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Showing posts with label Gail J. VanWart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gail J. VanWart. Show all posts

Monday, February 25, 2013

L & H Burgers: The Best Burgers in Rockland, Maine and Possibly the World


© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013 All Rights Reserved
Just around the corner from the Maine Lighthouse Museum
you'll find the best burgers you may ever eat anywhere at L & H Burgers

Knowing we were in for the third snowy Sunday in a row this February, my husband and I decided to catch a little break from our routines this past Saturday to take Blae out to nose around Maine.  This is the time of year us Mainers are starting to dream of spring, about a month away according to the calendar, but maybe longer according to our weather. It’s also the time of year we enjoy poking around our coastal communities, before the tourists arrive, to see what pleasures and treasures are in store for the coming Maine summer. Saturday, we hit the jackpot in Rockland.

© Copyright Daniel B. VanWart 2013 All Rights Reserved
L & H Burgers
We had meandered down coastal US Route 1 from Bangor and arrived in Rockland just in time to be hungry for lunch. Dan had heard of a really terrific new place to get a sandwich or burger on Main Street. So, we turned left at the light and headed for Main Street, and there it was. Just as if we were meant to be there, a parking spot availed itself on the heavily traveled street right in front of L & H Burgers’ doorway. 

Upon entering the charming little eatery we found it decorated simply with unframed art and a smattering of antiques.  We took the two last available seats, Blae had to wait this one out in the car.  Others were following us through the doors, so we had lucked out again. But I didn’t really realize how fortunate we were to be there until my order arrived and I took my first bite.

I had ordered the house made veggie burger served with Coleslaw, and everything about it was perfect. I have never had a veggie burger of such quality and taste. After eating it, I can probably never eat a veggie burger anywhere else again. Yes, it was that good. The slaw was the freshest I have ever been served in any restaurant as well, and I have dined throughout the entire United States, Canada, Aruba, Guam, and Lithuania.

© Copyright Daniel B. VanWart 2013 All Rights Reserved
Sister Restaurant on Main Street, Rockland
Rustica Cucina Italiana
As I was savoring every bite, I looked across the table at Dan who had ordered a regular, or classic, burger with Swiss cheese and onion served with hand cut fries. He announced, “This is the best burger I have eaten anywhere.” That was amazing coming from the pickiest eater I’ve ever met. He has been looking for a “great” burger for years, actually searching for one every time we travel or eat in a different town.

Yes, we had hit the jackpot at L & H Burgers, 313 Main Street in Rockland, Maine. You can bet we’ll eat there again and again.  Their menu is loaded with many interesting starters, burgers, Panini’s, salads, and desserts. They even offer gluten free buns. Another nice option, especially during the busy summer months, is a take out line, 207-593-7996.

L & H Burgers pleased us so much we now want to try their sister restaurant, Rustica, located right next door. It has carried the area's title of “The Best of the Best” for Italian cuisine since it opened in 2006. It is so highly recommended we're told you should make a reservation or be prepared to wait and hope you’ll eventually get in.

Did I mention we hit the jackpot for lunch? Well, we did, but poor Blae didn’t. We usually remember to save him a bite or two when we eat out during a nosing around outing.  This time our burgers were so fantastic we consumed them completely without saving him a blessed crumb. He, of course, made us feel guilty and we had to stop further down Route 1 in Thomaston to buy him a treat.

© Copyright Daniel B. VanWart 2013 All Rights Reserved
A menu feature at
L & H Burgers, Rockland, Maine
Most of all, I’m delighted to find in our fast food world, a place you can appreciate fresh wholesome ingredients and real food made from scratch.  L & H Burgers is a five star lunch in my book.  Next time I visit Rockland I’m going to try their Picasso and I’ll try to save a taste for Blae. No promises.

