Printed Maine People
Series 2,Vol.1 September 15, 2003
Maine Book Reviews For Us and By Us
FROM THE EDITOR: Home, how much that word means, especially in Maine. Family, Health, the Hearth, Home Cooking, the aspects of Home, they are all found within us, and they are all found here, in the Home issue of Printed Maine People. Enjoy.
The Smoldering Turves, By Gwyneth Holdin. (Kilmase Press, New Haven, CT, 2003 Reviewed by Cameron Sue Wistencia.
The Smoldering Turves continues the story begun in The Sagging Eaves. The Sagging Eaves was an historical recreation of the lives of the Holdin family, which settled in Liverwich, Maine, nee Massachusetts, in 1783. The Sagging Eaves followed the fortunes of the Holdin family up until 1890. The Holdin' s were the only family from the town of Kilmase, Scotland, ever to settle in Liverwich. The Smoldering Turves continues the Holdin family saga backwards in time to the seventeenth century. Kilmase, which had a population of 67 people in the seventeenth century, is remarkable mainly for the lack of dramatic events which occurred there. The only unusual event, a brief roof fire which gave the book its name, was swiftly put out by a quick thinking sparrow which Claire Holdin, the daughter of Thomas and Hendy Holdin, had taught how to carry tiny buckets of water.
Thomas Holdin was the Great Grandfather of Stanton Holdin, who left Kilmase to settle in Liverwich after a stampede of rabid, elephant sized tortoises leveled Kilmase in 1783, and left Stanton as the only survivor. The Smoldering Turves follows the lives of Thomas, Hendy and their descendents up until 1782, the year their family cow gave more milk than it had for the previous three years. Gwyneth Holdin' s, the author' s, style is as placid and serene as a typical morning on the Holdin farm. "Thomas walked over to the barn and took care of the cows. He gave them hay and water. As he walked, crunching softly on the farmyard frost, on his way to take care of the chickens, he saw the silhouette of Hendy cast against the kitchen blinds, reassuringly familiar to Thomas. The silhouette was soon gone from view, replaced by the familiar sound and smell of the chicken coop."
Holdin' s, the author' s, genealogical research is meticulous, and though she was unable to research Scottish farming practices, the reader can be sure that the New England farming practices exhibited by Thomas and Hendy are entirely authentic to New England. Thomas Holdin married Hendy Holdin, his cousin, in 1667. Hendy lived on the farm next door. Their eldest daughter Claire, who left Kilmase as a child with a troupe of Ukranian Acrobats, settling on the coast where she later became famous for teaching narwhales to walk on land and serve tea, does not come into the story. All the other Holdin' s, though, do.
The Smoldering Turves does for Kilmase what The Sagging Eaves did for Liverwich. A somnolent family saga, an homage to routine and lack of incident, The Smoldering Turves and the Sagging Eaves are to history what drowning is to swimming, an immersion, a finality, a peacefulness after labor, labor in vain. In vain I say, as anyone familiar with the Liverwich Asteroid, which immolated the town in 1891 after its stupendous impact ignited a raging inferno, will appreciate. No Holdin survived the Liverwich Asteroid other than Gwyneth, who was an infant at the time, but surely their family Saga, beginning in 1667, ending in 1782, beginning again in 1784, and ending in 1890, as captured by the last of the Holdins, will preserve their family legacy for all time.
Cameron Sue Wistencia lives in New Liverwich, Maine in the same farmhouse where the Stilron family lived. The Stilron' s were friends of the Holdins.
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The Corn Cooking Book, by Friends of The N. Cornish Extension; 72 pages; spiral bound; no illustrations; $6.95 Reviewed by Mrs. Fiona Marsh
Here's a good Extension cookbook. It is divided into sections. Each section features something to do with corn. There's a section on appetizers and that is short, only 2 pages. The next section is on chowders and it is longer at 34 pages. There are many variations on corn chowders. One recipe uses bacon but other recipes say we can rely on Bacon Bits or leftover bacon drippings. Some of these chowder recipes say we should use new potatoes but some other recipes say you can use old potatoes as long as you are careful to core out eyes and the rotten spots. The section on "main dishes" is casseroles. This tells us all about casseroles with potatoes and mushroom soup, potatoes and cheddar cheese soup, and potatoes with cream of chicken soup. To all these recipes you add one can of creamed corn. Creamed corn is also featured in the section on corn pudding. This is a basic recipe which usually includes a can of Pet Milk. If you might be making a company dish, there are some hints for adding a can of mushroom soup. The section on "Food From Away" includes Corn Pudding French Style, Corn on the Cob Italian, and Corn Pudding with Pet Milk and a small pepper, which is Mexican Style. There is no section on desserts but I didn't expect one. I was inspired by this nice cookbook to cook corn real often for my family.
