Author Archives: Marcia Steidle

Travel: The New Hampshire Mushroom Company

It is the beginning of spring and an appropriate time to venture out into the world again.  Mask mandates have been lifted in New Hampshire and just across the Piscataqua River in Kittery Point, Maine where we live. This afternoon we traveled west of the Seacoast to Tamworth, NH and the New Hampshire Mushroom Company.  Housed in a large warehouse-type building on the outskirts of town, the company cultivates specialty mushrooms that they sell fresh at the local farmer’s market or at their facility as well as to local produce suppliers. Here is a list of what was available:

Blue Oysters- Mild in flavor with a subtle nuttiness.  Great in lighter dishes, cream sauces, creamy soups, and omelets or quiche.

Black Pearl – A meaty bold oyster.  Strong flavor that holds up to braising.  Great with stir fried, paired with chicken, over pasta, in quiche.

King Oyster – Meaty umami flabor, robust texture similar to a button mushroom but with more flavor.  Great as a main protein.  Can be sautéed, grilled, pickled, smoked. 

Phoenix Oyster

Phoenix & Snow Oysters – Great in lighter dishes.  Over pasta, with fish, in creamy soups, or with eggs.

Lion’s Mane – Mild flavor.  Great with marinara sauce.  Can be used as a seafood replacement in mock crab cakes and mock seared scallops.

Elms – Strong mushroom flavor.  Pairs well with heavy meats and game.  Delicious in a stroganoff, a bourguignon, or on a steak or burger.

Chestnuts _ Strong nutty flavor.  Great for stir fries, roasted with chicken, in gravies, or stuffings.

Shitakes – Strong meaty flavor.  Traditionally used in Asian dishes.  Great on pizza, in stir fries, or in risotto.

We had arrived on a Sunday afternoon to take a mushroom cooking class. There were approximately a dozen people present along with Eric  Milligan, the owner of the company, Alec Malenfant, the General Manager, and Kristen, a young woman on their staff. Eric had founded the NH Mushroom Company in 2013 without any prior knowledge or experience. Now his scientific knowledge of mushrooms is extensive and his creative uses for mushrooms in cooking were impressive. The cooking class was even more enjoyable due to his enthusiasm and sense of humor!

He explained how the textures and flavors of various mushrooms differed.  Although they are composed mostly of water, mushrooms contain 11 essential amino acids and are good sources of protein, comparable to legumes,  However, heat must be applied to break them down.

Eric started by preparing a vegetable dip for us using dried Black Trumpet mushrooms.  They were dried, so he rehydrated the mushrooms and used the water, which he called the “tea,” to thin a container of hummus.  Then he sautéed the chopped mushrooms in White Truffle Oil and added it to the hummus. (Eric said the Fiore brand White Truffle Oil was also fantastic on Brussels sprouts, eggs or pasta.)  The dip was delicious with carrots, celery and cucumber slices as well as spread on thin slices of a baguette. Eric said the sautéed Black Trumpet mushrooms are also good added to white sauce and risotto too.

Mushrooms can be used in desserts too. Eric uses mushrooms to make a “cheesecake” with a Pecan Sandie crumb crust. The filling is two parts cream cheese, one part sour cream with a squeeze of lemon, and Candy Cap mushrooms (which taste like maple syrup) are sautéed with Black Trumpet mushrooms and blended with blueberries to make a fruit compote that is served with the cheesecake.

Next Eric introduced us to dry sautéing King Oyster mushrooms.  He had cut them in chunks which resembled scallops and had scored them on one side.  They browned nicely in olive oil on his gas griddle and looked just like scallops! Using the same King Oyster mushrooms, he grated them with a box grater, sautéed them on the griddle and then added barbeque sauce to create mock pulled pork.  When thinly sliced and added to stock, the King Oyster mushrooms also become Vegan “noodles.”

King Mushrooms as scallops, barbequed pork and hummus dip made with Black Trumpets.

The Blue Oyster mushrooms were next – torn vertically or shredded, they could also simulate pulled pork which were served in butter lettuce wraps.  If you like your pulled pork sandwiches served with coleslaw, he suggested adding a dollop of mayonnaise and some Shitake mushroom power to prepared coleslaw or pickled Chestnut mushrooms as an accompaniment.

