Maine Home Cooking175 Recipes from Down East Kitchens

Sandra Oliver respected food columnist, and authority on the food of Maine, has brought together a selection of 175 traditional recipes from across the state.

Residing on Maine’s Islesboro Island, Sandra Oliver is a revered food historian with a vast knowledge of New England food history, subsistence living, and Yankee cooking. For the past five years she has publisher her weekly recipe column “Tastebuds” in the Bangor Daily News. The column has featured hundreds of—from classic tried-and-true dishes to innovative uses for traditional ingredients. Collecting 175 recipes from her column and elsewhere, and emphasizing fresh, local ingredients, as well as the common ingredients found in most kitchens, this volume represents a new standard in home cooking.

Sandra Oliver is a pioneering food historian who began her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. Sandra is a freelance food writer, with her column “Tastebuds” appearing each weekend in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and the Working Waterfront. She is also the author of the books Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century, The Food of Colonial and Federal America and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie, which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot Bay, where she gardens, preserves, cooks, and teaches sustainable life ways.

Venison or Beef Stroganoff, Pumpkin Soup with Thai Seasonings

Venison or Beef Stroganoff

One of my favorite things to do with venison is to make a stroganoff. I use a basic beef stroganoff recipe and substitute venison. I have used a pot roast and stewing meat, even steaks. Like many dishes of this sort, it is better the second day.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/Ž2 to 1 3/Ž4 pounds venison cut into strips

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

3 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 cup beef broth or water

1/Ž2 cup white wine

1 cup sour cream

salt and pepper, to taste


Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pot (a Dutch oven is ideal) over a high heat, and quickly brown the venison. Remove it, then put the onions in the pot, reduce the heat to medium high and cook them until they are soft. Remove the onion and reserve it. Melt the butter in the pot and add the mushrooms. As soon as they are soft, put the meat and onions back into the pot, and add the broth and wine. Simmer over a low heat for 1 hour, add the sour cream, taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.



Pumpkin Soup with Thai Seasonings


I was looking in the cupboard one day for evaporated milk to add to pumpkin soup when I spotted a can of coconut milk. The only reason I have coconut milk is to make the occasional Thai dish with that wonderfully hot and spicy sauce that you season the milk with to make into a sauce for chicken or pork on rice noodles. Something clicked, and I thought, why not use the coconut milk instead of evap and use Thai chili sauce with other Thai seasonings in the soup? This is the result.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small pumpkin, peeled and cut into small chunks

2 cups water

1 medium can of coconut milk

1 tablespoon Thai chili sauce, or to taste

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

fresh cilantro


In a heavy pot, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until the onion is just soft. Add pumpkin, water, coconut milk, chili, lemon rind, and fish, or soy sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes until the pumpkin is soft enough to mash. Mash it in the pot or let cool and puree in a blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasoning. Chop the cilantro and add to the soup at the last minute, or use it to garnish the bowls.


Photo ©2012, Jennifer Smith-Mayo, from Maine Home Cooking, Down East Books.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.