Nothing warms the soul in January more than comfort food, like Donnette Goodenow’s shepherd’s pie. (Kathy D’Agostino photo)

The holidays are over. It’s typical to feel a bit deflated this time of year. The hustle and bustle are behind us. In December it was about comfort and joy. In January it is about comfort and warmth. We are in the throes of winter here in Maine and personally, nothing warms my soul in January more than comforting food. If it’s really cold outside and the sleet is tapping against your windows, by all means, get yourself into the kitchen and create a dish that will fill your heart — and fill your home with a delicious aroma. I promise you, it will make you feel better.

I was seeking a recipe from someone who has lived in Maine for a while and knows a thing or two about Maine winters.

If you live in Harpswell, it’s a well-known fact that you can’t pay a visit to the transfer station without running into Donnette Goodenow. If you see her, I can guarantee you will leave with a smile on your face. It’s just who she is.

Donnette was born in Brunswick and spent her childhood on a farm in Bowdoinham. She has lived in Harpswell for more than 35 years. If anyone would have a down-home, stick-to-your-ribs Maine recipe, Donnette would. Indeed, she gave me a recipe for her version of shepherd’s pie. I’m glad I asked her. It’s both delicious and easy.



2 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons olive oil

14-ounce can sweet corn (drained)

14 ounces creamed corn

About 5 medium potatoes 

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown meat in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Drain the meat. Spread the mixture in a 9-by-13 baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray. Mix the two types of corn and spread over the meat. Peel potatoes and cut into approximately 2-inch cubes. Cook potatoes in salted water for about 20 minutes, until tender, then drain well. (To make creamy, no-fail mashed potatoes, heat about 1/2 cup whole milk with 5 tablespoons butter until butter is melted, then add warm milk mixture to the hot potatoes slowly while mashing with an electric mixer until desired consistency is obtained.) Spread potatoes over corn. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Serve with a side salad and biscuits or crusty bread.

There are many variations on this recipe. Many add a diced onion when browning the meat. Some use lamb instead of beef. Others add string beans or peas to the meat mixture, or top the dish with gravy. Use your imagination. 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