Mrs. Fiona Marsh is a homemaker. She lives in W. Rome, Maine, and has always enjoyed corn. She is a lifetime member of Extension and her hobby is collecting potholders.
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The Importing Splinchfields, by Swain Splinchfield (Mulcton Press, Hopton, Maine, 2003)
Reviewed by Tom Stemple
Everyone from southwestern Milton County knows that the Splinchfields were an unusually industrious family. Known by everyone in their home town of Hopton as The Importing Splinchfields, the Splinchfield family legacy is covered in Milton County firsts. The Splinchfields were the first family to have Swedish made porcelain faucet handles in Milton County, the first to have a stainless steel corkscrew, the first to have a tin of powdered lemonade, the first to have Coney Island souvenir coasters, the first to have rubber galoshes, just to name a few instances.
The innovative proclivities of the Hopton Splinchfields, a byword for more than a century, carried on right up to the 1960's, when the last remnant of the Hopton Splinchfields, Otis and Jasmine Splinchfield, and their two children, Eldridge and Swain, moved to North Carolina. Swain Splinchfield, the author of The Importing Splinchfields, found, during his painstaking research, that his parents were accounted the first to own a cassette player in Milton County, the first to have striped polyester pants, and the first to have a Sylvania twenty inch television set.
The Importing Splinchfields is not just the story of a family remarkable for so many firsts. Swain, not content with merely recording rumor and legend, provides a compelling argument that the source of the family success was not dockyard connections along the eastern seaboard, as many had assumed, but rather a passion for mail order catalogues. The use of catalogues was authoritatively established during an interview with Pete Thurston, the 102 year old retired postman, whom Jasmine had sworn to secrecy during her lifetime. Swain confirmed Thurston's disclosures by meticulously examining invoices and shipping records from prominent mail order companies. An entire chapter of The Importing Splinchfields actually traces famous Splinchfield firsts, such as disposable scotch tape, and faux Tudor lawn ornaments, from the manufacturer, to the mail order company, right up to the Splinchfield doorstep.
The Importing Splinchfields, exciting for so many reasons, is to be published by Hopton' s own Mulcton Press.The Importing Splinchfields is, the reader will be charmed to learn, the first book about the Splinchfields to be published in Milton County.
Tom Stemple is the curator of the Stemple Archives, which is housed in his living room. He lives with his wife Karen at the Stemple Homestead.
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Bass for Breakfast: The Recipes of Spinning Reel McMullen by Billy Hook. Published by Clear Water Press, Dover Foxcroft, Maine. 96 pages. $21.95. Reviewed by Worthy Fisher.
Though not as well known as her contemporary, Fly Rod Crosby, Spinning Reel McMullen was to Zebco and Shakespeare what Fly Rod was to Hardy and Leonard. During the early part of the 1900's Spinning Reel cavorted all over the State of Maine, fishing for bass, pickerel, white perch, sunnies, and suckers. And while Fly Rod lived to the ripe old age of 93, dying in 1946, and Spinning Reel died in 1952 at the age of 61, Spinning Reel believed in eating what she caught, and left an impressive array of choice recipes behind, which have recently been compiled by Spinning Reel's great great nephew, Billy Hook. Spinning Reel was born in 1891 in Wallagrass Station, Maine. The seventh of 17 children, Spinning Reel learned early that if she wanted to eat she needed to fish. She spent most of her time wetting a line in the local rivers, ponds, and lakes around Wallagrass which, at that time, teemed with fish. She was also a good shot, and killed her first deer at the age of five, her first caribou at seven, and her first moose at nine. She hunted with a Winchester 30.06 which, she used to say, "Was taller than I was when I first started out." The recipes in this little book are as choice as they come, and are not likely to be duplicated anywhere else. Inside the simple green cover emblazoned with the image of a spinning reel (perhaps a vintage Meek) are the directions for such delights as "Whistlepig with Dandy-lions" "Lemongrass Sucker," Poached Perch with Katahdin Golds," "Porcupine with Blueberry Glaze," "Moose with Mustard Greens," and "Caribou Mince Pie." Also included are recipes for preparing meals for large groups, and as Spinning Reel was a frequent visitor to the logging camps located in the deep woods where she fished and hunted, she became expert in cooking for big men with voracious appetites. These selections include "One Hundred Man Raccoon Stew, " and "Pickerel Hash for Three Hundred." Author Billy Hook, who inherited the recipes from his great great aunt, has compiled a nifty little addition to any kitchen, a must have for any native Mainer, and a impressive coffee table book for any flatlander who understands its beauty and rare contribution to the art of colloquial cooking. Worthy Fisher lives in Jackman, Maine where he is a groundskeeper for a local sporting camp. In his spare time he, like Spinning Rod, hunts and fishes, and he also repairs birch bark canoes.