The Lion’s Mane mushrooms were perhaps the most interesting.  They looked like giant cauliflowers and could be shredded to resemble crab meat and be used to make crab cakes. Eric roasted them on the grill until they turned a slightly bluish color and then he transferred them to the griddle.  He said never to marinate mushrooms as they get mushy, but adding liquid to them while they grilled was okay.  He made a teriyaki pineapple juice mixture which he drizzled over the Lion’s Mane mushrooms while he continued to brown them on all six sides until they looked like giant fried chicken breasts!  They even tasted like chicken!

Lion’s Mane mushrooms

Lions Mane mushrooms can be sliced and sautéed with apple slices and Candy Cap Mushrooms to make a fruit dessert served with ice cream, custard or whipped cream.

Browning Lion’s Mane mushrooms on the griddle

All the participants in the class received a recipe packet that contained instructions on making Mushroom Jerky, Mushroom Duxelles, Kimshi, Foragers Popovers, and Mushroom and Olive Puttanesca served over pasta. I’m anxious to try them all!

Mushrooms are so versatile I read a recent article about one species of mushrooms that can survive on plastic and may be a solution for reducing landfill waste or helping to clean up our oceans.

I’m looking forward to the next class they offer – Top Ten WIld Edible Mushrooms.

Sour Cream Cheesecake


Crumb Crust

1 ½ c. graham cracker crumbs (about 15 squares)

½ c. sugar

 ½ t. cinnamon

¼ c. melted butter

Cheesecake Filling

2 eggs

½ c. sugar

2 t. vanilla

1 ½ c. sour cream

2-8 oz. pkgs. Cream cheese, cut into pieces

2 T. melted butter

1 qt. fresh strawberries


Preheat oven to 400o. Generously grease a 9 ½ inch deep dish pie plate with shortening.  You can buy graham cracker crumbs already prepared, or break 3-4  whole graham cracker squares and put in blender. Blend on high to turn into crumbs.  Dump them into bowl and repeat with remaining graham crackers. Add sugar, cinnamon and melted butter to the graham cracker crumbs in bowl and mix with fork until well moistened.  Using the back of a spoon, press crust into pie plate.  Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes. While crust is baking, wash out blender to remove any remaining crumbs and combine eggs, sugar, vanilla and sour cream in blender and mix until smooth.  With blender running, & add cream cheese one piece at a time until blended. (I just remove the handle and drop the cream cheese in the hole) Add melted butter and blend until incorporated.  Pour into prepared crust.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes. It will still jiggle in the center and will firm as it cools. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.  Garnish with halved fresh strawberries that have been tossed with a little sugar.

NOTE: To make this recipe vegan, use Cheerios for the crust (4 c. Cheerios will give you 1 ½ c. crumbs), double the amount of cinnamon and vegan butter for the crust.  For the filling, use Tofutti sour cream and cream cheese and vegan butter.  Instead of 2 eggs, put 4 Tablespoons of arrowroot in a cup and add 4 Tablespoons of cold water, stirring to dissolve. Add to filling mixture. (When baking a cake, you can use applesauce or smashed bananas to substitute for eggs, but these will not work in custard.)

White Bean, Spinach and Pasta Soup with Meatballs


2 c. diced celery

1 c. diced onions

1 c. diced carrots

¼ c. olive oil

1 c. chopped spinach

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts chicken stock

3 cans cannellini beans

2 c. Orzo pasta

1 T. oregano

1 T. thyme

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg

2 c. grated parmesan cheese

1 T. Italian seasoning

1 T. olive oil


In a large stockpot, sauté celery, onions and carrots in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add spinach and garlic and stir until spinach is wilted. Add chicken stock, beans, pasta, oregano and thyme.  Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and prepare the meatballs.

Mix ground beef, egg, parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in a bowl.  Shape into bite-sized (one inch diameter) meatballs. Brown meatballs in 1 T. olive oil in a skillet and transfer to stockpot.  Serves 6.

Note:  To make this recipe vegetarian, use vegetable stock, frozen vegetarian meatballs, thawed and cut in half, and to make it gluten free, use GF orzo or rice.

Vegetarian Chili


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 – 15 ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

1 – 15 ounce can black beans, undrained

2 – 15 ounce cans kidney beans, undrained

1 – 15 ounce can white northern or cannellini beans, undrained

2 cups vegetable stock

Garnishes: sour cream or grated cheddar cheese


In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, carrot, celery and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika and oregano. Cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

Add the diced tomatoes and their juices, the beans and their juices, vegetable stock and bay leaf. Stir to combine and let the mixture come to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and reducing heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, for 30 minutes.

