Diffin said a plan would be the responsibility of the individual tenants. Such plans would have to be approved by the city’s sustainability director.

During the public comment period, resident Russ Lunt said the greenhouse sounds like a wonderful project that fits well in the area where it’s proposed, near the Public Works Department, the city’s landfill and other commercial operations, such as Hannaford Bros..

“It would be a great addition out there,” Lunt said.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661- ext., 106 or at:

]]> 0, 20 Feb 2018 10:09:26 +0000
New, revised emoji comes with correct number of legs Tue, 20 Feb 2018 03:30:43 +0000 Score one for advocates of anatomically correct emojis.

Responding to outrage from lobster leg aficionados and the Accuracy in Emojis movement (OK, not really), the organization that decides which digital images can dress up the world’s emails, texts and tweets has literally given its new lobster emoji two more legs to stand on.

Soon after the Unicode Consortium released proposed images of the 157 new emojis expected to be available in 2018, some folks noticed the little red lobster came up a bit short. Lobsters have 10 legs – including their tasty claws – but the proposed emoji showed only eight legs plus a tail that appeared somewhat malformed.

While a common mistake even among businesses that should arguably know better (ahem, Red Lobster), an eight-legged lobster even in digital cartoonish form didn’t sit well with some people.

“The #lobsteremoji is happening! Hopefully the final version will have the right number of legs,” tweeted the folks from Rockland’s annual Maine Lobster Festival on Feb. 12 above a picture of an anatomically correct, 10-legged version.

Well, the reference site that creates emoji images took note.

“We heard you. We made some mistakes. And we are fixing them,” Jeremy Burge, chief emoji officer at Emojipedia, wrote in a blog post Monday unveiling changes to the digital icons for lobster, skateboards and DNA. Emojipedia designs the sample images for emojis, which are then displayed by the Unicode Consortium.

The new proposed emoji has two more legs just behind the cartoon crustacean’s carapace as well as a slightly tweaked tail.

In an email, Burge noted that Emojipedia’s lobster emoji is just a “sample image” of what could eventually be available. The companies that make the emojis available to users, such as Apple and Adobe, could come up with their own versions.

“I have to say that I’m a bit embarrassed we didn’t get the leg count right the first time, but I’m happy it was brought to our attention so quickly!” Burge wrote. “I hope to visit Maine one day and will be sure to make liberal use of the lobster emoji when I do.”

Of course, Mainers and lobster lovers weren’t the only ones to critique the accuracy of the new emojis. Emojipedia also “fixed” the DNA emoji to show that the double-helix that carries genetic data twists to the right, not to the left as originally proposed. And Burge wrote in his blog post that skateboarding legend Tony Hawk was brought in as an “emoji advisor” to inform Emojipedia’s second attempt at a skateboard after Hawk pointed out a few foibles in the original.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who pushed hard for an emoji honoring the state’s $500 million commercial lobster fishery, was pleased with the revisions.

“Senator King knows that many around the world were rightly steamed by the exclusion of two legs from the original design, and is grateful that Emojipedia took quick action to ensure that Maine’s delicious decapod will be accurately represented when it crawls onto phones in the coming months,” King spokesman John Faherty said in a statement.

The updated lobster emoji is expected to be available later this year – hopefully in time for Maine tourists to spice up their tweets, snaps and Facebook posts about chowing down on the real thing.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH


CORRECTION: This story was updated at 1:56 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2018, to say that Emojipedia designs the sample emojis, which are then displayed by the Unicode Consortium. 

]]> 0 Unicode Consortium's first attempt at a lobster emoji had a shortage of legs and a slight tail problem.Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:33:57 +0000
Bates is No. 1 college nationally for Fulbright recipients Tue, 20 Feb 2018 03:01:04 +0000 LEWISTON — With 23 Fulbright Student award recipients this year, Bates College has produced more than any other liberal arts college.

And despite Bates’ relative smallness, about 1,800 students, only six universities across America wound up with more.

The international educational exchange program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is among the most prominent honors that new graduates can claim.

“We are honored to be recognized by the Fulbright Program and proud of what it signals — that our students graduate from Bates prepared to contribute on a global stage,” Bates President Clayton Spencer said in a prepared statement.

“Two-thirds of our students study abroad. They do community-engaged work at more than twice the national average, and they work closely with faculty to develop skills in language, cultural studies and an understanding of world affairs.”

Bates’ 23 current Fulbright Student recipients are now engaged in multimonth research and teaching experiences in 18 countries that stretch from Canada to Thailand.

Spencer said she is “thrilled for our students, grateful for the leadership of the program on our campus and deeply appreciative of the generosity of our faculty and staff in helping our students prepare for these important opportunities.”

Bates has been posting everstronger numbers in the Fulbright ranks, rising from six as recently as 2013.

This year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the second ranking Fulbright producer is nearby Bowdoin College, which has 20. Williams College in Massachusetts has 19 to snag the third spot.

Number one among all institutions: Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, with 39.

The only other schools to top Bates’ total: University of Notre Dame (29), Northwestern University (25), Princeton University (25), University of Michigan (25) and Harvard University (24).

]]> 0, 20 Feb 2018 13:32:28 +0000
Max Desfor, overseas news photographer who won Pulitzer Prize, dies at 104 Mon, 19 Feb 2018 22:45:51 +0000 WASHINGTON — Former Associated Press photographer Max Desfor, whose photo of hundreds of Korean War refugees crawling across a damaged bridge in 1950 helped win him a Pulitzer Prize, died Monday. He was 104.

Desfor died at his apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he’d been living in his retirement, said his son, Barry.

Desfor volunteered to cover the Korean War for the news service when the North invaded the South in June 1950. He parachuted into North Korea with U.S troops and retreated with them after forces from the North, joined by the Chinese, pushed south.

He was in a Jeep near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang when he spotted a bridge that had been hit by bombing along the Taedong River. Thousands of refugees were lined up on the north bank waiting their turn to cross the river.

“We came across this incredible sight,” he recalled in 1997 for an AP oral history. “All of these people who are literally crawling through these broken-down girders of the bridge. They were in and out of it, on top, underneath, and just barely escaping the freezing water.”

Desfor climbed a 50-foot-high section of the bridge to photograph the refugees as they fled for their lives.

“My hands got so cold I could barely trip the shutter on my camera,” he remembered. “I couldn’t even finish a full pack of film. It was just that cold.”

The Pulitzer jury in 1951 determined that Desfor’s photos from Korea the previous year had “all the qualities which make for distinguished news photography – imagination, disregard for personal safety, perception of human interest and the ability to make the camera tell the whole story.” The Pulitzer board honored his overall coverage of the war, based on a portfolio of more than 50 photos, and cited the Taedong River bridge shot in particular.

A native of New York, Desfor was born in the Bronx on Nov. 8, 1913, and attended Brooklyn College. He joined the AP in 1933 as a messenger. After teaching himself the basics of photography and moonlighting as a baby photographer, he began shooting occasional assignments for the AP. He became a staff photographer in the Baltimore bureau in 1938 and moved to the Washington bureau a year later.

During World War II, Desfor photographed the crew of the Enola Gay after the B-29 landed in Saipan from its mission to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945. He was with the first wave of Marines at Tokyo Bay shortly after Japan’s surrender that month and photographed the official surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945.

Desfor worked for the AP in the Philippines and in India, where he photographed Mahatma Gandhi and later covered the assassinated leader’s funeral in 1948. He also worked in the AP’s Rome bureau and was set to return to the U.S. when war broke out in Korea.

After the war Desfor served as supervising editor of Wide World Photos, the AP’s photo service, and returned to Asia in 1968 as photo chief for the region. He retired from the AP in 1978, then joined U.S. News & World Report as photo director.

Desfor and his wife, Clara, raised a son, Barry, of Wauconda, Illinois. She died in 2004.

In January 2012, when he was 98, Desfor and his longtime companion, Shirley Belasco, surprised guests at a party celebrating her 90th birthday by marrying in front of their guests. They had been friends since the 1980s when the Desfors and Ms. Belasco lived in the same Silver Springs apartment building and became a couple a few years after his wife’s death.

A photo Desfor took during his long career that had particular meaning to him also came from the Korean War. Walking near a field he spotted two hands, blue from cold, sticking up in the snow and photographed them. The hands, which had been bound, belonged to one of several civilians taken prisoner and executed, their bodies left to be covered by snowfall.

“I labeled that picture, later on, ‘Futility,’ because it’s always been – I’ve always felt that it’s the civilians caught in the crossfire, the civilians, the innocent civilians, how futile it is for war,” he said for the oral history. “That epitomized it to me.”

]]> 0 refugees crawl perilously over the shattered girders of a bombed bridge in Pyongyang, North Korea, in a photo taken by Max Desfor.Tue, 20 Feb 2018 13:30:48 +0000
Experimental French jazz violinist Didier Lockwood dies at 62 Mon, 19 Feb 2018 22:31:45 +0000 PARIS — French jazz violinist Didier Lockwood, whose eclectic career spanned more than four decades and the world’s most prestigious festivals and concert halls, has died. He was 62.

Lockwood’s agent, Christophe Deghelt, said in a statement on Twitter that Lockwood died suddenly Sunday, a day after he performed in Paris.

President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute Monday to the musician he called a “friend and partner of the greatest” and said possessed “influence, open-mindedness and immense musical talent” that will be missed.

As a composer and an improviser while performing, Lockwood enjoyed crossing musical genres, from jazz-rock to classical. He was known for experimenting with different sounds on the electric violin.

He’s survived by his wife, French soprano Patricia Petibon, and three daughters.

]]> 0, 19 Feb 2018 17:55:01 +0000
Hopeful poets bringing fight against gun violence to Maine Mon, 19 Feb 2018 20:19:13 +0000 For more than five years now, Brian Clements has led an urgent and frustrating effort to end gun violence in America. The kids in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people died last week when their school was shot up by a former student, give him hope that maybe this time the outcome will be different.

“I am personally glad to see the people of Parkland, and especially the kids, speak out more vociferously, and I hope their voices will become the new voices of leadership,” said Clements, a poet from Newtown, Connecticut. He has helped edit a new literary anthology, “Bullets Into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence,” published by Beacon Press.

The book includes more than 50 poems by well-known poets, including Richard Blanco of Bethel, who contributed a poem that he wrote in response to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman killed 49 people and injured 58 others. Judi Richardson of South Portland, whose daughter, Darien, was the victim of a gun homicide in 2010, also contributed an essay about the damage a bullet can do and what it’s like to watch someone suffer and die from bullet wounds.

Richardson was the lead citizen sponsor of a 2016 ballot measure to require background checks on all gun sales in Maine. The measure failed. She and her husband co-founded Remembering Darien, a nonprofit committed to helping victims of violent crime.

Clements, Blanco and Richardson will read from the book and talk about gun violence and what can be done to end it at 7 p.m. March 6 at the Portland Public Library. The Telling Room, which empowers youths by helping them become better writers, is hosting the reading, and Telling Room writers also will participate.

Clements’ wife taught at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where 20 children and six staff members died in a shooting in 2012. She still teaches in the Newtown school system.

Since that attack, Clements, a professor of writing at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, has made ending gun violence a priority. The anthology is one result of his efforts. He took a sabbatical to promote the book. Clements and his team of editors are scheduling events like the one in Portland in every state and the District of Columbia.

The goal, he said, is to use the book to begin community conversations. He arranged the book so that each poem is followed by a response from a victim of gun violence, a community leader or activist seeking changes.

“There is kind of a conversation that rises out of the dynamic between the poem and the response to the poem, and we are trying to replicate that at our events,” he said.

Over the weekend, when he heard the students from Parkland speak up confidently and with conviction, Clements sensed that maybe, just maybe, people will listen to the youth of Parkland and laws will change. He is hopeful.

“It’s good to see the people in Parkland are dealing with it the way they are,” he said. He noted that most mass shootings at schools have been at elementary schools and colleges, “where the responses have been more circumspect and controlled. It’s interesting that high school students are speaking out in a way we haven’t seen other people do.”

Richardson is eager to hear what the students of Portland have to say, and hopeful about their ability to take control of the conversation. “We are getting all these students speaking up and getting involved,” she said. “We are at a critical point here.”

In the book, she responded to a poem by Aziza Barnes, “I Could Ask But I Think They Use Tweezers.”

“To me, her poem is about the physical effects of gun violence on the body and how the bullet breaks your system apart and how a bullet is so small and yet so powerful,” Richardson said. “When I read her poem, I thought about our daughter. It resonated with me.”

Darien survived for three weeks in a hospital, after being shot several times by masked intruders who broke into her Portland duplex. She spent two days in intensive care and 18 days as an inpatient. Her parents watched her suffer as she worked to recover, and she died of complications from her wounds after being discharged from the hospital. One bullet traveled the length of her thigh and lodged in her hip, where it remained. Another bullet shredded the thumb of her left hand.

She died unexpectedly on Feb. 28, 2010, while visiting a friend in Miami. The Florida Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Richardson died from a pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot, a result of the wound to her thigh.

“The bullets caused so much damage that we couldn’t see,” her mother said Monday. “We were hopeful our daughter was going to live, but there was too much damage. The response I wrote was just that. I was hopeful. We watched our daughter suffer, but we never realized she wasn’t going to make it.”

Her murder remains unsolved.

Blanco readily agreed when asked to contribute a poem because he thought it was an important and powerful project. He has written about gun violence before. Blanco referenced the Sandy Hook shootings in the poem “One Today,” which he wrote and delivered for President Obama’s second inauguration.

He offered the editors of the anthology “One Pulse, One Poem,” which he wrote after the Pulse shootings in June 2016. “Let’s place each memory like a star, the light of their past reaching us now, and always, reminding us to keep writing until we never need to write a poem like this again,” he writes.

“Things seemed urgent back then,” the poet said in an email. “And yet, nothing has changed. My favorite poem in the anthology, ‘The Gun Joke’ by Jamaal May, speaks to that absurdity. I think it’s time that we give up on our government and take matters into our own hands – create a national citizens initiative, similar to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to sustain that sense of urgency that will hopefully lead to a tipping point.”

For the Telling Room, working with Clements to host the community discussion was a natural partnership, said Celine Kuhn, the Telling Room’s executive director.

“Gun violence is on the mind of every student who walks through our doors and every student we meet in a classroom,” Kuhn said. “We feel a responsibility to amplify student voices on this issue, as they’re the ones most affected by it on a daily basis.”

Clements met representatives of the Telling Room at a national writing conference a few years ago, and thought of the Portland organization when he began arranging the “Bullets Into Bells” event in Maine.

“Their mission so closely aligns with the idea of the conversation we want to have with the book,” he said.

It will not be an abstract discussion, Clements promised. It will include facts and data about gun violence in Maine, so people can better understand how gun violence affects their communities.

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

Twitter: pphbkeyes

]]> 0 Richard Blanco has contributed a poem to "Bullets Into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence," and will read from the book at an event March 6 in Portland.Mon, 19 Feb 2018 23:39:41 +0000
Union College says it found strand of George Washington’s hair Mon, 19 Feb 2018 02:46:12 +0000 SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Tucked in the pages of a grimy, leather-bound almanac in the archives at New York’s Union College was a tiny envelope with the hand-scrawled words “Washington’s hair.”

A librarian who had been cataloging old books gingerly opened the yellowed envelope to find a lock of silvery hair tied with a thread.

“It was one of those mind-blowing moments that happen every once in a while in a librarian’s life,” said John Myers, a catalog and metadata librarian at the college. “I thought, that doesn’t mean George Washington, does it?”

It apparently does.

While college officials can’t say for sure it’s the real deal, the historical evidence is there. The hair was discovered in a pocket-sized almanac for the year 1793 that belonged to Philip J. Schuyler, son of General Philip Schuyler, who served under Washington during the Revolutionary War and founded Union College in 1795.

Susan Holloway Scott, an independent scholar and author, said locks of hair were frequently given as gifts during Washington’s day and it’s likely Martha Washington gave the snip of her husband’s hair to Eliza Schuyler, daughter of the general and wife of Alexander Hamilton.

