Sunday, December 18, 2016

Try An Original, New England Toddy For Christmas

UPDATE; Have since been the envy of my area with the first taster of Eden's Ice Cider. More on that by mid-January. In the meantime, read on.

Choosing something deliciously New England for Christmas this year is finally at our fingertips. What better way to celebrate the often seen snowy hillside cottages and farms of New England packed with family and friends than with an equally recognizable addition in the way of apple cider, and not just any old apple cider. Read on.....


The history of apple cider, as well as hard apple cider, in New England, has been written about over and over again so I will not do the same here.

I will, however, add that Yankees have been enjoying apple cider, in all forms, since the first decade of the 17th century and we have not stopped since. Hard apple cider is now global and is enjoyed universally.

But there has been that one sticking point and that is the overt sugary, sweetness that usually comes along with it. Many of my friends on all social media platforms have the aptitude and strong desire to at least try bottled, hard apple cider, but when they do, they are taken back by the sweetness. No complexity or other hints of flavors, just sweetness.  I, too, have tried almost every single brand and have yet to find that perfect hard cider that adds more apple flavor.

I have seen dozens of reviews for hard cider, as well as the product I am about to tout, but it truly takes a New Englander to appropriately and honestly give a true summation of ANYTHING cider!. I know this will "offend" many professional taste testers out there, but pull your big boy pants up and move on to another product you can review.

There is just something about a fermented apple product that takes a genetic "je ne sais quois" in order to accurately describe, and thusly recommend an apple product.

Now that I have ticked off anyone that isn't a Yankee, let's move on to a product that is another Yankee original, Ice[d] Cider! (Well, original in a sense that us Yankee's made Ice Cider, but we fermented the cider BEFORE freezing, whereas these distillers freeze THEN ferment.)

If you are tired of tasting the same ol', too sweet, hard apple cider, than this product is for you. The only drawback, and truly NOT akin to what the original New Englander called it, is that most of the producers of Ice Cider calls it Ice Cider WINE.

Not only is the word 'wine' a turn off for many men, Yankee men to be precise, but it instantly denotes something less alcoholic and as sweet as wine. That is where this product comes in. Ice Cider is actually a pleasant beverage, says Linda Fondulas of Newhall Farms(see below). The apples she produces is used in Eden's brand below. She tells me that there is so much more depth of flavor in Ice Cider than simply hard cider. The apple bursts its Yankee roots in every sip and all the profiles of an apple are quite apparent as well.

Originally either called Jersey Lightning or Apple Jack(the latter more prevalently), fermented apple cider was frozen in whatever cider barrels a family had laying around. Once the water portion of the cider was frozen, the remaining cider was drawn off and placed in another barrel. This was repeated one more time, with the resulting cider being as strong as any Southerner's White Lightning!

So why was the name Jersey Lightning applied at times to this delicious alcohol? Because the road crews in New Jersey during the colonial era were paid with this Apple Jack!

Anyway, the alcoholic content of todays' Ice Ciders can't compare to the original either. Today, they range anywhere from 10%-20%, stronger than beer but still a far cry from the old days. I have seen, somewhere online, of Ice Ciders having a 30-40% content of alcohol. These would be the first I would try.

There are also two different manufacturing processes used as well, one being far superior than the other.

The generally acquired and used system is to use apples from the tree, pulverize them(I am taking a journalistic shortcut here), squeeze as much juice from them before freezing, filtering and fermenting. Although this results in a good tasting Ice Cider, the best way is the old way.

By letting the apples freeze while still on the branches before picking and continuing with the fermentation process, you are left with an Ice Cider that is superior in taste than any other hard apple cider product in the world! The flavor is almost identical to an apple pie, without even having to add spices.

I am adding a few companies, both here in New England and abroad, that produces Ice Cider, and I will let you decide which is your favorite and with a little due diligence, investigate which of these uses frozen apples rather than freezing the juice. I have added one particular company that is known to use frozen apples.

Let me know which you enjoy the most and in the meantime, I will be forming my own opinion as I can acquire each of these products. The winning Ice Cider will be having a spotlight in my third cookbook already in the works.


Domain Pinnacle Ice Cider is a Canadian product that was the winner of the Great Gold medal at the Catavinum World Wine Spirits Competition(there's that word 'wine"again), as well as many other medals. This Ice Cider is that it is 12% alcohol. They have a century old apple orchard and use 6 varieties of apples as well. Go ahead, check them out at:

Touting 54 awards, Ice Cider Neige Premiere is a blend of McIntosh, Spartan and Cortland apples and is 12.5% alcohol. The reviews, as seen on their front page, likens this cider to wine which is a common denominator throughout my research. Although they show pictures of apples being picked in the middle of winter, and thusly assuming the apples are frozen, there is no mention of using the frozen apples for the base of this cider. They also say that the apples are "autumn harvested". Regardless, this Canadian "wine" is available for your tasting as well.

Now onto a Vermont company, Eden Calville Blend Ice Cider, of West Charlestown, Vermont. Linda and Ted Fondulas provide the apples for this Ice Cider on their Newhall Farm. They claim to use 11 apple varieties and is 10% alcohol. On Eden's web page, it is shown that a few different Ice Ciders are produced, each bearing their own flavor profile. The only downfall is that only a dozen or so states are in on their shipping list. Although additional flavorings are added, the Orleans cider is on my list to try.


Self proclaimed "Vermonts Premier Apple Cider", this New England company, Boyden Valley, has two products that stand out, Ice Cider and Double Bourbon Cider. We will stick with the nuances of Ice Cider for the benefit of this column.

