Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mainely Vacation: Day Ten - Home for Ashley's Birthday!

Day Ten was back in Atlanta.  Sadly, I missed Ashley's birthday due to the wedding.  There was little avoiding it and I tried to make the best of it on the day I returned.  I felt awful.

We stopped and got a cake and headed back to my house.  I tossed mt bags down, had a quick hummus pita lunch, and we went out to a movie.  It was fun, I really should go to more movies.

We stopped at the farmers market to get some fresh vegetables.  We also found some fresh made spinach pasta that was vegan so we picked it up.  We were not going to use it today but we figured it would be a good thing to have in the future.

It was then back to the house to make dinner.  Ashley wanted carne asada.  We started in and diligently worked together and had a fantastic dinner.

I hope she had a great birthday and I hope that I will be around next year for the actual day.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mainely Vacation: Day Nine - The Final Day

Day nine was my last vacation day in Maine.  I spent the afternoon with my mum.  We went to Waterville and had lunch at the Grand Central Cafe.  We had some bread and oil as an appetizer, we each had a personal pizza for our main dish.  They had some vegan cheese so I was in business.

After lunch, we stopped at a consignment shop and headed back to the Augusta area.  I dropped my mum off and I headed back out to my dad's house. We all hopped on the motorcycles and went for a scenic ride around the back roads in Maine.  It was a great day for a ride and it had been years for me.

We stopped and had dinner and then headed back to my dad's house.  I left shortly after, as I needed to return the rental car.  After some TV with my mum, I headed to bed to get my early flight in the morning.  Sadly, my time in Maine was coming to an end.

Mainely Vacation: Day Eight - Acadia National Park

Day Eight was going to be a big day.  I got together early with my long time friend Westie and we headed to Acadia National Park.  I grew up less than two hours away from the park and think I may have only been there about twice.  This makes the seventh National Park in 13 months and the eighth in 2 years.  This was going to be a fun day.

We stopped at the visitors center to grab a map and headed toward Cadillac Mountain.  We heard the hike up was only about 45 minutes.  As we were driving down the road, we saw a bunch of folks climbing out of a trailhead.  We asked them if it was the Cadillac Mountain trail and they confirmed that it was.  We packed some water and a banana each and headed off for a short hike.

Nearly two hours went by before we reached the top of the Mountain.  Apparently, we were on the wrong trail.  It was a great hike all the same but it was going to limit our time to get other hikes in.  We still really enjoyed the time and had some great conversations.  As we climbed the rocky cliffs of the Mountain face, we got amazing looks of the bay, there was a bit of fog, topping all of the islands.

We did not pack enough to eat so we had to find wild Maine blueberries on the trail.  By the time we got back to the car we are starving.  A quick drive got us to Sand Point beach area, where we climbed up on some rocks to have a small dinner.  Hummus and pitas go a long way on a hiking adventure.

When we were done eating, it was dusk and we still wanted to go visit Jonny.  It would be my last chance to see him before I left.  We decided to take a quick trip to Thunder Hole and see the sun set.

We really needed some dinner so we headed out of the park into the tourist town of Bar Harbor.  We spotted this vegan restaurant called Eden Cafe.  It was a bit pricey but we decided to splurge and it was well worth it.  We shared two appetizers, cornbread battered oyster mushrooms with a creamy sauce, and tofu spring rolls.  We also split an entree, soy seitan cutlets, they came with some potatoes also.  We each for our own deserts.  Westie had a peanut butter cup pudding, and I had a slice of blueberry cheesecake.  It was a great meal and I think we added to the decor as it was fairly ritzy and we stunk like hikers.

We spent a few hours with Jonny and his new wife Leeann.  Then we headed back to the mainland.  It had been a long.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mainely Vacation: Day Seven - The Beach!

Day Seven had my mum and I go to the beach!  It has been years since I have been to a beach.  The Maine beaches are a littler different than a typical beach in the south.  There is not nearly as much sand, the sand that is there is a more brown color and the water is as cold as ice.

As a child, my mum and I used to go to the beach often.  It was cheap and close by.  This time there seemed to be a lot more people than I recall as a child but it was still a fun time.  We sat in some chairs we brought for a bit.  We walked down the sandy beach and mused about the fact that children do not seem to be phased by the icy waters.