Eliza passed it on to her son, James A. Hamilton, as noted by the handwriting on the envelope: “from James A. Hamilton given him by his mother, Aug. 10, 1871.”

A prominent collector of celebrity hair believes it’s truly a relic of the nation’s first president.

“There’s no doubt in my mind it’s genuine,” said John Reznikoff, founder of University Archives in Westport, Connecticut. And Reznikoff knows hair. His personal collection of 150 locks includes a brain-speckled strand plucked from Abraham Lincoln’s fatal wound, a voodoo charm made from Jimi Hendrix’s hair and sartorial samples from Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Napoleon, Marilyn Monroe and, of course, George Washington.

India Spartz, head of special collections and archives at Union, called the hair “a very significant treasure” that will eventually be displayed at the liberal arts college.

Union has no plans to put the hair through DNA testing, in part because it could destroy part of the lock.

Reznikoff said hair locks are typically authenticated through examination of associated artifacts and historical connections rather than by DNA testing because genetic tests aren’t always reliable without the hair’s root attached and the possible contamination of DNA from multiple people who likely handled the hair.

“Most hair locks stand or fail on the basis of written provenance,” Reznikoff said. “So one needs really to consult with document experts rather than scientists.”

For librarian Myers, he’s still coming to grips with what he found during an otherwise mundane December day.

“It’s not nearly as significant as finding some obscure medieval manuscript from some important author,” he said. “But in the context of a small upstate college, this is, like wow! Kind of exciting!”

]]> 0 might be a lock of George Washington's hair and the envelope that contained it are seen on a table in the Union College library in Schenectady, N.Y. John Myers, the college's catalog and metadata librarian, discovered the hair strands in a yellowed envelope he'd found in a grimy old leather-bound almanac in the school's archives.Sun, 18 Feb 2018 21:55:16 +0000
Recipe: Cheesy potato casserole Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:28 +0000 I recently attended a funeral in upstate New York. One of the comfort foods served after the service was a cheesy potato casserole, aka funeral potatoes. I’ve adapted it here with Maine potatoes and smoked cheese. The cornflake topping is traditional.

Serves 6

5 tablespoons butter

3 cups cornflakes, lightly crushed

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

11/2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

11/4 cups shredded smoked cheddar or gouda cheese (about 5 ounces)

2 pounds Maine potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch cubes

1/2 cup sour cream, crème fraîche, or mascarpone cheese

1/4 cup chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9X13-inch baking dish.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Mix 2 tablespoons of the melted butter with the corn flakes in a bowl and set aside.

Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute to make a roux. Combine the vegetable broth and milk in a measuring cup and slowly whisk the mixture into the roux. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until it thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

Take the pot off the heat and stir in the smoked cheese until smooth. Fold in the potatoes. Stir in the sour cream (crème fraîche or mascarpone) and chives.

Transfer the saucy potatoes to the prepared baking dish and top with the reserved buttered cornflakes. Place the baking dish on top of a baking sheet to catch any sauce that may bubble over. Bake for 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly around the edges. Let the potatoes rest for 10 minutes before serving.

]]> 0, 15 Feb 2018 19:55:19 +0000
Homegrown: Shuck oysters sustainably with edgy knives Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Using the right tool for the job is always good advice. Recently, when I took an oyster-shucking class in Portland, Chris Sherman, president of Island Creek Oysters, made just that point about shucking knives. His favorite is one he designed himself.

The blade is milled by a 150-year-old knife manufacturer in Athol, Massachusetts, and its bright orange handle is composite plastic made from recycled ocean plastic.

“We teamed up with folks that collect derelict fishing nets from around the ocean, and then grind them up and put them into plastic,” Sherman said.

The knife is based on a French knife, Sherman said, “beefed…up a little bit” to be able to handle strong-shelled East Coast oysters. “You need to tailor your knife to you, and you need to tailor your knife to the oyster that you’re shucking.”

Eastern oysters are much smaller than Louisiana ones, for instance, but attach strongly to their shells, so it takes a sharper knife to pry them open. The knife shouldn’t be too sharp, lest the shucker wound herself, Sherman said, “but you want something that will get into the oyster and do the job of cutting that adductor muscle away.”

The adductor muscle is the muscle that attaches the oyster to the shell. Cutting it can be tricky, and if it’s not done just right the knife can mutilate the oyster meat. It will taste fine, but won’t look very pretty.

The other thing Sherman looks for in an oyster knife is a durable handle. Wood is durable and looks fancier than orange plastic, but if sustainability is important to you, go with the orange and feel good about the fact that you are removing plastic trash from the ocean that can kill marine life.

The orange shucking knives are sold for $20 at The Shop, Island Creek’s oyster bar at 123 Washington Ave. in Portland.


]]> 0, 15 Feb 2018 18:12:04 +0000
Spring into action: A brief guide to starting your own seeds Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 The bookmark I have been using since Halloween came from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and includes a list of dates telling gardeners when to start their seeds indoors. I knew it would come in handy.

The first seed to plant, it says, is delphinium, also called larkspur. They are tall, striking plants with large spiky blossoms in blue, purple, pink and white that are a staple in the English cottage garden. Some are perennials, but the showier ones are annuals, so if you want to start them you will have to move quickly.

The first decision on starting vegetables and annual flowers from seed is whether you want to do it all. We have in our cellar 8-foot-long fluorescent lights that can be lowered (using chains hanging from the rafters) to just-planted seed pots and raised as the seedlings grow. We used to plant onions, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons and flowers of every description. We saved a lot of money in those times – money we needed to help send our children to college.

Later on, we started regularly traveling in March, and getting people to come over and water the vegetable seedlings was not practical. We seldom use the artificial-light setup now.

The advantages of planting seedlings yourself are three: You save money. You choose the exact varieties you want to grow because seed suppliers sell many more varieties than any farmer or garden center grows. And you get to be involved in the growing process from start to finish.

If those things don’t appeal to you, skip the work and enjoy Tucson or Tampa or wherever it is you vacation during mud season, and buy your seedlings when you get back to Maine in April or May.

If you’ve decided you do indeed want to grow seedlings, get supplies now.

Start with the seeds. Avoid the standards like Ace pepper and Beefeater and Early Girl tomatoes. Everybody will be planting those. Go through the Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog and pick some of their newer All-America Selections winners, or the Fedco catalogue to pick varieties that performed well in their tests. Experiment a little, and try some of those small seed packets from Pinetree.

Then figure out your planting order.

Onions, including leeks and shallots, take the longest among the vegetables, and the seeds should be planted in late February. Celery, celeriac and kale seeds are planted in mid-March. Peppers, eggplant, broccoli and cabbage seeds go in early April, tomatoes in mid-April and cucumbers, melons and squash in early May.

Most home gardeners should plant in 1- to 2-inch pots, getting one seedling per pot. Commercial growers often plant seeds in 2-inch-deep flats measuring about 10 by 20 inches, and then transfer the seeds to seedling pots after they sprout. If you are growing 50 or fewer plants, don’t bother. Get small pots with drainage holes, made of plastic, peat or even paper and avoid the extra transplanting step.

Water the containers thoroughly, then fill them with a soil-less planting medium. We use Pro Mix, but there are many brands on the market.

Press the damp soil to firm it a bit and then plant seeds in the pots, covering them about the same depth as the seed is wide. Use finger pinches of dry mix for covering seeds and press again to firm the soil. Put four to six seeds in each pot because not all of them will germinate. Label each pot as you plant it and then cover them with clear plastic and put them in a warm spot, preferably 65 to 70 degrees. Large plastic trays for which you can buy clear plastic domed lids are available commercially, and if you start seeds every year you may want to purchase some of these. You can get a heat mat, too, but if you heat your home with wood, a spot near the woodstove will work well, as will on top of the refrigerator or near your basement furnace.

Now you wait – and how long depends on the seed. Squash can sprout in as little as four days. Peppers will take at least nine days and possibly as long as 14 days.

Once the seeds sprout, remove the plastic and put the pots under artificial light for 14 to 16 hours a day. If you do your planting in April or later and have a good south-facing window, a sun porch or a small greenhouse, you can use natural light from your windows. Once the seedlings have two sets of true leaves, start watering with a weak solution of liquid fertilizer. To prevent diseases that develop from soggy soil, wait between waterings until the soil is almost dry.

After a few weeks, if you have several seedlings growing in a small pot, remove all but the strongest one to give it room to grow. Using scissors to cut down the smallest sprouts may be simplest because pulling them out may pull all its fellow seedlings with them, including the one you want to grow.

Once the outdoor temperature rises above 45 degrees, you can put the plants outside for a couple of hours each afternoon, in a shady location, to harden off. Gradually increase the time outdoors and the hours of sunlight until you plant them in the garden.

When all danger of frost has gone – usually about Memorial Day in southern Maine – transplant the seedlings into your garden.

You can celebrate by wearing shorts or going to the beach.


NEED MORE before starting your seeds?

Visit Falmouth nursery Allen, Sterling & Lothrop’s website for guidance on how many weeks ahead of garden planting to start your vegetable and annual flower seeds.

OR GET PLENTY of general information on starting seeds in Maine at the UMaine Cooperative Extension website.

TOM ATWELL is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

]]> 0 Cornwall plants seeds in the greenhouse at Cultivation Works Farm – a Creative Work Systems program for adults with disabilities. Haley, who has an intellectual disability, works once a week at the location.Thu, 15 Feb 2018 19:33:27 +0000
Green Plate Special: If cheese is smoked, you’ll need less of it, lightening your footprint on the Earth Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 In the fall of 2011, I attempted to home-school my kids about the American Revolution from the kitchen table in borrowed digs in Lyon, France. My U.S. history lessons stood on terra firma, I justified, because we’d walked the Freedom Trail before boarding the Air France flight out of Logan Airport. Plus we routinely discussed French alliances as we strolled along Cours Lafayette, making our way to the famed Les Halles de Lyon covered market. There, we’d buy all sorts of cheese made just as it was back when the Marquis de Lafayette cornered Cornwallis, leading up to the Battle of Yorktown.

Yes, I can circle back to cheese from almost anywhere. It’s both a talent and curse, really. Much to my gut’s distress, I sampled a majority of 400 cheeses on offer at the 2007 British Cheese Festival. Since recovering from that bellyache, I’m a more selective lover, gravitating toward stronger cheeses, ones that sate my appetite after a single bite. I adore long-aged cheddars that crackle with crystalline granules; stinky, washed-rind teleggios that ooze onto the cutting board; creamy blues sporting more mold than curd; and anything smoked.

Even we cheese lovers must admit that it’s a product that takes a ton of milk, time and energy to produce. Buying local cheese is often the greenest option, and we lucky Mainers certainly don’t want for local cheesemakers. There are 87 licensed at last count.

In addition to keeping it local, eating strong cheese both sustains my habit and helps keep the overall environmental toll of my cultured dairy products in check. Cooking with stronger cheeses requires between 30 and 50 percent less than milder cheese in the same recipe for it to make its presence known.

It’s easy to find excellent aged cheeses (Hahn’s End’s Eleanor Buttercup, for example), runny, rinded ones (Fuzzy Udder’s Cyclone), and big blues (like Lakin’s Gorges’ Cascadilla Bleu). But I’d not tasted a truly smoked, truly Maine cheese until Brunswick Inn executive chef Ali Waks Adams introduced me to Crooked Face Creamery. As I walked into the inn’s kitchen one day, before she even said “Hello,” she thrust a spoonful of the Up North Applewood Cold Smoked Ricotta in my direction and said “Try this!”, a common occurrence in our food-centric friendship. This small sample was enough to get me hooked on its unique, subtly smoky and lingering flavor. Waks Adams has used this cheese to make ravioli and vegetarian lasagna for her Tuesday night plat du jour dinners.

Grind Stone Neck of Maine, a family-owned and -operated smokehouse in Winter Harbor burns a blend of maple, cherry and beech wood pellets to produce smoked seafood and cheese. But second-generation owner Mason Johnson says he buys the base blue and cheddar cheeses from Wisconsin cheesemakers because he can’t source enough volume of Maine cheese to meet his demand. Pineland Farms sells a smoked cheddar made from local milk at its facility in Bangor (I use it in my mac and cheese), but its label says the added flavor comes from a liquid smoke additive).

Amy Rowbottom of Crooked Face Creamery started making cheese part-time about eight years ago. In her Norridgewock kitchen, she perfected an aged gouda recipe from local Jersey milk and started making fresh ricotta to generate cash flow while she waited for the gouda to ripen, a process that takes a couple of months. She knew the competition for fresh cow and goat milk cheeses in Maine was pretty steep, so Rowbottom was looking for something to set her apart. She worked in sales and website design at Maine Wood Heat Company by day and used one of the company’s idle wood-fired ovens to experiment with cold-smoking cheese, both ricotta and gouda, with local, organic apple wood. The trial rounds of ricotta and wheels of gouda sold well at farmers markets. A grant from the Maine Department of Agriculture allowed her to subsequently fashion a purpose-built cheese smoker that now gives subtly distinctive flavor to three quarters of the cheeses she produces annually. Rowbottom is happy to admit she needs to boost production to meet rising demand. Cheese and smoke, she says, are two worlds colliding in the best possible way.

CHRISTINE BURNS RUDALEVIGE is a food writer, recipe developer and tester and cooking teacher in Brunswick, and the author of “Green Plate Special,” a cookbook from Islandport based on these columns. She can be contacted at

]]> 0 are 87 licensed cheesemakers in Maine at last count.Sat, 17 Feb 2018 18:56:25 +0000
Two naturalists, one in midcoast Maine, closely observe as the climate changes Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 “We have only just begun to feel the repercussions of climate change: we are today in a position likely to be envied by future generations.” – Cornelia F. Mutel, “A Sugar Creek Chronicle”

The first edition of “A Natural History of Camden and Rockport” came out in 1984, written and illustrated by local resident E.C. (“Beedy”) Parker. Recently, she decided to issue an informal update and began gathering anecdotal information from naturalists and friends on how the nature of midcoast Maine had changed in the intervening three decades. What she found is unsettling.

Her observations fall in the realm of “natural history,” a somewhat antiquated field largely replaced by the science of ecology and its sub-disciplines. Naturalists tend to make more general notes of plant and animal life as they are shaped by geology, climate and human uses. In some ways, Parker’s book is reminiscent of early 20th-century nature journals, being one naturalist’s informal portrait of place.

Parker is the first to acknowledge that the historic habit of faithfully observing and recording natural events is no longer a popular pastime. When asked what she learned from quizzing others about changes they had noticed, this was her response: “Few people are paying attention and even fewer make records. The kinds of observations we want are not out there.” People are spending less time outdoors and when they do, she mused, it’s rarely attentive, solitary time; “We live in our houses and cars, and maybe our gardens.”

More people are “glued to devices” these days, acknowledges Parker’s longtime friend Esperanza Stancioff, but she sees a strong resurgence of citizen scientists involved in organized efforts like the program she helps coordinate, the University of Maine’s Signs of the Seasons Program. People attentive to changes in nature, Stancioff finds, often like recording observations that they know will be useful to scientists and policy-makers.

Data from backyard observations can be limited (even, in Parker’s words, “sketchy”), but taken collectively they reveal declines and disturbances in the natural world that should sound alarms.

Many of the observations reported by Parker reflect broader and widely publicized changes: declines in bees, butterflies, bats, frogs, toads and songbirds; an explosion of deer ticks (virtually unheard of three decades ago); the spread of invasive plants like multiflora rose and bedstraw; and a parade of new insects that threaten hemlock, ash, hackmatack and beech trees along with viburnum shrubs and harvests from many berry and stone-fruit plants.

The most dramatic change Parker found occurred in the rocky intertidal zone, a setting she sketched in 1984 with multiple rockweed species, blue mussels, periwinkles, barnacles, coralline algae, hermit crabs, pink encrusting algae, Irish moss, green sea urchins and northern sea stars. (The accompanying photo from 1979, taken in Penobscot Bay, depicts that abundant marine life.) While the rockweed remains, much of the other intertidal life has disappeared.