Check out their links:







© Copyright 2013 Gail J. VanWart  All Rights Reserved

Gail J. VanWart is a regular contributor to theSCENE:
a publication of Courier Publications LLC in Rockland, Maine with distribution in Waldo 

and Lincoln Counties




Look for contributions by Gail J. VanWart in Washington County, too: 
County Wide News
County Wide is a journal of fact and opinion published since 1977 by 
County Wide Communications,Inc. at 25 Main Street, P.O. Box 497, Machias, Maine 04654.
Phone (207) 255-NEWS for a free online subscription to County Wide News or E-mail countywideonline@hotmail.com

Monday, February 18, 2013

In Bangor, Maine the Library is Much More than Books




© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013  All rights Reserved
Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow Street, Bangor, Maine 



Since the days of its humble beginnings in 1830 as the Bangor Mechanics Association, with a collection of just seven books stored in a footlocker, the Bangor Public Library has served its community as a place of learning and sharing, not only in the form of books, but also in the form of exhibits, lectures, workshops, and social gatherings.
Bangor Public Library, Bangor,  Maine
The Bangor Public Library
displays art and artifacts from both
the past and the present.

Gardens, Grounds, and Children Exhibit by Debbie Story Alexander
Gardens, Grounds, and Children
Exhibit by Debbie Story Alexander
February 2013  at
the Bangor Public Library
I have known this library since I was a child, but even to this day I feel small climbing its massive stone steps and entering through its immense oak doorway that leads the way to a wealth of knowledge—vast knowledge I can merely sample portions of over my entire lifetime. I love this place!
I love the Bangor Public Library even more when its exhibits, lectures, book signings, and other events pay tribute to people I know in the area. With that being said, I’d like to introduce you to Debbie Story Alexander. Over the years we have been both colleagues at EMHS and friends, so I am delighted the Bangor Public Library recognizes her talent as an artist. Her acrylic paintings are presently part of the library’s many exhibits. You’ll find her work on display in the Stairwell Gallery. Other local Maine artists with works on display are Peg Hanson in the Stairwell Gallery Display Case and members of the Bangor Art Society in the Lecture Hall.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I’ll scatter some images of Debbie’s paintings throughout the rest of this blog, which will focus on the rekindled passion Debbie has for creating them. Her own words and works of art tell her story best.
Maine Artist
Debbie Story Alexander, Artist
I am not sure if I have always had the good fortune to be surrounded by very talented people or if I just recognize that all people have talent, they just don't always know it or show it.

A family friend used to have me scribble on a piece of paper and he would add some scribbles of his own and turn my little scribble into a cartoon character or scene. Each little scribble can be the start of an amazing painting and each person scribbling has the potential to be an artist.
Painting by Debbie Story Alexander, Maine Artist 
I did some drawing in high school art classes under Christopher Pike. After high school I didn't draw very much. I had three children and worked full time so there was no time left for drawing or painting.”

After Debbie’s marriage of twenty-seven years unfortunately ended in divorce in 2007, and with her children grown, she found she had time on her hands and needed something to do. Watching her sister, Linda Story Kam, paint made her realize it was something she missed. With the encouragement of her best friend (and current husband) she purchased supplies and took some art classes offered through Bangor and Hampden Adult Education programs.

Painting by Debbie Story Alexander, Maine ArtistShe also credits her husband, Joe, for lending a critical eye and advice, as well as his moral support. “If I’m in the middle of a painting and can’t get the color just right, I get input from Joe. He is very good with color. I have tried to encourage him to paint, as well, but have not succeeded, yet. We do watch Bob Ross painting shows together.”

Painting by Debbie Story Alexander, Maine ArtistNow that she’s back into the swing of it, she is dedicated to her art. Debbie says, “I paint almost every day. I am inspired by my grandchildren, gardens, nature, and architecture.” You can clearly see that in her work.

If you are in or near Bangor, Maine, it’s worth a trip to Harlow Street to check out what is happening at the Bangor Public Library. You are sure to run into much more than a collection of books. Debbie Story Alexander’s exhibit, Gardens, Grounds, and Children, will be displayed at the library through the end of February. Her work is also currently on display in the cafeteria at Eastern Maine Medical Center on State Street, also in Bangor.

