Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy State Day: Maine

On March 15, 1820, Maine became the 23rd state in the United States of America. Let's Celebrate!

Are you a "Down Easter?" I hear that some citizens of Maine like to refer to themselves as such. Having somewhat of an inquisitive mind, I came to wonder why. I can certainly understand a person from Maine calling themselves a Mainer. Hey, I'm always going to be a New Yorker even if I did grow up a Long Islander:) And the only Downeaster I've happened upon is in a song by Billy Joel, another native Long Islander. So, what's going down? Does the nickname have a geographical connection perhaps?

State of Mainers may have sea captains to thank for their nickname.

Originally, sea captains had referred to Maine natives as "Down Easters", which was taken from the days of the sailing ships coming out of Boston going "down Maine", or mostly, "downwind."(source)

Keep in mind, for about 170 years before statehood, Maine was a part of Massachusetts, which gives some insight to the name of the state and its inhabitants.

The name Maine probably means mainland. Early English fishermen used the term The Main to distinguish the mainland from the offshore islands, where they settled. New Englanders often refer to Maine as Down East. They call people who live in Maine Down Easters or Down Easterners. These terms probably come from the location of Maine east of, or downwind from, Boston. Ships from that port sailed down to Maine, and ships from Maine traveled up to Boston. (source)

A Downeast Supper for Company

A Maine down east supper might include an array of dishes. Today, I have assembled a collection of recipes from an assortment of Maine recipe books for your enjoyment. This menu was harvested from The Early American Life Family Celebrations Cookbook published by The Early American Society in 1981.

A Downeast Supper for Company
Doweast Supper for CompanyFish Soup
1/3 cup diced salt pork
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 potatoes
2 pounds haddock or cod fillets
1 quart water
1/2 cup chopped celery
salt & pepper
1/8 tsp. mace
3 cups milk

Fry salt pork until crisp. Remove and set aside. Saute onion in pork fat until soft and golden. Add all other ingredients, except milk, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer gently until potatoes are tender. Stir in milk and pork pieces and heat. Makes 6 servings
Clam Pie
4 cups ground clams and liquor
1 lightly beaten egg
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. thyme
salt & pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 tbs. butter
Pastry for 10-inch 2-crust pie

Combine clams, egg, crumbs, seasonings, and milk and pour into pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter. Place top crust on pie and prick. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes 6 servings

Have you ever wondered how a native "Down Easter" would serve Lobster to company? Chances are, for entertaining at home, the lobster would be either broiled or the subject of a good ol' fashioned Lobster Bake. The broiled lobster pictured below was harvested from The State of Maine's Best Seafood Recipes published in cooperation with the Maine Dept. of Sea & Shore Fisheries copyright 1945.

Broiled State of Maine Lobster
For 4 people split four 2 pound live lobsters. (directions here)
Lobster Dressing
Prepare a dressing of 1-1/2 cups cracker crumbs or cracker meal, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, moistened with two tablespoons of Worcestershire suace and four tablespoons melted butter. Spread dressing generously in cavity. Cut off four of the small claws from each lobster and press into the dressing. Place on buttered broiler and broil 8-10 minutes on Flesh side, turn and broil 6 to 8 minutes on shell side. Serve with melted butter. One lobster for each person.

Did you know, almost 90 percent of all American lobster are trapped in Maine? As a matter of fact, Lobstermen have a language all their own:

What do you call a female lobster? .......A hen.

When is a lobster a chicken? .....When it weighs about one pound.
When is a lobster a pistol? .......When it has no claws.

Why shouldn't a lobster walk into the kitchen? ......It's the first chamber of a lobster trap. (The inner chamber is called the bedroom or parlor.)

Maine has the largest wild blueberry crop in the nation, raising 99 percent of all wild blueberries in the US. It is also the single largest producer of any blueberries (wild or cultivated) in America! That makes the Wild Blueberry the State Berry! of Maine.