When we left the beach, we drove around the coast looking for food but were unsuccessful.  We got all the way back to her house and invited my sister Cait her her daughter Jazaiah to dinner.  I had a veggie wrap and some home cut fries.

I stayed with my mum that night.  I felt like I had been going all the time since I started my vacation.  It was good to have a night to sit and relax.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mainely Vacation: Day Six - Bagels, Blueberries, and Basil

Day Six was a little bit rainy.  I met my mum for an early lunch at a local place called Bagel Mainea.  They are very vegan friendly and even have some vegan cream cheese.  I got a veggie garlic bagel, toasted with veggies, hummus and vegan cream cheese.  It was very good.

From there we headed over to a local farmers market.  We picked up some bread and there was a homemade ice cream truck.  Luckily for me, they had a vegan blueberry ginger sorbet.  Needless to say, I snatched up a couple of scoops before we left.

Later that afternoon, I took a drive to Starks Maine to see my good friend Elizabeth.  I had not seen her in years.  She has built her own house deep in the woods.  We walked around her property for awhile and made some food, most of which came from her or neighbors gardens.

Elizabeth and I made a basil heavy stir fry with some noodles and pickles on the side.  The night brought back many great memories.

Mainely Vacation: Day Five - Family Visit

Day five was Monday.  I got up and did a few things trying to help my mother load pictures from her memory card on her computer.  Success.

I had a little lunch and headed to see my sister Nikki and her two kids.  I have only seen her a few ties on the last several years but I wanted to make sure I made time on this trip.  We chatted for a bit and my nice and I, Leann, shared some raspberries.  My nephew, Jake, and I played some video games.  I lost.  Often.

After the visit with my sister, I headed to my dad's house.  As I pulled in the driveway, I was shocked to see some amazing landscaping and gardening work.  My dad had even made a metal lawn ornament that was pretty cool.

Apparently, my step-mother, Sue had dedicated much of her time to the yard.  It looked great.  As I walked around the back of the property, there was a large garden and even a row of hanging tomato plants.  This placed looked great.

My dad, Sue, another sister of mine, Alisha, and I all went out to eat at a Chinese place.  It was a fun night even if the weather was not great. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mainely Vacation: Day Four - Pictures, Prscilla and Dinner

Day Four had an early start.  I had told Cait that we could take a walk into the local Vaughn's Woods.  This is a serene place that runs through the towns of Farmingdale and Hallowell.  Cait and I took her kids, Tayshaun and Jazaiah and went for a great morning walk.

After our walk in the woods, Cait went home for the kids nap time before a dinner at my mum's.  I headed over to visit my unofficial grandmother, Priscilla.  Each time I get to Maine, I always prioritize see her.  She is a wonderful woman and we always have an amazing time.  It is always one of the highlights of my trip.

Later that afternoon, I met my brother, Ben, at my mum's house and we headed to the store.  We were dinner shopping.  For the entire family.  Ben and I got all sorts of foods.  Dinner was great.  I made a spinach smoothie with Tayshaun and Cait.  We also made portabello mushrooms burgers on the grill, grilled pineapple, grilled mango, grilled zucchini, baked potato, corn on the cob, and Ben made and excellent salad.  We had a great time.

Ben and I headed out to a local pub to see my friend Adam.  Adam and I hung out until late and it was the end to a good day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mainely Vacation: Day Three - The Wedding

Day Three was Jonny's wedding day.  I was taking my mum as my date.  Jonny and I have been really close since 1992 and he had a lot of face time with my mum as we grew up.  My mum was excited to go and even more interested in seeing us in a tuxedos.

Prior to the afternoon wedding, my mum and I went to the Cumberland Craft Fair.  We shopped for a bit and chatted in the warm afternoon.  Then it was off to get read for the wedding.  I was the only groomsman who knew how to tie a tie, so I had to help everyone.  Then it was off to the church, which was strange on its own.

The wedding was long and hot but the pictures were brief.  It was back to the reception and we had some food, a few more pictures, and I danced with my mum and some boy named Michael who I spent the prior day cooking with.

Then it was back to my mum's house for an early night.  The food was great and the decor for the entire wedding was very vintage and unique.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mainely Vacation: Day Two - Blueberry Cheesecake

Day two was a busy day.  I had to travel to Portland Maine to pick up my tuxedo.  Then I headed to Cumberland Maine to help cook for Jonny's wedding.  I was in charge of making vegan desserts.  I made whoppie pies and a blueberry cheesecake.  Jonny, and a few of his other friends were working on the rest.  There were about 6 people who made all the food for the entire wedding.

The cooking (and reception) was taking place at his wife's parents house.  They have some amazing gardens and even a few blueberry bushes.  I picked all the blueberries for the cheesecake in their backyard.

Blueberry Cheesecake

5 vegan graham crackers
1 1/2 pint of blueberries
3 tubs of vegan cream cheese
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup of maple syrup
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, crush the graham crackers into a course powder.  Fold in melted shortening, brown sugar and cinnamon.  After a few minutes of folding, it will begin to form peas-sized balls.  Pour the graham mixture into a pie pan and gently spread and push the graham to cover the bottom and edges.  Bake in the oven for about 5-8 minutes or until the graham begins to brown.

Set aside 1 tablespoon of blueberries.  Add remaining blueberries to a sauce pan with the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of vanilla.  Use a masher to get the blueberry juice flowing.  Heat on a low stetting and do not allow to simmer.  Stir often.

In the meantime, in a food processor, add the vegan cream cheese, maple syrup, lemon juice, and vanilla and puree until smooth.  This may require an occasional scraping of the sides.  Once the cream cheese mixture is smooth, add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time and puree until smooth.  Once the blueberry mixture is complete, add 3/4 of a cup to the cheese cake mix puree for a few seconds until the mixture has gently combined with the blueberries.

At this point, there should be the cheese cake batter, some blueberry mixture, a graham cracker crust and a few whole blueberries on the side.  Add the cheese cake batter to the graham cracker crust and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  The middle should be starting to firm up and the edges may be starting to pull away for crack.

Allow the cheesecake to cool for about 3 hours.  Fold the remaining whole blueberries into the blueberry mixture and pour over the top of the cooled cheesecake.  Chill for at least another hour before serving.

After completing my desserts, I helped cut potatoes for a potato salad (not vegan), I tied off corn for grilling (some vegan), taste testing for a vegan greek pasta salad, and helped with other odds and ends that needed to be completed.  Then it was off to the wedding rehearsal.  I was a groomsmen.  This was only the fourth wedding I have been to and the first I was in the wedding party.

We all had some pasta after the rehearsal and I headed back to my mum's house shortly after.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mainely Vacation: Day One - Savory Pemiquid

Officially, day one of my vacation was spent in Atlanta, cleaning my house, packing, and getting ready to leave for Maine.  My day one in Maine was more significant.

My mum and I got up and picked up my rental car.  She went to work for a bit while I went to the grocery store.  While I was there, in the small city of Augusta Maine, I ran into my sister Cait.  In Atlanta running into people I know is far more uncommon.  Luckily, it was someone I wanted to see!  She shopped for a bit, bought our groceries and then we picked her up a blender as an early birthday present.  It was a nice afternoon.

Shortly after eating a few veggie burgers back at the house, my mum arrived and we headed to Pemaquid Point.  I have been there many times and each time I enjoy it more.  Most people get all giddy about the lighthouse but I am not much for the human-made structures.

My enjoyment at Pemaquid, comes at the rush of waves cutting lines in the coastal rock.  You can see how much the ocean has receded when you view the rocks.  The spray from crashing waves is a constant in the air.  Pemaquid is one of my favorite spots to visit in Maine and until this trip, it has been years.  In fact, it had been year since I had seen the ocean.  This was a great afternoon trip.  Good company and good views.

For dinner, my mum and I drove through the small town of Damariscotta Maine.  Damariscotta is a tourist town, buzzing in the summer months and a ghost town during the harsh Maine winters.  We strolled through the town glancing at menus or a few minutes when we found a place called Savory Maine.  This is a mostly organic restaurant that was very accommodating to my vegan diet.  The server quickly got all the information I needed.  It was a great meal.  My mum got a fish dish, and I had a vegetable tofu soup,
tempeh loaf with marinara, potatoes, and a side of ratatouille.  It was extremely good, we ate on the deck, overlooking the ocean.

The ride back to my mum's house was even a nice trip through the country in Maine.  It is days like this that remind me why I stayed there for so long.

That evening, I went to see Jonny.  Jonny's wedding was in two days and I had still not met his future wife.  The three of us stayed up late, relaxing, and playing some games.  For Jonny and I, it was jut like old times.