Gardens, Grounds, and Children Exhibit at Bangor Public Library, Maine
Paintings by Debbie Story Alexander, Maine Artist
Stairwell Gallery Lobby, Bangor Public Library
145 Harlow Street, Bangor, Maine 




Note:  A Commemorative History of the Bangor Public Library
Seven Books in a Footlocker, is offered for sale at the library’s circulation desk.



© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013  All Rights Reserved


Gail J. VanWart is a regular contributor to theSCENE:
a publication of Courier Publications LLC in Rockland, Maine with distribution in Waldo and Lincoln Counties

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hurray for the Pumpkin Pie!


Yes Indeed, Hurray for the Pumpkin Pie! 

Since Maine and Thanksgiving are both rich with tradition, this blog will be nosing around my kitchen and an old tradition of making a pie from scratch. My friend Natalie Bolton in Colorado, of Wise Penny Marketing & Design LLC, is the author of the pie crust recipe. The pumpkin pie recipe that follows it is directly from the pages of an 1890 cookbook my grandmother once used here on the farm. Pairing the pumpkin pie filling from scratch with Natalie’s homemade pie crust, just might make your Thanksgiving dessert extra special. It can also be a way to use up some leftover Halloween pumpkins instead of just tossing them away as waste. 

Make Your Own Pie Dough in 15 Minutes or Less


Before you run off to the store to purchase a packaged pie crust, wait! You can make a low-cost, delicious and beautiful pie dough yourself in about 15 minutes or less.

Here's what you'll need to make a single 9” pie shell:

1 c. all-purpose flour
¼ - ½ t. salt (adjust according to your preference)
1/3 c. vegetable shortening (I like using the sticks as they're easy to measure)
3 T. ice water

I've found that one of the keys to making a great crust is to start with cold ingredients. So, at least an hour before you begin, put your shortening and flour in the fridge.

Now, once you're ready to start, gather your ingredients and mix your flour and salt thoroughly in a mixing bowl with a fork:

Next, add your cold shortening to the flour mixture . . .



and mix in with quick strokes using your fork or a pastry blender. DO NOT OVERMIX – it should not be smooth. You want to end up with bits of shortening still in the mix.


Next, add about 2 T. of ice water and start to work it in:



As the mixture comes together, set aside your fork and start shaping the mix into a ball gently with your hands. Add water by small amounts, up to another 1 T. water, until you are able to incorporate all the flour into the ball. If you add too much water and it gets too sticky, add a bit more flour.



Ta-da! Your dough is complete! If you have time, wrap the dough in plastic and set in the fridge for half an hour or so before preparing to roll it out. (You can leave it in the fridge overnight if you want, but I find that leaving it longer than that makes it rather crumbly and more difficult to roll out.)

Now, in order to roll out your dough and get it into the pie plate as easily as possible, you need to be able to transfer it smoothly. I find the best way to do this is to roll it out on a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper.

To do this, take a square of plastic wrap, smooth it carefully and tape each corner onto your clean countertop:



Sprinkle a bit of flour onto the surface, place your dough in the middle, and begin to roll out. Smooth the edges as you go to keep the circle as round as possible:




When your crust gets near the edge of the plastic wrap, place your pie plate carefully on top to make sure you have enough crust to go past the edges of the dish:



Next, remove the corners of tape from the countertop and slide your hand carefully beneath the plastic:



Place your other hand on top of the dish and flip it over. Remove the plastic wrap carefully and gently press the crust into the edges evenly. Now you can use your thumb and forefinger to make pretty fluted edges like this:



At this point, if your recipe calls for a baked crust, preheat your oven to 400ยบ and use a fork to prick all around the bottom and sides of the crust . This helps keep the crust from puffing up during baking. (You can also use pie weights or pour beans on the bottom, but I find removing them can a bit of a challenge.)