Although little is mentioned in the way of production, this site does say that it is 12% alcohol and uses ONLY Vermont grown Northern Spy, McIntosh and Empire apples, which is almost the perfect blend to be honest. This Ice Cider is aged in French oak barrels, which is fine but in order to be true to New England, oak trees were not nearly used as widely as other types by Puritan and colonial coopers. The staves of the barrel were generally made at home by whatever tree one had on their property, mostly Beech, maple, birch and fir.

Now we are at a place that freezes their apples on the branch BEFORE any other process. Although Northern Natural Winery is based in Michigan, I truly want to try their Ice Cider, and that is coming from a 13th generation Yankee!

Not much, if anything, is found on their website below, about the process used, but simply because of the true process that results in a true New England flavor, this stands out to me more than others. You will have to look under 'Wine", on the left hand side, in order to pull up their product.


In Shoreham, Vermont comes a very intriguing Ice Cider. Champlain Orchards is a special place because they are eco-friendly, while producing a great product, as many aver. Their road to fame, I believe, is the Honeycrisp Ice Cider. The name along sounds enticing on one hand, but sweet on the other. The only way to tell is by ordering a bottle, or two, or.......with its' 11% alcohol.



Isle La Motte, Vermont raises their glasses to Hall Home Place. They are regaled as having the most distinctive Ice Cider in the world! What I like about this company is that the land, as well as the apple trees, have been in the family since the 1700s, and the apples have not been changed since that time, only more added. That, to me, is pure Yankee. At 13% alcohol, their Ice Cider just tweaks me in a good way. Another reason why I hang my hopes on the Hall family? They use ONLY Cortland apples for one of their Ice Ciders. And for those of you familiar with Cortlands, you know that they are less sweet than many other varieties, making this cider a beverage I think will "take the cake".


Saturday, December 3, 2016

They Knew How To Cook 'Back in the day'

Do YOU know what the difference between ginger cakes, gingerbread, gingerbread biscuits, ginger cookies, gingersnaps or Pfeffernüsse cookies are?

Well today, it is easily understood what separates cakes from biscuits from cookies, but back during the heydey of family gatherings, holiday meals and the colonization of New England it was basically all the same.

Even to this day, the smell of spices classically represented in ginger-based desserts has a comforting effect on the soul. And with all the work our forebears maintained, they needed every bit of help they could find.

Here is an early recipe for Ginger Drop Cake but notice one thing, it has no ginger. An interesting omission.

"...take one cup each of sugar, mollasses lard and boiling water, one dab of soda half a dab of cream of tartar; stir in flour until it is thick as cake and sugar and salt."

From Sarah Hale, from The Good Housekeeper, 1841, we have Gingersnaps:

"Take a pound and a half of flour, and rub into it half a pound of butter; add half a pound of brown sugar and half a pint of molasses, two tablespoonfuls of cream, a tea-spoonful of pearlash, and ginger to the taste. Make in into a stiff paste, and roll it out thin. Put it on buttered tins, and bake in a moderate oven."

We can certainly thank the Germans for a certain New England "must have" during the Holidays, especially the Pensylvania Dutch. Pfeffernüsse cookies are the closest thing to the American gingersnap cookies but were originally baked according to whether or not a leavening agent was able to be procured.

If a housewife had no leavening agent, then small, super crispy cookies were made. But if pearlash was used then everyone had a high, soft, almost rounded cookie.

From The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple, 1747, by Hannah Glasse, we have the following recipe for Pfeffernüsse cookies:

"Take three pounds of flour, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter rubbed in very fine, two ounces of ginger beat fine, one large nutmeg grated, then take a pound of treacle, a quarter of a pint of cream, make them warm together, and make up the bread stiff; roll it out, and make it up into thin cakes, cut them out with a teacup, or small glass; or roll them out like nuts, and bake them on tin plates in a slack oven".

So as you can see, there was very little difference between any of these recipes. Here is my recipe for two different gingersnaps.

Soft and Puffy Gingersnap Cookies 

There are two different types of people. Those who love crispy, delicate gingersnaps(see NOTE) and those who love pillow soft, fluffy gingersnaps. Here are directions for both!. If you want darker cookies, use light or dark brown sugar in place of granulated in cookie dough. This recipe is foolproof and should be saved for many years to enjoy.


3/4 cup(1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons each baking powder and cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried ginger *
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream the butter and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl until as smooth as possible with an electric mixer. Add egg and molasses and continue beating until well combined.

In a separate bowl, blend remaining ingredients and add to butter mixture slowly. After everything is beaten as smooth as possible with an electric mixer, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle without being too sticky.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Pinch off enough dough to form a 2-inch ball, roll it between your palms and then roll in remainder of sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving at least 1-inch between cookies. Bake 14-16 minutes, or until puffed up and starting to show small cracks on top. Remove from oven to cool slightly before removing to wire racks to completely cool.

Make 24

* Because I think all gingersnap cookies should be well pronounced with the flavor of ginger, these cookies stand up to that mantra. If a less pungent taste of ginger is desired, cut the amount in half.


NOTE: For Crispy Gingersnaps, after mixing all ingredients, transfer dough to a work surface and roughly shape into an 8 to 10-inch log. Place this rough log into the center of a large piece of film wrap. Roll the dough in wrap, forming a more uniform log as you do so. Place in freezer at least 2 hours, or until firm. Remove from freezer, unwrap and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Coat each side with sugar and place on an ungreased cookie pan with about 2-inches between each cookie. Bake in a 350-degree F oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottom of each is darker then the tops, and the centers are firm. Remove to cool as directed above.