Add salt to taste. Serves 6.

Note: You can use an envelope of McCormick chili seasoning instead of chili powder, cumin, paprika and oregano

Travel: Ashland, Oregon

The town of Ashland is located in Southern Oregon about 16 miles north of the California border. In the early 1820’s early Hudson Bay Company’s hunters and trappers passed through the area via the Sisikyou trail. When gold was discovered in a tributary of one of the local creeks in the 1850’s, a town was established and rapidly expanded. Schools, churches and businesses were established, including a large employer, Ashland Woolen Mills, which produced clothing and blankets from local wool. In 1871, the Post Office dropped “Mills” from Ashland’s name and in 1872 Reverend J. H. Skidmore opened a college, Ashland Academy, a predecessor of Southern Oregon University. In the 1880’s San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon were joined by rail through Ashland.

Today Ashland is ranked in the top 10 of “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America,” and is a cultural hot spot, with award-winning galleries, theaters and restaurants.  Ashland hosts the world-famous Shakespeare Festival, the Oregon Chocolate Festival and is located in the Rogue Valley wine region. Surrounded by the Siskiyou and Cascade, it is a prime area for hiking and outdoor activities.

My husband and I spent two weeks in Ashland in early March, but we were not there for the amenities the charming town had to offer.  We were there to cater meals for a Leadership Academy hosted by Conscious Social Change ( ). Eighteen University of Virginia students had arrived to learn how inner work, mindfulness, and personal transformation could drive social innovation, systemic change and make them better leaders in the future. The retreat was held at the Buckhorn Springs Resort, a rustic lodge and collection of cabins which had once been a mineral springs healing destination for native tribes including the Rogue, Klamath, Shasta and Takilma tribes, and then for white settlers beginning in the 1890’s. The students would be housed in the historically-restored cabins, surrounded by beautiful scenery, fresh air and the babbling sound of Emigrant Creek.  

Buckhorn Springs Lodge
The Meeting Room and one of the Cabins

Although I had hosted large dinner parties in the past, I don’t think I realized what I was getting into. I must admit I have greater respect for food service workers and caterers in particular now! I never could have handled this assignment without the support and energetic assistance of my husband, Craig.  We were responsible for providing three meals a day to ravenous university students.  Conscious Social Change wanted the menu to be vegetarian, and the meals had to meet the dietary needs of one person who was gluten-free, two vegans, and one person with a severe nut allergy! It was quite a challenge, but also immensely satisfying to meet the goals and receive so many compliments for the food we prepared. One student commented: “Thank you for making the best vegetarian food, it made me think twice about eating meat!”

So, how did we do it?  We decided to set up a buffet breakfast that consisted of hard-boiled eggs, assorted yogurts (including soy yogurt), granola (no nuts), assorted packages of instant oatmeal, regular and gluten free bread and bagels, vegan butter, regular butter, vegan cream cheese and regular cream cheese, peanut butter and jelly, bananas, oranges, coffee, tea (regular and herbal) with milk, soy milk, half and half, soy creamer, and oat creamer.

Much as I would have liked to prepare a daily quiche or gourmet muffins, this met everyone’s needs and left us free to begin prep for the rest of the day’s food. These were hungry college students! jjWe loved working in the commercial kitchen and wanted to offer hearty homemade soups for lunch each day accompanied by bread, rolls or a sandwich of some sort. Soups were Broccoli and Cheese, Vegetarian Chili, Tomato Basil Bisque, Red Potato, Leek and Corn Chowder, White Bean, Spinach and Orzo Soup with Vegetarian Meatballs, and a rich, creamy Curried Pumpkin. One girl told us she didn’t eat pumpkin, but she tried it and even came back for seconds!  I think the garlic bread, grilled cheese sandwiches and the vegetarian wraps were all big hits.

