Monday, March 25, 2013

In Augusta: committees, firearms and fireworks by Rep. Tom Tyler

The pace is starting to speed up at the State House.   As of the week of March 21, sessions have changed to three days per week.   Appropriations and Financial Affairs have been holding public hearings on various areas of the budget.   Each committee of jurisdiction has had the opportunity to sit in on the public hearings and listen to the testimony of the department heads and the public.   Hundreds of bills have come from the reviser’s office working thru the committee assignments from the House and Senate. Schedules will be done for public hearings, then on to the work sessions approximately one week after the hearings.  Many bills stop at the committee level if the committee feels the bill does not warrant moving on.  Many bills receive unanimous support and are passed on to the House and Senate.  Others receive a divided report which usually stirs debate in both bodies.
 
My assigned committee is Criminal Justice and Public Safety, we have jurisdiction over many State functions including Department of Corrections, Department of Public Safety, Maine Criminal codes, etc.   Some of the categories that are generating a higher number of legislative documents to us are firearms, fireworks being revisited and adjustments to the criminal codes.   All of this has to be done in the next few weeks, while we also review the Chief Executive’s proposed budget to make our recommendations to the Appropriations Committee of the departments we oversee.  All of the other 16 committees are working through the same process.  Due to the approximately 1,800 bills entered this session, about average for a first session of a term, it is hard for any one legislator to keep up with all of the various issues, which is why the committees become very important to guide the rest of the legislature.


It is an honor to serve Windham and Gray.  Contact me if you have any issues or questions.  I can be reached at reptom.tyler@legislature.maine.gov or by phone at 894-5576.

At the Library by Sally Holt

As spring approaches, Raymond Village Library is anticipating a busy and exciting April chock full of programs for all ages.

Throughout the year on Mondays, Baby/Toddler Storytime is at 10:30 a.m. and on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m., Pre-Schoolers gather to listen to stories and do crafts. This is a wonderful opportunity for parents to connect with other parents and for children to socialize with one another.


On Sunday, April 7 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., students, ages eight years or older are invited to join us to play board games. Prizes and snacks will be part of this fun-filled afternoon. 


Author, Kieran Shields will be dropping by on April 10, at 6 p.m. to talk about his new book, “ A Study in Revenge,” the sequel to his first novel, “The Truth of All Things,” a historical thriller set in Portland, Maine in 1892. Returning characters, Lean and Grey investigate the theft of a recently buried body and the staging of a bizarre occult scene that is linked to a centuries-old magical relic. Kieran spent many summers in Raymond when he was a young boy and has fond memories of the area.


In partnership with Norway Savings Bank, the library will offer three free financial education workshops for new and aspiring entrepreneurs as well as operating small business owners.


This is a three part series. The first part, Financial Management, will be given at the library on April 3, at 6 p.m. The other two workshops will be Record Keeping on April 17 and Time Management on April 24. All sessions are from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Coffee and refreshments will be served. Space is limited, so please call the library at 655-4283 to let us know if you would like to sign up.


In anticipation of the upcoming Raymond Village Library Garden Tour in June, Point Sebago has generously donated a gift certificate to the Raymond Village Library, for five nights at Point Sebago, beginning June 16 to June 21, 2013. Raffle tickets are now being sold at the Raymond Village Library for $5 each and 4 tickets for $15. The winning ticket will be drawn on Sunday, May 26.
All proceeds will go toward the purchase of library materials.


Customer Service, staying true to our history and the transformational nature of libraries is very important to the nation’s libraries and to the Raymond Village Library.