Friday, November 18, 2016

To The New York Yankees

I have always abhorred bullying in any manner. I remember as a child being bullied to no end and I have a soft spot in my heart for children who are bullied even today. It truly saddens me when I see it happen day in and day out, even online. So when I see that you folks filed an extension of time in order to determine if The Yankee Chef negatively impacts your brand, the very first thing that came to mind is the term bullying, trademark bullying to be precise.

I took the time to peruse the objections you have filed over the years and for the life of me, I do not understand how you think a TRUE Yankee would impact the New York Yankees. It completely and utterly boggles me. Why? Let me count the ways.....


First and foremost, I AM A YANKEE. My family have been Yankees since 1635!!!! If anyone thinks, even for a minute, that they can diminish my heritage in any manner simply because an entity has the money to frivolously own a group of people, they are mistaken. Not only because my family(as many thousands of others)have been Yankees longer than baseball has been around, but the word Yankee itself is in the dictionary. That reason ALONE precludes ANYONE from "owning" the name.

It is the exact same thing as if I were calling myself The Indian Chef. The Cleveland Indians would have zero standing to oppose my name. Other examples?

The Viking Chef, The Cowboy Chef, The Chief Chef, The Pirate Chef, The Athletic Chef(I kinda like that name, hahahaha), The National Chef........ do I really need to go on and on?

Please see my article(as well as ANY encyclopedic entry)on the term Yankee at:


In the meantime, and without giving away too much, how about Yankee Candles, Yankee Magazine, Yankee Pacific, Yankee Spirits, Yankee Estate Sales....and the list goes on and on.


We have Yankee Swap Parties, Yankee ingenuity or even Yankeetown, Florida. This is a fraction of things with the word Yankee in the title.


Although I absolutely think you should protect your brand, please do not bully the small guy who is 100% entitled to be called The Yankee Chef, especially since I am a third generation CHEF who happens to be a Yankee and NOT a baseball player. Heck, and not to be mean spirited, but New Yorker's aren't even Yankees, and most probably are happy about that, LOL.


Regardless, take all the time you need, but don't prevent someone from calling themselves a Yankee. I have more of a footing to challenge YOU for calling yourselves Yankees than vice-versa, but that would never happen.

If all you need is a disclaimer, than I would be more than happy to provide one here on my site, although I think it is a little(okay, a LOT)foolish. How's this?


I am a Yankee, not a baseball player and my brand has nothing to do with baseball, stadiums, mascots, sports, sports teams or a league.

                                 It's Just That Simple!™


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Festive and Easy Cakes

As much as I hate to admit it, it IS time to think about Thanksgiving and Christmas. And with those shopping thoughts come eating thoughts. And with eating thoughts, come cooking thoughts. And with cooking thoughts, come "How can I make something different without spending a lot of time in the kitchen and at the same time, keep the budget in check?"

Well, the first thing that came to mind were cookies, to be honest. Sugar cookies and Snickerdoodles have graced New England tables for centuries but I really didn't want to go that route. So how about some recipes that encompasses cookies and cakes? PERFECT!!!!!!


Nutella Cookie Crunch Cake

I am hesitant about using the name Nutella because it IS a brand, but one taste of that deliciously creamy spread and I was hooked. It wasn't long before I made one of the best coffee cake-like desserts using this hazelnut spread. This recipe is a sugar cookie dough with an additional egg. You will adore the crispy topping, as will the super easy preparation.

Nonstick cooking spray
1 stick(1/2-cup) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon each baking powder and soda
1/2 cup hazelnut chocolate spread, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon melted butter

Grease a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until very smooth with an electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla, continuing to beat until smooth once again.

In another bowl, blend the flour with the baking powder and baking soda. Add to butter mixture and beat until well mixed. It will be thick. Transfer dough to prepared cake pan.

Microwave nutella for about 30 seconds, removing to stir until creamy and thinned out. If more time is needed for it to completely melt, heat in 15 second increments. Heavily drizzle over the top, running a butter knife into the batter, creating a somewhat marbling effect and slightly combining the nutella with batter.

Meanwhile for the topping, mix sugar, cinnamon and butter with a fork until evenly colored and blended. Sprinkle over the top of the cake and bake 24 minutes. The center will feel very doughy and undone, but that is the effect we want.

Remove from oven to cool before serving. Add additional melted nutella over the top if desired.


Doodle Pop Cake

Anyone remember the children's show Doodle Bops? My children love it! So this cake is now a standard in my home not only in title but because the flavor is reminiscent of a Snickerdoodle cookie as well, of which every child loves. A softly scented cake that can just be grabbed by a child's hands and eaten.....of course you may want to follow them with a vacuum.

Butter-flavored, nonstick cooking spray
1 stick(1/2-cup) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon


Grease a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. With an electric mixer, beat butter with brown sugar until blended well. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla, continuing to beat until thoroughly mixed.

In a separate bowl, blend flour, spices and baking soda. Slowly add to batter, beating well.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 26-28 minutes, or until it springs back when touched in the center. Remove from oven and set aside while in pan.

Spray the top of the cake lightly with cooking spray while hot. In a small bowl, blend sugar and cinnamon for the topping and evenly sprinkle over the cake. Let cake cool to serve.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Talk About Home!!!