Commercial Kitchen

Our evening meals consisted of Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna with a Tossed Salad and Vegan Cheesecake for dessert, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos with Corn on the Cob and Chocolate No Bake Cookies for dessert, Mushroom Bourguignon over noodles (or gluten-free penne) with a tossed salad and Apple Cranberry Crisp for dessert, Asian Stir Fry with Broccoli, Bell Peppers, Snow Peas, Mushrooms, and Water Chestnuts over Jasmine Rice with Banana Egg Rolls for dessert, Ratatouille over Brown Rice with a tossed salad and Peach Crisp for dessert, Beyond Beef Cheeseburgers with Sweet Potato Fries and the Chocolate No Bake Cookies for dessert, and we ended with a Make Your Own Pizza night with assorted ice cream and sorbets for dessert. Bless my husband for slicing more than 20 pounds of mushrooms that week and washing mountains of dirty dishes because the commercial dishwasher was not working.

We loved interacting with the students and it was a great experience!

Travel: Woodstock, Vermont

Summer is finally here in New England! The past year has been dominated by the Covid-19 Pandemic, and we have dutifully restricted travel and entertainment. But now that we have been fully vaccinated, we are venturing out like bears emerging from hibernation. 

My husband and I used our quarantine time wisely – focusing most on completing home improvement projects – but we desperately needed a getaway that offered some personal pampering.  Travel to other countries was still restricted, so we decided to pick a destination within a day’s drive from our home in Maine. New England features so many historic grand hotels. After evaluating amenities and activities, we decided on the Woodstock Inn and Resort in Woodstock, Vermont.

Woodstock, Vermont is a classic New England village with general stores, farm-to-table restaurants, fine art galleries, and boutiques. The Inn itself dates to 1793 when Captain Israel Richardson built one of the first lodging accommodations in the village. The original two-story Richardson’s Tavern changed ownership many times over the next several years, undergoing numerous alterations and additions, quickly exceeding capacity as the arrival of the town’s first railroad brought many new visitors to the area.

Moody Heath, an expert carver and a local cabinetmaker carved a large golden eagle mounted above the Tavern’s entrance, and Richardson’s Tavern was renamed The Eagle Hotel in 1830. The Woodstock Inn adopted the eagle symbol into their brand identity, and the original eagle carving is preserved in the Rockefeller ballroom

The Woodstock Inn gradually fell into a state of disrepair and was purchased by Laurence Rockefeller in 1957 with the intention of tearing down the building and constructing an entirely new hotel. Since the opening of the new Inn, the resort has been expanded 4 times with revisions to guest rooms and public spaces. In 1970 The Woodstock Ski Touring Center was opened and in 1986 The Woodstock Racquet & Fitness Club opened south of the Golf course. In 2010, the addition of a 10,000 square foot, LEED-certified Spa facility that features 10 treatment rooms,

When we arrived we were welcomed by a huge stone fireplace surrounded by comfortable seating areas in the lobby, reminiscent of an old lodge. Our room wasn’t quite ready, so we were directed to the lobby bar where beer, wine, cocktails, coffee, tea, and fresh baked cookies were available. We had a chance to explore while we were waiting and discovered a gift shop, game room, the spa and numerous restaurants. Dining options included The Red Rooster, Richardson’s Tavern, Petey’s Pourhouse and the Conservatory. Because Covid 19 was still an issue, only the Red Rooster was open that evening, but it offered a combination menu with selections from the other eateries as well. 

When our room was ready, we were delighted to learn that we had been upgraded. The room was very luxurious and featured a king bed and a spacious sitting area, Our dinner at the Red Rooster that evening was spectacular and the service unparalleled. My husband ordered the Surf and Turf – seared Georges Bank scallops, braised beef short ribs with mashed potatoes and a tomato and leek relish. I had the Duck Two Ways – a seared duck breast and an apple smoked duck leg confit, with a white bean and root vegetable cassoulet.

The next day, we took a short hike in the village up to Mount Tom.  The hiking system in the area includes 80 miles of trails and tempted us to return during the winter when we could do some snowshoeing. After our walk, we retreated to the state-of-the-art Spa for massages.

The Staff at the Woodstock Inn and Resort has the ability to make guests feel like they are the only ones there.  It was a truly remarkable getaway and we highly recommend it.

Other near-by destinations to explore:

 Billings Farm & Museum: Take a half-mile walk to learn about the farm operation a century ago. The museum features a restored 1890 Farm House, Jersey dairy cows, draft horses, Southdown sheep, and heritage chickens, interactive programs, award-winning historical exhibits, and seasonal events.  Admission to the Billings Farm & Museum is included for Woodstock Inn & Resort guests.

Simon Pearce: Stylish designs and elegant glassware, tableware, lighting, and home decor all handcrafted by American artisans. Glass is blown everyday at their flagship hydro-powered mill and store in Quechee, Vermont.