There are several ways to find out what is happening at Raymond Village Library. We have a Facebook page, a library webpage and on the Town of Raymond website. If you have not been receiving the e-newsletter, please let us know. Give us a call at 655-4283 or send an email to rlibrar1@maine.rr.com. Even better, stop by. Hours at the Raymond Village Library are Sunday, 10am to 5pm, Monday and Wednesday, 10am to 7pm.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Foodie Fare "Excess Girl Scout Cookies" by Brian Rounds 3/22/13

If you’re like me, come early March you have people delivering boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to you. My typical order, per Girl Scout, is a box of each of the following: Thin Mints, Caramel Delights and Peanut Butter Patties. The problem here is that I typically get hit up by three or four people – this is an, at least to me, an inordinate amount of cookies. Some people may argue with me about that, though.

A few years ago, I decided to take my excess cookies and re-write a recipe using them. My Great-Aunt Mary, my grandmother’s sister, is another culinary inspiration of mine. She lived in an apartment downstairs from my grandmother. I remember smelling her apple pies baking from upstairs. She made her own pie crust, peeled every apple, cored them, and then sliced them up all by hand. This, in addition to the smell of popcorn popping is another fond scent-memory from my childhood. My Great-Uncle Tooti, her husband, was a pro at roasting a chicken with potatoes and carrots all around it. Between my great-aunt, great-uncle and my grandmother that house always smelled amazing.


My Great-Aunt Mary, whom I called Aunt Mary, used to make these little cherry tarts. They started with a Nilla Wafer, a layer of cheesecake filling, and then a dollop of cherry pie filling all in a cupcake tin. My brother, Keith, and I would devour these bites whenever we had the chance. Two were enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, three were just indulgent and sinful.


As I got older and started understanding the addiction that comes with Girl Scout Cookie season, I started buying my own cookies since my parents were just as addicted to them as I was, and I didn’t want to share. When I got my first apartment, I was trying to come up with a new dessert idea and looked at my cookie supply. I had a box of Thin Mints and a box of Peanut Butter Patties left. I decided to go for it and marry the cherry tarts and these really great, perfectly sized cookies. 


I never got her exact recipe for the tarts. I never asked, but figured any cheesecake recipe would do. I went with a Paula Deen cheesecake recipe omitting the crust instructions and adding a few things for flavor. After measuring and mixing, baking and drizzling, I had some pretty amazing tarts in front of me. The best part of this use of the cookies is that they are the perfect size for this and add a little surprise at the bottom of the tart. 


Recipe:
Pre-heat oven at 350*F
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The scrapings of 1 vanilla bean


Line two cupcake pans with paper cupcake cups. Drop one cookie into each cup – one pan with Thin Mints, one pan with Peanut Butter Patties. Fill each cup with cheesecake filling 2/3 full. 


Bake each pan off individually for 20 minutes, then let them cool thoroughly before removing each cup from the pan. 


For the topping of the tarts, drizzle melted Andes Mints over the Thin Mint tarts. Drizzle, separately, melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and warmed peanut butter over the Peanut Butter Pattie tarts and let the drizzles cool completely. 


Other things you can do with this recipe:
Girl Scout Cookies:
Shortbread Cookies, with cherry pie filling on top
Lemonades, with lemon curd over the top
Non-Girl Scout Cookies:
Nilla Wafers, with cherry, apple or blueberry pie filling on top
Oreo Cookie, with chocolate chips on top
 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Foodie Fare by Brian Rounds

As a foodie, I pride myself in my opinion of food.  As a child, my grandmother and mother taught me how to cook. They taught me what lies beyond the recipe – the real art of cooking. My grandmother never measured a thing; everything was done by sight and feel.  This is true cooking. This is the art of cooking.  Her lack of measurement snuck up and bit our family in the behind after she passed away.  A year prior to her passing, my father sat with her and coaxed her recipes out of her.  Sufficed to say, it was a darn good thing I was paying attention all those years that I helped her in the kitchen.  When she was relaying her recipe for her mocha fudge frosting (a family favorite), she left out the chocolate.  She explained to my father how to make her meatballs; she forgot to tell him to add ground beef.  I guess for an 86 year old woman, remembering that she made meatballs was a feat all in itself, right? My mother was always astonished at my ability to crack open the pantry and make something delicious with no recipe to speak of, and no plan. 

