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White Water Rafting Maine

April 4th, 2014 by Scott Gile

White-Water-Blog1

For those of us Mainers who love the outdoors, a significant transition marker every spring is the annual four day Reggae Fest at Sugarloaf Ski Resort, http://www.sugarloaf.com/activities-and-nightlife/reggae-festival. A fabulous outdoor event marking the coming of spring with the last days of spring skiing!! If you haven’t participated and you’re a lover of Reggae, skiing, boarding or the outdoors, GET HIP!!

In other miscellaneous news, Amtrak is offering $10 one-way adult fares between Brunswick (one stop past Freeport) and Haverhill, MA on the Downeaster weekends of April 12 & 13, and May 17 & 18. COME UP AND SEE US!! We’ll even pick you up and drop you off at the Freeport Station (call to make arrangements)!! We’re already pretty busy for that second weekend, so don’t wait to make reservations!http://www.amtrakdowneaster.com/deals is the link to Amtrak, but my instructions read you need to call Natalie Bogart at 207-780-1000 x108 to make arrangements.

Ahhhh, WHITE WATER RAFTING, one premier wilderness Maine experience!! If you’ve not had one of these thrill rides, this year is the time! Rafting is a team event, with the in-raft guidance of your personal experienced guide, who is also your boss, calls out instructions and steers the raft. The three rivers we run in Maine, the Kennebec, Penobscot and Dead Rivers, are all dam controlled, and transit pristine wild, beautiful country. The first two are also the primary drainages for the state, the Kennebec enters the Gulf of Maine not far from here, and the mighty Penobscot carved out Penobscot Bay, an hour + east of here.

All full trips run about 4 or 5 hours and cover about 15 miles of river.  Many companies run shorter ½ trips too.  The Kennebec and Penobscot are run year round, depending on daily releases from hydro-elecrtic dams for the ride.  The Dead is run a couple of weekends in the spring and fall, via flood control releases from Flagstaff Lake, east of Mt. Bigelow, across Carrabassett Valley from Sugarloaf, and is the only ride with consistent rapids the entire distance.  The Penobscot run starts east of Moosehead Lake (just south of Baxter State Park), and as the river includes class 4 and 5 rapids, is the wildest ride of the three.  Out family has rafted all but the Dead multiple times and will agree the Penobscot is the most intimidating, although many of it’s later stretches laze bucolically under the majestic Mt. Katahdin.  Most of the rafting companies that run the Kennebec are quartered in The Forks on that River, and you get in below the dam at the West end of Indian Pond, which empties Moosehead Lake (which at 45 miles long is one big a– lake!).

YOU WILL GET WET, so a wet-suit rental is a good idea on all but the warmest days, as the water that emerges from the depths of these big damned lakes IS COLD! All rafting companies have them available, as well as including helmets and other safety equipment. Rides begin with a safety briefing and practicing your teams response to your raft Captains’ commands. Halfway down any trip, you pull over for a scrumptious grilled lunch, hot drinks and of course, the brews flow after any trip, as you watch videos of yourselves negotiating the rapids.

A Google search will produce a number of options, but a place to start might be www.northernoutdoors.com. Most of these are based about 2 hours north of Freeport, and the plan is for us to be your cony refuge after (or before) your adventure! Believe me when I tell you that you can’t have more thrills (& lunch) for under $100!!<

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

PB_Choc_Cookies-smOne of the challenges at Brewster House, like most bed and breakfasts, is coming up with recipes that are good enough to use, but also meet special dietary requirements of some guests.

We often seem to have guests who have restrictions on wheat flours or are otherwise gluten-free, so afternoon snacks of cookies, cakes, etc., can be a bit of a challenge.

That’s why we were thrilled when, a few years ago, Ruth came across this recipe for flourless peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips in Southern Living magazine. Scott loves peanut butter, and combined with chocolate it is ideal! This recipe has become his favorite of any peanut butter cookie, with or without flour!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (chunky may be used if preferred)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (or morsels)

1. Stir together first five ingredients in medium bowl, using wooden spoon. Stir in chocolate chips/morsels

2. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet

3. Bake at 350 F for 12 minutes or until puffed and golden (Cookies will be soft in the center). cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, remove to wire rack.

Enjoy!

Brewster House Baked Pineapple

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

baked_pineappleModified from a recipe received from a friend, this fruit dish is similar to a bread pudding — and very popular with our guests.

Makes about 8-10 servings.

  • 4 slices bread — Cubed. We use 4-5 slices of maple cinnamon bread, but cinnamon raisin works well also.
  • 1 stick butter — melted
  • 15 1/4 ounces crushed pineapple — (1 medium can)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 can mandarin orange sections
  • whipped cream

Place cubed bread in large mixing bowl. Add melted butter and stir until butter is absorbed.