King Arthur Flour: America’s oldest flour company, founded in 1790 in Norwich, Vermont. Sample artisan bread, take a baking class, get great recipes and shop in the baker’s store.

Vermont Institue of Natural Science: (VINS) is a nonprofit, member-supported, environmental education, research, and avian rehabilitation organization headquartered at the VINS Nature Center in Quechee, Vermont. Open year-round, the 47-acre campus features state-of-the-art raptor enclosures, exhibit spaces, classrooms, and interpretive nature trails.

Farmhouse Pottery: Woodstock, Vermont based artisanal potters offer unique one-of-a-kind handmade pottery, décor, candles, lotions, bakeware, gifts and more.

Antique Shopping: Shop where the antique dealers shop — The Quechee Gorge Village Marketplace! Featuring over 450 booths in over 18,000 climate controlled square feet. Vermont’s largest and most popular antique center located in Quechee, Vermont.

Shackleton Thomas: Fine handcrafted Charles Shackleton furniture and handmade Miranda Thomas pottery made using traditional techniques in Bridgewater, Vermont.

Harpoon Brewery: The Harpoon Riverbend Taps and Beer Garden, located in Windsor, Vermont and the same building as the brewery itself, offers a full selection of Harpoon beers straight from the source along with delicious food to pair with your pint.

The Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, VT is a nationally recognized science museum with more than 125 exhibits interactive exhibits on nature, technology, and the physical sciences. The Montshire’s unique, 100-acre riverfront setting includes a Woodland Garden, nature trails, David Goudy Science Park, and the Hughes Pavilion. Visiting exhibitions, education programs, and special events are offered throughout the year. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas).

Travel: Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua English Harbor

Winter tends to be colder and longer in Maine than in other places where we’ve lived.  We always are well stocked with firewood, food, wine and have indoor projects and books to read that keep us busy.  Still, a warm weather break is something to which we look forward.  Our favorite destination was always St. John, USVI, but the island was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year and is still struggling to rebuild.  Thus, we’ve been exploring other Caribbean destinations and selected Antigua for this year’s getaway. Had we known more about the coronavirus situation at the time, we might have cancelled our trip.  Luckily we had a great time and came home in good health.

Fort Barrington

The view from Fort Barrington

Originally known as “Wadadli” by the native population, the island is located in the West Indies and is approximately 11 miles wide by 14 miles long. was renamed Antigua by Christopher Columbus in 1493. In 1632 a group of English colonists left St. Kitts and established the first permanent British settlement in Antigua which rapidly developed into a profitable sugar colony. Betty’s Hope, Antigua’s first full-scale sugar plantation was so successful that other planters turned from tobacco to sugar and imported slaves to work the sugar cane crops. However, the American War of Independence disrupted the sugar trade in the late 18th century and Great Britain abolished slave trade in 1807.  Today, tourism is the primary industry

The irregular shoreline offers over 300 white sand beaches (nearly one for every day of the year) and is ringed by coral reefs which provide excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. Abandoned British forts are scattered around the island (we liked the hike up to Fort Barrington), one of which protected English Harbor, the site of a restored British Colonial naval station. “Nelson’s Dockyard” was named after Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson who made the island his home base in the 1780s. The dockyard houses an excellent marine museum and a marina that caters to super-yachts.  The Antigua Yacht Club nearby hosts “Sailing Week” each year – one of the top regattas in the world.

Antigua Yacht Club

There are numerous all inclusive resorts along the white sand beaches of Antigua, but Craig and I have always enjoyed sampling the local cuisine in small cafes, so we opted for a boutique hotel sans meals.  We stayed at the Buccaneer Beach Club on Dickinson Beach which was set in a tropical garden with a free form pool. The hotel features 16 apartment-style rooms and two larger cottages.  We liked the fact that we had a kitchen and could prepare our own coffee and breakfast each day before setting out to explore a new beach.


Besides spending our time on the beach or exploring the forts, we managed to do a little hiking. There are a lot of hills on the island, with Mount Obama at being the highest at 1,319 ft. The hike from Wallings Dam to Signal Hill (elevation 1,198 ft) was great.  We started at the Wallings Nature Reserve and passed a zip line canopy tour venture along the way – something to try the next time we visit. The views at the top were magnificent!


