August 21, 2014
Harvest Maine by Crystal Ward Kent
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons
A few years ago, my family & I were able to spend autumn in New England, and I fell in love with Maine. If I were given a choice of anywhere in the United States to live with nothing else to consider, I would choose Maine, so I could not wait to start this book. By the end of the second paragraph, I wanted to pack up and go! Now, this is not a cookbook, but more like a travel/history/science/food book. Yes, I actually said science. As a homeschool mom, I read chapter four, "Maine Outdoors" aloud to my kids as a science supplement one day and we looked up photos of the various trees, etc. For supper that night we had "Auntie's Baked Beans" and "Indian Pudding" for supper. My house smelled like autumn and just made me want to move to Maine even more!
Now, to the nitty gritty of the recipes themselves. As I said, this is not actually a cookbook and it shows. The baked bean recipe, for instance, doesn't tell you the quantity of beans or water to use, so if that's not something you've made before it might be an issue. I used a pound of beans and it made a good amount, but I had to add water at least once during cooking as the recipe just says to cover the beans with water and not to let them dry out during baking. The ingredients for the Indian Pudding are clearly spelled out, but it says to bake for 3 hours without telling you how to know if it's done. The author's note states that her oven cooks it in 2 1/2 hours, so to be on the safe side, I set my timer for 2 hours to check it. It's a good thing I did. Now granted, my oven is on the small side, but the pudding would have been way overdone if I'd waited another 30 minutes to an hour. I was really surprised that the one clam chowder recipe calls for cream of potato soup and cans of minced clams. I understand giving that alternative, but I'm pretty sure that's not how most people in Maine make clam chowder!
There are only about 14 recipes in this book, but most look good and are on my "to make" list. There are some nice color photos in the center of the book and some black and white photos scattered throughout.
Overall, I really love this book, but then I really love Maine! This book is a great read, and if you have some experience cooking, you really ought to try some of these recipes! I probably wouldn't recommend it for novice cooks as there's a little too much instinctive cooking here, but I highly recommend it for Maine lovers everywhere!
I received a copy of this book from The History Press for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.