Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cast Iron Cornbread

Our cook prepares some sort of fresh-baked bread with every meal. For breakfast it's scones, muffins, banana bread, coffee cake, sticky buns, or pastries. For lunch it's Irish soda bread, biscuits, corn bread, Stromboli, or focaccia. And for dinner it's baskets full of dinner rolls, garlic bread, French bread, or breadsticks, or tall warm loaves of anadama bread, oatmeal bread, wheat bread, onion and herbs bread . . . and so many more!

On the boat, our cornbread is baked in a cast iron frying pan and served in that same pan using this slightly sweet recipe:

1 C yellow cornmeal
1 C flour
¼ C sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 C milk
1 egg
¼ c melted butter

Combine dry ingredients. Add milk, egg, and butter. Pour into a well-seasoned cast iron pan (or a greased 8" square pan). Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Chili, cornbread, and salad make for a filling lunch. The galley crew take the time to make whipped butter to serve with the cornbread. The cast iron pan keeps the bread warm and the butter melts right in!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rockland Is Too Cool To Be This Far Behind!

The most recent voting results show Rockland still in fourth place way behind Owego, NY in first. They have more than twice as many votes as Rockland. How can this be? Did you vote yet?

http://www.budgettravel.com/bt-srv/coolestsmalltowns/

Monday, February 16, 2009

Swimming with Dolphins

Brian has wanted to swim with a dolphin for a long time and he finally realized the dream this month. It was pretty cold but he sure had a big smile! I don't think he was paying attention to the temperature of the water at all at this point.


The dolphin we worked with was named Noel. He is 23 years old and the oldest of the dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium. We also met Luna who is 6 years old.



Here we are posing with Noel.

Brian kissed Noel and then Noel snorted through his blow hole like he didn't like the kiss! We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the long hot shower afterward.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Help Make Rockland The Coolest Small Town In America!

We nominated Rockland as America's Coolest Small Town and Budget Travel selected our nomination as one of the top 22 that stood out from the crowd. Now everyone has the opportunity to vote which of the 22 towns they think is coolest.

Cast your ballot at the address below, and make sure you let them know why you think Rockland is America's coolest small town in the comments section. Of course we couldn't mention everything that makes Rockland so wonderful so here's your chance to add what we missed.

Vote now!

http://www.budgettravel.com/bt-srv/coolestsmalltowns/

Here's what we sent to Budget Travel for the nomination:

Rockland, Maine is definitely one of America’s Coolest Small Towns! Our downtown has undergone a huge transformation from being a fish processing waterfront to being a hip art community. Our working harbor has, in recent years, become more of a yachting destination as sailors discover new cultural offerings and culinary opportunities. The Farnsworth Art Museum, with works by Fitz Hugh Lane and Alex Katz adding to the impressive paintings of three generations of Wyeths, is at the heart of downtown with art shops and galleries popping up all around. Our downtown movie theater was closed for a few years and reopened in 2005 after an extensive renovation. The Strand is once again alive and well and showing unique films and live stage performances at reasonable prices…sometimes even free. You can even order wine or beer in the balcony seating area! The downtown building where our local paper used to be published is now our visitor information center and Maine Lighthouse Museum, home to the largest collection of lighthouse artifacts in the country. The waterfront boardwalk is frequented by locals walking their dogs or by visitors taking in the beauty of our large natural harbor gated by a mile long breakwater with a distinctive lighthouse at the end; the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, currently undergoing restoration and open for tours on summer weekends. There are lots of great shops, restaurants, and cozy B&B’s in town.

Where to Stay

Historic Inns of Rockland include The Limerock Inn, Berry Manor Inn, and Captain Lindsey House; all wonderful downtown B&B’s.

The Old Granite Inn is nice too.

Restaurants

The Brass Compass; no place better for breakfast.

The Brown Bag; no place better for lunch (okay, occasionally Wasses Hot Dogs!)

Rock City Books and Coffee; a great used book store with a funky wooden floor. Their café style pastries and drinks are delightful. They serve locally roasted free-trade coffee.

Waterworks; a local hang out serving pub-style fare and always free popcorn!

Amalfi, great new space with water views.

The Boat House, right on the water and very popular.

Suzuki, Rockland’s very own sushi restaurant.

Café Miranda, funky all the way; pink flamingos, wacky salt and pepper shakers, and a wild menu with lots of vegetarian choices. Desserts to die for!

Primo, famous chef Melissa Kelly provides delicious meals in a renovated Victorian home. They have extensive gardens to provide some of the freshest food around.

In Good Company, a classic wine bar that gets amazing reviews for its seating, atmosphere, menu, talented cook, wait staff, and comprehensive wine offerings.

Rockland Café, the place to go to see locals and indulge in all-you-can-eat seafood.

Thorndike Creamery; great ice cream and New York style pizza by the slice. Yum!

Rustica, delightful Italian!

Atlantic Baking Company, fresh bread, rolls, and cookies.

Conte’s; another funky spot that you might not even recognize as a restaurant. It’s right on the water and the locals love it. Huge portions at reasonable prices. Italian and seafood with an eclectic décor and Edith Piaf playing in the background.

Shops

Planet Toys; where you can play for hours!

Grasshopper Shop; women’s clothing, house wares, toys, and fun stuff.

412; high-end women’s clothing.

Mace’s; women’s clothing.

G. F. Macgregor’s; interior decorators and design.

Archipelago; the store for the non-profit Island Institute filled with delightful hand-made items from island artists. From sculpture and pottery to jewelry, paintings, knit items, and more.

The Store; the place to go for specialty kitchen items but also has games and a great card selection.

Distinctive Tile & Design; huge selection of tile to remodel any room.

Handle It; a store full of handles of every kind!