Parker’s update also highlights the region’s increasingly erratic weather, with extreme temperature swings and heavy rains. Local reports of intense downpours (even in the midst of drought) reflect findings that “extreme precipitation” events in the Northeast have increased by 71 percent between 1958 and 2012. Scientists attribute this to higher rates of evaporation and the atmosphere’s capacity to hold more water vapor as it warms.

Unpredictable swings – from deluges to droughts and from record-highs to marked lows – are part of the “weather whiplash” that is the new norm, Cornelia Mutel writes in her book “A Sugar Creek Chronicle: Observing Climate Change from a Midwestern Woodland.” A trained naturalist living in Iowa, Mutel recorded a detailed nature log during 2012, a year of relentless and unpredictable extremes. “The weather seems to be all over the place,” she noted during that May. “Yesterday I wore mittens to work; today, a summer T-shirt.”

When Mutel was born in 1950, record-breaking highs and lows in the United States occurred in a 1-to-1 ratio. “But since the 1980s,” she writes, “the number of unusually hot days and nights has steadily increased… while the number of exceptionally cold days and nights has decreased and is now the lowest on record.” By the middle of this century, the ratio is expected to be 20 to 1 and in the first three months of 2012, as she was writing the book, it was already 17 to 1.

There are unnerving echoes between these two natural history accounts – one tracking changes in the country’s heartland and the other on its easternmost outpost. Reading the observations of Mutel and Parker, I envision a spinning top – as its steady centripetal movement slows into loopy lurches. We can still act to limit future climate change, but clearly natural systems are already off-kilter.

“A beneficent climate is, like health, something elementary, something we tend to ignore until disturbing symptoms arise …, ” Mutel reflects, before asking: “What if that regularity dissolves? Would we know how to pattern our lives?”

MARINA SCHAUFFLER provides research, writing, and editing services to nonprofit and social enterprise organizations through Natural Choices (

]]> 0, 15 Feb 2018 20:05:33 +0000
This Portland homeowner wrestled with whether to remove a beloved old tree Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Once there was a tree …

A red maple tree. It was a sizable tree, though not immense. It stood next to a small, shingled brown bungalow on a one-block, dead-end street in Portland, Maine. The tree sheltered the little house, and the woman who lived there, too. In spring, she remarked on its beautiful crimson buds. In summer, she enjoyed its leafy green shade, which kept her house cool and comfortable. Every fall, the woman spent many hours raking, but she never minded, even when she got blisters on her fingers, because the red maple had the most beautiful red leaves imaginable. In winter, its handsome, battered trunk – bark peeling and specked in lichen – greeted her like an old friend as she stepped off the front porch each morning to go to work. “Good morning,” she’d nod at the tree, and it seemed to her the wise old tree wished her good morning, too.

That woman is me. And this fall, I faced a decision that tore me apart. Did the red maple tree need to come down?


My house was built in 1915. A tax photograph taken of the house and yard just nine years later shows the red maple, a spindly thing. Portland city arborist Jeff Tarling’s best guess is that the family who lived here then – possibly Frank H. Sawyer, clerk at a grain company, according the 1916 City Directory, or perhaps Jens Christian Bruns and his wife Alberta, who owned the place by 1924 – yearned for some pleasant shade in what was then a new development of modest matching bungalows. ” ‘I’m sitting on the porch in bright sun,’ ” he pictured them thinking. ” ‘I’m going to get a tree here.’ ” Tarling turned to me, smiling. “They thought of you when they put this tree in.”

It was a “little teeny tree,” he said.

But it must have liked its new home, because over the years it grew big and strong. By the time the red maple and I got acquainted just a few years ago, its trunk was the girth of an imposing column, and the tree itself towered over me and the single-story house it was planted to shade. A sizable branch bent toward the house, seeming to snuggle. (That’s not how the house inspector saw it. He warned me about a squirrel highway.) Several more fair-sized branches reached up to make a three-dimensional V shape of sorts that supported the crown. The maple’s position near the house – too near, Tarling said – made it feel private and secure.

Squirrels chased and chattered up the tree and back down again. Birds perched on its accommodating branches. The cat in residence, Trixie by name, made occasional and frenetic runs up the trunk, while the neighbor’s little boy was partial to the peeling bark. Though the roots defied me at every turn when I tried to carve out garden beds, it felt like a friendly game we played.

The red maple contained its own world, too. “There’s a microscopic ecosystem within a blade of grass,” Jan Santerre, project canopy director for the state’s Urban Forestry Program, said when I asked her how the tree shaped my backyard environment. “Certainly there is an ecosystem within a tree and all the fungi and the bugs and the animals that depend on it.”

The center of the tree, it’s true, had a gap, a gash really, where it looked as though a scaffold branch should be – had been. And the maple dropped small – and sometimes not-quite-so-small – branches on the lawn more often than perhaps was strictly usual. But it leafed out beautifully each spring, and I doubt I’d have given its health a second thought until I heard different from a parade of experts.

First came Press Herald Maine Gardener columnist Tom Atwell, who strolled around the yard a few years ago to help me envision a garden. He took one hard, practiced look at the red maple, described it as dying, and told me I’d need to take it down.

I did not.

Some months went by. Lisa Fernandes of Portland’s Resilience Hub, came over for a permaculture consult. She circled the maple, appraising it with a critical eye and told me to remove it. I must have looked stricken because she added gently, “It can be heartbreaking to take a tree down.”

I waited.

Sixteen months passed.

Winter approached. My third winter in my home. During wind and ice storms I found myself avoiding the corner of the house where I feared the tree could hit if it fell.

Reluctantly, I asked around for the names of arborists, preferably one who will err on the side of inaction, I specified. Arborists, I was learning, run the gamut. “It’s like going to a doctor,” Tarling told me. “Some think you’re fine. Others think you need your knee replaced.”

One early fall day I made an appointment, and a week or so later, Kevin Bachelor of For-Tay Landscaping in South Portland came round to take the tree’s measure. He, too, thought its days were numbered.

How long do I have? I asked.

“Three storms. Maybe two,” Bachelor said.


Tarling didn’t make the decision any easier when he stopped by in October and told me the tree had good “root flair,” that it had survived the summer’s drought surprisingly well and that its condition wasn’t “catastrophic.” But he wasn’t exactly sanguine, either, guessing my red maple had been damaged in a storm – he ticked off the ice storm of 1997, the Patriot’s Day storm, and hurricanes Bob and Gloria as possibilities.

Press Herald Source editor Peggy Grodinsky puts a hand on a red maple tree in her yard before it was cut down on Jan. 12. Staff photo by Derek Davis

The top blew out, Tarling said, and decay gradually set in. My nearest neighbors, longtime residents, didn’t remember the event. Tarling, who has been city arborist for going on 28 years and knows Portland’s trees with the intimacy of an old friend, thought he did.

The red maple could last a few more years, he said. Trees often surprise him. On the other hand, “I wouldn’t go out in a thunderstorm and stand under the tree, or in a big, heavy snow.” When you’re deciding the fate of a tree, there are two factors to consider, he advised: first, its health, and second, what he called “the target.” As he put it, “If the tree fails, what’s underneath the tree?”

In the case of my red maple, the answer was, in part, the power lines.

“My thought is that” – Tarling pointed at a high branch – “could fail, and it’s going to take out this primary wire, and knock out the neighbor’s power line. And it’s going to be that coooold day in February.” He stretched out the word and laughed. “And because you’re on a dead-end street, you’re not going to be a high priority for repair. It probably won’t knock your power out, but it could take out the rest of the street and then they’d say, ‘Our power was great until Peggy’s tree damaged it.’”

I’m a newcomer to the neighborhood. I have lived in my house not yet three years, while the red maple has called the place home for a century. Neighbors aside, what gave me the right to kill it? When my sisters and I were small, we gave my mother, an accomplished gardener, an apple tree one Mother’s Day. It thrived for some five years until one day she decided it didn’t suit the lines of her garden. And just like that it was gone.

Like my mother, Press Herald garden columnist Atwell had no romantic notions about my tree. “The tree is a living thing, but there is no problem with taking it down,” he said when I called him, indecisive and distressed. Just plant another maple in its place, he suggested.

“I love this tree. How can I take it down?” I pressed. “I don’t even feel comfortable weeding.”

An incredulous silence blared from the other end of the phone.

“You got to pull the weeds!” Atwell finally said. “Plants have a lifespan. Sometimes it’s over.”


I live in the Forest City and in the Pine Tree State. I live a mere 20-minute drive from the late Herbie, a massive 217-year-old American Elm that stood in Yarmouth, so beloved it got its own name, its own caretaker (town tree warden Frank Knight) and its own Wikipedia entry. Tarling told me that in 1854, Captain George H. Preble counted every tree in Portland. ” … no person builds a house on a respectable street but his first object is to plant trees about it,” Preble wrote at the time. Tarling added that when the city was given Deering Oaks Park in 1879, the Deering family put a condition on the gift: “Spare the woodsman’s axe.”

A number of maples grow on my own street, all roughly the size of my red maple. Maybe each of the families that lived in each of the then-new bungalows a century ago also longed for shade. The trees grew up together, not unlike the children on the block who grew up together over the years. Were they fretting about their ailing old friend? Would they mourn its demise?

Don’t ask me why at this juncture I thought it was a good idea to read German forester Peter Wohlleben’s fascinating “The Hidden Life of Trees.” “When you know that trees experience pain and have memories,” he wrote in the introduction, “and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with large machines.”

It confirmed my worst fears. Can trees feel? I anxiously asked Santerre, of Maine’s Urban Forestry Program, after reading that. “My biology background and my scientific background would say no,” she answered, then paused. “But I’m also not a tree.”

On Oct. 29, a wind and rain storm ripped through Maine, toppling hundreds of trees. Among them was a tall, thin, erect white pine that stood directly across the street, a favorite hangout for passing crows and hawks. It took its last breath – yes, trees breathe – early in the morning. By the time I woke up, it lay on the ground, its crown stretching toward the street, its trunk precisely aligned alongside the length of my neighbor’s house, missing it – missing her – by a barely a foot.

I had prayed the red maple would fall, on its own terms, in its own time – missing the house, the street and the power lines.

In fact, my red maple survived without so much as a scratch – making it even more wildly unfair that that storm and the damage it wrought sealed its death warrant.

City arborist Jeff Tarling talks to Grodinsky about the health of a century-old red maple tree on her property. Staff photo by Ben McCanna


For weeks, the song that Lancelot sings to Guinevere in the musical “Camelot” ran on a loop inside my head, “If ever I would leave you, it wouldn’t be in summer. Seeing you in summer, I never would go.” The ardent knight sings his way through the rest of the seasons, and likes those options no better. “Oh, no! Not in springtime! Summer, winter or fall! Never could I leave you at all.”

If you ask me, there is no good time to cut down a tree. Certainly not one that looks, at least to the inexpert eye, like it has years of life left. But if you ask the experts, late fall or winter is the right time. The birds have flown, so you won’t be an avian homewrecker. Unless you’re sheltering a hibernating bear – the red maple wasn’t – you are probably OK on that count, too. You’ve had one last season to delight in the tree’s flaming red leaves, and once they fall, their lack makes the arborist’s job easier, while the hard, frozen ground protects the yard from any heavy machinery that’s required to do the job.

“I’m not sure there is ever an easy time to let things go,” a sympathetic Tarling said.

With a heavy heart, I scheduled the day of execution.

On Jan. 11, a cold, beautiful, star-lit evening, I came home from work, stepped into snow up to my knees, wrapped my arms around the tree’s trunk – they didn’t meet, or come close to meeting – and sobbed.

Jan. 12 dawned gray and gloomy, “a good day for grief,” my friend Charmaine Daniels said.

At 8:10 a.m., my smartphone pinged me with my day’s schedule: Tree comes down ????

By 9 a.m., Bachelor was setting up, and Richmond woodworker Jeff Raymond, who hoped to turn the wood into a few of his beautiful, handcrafted bowls, had arrived.

“If you have the opportunity to get any of the wood, do something with it,” Santerre, who owns a necklace and artwork made from Herbie, had suggested. “It sort of memorializes it and eases the sting.”

By 10:19 a.m., Bachelor had put his equipment in place, and he clambered up the tree in spiked boots. I retreated to the back of my house, unable to watch. The sounds of the chainsaw followed me like a scream.

By 2:11 p.m., there was no red maple. It took 100 years to grow and four hours to demolish.


A week earlier, I’d spoken with Tim Vail, an Orrs Island arborist with a reputation for saving trees. “It’s never easy,” he said. “And it’s not going to get much easier when it’s gone. You’re going to have a stump there until you plant a tree.”

He was right. I still feel a little stab of shock every time I come home. My bungalow looks forlorn, and Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” rattles around in my head: “I wish that I could give you something … but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump.”

On the Seven Stages of Grief scale, I remain somewhere between 2 (pain and guilt) and 4 (depression, reflection, loneliness). Possibly the worst moment of the day my red maple came down was when Bachelor told me he was surprised to find that no bugs had infested it. Had I made a mistake? – a question I asked him at least seven times the morning he was setting up. If he was exasperated, he kept it to himself. And if I made a mistake, it was irrevocable.

Stage 7 (acceptance and hope) still eludes me. “One thing that will give you some hope is that you can plant another tree,” Vail suggested. “If you plant another tree, you will know you have done something to compensate for the urbanization of the planet. You are going to plant another tree for someone who will be there in 100 years.”

It may be a quince tree, to shower the yard every spring with beautiful pink blossoms and my kitchen every fall with tempting quince tarts. Or, like the dog owner who buys the same breed time and again when his pet dies, it may be a red maple.


]]> 0, ME - JANUARY 12: Press Herald food editor Peggy Grodinksy puts a hand on a red maple tree in her yard before it was cut down on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. (Photo by Derek Davis/Staff photographer)Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:56:07 +0000
Editor’s letter: Aspiring farmers, apply now for scholarships! Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Aspiring farmers, apply here now!

We created the annual Source Awards four years ago, part and parcel of the then-new Source in the Maine Sunday Telegram, a weekly section dedicated to sustainability in Maine in all its many forms, encompassing conservation, farming, energy efficiency, climate change, gardening, healthy fisheries, green transportation and (much) more. Integral to our Source Awards program was – and is – the Russell Libby Agricultural Scholar Awards. Three such scholarships, for $1,500 each, are awarded each year.

The awards are named for the late, beloved Russell Libby, who led the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) for 17 years before his untimely death. His ideas were integral to the development of MOFGA’s organic training programs, and training is at the heart of these eponymous awards. Though the Source Awards deadline for this year has passed, you still have time to put in an application for the Libby awards; that deadline is March 1.

One scholarship goes to a participant in MOFGA’s Journeyperson Program, which provides training and mentorship for those who are deeply committed to pursuing careers in Maine in organic farming. Another goes to a Maine high school senior who plans to study sustainable or organic farming. Preference is given to a student who intends to continue his or her education in Maine. The third scholarship is awarded to a Kennebec Valley Community College student who is learning sustainable agriculture.

The scholarship money can be used in a variety of ways, among them to buy books or other supplies related to farming, to attend a farm-related conference or sign up for a class, to visit a faraway farm that is pioneering the techniques the awardee hopes to implement at her own farm one day.

The judges will also consider an applicant’s community involvement. Anna Libby, Russell Libby’s eldest daughter and the administrator of the awards, said her father had a deep commitment “to being engaged in your community’s well-being, so the hope was to have the winners of the scholarship also be folks who hold that belief.”

Reading the nominations is “always a real treat,” she added. “There are so many people doing inspiring things, and it’s always cool to read about their aspirations. I love to hear their stories about how they became involved in agriculture, what the spark was that set them on that path, and the things they are doing now that they are passionate about.”

Winners will be announced at the Fourth Annual Source Awards ceremony at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester on April 4.


Source Editor

]]> 0, 15 Feb 2018 20:15:41 +0000
Galen Koch is setting a course for Maine’s coastal communities Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Galen Koch is on a deadline. She and her oral history project, The First Coast, are due at the Fishermen’s Forum from March 1 to 3 at the Samoset in Rockland. Her mission there will be to lure attendees aboard a 1976 Airstream-cum-media lab to tell stories of their lives in the fishing industry. But on the day we called the Stonington native to talk about The First Coast, Koch had just discovered some fresh leaks in the Airstream. “I’m feeling mildly demoralized at the moment, but I’ll be OK soon.” We talked about getting road ready and how and why she got so interested in preserving the stories of life on Maine’s coast.

