Castine, Maine

Castine, Maine

One of the best things about my job is the way it lets me see new places in New England with not just ease, but encouragement. Earlier this summer, I journeyed the Maine mid-coast for some story research and blogging opportunities, and was lucky enough to spend the night in lovely, historic Castine, Maine.

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Blueberry Buckle

Can you guess what I love the most about Blueberry Buckle?

If you guessed the name itself…you are right.  I love foods with weird names.  Blueberry Buckle is allegedly called “buckle” because while it bakes the batter rises, but the berries and crumb topping weigh it down.  This causes the surface of the cake to buckle…hence the name.

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French Onion Soup

Three French Hens French Onion Soup

What could be cozier while watching a holiday movie, playing Scrabble by the fire, or after coming in from sledding than a steaming crock of soup?

Besides a pair of fleecy sweatpants, not much else.

I should tell you that I love onions.  I love them a LOT.  They make a world a tastier, more fragrant place.

Unfortunately, the delicious soup dedicated to my favorite vegetable is often made with beef stock, meaning I can look and smell, but not taste.  The solution was clearly just to make my own.  And keep it healthier by omitting the traditional enormous baguette crouton smothered in melted gruyère (delicious as it is).

When I realized how easy it was to make this soup, I kicked myself for not trying it earlier.

First, place a mess of thinly-sliced onions in a stockpot, along with 2 tbsp. of oil.  Make sure to get your reflection in the teapot.

Move the teapot and sautee, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until soft and translucent, but not browned.  Add sugar, garlic, salt, and pepper and keep sauteeing.

After another 20 – 30 minutes the onions are a lovely golden brown in color and taste very sweet.  At this point you can continue to sautee them to deepen the flavor, or add the broth.  Just don’t let the onions burn!

Add 2 quarts of vegetable broth, and bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat and simmer for another 15 minutes.

I added a pinch of grated swiss to my bowl in homage to the gruyère. 

All of my dishes this month will have their photo taken with something that comes out only at Christmas.

Today’s featured Christmas item is an ornament – a wooden heart with a hand-painted poinsettia.  It was given to me in 1996 by my oldest and dearest friend Lauren and her family to commemorate an annual summer weekend in Ogunquit, Maine.  I spent the majority of my most awkward years with Lauren and her parents, but I never felt awkward with them.  They made me a member of their family, always supported and encouraged me to go for whatever my heart was calling for.  I don’t get to visit with them nearly as much as I want to …but there are many ornaments from them on my tree to help remind me of how awesome they are, and there always will be. 

And finally, in honor of Ogunquit and the great state of Maine in general, here is your Cup of Cheer.

Image from Kportimages via Flickr.  Click on the image to see more great Kennebunkport, Maine holiday images!

I have never seen a Christmas tree of lobster traps in real life, but it’s on my list.

Hope you have a fun and festive weekend!

Click for the full recipe!