Enough about me, let’s talk food. When I say food this week, I mean popcorn.  I think mankind has suffered a great deal at the mercy of popcorn.  As I explained to a friend a few days back, popping popcorn has become a lost art.  I can pretty much assume that everyone is thinking I’m crazy.  Ripping open the plastic wrapper on a microwave popcorn bag is not art – no way.  I’m talking a huge pan on the top of the stove filled with big fluffy puffs of freshly popped corn awaiting a splash or two of butter and a sprinkle of salt. So simple. So delicious. So incredibly lost.

As a child, my most cherished family memories are of my parents and brothers on movie night.  This was back when ABC aired the Magical World of Disney every Sunday night.  My father would take out the big pasta pot and cover the bottom with canola oil and popcorn kernels. He then placed the lid on it and waited patiently. On the burner next to that he had a small sauce pan with butter melting in it, and close by on the counter, the salt shaker. When the first “pop” came, he started shaking that pan furiously to prevent the puffs of corn inside from burning.  The smell at this point was heavenly and it permeated the entire kitchen and living room. 

When the popping would slow, he would take the cover off the pan and steam would billow forth and a kernel or two would pop itself out of the pan.  If I was quick enough, I could grab the stray kernel and pop it into my mouth (pun intended).  Even without butter and salt that popcorn was amazing.  He would dump the pan’s contents into a huge metal bowl, drizzle the butter in big circles over the corn and toss it vigorously just like Emeril Lagasse or Bobby Flay would with one of their delectable saut├ęs.  My father would then sprinkle the entire bowl with salt and dole it out into smaller bowls for everyone to have some. We would each get a paper towel, a glass of soda, and find a spot in the living room just as the movie was starting.

Where did the art of popcorn popping disappear to?  Why are we so gaga over processed, chemical laden bags of instant popcorn that crunches like Styrofoam? Sure, it’s convenient – it’s fast, and doesn’t leave a mess behind.  I have only had one microwavable popcorn that even comes a distant close and I decided to count the ingredients in that compared to the ingredients in my father’s recipe for popcorn. Please keep in mind that I typically use only the purest of products (If I use butter, it is real butter, no fillers, no preservatives other than salt).  The microwavable popcorn has 10 ingredients that include preservatives and artificial flavors and colors. The homemade, real, popcorn has 4 – dried corn, canola oil, butter, and salt. Even if you don’t care about what you are eating, let’s talk taste! The taste is incomparable and the texture is far superior in the homemade popcorn.  I urge you to take the time to rediscover the true art to popping popcorn. In my house, I have a pan with the sole purpose of popping popcorn – nothing else touches that pan other than the hot water used to clean it – not even soap.  There is a machine available at Wal-Mart in Windham for $40 that stirs the popcorn for you so you don’t have to shake it. Take a step in the better, healthier, direction – pop real popcorn. 

Recipe:
2 Tbs. Canola, Corn, or Vegetable Oil (To make it even healthier, substitute Olive Oil) 2/3 Cup Popcorn kernels ½ Butter Salt In the bottom of a deep pasta pot (at least 8” deep, but not deeper than

10”) pour oil and popcorn and shake to coat the bottom. Cover.  Melt butter in microwave or on stove top.  When it starts to pop, shake the pan without letting it come off the burner completely. When the popping slows, remove from heat and open the cover. Pour popcorn into a large bowl and drizzle with butter and sprinkle with salt to taste. Enjoy. 

Other things you can do with popcorn:
As it starts to pop sprinkle into the pan garlic and onion powder (about ½ tsp each). Another spice you can add is chili powder. The possibilities are endless! If you like your popcorn sweet, you can drizzle maple syrup (we are Mainers and should only be using REAL maple syrup, but that’s another

column) over your buttery popcorn and enjoy – just have lots of napkins kicking around.