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MP would travel anywhere in Maine for good bread. This Saturday, the Maine Grain Alliance is hosting its annual bread fair with over 60 food vendors from across New England. Even though Skowhegan is an hour-plus drive, the promise of skilled bakers offering wood-fired pizza, decadent pastries, and crusty baguettes is enough for MP to get the family in the car and go.

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If the promise of delicious breads and pastries weren’t enough, then all of the other fun events are certainly enticing. The talented folks at King Arthur Flour will be on hand to discuss their best baking tips. You’ll also find a children’s area, live music, and all the supplies home bakers love.

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To celebrate the upcoming fair, Maine Grains in Skowhegan is offering a 5 lb. bag of their flour—made from locally grown, stoneground grains—to one lucky Cute Potato reader. All you need to do is tell us: where does your family go for good bread? We’ll choose a winner at random. Contest ends Friday, July 25. 2014 at noon EST. Good luck bakers!

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PS: Check out two of our favorite bakeries: here and here, plus this delicious, thin crust pizza recipe from Maine Grain Alliance presenter and Cook’s Illustrated associate editor, Andrew Janjigian.

Maine Grain Alliance Bread Fair
Saturday, July 26, 2014
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Skowhegan State Fairgrounds
Admission is free, and parking is $2.00.

FMI on the fair, visit their web site.

 *All photos courtesy of Amber Lambke

Kettle Cove

After two back-to-back travel weekends, our family decided to start a new summer tradition: Saturday morning breakfasts at a local beach. DP packed hard-boiled eggs, coffee, juice, croissants, and homemade strawberry jam. By 9:00 a.m., all of us were in bathing suits and ready to go.

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We decided to visit one of our favorite spots: Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth. If you haven’t been, Kettle Cove is located at the smaller, quieter end of Crescent Beach. The parking lot is small, so getting there early is key. There is a rocky beach where children can explore the tide pools (CP#1 and #2 love to collect hermit crabs) plus an expansive grassy area that overlooks the cove. And what a view!

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We clearly weren’t the only ones who got out early to enjoy the beach. We watched a team of divers gear up and explore the cove. There was also a group learning how to paddle board and a kayaker preparing to set out for a day on the water. Plus lots and lots of families.

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After breakfast, our team decided to explore the other side of the cove which is connected by a wooden footbridge. The trail that leads to this area is lined with beach roses and is shaded by trees. If it weren’t for the promise of another great view, MP could have lingered for awhile.

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We watched the waves crash, climbed rocks (in search of more hermit crabs, of course), collected stones, and walked waist deep into the water to cool off. And then we returned back to our spot for more beach time. CP#1 tended to her hermit crab while MP read her book. DP and CP#2 played soccer on the grass.

The morning was one of those perfect, sunny Saturdays a family dreams about come January. And so, our new tradition—beach breakfasts—will continue as long as summer allows.

Kettle Cove
Kettle Cove Road (off Bowery Beach Rd)
Cape Elizabeth

Also nearby (and worth a visit), Kettle Cove Creamery and Cafe.

 

 

 

Every summer, without fail, our family goes to the New Gloucester Strawberry Festival. We make sure to eat a light dinner, so our bellies can handle the humongous desserts that the volunteers at the festival so lovingly create.

CP#2 waiting in line - does he look excited or what?

CP#2 waiting in line – does he look excited or what?

The line to choose a dessert gets a little longer each year, but oh, the end result is worth the wait! Visitors can choose a “super” that consists of fresh strawberries, whipped cream, Hodgman’s Vanilla Custard, and a homemade biscuit. Or you can opt out on the biscuit and go for a strawberry sundae. If you’re looking for something lighter, fresh strawberries and whipped cream are also on the menu.

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Colored popsicle sticks indicate the dessert of your choice.