The highlight of the trip for me, given my interest in food, was on Valentine’s Day when Craig signed us up for a Caribbean cooking class with Nicole’s Table (  A short drive from Dickenson’s Beach, Nicole and Adam’s house was perched on the top of the hills with views of the ocean. She served us her famous rum punch and put us to work preparing coconut chips, fried plantains, pineapple salsa, a sour cream lime dip, jerk chicken, plantain tostones, red beans and rice and delicious coconut tarts.  In addition, Nicole’s husband Adam gave us an introduction to rum class with tastings of rum from various Caribbean islands.  It was a fantastic experience.


We reluctantly returned after our two week vacation, but vowed to return.  Antigua is highly recommended.










Travel: The Maritimes

Craig and I recently spent a week in Canada’s Maritime Provinces. Although there is a CAT Ferry which travels from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, we decided to drive up to New Brunswick so we could explore the countryside, and from there planned to take the 2-hour ferry to Nova Scotia.

As we headed north, we were aware of an increase in the pine and spruce trees lining the highway. New Brunswick is known for its woodlands, mountains and the Bay of Fundy, known for extreme tides and whale-watching.  The extreme tides wash an abundance of fish into the Bay of Fundy, attracting the whales. We spent the first night in the port city of St. John and had dinner at one of the restaurants bordering the long-standing St. John City Market.

The next morning, we went to Fallsview Park so we could see the Reversing Falls, where the tide changes average 40-50 feet and the rapids flow backwards at high tide. It would have been a whitewater kayaker’s dream! On our trip to the ferry landing, we also stopped at the Irving Nature Park and hiked along the shoreline underneath the evergreens on woodchip paths.


The Maritimes are known for their seafood – lobsters, plump sea scallops, succulent oysters, mussels, halibut, haddock and cod. The ferry from St. John deposited us in Digby, the scallop capital of the world! Our bed and breakfast overlooked the harbor and the scallop boat fishing fleet! It was a short walk into town where we sampled some superb restaurants. We also drove down Digby Neck to a beach where whale sightings were common but failed to see any.

From Digby, we drove south to Kejimkujik National Park which is also a National Historic Site. The National and Provincial Park systems in Canada are very well maintained with great visitor centers, camping and calendars of events. Keji (“Ked-gi”) was the site of early Mi’kmaq Natives. Kejimkujik is a Mi’kmaq word meaning “tired muscles” and may refer to the hard work of trapping and catching fish in fishing weirs in the rivers. The Mi’kmaqs had dwelled in the area for thousands of years, built birch bark canoes and made weirs of stone or wood to dam the rivers and divert the fish. When we went hiking, we saw a lot of first growth hemlock trees.

We spent the next two nights at a B&B in Lunenburg, a colorful fishing village on the South Shore of Nova Scotia originally settled by Germans. The Maritime Museum there was fantastic and gave us a good glimpse of the seafaring trades. We met a very interesting “Old Salt,” a former scallop boat captain who explained exactly how the scallops were “raked” from the sea beds and gave us a step by step procedure for making his favorite recipe from salt cod!

Our final destination was Prince Edward Island, where we stayed at Shaw’s Hotel in Beckley Beach on the North Shore. Shaw’s is an old country Inn built in the 1800’s and is still run by the same family! It was truly luxurious and only a half mile to the beach – miles of red sandstone dunes. The restaurant menu was amazing! PEI mussels are my favorite & I was not disappointed. It was a nice finish for our second honeymoon!

We both wish we’d had longer to explore Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital, and Cape Breton, but we will save that for another trip.

Conch Fritters



2 cups diced conch meat (see how to prepare below)

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper

1 egg

½ cup milk

¼ cup diced onion

½ cup diced green bell pepper

½ cup diced red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Peanut oil for frying

Lime, quartered

Cocktail sauce


If you have purchased whole conch, place it on a cutting board and using the rough side of a meat mallet, pound the conch to about 1/4″ thickness.  Then use a very sharp chef’s knife to dice the conch meat into 1/4″ pieces.   Transfer the chopped conch to a large mixing bowl.

In a large pot or deep fryer, heat oil to 365°F. Mix the flour, baking powder, egg, and milk in a large bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Mix in the chopped conch meat, onion, green and red bell pepper, and garlic until well blended. Drop rounded tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with a wedge of lime and cocktail sauce on the side.