MEMORIES LIGHT THE CORNERS: The First Coast project was created, as Koch puts it, is to try to “preserve a collective coastal memory and living maritime history.” Not for tourists, but for Mainers. She’ll roam the coast in the off-season – “you can’t ask Mainers to drop everything in the summer to talk to you” – running the Airstream as both a lab to gather the stories and an exhibition space to share them. Koch, a graduate of Skidmore College in New York and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, works primarily in radio but sometimes in video as well. In 2016 she created a series of stories about Portland’s working waterfront called Wharfside, funded by the Waterfront Alliance and Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, and she liked that experience.

DEEP DIVES: She wanted more of that kind of immersive journalistic experience, but without the boundaries of traditional formats. “I am so tired of having to find the nut graph, that’s what they call it in radio.” (That’s the paragraph that sums up what a story is about. Newspapers use the same term. Editors demand them.) People’s stories are legitimate, even without a “thesis,” Koch feels and not always obvious. “I wanted to have this feeling where I could go to a town like Lubec and really spend time there – I’ll be there three weeks – and not be the reporter that goes in for like one day.” With all these thoughts in mind, she eyed the old Airstream in her mother and stepfather’s backyard and started writing grant proposals.

THE WHEELS ON THE BUS: The Airstream dates to 1976, but it had spent its most recent years sitting in that backyard in Deer Isle. Her stepfather acquired it from a farmer who lived further Down East and had used it to house farmhands. “His story is it was like $500 and a handle of vodka, but I don’t know if that is true or verifiable in any way because he is a teller of tall tales.” She bargained with him for it, thinking she’d maybe hit the road for a year. At this point, he shouldn’t count on getting it back; “now it is hopefully going to be my job for the next couple of years.” The First Coast is (so far) funded by a $5,000 grant from SPACE Gallery through the Kindling Fund, another grant from the Maine Arts Commission and about $20,000 that Koch crowdfunded and will use to pay photographers.

OPEN DOORS: She doesn’t have so much a mission statement as an open door, heart and conversational style. “I don’t want anyone to think I am coming in with a value system that contradicts their value system.” She wants to invite Mainers of all generations into the Airstream for free-ranging conversations about what keeps them up at night, what keeps them going on a daily basis or really, anything at all. “If that ends up being talking about rising sea levels or invasive species or the decline in the lobster industry, that’s great.” What matters is that it is an organic conversation. If participants have home movies they want to digitize, Koch will do that, too. She’s got no immediate plans for a podcast, but she’ll be doing an audio log about her adventures. “It’s going to be a learning experience.”

TIME AND MONEY: Koch had planned to be on the road long ago, but has been held up by the extensiveness of the needed renovations and the lack of money to throw at them. She didn’t understand quite how rotted the floors were or how widespread the mold. “The walls were covered in mold. Like, black. It was so gross. And the leaks I am contending with, they are like 20-year old leaks.” She’s done a lot of the work on the aluminum shell of the Airstream herself, but relied on friends to do things like build a bed and her kitchen area. Another friend hooked her up with solar panels. “I would not have described myself as handy in any construction way. I can do it, but I am slow and I am not good at measuring.” Cilla, as she calls the Airstream, after her grandmother, has been parked in one friend’s South Portland driveway while Koch works on those leaks and soundproofing curtains – she’s making those herself to save money – for the recording booth.

FIRST STOP, ROCKLAND: Koch hoped to land a donated truck to pull the Airstream herself, or raise money to buy one (her main source of income comes from teaching an oral history class at Harpswell Coastal Academy). But that “has not fallen into place.” Instead, she’ll get a tow to Rockland from Brunswick writer and teacher Jaed Coffin, whom Koch met through Salt. After that? She’s still working on the next step. (If you’ve got a spare truck lying around and the inclination to donate it to the project, you can find her at

WHAT’S IN A NAME: Speaking of, what’s the name about? First Coast came from writer John Cheever via a historian named John R. Gillis, a retired Rutgers professor and author of “The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History.” Koch attended a lecture given by Gillis, a summer resident of Great Gott Island, where he used “second coast” as Cheever had, to describe a coast “built up around the nostalgia for the working waterfront.” We’re talking nautical-themed goods, bars decorated with buoys and as Cheever put it, “other relics of an arduous and orderly way of life of which they knew nothing.” The kind of thing that celebrates the past with perhaps not much recognition of the present. Koch’s first coast will be the original coast then, stripped of frills and knickknacks and full of people who live there year round.

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN: Given how tight money will be, how is she going to pay for the basics along the way? Like eating? “I have a little propane stove and a little cooler.” No fridge. “Honestly I will probably eat rice and Brussels sprouts and kimchi. I am pretty frugal. As long as I can make some coffee and boil an egg.” The Airstream has a composting toilet, but no shower. “I am going to be showering at like, the Y and people’s houses. And I will have some dry shampoo.” She’ll also have her dog Zed and a stack of old magazines, the kind with nut graphs. “I have all the old Island Journals to work my way through.”

]]> 0 PORTLAND, ME - FEBRUARY 12: Galen Koch poses for a portrait inside of her Airstream trailer that she will soon take on the road to gather stories in various year-round Maine coastal communities for her project The First Coast. (Staff photo by Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer)Sat, 17 Feb 2018 20:19:30 +0000
Get Busy: Hit the Eastern Trail on President’s Day Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Tomorrow is President’s Day and the beginning of school break for many schools in Maine. It’s also that time of year when cars and appliances are on sale. But who needs more stuff? Here’s a way to get you and the kids outside on the holiday to enjoy the Eastern Trail, one of the great volunteer-led efforts to connect Mainers to nature. The Eastern Trail Alliance is organizing an afternoon walk along the Biddeford-Arundel-Kennebunk section of the bike trail. (Perfect timing too, the Maine Outdoor Coalition’s Great Maine Outdoor Weekend/Week is winding down.)

The trail, in case you’ve never hit it, stretches 65 miles from the Piscataqua River in Kittery to South Portland, passing through 11 communities. Originally conceived of in 1997, the trail is managed by volunteers (some portions are still being constructed) from the 11 communities it runs through.

The 90-minute walk will be guided by members of the Eastern Trail Alliance. And it’s free.

WHAT: President’s Day Nature Walk on the Eastern Trail, Biddeford

WHEN: 1 to 2:30 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Meet in the parking lot at Southern Maine Health Care, 1 Medical Center Drive, Biddeford, (near the shop area)

HOW: No registration needed, no fee, just don’t bring your dog.

MORE INFORMATION: email or visit


]]> 0, too, can enjoy the all-season Eastern Trail, shown here in November 2012, by joining in on a President's Day Nature Walk.Thu, 15 Feb 2018 20:27:56 +0000
Give peace lilies a chance Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 The peace lily is not a lily, and it is not going to produce world peace – so I don’t know where it got its name. The ease with which it grows and brightens a room might bring a peaceful feeling to the people who grow them.

The peace lily is a tropical plant with the botanical name Spathiphyllum, and is related to philodendron and dieffenbachia. Because it is from the jungle, it thrives in low light and it will suffer if the temperature dips below 55 degrees. A few feet back from an eastern-facing or western-facing window works best.

The flowers of the peace lily are tiny and insignificant, but they come in a striking package – starting with glossy, spade-shaped leaves.

Many people think the large, white leaflike part of the plant is the flower, but it is the spathe, which is a bract. In the middle of the spathe is an upright cylinder, which is also not the flower but the spadix, or spike. The spadix is covered by tiny flowers (finally! the flowers!), which produce pollen that drops on the leaves.

Fussy growers cut off the spadix and enjoy the plant with just the spathe. Grower’s choice.

There are many cultivars, which range from 1 to 4 feet tall.

Peace lilies like a lightweight planting medium that is rich in organic matter. They like moist soil and humidity, too, so misting helps. If they get too dry they will wilt, but watering brings them back.

]]> 0, 15 Feb 2018 20:36:21 +0000
‘Black Panther’ a celebration of African culture, pride Sat, 17 Feb 2018 21:25:57 +0000 JOHANNESBURG — “Black Panther” has burst onto the screen in Africa, handing a powerful response to the unfortunate remarks about the continent by President Trump.

As the red carpet in South Africa swirled with stunning outfits and exclamations in the local isiXhosa language used in the film’s Wakanda kingdom, cast member John Kani laughed at the U.S. president’s views, which several African nations have openly scorned. (Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o said simply: “No comment.”)

The South African actor Kani, like many at Friday night’s Johannesburg premiere, expressed pride at seeing an Afrofuturistic society that celebrates traditional cultures and dreams of what the world’s second most populous continent can be.

“This time the sun now is shining on Africa,” he said. “This movie came at the right time. We’re struggling to find leaders that are exemplary and role models … so when you see the Black Panther as a young boy and he takes off that mask you think, ‘Oh my God, he looks like me. He is African and I am African. Now we can look up to some person who is African.”‘

Added actress Danai Gurira, who grew up mostly in Zimbabwe: “To bring this film home is everything.”

The film has opened in other top economic powers across Africa, where a growing middle class flocked to IMAX showings and shared vibrant opening-night images on social media.

“The African culture highlighted in the movie is so rich that it makes me feel proud of being black. I totally love it,” said Liz Muthoni after a screening in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. “I can watch it again and again.”

“Black Panther” screened a few days ago in Kenya’s western city of Kisumu, where Nyong’o’s father, Anyang, is the local governor.

“Sometimes we think that we have two choices to make in Africa,” he wrote this month in The Star newspaper. “Choice one: We maintain our traditions and cultures and stay backward forever. Choice two: We modernize by becoming westernized and forgetting our cultural traditions which, by their very nature so we think, are stuck in the past. The experience of the Wakanda people teaches us otherwise.”

In Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, “Black Panther” has been selling out its five-times-a-day screenings at the only theater showing the film.

“Moviegoers are enjoying the African heritage part of the film. This is also unique for us because Ethiopia is often mentioned alongside the black power and black movements as the only nation not colonized by Western powers,” said Elias Abraha, the cinema’s operations chief. “There are people who changed their flight plans just to watch the movie.”

Some Ethiopian fans quickly changed their Facebook profile pictures and expressed their adoration.

“Tears stream down my face as I write this,” said one Facebook user who goes by LadyRock Maranatha. “Black Panther was basically an enormous roller coaster of emotions, adventure and most of all the affirmation of what I had felt since I left my country for Cambridge and came back. I cried for my people and felt immense pride in being Ethiopian and most importantly AFRICAN. We are truly resilient and beautiful.”

As the audience poured out of the Johannesburg screening, spirits were high.

“Totally blown away. I got emotional,” said reality TV star Blue Mbombo, who admitted that going into the film she thought the expectations had been “hype.” But she praised its use of cultural touches like Basotho blankets and called the use of the isiXhosa language “very humbling.”

Others considered the American side of the story. “An African-American coming back to Africa, it’s a nice reminder of their heritage as well,” said Ayanda Sidzatane. She called the film awesome. “We knew it would be cool but not like this.”

Some anticipated a flood of interest from African-Americans, even cheekily. “Now I know Black Panther makes Africa look cool … But please don’t come to Lagos … It’s overcrowded,” Nigerian artist Arinze Stanley tweeted of the continent’s most populous city.

As Ghanaian celebrity blogger Ameyaw Debrah put it on social media: “What will #BlackPanther make the world think of Africa now?”

]]> 0, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is the king of the Afro-futuristic nation of Wakanda in "Black Panther." Left, cast member Danai Gurira at the film's South Africa premiere on Friday in Johannesburg.Sat, 17 Feb 2018 16:52:08 +0000
Gardiner’s Johnson Hall reaches $1 million fundraising milestone Fri, 16 Feb 2018 23:24:25 +0000 GARDINER — Fundraising for the renovation of the Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center has reached a milestone, as cash and pledges now have surpassed $1 million.

Mike Miclon, executive artistic director of Johnson Hall, said with the fundraising and the projected income from the sale of historic preservation tax credits, the theater has reached 58 percent of its $4.8 million fundraising goal.

“The dream would be that a year from now we’re starting construction,” he said.

The pledge that pushed fundraising past the latest milestone came from Nate Cotnoir, a longtime volunteer with both Gardiner Main Street and the Gardiner Board of Trade.

“For me,” Cotnoir said, “Johnson Hall has been the key to the economic revitalization of downtown Gardiner and Gardiner in general. I was happy to do it. It was the easiest decision I have ever made.”

Cotnoir’s pledge joins a string of other donations, pledges and grants from foundations such as the Davis Foundation and the Morton-Kelley Charitable Trust that will help pay for the construction costs at the historic theater in downtown Gardiner.

Plans call for rebuilding the 400-seat theater that occupies the upper floors of Johnson Hall, Maine’s oldest opera house. The project includes building a lobby and concession area on the second floor along with performers’ dressing rooms and green rooms as well as a full-service box office and foyer on the ground floor. The Studio Theater, where Johnson Hall puts on its slate of shows now, will remain open after the renovation is completed.

Fundraising has been underway for a year and a half.

When theater officials kicked off the fundraising campaign, they did it in conjunction with Kennebec Savings Bank announcing its donation of $100,000 and its commitment to acquire the historic preservation tax credits.

Miclon said Kennebec Savings has fulfilled its cash pledge.

Even as theater officials are working to complete fundraising for construction, they also are securing funding for ongoing programs.

In recent months, employees at E.J. Prescott, the Gardiner-based supplier of water, sewer, drain and gas products, donated $7,500 to support Johnson Hall’s artists-in-residency program, which funds performances in local schools by artists appearing at the theater and provides scholarships for Spark, the summer theater day camp for children at Johnson Hall.

At the same time, the Newman’s Own Foundation has donated $10,000 for pre-planning for the artists-in-residency program for next year.

Even with these donations, the project sometimes suffers from a credibility gap. Board members are aware that previous attempts to renovate the theater stalled for a variety of reasons, including external factors no one could control, such as the economic downturn in 2007, which effectively squelched fundraising attempts before they were launched.

“I think this announcement will go a long way to allaying fears that this (project) is not real,” Cotnoir said.

Cotnoir, who did not disclose the amount of his pledge, said he has noted an interesting phenomenon in downtown Gardiner. Although the projected opening date is more than a year away, businesses seem to be gearing up for the opening of the theater and preparing to serve the needs of customers, including the reopening of Gerard’s Pizza and the opening of Two Gramps Brewing just across Johnson Park from the theater.

“That’s a testament to their optimism, and the success of the fundraising campaign,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

]]> 0 Hall in Gardiner is in the process of raising money for a major renovation of its upstairs theater, and officials have announced that theie fundraising effort has surpassed the $1 million milestone as part of the $4.8 million goal.Fri, 16 Feb 2018 20:02:07 +0000
Portland Pie Co. coming to former Hains Building in downtown Waterville Fri, 16 Feb 2018 22:48:00 +0000 WATERVILLE — An upscale restaurant focusing on specialty pizza, pasta, sandwiches and salads will move this spring into the south storefront of the former Hains Building at 173 Main St. downtown.

Portland Pie Co., with locations in Portland, Biddeford, Westbrook, Scarborough, Brunswick and Manchester, New Hampshire, will offer lunch and dinner for dining in or delivery, have a full bar and kitchen and seat about 100 people, according to Patrick Mulligan, who, with Cole McElwain, will own and operate the eatery.

Mulligan said Friday that the Waterville restaurant’s layout will mirror that of the one in Brunswick.

The restaurateurs plan to start retrofitting the inside of the 3,000-square-foot space Feb. 26 for the restaurant and hope to complete it for an opening in April or May. Work will include installing a floor,a drop-ceiling, partition walls, accent windows, an electrical network, plumbing and a new kitchen, Mulligan said.

Portland Pie has a 10-year lease with Colby College, which owns the building, with two five-year renewable leases, according to Mulligan, a former partner in the Bag & Kettle restaurant at Sugarloaf.