I have often(probably TOO often)used the ambience of a restaurant as a measuring stick for whether or not I would return to a particular place. I even, and don't ask me how, use it to gauge how good the food is.

The Cod's Head in Boothbay Harbor, Maine entices you with this great quality and once you have plunked your butt into a chair, everything seems to fall into place perfectly.

Although the barbecue aspect of this restaurant is their driving force, it is the smiles you notice on everyones faces and the perfect dishes that come from the kitchen, and from the hands of cooks and servers, that made me continually return.

I know I should probably be talking about the sample Ronaldo and I enjoyed during the Harborfest, but if you don't let me indulge about the many other aspects of this "downtown" eating establishment, I honestly will not be able to write another review. Yeah, I hate not finishing one project before starting another!

Every year I visit Boothbay Harbor, I am compelled to return to this place. It was such a pleasure, first off, to have the master barbecue man show me exactly how they strut their stuff around the outdoor smoker. This is the perfect example of less is better. All they have is a small smoker on their back porch, yet their smoked, barbecued dishes rival ANY Southern pit I have tried, bar none!

Rarely can you find a Fish House and "pit" that is owned by a someone who also owns 2 others restaurants in the area and STILL keep the quality and same friendly staff on a level playing field at all times, but they remarkably have done so here.

                                                                        MINE OYSTER

Mine Oyster is one of the restaurants of which I will be posting about in the next week or so is just as memorable as the Boathouse Bistro.....both of which are a world apart from the Cod's Head, yet equally as culinarily significant.

This "family" not only won me over, but with a smile and a great attitude, they silently beckoned Ronaldo Linares and his family for breakfast the next morning. The ONLY reason I didn't go was pure laziness, I wanted to sleep in. What a mistake that was! For the next full day, all I kept hearing was how great the food was and how busy they were. Lesson learned.

The Boathouse Bistro

In closing, I just cannot say enough about how this place was truly a dining experience that made me feel at home and their uncomplicated, inexpensive and impressive portions continually beckon me every single time I go to Boothbay Harbor.

Well done my friends and if there were one restaurant I would feel comfortable going into at anytime of day without having to don a dress jacket and clean shoes, this would be it. And that is a feeling that stays with you even when you are long gone.

Ohhh....almost forgot to mention the sample during the Boothbay Harborfest. The Pulled Pork Slider.....O M freaking word......The tastiest mouthful of barbecued pork. I am so shocked they didn't kick Ronaldo and I out after our 3d and 4th mouthfuls, hahahaha. And when you tempt a Yankee with a Watermelon Mint Julep just as many times....both of us went away more than satisfied and quite willing to go back for more the second we exited. Bravo, bravo, bravo my friends......


Friday, October 14, 2016

A Cake With No History

Most recipes can be traced back, at least somewhat, to a particular era but not Dump Cake. The classic presentation(never thought I would use the word classic with dump)uses cherries and pineapple as the bottom layer and a type of vanilla cake mix poured, or dumped, on top and then baked. When it comes out of the oven, it resembles a cobbler in some ways and a grunt in other ways.

Some "authorities" ascribe this cake as being made during WWII while others say it stemmed from the late 1980s, when both parents began working, leaving little time to properly prepare dishes for their family once at home.

Regardless, I don't think it matters all that much because this is one of those recipes that is easy to make and the kids can have a go at it as well. And one more thing. Don't bother with premade cake mixes when you have everything you need right up in the cupboard.


Yankee Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake

This is one of those simple cakes that will be the most moist you can possibly make. When served straight from the oven, you will notice a puddle of deliciously fragrant cider pooling in the bottom of the pan. But when chilled completely, this cake explodes with flavor, with all this spiced liquid being absorbed into the cake, which is my way of enjoying it!


Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon each baking powder and cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup canned, pure pumpkin(NOT pumpkin pie-flavored)
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup crushed gingersnaps
1/4 cup small, diced papaya, frozen, fresh or canned *
1 1/2 cups boiling apple cider or juice

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Dump flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix well. Dump eggs, pumpkin, butter and vanilla in flour mixture and stir until just combined. Dump batter into prepared pan.

In a small bowl, mix ginger snaps with papaya and dump on top of cake batter, evening out. Dump boiling apple cider evenly over the top and bake 50 minutes, or until it bounces back in the center when touched.

Remove from oven to cool slightly before serving hot with ice cream if desired, or wait until it is thoroughly chilled before serving.


* Or use whatever fruit you have on hand, or none at all.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hands Down the Best Lobster Roll

I was invited again this year to judge the prepared dishes offered by various restaurants in Boothbay Harbor during the Boothbay Harborfest and our culinary journey couldn't have started on better footing. I say OUR because I was accompanied by a true friend who is, himself, a celebrity chef from New Jersey, Ronaldo Linares.

We were BOTH blown away by the attention and friendliness of Tom Philbrick and his wife, at the Boothbay Lobster Wharf, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.


We were very pleasantly surprised that the entire staff welcomed us without even knowing who we were. Both Ronaldo and I walked around, saying hi to people we didn't even know and on top of that, we were welcomed to take a peak behind the counters in order to watch how they cooked their fresh from the ocean lobster and steamers. We availed ourselves, some may say took advantage of the generosity provided, by walking through their on-site buildings and poking around the lobster tanks and fish market.

If either one of us ever dared to try this in any other place in the country, we would have been promptly thrown out and handcuffed. But because we were in Maine, downeast Maine, Boothbay Harbor....The Boothbay Lobster Wharf to be precise, we were treated as old friends. (Young friends I would like to say....Just once, let me relive my younger days, will ya?)