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The Franks of Franklin County: A Cultural History of the Red Hot Dog (Chien Chaud, 2002, 565 pages, with illustrations) by Thomas SimpleReviewed by A. Penelope Killingworth
Given the recent flurry of so many fine cultural histories--one thinks naturally of the path breaking examinations of such phenomena as the banana and the vibrator, issued by the Smithsonian and other illustrious presses--Mainers might be gratified to find a tome that finally speaks to their own surprisingly rich and diverse background. They will, however, be sorely disappointed by Thomas Simple's Franks of Franklin County. Taking as its subject that most promising symbol of the Downeast experience, the red hot dog, this book unfortunately devolves into a morass of regional and national boosterism, even though, in the wake of September 11, a critical investigation of the homely sausage and its rural locus, and the multiple and heterogeneous ways these subvert the homogenizing forces of globalization, is much needed. The deeply contentious history of the sausage is already well-known, from Homer's first references in the Odyssey to the clearly apocryphal but perniciously durable story of the New York cartoonist who, reportedly unable to spell "dachshund," substituted (and thereby coined) the phrase "hot dog." Simple repeats this tired narrative at considerable length, exhorting "American eaters [to be] proud that our favorite national snack is a veritable melting pot in and of itself, bringing together the best immigrant offerings with the most down-to-earth American lingo" (p. 27). The question, however, is not, whether "Americans" should be "proud" of such cultural "blending," but rather, why they have deemed it necessary to construct narratives in which the food NAME was so effectively assimilated? In similar fashion, Simple recounts the bitter historic struggles between Frankfurt-am-Maim, Coburg and Vienna over credit for the origin of hot dog as though the passage from Teutonic treat to quintessentially American food item was linear and transparent. This is a grave misreading of the red hot dog. It must be pointed out that, in investing the lowly frank with its lurid yet playfully ironic color, Mainers have made for themselves a marker of regional identity that self- consciously points up the distinctly UN-natural state of the sausage, thus positioning themselves against the culture of spectacular consumption attached to the hot dog by more putatively cosmopolitan locales, like New York. At the same time, in actually producing and consuming the red hot dog in large quantities within the nation's northernmost state, the people of Maine have effectively interrupted the inexorable flow of global capital. Most egregiously, perhaps, Simple devotes only one paragraph to the miraculous story of the red hot dog's genesis in the kitchen of Hepzibah Greenwood (aunt of the more-famous Chester). Unable to afford the ketchup her children so loved, she found that some leftover barn paint would do just as well. The accomplishments of Hepzibah's mother (Chester's grandmother) in actually inventing the earmuffs have likewise long been ignored. That another Maine woman inventor has thus been eclipsed, then, is perhaps not so very surprising. But in Simple's book, this erasure, this aporia, is clearly part and parcel of the continued and absurd gendering of the hot dog. Simple participates in this gendering with relish --a pun that readers will pardon in this review, for it only gives a TASTE of the book, where such linguistic gestures occur with distracting frequency. The result is prose that is not only tired but downright embarrassing. Of that fateful day in Hepzibah's kitchen Simple proclaims, "The hot dog emerged from the pot of paint, seeming to thrust its way into Hepzibah's timid, quivering hand" (p. 415). Let us bracket for the moment the inaccuracy of this account, which thoroughly elides Hepzibah's agency. It pains this reviewer to have to point out the obvious, but the morphology of the Coney Island bun renders such phallic exegeses entirely moot. Word has it that Professor Simple is hard at work on his next book, a socioeconomic history of the skidder. Let us hope that the citizens of Maine--and of the world--are better served therein.