Wine Seller; fun tastings and a knowledgeable staff.

Rheal Day Spa (formerly Nordstrom’s Skin Care Studio); facials, massage, and more. Friendly staff that make a small space oh so comfortable and relaxing.

Harbor Beauty Bar; the place to go for high-end cosmetics.

Museums

Maine Lighthouse Museum (mentioned earlier)

Farnsworth Art Museum; an extensive Wyeth collection. Admission includes entry to two historic buildings, the Farnsworth Homestead and the Olson House.

Project Puffin Audubon Center, a fun stop for kids of all ages. On site cameras allow for live viewing of puffins on their nesting islands. Everything you could possibly want to know about puffins.

Festivals

Summer Solstice, Main Street is closed for a street festival to celebrate the arrival of summer. Vendors, performances, sales, and more.

Festival of Lights; Main Street is closed for an evening parade welcoming the holiday season. The parade is followed by a waterfront bonfire and free hot chocolate. Visitors vote for their favorite parade float with a non-perishable food item and those items are donated to a local food pantry.

Lobster festival; huge festival to honor lobsters and lobstermen. We are, after all, the Lobster Capital of the World.

Windjammer parade; windjammers sail by the Rockland Breakwater for a close-up look. They are magnificent and you’ll want your camera!

North Atlantic Blues Festival. Nationally recognized blues artists come to Maine for a summer weekend with Rockland Harbor as a backdrop.

Scarecrow Festival; a fun fall Farnsworth event.

Pirate festival; treasure hunts and pirate fun.

Kiwanis winter carnival; no better way to get through the winter than to watch some crazy people go for a swim in the frigid ocean water. Kids games and typical small festival food offerings.

Maine Boats Homes and Harbors show; a land and water-based show of all things boats

Lobster boat races; lobstermen take a day from hauling traps to see whose boat is fastest.

Maine Lighthouse Week; designated by the governor to honor these time-tested beacons.

Galleries

Too many to mention them all….there are nine on Main Street alone

Eric Hopkins; amazing stylistic island scenes.

Muir Garden for Contemporary Sculpture; a rooftop garden atop Harbor Square Gallery and simply a delightful downtown treat…with views of the harbor!

Boating

Windjammers! Rockland is the Schooner Capital of the World. You won’t find more historic sailing vessels like these in one spot. They offer amazing multi-night sailing adventures along the coast…leaving from and returning to Rockland.

Rendezvous, another historic vessel…a recently restored WW II Liberty Launch that offers shorter sight-seeing excursions. They have a bar on board and also do weekend lobster dinner cruises.

Day sailers. If you don’t have time to go sailing for several days and prefer sailing to cruising, there are several boats that offer 2-hour trips aboard pretty sailboats.

Capt. Jack; a tour with a lobsterman. Learn about lobsters and watch him haul his traps. Buy the lobsters he catches and have a delicious dinner…it’s doesn’t get any fresher than that!

Other things that make Rockland cool

Steelin’ Thunder, a community steel drum band with 17 members that started as an adult-ed class. Now they play gigs to raise money for local graduates heading off to college for music related study.

We have a Goodwill but we also have Ravishing Recalls on Main Street that sells gently used name brand clothing for women.

Rockland does lack public transportation but we now have All Aboard Trolley, offering scheduled sight-seeing tours for up to 23 people, and Schooner Bay Taxi offering Maine’s first hybrid taxi fleet.

And there’s so many more; ultimately too many to mention. But you can find anything from clothing, toys, jewelry, appliances, and great food in Rockland. You’re just as likely to be walking down Main Street next to a lobsterman as you are someone from New York or Australia. We are the Lobster Capital of the World, the Schooner Capital of the World and there’s even a boat building school.

But what makes Rockland so cool is that there’s all this change and it’s still the hot bed of traditional wooden boat building, windjammers, and commercial fishing and somehow it all coexists.

Monday, February 02, 2009

How Many More Days Of Winter?

Everything is relative and today it is warm...41 degrees on my thermometer; just a little taste of spring? I actually bought some seeds yesterday so thoughts are turning away from sledding and skating and toward warm-weather activities; exterior house projects, planting, and sailing!

The days are getting longer already and with such warm temps on the thermometer, I had to ask Google if the groundhog saw his shadow today. This is what I found at http://www.newsandnow.com/
Did the Groundhog See His Shadow in 2009?

by Alex Becker

This Groundhog’s Day, 2009, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow!

But did you know that if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow there’s going to be 6 more weeks (44 days) of winter and if he does not see his shadow there is only going to be 42 days of winter left? So why do we dedicate a day to the Groundhog?

Punxsutawney Phil. A name famous for close to 100 years as the unofficial winter weather forecaster of Pennsylvania. In more recent years, he has achieved notoriety as the beloved, unofficial furry star of the movie, “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray. Each year, close to 30,000 people descend upon the normally sleepy community of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to witness this groundhog emerge from his burrow and ask, did the groundhog see his shadow? Well, technically, Phil is removed from his burrow by gentlemen attired in tuxedos and top hats, but it is a fun event regardless of how he comes out.

Stemming from an ancient German superstition, Groundhog day is a celebrated tradition. If a groundhog sees it’s shadow on the ancient Christian holiday of Candlemas on February 2, it means six more weeks of winter, and if the hibernating rodent does not, then spring is on it’s way. In addition to the famous little weather prognosticator Punxsutawney Phil, is his Southern cousin and colleague, General Beauregard Lee of Lilburn, Georgia. In recent years, the question of did the groundhog see his shadow has been answered differently by the two famous groundhogs. In all fairness, though, Georgia does not usually see any actual winter weather, so that may account for the discrepancies between the colleagues.