After taking advantage of their kindness, we were all set to do some sampling. And the word sample simply was not in their vocabulary. They introduced Ronaldo and me to simply the best lobster roll found(and devoured)anywhere!

For $20...hear me was the largest, freshest, meatiest and most delicious lobster roll either of us has ever tasted, hands down!

It turned out great I might add because Ronaldo wanted to go have lunch after, but after relishing this treat, neither of us ate again for many hours.

You may say, and I understand, that our opinions may have been tainted because of our roll at the Harborfest, but I can assure you, that is the farthest from the truth. This was a monster of a sandwich! And what we both liked most about it was that it was simply freshly cooked lobster meat, IN LARGE CHUNKS, with mayonnaise...THAT IS IT!!!! When you pile this into a New England hot dog roll that has been buttered and grilled, you just blew us away. It was that simply grilled roll that still has Ronaldo talking about it.

Without rambling on and on(as I did when I posted about The Flagship Inn), I simply have to add that the Boothbay Lobster Wharf was a pleasure a full 360-degrees around, much like the scenery you get when you sit down either outside at their tables or opt to dine and drink inside their equally, casual tables.

Thank you my friends and we will see you again next year....or when I am hungry again.



It's Just That Simple!™

Sunday, October 2, 2016

2016 and The Flagship Inn.....(and everything else)

A vacation, or working trip, is truly defined by your initial reaction when walking into your home away from home. Not only does it set the tone for what lies ahead, but throughout your trip as well.

No matter what type of day you've had, when you enter your own domicile that is the substitute of your own home, you should be able to unwind without any cares what-so-ever. And The Flagship Inn is honestly the finest Inn I have ever had the privilege of staying at. And I truly mean that!

This has been my sanctuary for the past 3 years as I join Lori Reynolds on my rounds and book signings 
 during the Boothbay Harborfest every year. I walk into the office and ...BAM...they smile. That alone is worth the stay, but when they add friendly banter and a tone that reminds me of going to the back fence for a  neighborly chat, then I am all theirs!

I don't even know where to begin besides simply saying that the owner, Aaron, knows how to keep his guests happy, content and looked after. And this same sense of responsibility is ingrained in his staff, almost as if that was a prerequisite for hiring.

Putting the superbly, amicable disposition aside, the Inn is immaculately cleaned and as homey as you could possibly wish. Their repatronization rate must be off the charts!

And this is all readily noticed within the first hour of signing in. Wait until you wake up in the morning.

After brewing my own coffee while I was preparing for the day, I missed the comradery of my family so out the door I went. I walked roughly 300 feet to the 'breakfast building' out back, opened the door, and I was home. I was instantly greeted by 2 ladies who turned into my surrogate mothers for the morning. They beckoned me to 3 huge tables laden with food and beverages enough to feed everyone at the Inn a few times over.

You think a free continental breakfast is a draw to where you will be spending your vacation repose? Think of more.....MUCH MORE.

Not only was the staff friendly, but you could tell the Inn guests were just as friendly. This was because their day was beginning on their best foot forward, simply because of this breakfast treasure.

I could ramble on and on and still not cover just how child-friendly and wonderful the Flagship Inn is. The pool, playground, cleanliness, amenities (both on-grounds and within walking distance) and the honest to goodness care that is shown by all who works there harkens me there over and over again.

Forget about the other hotels in the area that charge well over three times the going rate at The Flagship Inn, I would rather pull up my chair right outside my room and admire what is surrounding me. And that would be the charm of it all.....


It's Just That Simple!™

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ayuh, that gawnicus 'et all the cling john.....

Ahhhhh, the nuance of Maine lingo. And it begins with AYUH.

I have been reading, lately, about the origins of the Maine word AYUH and listening to people from around the country and in various media(including movies) how they pronounce it. I have YET to find someone who doesn't sound extremely foolish trying to mimic our affirmative reply. They often strongly emphasize the A and draw it out wayyyy too long, followed by almost shouting the YUH part comically. But they leave out the most essential part of the word, the nasally twang with its distinctive drawl!


Does this Maine Fisherman look like he wants to talk?

You simply cannot say it properly without these elements, and one sounds like a foreigner when you try. Now this is not to say you cannot correctly pronounce it, but you truly have to be a Yankee, a down east Maine Yankee to be precise, to make it sound correct.

Although there have been many historians and linguistic experts who have come close to giving the origin of this word, they really haven't quite nailed it down. And this is because, again, it is too simple for anyone to figure out. My Dad always told me that there are often riddles in life whose answers are too simple to understand. Many people often delve deeply into meanings and backgrounds in order to try and solve this dilemmas, when the true answer takes no such route, and AYUH is one of them.


This word began with the simple YUH, of course with the nasally twang and drawl. Most of the time during the pre-19th century in Maine, the AYUH was phonetically devoid of the long A but as time progressed, and Maine became more settled with "outsiders", many paid to much attention to that beginning(almost silent) A and began adding it to YUH.


Over time, and into the 1800s, this A was added to YUH and it became widespread, with(again) way too much accent put on it. If you want to properly say it, simply draw out the Y, while allowing just a little air escaping through your nose at the same time and finish with the UH. It should sound like you are tired of repeating yourself and you sound frustrated, which brings us to the origination of the word.  

Let me give you one experiment that almost solves the origin question as simply as I can.


