Blueberry buckle with vanilla ice cream. (KATHY D’AGOSTINO PHOTO)
August is here and that means only one thing in Maine: blueberry season. Those low-dwelling beauties taste the absolute best and are one of the healthiest of fruits.
I needed to find a great blueberry recipe. I was on a mission yet again.
My story started with a trip to the Orr’s Island Library. It’s well known that librarians possess a wealth of information and Joanne Rogers is certainly no exception. I paid her a visit a while back and she began telling me about the many restaurants that adorned the shores of our lovely community in days gone by. The islands were a rather popular spot back then, as they are now. Most of those restaurants are long forgotten. They had names like The Square Deal, Land’s End, Captain York, Dockside, Old Timer, Yale Shop, Pirate’s Cove, Steamboat Wharf and Rock Ovens.
Harpswell Neck had its share of eateries as well, despite not being connected to the islands back in the day. Among those eating establishments were Richard’s, Sunset Farm, Vicarage, PotLuck, J. Hathaway, Estes, The Common Table and The Block and Tackle, which was in Cundy’s Harbor.
Joanne suggested I talk to her neighbors Georgene and Robert Schuster, the former owners of Rock Ovens. I paid them a visit and they were gracious enough to share their story.
There is a building on the south end of the Cribstone Bridge on Bailey Island that has been a restaurant for more than 60 years. Within the last two decades it’s been home to Jack Baker’s Lobster Shanty, Estes II, Morse’s Cribstone Grill and, presently, Sundrenched. But beginning in the early 1950s, it was the home of Rock Ovens.
After rebuilding when a winter storm damaged the structure in the early 1970s, it continued operation until 1979. Georgene Schuster’s parents, Sumner and Mildred Whitney, were the original owners. In 1980, Georgene graduated from The Restaurant School of Philadelphia and came back to Maine to run the restaurant.
Georgene brought a new vision to the area and offered dishes different from the traditional fried seafood. They offered chicken liver pate, escargot, oysters casino and baked stuffed lobster, along with many other fine entrees. There was always fresh-baked bread and desserts. Georgene ran the restaurant until 1990, then in 1991 they reopened as Rock Ovens Catering. She catered weddings and private parties.
One of the most popular desserts on the menu throughout that time was her blueberry buckle. I found my recipe and it is outstanding. Mission accomplished.
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter (cold)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-by-8 baking pan well.
Blend dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix egg and butter, then add sugar. Gradually stir in milk with flour mixture alternately and blend well. Fold blueberries carefully into the batter. Spoon mixture in pan evenly.
Mix topping and cut in the butter until crumbly (use your fingers) then sprinkle topping over the batter evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm.
We know the nutritional value of Maine’s wild blueberries is superb, so I imagine a pinch of vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream on the side wouldn’t hurt with this fabulous dessert. Enjoy!
Cooking at 43° North, a program of Harpswell Aging at Home, brings Harpswell residents together for cooking programs, in person and online. Watch the Anchor calendar for listings.
HAH always needs cooks for its Meals in a Pinch program, which provides nutritious meals to seniors in need of emergency assistance. For more information, contact Julie Moulton at 207-330-5416 or email@example.com.