Sunday, August 26, 2012

Maine Folklore

The Fisherman and the Bear

One fine day an old Maine man was fishing and fishing on his favorite lake and catching nary a thing. Finally, he gave up and walked back along the shore to his fishing shack. When he got close to the front door, he saw it was open. Being of a suspicious nature, he walked to the door quietly and looked inside. There was a big black bear. It was just pulling the cork out of his molasses jug with its teeth. The molasses spilled all over the floor and the bear rubbed his paw in it, smearing it all over.

Well, the old man was not the timid sort. He went to the back of the shack, put his head in the window and gave a loud yell. The bear jumped and ran out the door. It was running strangely. The old man saw that the bear was holding up the foot covered with molasses so it wouldn't get dirty.

The bear ran to the lake shore. Standing on its hind legs, it held up the paw full of molasses. Soon all the flies and bugs and mosquitoes were swarming all over the sticky sweet paw. Then the bear waded into the water with his sticky paw full of bugs. It held the paw out over the water. Suddenly, a big trout came jumping out of the water trying to get to the flies. The bear gave it a swat and it flew to the shore and flopped there. Then another fish jumped into the air after the flies, followed swiftly by another. Every time a fish jumped after his paw, the bear cuffed it ashore. Soon it had a large pile.

Finally, the bear decided he had enough fish and waded to shore. The bear had caught a mess of fish any fisherman would envy. The old man had caught nothing. He watched that bear eat half a dozen trout, his stomach rumbling. All he had for dinner was some bread and what was left of the molasses. Finally the bear paused in his eating, and looked over to the bushes where the old man was hidden. The bear stood up and laid the remaining fish in a row. Then it walked away up the shore. It kept looking back at the bushes where the old man stood.

The old man crept out of the bushes and down to the shore. Sure enough, the bear had left six large trout for him. He looked over at the bear. It was standing at the edge of the wood watching. "Thanks a lot," the old man called to the bear. The bear waved the now-clean paw at the old man and disappeared into the thicket. "Well," said the old man, "That's the first time a bear has ever paid me for my molasses."

The old man never hunted bears again.

A Maine Spooky Story

Now Colonel Buck was not what you'd call the most virtuous man in town. No sir! He had an eye for the ladies, did Colonel Buck, and he would chase them 'til he got what he wanted. Then he would drop them like a hot brick.

Well, Colonel Buck has a pretty maid working for him. It weren't long before he started noticing her and she, poor lass, started looking back. One thing led to another, don't you know, and one day Colonel Buck turned out his pretty maid, seeing as she was unmarried and in the family way.

Well now, that pretty lass had a deformed baby boy, and she had a hard time making ends meet with a growing son. She began putting pressure on ol' Colonel Buck to take responsibility for the boy. Well, Colonel Buck weren't having none of that. He began putting it about town that this lassie was really a witch. The rumor spread and spread. The townsfolk became a-feared of the lass and one day they grabbed the woman and brought her before Colonel Buck. He condemned her to death for sorcery, and had her burned at the stake. The woman shouted a curse at the Colonel as she burned, swearing that he would always bear the mark of this injustice.

Her poor young son was forced to watch his mother being burned as a witch. When one of his mother's legs fell from her burning body, he broke away from the crowd, ran forward to pick up the leg and fled. It was the only piece of his mother he had left to bury.

After Colonel Buck's death, a grand tombstone was erected in his honor. A few weeks later, a strange discoloration began to form on the stone. It was the picture of a woman's leg. The reminder of the woman and her curse embarrassed the people of Bucksport. They had the stone thrown out to sea. But the stone was washed ashore, the image of the leg still branded upon it. The town leaders had the stone smashed to bits and they put a new tombstone on Colonel Buck's grave. But the image of the leg reappeared on the new stone, and could not be removed. It remains there to this day; a reminder of a poor girl who was robbed of her innocence and later her life by Colonel Buck.


You can talk 'til you're blue in the face about the thickest of fogs in ye merry olde England, but I'm tellin' you now, sure as I'm standing here, that England's fogs don't hold nothing over them thick fogs which roll in over the Bay of Fundy here in Maine. These ain't your little pea soupers, you can betcher life. These fogs is so thick you can drive a nail into them and hang yer hat on it. It's the honest truth.

