Drinks, Recipes

Friday Happy Hour: 60-Minute Negroni

Dogfish Head Negroni_05

Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware makes some of the most popular craft brews in the country. Yet many of its fans may be unaware that the brewery’s name comes from Maine. Owner Sam Calagione spent his childhood summers on Southport Island, off of Boothbay (just like I did, although Sam’s much younger so we didn’t meet until years later). Dogfish Head is the peninsula at Southport’s northern end, where Sam, his wife Mariah and their family now have their own summer home. It’s always a treat to run into them on the island.

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Desserts, Recipes

Dark Magic Gingerbread with Butterscotch Sauce

Finished Gingerbread Cake

Utah was never on my list of must-visit places: I don’t ski, and Mormons make me a little nervous. But that was before I knew anything about the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the town of Boulder, and Hell’s Backbone Grill.

A few years ago, my mother-in-law stayed at the Boulder Mountain Lodge for a creative writing workshop. The restaurant is connected to the lodge, and as is the case with everyone who has the good fortune to eat at Hell’s Backbone Grill, it made an impression on her.  She returned to New Jersey full of energy for her writing projects and carrying an autographed copy of “With a Measure of Grace,” the cookbook by restaurant owners Blake Spaulding and Jennifer Castle, as a gift for me.

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Drinks, Recipes

Friday Happy Hour: Cherries from Heaven


A couple of months ago, a houseguest from Poland brought us a bottle of cherry Nalewka Babuni, which she described as a fruit liqueur. Packaged in a decanter-like square bottle with a handsome polish wood stopper, it has sat, unopened, on our kitchen counter while we have pondered what to do with it.

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Drinks, Recipes

Friday Happy Hour: Pear Cosmopolitan


“Sex and the City” may have made the Cosmo famous, but, newsflash, according to People magazine, Sarah Jessica Parker (aka Carrie Bradshaw) never actually drank one until this summer. (And hey, she liked it!)

Here’s another trivia tidbit: The Cosmopolitan cocktail made its debut way before the 1980s TV show, in a circa 1934 book titled “Pioneers of Mixing Gin at Elite Bars.” As the title would suggest, however, it was originally made with gin, not vodka.

These days, ordering a Cosmo at a hip cocktail bar might cause the bearded, tattooed gent mixing drinks to raise a bushy eyebrow.

But just as old-timey drinks like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned have made a solid comeback, I think we can expect the Cosmo to eventually become popular again.

In the meantime, we found our inspiration for this version in a neat little book, “Market Fresh Mixology” by Bridget Albert and Mary Barranco (Agate Surrey, March 2014). We changed the book’s recipe by using Cointreau instead of Triple Sec and “regular” vodka instead of citrus flavored. I like that it has more than a hint of cranberry juice (Cosmos in “Sex and the City” were always just barely pink), and a a little extra sweetness from the muddled pears.

Just right for the colorful season now upon us.

2 pear slices
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce cranberry juice
Pear slices and fresh cranberries for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the pear slices with the lime juice.
Add vodka, Cointreau and cranberry juice.
Add ice, shake to blend.
Strain into a martini glass.
Garnish with cranberries and pear slices.

Mains, Recipes

Linguine with lobster and crab: A Jersey Shore tradition recreated in Maine


There are many things I prefer to forget about my college boyfriend, but one fond memory remains, which, perhaps not surprisingly has to do with food. Thanks to his kind, long-suffering mother — whose heart was Irish, while her kitchen was Italian to please her husband — I was introduced to a dish largely unheard of outside South Jersey and Philadelphia: Spaghetti with crabs.

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