Monday July 22, 2013 | 07:13 AM

North Haven Island, Maine  — The heat wave broke Sunday on the island as it did most everywhere else in Maine.  But here the constant winds off Penobscot Bay are keeping it a soft 73 degrees all day long,  

Perched on the Fox Island Thoroughfare, the terrace will be the scene of many breakfasts and luncheons; the outdoor wood-burning oven (right) offered me the chance to cook over wood, which I did later in the day

North Haven is one of Maine’s most naturally beautiful islands, a tranquil idyll 12 miles out to sea. It’s where I’m spending the week to write a daily food diary to appear here as I immerse myself in the rich farming heritage that has been the island’s past and now its vital present. To wit, the notion of farm to table dining on North Haven is not some trendy pastime but rather it’s what comes naturally off the land and sea.

Though I had four large coolers of provisions from home, the rest, with some exceptions, will be locally sourced.  I’ve spent many summers on Maine’s islands, and you learn to expect the unexpected.  At island markets you never know what’s in stock or out; though the North Haven Market is good by standards, you can’t take anything for granted.

A big roadside event, local raspberries
Local berries sell out fast off the truck
These were used to make raspberry shortcakes (see Strawberry Shortcake recipe "July 4th Strawberry Shortcakes," posted on July 3 )

The Saturday farmer’s market was my first stop after getting off the morning ferry that day, but by 10:30 it was winding down.  Besides, I had plenty in my coolers and grocery bags to get me started before I would entrust the next week to what  is available on the island.

We headed to the North Haven Market located at the corner of Crabtree Point and Pulpit Harbor roads where we bumped into several friends including the very gregarious US Congresswoman, Chellie Pingree, a long time North Haven resident and owner of Nebo Lodge, with her husband and part-time Portlander,  Donald Sussman  who own the 300 acre Turner Farm. The farm has helped change the island from a long dormant farming community to a thriving agricultural Mecca that harks back to the island’s heritage as a farming center.

Chellie Pingree pitching in to tend bar at Nebo Lodge

The resurgence of Turner Farm has become inspiration for many other farms that now thrive on North Haven, where raising sheep has been a tradition.   The island has long been renowned for its island lamb from flocks who graze on the verdant hillsides and meadows nourished by the sea mist.  Foggy Meadows, Sheep Meadow, Grant Family and Cider Hill farms all raise sheep that yield the island’s prized lamb.

At Sheep Meadow Farm, Crabtree Point Road.
Foggy Meadows Farm, Crabtree Point Road
Cabotville Road, typical of the terrain on the island; whereas many of Maine's  islands are heavily treed with pine, North Haven enjoys varied landscapes, with hills and meadows bordered by the sea.
The barn at Turner Farm
The growing fields at Turner Farm are bordered by Penobscot Bay

At Turner Farm the operation is  larger, and the regimen is as pristine as it gets for organic farming, offering extraordinary island grown produce, beef, pork, poultry and a burgeoning creamery for cheese making.

Today, after breakfast I stopped by the Cabot’s Foggy Meadows Farm to stock up on preserved canned goods like pickles, relish, jam, pickled beets and Doreen’s incredible ice cream made with their own duck eggs, producing a custard that goes beyond rich.

Scrambled local eggs with onions and tomato; just stir over medium heat until you get the desired consistency (method below).
I got this recipe for scrambled eggs from a wonderful family cook I met in Bogota, Colombia, many years ago: Saute chopped onions in oil. seasoned generously with salt, until softened; add chopped tomatoes, seasoned generously with more salt and saute until soft then add beaten eggs, stirring into the mixture and cooking until desired consistency--it helps to use a nonstick saute pan or a well-seasoned black cast-iron skillet.  The eggs will stick somewhat but that's OK.

Down the road a bit I went to Sheep Meadow to buy some lamb (I’ll get some from Foggy Meadow later in the week) as well as chicken and mutton sausage. 

Local bacon, cut thick, heavily smoked and cooked over low heat until nicely browned, turning often.
Beautiful produce at Turner Farm.
The bar at Nebo Lodge.
It took about a half hour to get the fire just right to grill steak over hot embers.
These are culotte steaks, which I brought from the Portland butcher at Rosemont Market; they're cut from the bottom end of the sirloin and are incredibly tender with intense beef flavor--just season it generously with salt, pepper and garlic granules (powder or salt), letting the seasoning settle in for about 5 minutes then wet your hands with water and rub the salt mixture into the meat then brush with canola oil and set on the grill.
Grilled culotte steak with local potatoes and green beans was the perfect dinner.
Cream biscuits for the shortcakes (see July 4th Strawberry Shortcakes for recipe); I used Maine Country Butter (available at Whole Foods) and heavy cream from Beth's Market in Warren for the biscuit dough.
Raspberry shortcakes

Coming up next, North Haven oysters and lobster.

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About the Author

John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.

In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.

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