A. Penelope Killingworth, is an Assistant Professor of Gastronomic History
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Cooking with Cheese Flecks, by Miffy Stuart; $18.95; (B/S Press, 2003) Reviewed by Viana Dreeland As anyone might imagine, cookery books of all sorts simply flood our editorial "LiveStyle" tables around here. When we have an empty few minutes, well, hardly ever! But if we do, darling, we finger through cookery books from Art Museums, local Symphonies, Georgia churches, political campaigns, and what's that other thing we so often get, Precious? Oh yes, "extension." Well, extension of what, please? Oh, don't explain, Precious, will you not? Much too much to take in. Where was I? Oh yes, all these cookbooks. But, attention! We love anything Miffy Stuart turns her clever hand to, so!!! In all this positive mass of jello things and something known as tofu, or whatever, we do put our fingers on Miffy's book that landed on the table a few weeks ago, Cooking With Cheese Flecks, with gorgeous full-page color illustrations by Irving! Which seems to me like really basic, at least it seems to begin with "A" for "appetizers" and goes to "Z" for "final teazers." All the recipes are using cheese flecks of one sort or another. Precious, yes we do know what these are! And we don't even have to damage our nails getting into them! These are these nice bags of, wait a sec., okay? Oh, Amber, our new assistant, tells me they're actually called, what? Oh thanks, Sweetie, they're called "grated." The girls tell me different flavors, such as Monterey, Swiss, 5 Italian blend, things like that, all coming from different countries, no doubt. How to...what, Precious? All of them from Wisconsin? Well, I'm sure it makes no difference, all right? Marigold, I'm writing, if you don't mind! No, not about this Spring's "The Blank Look for Faces"! I'm reviewing a cookbook, could everyone just.... well, wait: what do you mean, Amber? There are recipes? Sweeties, I did see that, okay? (My office is so full of eager young slender things, you know? I have always believed I have a DUTY to bring them along with me, and I'm sure you'll see... What, Precious, don't you have something to type?) Where was I? Oh yes, recipes. Now, the eensy print on the package says to use the enclosed cheese flecks in almost any dish at all. Well, you might, but I wouldn't. But, maybe you cook, whereas I have never cooked a single thing in my life, except for maybe boiling an egg from time to time if desperate. I often eat, however, and if I could just add the tiniest suggestion here, I would not, no matter what the book says, sprinkle cheese flecks on caviar, say, or chopped liver, or what's that outmoded thing made of raw beef and called something Russian? What, darling? She's much too young to recall, but thinks it's something with "bullets" in the name. Well, just impossible, but Petal is so willing and does her best. Anyhow, think MAUVE! MAUVE! this seasons impossible color! Do it! Other than that, back to this, where did I put it? book...evidently you just toss cheese flecks on about anything. I guess DAFFODILL! I'd most recommend MAUVE! DAFFODILL! and, if desperate for food, going out to the Russian Tea Room if in a pinch. Talking about Russia reminded me to say that. Darling, you too? If you must cook, this might be a tip that's useful. Just toss lots of flecks on anything, I guess. Then run the whole thing under what? Oh, thanks Amber. The"broiler," if you have one, I suppose. Too tiresome. I swear I'll have to ask Yves or Giorgio about this. Ciao! Impossible!
Viana Dreeland is, well, you know. She tends to live part-time in Manhattan. With an occasional long weekend with Miffy in Maine.
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Health Secrets From The Other Side: Crossing Over to A Better You, by Carolyn Regurton, (Harbingbat Publishers, 2003)
reviewed by Stacy Mothburn
Nothing makes a revelation more exciting for a reader than experiencing proofs of its truthfulness. We know that those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it. And we know that those who ignore past lives are doomed to repeat them. And now, thanks to Carolyn Regurton, we know also that those who do not ignore the voices of those who lived in the past are doomed to repeat their advice, which is a wonderful thing for us all!
