Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cooking Sundays: Cooking to Knit/ Veg Out by the Fire in Snowy Weather

Woo Hoo!
First snowfall's here, and I am ready to cook up a storm!
What's on the stove?
Let's use some of those leftovers from the holiday dinner, and make a new twist on an old New England favorite - Turkey Shepherd's Pie.

Deceivingly simple, quick and long on the yum factor!
Hey! I saw that look of doubt in your eye.
Just TRY it, really!

After the Holidays Turkey Shepherd's Pie

Here's what you will need:
2 c turkey, cubed, leftover from holiday dinner
1 c baby carrots, coarse chopped or leave 'em alone
1 md onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 c celery, diced
2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
1 Tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
1 tsp thyme, dried
leftover mashed potatoes from holiday dinner
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp butter, unsalted for dotting top
paprika, sweet mild, to taste
hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste

Here's What You'll Do:
1. Saute vegetables in butter and olive oil until tender but not brown. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. Stir in cooked, cubed turkey. I usually add a dash of hot sauce or cayenne to taste right here. You choose - plainer or hot-cha-cha.
2. Place in a casserole dish and top with mashed potatoes. Dot with butter and sprinkle with paprika.
3. Bake, uncovered, 350° for 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are browned and casserole is heated through.
4. If you have leftover sweet potatoes they are great mixed with the mashed potatoes and spread over the top also.
Bundle up, stay warm and knit up a storm or even better... get a family game out and have some good old-fashioned fun!

Have A Warm One. :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cooking Sundays: Cooking to Knit/Veg Out By - Yankee Bean Suppah!

Now that the wood stoves and fireplaces are beginning to warm up hearth and home around Old New England, I thought for my Sunday Cooking to Knit By meal this week could be one near and dear to many a New Englander's heart - Ham, Beans and Baked Brown Bread.

This curious combination - actually curious only to those outside the Original 13 Colony States - is one that has been a staple among church suppers here. Chances were, that if you were in New England on a Saturday night over the years, you would be attending a church supper.

Saturday night community suppers come from a centuries-old tradition that, if you believe in legends, may have had its origins in the idea that Pilgrims cooked baked beans and brown bread (I'll come to this in a minute) so they would not have to work on the sabbath. Truth be known, it was more than likely because beans of all sorts were available straight from New England soil. They were plentiful, filling and best of all, cheap.

First off: Oven-baked ham - the easiest thing to do is find a spiral-cut ham at your grocery store and follow the directions. Or use your own slow-cooked ham recipe. Then you can concentrate on the beans and the bread - which give this supper its true New England flavor.

The brown bread recipe I've included is easy, tasty and just unusual enough to try ONCE, at least. But, if you can find it, Boston Baked Brown Bread in the can from the grocery store, or gourmet food emporium, can be just as delicious.

Voila - New England Ham, Baked Bean and Brown Bread SUPPAH

Baked Ham - Your choice of slow-cooked recipe

New England Style Baked Beans
Serves 6-8
This recipe has one somewhat unusual ingredient for beans - rum, just a Tbs.
If you have a chance to buy a genuine Boston Beanpot, do so. Beans always taste better cooked in the bean pot!

1 lb. dried navy beans, picked over and rinsed
1 medium yellow onion, ends trimmed, peeled and left whole
4 whole cloves
8 oz. slab bacon or salt pork, trimmed and cut into 2"x14" pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. maple syrup
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
2 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
1 Tbs. dark rum
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Bring beans and 10 cups of water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over high heat, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover the saucepan with lid, and let the beans sit for 1 1/2 hours. (This "quick soak" produces effects similar to those achieved by soaking the beans in water overnight.) Drain the beans in a colander, and discard the cooking liquid.

2. Heat oven to 250 degrees. Sutd the onion with the cloves and place in a 4-qt. dutch oven along with the beans, bacon, maple syrup, molasses, dry mustard, and 3 cups boiling water: stir to combine. Cover pot with lid, and place in oven; cook, lifting lid and stirring occasionally, for 3 hours. Stir in ketchup and vinegar. Cover with lid again, and return to oven; cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the liquid has reduced to a thick glaze, about 3 hours more.

3. Stir in rum; season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls; serve with brown bread, if you like.

Boston Brown Bread

1 cup rye flour
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup graham flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
3/4 cup molasses
2 cups sour milk (you can do this by adding 1 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice for each cup of milk, stir and let sit 10 - 15 mins., the milk should be starting to curdle slightly, and it's ready to use in the recipe)
1 cup raisins

Mix and sift dry ingredients. Dissolve soda in small amount of water, stir into molasses. Combine with sour milk, then mix into dry ingredients. Flour the raisins and add to batter. Mix thoroughly, pour into 2 greased molds filling 2/3rds to the top. (Old baking powder cans used to be the standard molds. Now most people use 1 pound coffee cans with aluminum foil for the top held tightly by thick rubber bands or greased lidded molds.) The cover should be high-fitting, and should be buttered before being placed on the mold. It should then be tied down with string so the the bread will not force off the cover as it rises. Place molds on a rack in a kettle containing boiling water which comes halfway up around the molds. Cover and steam for 3 hours, adding more boiling water if needed. Use a string to slice the brown bread. Slices slathered in butter taste the best, lol.

