I have never been much of a camper. The school I attended from 6th through 9th grades had a robust wilderness-education program that included an Outward Bound-style solo overnight, but other than that, my only experience with sleeping bags was at Girl Scout camp. Ted, on the other hand, has done lots of camping — especially when he lived in Colorado, roaming around the Rocky Mountains with his dog, cooking on a single burner backpacking stove and sleeping under the stars.
Both of us want to make camping part of our life in Maine. So when the opportunity came up to stay at Maine Huts & Trails‘ Stratton Brook Hut this fall, we thought it would be a good way to dip my neophyte camping toes in the water.
I’m going to get this out of the way right now and admit that this isn’t really a recipe. It’s one of those dumb but delicious concoctions like dumping a jar of hot pepper jelly over a block of cream cheese and calling it an hors d’oeuvre. (But if you’ve ever done that, you know how genius it is, right?)
This not-a-recipe is even crazier because it came from Ted’s mom, Joan, who was buying organic food way before most of the world had even heard of the word. She even feeds organic food to her dogs. But still, Ted has fond memories of 1890 chicken wings from his childhood, so when the thought popped into his head a few weeks ago, he naturally had to go on line and order the key ingredient — Milani 1890 French Dressing.
Today, succotash is often associated with the South, but in fact, the dish originated with Native Americans in New England. It’s traditionally a dish made with corn, lima or other beans, peppers and onion cooked in lard or butter — and plenty of it.
Of course Ted, not being from the South or New England, doesn’t make it that way. His version is inspired by a dish his late father, Bob Axelrod, used to make at the family’s beach house on the Jersey Shore in the summer. It’s essentially fried corn, cooked “low and slow” with peppers and onions until everything caramelizes into sweet-crunchy-chewy, almost candy-like deliciousness.
All photos by Susan Axelrod
Last night, I left work later than usual, worn out and hungry for something cozy and noodle-y. But not pasta. I could have stopped into one of Portland’s many excellent Asian restaurants, but I also need to hit the Hannaford and couldn’t face two stops on the way home.
It’s happened to you, I’ll bet. For years, you’ve driven by that place, a little voice saying in your head (or even out loud) every single time: “One of these days I’m gonna stop there.” But the days, and the years, go by — and you don’t.
That’s how it was with me and the Montsweag Roadhouse in Woolwich. And my wishful drive-bys started when I was belted into the back seat, decades before Ted joined me in the car.