The same hammer that shatters glass forges steel…Russian saying
Good Morning! It’s Fri-YAY!! Now that I’m back at work, Friday’s become a little more FABULOUS! My neighbors, the Harts, have been out of town and I’ve been watering their tomatoes. Steve is not only a backyard bee keeper, but also a prolific tomato grower. His wife, Maggie, is a prolific tomato chef…trying new recipes just to keep up with the abundance. Well, since I’ve been picking them the past few weeks they’ve been piling up and I’ve been making tomato sauce, oven roasted tomatoes, tomato soup…you name it…everything tomatoes. My easy, go-to, favorite is just cutting tomatoes into chunks, along with some chunks of cucumber and avocado and throwing them in a bowl with, that old favorite, Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix or Makato Ginger Dressing. I have the Good Seasons cruet, but use balsamic or white balsamic a little past the “vinegar” line, add water almost up to the “oil” line and waaaay less oil than it calls for…and I use olive oil. It makes it much lighter than the actual recipe. I think I’ve had this for lunch at least three or four times this past week.
Thought I’d share a few more favorites I’ve found….
Adapted from Easy Garden Fresh Tomato Basil Soup from NeighborFood blog
In a large (at least 6 quart- bigger is even better!) heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until they’ve started to soften. Add the balsamic, sugar, and garlic and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the chicken broth and bring the mixture back to a simmer. Simmer another five minutes then taste. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
Use an immersion blender (I just got one…they’re amazing!!) to blend the soup into the consistency of your choosing. You can make it totally smooth or leave some chunks. You can also blend this in your blender, but just blend the solids to avoid a blender explosion! Once the solids are blended, add them back to the liquid and stir to combine.
To serve, spoon the soup into bowls. You can top with sliced fresh basil & a swor; pf half and half or heavy cream. I made some crostini with parmesan for dipping.
To freeze, allow the mixture to cool then ladle it into freezer safe containers or quart size freezer bags. Freeze bags laying flat. Thaw soup in the fridge overnight then reheat on the stovetop.
Oven Roasted tomatoes
I just cut some of the yummy grape size tomatoes in half, drizzled with olive oil, chopped garlic and salt…pop in the oven at 375 for about 1/2 hour. Then I let them cool and put in freezer bag for later use.
Puffed Pastry Tomato Tart
Heat oven to 400°F.
I didn’t really roll out the puff pastry and make it larger, cause I was in a hurry and the smaller size fit my toaster oven pan, but you can make it much thinner and use a large cookie sheet to make it for a bigger crowd. Too hot to turn on that big oven!
Bake for 15-20 minutes or so. I like my puff pastry pretty brown and tomatoes blistered. Slice into squares. Enjoy!!
Easy way to peel tomatoes…cause some people don’t like the skins and it’s easy to freeze them for future recipes
REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT….cause you have lots of tomatoes to do!!
….and of course you’ll need to use some of those fresh tomatoes on your pizza!
Another super easy appetizer that is a huge hit is crostini, topped with pesto, a slice of fresh tomato and some parmesan. Quick & oh, so yummy!
We left early Saturday morning for our drive up the coast of Maine from Portland to Bar Harbor, with a stop to see Pemaquid Point, my mom’s summer vacation spot. We actually just drove through Pemaquid on our way to see the PP lighthouse…another beauty.
So, in researching our drive I came across this article about a “Perfect Maine Coastal Road Trip”. Because the article referenced that the Maine has “5000 miles of coastline, more than California” I assumed it would be a gorgeous drive with beautiful views of the water. It’s not at all! Okay, it’s pretty, but the drive itself might as well have been in the middle of the country…also a gorgeous place…but not a coastline. Hwy 1 in Maine is lined with tall trees and unless you venture into the towns, as we did, you won’t see any coastline. If you want to get from Portland to Bar Harbor, or vice versa, straightaway take Hwy 295 to 95…it’s about 3 hrs.
On to Pemaquid….right after leaving Portland we came across a store that had so much STUFF outside that you could barely see the store. Val and I wanted to bring back a cool, vintagey, colorful lobster buoy and there were a ton here. So, I made a U-turn and we stopped in….it was closed. We were bummed, but when we went up to the front door there was a sign that said (I’m paraphrasing) “If were closed please pull the tag on the item and put cash in an envelope and drop in the box.” What?!! Yep, that’s what we did and for $20 we had our cool lobster buoys.