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While nothing can fully replicate what the volunteers do here, you can create a similar dessert at home. For the super strawberry shortcake, we recommend trying our favorite buttermilk biscuit recipe. The whipped cream is also easy to make. Purchase a pint of heavy cream from your local farm or market. Pour the cream into a mixing bowl, and if you choose, add a half-teaspoon of vanilla or a teaspoon of sugar, (depending on how sweet you want the cream). Mix with a hand mixer or Kitchen Aid® until large peaks form.

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The ladies at the festival told us they mash fresh strawberries in a bowl to make the topping. And for the ice cream or custard? Maine has so many incredible choices. Why not have fun trying a few different options? Or if you have an ice cream maker at home, you could always make your own.

Our short strawberry season is a time to savor. Why not indulge in a delicious dessert?

PS: A few of our favorite Maine ice cream options: herehere and here.

Oh! And we didn’t forget. Thanks to all of you who entered to win tickets to the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in Boston. Your comments were so much fun to read! Congrats to Jennifer Perreault – she is the lucky winner.

Twenty-six-year-old LEGO Master Model Builder, Ian Coffey, was in Portland for the Old Port Festival in early June, sharing his incredible building talents with the masses. MP had the opportunity to chat with Ian, learn how he became a LEGO Master Model Builder, and what it’s like to work at the new LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in Boston.

Ian in Portland during Old Port Fest.

Ian in Portland during Old Port Fest.

MP: When did you first start building with LEGOs?
IC: I started at 3-years old. My older brother played with LEGOs, and I wanted to be just like him. To this day, there’s a very large LEGO city in the basement of my childhood home.

MP: How did you become a LEGO Master Model Builder?
IC: My Dad’s friend saw an ad in the paper for LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston, announcing a competition for the chance to become a LEGO Master Model Builder. I didn’t do anything about it then. When a close friend of mine found out, she signed me up anyway. I’m so glad she did!

Ian at the Portland Sea Dogs stadium during Old Port fest.

Ian at the Portland Sea Dogs stadium during Old Port Fest.

MP: What was the competition like?
IC: There were over 100 contestants, and the build-off lasted two days. We could only use certain sizes and shapes for our creations. One of the first challenges was to create a character from a favorite story. I built Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. After that, we had to build something from a favorite vacation. I designed the Olympic ski jump from Lake Placid, New York.

MP: And the final challenge?
IC: We had to create a LEGO scene that meant something to us personally.  I made a “painted picture” of my Chocolate Lab at the park.

MP: What did you do before becoming a LEGO Master Model Builder?
IC:  I worked under the secretary of the New York State Senate for nearly every single senator. My days were very long.

MP: What’s a typical day at the Boston LEGOLAND® Discovery Center like?
IC: I build in my office, which is all glass. I call it my fishbowl [laughs] because visitors come and watch me while I work. I also teach school groups fun little facts about LEGOs. And at the LEGO Master Model Builder Academy, we’re designing dragons, which are really cool.

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MP: My family has been to the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in New York and LEGOLAND® in Florida. What’s the Boston Center like?
IC: The mini land features a miniature Boston—you’ll see Fenway Park (my personal favorite) and the Zakim Bridge. The Boston mini land is the biggest of any LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in the world.

Fenway Park -  made entirely of LEGOs.

Fenway Park – made entirely of LEGOs.

MP: What do you do when you’re not working with LEGOs?
IC: I always like to keep busy. In the past, I landscaped a 12-acre estate, and I built a pretty elaborate tree house with a shingled roof in my backyard. It even has cable!

MP: Besides coming to the Old Port Festival earlier this month, what’s your connection to Maine?
IC: I’ve been coming to Mother’s Beach in Kennebunk since I was 6-weeks old. When I visit, I love to build sandcastles on the beach and hang out with my dog. People say I should enter a sandcastle competition, but I like building on my own. Usually some kids will come by and offer ideas. It’s perfect—I’m really a kid at heart.

Thanks so much to Ian for taking the time to chat! And guess what? The kind folks at The LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in Boston are offering a Cute Potato reader a family 4-pack pass (2 adults, 2 children) to the new center! All you need to do is comment below. Contest ends on Monday, June 30 at midnight EST. Good luck LEGO lovers!