Beat egg in separate bowl, add sugar and beat until thick. Add crushed pineapple (NOT drained) and pour over bread mixture and mix Pour into 11×7 in. baking pan.

Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees F until brown around sides.

Spoon into individual servings (at Brewster House, we use champagne glasses with stems).

Garnish with 3-4 mandarin orange slices and a small amount of whipped cream, and serve warm.

If this makes more than you need, you can freeze the excess and warm it up for another time.

Fresh Strawberry Syrup (for Croissant French Toast)

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

strawberry_croissant_fr_toastA simple, yet delicious, syrup made from strawberries and sugar, to make for a very special dish.

Makes 2 cups

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries — sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind — grated

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, and let stand 30 minutes or until sugar dissolves.
Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until warm. Serve over Croissant French Toast

Croissant French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Syrup

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

strawberry_croissant_fr_toastA delicious French toast, made with croissants and served with a strawberry compote, this unusual and delicious variation on French toast is really a winner.

Makes 4 servings.

  • 4 large croissants — day-old (stale)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use 2 tsp if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • whipped cream — (optional topping)
  • Fresh Strawberry Syrup (see next recipe)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Slice croissants in half lengthwise

Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into a shallow dish. Dip croissant halves into egg mixture, coating well.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat. Add four croissant halves, and cook about 2 minutes on each side or until puffy and golden brown. Repeat procedure with remaining butter and croissant halves.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar; top with Whipped Cream if desired, and Fresh Strawberry Syrup.

Serving Ideas : Sprinkle a few blueberries on top for a colorful presentation.

NOTE: If croissants are not stale, they will not absorb the batter as fully, and will not plump as much when cooked.

Southern Recipe from a Maine B&B: Pecan Praline French Toast

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

Pecan_praline_Fr_tstOne of our favorite French toast recipes is based on one we received from a family friend in California. She sent us Paula Deen’s Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup.

As some of our friends well know, we lived for a number of years in the Southern USA (Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia), and love a lot of the Southern dishes. One thing we find, though, is that they are sometimes a bit rich for us. Consequently we’ve taken some of our favorites and altered them a little to be just a bit lighter (they are still very substantial – just ask our guests!). That’s what we did with this recipe.

In fact, we had been serving our version as Brewster House Pecan Praline French Toast for some time before Ruth came across a video of Paula Deen making her French toast recipe. Based on the recipe we had from our friend, we had been laying the slices of bread down in the pan in layers, which made a great French toast in its own right. When Ruth saw the video, she realized that the way Paula Deen makes it, the slices stand up in the pan, wicking the custard up into themselves, and they look amazing! We tried it with our version, and wow! The taste was wonderful and the presentation was really impressive (as you can see from the photo!).

Here’s the recipe for Brewster House Pecan Praline French Toast:

  • 1 loaf French bread (13-16 ounces) (you may also use challah bread instead for a slightly different texture)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash salt
  • Praline Topping (recipe follows)
  • Maple syrup (we use 100% pure Maine maple syrup)

Slice bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. Arrange slices upright, in a generously buttered 9 x 13-inch flat baking dish in two rows, overlapping the slices.

Pecan_praline_Fr_toast

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, and whisk until blended. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Serve with maple syrup.Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.

Praline Topping

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.

Bon appetit!

Gluten-Free Quiche With Goat Cheese

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

gluten-free-quicheLike many innkeepers, we find that a number of our guests need gluten-free meals. In searching for this type of thing, Ruth came across this quiche from Martha Stewart, which we served today, to high praise from all the guests!

We served it as presented, but will be trying it in the near future with fresh spinach and sun-dried tomatoes added, as well.

Gluten-Free Quiche with Goat Cheese

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 1 package (1 pound) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 12 large eggs
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 package (4-5 ounces) soft goat cheese, room temperature
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush a 9 by 2 1/2 inch springform pan with butter. Line the sides of the pan with strips of waxed paper (the same height as the pan); brush paper with butter.

Squeeze excess moisture from hash browns. Mix in a bowl with butter, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pat into bottom and up sides of prepared pan, using a moistened dry measuring cup. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk sour cream, goat cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well combined; whisk in 11 remaining eggs. Pour into crust, and sprinkle with scallions. Bake until set, 45 to 50 minutes. Unmold quiche, and peel off waxed paper before serving.

Serves 6-8, depending on serving size.

Enjoy!

Maple Apple Syrup for Belgian Waffles

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

wafflesThis is a delightful treat, which really dresses up Belgian waffles especially in the autumn.

Makes about 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons butter
3 apples, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

  • Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add cinnamon, apples, sugar and maple syrup, toss until apples are coated
  • Cook until apples are partially soft, yet still firm.
  • Serve warm over waffles.

Belgian Waffles

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

belgian_wafflesThese wonderful, make-ahead, Belgian waffles are light and simply delightful with our Maine pure maple syrup, or our blueberry compote!