And, as Boston Proper Julia Childs always said, "Bon Appetit!"

Google Doodle for Julia's 100th Birthday

Have a Tasty One. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wood Burning, Weigh-in Shacks and All Things Autumn

Don't you just love the smell of burning wood in the fall?
Swirling through the air, leaving that sharp sweet woodiness of fireplace, wood pit and stove returns.

Around here, once the stoves and fireplaces fire up, it can only mean one thing: we are rounding third and coming into home for the MV Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby.

by Julie Immelt
During Derby time (late Sept. - early Oct.), amazing things start to happen: people converse freely along grocery lines and over checkout counters.
The Weigh-in Shack is filled with onlookers and fisherman alike, waiting to see if "the big one" will be brought in on their watch. And all around, an atmosphere of jovial kinship emerges.

Does it matter that you don't fish?

Does it matter that you can't even identify the four species of fish caught during the Derby?
Nawww. (Btw, it's Striped Bass, Bluefish, Bonito and False Albacore)

Does it matter that you don't know what a Grand Slam, Hat Trick or Division Leader is?
Heavens, no.

Only one things matters: it's THE DERBY, and YOU know it.

As far as fishing contests are concerned, there's some serious fishing going on around here.

For five nail-biting weeks, enthusiasts travel from all over the world and back to abandon themselves to a completely and insidiously compelling race to catch "the big one" or at least get "on the boards"  and win that miniature fish pin to flash proudly along with your Derby cap.

Each day in a weathered shack down on the Edgartown Harbor docks, participants haul their heaviest fish of the day in to see if they can make the boards - those dog-eared chalked-in charts divided into 8 categories that proclaim position 1, 2 and 3 leaders of the day.

Sometimes you make it... sometimes you don't.
Whatever the outcome, fishing the MV Derby is one of the highlights of vacationing and living here on the off season.

This year, our family is especially proud to be participating in the derby and on the boards.

In fact, let me just show you:

Early a.m. fishing - niece Julie

Staking a claim for surfcasting.

                                                  Catches and Keepers

Long walk to a good fishing spot

Making the "Boards"

Will it make it?

Yes it Will!

                             Division and Grand Leader - Boat/Bonito - Andy Wheeler in the lead!


Honestly? they should hang a large sign down at the ferry terminal :

                                 - ONLY 11 MORE DAYS TO FISH THE DERBY-

Just sayin'.

Have a Good One. :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cooking to Knit (Or Veg Out) By: Seems Like a Good Time for This One...

As usual these days I'm a day late and more than a dollar short on this "most weeks" post.

Since fall is here, and winter approaches, it's time to gear up the old Le Creuset french oven for a season of soups, stews and general what-have-yous.

To start it off, I have chosen a recipe near and dear to most tourists' and many islanders' hearts - the Black Dog Tavern Quahog Chowder. It helps when it's served in the Tavern's famous thick, white mugs (which you can order online hint, hint), but any bowl will do, really. And you don't really need to live near the ocean to make this yummy soup.

But of course this is no ordinary chowder. First off, it has won many rounds of many Chowder contests. And, it has won many years of "best of the Vineyard" chowder.

More than that, though, it is a bit... magical. An elixir that will warm your bones (and your heart) on a rainy/snow-laden/Yankee-Clipper-Cold day. You have only to breathe in the first heady tones of the salty sea vapors to reclaim your vigor/bearing/solace for all things island and sea related.

Or maybe it just tastes good.

Either way it's a win-win for you.

From the Black Dog's Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook: Quahog Chowder.

black dog quahog chowder

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Definitely a decadent and creamy clam chowder. There won't be a drop left!


2 ounces salt pork, rind removed (or bacon) & diced
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced celery
3 cups diced red potatoes (keep skin on)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups shelled quahogs with juice (about 6 pounds in shell) - or sub 4 cans chopped clams
1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 quarts whipping cream


1. Sauté salt pork or bacon in a large pot until translucent.
2. Add the onions and celery and sauté for 5 minutes.
3. Pour in about 1 1/2 cups of the juice from the quahogs (or clams) and add potatoes and seasonings. If using canned clams, purchase extra clam juice to supplement for needed juice.
4. Simmer this mixture until potatoes are tender. This should take about 10 minutes.
5. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When it is bubbling, add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. This is called a roux, prounced "rue."
6. Roughly chop the quahogs, reserving any liquid (or just use fresh or canned chopped clams).
7. When the potatoes are tender, add quahogs (or clams) to the large pot and simmer for 2 minutes.
8. Stir in the roux and continue simmering for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This is your chowder base.
9. In a separate saucepan, scald the cream by heating it until small bubble appear around the edges of the pan. Do not boil.
10. Stir the hot scalded cream into the chowder base, mix together, and remove from heat.
11. At The Black Dog, they serve this soup with a dollop of butter, accompanied by oyster crackers or crusty bread.