One of my neighbors works a fishing boat, but he can't do nothin' when a Maine fog comes rolling into the bay. He always saves up his chores for a foggy day. One day, the fog came rollin' in overnight, and my friend knew there wasn't to be no fishin' that day. So he decides his roof needs shingling. He got started at the shingling right after breakfast, and didn't come down 'til dinner.

"Maude, we got a mighty long house," he told his wife over supper. "Took me all day to shingle."

Well, Maude knew right enough that they lived in a small house. After all, she'd been cleanin' it for nigh on twenty years, so who would know better? She went outside to take a look. And I'll be jiggered if she didn't discover that my neighbor had shingled right past the edge of the roof and out onto the fog!

Birth of Paul Bunyan

Now I hear tell that Paul Bunyan was born in Bangor, Maine. It took five giant storks to deliver Paul to his parents. His first bed was a lumber wagon pulled by a team of horses. His father had to drive the wagon up to the top of Maine and back whenever he wanted to rock the baby to sleep.

As a newborn, Paul Bunyan could hollar so loud he scared all the fish out of the rivers and streams. All the local frogs started wearing earmuffs so they wouldn't go deaf when Paul screamed for his breakfast. His parents had to milk two dozen cows morning and night to keep his milk bottle full and his mother had to feed him ten barrels of porrige every two hours to keep his stomach from rumbling and knocking the house down.

Within a week of his birth, Paul Bunyan could fit into his father's clothes. After three weeks, Paul rolled around so much during his nap that he destroyed four square miles of prime timberland. His parents were at their wits' end! They decided to build him a raft and floated it off the coast of Maine. When Paul turned over, it caused a 75 foot tidal wave in the Bay of Fundy. They had to send the British Navy over to Maine to wake him up. The sailors fired every canon they had in the fleet for seven hours straight before Paul Bunyan woke from his nap! When he stepped off the raft, Paul accidentally sank four war ships and he had to scramble around sccooping sailors out of the water before they drowned.

After this incident, Paul's parents decided the East was just too plumb small for him, and so the family moved to Minnesota.

Maine Tall Tales retold by S. E. Schlosser

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Making Your Own Fruit Bouquet

As you may have noticed, edible arrangements are flooding the internet and airwaves as of late, having you shell out $49.99 just for a small coffee mug with fruited "florals" or chocolates. Now I know many of you just don't have the time nor the inclination to make your own but let me show you not only how easy it is to make, but how fast and how deliciously economical as well.

Don't follow the exact fruit and chocolate I am showing you if you don't want. Make your own shapes, sizes, elements and imagination. I am only giving you the basics, and you can expound on that.

Make a bouquet with nothing but white chocolate covered strawberries, dark or milk chocolate covered and plain, this type is very attractive. Roll some of these covered strawberries in crushed nuts, coconut, colored sugar or opposite colored mini chocolate chips from which it was dipped. Mix up plain strawberries with cantaloupe centered pineapple flowers for a bright, cheery bouquet. Or mix all the aforementioned together, it's entirely up to you.

As for the vase, again, use your imagination. A glass, ceramic, straw, wicker or plastic holder of any kind is sufficient. Make a few small bouquets in decorative, coffee mugs.

Many people use halved lettuce head to stick the skewered items in, which works very well. Top this with either fresh chicory or kale or use M&M's or jelly beans or gum drops(which I much prefer because of the color added).
Also keep in mind that your fruit arrangement will be top heavy so either use a wide-bottomed container or just be careful and equitable when distributing the fruited skewers.

Items you will need:

bamboo skewers
vase or basket
crafters foam or lettuce head
cookie cutters in the shape of flowers(or any shape-up to you)
melon baller
gumdrops or mini marshmallows
Fruit of your choice; pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew,strawberries,grapes,watermelon, fresh cherries and/or blueberries
Lemon juice(needed to prevent browning of some fruit)

Shape to fit your crafters foam into your container, making sure there is a half inch space from the top of the basket, or cut to fit the lettuce head. Pour gum drops over the top so the foam is not seen, leaving about 20-30 for skewered fruit. Slice all fruit into at least 1/2-inch thick slices. Using a melon baller, "scoop" ot balls of fruit from cantaloupe and/or honey dew melon. You can also cut wedges from the seeded melons as well.

Do what you wnat with the strawberries, dipping or cutting an "x" in the top of the berries, spreading open for a grape or blueberry or just leave. Wedge watermelon into desired shapes, I used mini pyramids. Using your cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes from desired fruit. Follow the pictures shown for ideas.