Mulligan and McElwain had been looking for a long while for the right opportunity, and a friend suggested to Mulligan that, since they drive through Waterville all the time, they spend some time there.

“I did and really liked what was going on,” Mulligan said. “You could really sense the commitment Colby was making. There’s a huge sense of community.”

Colby bought and renovated the former Hains Building, which has Colby offices on the second floor and which will house CGI Group, a technology firm, on upper floors.

In that building, Portland Pie will be right across Main Street from the $25 million mixed-use residential complex Colby is building that will house about 200 students and faculty and staff members involved in a civic-engagement, community-service curriculum. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in August.

Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president for planning, said Colby officials are thrilled to welcome Portland Pie Co. to downtown Waterville.

“We are especially excited they will bring new life and activity to a storefront that has been dark for many years,” Clark said. “The promise of having more people living and working downtown is starting to pay off with the attraction of Maine-based Portland Pie, and we are having many additional fruitful conversations with other prospective retailers who see that same opportunity for success. And, while it’s still early, we’re seeing positive signs throughout Waterville, including the strength of the real estate market and the highest population since 1997.”

Mulligan said Portland Pie will employ about 50 people for full- and part-time positions including waiters and waitresses, bartenders, kitchen workers and delivery drivers.

A Waterville resident is being trained in Scarborough for the kitchen manager’s job, he said, adding that he plans to remove the “For Lease” sign in the window of the space and replace it with a Portland Pie logo and a link to an email address where people may apply for jobs.

Clark said the 50 jobs Portland Pie expects to create add to the hundreds of jobs already committed because of Colby’s investments.

Portland Pie, which has restaurants in Portland, Biddeford, Westbrook, Scarborough, Brunswick and Manchester, New Hampshire, offers craft beer and gourmet pizza. Portland Pie features signature dough flavors: basil, wheat, garlic, beer and most recently, gluten-free. Photo courtesy of Portland Pie Co.

“Portland Pie will be a strong community partner and provide a new family-friendly dining experience on Main Street that will be popular with the entire community — including my three-and-a-half-year-old son, Owen, who is excited to split a pepperoni pizza with me when they open later this spring,” he said.

Mulligan said the lease includes not only the southernmost space on the ground floor of 173 Main St., but also the rear part of the space on the northernmost storefront, where the kitchen will be located.

He said restaurant hours have not yet been set, but they probably will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. That could change according to demand, he said.

A news release from Special Pie, LLC, says Portland Pie was founded in 1997 in Portland, where it had a small shop.

“Looking to stand out in a crowded pizza landscape, the owners crafted what are now Portland Pie’s signature dough flavors: basil, wheat, garlic, beer and most recently, gluten-free, all made from the highest quality ingredients.”

Garvan Donegan, senior economic development specialist for the Central Maine Growth Council, said Portland Pie and Mulligan’s investment in Waterville illustrates the upswing in economic enthusiasm on Main Street and the effect downtown revitalization is having on the local economy.

“With Portland Pie located downtown, Main Street realizes a new flagship anchor tenant that will be a draw for people living, studying, working, investing and visiting the city,” Donegan said. “Additionally, this is very exciting because Portland Pie is a well-known and beloved brand identity throughout the state of Maine. For Waterville, food businesses and entrepreneurship in the area have been growing tremendously, offering students, consumers, wholesale and institutional purchasers new avenues for accessing a variety of diverse culinary options. We look forward to Portland Pie stimulating this upward trend.”

Paul Ureneck, director of commercial real estate for Elm City LLC, an affiliate of Colby College, said officials are in negotiations with another tenant for the northern storefront at 173 Main.

“I expect to have a letter of intent to lease that space next week,” he said. “It would be another food use, completely separate and something completely different than what exists anywhere else in town now. But it’s still under negotiation. We feel very encouraged about it.”

The Colby residential complex at 150 Main St. also will have retail on the ground floor, though a tenant, or possibly more than one, has not yet been identified. A glassed-in community forum meeting space will be in the northeast corner of the building to be used by the college as well as by the city and nonprofit groups. Ayers Saint Gross, of Baltimore, Maryland, designed the building, and the construction manager for the project is Landry/French Construction Co., of Scarborough.

Colby is investing millions of dollars in the downtown as part of revitalization efforts launched by both the city and Colby. The college plans to build a boutique hotel this year on the southeast end of Main Street in the former Levine’s clothing store space.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

]]> 0 Pie, which has restaurants in Portland, Biddeford, Westbrook, Scarborough, Brunswick and Manchester, New Hampshire, offers craft beer and gourmet pizza. Portland Pie features signature dough flavors: basil, wheat, garlic, beer and most recently, gluten-free.Fri, 16 Feb 2018 18:26:20 +0000
New restaurant and bar in Brunswick will sell vintage glassware, too Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:02:23 +0000 BRUNSWICK — For the past year and a half, Nikaline Iacono has been sourcing vintage glassware from yard sales, auctions, and almost anywhere else she can find it. She then re-sells her finds – which range from 1930s cordial glasses to 1980s sailboat mugs – online.

Now she is using her collection in a new venture: opening a restaurant, bar and glassware gallery.

Vessel and Vine, at 4 Pleasant St. in Brunswick, is a wine and cocktail bar, locally sourced eatery, classroom space and glassware and barware retailer.

Iacono opened the beer and wine shop this week, while the restaurant and bar are scheduled to open by March 1.

Iacono has worked in Brunswick restaurants for the past six years, most recently managing the wine bar at Greek and Italian restaurant Enoteca Athena. In addition to bartending there, she also sourced glassware to be used at the establishment. Before that, she accumulated more wine knowledge working for a Maine wine distributor.

Nikaline Iacono stands near a section of the mural painted by her friend Yennika Ekstrand on the back wall of Vessel and Vine. Photo by Elizabeth Clemente

Iacono said opening her own restaurant has been her dream for a while, but she didn’t expect it to come to fruition so soon.

“Kind of a perfect storm of a couple of different things happened that caused me to really take stock of where I was and what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.

Last August, she began developing a business plan with Coastal Enterprises. In November, a friend who owns the Pleasant Street building allowed her to begin setting up in the space without a lease.

“I just kind of made that leap of faith that I was going to secure financing, and if I didn’t I would just be out my time and a couple thousand dollars,” she said. “And then financing came through at the end of December.”

In creating the eclectic interior of Vessel and Vine, Iacono put her thrift skills to work. In one corner, a brass mattress frame hangs from the ceiling. Iacono found the bed by the side of the road and dismantled it to create the piece.

Will Sullivan, who will run the retail business at Vessel and Vine, sweeps the floor in preparation for opening. Sullivan, Iacono and chef Matt DeFio will be the establishment’s only staff. Photo by Elizabeth Clemente

All the restaurant’s tables, purchased for a grand total of $120, came from a Chinese restaurant in Lewiston, and that’s also where she found the three chandeliers that hang over the bar.

A large wooden rose gracing the back of the room came from her father’s former restaurant in Provincetown, and the paneling on the walls came from her barn.

“This place has come together on a serious shoestring, but I think it looks really good,” Iacono said. “I look around and I’m like ‘yup, I know where everything came from in here.’ ”

Iacono has had some help from friends. Yennika Ekstrand, an artist, painted a large mural on the restaurant’s back wall depicting fish, bouquets of carrots, clams and other objects.

Though happy with the current look, Iacono wants the interior of Vessel and Vine to be ever-changing.

“Frankly the entire aesthetic of this place is going to be very fluid,” she said. “Literally, the couches will be for sale, (and) the chairs will be for sale, as if it’s a gallery essentially. I’ll have a price list on the wall.”

All of the glassware that the drinks will be served in will be for sale, too.

Iacono has been selling vintage glassware on her Etsy page for more than a year. Now she ll sell pieces at Vessel and Vine, including those that the drinks are served in. Photo by Elizabeth Clemente

Iacono will be the sole bartender, and Will Sullivan will run the retail end of the business.

Another of Iacono’s friends, Brunswick native Matt DeFio, will be the head chef of the restaurant. DeFio, who recently started a fresh pasta company, will eventually prepare his product at Vessel and Vine, Iacono said.

For now, the prototype menu features items like parsnip and apple soup with goat cheese and arugula, and fish dishes such as cured salmon on pumpernickel with red onion and kewpie, a Japanese mayonnaise.

Before the bar can open, however, Iacono must be approved for a license at the Feb. 20 Town Council meeting.

Iacona wants classes to be “a huge part of this place,” and says they’ll include sessions on how to make pasta and other dishes, led by DeFio, and wine appreciation and cocktail making, taught by Iacona.

“I want it to be a place where people can learn,” Iacona said, “whether it’s on the retail side, or coming in and feeling comfortable asking questions of Will, or of me, or of Matt, so that we’re all accessible and can kind of help people go outside their comfort zone without even realizing they’re doing it.”

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Read this story in The Forecaster.

]]> 0, 20 Feb 2018 13:32:36 +0000
McDonald’s dropping cheeseburgers, chocolate milk from its Happy Meal menu Fri, 16 Feb 2018 00:33:47 +0000 NEW YORK — McDonald’s is taking cheeseburgers and chocolate milk off its Happy Meal menu in an effort to cut down on the calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar that kids consume at its restaurants.

Diners can still ask specifically for cheeseburgers or chocolate milk with the kid’s meal, but the fast-food company said not listing them will reduce how often they’re ordered. Since it removed soda from the Happy Meal menu four years ago, orders for it with Happy Meals have fallen 14 percent, the company said. Hamburgers and Chicken McNuggets will remain the main entrees on the Happy Meal menu.

The Happy Meal, launched nearly 40 years ago, has long been a target of health advocates and parents who link it to childhood obesity. McDonald’s has made many tweaks over the years, including cutting the size of its fries and adding fruit. Most recently, it swapped out its apple juice for one that has less sugar.

The latest Happy Meal changes, including new nutritional standards, will occur in the United States by June.

McDonald’s said Thursday that it wants all of its Happy Meal options to have 600 calories or fewer and have less than 650 milligrams of sodium. It also wants less than 10 percent of the meal’s calories to come from saturated fat.

There will be other tweaks: The six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal will now come with a kids-sized fries instead of a small, lowering calories and sodium from the fries by half. And bottled water will be added as an option to the Happy Meal menu, but will cost extra.

]]> 0 Happy Meal featuring non-fat chocolate milk and a cheeseburger with fries, are arranged for a photo at a McDonald's restaurant in Brandon, Miss., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. McDonald’s will soon banish cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from its Happy Meal menu. Diners can still ask specifically for cheeseburgers or chocolate milk with the kid's meal, but the fast-food company said that not listing them will reduce how often they're ordered. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)Thu, 15 Feb 2018 22:47:47 +0000
In the age of #MeToo, workplace romance gets even more complicated Thu, 15 Feb 2018 23:51:34 +0000 These days, office romances are full of paperwork.

Dating colleagues has always been laced with the forbidden, be it by company policy or social taboo. But as more women come forward with stories of sexual harassment in the workplace, often at the hands of men at higher pay grades, the conversation about the subject is shifting.

Companies have changed the way they approach the often inevitable workplace romance since the #MeToo movement caught fire last fall on social media.

Some have turned to so-called love contracts, which newly dating co-workers sign to assure their boss that everything is consensual. Employees laugh at them, but they’re an employer’s way of reducing risk should the relationship sour.

“It’s changing everyone’s perspectives,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which released a survey on workplace romance this month. “(It used to be) laissez-faire, people can date who they want to date, but I think companies are realizing to create a safe environment for the employees, there needs to be some policing.”

It’s a delicate balance to strike, though, and banning relationships isn’t always the answer, Challenger said. When co-workers spend more waking hours at the office than at home, romances are bound to blossom. But some are also destined to fail.

Of the 150 human resource executives Challenger, Gray & Christmas surveyed in January, more than 60 percent said they’ve had to deal with a failed or inappropriate relationship at work. One-third ended in at least one person’s separation from the company.

Cafe Marie-Jeanne in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood is fortunate, co-owner Mike Simmons said. He and his wife, co-owner Valerie Szafranski, haven’t had to deal with any co-worker relationships that have gone wrong since opening the restaurant in January 2016. The cafe has “a very hard-line ‘no’ policy” regarding harassment of any type – among co-workers and from guests.

Simmons wants to believe that everyone respects each other all the time, but he said he knows there are moments that aren’t on his or Szafranski’s radar. They have tried to keep a conversation regarding the #MeToo movement going with their employees over the past several months. It helps that workers know where they stand, and they can learn about where the employees stand, Simmons said.

“We also feel like it’s a way to counter, just in our little corner of the city and of the business, this type of toxic behavior that’s starting to come to light,” he said.

The #MeToo revelations caused nearly 35 percent of respondents to the Challenger survey to review their sexual harassment policies.

Besides the increasing inquiries regarding love contracts – also called consensual romance in the workplace agreements – Sharon Sellers, president of South Carolina-based consulting firm SLS Consulting, said she has considered ways to alter her training to focus more on dignity and respect in the workplace. It’s important that everyone thinks that they can speak up about an employee being mistreated, Sellers said.

Banning relationships doesn’t work in building a healthy environment, said Jeana Anderson Cohen, founder and CEO of Chicago-based fitness blog aSweatLife. She dated a co-worker at a restaurant where she worked in college, and it didn’t end so well. “I left,” she said.

The restaurant forbade its workers to date, so of course they all dated anyway, just in secret, Anderson Cohen said.

“There was a breakdown in teamwork and communication, and that’s the worst scenario,” she said. “You have to be able to trust each other in any workplace.”

Last year, Anderson Cohen launched a technology company with her husband called SweatWorking. Its app connects people to trainers and workouts. With only five full-time employees, the company doesn’t have a set policy on dating co-workers, Anderson Cohen said, but the discussion stemming from the #MeToo movement has her brainstorming. If co-workers are in a relationship, disclosing it can help the employer take care of anything improper before it happens, such as a romance where power dynamics are at play, she said.

]]> 0 couple Valerie Szafranski and Mike Simmons, owners of Cafe Marie-Jeanne in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood, haven't experienced any employee relationships that have gone wrong, but try to make awareness a part of their workplace policy.Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:31:37 +0000
11 Maine chefs and restaurants named James Beard Award semifinalists Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:06:34 +0000 Eleven Maine chefs and restaurants were named semifinalists for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards on Thursday, including five chefs who are being considered for best chef in the Northeast.

Two of the Best Chef: Northeast semifinalists have been previously nominated. Ravin Nakjaroen of Long Grain in Camden has been on the list three times before, and Keiko Suzuki of Suzuki’s Sushi Bar in Rockland was nominated for the third time this year. Newcomers on the list are Vien Dobui, chef/owner of Cong Tu Bot, a Vietnamese restaurant in Portland, and Erin French, the chef/owner of the Lost Kitchen in Freedom, which has received lots of national coverage in the past year. Krista Kern Desjarlais, who was a James Beard finalist in this same category in 2012 for her (now closed) Portland restaurant Bresca, was nominated for the Purple House in North Yarmouth, which she opened in December 2016.

A half-dozen Mainers are scattered throughout the other categories. Most have been semifinalists before, but this year Back Bay Grill in Portland, owned by chef Larry Matthews and managed by Adrian Stratton, got a nod in the Outstanding Service category. Cara Stadler, chef/owner of Tao Yuan in Brunswick and Bao Bao Dumpling House in Portland, is once again a semifinalist in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category, which is restricted to chefs 30 or younger who are “likely to make a significant impact on the industry for years to come.” This is the last year she will be eligible for this category.

Sam Hayward, co-owner and founding chef of Fore Street and Scales in Portland, is named once again in the Outstanding Chef category, which honors “a working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals.” He won Best Chef: Northeast in 2004. Hayward, a pioneer in the local foods movement in Maine, has been up for the Outstanding Chef award several times over the years. Another perennial nominee is Chase’s Daily in Belfast, which is once again a semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant.