You are sitting down working on something and are fully focused on your task at hand,(Which us Mainah's are known for and have been for generations). You don't want to be disturbed or you are obstinate and don't like to be disturbed by someone with frivolous banter. (Which is the true nature of a true Yankee).

People are coming up to you disturbing your work with either monotonous questions or meaningless chatter. You are on edge and simply don't want to be disturbed. You answer 'yes' to anything you are being asked. You would automatically answer YES by drawing out the Y because of you are irritated and hinting to the questioner that the answer is obviously YES.


This is exactly how the AYUH became part of our Maine vocabulary. We drew out the Y, and when doing so, it sounds as if you have added a long A at the beginning. It's Just That Simple!


So forget about the stories about cold churches, weather, meetinghouses and the widespread catarrh that affected many New England communities of old. These played absolutely no role in our AYUH. Sure, catarrh resulted in a build up of mucus in the nasal cavities of anyone afflicted by it in young America, and often sounded as if you had a twang when speaking. But everyone suffered from catarrh long ago, but the nasally AYUH is ONLY heard in Maine and nowhere else, even though catarrh hit other communities far greater than down east Maine.


How bout some other Maine and Yankee terms that are long forgotten, but interesting in their own right?


Cat stick-A small stick

Cling john-A soft cake of rye

Cohees-The term New Englander's used for people who came from Pennsylvania.

Essence peddler-A skunk

Gander party-A social gathering of men only

Gawnicus-A half-brained person, stupid.

Hawkins whetstone-Rum. In "honor" of a certain Hawkins who was once a temperance lecturer.

Keeler tub-A place in which dishes where washed.

Lap tea-where the guests are too many to sit at the table

Last of pea time-to be hard up and poor.

Malahak-To quickly and roughly chop something.

Moonglade-The term for the beautiful and color image a moonbeam reflects on still water.

To make a Virginia fence-To walk as though drunk

Jorum-A jug of rum

Hot as a red wagon-Extremely drunk

He can't spin a thread-Powerless to act

To be one of the White hens' chickens-A very agreeable and nice person.

Comfort powders-Little slips of folded paper with brief scriptures written on them.

Twizzles-Other types of fish that you weren't fishing for that got caught up in a fisherman's net.


And lastly, here are a list of old time apples found in many New England ledgers, diaries and histories since the Puritan era. See if any of these ring a bell.

Workaroe, Victuals and Drink, Wandering Spy, Sweet and Sour, Titus Pippin, Tom Putt, Nodhead, Sops of Wine, Smokehouse, Shiawassee, Savewell, Arkansas Beauty, Bailey Spice, Bunker Hill, Cabashea, Beauty of Kent, Belborodooskoe, Blushing Bride, Genesee Flower, Egg Top, Fallawater, Evening Party, Disharoon, Crow Egg, Chenango, Devonshire Duke, Lady Finger, Kentish Fillbasket, Iowa Beauty, King David, Kansas Keeper, Hartford Rose, Gloria Mundi, Good Peasant, Grandmother, Great Mogul, Missing Link. Old Garden, Mountain Sweet, Longevity, Legal Tender, Long Stem of Penn, Lowland Raspberry, Malinda, Pine Stump, Plumb Cider, Red Wine, Pumpkin Russet, See No Further, Tolman Sweet and Hubbardston Nonesuch.



Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Just That Simple!™

I have noticed the past couple of weeks that more and more large, food companies are altering their labels to identify with the consumer demand for simplicity. People not only want to know what is in their food products, but be able to at the very least, pronounce them. There is a huge wave of tidal opinion, as well, for food products to get rid of complicated and extended ingredients in the simplest of foods.

Our government tried this back in 2008 to combat obesity but to be honest, take a look at the stats,                                                                 
                                                " It ain't workin' ! "

When I see some famous faces on television, such as Robert Irvine(and he is just one of the many dozens)salt fish before dumping it seasoned bread crumbs(with salt in the seasoning) and deep fry it. Only to add even more salt on top before eating it, I cringle. There is simply no reason to keep dumping salt in our bodies to such an extent.....period!

And then you have the kitchen "experts" tell you certain salts are better for you than others, such as sea salt versus table, or Himalayan salt versus Fleur de Sel or smoked salt versus get my drift! Salt is salt my friends, let's stop relying on it so heavily in our diets or the death rate from not only obesity but illnesses as a result from high blood pressure will continue to skyrocket.

It is very difficult NOT to use a cake recipe, for example, that doesn't have some salt in it, nor pie recipes.

Now the argument is that salt enhances the sweetness of these desserts. Give that some thought for a minute.............Done?

Yes, I am guilty of creating recipes that truly are not the best, nutritionally, for you but just use some common sense when eating them. Take smaller portions or make these dishes sparingly. My goodness, there are so many other desserts and entrees you can make that makes use of natures flavors to enhance your food.

And when you take a look, or even prepare any of my recipes, I will let you know if a certain lower fat ingredient cannot be substituted, but overall, if a recipe calls for cream, milk or even fat-free evaporated milk is a perfect alternative.

To plug my second cookbook, Refreshed, you will notice not only lower fat recipes, but I utilize fruits and vegetables to a wider extent than most chefs. I also take advantage of fruit purees, fruit juice and fruit itself to lend a sweet touch where sugar is the norm.

Sugar adds sweetness.............THAT IS ALL! The items I just mentioned add sweetness AND flavor.

So toss that extra salt aside and make use of nature's abundant supply of healthy alternatives. If not for yourself, than for the ones you love. Here is a great example of a superbly simply and explosively flavorful dessert that showcases the taste of berries without added sugar. It may take a few tries to understand what true fruit flavors are, but a content smile beats all *$%# out of a guilty frown.

