Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dirty Dishes and a Trip to Blue Hill

At the end of last week, after baking two dozen cupcakes and preparing a batch of hummus, with stacks of dirty dishes littering the kitchen, we discovered that the dishwasher was broken. I'm no sissy--I grew up without a dishwasher--but on an average weekend, when I bake desserts and make soups, dips, and casseroles for the coming week, I generate at least dozen loads of dishes.

We looked at the bowls, plates, spoons, and measuring cups piled in and around the sink, and rather than pull on rubber gloves and wash them like civilized human beings, we got take out. When it became clear that repairing the dishwasher with a bathroom plunger was beyond our ability, we fled the scene of the mess and headed for the coast.

Our first stop was lunch at the Blue Hill Co-op Cafe. This happy little store is stocked with natural foods and a small selection of bulk grains. The cafe had several premade vegan sandwiches and deli salads, as well as a dairy-free chocolate mousse and homemade vegan granola squares.

My tempeh wrap was bursting with protein: chickpeas, black beans, and brown rice, as well as ginger-marinated tempeh. It was heavy and bland, with no sauce and little detectable seasoning. I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be Asian, Mexican, or something else, and ended up drowning it in Cholula hot sauce. My side of Asian noodles and thinly sliced carrots was similarly meek, with faint suggestions of sesame and ginger.

The seasoning in my husband's red curry tofu sandwich was creative, but didn't pack any punch, and the too-soft tofu slid out from between the slices of hearty peasant bread. His side of tangy five-bean salad was the best part of the meal.

The Blue Hill Co-op Cafe is a safe bet for vegan lunch, so if you're headed for a picnic by the ocean it's worth a stop. Lunch was bland for my taste, but I appreciate the availability of fresh vegan fare in such a small, rural community. The co-op staff were friendly and the atmosphere was cheerful, so I'll give the cafe another try next time I'm out that way. In the meantime, three chickpeas:

After lunch, we walked up Blue Hill Mountain. From a thousand feet above sea level, we had gorgeous views of Blue Hill Bay and Mount Desert Island to the east. This summer's flying insects haven't been born yet, so the mile walk to the summit through the trees was peaceful. It felt good to be outside after a long winter. The dogs relished their time off leash, leaping over puddles and logs, drinking from snowmelt streams, and digging in the leaves for the scent of chipmunks.

After our walk, we crossed the long, thin bridge over Eggemoggin Reach to Deer Isle, and headed south to see what Stonington was all about. From our brief visit, I gathered that in addition to lobstering and coastal scenery, Stonington is all about overcharging tourists for freezerburnt french fries. More power to them.

To my dismay, the dishes were still dirty when we returned home, but watching the Red Sox come from behind to beat the Yankees 16-11 made three hours at the sink downright pleasant.

Until the plumber comes, we're eating simple food that requires no chopping, mixing, or stewing and I've instituted a strict you-use-it-you-wash-it-right-now rule. A delay in fixing the dishwasher would make a perfect excuse for another weekend getaway.


  1. Ooh, I know that feeling! I always bake cupcakes and then find I don't have time to do the dishes, so I leave the house with the cupcakes and when I arrived home the dishes are still waiting for me :(

    Your dogs are gorgeous too!

  2. We love hiking up Blue Hill, so nice up there. That's pretty heavy "happy meat" country around those parts, so I guess just having some sort of vegan selections in the co-op is something to be thankful for. Last I knew the diner along the main drag in downtown Stonington did offer a veggie burger, beautiful area. Thanks for the report.

  3. Hi Tom. Yes, the diner in Stonington did have a veggie burger, but I didn't even want to get into asking if it had cheese or egg whites, yadda yadda. Plus, the two or three vegetarian options were on something called a "diabetic menu," which was pretty strange. I think the message is that you would only eat vegetables if you had to, because you had a disease. The scenery is beautiful, but pack some snacks (or go to Blue Hill Co-op)!

  4. Hahaa, well, choosing veg/vegan when one is a diabetic is quite beneficial, then again it's beneficial no matter what :-) The restaurant across the street, with the deck overlooking the water, does offer a decent hummus tray, we've had that once or twice over the years.

  5. Hi Mary,
    love all of your recipes..can't wait to give some a try. I was wondering if you could tell me when is the best time to go to Maine (southern coastal area) when as you mentioned in this article, the flying insects, black flies, mosquitoes aren't out yet. I would love to enjoy the outdoors without being bitten alive!

    Thanks, Lisa

  6. Anon,

    It all depends where you'll be in southern coastal Maine. The mosquitos and black flies come out in early June and hang around until the first frost sometime in September. If you're camping or hiking in the woods, you'll need some bug spray, but if you're at the coast, the breeze usually takes care of the insects. If you're planning to be in town, shopping and whatnot, bugs won't be a problem. Really, it's just the woods.

    Have fun, it's a gorgeous place to visit!

  7. thanks Mary!! Your advice was very helpful.



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