Travel: Turks and Caicos


New England winters are very vibrant – there is always a lot going on around the Seacoast! In addition, it’s a great time to work on a project (Craig does woodworking and I do stained glass) or just cozy up under an afghan and read a good book next to the woodstove. But winter this year stretched out a little longer than usual and we desperately needed a warm-weather break. Neither of us is enamored with glitzy resorts or all-inclusive destinations. We prefer exploring the culture and cuisine of a Caribbean island that offers great beaches, good hiking and excellent snorkeling. A direct flight is nice too, but not always possible. So, we decided to explore Turks and Caicos this year, which is rumored to have the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Turks and Caicos is an archipelago of 40 low-lying coral islands in the Atlantic Ocean, a British Overseas Territory southeast of the Bahamas. The gateway island of Providenciales, known as Provo, is home to expansive Grace Bay Beach, with luxury resorts, shops and restaurants. Scuba-diving sites include a 14-mile barrier reef on Provo’s north shore and a dramatic 7,000 foot underwater wall off Grand Turk Island. The official language is English and the currency is US dollars. But Providenciales (“Provo” to the locals) was too developed for our tastes (it had a Club Med and similar resorts, high end shopping and expensive restaurants), so we headed for North Caicos – accessible by ferry and very undeveloped.

Our Airbnb host arranged a taxi to meet us at the airport and deliver us to the Caribbean Cruisin’ ferry on the eastern end of the island. She asked if we wanted to stop at a grocery store on the way, but we assured her we would do provisioning on North Caicos. The IGA on Provo is huge with a spectacular selection of food products. (Note to self: Definitely stop and shop on the way to the ferry next time.) The ferry ride gave us our first glimpse of the beaches along the shore. We’ve traveled all over the world, but I must admit, they were most definitely the best we’d ever seen. In fact, the beaches stretch from six to 14 miles along the coast of the islands and are made of soft, white sand like talcum powder that come from the eroding limestone on the islands. The water is a neon aqua and was mesmerizing! When we arrived at the ferry landing on North Caicos, our rental car was waiting (also arranged by our Airbnb host). We followed our host’s Mom to the house and were pleasantly surprised by the location (in the middle of a village named Whitby), and amenities (short walk to the beach, coffee, fruit and bagels in the fridge). The warm, salt air was a delight. We quickly changed clothes and went for a tour of the island and a search for a grocery store.

North Caicos (and the next island over, Middle Caicos) are mostly undeveloped. North Caicos only boasts a population of 1,500. A recent hurricane had frightened the hundreds of flamingoes and they relocated elsewhere in the Caribbean. The huge land crabs roamed across the unpaved roads in the evenings and many of the cement block houses were abandoned. But, we were in a perfect location – within walking distance actually to a grocery store (that got fresh produce on Mondays) and both a great, casual restaurant, the Silver Palm, and the Pelican Beach Bar that served the most amazing pina coladas!


We stocked up on basic essentials at the grocery store and a bottle of the local Bambarra dark rum at the liquor store and headed back to the house.

Our first full day was spent on the beach, just walking and swimming, and then back to the house to read on the patio. We dined that first night at the Silver Palm Restaurant where the owner/chef Karen and her husband, Poach, spoiled us with fresh seafood (conch fritters and whole fried snapper) and information about the island. Her rum punch is legendary!


The highlight of our vacation came on Monday with a fishing trip. We had hired a local, Captain D, to take us out for inshore fishing. Trip Advisor reviews raved about him and said that he would clean all the fish you could catch and send it back to your Airbnb rental with you. We were excited about feasting on our own fresh-caught seafood all week. We chartered him from 9-2, spent most of the time fishing and then went snorkeling off the boat (waters were a little choppy) for about an hour before returning to the launch area where he cleaned our fish for us. We caught three good-sized barracuda (the largest one was 32 pounds!) We had seen barracuda with their scary teeth while snorkeling in the past and didn’t know they were edible. Apparently, predator fish at the top of the food chain can carry dangerous toxins, but these fish didn’t pose any problems for us. Captain D told us a few ways to cook the fish, but we opted for the charcoal grill at our rental house and a little lime juice. It was delicious!


As for hiking, we mostly walked along the beach although we did hike the Middle Caicos Cross Island Trail which wound along the coastline and across pitted limestone cliffs.



We saw only one other couple on the beach the entire week we were there It was heavenly and very, very relaxing for us. We definitely plan to return some day.