Jarlsberg vegetable bisque makes an excellent appetizer or main course, alongside a salad of fresh greens. (Kathy D’Agostino photo)

“The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get.” — Tim Russert

“Someday you will all miss this.” That was my dad, speaking to my siblings and me at supper the day after a harrowing night. We all looked down at our food and rolled our eyes, thinking he was out of his mind. I lost count of the number of times he made that statement.

You see, it usually happened on a warm night. It would be very late and my sisters and I would be sound asleep. A loud rumble of thunder would indicate a storm was brewing, then the skies would open up. That’s when the phone call would come in. “Tony, your cows are out.”

All it took was one good clap of that thunder to scare one cow and the rest would run. It didn’t happen often and it was usually during a bad storm. It also didn’t matter how sturdy the fence was. When one panicked and left, they all did. One time they made it all the way downtown!

We would be suddenly awoken to grab a flashlight and get our boots on as fast as we could. Off we would go in the driving rain, traipsing across fields, stone rows and woods.

Rounding up 75-80 cows over 460 acres wasn’t all that easy. Thankfully, once you found them and had one or two heading home, the rest usually followed. We would get home thoroughly soaked, then get cleaned up and go back to bed.

We were also expected to get up at 4:30 every morning in the spring to help bring the herd in from the pasture for the first milking of the day. We would come home and sleep a few more hours, then get ready for school. Such was life on a large dairy farm.

I look back today and, as hard as it all was at times, I realize the rewards were many and that I had experiences others could only imagine. Now I realize my father was right. I really do miss it. I stroll down memory lane every year in June as I remember my dad on Father’s Day, which falls during National Dairy Month.

Dairy has a wonderful presence in the kitchen, as a major ingredient in many recipes. Being a firm believer that cheese makes everything better, I have a recipe that is cheesy, rich, savory and completely satisfying.

Linda Kreamer shared this recipe and, having made it, I can tell you it not only fits the bill perfectly for Dairy Month, but it is also delicious.

Linda is one of those cooks who I was fortunate to work with in our cooking group prior to the pandemic. I remember her being focused and methodical. Her time at culinary school surfaced as her attention to detail shined through in her creations. This recipe is no exception.

Linda has lived in Harpswell for 31 years. Besides volunteering for the Meals in a Pinch program with Harpswell Aging at Home, she is also on the board of the Brunswick Area Student Aid Fund and does therapy dog work with her beautiful Labrador retriever, Carly. She will be bringing Carly to some of the preschool reading hours at the Orr’s Island Library this spring and summer.



3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

4 cups chicken stock (if you have any homemade stock in the freezer, this is the time to use it)

2 cups broccoli, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup carrots, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon thyme, crushed (If using fresh, which is recommended, use a teaspoon chopped. If not, dry is fine.)

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/8 teaspoon pepper, or to taste

1 egg yolk

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups shredded Jarlsberg cheese

  1. In a large, heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add flour and stir constantly, cooking for several minutes. Do not burn. Remove from heat.
  2. Blend in warm broth.
  3. Add the next 8 ingredients. (Don’t chop vegetables too fine. About 1 inch is good.) Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes until vegetables are tender. (Do not overcook the vegetables. They will cook more at the next step.)
  4. Blend cream and egg in a small bowl. Then gradually blend in several tablespoons of hot soup. Stir. Add to soup and cook, stirring constantly until thick.
  5. Blend in cheese and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

This is an exceptional bisque that would be appropriate for supper on a cool spring evening — an evening that still has a nip in the air from the sea breezes. Whether you serve a cup of this bisque as an appetizer before dinner or a bowl, along with a salad of fresh baby greens from the garden, as the main course, I guarantee you will agree that it is a delicious recipe you will want to make again and again. Enjoy!

Remember: The summer solstice is June 20. We waited a long time for this day to arrive here in Maine. Enjoy every minute. Stay up late, usher in summer and party till the cows come home!

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 juliemoulton28@gmail.com.