FMI on the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston, visit their website or Facebook page.

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Last Sunday, we celebrated Father’s Day with brunch at the East Ender in Portland with good friends. Neither family had ever been to the bustling, two story restaurant, and all of us were excited to try the food. If you go, this is a place to indulge in pre-brunch sweets and savories. Our table of hungry kids and adults sampled crispy trout fritters, a homemade, chocolate and banana pop tart, decadent cheddar swirl buns with prosciutto and pepper jelly (MP’s favorite), and simple hushpuppies with maple sour cream.

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Both families were full before the main course was served. And truth be told, the starters and sides are the real standouts at the East Ender. The main courses, which vary between standard eggs and bacon to over-the-top fried chicken and waffles, needed the creativity and flavor the first course offered. Still, we’ll definitely be back for generous cups of coffee and delicious starters.

After stuffing ourselves silly, we decided to explore Bug Light Park in South Portland. The gorgeous, nearly 9-acre park overlooks the Casco Bay. On this windy day, the park was busy with serious kite flyers. We were all amazed by the number of colorful kites.

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MP was especially taken with the Bug Light lighthouse. Its Greek-inspired design make it one of the  most beautiful little lighthouses in recent memory. Apparently, it is called Bug Light because of its size, which makes the lighthouse even more endearing.

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The kids and Dad Potato played soccer, while MP snapped pictures of summer beauty all around. What a gorgeous Father’s Day!

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East Ender
47 Middle Street
Portland

Bug Light Park
South Portland Greenbelt Parkway
South Portland

 

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It’s hard to believe that MP started Cute Potato 5 years ago this month! CP#1 and #2 were two- and three-years old. Here they are in one of our earliest posts that featured Dollar Store finds.

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Since we started in 2009, we’ve been fortunate to discover so many great restaurants, artisans, shops, and incredibly fun things to do throughout the state. And our experiences have led to wonderful memories. We’ll never forget traveling with the Biddeford Tigers to Fenway Park for the All Kids Can Baseball Camp. Everyone was excited to be on the field, despite the record-breaking heat. MP is sure the kids will remember this as the day they were allowed their first Coca-Cola. If you are going to sip your first can of soda, it might as well be in the dugout at Fenway Park!

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Our first online fundraiser—for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital—was a joy to organize. With the help of local businesses and friends, we raised over $1,000, which went towards new equipment for the hospital. And this year, we pitched in our support to families with children who have PBD, a rare and incurable genetic disease. We hope our efforts made an impact in some small way. Our thoughts are always with the children and their parents.

Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences for our family was the opportunity to film for the Maine Office of Tourism last summer. We’re so proud to represent family fun for our great state!

And a huge thanks to all of you for reading and supporting Cute Potato year after year! We love our readers and appreciate all of the great ideas you’ve shared with us. Thank you!

Most of all, MP is grateful for CP#1 and CP #2. They are the reason she started this blog, and they continue to inspire MP each and every day.

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PS: Our very first post (we still love this restaurant).

We’re biased of course, but we happen to think that DP is one incredible Dad. MP and the kids plan to spoil him for Father’s Day with delicious food, a little dancing, and a day out on the town. We’re also considering a great Maine-inspired gift—something he can enjoy all to himself. Here’s a list of our favorites:

A tour on the Maine Brew Bus (we’re partial to the “Northern Exposure” tour).

This book by Brian Kevin, Associate Editor at Downeast Magazine looks like an interesting read:

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DP loves the BBQ sauce from Beast Feast Maine in Bridgton.

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A slate, State of Maine cheeseboard is perfect for Father’s Day hors d’oeuvres.

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Love this Maine State T-shirt:

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Like our picks? Find more locally made gifts here and here. Viva El Papa!

PS: We have a giveaway winner to announce. Congrats to Anne, who has won a beautiful Fairy House Kit from Liza Gardener Walsh. Thanks to all who entered!  

 

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