The Community Table: Recipes and Stories from Midcoast Maine

The Community Table Cookbook – Shown with Nutmeg Cookies (p. 143) – a light and cake-like cookie scented with nutmeg; delicious!

It’s usually the onions that bring tears to my eyes when I am in the kitchen but this time it was a cookbook; The Community Table: Recipes and Stories from Midcoast Maine. It is a collection of portraits, stories and recipes representing volunteers and participants in the MCH Meals on Wheel program in Knox County. The portraits in the book are by acclaimed photographer Patrisha McLean and, along with their accompanying stories, are a moving representation of the people behind the Meals on Wheels program. The Community Table cookbook is a reminder of the positive difference neighbors can make in the lives of each other. After looking at all the photographs and reading the stories, I started in on the recipes.

The Community Table contains recipes submitted by celebrities who call the mid-coast home such as, Richard Russo, Tess Gerritsen, John Travolta and Kelly Preston and, from over 100 home cooks and local chefs across the midcoast.

Nine categories, from starters to special suppers, divide the cookbook. Featured are Maine favorites such as Haddock Cakes, Maine Crab Soup and Spicy Molasses Cookies as well as new traditions like Lobster Mac and Cheese. There are the homestyle classics; Chicken Supreme and Do-Ahead Meatloaf and I was so excited to find this one in the starter section; Mildred Achorn’s Crabbies. The recipe combines crabmeat and a jar of Old English cheese spread with spices which is spread on top of English muffins. My mom used to make these for me back in the early ’70’s and finding this brought back great memories. She would broil them in the toaster oven and cut little wedges of bubbly crab and cheese for us to snack on; I am so making these Sunday for our half-time snack!

The Community Table also represents the wide variety of traditions and experiences of the people who live in the midcoast; you will find recipes for Curry Chicken, Pot Roast in Lemon Sauce, Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, Three Cheese Risotto and a Fennel Almond Pesto. I was a bit surprised by the Travolta’s submission, I guess I was expecting something, well, more health foodie, and the recipe they share is a quick and elegant fish dish with butter, lemon and cream…I’ll be looking for some flounder or sole this weekend to make this one!

Specialties from local establishments are shared in The Community Table, such as The Lobster and Gruyere Soufflé with a Grilled Corn Cream – which is on my “must make” list – from the Hartstone Inn and the Date-Maple Scones, a guest favorite, from the Maine Stay Inn.

A short personal introduction precedes most of the recipes in The Community Table. I enjoy this extra touch to the cookbook. Food, like the Meals on Wheels volunteers, brings people together to nourish our souls as well as our bodies and the connections the contributors’ share with each of their favorite dishes makes you want to create these recipes even more.

The cookbook itself is a high quality spiral bound paperback with a heavy cover and well laid out contents. I am keeping one and purchasing several more for friends and family.

To get more information about MCH Meals on Wheels and a listing of local stores carrying the cookbook go to www.mchinc.org or follow MCH on Facebook.

Here’s more information from Brooke Williams, MCH Meals on Wheels:

Cookbook launch for MCH Meals on Wheels

A book launch to celebrate the publication of The Community Table cookbook will be held on Friday, October 5 at David Scriven Crowley Gallery in Rockland from 5-9 p.m.

Coinciding with Rockland’s First Friday Art Walk, the book launch will feature wine and tastings from The Community Table, a benefit for MCH Meals on Wheels.

Monday-Friday, every week, for more than 40 years, MCH Meals on Wheels has delivered 100 hot meals to senior citizens across Knox County. For many seniors, this is the only meal they will have all day.

Meals on Wheels is a key program of MCH, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping older adults, people with disabilities and other at-risk groups maintain their independence and mobility in the communities they chose to live. Providing housing, transportation, nutrition and support services, MCH is Making Community Happen.

To get more information about MCH Meals on Wheels and a listing of local stores carrying the cookbook go to www.mchinc.org or follow MCH on Facebook. To make a donation to Meals on Wheels mail MCH Meals on Wheels, 46 Summer Street, Rockland, Maine 04861.

The David Scriven Crowley Gallery is located at 409 Main Street in Rockland.