Food, Family, and Memory

atrialobsterI am not certain, but I fear we foodies of Martha’s Vineyard don’t measure up to the truly high standards of obnoxious and perfectionist self-importance that other summer colony foodies get to display. (The Hamptons and the state of Maine come to mind.) I am embarrassed that there are only so many uppity remarks available to us if the lobster roll wasn’t toasted in butter, and what can you say other than “more please” when devouring freshly shucked Katama oysters or Atria’s wok fried whole lobster? Lazy and content, (and now that summer is officially over) we find ourselves with the end of summer blues, and boy, are they running.

Bluefish abound in our fish markets especially smoked bluefish. Now this is an area where we Vineyard foodies can almost strut our stuff: Looking at a piece of smoked bluefish produces the obvious foodie smirk. “Where did you get your fish?” If your answer isn’t John’s or Larsen’s then it bloody well better be something akin to, “Oh I have a friend who lives in the attic over Karen’s garage. He catches and smokes a few fish every week for friends…but they are not for sale.” (I can relate to bluefish as their travel habits mimic ours: Found in Florida waters during winter, they make their way to Massachusetts by June, avoiding the Memorial Day crush of late May). Smoked blue fish served with honey mustard is the ubiquitous cocktail party spread at any Vineyard party, and, I really don’t care where it comes from.

Read more ...

Trolling for Mackerel - Lucy DahlWhen I was a child, for two weeks every summer, my family would go to a small town in Norway called Fevik. We would stay in a hotel called the Strand Hotel, which is, now, a home for the elderly. We were a large family, four children, (I was the youngest), my mother, my Norwegian father, and his sister, Else.

Our days were filled with expeditions that usually involved catching our lunch, by crabbing or trolling for mackerel which we would cook over a fire on a nearby island that was deserted, but for moss and heather.   

I never understood why we couldn't stay at the hotel for lunch, like the other families. The explanation was always the same, it was too expensive and there were too many of us, something that I now fully understand.

Read more ...

hollycakeIt's autumn and that means....

Max's Fresh Raspberry + Pear Bundt Cake with Buttercream Frosting

This cake was the result of what I didn't have.  I wanted to make a cake for my son's birthday, but it was late in the afternoon and I didn't have time to drive to the store.  So I decided to just wing it in the kitchen, which always leads to the new and unexpected.  Plus, the birthday son isn't a stickler about his birthday cake and in truth doesn't even like sweets.  This gave me permission to experiment. 

So I guess I should call this Max's Fresh Raspberry and Pear Cake.  I'm honoring him. This cake is dense, moist, filed with hunks of fruit, and in my estimation, delicious.  I'm fairly certain that it's also not on any diet plans. I serve it topped with Buttercream frosting, the kind that you make from a SINGLE BOX of powdered sugar (recipe on the back of the blue box -- you add to the powered sugar a cube of butter, a 1/4 cup of whole milk and a teaspoon of vanilla.  Beat with the blender.  Works every time). 

Let us begin....

Read more ...

clean.jpgYesterday morning, I stood at the entranceway to our living room and surveyed the damage.  There were stacks of books and magazines on the coffee table, tumbles of blankets on the couch, a smattering of empty mugs with used tea bag strings dangling over their rims.  My abandoned crutches were leaning on the door, my physical therapy CPM machine on the floor. 

Two weeks after my hip surgery I can finally walk without assistance.

This, unfortunately, means I can clean as well.

It’s fine.  I like it actually.  It’s very cathartic after two weeks of being absolutely still.

Shannon, my insane boyfriend and exceptional caretaker, has taken the weekend off to run a marathon in Niagara.  He’s an ultra runner.

This marathon is 100 miles. ONE HUNDRED MILES. I know. I think the same thing.

Read more ...

STOCK chicken beakerA roasted chicken goes a long way in our house. It is one of those easy dishes that requires very little prep. Stuffing the cavity with a whole lemon cut in half, a whole garlic bulb cut in half, some thyme, salt, and pepper creates the simplest of flavors. Smear the body with soft butter, lots of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, toss in the oven for about an hour and a half. Serve it with some roasted carrots and some sort of green and dinner is on the table for just a few bucks.

Rarely does all the chicken meat get consumed. Left overs get shredded, made into enchiladas, soft tacos, or thrown into soups. The carcass gets tossed into a big stock pot along with some chicken necks, lots of roots, vegetables, and herbs. Cover with water, bring to a boil, cover it and let it simmer for 24 hours.

Read more ...