The Maine event

As I type this, my parents are en route to the land of rocky shores, cobalt waters and lobster rolls. I’m both excited (for them) and terribly jealous. I was lucky enough to visit the quaint southern shores of Maine, myself, a few years ago. A smattering of days filled with kayaking on the bluest waters I’ve ever seen, strolling on rocky, windy shores wrapped in cardigans in the middle of July and fresh-from-the-boat seafood was all it took. I cannot wait to go back, but until then, I will have to survive on texts and picture messages from my Mom.

Their trip follows a Maine-themed birthday party my family threw for my Mom this past weekend–a New England clambake meets good ol’ American BBQ meets Italian feast of sorts. Since I was too busy running around (and eating) to take pictures and because I am quite the fan of list-making, I’ll give you the rundown on the menu:

Crab & blue cheese dip (on sailboat-shaped toasts)
A selection of cheeses and olives
Clams on the grill with browned butter
Grilled red potatoes with rosemary and sea salt
Corn on the cob
New England clam chowder
Spinach salad with toasted pecans and blueberries
Pulled pork BBQ sliders
Chicken piccata
Lobster ravioli with homemade pesto
BBQ baked beans
Zucchini pickles

Boston cream pie
Molasses cupcakes (made from my grandmother’s cake recipe)
White chocolate raspberry cheesecake
Mini lavender cupcakes
Maine blueberry cheesecake bites
Blueberry madeleines
Italian knot cookies

I hope I didn’t leave anything out. As you might have guessed, my family doesn’t really do “simple.” The table-scape was covered in red and blue gingham, a chunk of my Mom’s collection of cobalt blue dishware, vintage mason jars filled with daisies and these adorable barley candy lobster lollies I ordered from Vintage Confections via etsy. It was a lovely day for a party on the deck, good food and surprises.

There is one foodie picture I can offer you (with thanks to my Uncle Jerry for being the pickle photog) along with its recipe. Please enjoy the recipe for these zippy zucchini pickles I found on The Wednesday Chef. Quite simple to make, these addictive golden rounds retain their crunch, infused with a salty sour heat derived from crushed mustard seeds and cider vinegar. I doubled the recipe, packed them into the largest mason jar I could find and served them right out of the jar with a dipper. They were delicious, and quite possibly, the simplest item on our menu. Enjoy!

Zuni Cafe Zucchini Pickles

Makes 3 cups
1 pound zucchini
1 small yellow onion
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed yellow and/or brown mustard seeds
Scant 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Wash and trim the zucchini, then slice them one-sixteenth-inch thick; a mandoline works best, but a good sharp knife is fine, too. Slice the onion very thin as well. Combine the zucchini and onions in a large but shallow nonreactive bowl, add the salt and toss to distribute. Add a few ice cubes and cold water to cover, then stir to dissolve the salt.

After about 1 hour, taste and feel a piece of zucchini – it should be slightly softened. Drain and pat dry.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds and turmeric in a small saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside until just warm to the touch. (If the brine is too hot, it will cook the vegetables and make the pickles soft instead of crisp.)

Return the zucchini to a dry bowl and pour over the cooled brine. Stir to distribute the spices. Transfer the pickle to jars, preferably ones that have “shoulders” to hold the zucchini and onions beneath the surface of the brine. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least a day before serving to allow the flavors to mellow and permeate the zucchini, turning them a brilliant chartreuse color.


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