Makes about 6 waffles

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs

  • In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well
  • Heat milk, water and butter until very warm (120-130 degrees F; butter does not need to melt). Add to flour mixture. Add eggs.
  • Blend with electric mixer at low speed until moistened; beat 1 minute at medium speed.
  • Cover bowl with plactic wrap and foil; refrigerate several hours or overnight.
  • Pour approximately 1/2 cup batter on preheated grid, close and bake.
  • We serve them with pure maple syrup, blueberry compote, or maple apple syrup (pictured).

Epiphany

March 23rd, 2014 by Scott Gile

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Scott & Mary
Brewster House Bed & Breakfast, Freeport, Maine

Epiphany
I know, I know, it sounds so overused, so trivialized!  Sometimes, maybe it’s simply a matter of re-examining your situation, or gaining a different perspective when we feel these little light-shafts of joy and revelation.  I also believe they usually come at a quieter time when you have the opportunity to really listen and feel, and not over-think your situation.  I had such a moment while touring the FABULOUS Maine Boat Builders Show with my good friend Mike last week!
It was one of those forty degree, sunny days in late winter when spring feels like a real promise, plus, being proximate to the ocean (like the mountains) always offers a promise of renewal and opportunity.  Mike and I can be comfortable effortlessly, and immersing ourselves in that cleansing boat/ ocean fantasy that was that fine exhibition was the perfect backdrop for such reflection and appreciation of our new home and work here in Maine!  I’ve been to lots of boat shows, but none so replete with the melding of artistic line, extreme quality, and expert craftsmanship, whether sail, power or human powered as this show!  Know that a similar show will be offered on the waterfront in Rockland at Harbor Park from August 8th to 10th, including a boat dog contest.  I will remind you!  Check out www.maineboats.com for details.
Rowing Canoes!
Anyway, I regress…….it occurred to me how lucky we are to be living in a thinly populated State complete with such enormous raw beauty and natural opportunity, and for us, working at a job where our guests are sharing our pleasure!  We get to take in the world from the top on those cold, crystalline days, before dancing down that magical white silent carpet through such magnificent wild forests.  In the spring & summer, we get to watch our world be reborn in soft greens and lilac smells, and that salty, earthy tang that comes with the tides breathing in and out.  Then there’s the water…..full of living things, especially where it splashes against the rocks, and the wind to ride with sails billowing!  In summer, we’re too busy to play in boats, but you aren’t!  I miss it!!  I think all of that is why coastal Maine has such a pool of amazingly talented cooks, artists, innkeepers and adventurers concentrated here. 

Top of Jordan Bowl, Sunday River
The more we visit Portland, the more I appreciate what a great place it is to spend time!  There is an AMAZING number of fabulous restaurants, and much of the waterfront looks like it might have in the 1800’s heydays of fishing sloops, packet ships, coastal schooners and world circling clippers.  The 3 and 4 story brick warehouses, many complete with old signs from the early 20thcentury, give it a very unique and warm flavor.    
I mentioned this in a previous blog, but it’s now official, the Nova Scotia ferry left Singapore last week and will be arriving in New England in early May, including a stop in Boston to show off.  She will start trips to Yarmouth on May 15thfor $79 each way, including an on-board casino and sleeping cabins.  So, stop here on the way out, or the way back and let us spoil you with a side adventure in Maine.  http://www.novastarcruises.com.     
Here’s a gift for putting up with my reverie;
OATMEAL WAFFLES W/ TRIPLE BERRY SYRUP
Serves 6
Ingredients-1            ½ cup flour
                        1 cup quick cooking oats
                        3 tsp baking powder
                        ½ tsp cinnamon
                        ¼ tsp salt
                        2 eggs separated
                        1-1/2 cups milk
                        6 tbspns melted butter
                        2 tbspns brown sugar
In a large bowl, mix first 5 ingredients.  In a small bowl, mix 2 egg yolks, cooled melted butter & milk w/ brown sugar. Add the egg yolk and milk mixture into dry ingredients.  In a medium bowl beat 2 egg whites until light and fluffy then fold into waffle batter.
Note:  To make this recipe lactose free, substitute 6 tablespoons vegetable oil for butter, & substitute soy or almond milk for milk.
                       
TRIPLE BERRY SYRUP
Ingredients-   1 cup of sugar
                        2 tbspns cornstarch
                        1 cup water
                        1 tbspn lemon juice
                        1 tbspn butter
                        1 cup frozen mixed berries
Note:  Fresh berries can also be used        
Combine sugar & cornstarch in a saucepan on stove.  Slowly add water & whisk until incorporated.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  When thickened, add 1 cup of mixed berries & reduce heat.  Simmer until the berries begin to burst.  Remove them from heat & add lemon & butter.
Serve over waffles w/ fresh crème fraiche or whipped cream & berries as a garnish.

Next time we make them, I promised I’ll take and post a photo! 
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