Place your crust in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Depending on the heat of your oven, you may need to bake for up to 20 minutes to get the desired browning – my oven tends to be hot and I don't like it too browned, so I usually only need about another 2-5 minutes of baking:


Now you have a lovely 9” baked pie shell

Pie crust recipe, instructions, and photography by Natalie Bolton


Next up: Pumpkin pie!

PREPARE THE PUMPKIN

Cut a firm fresh pumpkin into long strips, remove the soft pulp and seed, pare the strips and cut them into small pieces. Place the pumpkin in a kettle with very little water, cover the kettle tightly, and stew slowly, stirring frequently and adding water if necessary if pumpkin is in danger of becoming too thick, but always remember the less water you need to use makes for a better pie. When the pumpkin is soft, drain in a colander and mash (these days we can toss it into a blender). After it is pureed, it is ready to use to make pies, cakes, breads, pudding, or just plain mashed pumpkin garnished with brown sugar and spices.


The old cookbook says,  “The quantities given below will make three good, deep pies.”

PUMPKIN PIE

One quart of stewed pumpkin
Three pints of milk
Six eggs
One tablespoonful of salt
One and a half tablespoonful of ginger
One teaspoonful of cinnamon
One cupful of sugar

Beat the eggs very light, add them to the pumpkin, and stir until mixture is creamy; then add the salt, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Stir thoroughly, and when the mass is well mixed add the milk, a little at a time. Taste the mixture and add additional sugar and spice if needed. Line three pie-tins, divide the filling among them, stirring it all the time it is being poured into the plates; and bake half an hour in a quick oven. Do not be afraid to use the quantity of ginger given, for much of its strength is evaporated in the baking. This is a most reliable recipe and will produce most delicious pies.

Note: A quick oven these days is about 425°F.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For even more traditional Thanksgiving recipes and fun, check our the The Yankee Chef™

Coming Up...
My next blog posts will  feature Wreaths Across America, a touching tradition of remembrance which began in Harrington, Maine and 
"Last Night!" a unique New Year's Eve tradition in Blue Hill, Maine.
Stay tuned!

© Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart  All Rights Reserved

Gail J. VanWart is a regular contributor to theSCENE:
a publication of Courier Publications LLC in Rockland, Maine with distribution in Waldo and Lincoln Counties

Look for upcoming contributions by Gail J. VanWart in Washington County, too: 
County Wide News
County Wide is a journal of fact and opinion published since 1977 by 
County Wide Communications,Inc. at 25 Main Street, P.O. Box 497, Machias, Maine 04654.
Phone (207) 255-NEWS for a free online subscription to County Wide News or E-mail countywideonline@hotmail.com


Monday, September 24, 2012

Acadia National Park; It's a Nice Ride


© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved
Blae enjoys the view along the Park Loop

Yes, Acadia National Park is a nice ride. Of the 58 National Parks in the United States, Maine is home to a real beauty, Acadia National Park. It’s not only the first U.S. National Park east of the Mississippi River, many of its 120 miles of historic hiking trails where originally established as long ago as the late 1800s.  Plus, the park’s carriage road system and stone-faced bridges make park exploration pleasantly accessible while blending nicely with the natural environment. 
© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved
Do you see the deer? 
© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved



From the Atlantic Ocean’s edge to Cadillac Mountain’s 1,530 foot summit, foliage at Acadia National Park is just starting to take on shades of yellow and red from autumn’s color pallet; early hints of the colorful scene to come. When wild Asters start to bloom and red Rose Hips replace Rose buds, the weather this time of year in Maine is perfect for taking a dog for a ride. So, Blae jumped into the back seat of the car and we headed for Acadia National Park where we enjoyed a relaxing journey on the Park Loop and up Cadillac Mountain, making plenty of stops along the way. Then we traveled over to Schoodic Point for a different perspective.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved
Schoodic Point

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved
Blae, September  2012

Learn More...