We also made a quick stop at a flea market along the way and I got this fun sign…
Here are some pics of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse and views from the top…
A few pics of Rockport, Camden and a little cove we found when we ventured off the main road…
The quaint little town of Bar Harbor reminds me of a larger version of Balboa Island out here in Newport Beach, with little shops, restaurants…and an even more gorgeous harbor. We arrived at our hotel, The Bar Harbor Grand (I’d recommend…basic/close to everything/free breakfast), in the late afternoon/early evening and walked down a nearby street, which led to a walkway along the water. We were on a nice stroll when we came upon The Bar Harbor Inn and Spa, with it’s adirondack chairs beckoning us to sit and have a happy hour cocktail….so, of course, we did.
…..and then had a nightcap at Leary’s Landing Irish Pub
The next morning our plan was to leave at noon to head back to Portland….but there was a bit of time in the morning to wander….
Loved Bar Harbor and definitely see myself going back someday. We had one more lobster roll place on the list before we left Maine, High Roller Lobster, in Portland. I think that may have been my favorite. There are numerous sauces to choose from, but I chose ghee, which was just perfect!
Goodbye lighthouses and lobsters….’til we meet again! On to NY to see this adorable doll….
I was planning for a week long home exchange with my friends in Brooklyn to see Austin, Kate and baby Jude, when my friend, Val and I were chatting about how we both wanted to see Maine. So, she, and my friend/neighbor Jan, came over one night and we all sat on our laptops and made plane, car, airbnb and hotel reservations for a 4 night stay in Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine…followed by a week in NYC/Brooklyn.
Lots of planning to do, which I love! As our plane was taking off we enjoyed the exploding 4th of July fireworks…a metaphor for our 11 day adventure!
We arrived in Maine early on the 5th and hit the ground running. Our rental car agent recommended a cute place for breakfast, Hot Suppa. It was good, I’d recommend. We couldn’t get into our airbnb until 2, the forecast for the following day was rain, so we thought we’d roam around the Old Port and check out the shops, etc… while we had time. We happened upon a long line outside Holy Donut which are made using mashed potatoes and Val waited in line so we could see what all the hype was about. Very YUMMY donuts!! It was REALLY hot and muggy, so after wandering for a few hours we decided to hop in the air conditioned car and venture out to Portland Head Light. Maine is lighthouse heaven!
After a stop at the lighthouse we decided to just let the road dictate where we go, so we continued South along Shore Road, gawking at the beautiful homes and gardens of Cape Elizabeth along the way. We saw a sign for “Two Lights” and took a left turn down a little road and happened upon the greatest surprise….The Lobster Shack. We thought, “wow, how beautiful to have our first lobster roll eating outside overlooking the Maine coast”…when, in fact, it’s a pretty famous destination place for lobster anything and the roll was great! Lucky us!! See, it pays off to wander!
After our pleasant little detour it was back to Portland to check in to our Airbnb and relax. We went to a cute place a few doors down called Bao Bao Dumpling House. We really loved the Asian slaw, a noodle dish & some dumplings. We encountered a bit of an issue with a homeless person trying to get into the building of our Airbnb, but we remedied that problem and called it a night…trying to keep cool!
Day 2 in Portland was, in my opinion, one of the highlights….a ride on the mailboat out to five islands to, literally, make mail deliveries. It’s $16 and about 3 hours and it was glorious. The captain of the ship gives you interesting tid bits about the islands along the way and halfway through they had quite a few deliveries to Cliff Island, so we were able to get off and get a snack in the little store at the end of the pier.
We returned around 1:00 and it was time for another lobster roll. We had passed some colorful umbrellas out on a pier as we walked to the boat, so we went back and decided it was the perfect setting for lunch….The Porthole Restaurant.
A local store owner told us about “First Fridays” where there’s a kind of street market with vendors and the Portland Museum of Art is free. Low and behold it was right around the corner from our Airbnb…bonus! We walked over and shopped the vendors and I thought the Clarence H. White photography exhibit at the museum looked cool, so ventured in. What a surprise you get when you really don’t know what a museum has in their collection. I got to see works by Warhol, Winslow Homer, Degas, Renoir, John Singer Sargent and famous Mainer, Andrew Wyeth.
these were cool, whimsical, trompe l’oeil pieces by John Frederick Peto
Another recommendation that was close to our place was a restaurant called Local 188…where we had our final Portland meal.
Portland, you were the perfect introduction to Maine…lobster rolls and lighthouses! Yes, we ate our way through Maine, but we logged over 10,000 steps every day too! Gotta have balance, right?!
….on to Bar Harbor (…or as the locals say Bah Hahbah)