Camden Premier Inns
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Camden, Maine, 04843, United States
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Signs of the season, sailing and…fiddleheads!

May 14, 2013

With spring in full gear and summer just around the corner, the Midcoast is bustling and coming to life in numerous ways. We have been lucky enough to have had some glorious, sunny weather lately that has allowed people to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the season. Signified by warmer weather, longer days, and shades of brown quickly turning to bright greens, yellows, pinks, one can easily see why Spring and “springtime” are also often associated with the ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal and regrowth.

Whether its people in their yards and gardens or the schooners in Camden harbor preparing for another season, it seems like everywhere you look there are signs of this “reawakening.” The colors are vibrant - trees and flowers starting to bloom and the whole area is bursting with the fresh, bright green colors of early spring. Speaking of gardens, Camden’s own Merryspring Nature Center was just named one of Maine Magazine’s top six public gardens in the state and offers something for all ages any time of year. With 66 acres that include meadows, hiking trails, an arboretum, hills for cross-country skiing, and an educational center full of gardening resources, it is a beautiful place for a lunchtime picnic or daytime getaway.

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This past weekend also marked the start of the Camden Farmers’ Market in downtown Camden, another sign of the spring/summer season. Established in 1974, the market runs from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday through October 26, and on Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. from June 19 to September 25. With over 30 vendors selling a variety of farm fresh and handmade Maine products, shoppers can peruse a vast array of freshly grown fruits and vegetables, fresh and smoked meats and sausages, jams and jellies, baked goods, Maine maple syrup and much more.

A frequent sighting, and local delicacy, at the farmers’ markets this time of year are fiddleheads. What are fiddleheads, you ask? Fiddleheads are the tightly coiled tips of ferns that typically first appear in the early spring during April and May. Although the word “fiddlehead” could refer to any fern shoots, only one variety, the ostrich fern, is considered edible. The tender little rolls of fern are harvested within an inch or two of the ground as soon as they appear. Fiddleheads are a rich, deep green color with a flavor that has been compared to a blend of asparagus, spinach and artichoke.

To prepare fiddleheads, they should be rinsed in several changes of cold water, removing any dirt or grit, before using. Fiddleheads are delicate items that quickly lose their bright flavor and crisp texture. For the best taste and texture, they should be used as soon as possible after harvesting, but if they need to be stored, they should be lightly wrapped in plastic wrap and kept chilled.

Fiddleheads should be cooked in order to be safe to eat. Most people enjoy them boiled, steamed or sautéed, usually with a little butter and lemon. Due to their short season, many fiddlehead fans also like to pickle them to enjoy once the season passes.

For your fiddlehead eating pleasure, we thought we’d include this great recipe for Shrimp and Fiddlehead Medley from The University of Maine Cooperative Extension:

Shrimp and Fiddlehead Medley
1 pound fiddleheads
6 ounces linguine, uncooked
6 cups water
1-3/4 pounds Maine shrimp, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon margarine
2/3 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Cut off ends of fiddleheads. Remove scales and wash thoroughly. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan; add shrimp and cook three to five minutes, or until done. Drain well, and set aside. Cook fiddleheads in boiling water for ten minutes. Drain. Coat a large, nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add margarine. Heat until margarine melts. Add onion and green pepper and sauté until crisp-tender. Stir in fiddleheads. Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed, without salt or oil. Drain well, set aside and keep warm.

Add sliced mushrooms, thyme, pepper, salt and celery seeds to vegetable mixture; stir well. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat three to four minutes or until mushrooms are tender, stirring often. Stir in shrimp and lemon juice; cook until heated through, stirring often.

Place pasta on a large platter. Spoon shrimp mixture on top. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Another sign of the season is the emergence of our local sailing ships and a bustling of activity in Camden harbor after the winter’s rest. Home to the historic Maine Windjammer fleet and historic schooner excursions, our harbor is known for its picturesque beauty and is a wonderful place to take in the beauty of these majestic ships and plan your own sailing adventure. For more information, and a variety of contacts and resources, be sure to visit our Attractions page at http://www.camdeninns.com/sail.

Springtime eases us gently from the cold solace of winter into warmth and abundance of summer, and with the business of summer just around the corner, it is a wonderful time to enjoy the simple beauty of Camden and coastal Maine!