Maine bakers are also represented again this year. Alison Pray, who co-owns Standard Baking Co. with her husband, Matt James, is a semifinalist once again for Outstanding Baker, a category that was added in 2015. And Ilma Lopez, co-owner of Piccolo and Chaval in Portland, is listed for Outstanding Pastry Chef.

The James Beard Foundation Awards are the most coveted in the restaurant industry. Anyone can nominate someone to be a semifinalist in 21 categories; this year, the semifinalists were chosen from more than 20,000 entries. The lists in each category will now go to an independent volunteer panel of more than 600 judges across the country – including restaurant critics, food editors and past winners – who will narrow it down to five finalists in each category. Finalists will be announced March 14.

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


]]> 0 Kern Desjarlais outside The Purple House in North Yarmouth.Fri, 16 Feb 2018 00:28:57 +0000
Bill Paxton’s family files wrongful death suit against hospital and surgeon Thu, 15 Feb 2018 02:48:11 +0000 LOS ANGELES — The family of Bill Paxton has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a hospital and the surgeon who performed the actor’s heart surgery shortly before he died.

The suit filed Friday against Cedars-Sinai Medical Center alleges the surgeon used a “high-risk and unconventional surgical approach” that was unnecessary and that he lacked the experience to perform.

Paxton’s death certificate says he died Feb. 25, 2017, from a stroke, 11 days after surgery to replace a heart valve and repair aorta damage. Paxton starred in the films ”Titanic” and “Aliens,” and the HBO series “Big Love.”

]]> 0 Wed, 14 Feb 2018 21:48:11 +0000
Winthrop priest offers ‘Ashes 2 Go’ downtown as sign of love Wed, 14 Feb 2018 22:44:37 +0000 WINTHROP — It was a mixture of ashes and roses as Ash Wednesday coincided with Valentine’s Day, and the Rev. Susan Berry Taylor of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church was right in the middle of it downtown.

Both she and church member Bob Somes of Readfield, who was standing with her, had crosses of ash on their foreheads. Taylor, who is an artist as well as a priest, said she resisted the temptation to draw hearts rather than crosses with the ashes in honor of Valentine’s Day, which is also know as the Feast of St. Valentine.

Just off Main Street next to the Winthrop Commerce Center, they had set up a small portable table with a few items, including pamphlets with information about Ash Wednesday and about St. Andrews’ Mission. The “Ashes 2 Go” event from noon to 3 p.m. was a community outreach.

“The main reason we do this is to meet people where they are,” Taylor said. “The church isn’t supposed to be hidden behind church walls.”

While this is her first year offering ashes in Winthrop, she recalled her 2011 experience as a seminarian in at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. She said the seminarians in their purple cassocks would set up near a subway station and many grateful people stopped for ashes.

In 2016, the Rev. James Gill of St. Andrew’s, offered ashes in front of Pete’s Roast Beef in Winthrop.

Wednesday’s community outreach was to be followed by an Ash Wednesday service at 5:30 p.m. at the church at 219 Winthrop Center Road (also known as Route 135 south), a building that also is known as The Friends Meeting House.

On Tuesday night, those two groups joined with the Winthrop Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, for a Mardi Gras event with some jambalaya and King Cake, reminiscent of New Orleans and other Carnival celebrations, and crafts and games.

“It’s just a way to kind of embark on the journey to Easter,” she said, noting that this year, Easter coincides with April Fools’ Day. “God has a sense of humor.”

In many Christian churches, Ash Wednesday is the official beginning of the Lenten season, and church services involve placing ashes on the foreheads of the anyone who wishes it. The practice symbolizes penance and reminds people that eventually they will return to dust. Ash Wednesday is also a day of prayer and fasting and abstinence for many people — posing a quandary for people who wanted to indulge in the chocolate and other sweets from their sweethearts.

Taylor said she had several interactions Wednesday afternoon, including one with a man who told her several people in the building had complained about her setting up outside the Commerce Center, and then a couple who talked to her for a while, and then returned a half hour later.

They both ended up getting ashes.

“I’ve never had anyone make a return visit before,” Taylor said.

“Most people who stop are sincere and reverent; a few are challenging.” She said her goal is “to assist them wherever they are in their spiritual journey.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

]]> 0 Susan Taylor, of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, places ashes on the head of Steve Kennedy in downtown Winthrop on Wednesday.Wed, 14 Feb 2018 18:22:33 +0000
Portland Museum of Art receives gift of a dozen Winslow Homer works Wed, 14 Feb 2018 21:22:46 +0000 The gift of a dozen works by Winslow Homer to the Portland Museum of Art strengthens its position as one of the premier venues to experience the work of one of the renowned artists of 19th-century America.

The PMA announced Wednesday that the Berger Collection Educational Trust donated 12 pieces to the museum, which in addition to the new acquisitions and an already extensive collection of Homer works, owns the Winslow Homer studio in Scarborough’s Prouts Neck neighborhood. Homer spent the last years of his life on Prouts Neck.

“There is no better home for the works of Winslow Homer than in the region that meant so much to him,” museum director Mark H.C. Bessire said in a statement. “We cannot wait to make these works accessible to all Mainers and visitors to our state, and to expand upon the stories that our Winslow Homer collection can tell.”

The gifts of Homer’s artwork, which consist mostly of oil and watercolor paintings, came from the Berger Collection Educational Trust, which is housed at the Denver Art Museum.

Winslow Homer’s ”Young Farmers (Study for ‘Weaning the Calf’),” 1873-74, oil on canvas, 13⅝ by 11½ inches

The Berger Collection is a major private collection of largely British art that includes a small but significant collection of art by Homer and Frenchman Francois Boucher. The Berger Collection is dedicated to making its collection an educational resource accessible to anyone.

“The mission of the Berger Collection Educational Trust is sponsoring programs that foster art appreciation and creativity,” Arthur Lipper, chairman of the trust, said in a statement. “To this end, Bill and Bernadette Berger assembled a collection of works that would encourage such programs at the Portland Museum of Art.”

The monetary value of the Berger Collection donation was not disclosed.

“The Portland Museum of Art does not disclose the value of acquisitions, works on view, or works in the museum’s collection,” museum spokesman Graeme Kennedy said in an email Wednesday night.

The gifts were made in honor of the Portland Museum of Art’s preservation of the Winslow Homer Studio. After Homer died, the studio remained in his family’s ownership until 2006, when the studio and land were purchased by the museum.

Winslow Homer’s work “Returning from the Spring,” 1874, oil on panel, 7⅞ by 5¾ inches Photo courtesy of Berger Collection Educational Trust

The Portland Museum of Art purchased the property with the intention of restoring it to how it appeared during Homer’s lifetime. The restoration project was completed in 2012, providing visitors with a more vivid and intimate experience of Homer’s life and work.

Museum officials described the highlights of the Berger Collection gift as being “Returning from the Spring,” an oil on panel painting from 1874, and “Young Farmers (Study for Weaning the Calf),” an oil on canvas painting during 1873 and 1874.

Kennedy said a limited viewing of those works in the museum’s art study room this Saturday sold out within an hour.

The other works that were donated included oils and watercolors as well as graphite and one chalk on paper drawing done in 1863 during the Civil War. Homer traveled to the battlefield several times, capturing scenes of the fighting and daily camp life for Harper’s Weekly.

According to the Portland Museum of Art, Homer first visited Prouts Neck where his newlywed brother was honeymooning in 1875. In 1883, Homer’s father and brother purchased the Prouts Neck property where Homer lived until his death in 1910.

The studio was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966. The studio is open between April and October for guided tours.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

]]> 0, 20 Feb 2018 13:30:59 +0000
Damariscotta River Grill is for sale Wed, 14 Feb 2018 19:59:04 +0000 The Damariscotta River Grill, a popular midcoast restaurant in downtown Damariscotta, is for sale for $2.25 million.

Co-owners Rick Hirsch and Jean Kerrigan said they are putting the restaurant and the building it’s in on the market now because they would like to retire in the next two to three years, and they don’t want to have to search for the right buyer at the last minute.

The sale includes a four-story brick building with multiple retail spaces and river views, the restaurant business, a catering business associated with the restaurant, and a commercial kitchen that supports catering, take-out, and retail beer and wine sales.

“We think its going to be a long process to sell the place because it’s a unique situation,” said Hirsch, who is the restaurant’s chef. “We’re trying to come from a position of strength. And the town is doing fabulous. It’s a really exciting time, with a lot of growth.”

The restaurant, which has an eclectic, upscale menu heavy on seafood, will remain open while it is on the market. Hirsch said none of the staff has left because of the announcement of the sale.

Hirsch and Kerrigan, who manages the restaurant, opened Damariscotta River Grill in late 2003, and it became a popular dining spot for both locals and tourists. Hirsch was named Maine Chef of the Year by the Maine Restaurant Association in 2010. The restaurant has won 10 consecutive Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence, and in 2006 formed its own wine club, which holds monthly tastings and offers discounts for members.

The 8,100-square foot property is listed with Alyssa Bouthot of The Swan Agency Sotheby’s International Realty, who calls it “a turnkey opportunity for a new business owner or a chef looking to make the leap into restaurant ownership.”

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


]]> 0, 15 Feb 2018 14:48:12 +0000
Recipe: Vegan dirty blondies Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:00:39 +0000 From “Eat Vegan with Me” by Mary Lawrence, Vegan Publishers, 2017.


This dessert is so moist and decadent you’d never know the secret ingredient is beans. Eat them for a guilt-free dessert or a grab-and-go snack.

1/2 cup quick oats

3/4 cup organic brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup apple sauce

2 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life mini chips)

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Blend all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut in a large food processor until a smooth batter forms. Pulse all but 2 tablespoons each of chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut into batter, then spread into an oiled 8-by-8-inch pan. Sprinkle reserved ingredients evenly over the top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until top is firm and sides are beginning to brown and pull away from the pan. Let cool at least 10 minutes, then gently cut into squares and remove from the pan. Best after refrigerated several hours or overnight.

VARIATIONS: Alternatively, you can double the recipe and pour the batter into an oiled 10-inch tart pan to make an elegant presentation. In the fall, you can substitute pumpkin puree for the apple sauce and add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon of allspice and 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger.

]]> 0, 13 Feb 2018 17:25:52 +0000
The Wrap: Holy hell as Park Avenue Holy Donut closes for renovations Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Bad news for doughnut lovers: Holy Donuts posted a notice on Facebook Feb. 6 saying its Park Avenue location would be closed “for a week or more” for renovations. The good news? When it re-opens, it will have a full espresso bar.


Who doesn’t need a green rooster head cordial glass, or four vintage King Tut double rocks glasses? I’m drooling over the retro glassware and barware on Vessel and Vine’s and Instagram pages. Vessel and Vine is a new watering hole and restaurant (with a “small but eclectic” menu) opening in late winter (probably March) at 4 Pleasant St. in Brunswick. The owner is Nikaline Iacono, the former bar manager at Enoteca Athena and Frontier. Vessel and Vine will include a retail store selling beer, wine, and some of that vintage barware.


Chef Christian Hayes, owner of Dandelion Catering Co. in Yarmouth, will compete on the March 20 episode of “Chopped,” titled “Pork on the Brain.” Hayes said he will compete against three other chefs from around the country for a $10,000 prize and the title of Chopped Champion. The Food Network show will air at 10 p.m.


More shuffling at Maine food magazines: Talented food writer and editor Michael Sanders of Brunswick, author of “From Here, You Can’t See Paris” and “Families of the Vine: Seasons Among the Winemakers of Southwest France” is no longer editor of Edible Maine, a food magazine that launched less than a year ago. Chris Ellis, publisher and co-owner of the magazine, is now also editor-in-chief.


Black Cat Coffee, a beloved neighborhood coffee shop at 463 Stevens Ave. in Portland, has been sold to the owners of Rwanda Bean. Jenny Siler and Keith Dunlap, the founders of Black Cat, said on their Facebook page that they made the difficult decision to sell because they are dealing with a cancer diagnosis in the family. Rwanda Bean is the same company that is partnering with Cape Whoopies and cold brew coffee maker White Cap Coffee on a new coffee shop at 185 Cottage Road in South Portland, the former location of Cherished Possessions. The new owners of Black Cat will hold a community open house from 5 to 7 p.m. March 10, serving coffee, soft drinks, beer, wine and light fare. They’ll be taking donations for the annual Longfellow Auction, a fundraiser for Longfellow Elementary School.


If we were the lucky sort, the kind who get to fly off to Italy willy-nilly to drink wine and meet pig farmers, we too might have wandered among the vineyards in the Colli Orientali Friuli region of Italy (the thigh-high part of the country’s boot, near the Slovenian border) with a young winemaker. Alas, we were stuck at our desk last summer while Ned Swain of Devenish Wines in Portland spent time with Marco Sara in the golden Italian sun. Swain says he was impressed by Sara’s “aromatic white wines from local grape varieties Friulano and Verduzzo, as well as a lovely lush Cabernet Franc.”

Now we all can sample these wines (and daydream of the sun) at a Feb. 21 wine dinner at Solo Italiano, 100 Commercial St., Portland. Yes, Marco Sara will be there, pouring a Verduzzo table wine, two styles of Friulano, a Cabernet Franc and a Verduzzo dessert wine. Chef Paolo Laboa will prepare an a la carte menu to pair with the wines. After dinner, you can purchase any but the dessert wine through Browne Trading Co. Reservations suggested. Call (207) 780-0227.


Yo, dawg. American Idol’s Randy Jackson will be happy to hear it’s the “Year of the Dog” on the Chinese calendar. Zen Chinese Bistro, 45 Danforth St., Portland, is celebrating with a family-style dinner at 5 p.m. Feb. 25. Tickets are $65 and there’s space for just 50.

I don’t know, dawg. Can you handle all this food? The menu will feature BBQ pork ribs, fried wontons, steamed dumplings, seafood soup, Peking duck, honey walnut shrimp, sweet & sour fish, spicy Szechuan green beans, Lobster Longevity Noodles (unless these are for old lobsters, I’ll take a quart), and dessert, including homemade New Year cookies. Check it out, dawg: Happy hour begins at 4 p.m. with beer and wine specials and Polynesian cocktails at the downstairs bar.


Here’s a different way to keep warm this winter: Petite Jacqueline has been offering raclette for as few as two or up to eight cheese lovers. Raclette is a cow’s milk cheese, popular in Switzerland and France, that is heated over a grill or open fire. The melted cheese is scraped onto diners’ plates and served with traditional accompaniments. At Petite Jacqueline, diners get their own wheel of cheese served with baguette and fingerling potatoes, salami, tomatoes, apples and cornichons. The restaurant’s raclette machine must be reserved 24 hours in advance. The cost is $60 per couple.


If you’re planning a late winter trip to Deer Isle, and you’re a man who can cook – or a single woman looking for a man who can cook – check out the 14th annual “Men Who Cook” dinner at 5:30 p.m. March 10 at Deer Isle-Stonington High School. Organizers seek guys who can make soups/chowders, salads, appetizers, main dishes or desserts. Guests will be able to sample what they make, and vote for their favorites. To register to cook, or for more information, call (207) 367-5888 or email Proceeds go to the Zach Rosenfield Memorial Scholarship, which supports graduating high school seniors pursuing studies related to the culinary arts, agriculture, ecology, health and nutrition.

May the best man win.

]]> 0, ME - SEPTEMBER 25: A stack of donuts, from top include a raspberry glazed, dark chocolate sea salt, and vegan cinnamon sugar, at The Holy Donut on Park Avenue in Portland Thursday, September 25, 2014. Leigh Kellis, owner of the business, is constantly trying to determine how many donuts to make for the day so as not to run out, but also not to make too many. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer)Tue, 13 Feb 2018 18:00:57 +0000
Couldn’t make it to PyeongChang? At least you can make these Korean dumplings Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 If you want to celebrate the winter Olympics, now underway in South Korea, at the table, try your hand at these easy-to-make Korean dumplings, known as mandu in their homeland. The recipe comes courtesy of Sunny Chung, who runs the homey, excellent Yobo in Portland with his wife, Kim Lully.

Chung was born in Korea and came to New Hampshire with his family when he was 6 years old. Mandu, he said, are “one of those must-have dishes for the New Year.”

