Flanked by piles of squash, buckets of greens and crates of little cucumbers ready for pickling on Sunday, the feeling of home swelled around me as I filled my canvas bag with veggies, hand pies, bread and cheese.
I wrote those words in July 2014, not long after moving to Maine to join the Bangor Daily News. I had come as the senior features editor but not to be a food writer — that was what I did in my spare time. Nonetheless, former graphics editor Eric Zelz came to me with an idea for an illustrated column and I couldn’t resist.
It helped that my department and then-editor were pretty on board with it too.
The first one was among my favorites — Fresh Pea and Basil Risotto. Eric wrote the recipe into the chef’s hat. It was pretty and fun and lively.
We made changes along the way. Initially, the recipe only appeared in the illustration. But readers asked that we make the online version printable, so we stopped including the recipe as an integral part of the imagery.
In December 2015, the final illustrated Maine Course ran. It was Herbed Yeast Bread. Eric retired, and I nearly stopped writing this column then. It seemed wrong to go on with a project that had been so much a joint venture.
But I was urged to continue, even if it meant Maine Course would take on a new look and focus more on photography and writing than on the art of food.
It’s been more than three years since I agreed to write Maine Course. But now, sadly, it’s coming to an end. My responsibilities here are shifting, so it’s time to bid farewell to this space — as much as I have loved opening my life and kitchen to you over these glorious years.
There is good news though: I will continue writing In Season Now, my monthly column in Bangor Metro Magazine. And if you want more Maine Course-style writing, check out my 12+ year old food blog Sarah’s Cucina Bella.
And now, before I go, one last recipe. Longtime readers may remember this one. It appeared in one of the early columns I wrote here. Brussels sprouts are halved and roasted, and then combined with andouille sausage, apricots and a maple glaze for a delightful side dish.
This recipe proved so popular in the newsroom that it was requested for election night — a time when pizza always remains king. I delivered a double batch to hungry reporters that night.
And it’s special too, because I recently served it at a dinner party with some of my dear colleagues. As I was attempting to juggle the transferring of hot, steamy, glazed Brussels sprouts from baking sheet to serving dish, I said “I need help.” One of them jumped into action and made the whole process go smoothly.
It was one of those times I was reminded again how important our connections to each other are. Whether it’s in the kitchen, the newsroom or via a column like this, connecting with each other is what makes us human.
Thank you, dear readers, for connecting with me for these past few years. May you continue to cook locally, cook boldly and gather around your table with the people who you connect with most.
- 4 cups halved Brussels sprouts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup finely diced andouille sausage
- ½ cup finely diced dried apricots
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Spread the Brussels sprouts on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until browned and slightly tender.
- Add the andouille sausage and apricots to the pan and stir to mix. Whisk together the maple syrup and mustard. Drizzle over the Brussels sprouts mixture and toss to combine. Roast for an additional 8-10 minutes, until the sausage is lightly browned on one side.
- Serve hot.