Blackberry Foolish Moose

3 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup apple juice
1 cup cranberry juice
2 envelopes plain gelatin
2 cups whipped topping

Add blackberries and juices to a food processor or blender and puree, on high, until as smooth as possible. Strain through a wire-mesh strainer into a medium saucepan, pressing the pulp against the sides to extract as much juice as possible. You will end up with about 2 cups.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. While mixture is boiling, lightly sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid, whisking at the same time. Do this slowly or the gelatin will clump up.

Continue whisking vigorously and cooking an additional minute.

Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until cooled and starting to thicken.

Remove from refrigerator and whisk in whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate until set and completely cold.


Makes about 4 servings



It's Just That Simple!™


Friday, August 5, 2016

Where's The Sugar?

Ya' don't need it! ..... It's Just That Simple!™
As many of you may know, I am a fruit and berry fanatic. I adore all fruit in any preparation, hence the addition of it in the majority of recipes in my new cookbook, Refreshed, and the center of attention in my third cookbook yet to be released.

I have enjoyed the addition of all types of fruit products from savory dishes to desserts.

Although there may be just as much sugar in(for example) real apple or orange juice as granulated sugar, you are enjoying the benefits of vitamins and fiber that is found in both fruits and berries.

I hold nothing back when I say that I frequently use prepared all-fruit(similar to preserves)found in all supermarkets because of its cost and convenience. And if you ever look on the ingredient list, you will see that it only contains fruit or berries, along with pectin and citric acid. Citric acid helps it from turning color while on the store shelves, plus it aides in a "side of the tongue" tartness. Many will substitute lemon juice when making it at home, but I leave it out below because I do NOT want to mask the flavor of any fruit or berry in my all-fruit.


Anyway, enjoy these 5 recipes for your very own Homemade All-Fruit to use on all types of dishes, or simply on a good ol' peanut butter sandwich, knowing that there is not a trace of added sugar.....none needed!

Each of the following recipes gives you about 1 1/2 cups total product when done. You will also notice that I use only a half of a box of pectin per recipe. You will have to open the envelope inside the box and measure out what you need into a bowl, closing up remainder to use again. Why do I do this?

I would much, much rather have to make this all-fruit again if I need more.

You can also make two different kinds of all fruit at the same time, without making too much.


From left to right we have Blackberry, Mango, Strawberry, Blueberry and Peach All Fruit.


Blackberry All-Fruit


2 cups fresh or frozen(and thawed) blackberries *
1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons(half a 1.75 ounce package)no sugar needed pectin

Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender until as chunky or smooth as desired. Transfer to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Let rapidly boil for 1 minute, and remove from heat. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a container. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

* If you desire no seeds, then puree blackberries with juice and strain before cooking, resulting in a more jelly-like end result.


Mango All-Fruit

2 cups chopped mangoes(about 2 small mangoes)
6 tablespoons mango nectar or juice
2 tablespoons(half a 1.75 ounce package)no sugar needed pectin

Follow same directions as in Blackberry All-Fruit


Strawberry All-Fruit


2 cups chopped strawberries
6 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons(half a 1.75 ounce package)no sugar needed pectin

Follow same directions as in Blackberry All-Fruit


Blueberry All Fruit


2 cup frozen, but thawed, blueberries
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Follow same directions as in Blackberry All-Fruit, but without the pectin.


Peach All-Fruit

You can use any blend of juice with peaches, but make sure it is 100% juice blend.

2 cups chopped, fresh peaches(4 peaches)
6 tablespoons peach nectar or juice
2 tablespoons(half a 1.75 ounce package)no sugar needed pectin

Follow same directions as in Blackberry All-Fruit

Friday, July 15, 2016

Submarines versus Italians vs. Hero's vs...................

Boy, this was a tough nut to crack. Especially because of the various names used for basically the same sandwich. To nail down who was first to make, what we know consider, the Italian sandwich was easy. What was difficult was finding the origin of, and the components of, each sandwich. Let me explain, with my conclusion at the end.

The TRUE Italian

Submarine Sandwiches(or Subs for short) that we here in New England, with Maine in particular, refer to, are cheese, meat and veggie-laden sandwiches. They are also called Italians, although each should be given a stand-alone distinction, they are even alluded to as Italian Subs at times. 
But why are they called Italians? No, they aren't Italian in origin or components, but because they were first prepared by an Italian immigrant named . That's right! The same man as the current restaurant chain is named after. The Amato family decided to name these popular sandwiches after their home country and self proclamation, a sort of reverence and dedication, if you will.

Giovanni owned a small bakery/sandwich shop on India street in Portland, Maine in 1902.  The brunt of his noontime clientele were the dock workers on the ocean front. Come lunch time, Giovanni was selling his bread by the slice, and then the meat and cheese to order and separately to these workers.
After leaving Amato's shop to enjoy lunch, these same workers had to take the time to assemble their own sandwiches. It didn't take a genius to understand that if Giovanni were to make this sandwich ahead of time, throwing in some sliced green peppers, onions, olives and tomatoes, sans the pickles and lettuce-he could sell them at a higher profit and make his dock workers satisfied to the point they would come back time and again.
The construction of this early sandwich consisted of good, dry-cured ham(not salami as many food historians may allude to) and as mentioned, did NOT include lettuce and pickles. Both of these came many decades later during the early 70s, along with the cheaper boiled ham.
Many deli's and "Sub" shops continue to produce an almost exact copy of this original, including Bratt's Store in Stetson, Maine.