Mandu symbolize “good luck and prosperity, so if you don’t eat it during the New Year, you are going to suffer the consequences,” Chung said with a laugh.

The Korean Lunar New Year is celebrated on Monday, and good luck is, of course, apt for competing Olympians, too. The dumplings can be filled with all manner of foods. “You could pretty much put anything you wanted in there,” Chung said. He chose kimchi here, because “it’s very symbolic of Koreans.”

Even if you cannot skate like Alina Zagitova, snowboard like Red Gerard or ski like Mikaela Shiffirin, spicy, funky, delicious Korean food – and perhaps prosperity and luck – is within easy reach.


Recipe courtesy of Yobo chef/co-owner Sunny Chung. Find kimchi at local Asian markets. To make the recipe vegetarian, substitute firm tofu for the ground pork. First, drain the tofu, then weight it for 30 minutes to remove excess moisture, and finally crumble it up into the dumpling filling.


2 cups kimchi, drained and chopped

1 pound ground pork

1 onion, finely chopped

2 scallions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 thumb-size piece ginger root, peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 large eggs, beaten

1 package wonton skins (approximately 30 pieces)

Oil for frying


2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon white (or rice) vinegar

Chopped scallions

Toasted sesame seeds

To make the dumplings, combine all ingredients except the wonton skins and oil into a large bowl and mix by hand.

Place 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of each wonton skin. Brush or use your fingertip to apply water to the edge of the wonton skin, fold in half and seal the dumpling. Repeat to make as many dumplings as you choose.

At this point, the dumplings can be steamed or pan-fried. To steam them, you’ll need an Asian steamer, in which you cook the dumplings for 10 minutes. If you are pan-frying, add oil to a non-stick pan on medium heat. Once it is hot, add the mandu, taking care not to crowd the pan. Brown on one side, turn the mandu and add ¼ cup water. Cover the pan and cook until the water has evaporated, 5-10 minutes altogether. Serve with dipping sauce.

To make the dipping sauce, combine the soy sauce and vinegar. Garnish with the scallions and sesame seeds.

]]> 0 dumplings with kimchi at Yobo.Wed, 14 Feb 2018 11:21:55 +0000
‘Sheet Pan Magic’ isn’t merely magic for cooks – it’s also romance Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 “Sheet Pan Magic: One Pan, One Meal, No Fuss!” By Sue Quinn. Quadrille Publishing. $19.99

My fiancé knows a pile of clean plates is as romantic to me as a bouquet of flowers.

I’m a neat freak who loves dusting, mopping and vacuuming. But there is one chore I hate: washing the dishes.

Our apartment doesn’t have a dishwasher, and some nights I feel like I spend hours standing in front of the sink. So when I picked up “Sheet Pan Magic” by Sue Quinn, I hoped it would live up to the tag line: “One pan, one meal, no fuss!”

“Such a surprisingly wide range of dishes emphasizes just how underrated this humble piece of kitchen equipment is,” Quinn writes in the introduction. “But sheet pan cooking does more than just smooth the culinary path when your cooking mojo is low and demand for a tasty meal is high; it also delivers food that is especially delicious.”

The most essential ingredient in the book is the pan itself. Quinn developed and tested her recipes in an 8-by-12-by-2-inch sheet pan. A heavier pan will distribute heat more evenly, so she recommends materials like steel or stainless steel, anodized aluminum, cast iron and copper. I love my cast iron skillet, but I wasn’t sure the round shape was best for these recipes. So I opted for the stainless steel pan that honestly doesn’t get used much except for brownies.

Before opening the book, I imagined it would be mostly different combinations of hearty meats and vegetables, like beef and Brussels sprouts on repeat. But Quinn offers a range of recipes for roasting – 158 pages of breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners and desserts. She included a helpful notation about cooking times on every recipes, which run between 30 and 90 minutes for most entrées.

While the cooking method is convenient, the grocery trip might not be. My fiancé was drooling at the picture of a Dutch baby pancake, but I nixed that one when I saw it called for “orange blossom water.” I also passed over recipes that called for more expensive ingredients like duck breasts, smoked salmon, pistachios and halloumi cheese.

Still, I found a number of options that fit my weeknight dinner budget and timeline. I’ll definitely be making some of the fish recipes – like roast hake with Parmesan crust, chorizo and sweet potatoes – and I think the warm salad of roast tomatoes, figs and feta sounds like a perfect meal for early spring.

I was skeptical of Quinn’s chicken fajitas, which I always make in a skillet on the stovetop. But the recipe directed me to put the sheet pan in the oven while it preheated, which gave that same telltale sizzle when I tipped the chicken into it. I had a couple extra bowls to wash from marinating the chicken and making the salsa, but the flavors of the final product were worth five minutes with a sponge.

When I tried the recipe for shakshuka, however, I really got Quinn’s motto. My pan doubled as a mixing bowl. I dumped in all the ingredients – including chorizo sausage, bell peppers, chopped tomatoes, garlic, hot paprika and other spices – and mixed them together. I popped the pan in the oven. Forty-five minutes later, I cracked the eggs on top and returned the pan to the oven for 10 more minutes. I’ve made shakshuka before in a cast iron skillet, but this was an even easier option for days when I don’t feel like cleaning my heavy pan.

The end result was a plate of perfectly runny yolk and smoky sauce – and my fiancé generously washed the single pan I used to cook it. Be still, my heart.


My note: I accidentally bought a too-large package of fresh Mexican ground chorizo, so I used about double the recommended amount below. I ended up writing a note in the cookbook to make the same mistake again. The meat really gave the sauce body and flavor.

Serves 4 to 6

1 large red onion, halved and thickly sliced, layers separated

2 large red bell peppers, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

7 ounces chorizo, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

2 (14-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons hot paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 heaping tablespoon harissa paste

4 to 6 large eggs

1 1/3 cups crumbled feta cheese

Handful of cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place all the ingredients, except the eggs, feta and cilantro, in a 8 x 12 x 2-inch sheet pan. Add 2/3 cup water and stir well so all the ingredients are combined. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring frequently and adding a splash more water towards the end of cooking if needed to prevent the sauce from becoming too thick.

Make indentations in the sauce with a spoon and crack in the eggs. Bake for about 10 minutes more, but watch the eggs carefully so the yolks don’t overcook: the yolks need to be gooey. Sprinkle over the feta and cilantro and serve immediately.

]]> 0, 13 Feb 2018 17:01:34 +0000
Relationship books reveal how one vegan partner can inspire the other Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 With Valentine’s Day upon us, I phoned the authors of two recent vegan relationship books to learn the latest from the plant-based dating trenches. One thing I discovered: Animals benefit when vegans date non-vegans. That’s because having a vegan partner can lower a meat-eater’s animal consumption.

“I have spoken with many women who accepted an omnivore partner, only to be happily surprised when that person began to eat fewer animal products,” Maya Gottfried writes in “Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal, with Fashion, Makeup & Wedding Tips,” published last April by Skyhorse Publishing. Gottfried interviewed four dozen people (mostly women) and shares their dating and relationship stories in the book.

When I reached her at home in New York’s Hudson Valley, Gottfried told me, “The trend I found writing the book is that vegan love spreads. When we live the example as a happy, healthy vegan, the people around us are often inspired to go in that direction.”

Before she started interviewing vegans about their dating experiences, Gottfried and her publisher assumed there would be “horror stories and funny stories” about dating while vegan. Instead, she heard stories of dates going out of their way to accommodate vegans.

The worst she found was a woman who hid her vegan ways from her date only to have him order her a bunch of non-vegan dishes and her to suffer silently through the meal.

“She didn’t want me to include her in the book,” Gottfried said. “She suffered because she wasn’t honest.”

Gottfried, whose own dating experiences also lack drama, told me she wasn’t expecting to hear so many happy tales.

“I was surprised I didn’t find more negative stories,” Gottfried said. “The women I spoke with were very good. If they got a negative reaction it happened so early on it wouldn’t even come to a date.”

The key to discovering whether the vegan lifestyle of one partner is going to work for both is being upfront about that lifestyle, according to Gottfried and cookbook writer Mary Lawrence, whose most recent book, “Eat Vegan with Me: Creating Community through Conversation and Compassionate Cuisine,” was released in December by Vegan Publishers.

Lawrence writes that “no matter who you date, your baseline should always be to remain true to yourself by being honest about your beliefs, assertive in stating your needs, and empathetic in understanding differences.”

When I reached her in Connecticut, Lawrence told me, “It’s about being true to yourself and letting the person you’re with know what is important to you. This is so they’re aware of your ethics right from the start.”

While relatives told her to downplay her veganism when she was looking for love, Gottfried found honesty produces better results. Reflecting on her conversations about vegan dating, she told me, “by being authentic they found people who were a better match for them.”

She writes “if we hide who we really are, we may miss out on meeting someone who appreciates our true selves.”

And depending on the vegan, her true self may or may not be OK dating a non-vegan. (See quiz.)

One of the vegans Gottfried interviewed was Jasmin Singer, cohost of the vegan podcast “Our Hen House.” She put forth a bold plan when she told Gottfried in the book that “I think there is a moral argument in favor of each of us dating our fair share of non-vegans, and converting them, before becoming vegansexuals.”

If you haven’t yet encountered a vegansexual, it is a vegan who only dates other vegans.

While some women Gottfried interviewed are in that category, others were more open to dating omnivores. An example of the latter is artist Allison Laakko, who is engaged to a meat-eater and told Gottfried: “I truly believe that a vegan diet is the right way to eat, but just like any other belief system, I don’t discriminate when someone doesn’t feel this way.”

While “Vegan Love” is focused on dating, Lawrence’s “Eat Vegan with Me” is a broader guide to creating dietary change within our own social networks. It includes a section of recipes from Lawrence’s private chef business.

A central concept in “Eat Vegan with Me” is the idea of “everyday activism,” which doesn’t require a protest march, an online petition or even a date, but the regular interactions vegans have with non-vegans each day.

“Everyday activism isn’t forcing something down someone’s throat,” Lawrence told me. “It’s being a positive role model and saying, ‘This is what I want to be normalized. I want compassion and justice to be normalized.’ ”

In “Eat Vegan with Me,” Lawrence argues that “each conversation we have, question we answer, recommendation we give or resource we provide can be the necessary seed that will some day root and grow.” However, these seeds can only be planted when vegans are “speaking with confidence and conviction, not sarcasm or condescension.”

Tone matters when you’re trying to nudge omnivores onto Team Vegan.

Because as Lawrence, who is also an English professor, notes in her book: “people change, and the reverberation of these transformations has so much potential for a massive cultural shift.”

A heartwarming thought on this day of love.

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


Excerpted with permission from “Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal, with Fashion, Makeup & Wedding Tips” by Maya Gottfried, Skyhorse Publishing,


1) If your dinner date ordered a dish containing meat, could you still enjoy your meal?

2) Are you comfortable explaining why you are vegan, and talking about the related issues in a calm and friendly manner?

3) Do you enjoy sharing what you love about veganism with others, such as going with them to a farm animal sanctuary or cooking them a great vegan meal?

4) Do you feel secure speaking up for your vegan needs in a restaurant or store even though your partner may not understand why they are requirements?

5) Would you be able to sleep comfortably in a home that had animal products in it?

How many questions did you answer yes to?

0-1: You may still want to try dating an omnivore or two, but if spending time with them is painful, it might be time to seek out a fellow vegan.

2-3: It’s quite possible that you can find an omnivore match. You may warm up to them if they start to express an interest in veganism, or begin to make more compassionate choices. If you never reach the comfort zone, feel free to move on.

4-5: You are such an omnivore lover! You may be exactly the person an omnivore out there is looking for. Their love for you could open their heart to veganism. Being your compassionate self may be just the inspiration they need to live a cruelty-free life.

]]> 0 Rotonda, who founded, with his girlfriend Denise Fernandez and three of his four dogs, Kobe, a bichon frise, Jordan, a bull mastiff German shepherd and Samoyed mix, and Coco, a Yorkie in Clearwater, Fla. “Dogs on first dates are amazing icebreakers,” said Rotonda, who started up the site last year that now has 2 million members. “You find out right off the bat how everyone in a relationship will fit in.”Tue, 13 Feb 2018 17:26:36 +0000
Wondering what to do with that Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy in your cupboard? Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 They may be Maine best-sellers, but you’re not likely to see Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy or Fireball Cinnamon Whisky show up on the menus of many (any?) of Portland’s coolest cocktail bars. Such places pride themselves on fresh-squeezed juices; backyard and foraged ingredients; hand-crafted, top-shelf spirits and bitters; and custom ice cubes. We’re pretty sure we’re on solid ground when we say that today’s serious cocktail aficionados consider Allen’s and Fireball, well, déclassé.

So we were pleased that Jaren Rivas, bar manager of Tipo in Portland, was not only good-humored but genuinely up for our challenge: create a tasty cocktail, something we’d actually want to drink with each of these spirits – even if we were no longer chugging at a frat party or mixing it with milk. If he preferred, we said, he could make one drink using both spirits. There was a pause at the other end of the phone when we suggested that, followed by a quiet. “That’s a stretch.”

He developed two drinks.

“I like to take spirits that people don’t take so seriously, and it’s almost a challenge for me to use them legitimately, so that discerning cocktail enthusiasts could approach them as they would any serious cocktail,” said Rivas, who moved to Portland from South Beach. “They are guilty pleasure sort of spirits anyway.”

(Wait. So he knew of Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy before he got here? “Only because of my girlfriend. She was up here first and she sent me a bottle of it in the mail. ‘The champagne of Maine,’ she said.”)

Allen’s turned out to be the more difficult challenge because it is low alcohol and “essentially sugar and coffee flavor.” His first idea was to make something based on the tiki drink the Jungle Bird. “I completely scrapped it and did something else at the end. It just didn’t work. It did NOT work. If flavors get too muddy or too one-note, you just start over.”

Ultimately, Rivas added herbacious flavors to cut the sugary quality of the brandy, and molasses flavors to underline its coffee notes. His Woo Carré, he said, is “definitely a winter warmer.”

The Fireball presented its own obstacles, namely “a sort of processed flavor” and an “almost candy-like cinnamon spice….To bring that out or to mute it to where it can complement other items, you have to be very careful with your sweetness and your citrus,” Rivas said. “It’s a delicate balance to try to rein it in.”

He tried out his newly developed Allen’s and Fireball cocktails on co-workers, and he managed to fool a few of them, too. Plus, he had a lot of fun creating the drinks. Still, he won’t be adding them to Tipo’s bar program anytime soon (or possibly ever). “These spirits,” he said, “have a time and a place.”

Wheeler’s Spiced Punch, made with Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.


Jaren Rivas, bar manager at Tipo, named the drink for a character from “Captain Planet and the Planeteers,” a 1990s animated environmentalist television show. In the show, Wheeler is a red-headed American kid who represents fire.

1.25 oz Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

.5 oz Calvados

.75 oz cherry/longpepper cordial

.75 oz lemon juice

2 dashes cranberry bitters

2 dashes Boker’s bitters

Amarena cherry

Pour all but the cherry in a mixing tin or shaker mixing glass with ice. Shake and double-strain into a coupe with a splash of soda water. Garnish with the Amarena cherry.

Woo Carré is a reference to “woo girls” at bars.


The Vieux Carré (French Quarter), a classic New Orleans drink, inspired Rivas’ Woo Carré. “The woo part comes from – at bars we get woo girls,” Rivas said. “They go to the bar and have a couple of drinks and they go ‘Woooo!’ ”

.75 oz Allen’s Coffee Brandy

.75 oz Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum

.75 oz Cocchi di Torino Sweet Vermouth

.25 oz Benedictine Liqueur

3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Lemon peel

Combine all the ingredients but the lemon peel in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled, absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

]]> 0 Rivas makes what he calls a "Woo Carré" – a riff on a New Orleans specialty, the Vieux Carré – with Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy, rum, sweet vermouth, bitters and more.Tue, 13 Feb 2018 17:49:41 +0000
New Orleans closes out Carnival with Mardi Gras festivities Wed, 14 Feb 2018 02:33:32 +0000 NEW ORLEANS — Tens of thousands of revelers thronged Mardi Gras festivities, many yelling “throw me something, Mister!” in the universal call to float riders who tossed them coveted beads and trinkets on Tuesday’s raucous finale to Carnival season in New Orleans.