Before threading on the fruit(and remembering to break some skewers down to size so that the middle of the arrangement is higher than the rest) push a gumdrop down on the skewer first and then the fruit.

This serves as a solid anchor so that none of the fruit will slide off. You can also thread all blueberries and/or grapes on to skewers or wedged cantaloupe and/or honeydew melons.

There are two ways of threading fruit onto a skewer. Either going from one edge to the other with the center cut out into a small hole so that a grape can be skewered as well or after sliding a gum drop on, slide a fruit cutout onto the skewer flat side down, topping with a melon ball.
Arrange according to desired presentation. With a pastry brush or a clean small paint brush, brush some lemon juice onto pineapple, and other fruit you think may brown.

Now let me give you another idea. Cookie Baskets. They are great for a children party or just someone you want to say "Have a Great Day" to. Buy prepackaged cookie dough or use your own recipe. After rolling out your dough or balling up the dough to bake, stick a bamboo skewer into each and then bake. Once done and cooled, warp each skewered cookie in colored cellophane decoratively and use the same technique as with the fruited baskets. Try some doughnut holes, of varying types, as an arrangement as well. Especially attractive in a large coffee mug. How about dipping apple wedges in melted chocolate and rolling all or just one side into nuts, sprinkles or mini M&M's, coconut or chocolate chips?
Use all strawberries for a beautiful arrangement as well,. Melt dark, milk or white chocolate and dip skewered strawberries. Let cool on waxed paper or film warp in the refrigerator until hardened and arrange in a basket prepared as directed above. Again, roll them in anything you choose for that extra special touch.
You can always stick to one theme as well. If you want just pineapple flowers with cantaloupe ball middles throughout the entire arrangement, that is pretty as well. What ever you choose, remember to add your own little touch, such as raffia tied around the outside of your container or large flower leaves around the base of the basket. Thin about some special ways to make it say "You" and everyone will be delighted at your gesture.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Continuing on with It's An Old New England Custom-To Have Pie for Breakfast

The anti-pie crusade was helped by the increasing tempo of American life. The curious notion that the more we rushed about the more civilized we were was beginning to take root. When we began to measure our progress by the rate of speed at which we could move and began to think that because we could get around ten or a dozen times faster than our grandfathers we were that much better than they were, pie as a morning dish was doomed. For nobody had time to eat a decent breakfast.
The female figure, too, may have had something to do with it, or rather men's ideas concerning the female figure.

When pie was in vogue, the buxom figure was admired. Matrons were expected to look matronly. Women could afford to let themselves go in the matter of food, helping themselves to pie at any meal they wished without giving it a second thought. But with he gradual change in ideas of feminine beauty, women were obliged to consider the consequences of heavy eating. They began to cut down on food to reduce their figures, and breakfast, the first meal of the day, was the first to suffer. It was whittled down until it became nothing but an empty mockery of a meal.

Pie, however, continued to linger for some time on may New England breakfast tables. Journeying toward the White Mountains one summer at the close of the last century{1800s}, Charles Dudley Warner fancied that he could draw a diet line passing through Bellows Falls and bending a little south on either side, which would mark, northward, the region of perpetual pie. But he came to the conclusion that pie was perhaps a matter of altitude rather than latitude, as he found that all the hill and country towns were full of women who would have felt ready to sink in mortification through their scoured kitchen floors if visitors caught them without a pie in the house.

The absence of pie would have been more noticeable, he declared than a scarcity of the Bible.
Since then, of course, pie has almost completely vanished from the breakfast tables of New England. Only occasionally is it to be encountered, and then in the most remote places. In the winter of 1940, I visited Criehaven off the Maine coast. It is a tiny fishing port on one of New England's farthest flung islands. My host, entering the kitchen in the morning, gazed for a moment at what his wife had set out for our breakfast, and then, "God bless my soul," he cried, "no pie!" But he was mistaken, for there was pie, and a memorable breakfast we made of it. there was oatmeal and toast and coffee, lobster stew and custard pie. It was the best stew I ever ate, and the custard pie just melted down my throat.

More recently, at Gouldsborough, Maine, a relative of mine was served black pumpkin pie for breakfast, which he said was delicious. Also on the table was a splendid chocolate cake.
But why, people ask, did New Englander's formerly eat so much for breakfast? The answer is quite simple.

It was because they had great things to do.