All you have to do is walk in to this neighborhood store and say "I will have an Italian please.". In a couple of minutes, you will have a 'sub' roll filled with ham, American cheese, pickles, green peppers, onions and olives.....NO LETTUCE! Those kinds of stores are few and far between so kudo's to my great friends at Bratt's, they are well worthy of a plug here.
I must also add that I was somewhat underhanded when I called my local Amato's in Bangor, Maine. I wanted to see for myself if they, too, lived up to the same standard as Bratt's. When a worker answered the phone, I asked him outright, "If I were to order simply an Italian, what would you put in it?" Gladly, and luckily I might add, he rattled off everything a true Italian should contain. Bravo to you folks as well.

(See paragraph below on Dominic Conti for the name of the sandwich that DOES consist of lettuce, but keep it out of my Italian!)

The Submarine
There was a certain Dominic Conti(1874-1954)an immigrant of Italian heritage from Montella, Italy. who moved his family to New York at the turn of the 20th century. He uprooted his family once again to move to Paterson, New Jersey a number of years later and opened a grocery store/deli in 1910 on Mill Street. For about 8 years, he was selling his version of a meat and cheese sandwich without a name.
In 1918, he marveled at a sunken submarine(the Fenian Ram) as it was being displayed at the Paterson Museum and noted that the hull looked just like his sandwiches. He immediately started calling his sandwiches Submarines. The main sticking point, of which actually separates a submarine sandwich from an Italian, is the lettuce that Dominic added to it from the beginning.
Another story, as related by his granddaughter Angela Zuccaro, is that Dominic didn't see the submarine until 1927, and that is was called the Holland I. She goes on to say that her grandfather saw the Holland I at Westside Park in Paterson, not the museum.
Many say that Benedetto Capaldo was the originator of the Submarine sandwich. Benedetto, who was a restaurateur from New London, Connecticut during the WWII era, made his "Grinder"(as he first referred to them as) with salami, onions, cheese and tomato. Benedetto changed the name of these sandwiches when he noticed that his sandwiches were little replicas of the submarines being built in the local shipyard. I will state, rather unequivocally, that I don't believe this story for one main reason, although several exist. It is way too similar to Conti's story, which is at least a dozen years earlier, and even up to over 20 years older, whichever the references you believe.

We also have the Hoagie, which has been around since the '30s in and around the Philly region.
Wedges are a New York term for the same sandwich. It is said to be a shortened version of the word sandwich.

Bombers in upstate New York are, in essence, the same as the Italian.

Also from the New York area is the Hero. These are said to have been "invented" at the turn of the 20th century by Italian immigrants. The story goes on to relate a beginning that is eerily duplicate to Dominic Conti, so this author will pass. The name, itself, however, is usually assigned to Clementine Paddleford, a writer for the New York Herald Tribune. She is said to have remarked "You'd have to be a hero to finish one."
 Grinders are rightfully NOT Italians! They refer to any hot sandwich that contains both meat and cheese. Why are they so called Grinder? That will be up to future food historians to figure out.
Many historians have cited the Oxford English Dictionary with relation to the beginnings of each of these names, but fail to take into account that a term or word does not make it into a standard dictionary until it has been in circulation for many years.
And lastly we have a combination of both names, as seen by an advertisement for Charley's Italian Submarine Sandwich Shop, on his grand opening. According to the 4 December 1936 issue of the Journal-Every Evening (Wilmington, DE), pg. 37, col. 4, he advertises for people to come and buy one of his:
              "Italian Submarine Sandwiches"
So Portland, Maine can rightfully proclaim to be the birthplace of this sandwich, regardless of the spin offs and names. We can all thank Giovanni for the introduction of this purely American sandwich as well as the purely American......way of confusing things. Sa-a-a-a-lute! 
 Here is an interesting reference to the Submarine Sandwich:
Box 385, Pandora, Ohio
Split a coney roll: hollow out: butter completely. Fill fore n 'aft and in the middle with three different fillings. Baked beans with onions, chopped egg and mayonnaise, diced ham with relish."
               -- The Lima News. Lima, Ohio. 12 April 1943. Page 5.

Sunday, July 3, 2016



Now that I am done with creating recipes, I am also bringing to a close another chapter of my culinary life, writing. Starting in September, I will no longer be accepting requests or offering my weekly food column to both online and print newspapers.
Already in dozens of sites and newspapers across the country, with special emphasis on New England states, my time is quickly catching up to me and there are exciting opportunities arising at each passing day that I MUST take advantage of.
But, I will give everyone a heads up. Between now and September, I will honor and write for any publication FREE OF CHARGE if they contact me before September. Those who are currently accepting my columns...don't worry one bit. I will continue to honor my commitment to you for many years to come, and I will also continue to write for any publication that signs up in the next 2 months for as long as you carry my column.
I can't thank everyone enough for standing beside me all these years and I hope to continue writing for my current clients, as well as any new subscribers.
It is very difficult to give quality content when you have children at home, extensively travelling to judge food festivals and, at the same time, continue to do appearances to promote ANYTHING New England related.
And for those interested, know that my columns are geared toward your geographic location. I do not write a column devoted to New England cooking if your publication is based, or is geared toward a different audience other than the Northeast or even America for that matter.
I write with ease of preparation, cost effectiveness and the bounty of nature as my backdrop and inspiration.
Please feel free to contact me at for more information.

It's Just That Simple!™