TURNER – Mike Nadeau loves the outdoors – and cooking what he finds there, in warmer seasons, of course. “Anything that’s out there, I make things with it,” said Nadeau, who has a big backyard, with a huge garden, and loves to hunt and fish.
On any given Sunday morning, he gets up about an hour before his wife, Robin; and by the time she comes into the kitchen, he has three different meals cooking on the stove. “I like cooking like that. Then I don’t have to cook every night,” he said.
Nadeau traced his love of cooking and creating his own recipes back to 1969, when he served as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam (where he earned a Purple Heart). “All we had was two to three rations, and I would mix them up and add hot sauce or whatever we had,” he recalled.
Cooking with and creating sauces continues to be one of Nadeau’s passions. He enjoys cooking homemade spaghetti and barbecue sauce. And when people get a taste of his sauce, Nadeau says, “Nobody goes back to whatever they were using.”
Nadeau is always eager to pick up new hobbies and to learn new skills. He retired this past September, after 30 years of employment as a letter carrier for the Lewiston Post Office. While working, he learned how to tap maple trees from a man on his mail route. “Now, I have 16 maple trees in my yard that I tap in the spring,” he said.
Nadeau enjoys giving his homemade creations to people as gifts. Along with his barbecue sauces and maple syrup, he also makes homemade jelly from blackberry bushes on his property and plans to plant strawberry bushes this year.
Nadeau shares his love of cooking with his wife, Robin. “When she makes a homemade soup, I like to help her chop up all of the ingredients,” he said. Together, they are compiling a collection of their favorite recipes for family members.
Besides gardening, fishing and hunting, Nadeau likes camping, hiking and climbing. And when cooking in the outdoors, open flame cooking is “the best,” he said.
On Valentine’s Day, the Nadeaus will celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary. Between the two of them, they have a son, three daughters and three grandchildren. Their love of the outdoors and sense of adventure is reflected in the location they chose for their wedding. They exchanged vows at Waimea Falls on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Nadeau jokes that his wife is quick to remind him that he needs to buy two gifts on Valentine’s Day.
Mike’s old-fashioned fish ‘chowda’
1 2-inch cube of salt pork, finely diced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
4 large white potatoes, pealed and diced
4 bottles clam juice
2 pounds white fish (Nadeau prefers haddock) or any variety of seafood
2 cups cream or half-and-half
2 tablespoons butter
A few shakes of freshly ground pepper and parsley
Cook the salt pork slowly, on low, in a small frying pan until the fats melt and the scraps are brown, about 15-20 minutes. Separate the fats from the scraps. Put the fats in a large pot and heat on medium-low. Add onions and toss with the fats to thoroughly coat. Cook slowly until onions are golden (about 15 minutes). Add potatoes and toss until well coated with the onion mixture. Add clam juice and simmer on medium for 20 minutes. Add fish and cook until the potatoes and fish are done (about 15-20 minutes). If using shrimp and scallops, remember these cook very quickly and should always be added after the fish. Stir in cream, butter and seasonings. Allow the “chowda” to sit overnight in the refrigerator before heating, to bring out the full “flava.” Serves 6-8 people.
1 pound ground, lean hamburg
¼ cup finely chopped onions
1 finely diced jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/8 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Combine all ingredients. Shape into four hamburg patties. Barbecue on high heat, four minutes per side. Add your favorite slice of cheese the last minute of cooking, if desired. Makes 3-4 burgers.
2 pounds ground venison
1 egg, beaten
½ cup finely chopped onions
1tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
½ cup Italian bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup barbecue sauce
4 slices sharp or American cheese
Combine all ingredients, except cheese and barbecue sauce, in a bowl. On a rectangular piece of aluminum foil, spread the mixture and shape into a rectangle. Lay the cheese over the flat meatloaf and roll up, closing the ends so the cheese won’t run out. Place in a greased, oblong pan (meatloaf-size) and bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Top with barbecue sauce and bake 15 more minutes.