Ken Burns called our National Parks, “America’s Best Idea” in his 2009 six-part documentary for PBS, Blae and I think he was right. Certainly, Acadia National Park is a place where you can truly discover history and explore the nature of our American heritage. If you are interested in supporting America’s best idea, you can do that, too. Visit America's Best Idea Today.

Did you knowU.S. citizens over the age of 62, can claim a lifetime pass to all 58 National Parks for a one time fee of $10. FMI :



By Gail J. VanWart © Copyright, 2012 All Rights Reserved
© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2012 All Rights Reserved
Blae






Gail J. VanWart is a regular contributor to theSCENE
a publication of Courier Publications LLC in Rockland, Maine


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Maine’s Fourth Annual Lighthouse Day


©Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011, All rights Reserved

Sometimes referred to as North America’s castles, our lighthouses in the United States have, over the years, provided us with more than signals warning of impending danger along our coastlines. Each lighthouse serves as a little beacon of history and projects insights from the experiences of past “keepers” and their families we can learn from today. Much of our coastal history could have long been forgotten if it had not been recorded in a lighthouse keeper’s log.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights ReservedIn Maine alone, more than sixty unique beacons of history dot the rocky Atlantic coastline, both on and off shore. Wherever you happen to be along the Maine coast, there will be a lighthouse somewhere nearby. If you want to take a closer look at one, inside and out, mark September 15th on your calendar. More than 15,000 people visited Maine’s twenty-four open light stations during their 2011 open lighthouse event, which proved to be the largest effort of its kind in the nation with 4,100 people climbing up into the towers to experience first hand a lighthouse keeper’s view. I’m very happy to say, in spite of my fear of heights,  I was one of them.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights ReservedMy light of choice last year was Owl's Head, land based and southeast of Rockland (and pictured in this post). I’ve always enjoyed the pleasant walk in to the light and I adore the legends surrounding this station, especially tales of “Spot the Lighthouse Dog” whose final resting place is on the lighthouse grounds near the fog bell which brought him fame. And, I can’t help but love its legendary, and probably, downright, fibs. They, too, are charming in their own way and may contain a speck or two of truth. The biggest of such "fibs" I’ve heard is the tale of lighthouse keeper William Masters and his heroic rescue of Richard Ingraham and Lydia Dyerin in December of 1850. Both Ingraham and Dyerin were reportedly frozen alive into blocks of ice on the deck of their vessel during in a winter storm. Masters supposedly took them ashore and thawed them back to life in his kitchen. (If you believe that, I have a lighthouse for sale in Baxter State Park you can make an offer on.)
© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights ReservedThe Owl’s Head light tower, itself, is an easy climb as it is only 30 feet tall. However, it stands on top of a rock formation nearly 70 feet in height that provides a 100-foot focal plane for the tower’s Fresnel lens. You’ll find interesting historic facts and trivia on display in a kiosk, thanks to former lighthouse keeper, David Bennett, who generously constructed it for the entrance to the grounds. You’ll also be pleased with the beautiful picnic area and ample parking.

Many other Maine mid-coast light stations will be participating in the Open Lighthouse event and I myself, plan to take in several for a full day of lighthouse activity.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved


For more detailed information, maps, and tour guides for Maine’s Lighthouses and Open Lighthouse Day visit these links:


The U.S. Coast Guard, the State of Maine and the American Lighthouse Foundation will present the fourth annual Maine Open Lighthouse Day, September 15, 2012, rain or shine. Most of the lighthouses participating will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.



© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved
Blae hopes you'll pay your respects to Spot
while visiting Owl's Head Light.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2011 All Rights Reserved
One story on display in the kiosk is how
Owl's Head got its name. 

Gail J. VanWart is a regular contributor to 
theSCENE, a publication of Courier Publications LLC in Rockland, Maine  https://www.facebook.com/theSCENE1

© Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart   All Rights Reserved