Blueberry Buckle
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1-3/4 cups sifted flour
2-1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk

2-1/4 cups blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Cream butter with 2/3 cup sugar. Beat in egg. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Spread in greased 12 x 8 inch pan. Sprinkle berries on top. Mix 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour and cinnamon. Cut butter into this and spread mixture over berries. Bake 55 minutes at 350 degrees.
Wild blueberries are harvested from late July (Blueberry Month!) to early September in Maine. Harvesting is still mainly by hand rake a close-tined special Blueberry Rake invented by a Downeaster from Sugar Hill; Abijah Tabbutt in 1822 and modified in minor variations since then.  The secret is in the wielding of the rake-a special pushing and twisting motion of the wrists designed to tease the ripe berries from their grasp of the vine without crushing.  Hand-raking is increasingly being replaced by mechanized harvesting. Although the technology is getting very good, hand-raking will always have its place - due in large part to the hilly and rocky terrain that a lot of wild blueberry patches are found on. (source)

Next on our menu we have a few recipes for Brown Bread from the All Maine Cooking cookbook A Collection of Treasured Recipes from the Pine Tree State ©1967

All Maine Cooking 1967

Maine celebrated sesquicentennial in 1970 with Maine's Jubilee Cookbook. From the intro:

The history of food and the development of dishes peculiar to the State of Maine is a long and interesting one. It has all developed from the plain, down to earth "Mainer's" interest in filling his belly with whatever was at hand.
From the beginning the native was able to take the bounty of nature, add a little seasoning and common sense and come up with food fit for the Gods. The earliest settlements of this country were started on our coasts and it stands to reason that our ancestors use of the wild foods were the first to be eaten on these shores. Add to this the teaching of our Maine Indians and you find that the origins of some of our dishes and cooking methods go back for centuries. Our cooks have shown a great deal of ingenuity in developing a whole heritage of good eating.
Bertha's Baked Beans
New England Baked Beans HistoryBertha's Baked Beans
2 pounds of dry beans
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
Dash pepper
1 pound salt pork

Place beans in a pan of warm water and set aside for 4 or 5 hours. Drain. Mix together sugar, molasses, salt, mustard and pepper. Stir into the drained beans. Put into bean pot with pork on top. Add enough water to cover and bake at 300 degrees to 325 degrees for several hours until done. Add more water when necessary. When cooking overnight, I add a lot of water the first time. submitted by Mrs. Bertha Lovejoy, Thomaston, Maine

Doughnut Trivia

Soaked in Maine history, there is a man by the name of Captain Hanson Gregory, the "Doughnut Innovator"? Legend has it, not only was he from Maine, he is the alleged inventor of the doughnut's hole! Who put the whole in the doughnut you ask? Go see:)

Here's a recipe in rhyme for Donuts from yet another Maine cookbook; Maine Cookery Then and Now published by the Courier-Gazette in 1972.

Doughnuts in Rhyme
Doughnuts in Rhyme
One cup of sugar, one cup of milk,
Two eggs beaten fine as silk.
Salt and nutmeg (lemon will do),
Of baking powder, teaspoons two.
Lightly stir the flour in,
Roll on pie board, not to thin;
Cut in diamonds, twists or rings,
Drop with care the doughy things
Into fat that swiftly swells
Evenly the tiny cells;
Watch with care the time for turning,
Fry them brown, just short of burning;
Roll in sugar, serve when cool.
This is a never failing rule.
Doughnuts in Rhyme 1855
revised March, 2013
1. The History of Lobstering
2. Maine Lobster Buying Guide
3. How do you eat a Maine Lobster?
4. Wild Blueberry Recipes
5. Downeast Blueberry Cake
6. Egg Coffee
7. Maine Trivia & Tidbits


  1. The donut ditty delighted me! Happy state day, Maine. I hope to get back up there for a REAL lobster roll again someday.

  2. louise, thanks for sharing so many great recipes here. So, you're from Long Island! How nice that you can enjoy all the seafood there. You must have missed those days so much. Hope you're enjoying the day.
    Blessings, Kristy

  3. Blueberry Buckle! My favorite. My dad loved to fish, and we used to spend a week or so in the summer fishing in Maine. Well, he fished, we roamed around the lake. Thanks for the memories.

  4. What fun, Louise. I'm so glad you got carried away!
    That Down East supper is perfect in every respect and you found some fabulous recipes!