Regurton, the medium renowned for her special ability to attune herself to the voices of deceased authors, has always remarked that those who had special gifts of communication in this life carry that gift over to the other side. Regurton' s earlier books focused on receiving works of fiction and non-fiction dictated to her by deceased masters such as Sarah Orne Jewett (Country of the Shrinking Farms, a passionate portrayal driven by Jewett' s concern over modern agricultural trends); Leo Tolstoy (One Day in the Afterlife of Ivan Denisovich, Tolstoy' s sequel to the work of his living countryman Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn); and Rachel Carson ( The Clouds Around Us, a stirring expose which forcefully argued that insincere prayers were polluting the celestial environment.)
Now, with her new book Health Secrets From The Other Side: Crossing Over to A Better You Regurton has taken on a topic of great interest to the residents of both this world and the next, health and well being. Most people don' t realize, Regurton notes, that residents of the spirit world require as much exercise and limbering up as mortal bodies do in the material world. One of her principal correspondents, Jack Lalanne, stressed to Regurton that celestial beings, so often in repose, lose their suppleness of motion without proper calisthenics and locomotive exertion. Spirits who are incessantly recumbant, Lalanne relates, find that they are only able to drift at right angles, and that passing through material objects gives them a feeling of disquietude and even nausea.
Lalanne, who wishes he knew a tenth of what I know now when I was alive, shares the stretching routines and afterlife fitness regimens which have made him a highly sought after being in the after world. Regurton also passes on, beauty and nutrition tips, A celestial kitchen secrets, garnered from famous chefs and paragons of beauty from all across time.
Those of us who care about our health and well being, but are unattuned to the helpful voices from beyond, will receive invaluable aid from this treasure trove of advice from the other side which Regurton, thank goodness, was doomed to repeat!
Stacy Mothburn has been dead since 1979. She is the author of seven books on the occult. Her latest effort, Astounding Vistas, is coming out in October.
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Duct Tape in & Around the Home, by Dale 0. Sikes (Quick Fixin's Press, 2003) reviewed by Harry Hand On account of the recent scare over germ warfare & such invading your home, lots of you out there might have lots of rolls of duct tape you bought already just hanging around cause you never got the time to get it up. You probably can't return it to where you bought it for a refund, either, on account of all the stores overstocked, at the same time. So our question is - what to do with all these extra rolls of duct tape? Lucky for us, Dale 0. Sikes has lots of simple, quick, easy solutions. All else you might need would be a pair of scissors, but you can also use your front teeth if you get a good grip if no scissors are handy. To start with, some folks believe that's spelled "duck tape" and I don't mean to insult somebody but that's just downright flatlander ignorant. It's "duct tape" because it was first invented to tape ducts. Seems like just about anybody could of figured that one out, but I guess not. I mean, why would you tape a duck? Joke. Get it? Sikes includes all sorts of good information, like that even if it looks like metal with glue on the other side and all, duct tape does not attract lightening so it can be safely used indoors and outside. The thing about Sikes' book is that he goes way beyond the usual use of duct tape to fix your car, your truck, your trailer, and maybe your boat. Just a brief run-down here, but for example, inside your home you can use duct tape to fix just about anything. Loose door-knobs, leaky toilets, putting up curtain rods, repairing Bean boots, fixing nearly any kind of antiques, and the microwave door. Outside, duct tape works just as good - kiddy pools, repairing webbed backs & seats in those lawn chairs, holding up the mail-box, wintering-over the north side until you can get around to replacing some clapboards next spring, fixing that birdbath you accidentally backed over, the grille, gnomes with cracks, your weed-whacker, you name it. In fact, you can use duct tape to fix about any tool, though I guess I wouldn't use it on my chainsaw on any kind of a regular basis. One great tip from Sikes is have you got those pesky weeds growing up in the cracks of your sidewalk, or the garage floor, or maybe even your patio blocks? Just whip down strips of duct tape and those weeds are sayonara! I use a lot of duct tape myself but I have to admit I learned a lot of new uses just by reading this handy book and thinking things over. I'm sure you will too. I recommend this book because it's very handy, pretty cheap, plus in large easy to read type with drawings for projects of any kind, just about.
Harry Hand lives in N. Turner where he is semi-retired most of the time. His hobby is fixing nearly anything.