The 300th anniversary of this Louisiana port city featured prominently in Fat Tuesday’s festivities as costumed tourists and locals alike packed parade routes under mostly blue skies and balmy temperatures. Merrymakers also jammed French Quarter bars and narrow streets to party with abandon.

New Orleans’ oldest parading Carnival group, Rex, celebrated the tricentennial with 21 of its 28 floats commemorating the city’s history starting with those who lived in the area before Europeans settled it in 1718 to the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Rex and Zulu are the two major parades in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday, a state holiday. And families jam the sidewalks and camp out in the broad medians to watch with small children often perched in wooden seats atop ladders near the front.

Although many people associate Mardi Gras with women flashing their breasts for plastic bead necklaces, that bawdiness occurs mostly in the French Quarter, often from Bourbon Street balconies.

Neighbors Christine Stephens and Tracy Thomas said they stay on the traditional parade route, outside the French Quarter.

“Mardi Gras should be for everyone from 8 months to 88 years old,” Stephens said as crowds turned out in temperatures warming to the 70s in this south Louisiana city aside the Mississippi River.

By early Tuesday afternoon, the French Quarter’s most famous street, Bourbon Street, and parallel Royal Street were crowded with costumed tourists and locals, many of them stopping each other for photographs. One group dressed as pink flamingos. Two men, both dressed as President Donald Trump, greeted each other in the crowd.

Other costumes included Mr. and Mrs. Potato-Head, Pac Man and Mrs. Pac Man and an angel of death with black wings and halo.

The only bare chests seen were men’s, including a group with grass skirts over their blue Jean shorts.

The holiday climaxes a two-week Carnival season, which draws about 1 million visitors and pumps about $840 million into the city’s economy, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. It also means two weeks of 12-hour, no-vacation shifts for the city’s police, who are reinforced by 165 state troopers and officers and deputies from half a dozen nearby areas.

Neighborhood organizations are among the first groups out on Mardi Gras. There’s St. Anne’s parade, an eclectic walking parade and the North Side Skull and Bone Gang, which wakes people up and tells children to behave.

The Half-Fast Walking Club, organized by the late clarinetist Pete Fountain, rolls and strolls to the Quarter from the Commander’s Palace restaurant.

Then comes the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, a historically African-American group that parades in blackface and grass skirts. After Zulu comes Rex which is followed by two “truck parades” with floats built on flatbed trailers and decorated by the families, neighborhood groups and other organizations riding in them.

The family party along the parade routes generally ends after the parades, but the French Quarter’s rowdier Mardi Gras continues until midnight, when a wedge of mounted New Orleans police officers clears the streets.

]]> 0 member of the Krewe of Zulu marches during Mardi Gras parade day in New Orleans, Tuesday.Tue, 13 Feb 2018 22:57:57 +0000
Robert Plant gets whole lotta love from Raleigh restaurant Wed, 14 Feb 2018 02:22:19 +0000 RALEIGH, N.C. — Robert Plant was famished after kicking off his U.S. tour with the Sensational Space Shifters in Raleigh, North Carolina, but the kitchen was closed when the Led Zeppelin frontman took his backing band to Garland, a top eatery in town.

The News & Observer reports that Plant and his band were welcomed by Garland’s owners – James Beard Award-nominated chef Cheetie Kumar and her husband, Paul Siler.

Kumar whipped up several small plates, including warm hummus, fried cauliflower and a beet and persimmon salad. In return, the band sang her “Happy Birthday” and invited the couple to its Charlotte show.

]]> 0, 13 Feb 2018 22:56:36 +0000
Omarosa Manigault sent to hospital on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ Wed, 14 Feb 2018 01:26:19 +0000 Omarosa Manigault temporarily left the “Celebrity Big Brother” house after being hospitalized for an injury.

The former White House staffer was competing in a game Friday where the cast needed to get dizzy and then bowl when the show’s live feed went down, according to TMZ. When the feeds were back up and running, Manigault, 44, was nowhere to be found and fellow cast members Marissa Jaret Winokur and Ross Matthews were discussing her hospitalization.

“You knocked her out and did so wonderfully,” Matthews says to Winokur.

Winokur adds, “I put her in the hospital,” but includes that she’s going to be OK.

It’s unclear how exactly the former “Apprentice” contestant was injured and whether or not she would return to the show, but both cast and viewers attributed it to some sort of asthma attack.

Loyal fans, who tune in to the constant live stream of the cast’s time in the house, were quick to discuss her hospitalization.

Many seemed to allude to the fact that Winokur might have purposely injured the former aide to President Trump.

“Marissa is salty that Omarosa is in the hospital getting ‘recharged.’ Didn’t she PUT her there? #cbbus #bbceleb,” one viewer tweeted.

Another added, “Did Marissa hit Omarosa with malicious intent? Don’t see why she would make such comments over another human going to the hospital. Unless she thinks Omarosa is subhuman due to her beliefs or somethin’ else. #BBCeleb”

A couple of Twitter users said that Manigault faked the injury to get a break and rest that isn’t easily available in the house.

Manigault returned to the house Saturday afternoon “after receiving medical attention … for an asthma attack,” a rep for CBS told the Daily News.

]]> 0"Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault lost her White House job in December.Tue, 13 Feb 2018 22:53:34 +0000
Yeto’s, Biddeford restaurant serving Southern-Italian fusion, to open Wednesday Tue, 13 Feb 2018 21:16:20 +0000 A new restaurant combining Italian and Southern food is scheduled to open this week in Biddeford.

Yeto’s,at 299 Main St., will open from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to serve Valentine’s Day dinner, then open for good the following Tuesday, according to manager Jackie Hardin, who co-owns the restaurant with her fiancé, chef Bryan Casale.

The food will reflect their family heritages, Hardin said. Casale’s Italian family is from New York, Hardin said, and he learned to cook from an “off-the-boat Italian.” Her family hails from Alabama and Kentucky, where traditional barbecue is king. Yeto’s menu will serve comfort food that is a blend of the two, with “a big focus on smoked meats and everything being made as much in-house as we can,” Hardin said.

It’s not as unusual a combination as one might think, Hardin said. Smoked meats are popular in the Trentino region of northern Italy, typically served with hearty pastas. “They marry really well,” she said, “but it’s not one that people tend to think to put together.”

The dinner menu includes dishes such as a carbonara-inspired mac and cheese; pasta with brisket pizzaiola in a pepper- and onion-filled red sauce; country fried pork; and chicken and biscuits. Pasta dishes range from $11-16, and large plates $14-20. Yeto’s plans to have a pasta night every Thursday.

Hardin and Casale have lived in Maine for about four years. Before Yeto’s, Hardin worked as an accountant and Casale worked at small cafes in Saco and South Berwick.

The name of their new restaurant is inspired by a story from the video game “The Legend of Zelda,” Hardin said. “It really encompasses how we approach food,” she said — using mostly local ingredients free of hormones and antibiotics.

The story is about two yetis named Yeto and Yeta. One day Yeta falls ill, and Yeto sets out to find a cure, gathering pumpkin from a nearby pumpkin patch, cheese from a local goat farm, and fish from the local river. Yeto uses the ingredients to make soup, and the meal heals Yeta.

The story is reflected on the lunch menu in “Yeto’s Superb Soup,” a blend of pumpkin, goat cheese and whitefish.

Yeto’s will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It will be closed Sunday and Monday.

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

Twitter: MeredithGoad

]]> 0, 13 Feb 2018 20:36:45 +0000
Romantic note for Valentine’s Day: Maine divorces fall 30% in a decade Tue, 13 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Along with the standard inscriptions of “Be Mine” and “Cutie Pie,” perhaps Maine candy hearts should have an additional message this Valentine’s Day: “Let’s Never Divorce!”

Divorce rates aren’t usually considered super romantic, especially when it feels like they’ve been rising for generations. But in Maine, the annual number of failed marriages has dropped by 30 percent over the past decade, according to statistics compiled by the state Department of Health and Human Services. During the same period, Maine marriages rose about 2 percent.

Does that mean Mainers have found the secrets to a happy marriage? Probably not. Nationally, the divorce rate has declined at a similar rate, according to statistics compiled by the National Center For Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Researchers say the overall decline is likely fueled by the fact that people are waiting longer to get married, are generally more selective and feel less pressure to tie the knot. Plus, more people are living together first and getting a good idea of what married life is all about – that it’s not all candy hearts and candle-lit dinners, after all.

So it seems that waiting, choosing carefully and taking your time are all very romantic, in the long-term. And Mainers seem to have a pretty good handle on that concept.

Recently engaged, Andrew Vellani and Tara Hilt of Portland are an example of people who get to know each other before marrying. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

“I think there’s a huge value to living together beforehand, to getting to know yourself and figuring things out before jumping into things,” said Andrew Vellani, 35, of Portland. He and his girlfriend of more than a decade, Tara Hilt, got engaged in December. They’ve owned a house together for eight years.

“When I was young, I always thought, by 25 I’d be married and have kids. But when you’re 18, you’re not that mature, and when you graduate college, you’re still not that mature. If we had married at 23 we might hate each other by now,” said Hilt, 33.


There were 5,599 divorces recorded in Maine in 2008, compared with 3,947 in 2017. That’s a drop of 30 percent. The 2017 numbers are preliminary, so other divorce records from around the state may still filter in to the Data, Research and Vital Statistics Office of the DHHS.

During the same period, the number of marriages rose from 9,858 in 2008 to 10,080 in 2017, again a preliminary number. Part of that data set includes a spike that could be attributed to the fact that same-sex marriage became legal in Maine in late 2012. There were 9,703 marriages in Maine in 2012 and 11,039 in 2013. But the state didn’t provide a breakdown of its records by opposite- and same-sex marriages.

The state’s population of people 18 and over, according to U.S. Census estimates, grew 3 percent over the period, from 1,041,695 in 2008 to 1,076,528 in 2016. So divorces went down even while the number of adults went up.

Divorce rates in the U.S. peaked around 1980 and then began to decline steadily. They climbed a little in 2005 and have been going down since then.


As Maine’s overall annual divorce numbers have declined 30 percent, its divorce rate has only fallen about 20 percent from 2008, said Wendy Manning, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research. Manning said divorce rates are calculated by the number of divorces per 1,000 married women. Maine’s divorce rate, calculated that way, was 18.5 in 2016, compared with 16.7 for the nation.

Manning said some experts and researchers think one reason for lower divorce rates is that people are getting married older, and hopefully, wiser. That’s coupled with the fact that there is less pressure today to get married for the express purpose of having a family. And people certainly don’t feel like they have to get married to have sex, as people might have a couple of generations ago.

The median ages for first marriages today are 27 for women and 29 for men, higher than they’ve ever been. The median age for a woman having her first child is now 26, Manning said.

Statistics compiled by the Bowling Green center show that about 40 percent of women who first married between 1980 and 1984 lived with their partners first, while between 2010 and 2014 that number had jumped to 70 percent.

Vellani and Hilt, the Portland couple, are an example of people who waited, got to know each other and did not feel pressure to get married.

They met at the University of Maine in Orono about 15 years ago and were friends and roommates before they ever dated. They both have good jobs – Vellani in risk management for TD Bank and Hilt in broker relations at Unum.

They got engaged in December after living together for years, mostly because, Vellani said, “We were going to spend the rest of our lives together regardless, so why not celebrate that?”

The couple said their families were not pressuring them to get married, but their parents do want grandchildren.


Another theory about lower divorce rates today is that people whose parents divorced may look at marriage and falling in love differently. Where past generations were taught it was important to “start your life” and family by getting married, children who grew up when divorce rates were peaking see the value in taking your time to pick a life partner.

Camille Smalley was not in a rush to marry, then tied the knot at 28 with Bryan McLeod, who was 36. They now have a daughter, River Smalley. “I guess I wanted to skip the whole first bad marriage thing,” Camille said. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

Camille Smalley, 31, said she figured she’d “eventually” get married, but didn’t want to force anything. She said she knew several people in high school and college who got married young and ended up divorced.

“I guess I wanted to skip the whole first bad marriage thing,” said Smalley. “For some people, getting married in their early 20s is part of this push to grow up, to be an adult. I didn’t feel the need for that.”

She also saw her own parents get divorced after 20 years of marriage.

So Smalley didn’t want to stay in a relationship for very long if it didn’t seem like it could be the real thing. Then she met her future husband.

Smalley was 27 and Bryan McLeod was 35. The two dated for three months, moved in together, got engaged three months after that and were married 1½ years after they met. Today, they’ve been married three years and a have a 14-month-old daughter.

Local marriage and family counselors think that another reason for lower divorce rates could be wider acceptance that people might need help – including from marriage counselors – in keeping a long-term relationship alive.

“I think there’s less of a taboo about seeking help, that it doesn’t necessarily mean your on the rocks, it means you want to improve the relationship,” said Alison Caswell, who does couples counseling at Circles of Light Counseling in Portland. “They’ve haven’t waited 20 years for the problems to grow. People understand you have to work at the relationship, take action.”

The idea that people a generation or two ago might have rushed into marriage is supported by the divorce rate for people 50 and older, which is increasing faster than for other age groups. That could mean people got married young, raised a family, and then decided they no longer wanted to deal with the problems in the relationship.

In 2015, the divorce rate for people over 50 – 10 per 1,000 married people – was double what it was in 1990, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census, compiled by the Pew Research Center.


Brenda Garrand of Portland thinks four years of living together first was key to the longevity of her marriage to David Pierson. Photo courtesy of Brenda Garrand

Brenda Garrand of Portland has been married for 32 years to David Pierson. She thinks the stability of their marriage has a lot to do with the fact that they lived together for four years first.

She was 26 and he was 35 when they met. They both had good jobs and felt independent. They felt no need to rush into anything, and both are glad they took time to learn the less glamorous aspects of romantic coupling.

“If you can’t deal with the money, or who makes dinner and who cleans up, then how do you deal with all the other things?” said Garrand, 60, chief executive officer of Garrand Partners, a Portland advertising and communications firm. “It wasn’t calculated, but I think we both felt like it was better not to jump into anything too soon.”

So maybe that’s another sentiment for the candy hearts: “Be Mine, But There’s No Hurry.”

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

Twitter: RayRouthier

]]> 0 Garrand of Portland thinks four years of living together first were key to the longevity of her marriage to David Pierson.Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:49:03 +0000
Judge awards NYC graffiti artists $6.7 million for works that fell to wrecking ball Tue, 13 Feb 2018 01:55:39 +0000 NEW YORK — A judge awarded $6.7 million Monday to graffiti artists who sued after dozens of spray paintings were destroyed on the walls of dilapidated warehouse buildings torn down to make room for high-rise luxury residences.

U.S. District Judge Frederic Block in Brooklyn said 45 of the 49 paintings were recognized works of art “wrongfully and willfully destroyed” by a remorseless landlord.

Twenty-one aerosol artists sued the owner of a Long Island City, Queens, site known as 5Pointz under the Visual Rights Act, a 1990 federal law that protects artists’ rights even if someone else owns the physical artwork. Their graffiti was painted over in 2013, and the buildings were torn down a year later.

Before they vanished, the graffiti artworks became a tourist attraction, drawing thousands of spectators daily and forming a backdrop to the 2013 movie “Now You See Me,” and a site for an Usher tour, the judge noted.

All the while, the crime-ridden neighborhood gradually improved and it became the “world’s largest collection of quality outdoor aerosol art,” though a system set up by the artists meant some paintings were temporary while others were given permanent status, Block wrote.

The ruling followed a three-week trial in November, when Block said the “respectful, articulate and credible” artists testified about “striking technical and artistic mastery and vision worthy of display in prominent museums if not on the walls of 5Pointz.”

He noted one artist came from London, another from rural West Virginia, while others were products of prestigious art schools. Some were self-taught.

He said he was impressed with the breadth of the artists’ works.

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