  5. Wow Louise, this post is full of yummie recipes...if only I could try them all :-) And I didn't about blueberries in Maine. Have a wonderful week!

  6. Happy Ides of March to you!

    I've been to Maine, twice, but it's just too cold for me, even in summertime. Plus, the beaches are really rocky, so what's the point of beaches? Anyway, I hope you get through the dentist in good condition so you can enjoy your Down East dinner!

  7. wonderful post! I loved Main lobster the one time we were there. It's just not the same when the lobster travels, even if it's still alive.

  8. The fish soup looks great, but I wonder if I can sub in tilapia. Great collection of recipes!

  9. Now without you I would have never known all of this. Beans and brown bread were part of my moms culinary heritage, but she never shared much of the why or wherefore with us. This is really good to know. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  10. Hiya Momma,
    I was meandering around the internet and decided to come visit your blog. Just a bit of info for ya, in case you were wondering, of course; the song by Billy Joel with Downeaster in it is called "The Downeaster Alexa". Alexa being the name of his boat which was named after his daughter. The song tells the tale of the coastal fishermen, thus making it quite appropriate for this wonderful post. I love you!!

  11. This is such a great post! I love food history, especially in New England. I never heard of that term, down easter, before. I'm glad I learned about it here! Once again, very interesting information. I really enjoyed reading this.

  12. Well this Maineiac just loves this post for sure ;-) My own copy of All Maine Cooking is nearly threadbare, and yes they are treasured..the recipes. Great post Louise!

  13. Wow - they know how to eat, "down east!" What a feast, and I want to go harvest blueberries right now!

  14. I find all of that very interesting! I have never been to Maine and would love to visit the East side of the US, which I love (I visited R.I and New York and Michigan)
    so these recipes sound authentic and good and I love the baked beans one with all that molasses!

  15. I am a sucker for the wild blueberries! They set my heart a twitter and make my mouth water!

  16. Waw!! What a feast of recipres to celebrate the produce & recipes of Main!

    Thanks for sharing the history of it all with us!

    A big thanks ofr the amazing recipes too!

  17. Let me know when you're coming up, Channon, we'll do the lobster roll thing together!

    I truly never realized how lucky we were to get fresh fish whenever we liked on Long Island; Lobster included! I do miss it Kristy:) However, I'm really enjoying learning about my new tasty treats. For instance, Whoopie Pies!!!

    Heartwarming memories are always the best, Janet.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed it Barbara. It was a fun post to research!!!

    Enjoy Spring Break, Juliana!!!

    I almost did a post for The Ides of March, Marjie. Maybe next year. I made it through the dentist ordeal but it's going to be quite a while before I really get to enjoy a Down East Dinner! Hope you're feeling better:)

    I totally agree, Mae Let me know when you have a yen for more!!!

    I am sure you can substitute tilapia, yummychunklet, Actually, I think its a perfect substitution!!! Let us know...

    Glad you enjoyed this post, Mary. I love doing state day posts!!!

    Thanks for that info Mrs. B:) I should have called you when I was trying to remember the name!!! Love you too, pumpkin!!!

    I'm delighted that you enjoyed this post, Lin Ann. Thanks for dropping by...

  18. Hi YankeeSoaper! I actually thought about you in Maine when I was researching this post. I'm so glad you liked it!!! If I ever come across another copy, I'll pick it up for you:)

    They certainly do, T.W. I have six blueberry plants on order as we speak!!! I can't wait until Blueberry Month. But, I don't want to rush it, after all, it's in July!!!

    You just let me know when you are coming for a visit, Joumana. The door is always opened!!!

    Me too, Reeni Me too!!! In case you missed it, July is Blueberry Month!!!

    I take it you liked this post, sophie? I'm so glad!!! Enjoy the recipes too:)

  19. Are Bertha's baked beans a lot like the ones used in tacos? Have you ever tried making them?

  20. I'm not really sure, Jamie. But, I would have to say, yes! Unfortunately, I haven't gotten around to trying this particular recipe; yet.

    Thank you so much for dropping by...

  21. I actually thought about you in Maine when I was researching this post


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise