Needham Candy ~ A Maine Tradition


Growing up in Maine with a grammy who always baked, one of my old favorites she would make were a delicious, creamy, coconut candy called Needhams.  Unlike a Mounds Bar, the difference is that Maine Needhams have potato in the recipe, which adds a lovely creaminess to the texture.


    • 3/4 cup mashed potatoes ( not seasoned)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 (1 lb) packages confectioners’ sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 2 (7 ounce) bags flaked coconut
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 (12 ounce) packages chocolate chips
    • 4 unsweetened chocolate squares
    • 1/2 paraffin wax block, the same paraffin you melt to use on top jam ( 2 1/2 by 2 1/2)


  1. Pare, cook, and mash potato to make three-quarters of a cup.
  2. Add salt.
  3. Using double boiler place butter in it and melt over boiling water.
  4. Add mashed potato, confectioners sugar, flaked coconut, and vanilla.
  5. Mix well and turn into a buttered jelly roll pan and spread evenly.
  6. Place in a cool place to harden.
  7. When hard, cut into small squares.
  8. For the dipping chocolate, again use a double boiler.
  9. Place paraffin in the top over boiling water to melt.
  10. Then add the two kinds of chocolate and allow to melt.
  11. Stir well to mix ingredients.
  12. Dip in the chocolate mixture (with a fork, toothpick, or cake tester–I use a fork and put the square on top of the tines and dip it, letting the excess chocolate drip off before I lay it on the waxed paper).
  13. Hold each square over the chocolate mixture after dipping so the square drains well (I usually will have to reheat the chocolate inbetween dippings so it is nice and thin and drips of easily).
  14. Place on waxed paper to harden.
  15. Should make about 66 good sized needhams.
  16. This halves easily.

Scottish Cullen Skink Soup ~ Smoked Haddock Soup


This is a traditional Scottish smoked haddock recipe.  It is a fine Scottish soup of great taste and
simplicity.  This Cullen Skink recipe was provided by Kris Burrin, the exceptional English Chef of The
Seasons restaurant in Stonington.

Preparation time:
About 30 minutes

Ingredients: (4 servings)
1 lb Finnan Haddie
2 pints full fat milk
2 oz. butter
85 ml double cream
2 cloves
1 fresh bay leaf
12 oz potatoes cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 medium onions
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Peel one of the onions, cut in half and stud with the cloves.  Put into a pan with the milk and bay leaf,
bring just to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the Finnan Haddie and simmer for 4 minutes.  Lift
the fish out onto a plate and strain the liquid through a sieve into a jug.  When the Finnan Haddie is cool
enough to handle flake into large pieces and set aside.

Peel and finely chop the remaining onion.  Melt the butter in a large pan, add the onion and cook over a
gentle heat for 5 minutes, until softened but not brown.  Add the reserved milk and diced potatoes.
Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked but still just firm.
Blend half the soup in a liquidizer until smooth.  Return to the pan with the double cream and Finnan
Haddie flakes, season with a little salt and pepper and warm through for 1-2 minutes.

Serve in a warmed soup tureen, scattered with the chopped parsley.  In the picture above – taken at the
Seasons Restaurant in Stonington, Kris Burrin also added a few flakes of crisped parsnip to garnish.

Seafood! Glorious Seafood! Shipped Right to Your Door!!


There is nothing like fresh seafood.  If you’re in the mood for some really good seafood, go right to the source.  Portland Maine’s own Harbor Fish.

I can tell you, I worked for Harbor Fish Market for years and they are good, honest, hardworking folks and they sell some of the freshest seafood around.  They have fishermen and lobster men arriving daily with their latest catch.  It’s not shipped in from all across the U.S. (with the exception of King Crab and Gulf shrimp).

So, if you’re looking to have a special holiday dinner, why not try something other than the roasted goose or ham.  Have some fresh lobsters, mussels or clams sent right to your door!



Old Orchard Beach, Maine in Autumn

Last November we made a surprise trip home to Maine for my mum’s 70th birthday.  We decided since we were staying so close to Old Orchard Beach that we would go take a walk on the seashore.  Normally I’m not a fan of Old Orchard Beach.  Well, I’ve been known on an occasion to get a hankering for hand-cut pier fries, a good slice and maybe a bumper car ride peak season, but it’s not my first choice for soaking up the sun.  I know, I’m in the minority with that, but it’s generally overrun with tourists and locals.  I prefer quiet beaches, where I can just chill and snooze in the sun.

This proved to be the perfect time to visit in my opinion.  I had forgotten that everything pretty much closes down post Labor Day.  All of the  folks who flock to O.O.B. from all over the world,  go back home.

It was eerily still and almost like a ghost town.  Buildings boarded up.  Not a soul around. We were literally the only four people on the beach.

I thought it made for a great opportunity to take photos of the deconstructed amusement park, Palace Playland, the pier and the seven mile stretch of deserted beach.

It’s worth noting that Old Orchard, which opened in 1902, is the last remaining beachfront amusement park in New England.

Graffiti Greetings from Portland Maine

“On the back wall of the Asylum nightclub, facing a parking lot on Free Street, stands a 1,500-square-foot mural painted – and paid for – by a collection of talented Maine graffiti artists.

“This one was like a gift to Portland,” said Mike Rich, the 37-year-old de facto curator of the space, which has been reserved for graffiti art since 1997. “Out of the infinite possibilities of themes, of what we could paint, of what we’d want to paint, we painted this.”

Rich grew up on Munjoy Hill and started making graffiti in 1985, when he was 11. He began painting murals at 14 and started painting the Asylum in 1997, after proposing it to the nightclub’s owners.

“It was just getting bombarded with vandalism all the time,” Rich said. “It’s a dark parking lot on a one-way street, and I thought, ‘Geez, let’s see if they’ll give us permission to do something, and then we can do something really awesome.’”

Before its latest incarnation – completed Sunday after a month of toil – the space featured a spooky montage from Stephen King horror novels. Before King, the scene was George W. Bush and Armageddon.

This time around, vibrant colors and big, bold block letters infect the mural with joy. Eight artists filled each letter in P-O-R-T-L-A-N-D with their own styles, making for a brassy but cohesive whole.

A rocky coast is below the letters. Above them is an orange-yellow sky radiating from the iconic Portland Head lighthouse image – with an aerosol can standing in for the limestone tower and two rays of white enveloping the words “Greetings From” … instead of a beam of light.

“Ties it all together,” said Rich, who painted the P. “I’m totally thrilled with the way it came out.”

He’s also proud of the mural’s do-it-yourself nature. The nightclub hosted a fundraiser one night last summer. Otherwise, artists brought their own materials and donated their time. Rich pegged the cost of supplies at $1,500 to $2,000.

“We did something great for the city of Portland, especially in this time, with the whole graffiti ordinance downtown,” Rich said. “There just seemed to be a lot of tension with the art form itself. I thought it would be a really good gesture to do something, and have a little class, too. To show that we can do something nice and it’s not all undecipherable to the common person, you know?”

In June, the City Council adopted an anti-graffiti ordinance calling for fines of as much as $500 for perpetrators. Property owners are required to file plans with the city for removing graffiti within 10 days after it’s reported.

Doug Fuss, owner of Bull Feeney’s on Fore Street, is president of the Portland’s Downtown District board of directors and a leading advocate of the ordinance.

“Well-conceived street art is not what we’re talking about here,” Fuss said. “The stuff that we’re talking about is tagging, and it’s taking paint pens and writing on meters and etching glass and even painting pretty large-scale pieces.”

The Asylum wall, he said, “as long as it’s well-curated, which that one is, I think, is a completely separate world from vandalism.”

Rich and his artistic friends covered three other walls of the building in colorful murals, one of which includes a whimsical puffin. Now, his biggest worry is the annual tradition of repainting the wall.

“This year’s mural is so good,” Rich said, “it’s going to make me cry if we have to paint over it next year.”

Funny Facebook Frankenstorm~isms

Friends, believe me when I say there is not much funny about our latest natural disaster here in the U.S.

This morning when I woke up, I checked in with my friends and family all over the east coast on Facebook.  Reading the various posts from everyone, thankfully all of my peeps were good.  Hopefully, you and yours are as well.

One friend in particular I was especially worried about, as he lives right in the heart of NYC.  Throughout the storm, in typical John fashion, he posted various updates on what he was doing, eating, drinking etc.

Here are some of his posts:

“I’ll bet you a million dollars all the local liqueur stores in NYC are stripped bare at this point!!”

“Ooh girlfriend that wind’s-a-kickin’ up already….”

“Okay I’m bored already. I think I want to go out and play with boys in the middle of the storm. Any suggestions?”

“How’s about that broken crane dangling 90 stories above 57th St?”

“Eyewitness News just told me it could be til maybe Wednesday before the subways are up and running again. What the hell? Maybe I should have bought two bottles of Jameson instead of just one.”

“Okay every weatherman on TV right now is having a major hard-on.”

“I just saw some crazy little queen dressed in a short jade green kimono and matching hot pants doing twirls down Ludlow St and taking pictures. I shit you not.”           BTW It should be noted he’s not a bigot, he’s proudly gay himself.

Sausage and Apple Pie in a Cheddar Crust by King Arthur Flour

England’s Cheshire Pie, a hearty combination of boneless pork loin and cider-moistened apples in a flaky crust, is the inspiration for this sausage and apple pastry. Serve this warm, with fruit salad, at breakfast or brunch. Or heat some up for Sunday night supper, where it goes wonderfully well with a plain green salad.


  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons cold water


  • 4 large or 5 medium apples, about 6 cups peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup apple cider or apple juice; or substitute 1/4 cup boiled cider + 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage, cooked and drained


1) Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2) To make the crust: In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
3) Using an electric mixer, a pastry blender or fork, or your fingers, cut and mix the cheese and butter into the flour mixture until the fat and flour form a crumbly mixture.
4) Add the lemon juice or vinegar, then sprinkle on just enough water so that you can gather the dough into a cohesive ball.
5) Divide the dough in half, and flatten each half into a 1″ thick round. Wrap one of the rounds in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and refrigerate it while you work with the other. Transfer the remaining dough to a well-floured work surface.
6) Roll it into a 12″ circle, using as few strokes of the rolling pin as possible; the fewer times you touch the crust at this point, the more tender it’ll be when it’s baked. Transfer the circle of dough to a 9″ pie plate (a giant spatula works great here), and gently fit it to the pan’s contours. Again, if you push and stretch the dough too much during this stage, it’ll shrink when you put it in the oven.
7) To make the filling: In a large, shallow frying pan, cook the sliced apples with the salt, cider or juice, and sugar for 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the liquid is syrupy.
8) Stir the cooked sausage into the apple mixture, and remove the pan from the heat. Spoon the filling into the crust.
9) Roll out the remaining crust, and center it over the filling. Press the edges of the top and bottom crust together, fold them under (onto the top of the pan’s rim), and crimp.
10) Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then lower the oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 35 to 45 minutes, until the crust is very brown. If the crust appears to be browning too quickly, tent it lightly with foil.
11) Remove the pie from the oven, and serve it warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.