*You may sub clams for quahogs.
*To prepare this soup as GLUTEN FREE, just make sure that you use a brand of bacon that is designated as GF, and sub GF flour for the all-purpose.
Source: (Adapted from The Black Dog Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook), via

Have a Yummy One. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Opening Up to Possibility: On the Winds of Fall

Up early today.
Sitting at the dining room table checking emails, planning the day.

DIL Jenna sweeps in, efficiently opening the sliders to our deck.
"Grammy," she states.  "Grand-pup Neela says, 'It's a beautiful fall day, Grammy. Let's open up!'"

And with that, the stale, humid stink of summer sails out the door, and the winds of Fall bring in fresh, cool and crisp airs of ... possibility.

You remember that?

Yep, those pencils sharpened, clasped at the ready. The heady aromatics of wood and graphite and old-fashioned machinery chiseling into being those hexagonal wonders*, topped off with a pungent whiff of yellow pigmented paint.**

Clean, smooth paper. Sharply lined, hints of fiber buried deep in its origin.
Just waiting, no begging to be written upon, in big, shaky blocks of letters.

Mouths held so, pursing and working at finding perfection. The effort, in the end, so rewarding yet so tiring.

Remember that Fall?

Well today, Fall brings in that same hope, that expectation, anticipation, even that niggling uneasiness that things will happen. Events will shape us. Into what? We are not sure. But the possibilities? Endless.

The island has always felt like a place where, maybe... just maybe... anything is possible.
And that's it, of course, isn't it?

The just maybes of life?
Those inner stirrings that set a soul to wonder, to act, to soar.

Sometimes high, sometimes low. Sometimes a little of both.
But it's the possibility that somehow makes it ok. Fresh and crisp and new, like the first hints of autumn.

Here on the island possibility includes the "Derby" - the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby. Held every year in the Fall. Five glorious weeks of possibility. The possibility of catching the "big one"... or even ANY ONE (in my case lol). Every day the Dailies Board. Every night the winnings. Every week the Leader Board. And in the end - the possibility of winning a boat or a truck, depending on whether you were the winner for onshore fishing or boat fishing.


Time to gather in the wagons, begin the potluck suppers, pull on the old wool caps and peacoats to keep out the possibility of that every-winter, bone-chilling damp cold.

Ag Hall/Lynn Christoferrs

Woolens at the ready; for knitters, a cornucopia of prospects large or small.

Avocet B Cardigan

Man Hat

And Hey! We aren't the only ones to corner the market on potential. It can be had in every town and city, every berg and village.
There for the taking.
All you have to do is imagine.
Think about it.

It's breathtaking actually. Taking a first step at anything. Even everything you've ever done before has the possibility to be something new, something different, something better.

Or worse, lol.

Do me a favor, will you?
Just think about it...

I think I'll close the doors a bit. Lol.

Autumn Traffic Load :)

Have a crisp, Fall New One. :)

* An aside... the first american pencils were allegedly created right here in New England! Who knew?! Yep, Concord, MA cabinetmaker William Monroe carved out the first ones in 1812.

**Another aside... ever wonder why yellow? Early manufacturers wanted a way to show that their pencils contained the finest graphite available - from China. And in China yellow symbolizes respect and royalty, hence a "regal" product.)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

This Is How We Do It

by Julie Immelt

Living on an island can be pretty cool, but it also has some unusual daily living quirks. Take for instance, just this particular list of 10:

1. We have boat crossings. Yep, that's right. We wait for boats to cross from the waterside to the boat sheds across the main street. A lot.

2. But this is what we see while in the traffic tie-up.

3. We have to sometimes wait for the wild turkeys to finish their banking duties at the local drive-thru window.

4. But this is what we see on the way to the mailbox.

5. We have to plan for trips to America - no "I think I want to go to Wal-mart right now!"

6. But we can have special deliveries from small retail businesses - I once had a book delivered through my car window as I drove by because of no parking spots. Talk about a sweet drive-by. :)

7. At the height of the season, we might have to wait at our favorite restaurants to eat.

8. But look at the view when we finally get there.

9. We get sidetracked by who's for or against the new roundabout at the only blinker light on the island, or how it came to be that summer help could have "pot" mailed to a harbormaster's shack and not get caught till the end of summer, or even how we as an island are going to make it through the winter, economically. But we really do like each other. See?

10. This? This is our neck of the woods, and we like it just fine. :)

Have a Good One, in Your Neck of the Woods. :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Really. I'm not kidding.

I told you I was back and promptly went AWOL again.
Life Interruptus, as usual.

So to tide you over (sorry for the pun, lol), and since it's Sunday, I thought I would put in a quick "Cooking To Knit By" AKA Cooking That Gives You More Time In General. :)


Since moving here, I have noticed that the population of Brazilian immigrants (legal and otherwise) has been growing here, as it has in every other resort area, to meet the pressing needs of the Hospitality and Services industry.

And here, more than other places on the mainland, it seems a more likely point of entry as Cape Cod, the Islands and the South Shore of MA is home to the largest Portuguese American community in the United States. Historically, whaleships visiting the Portuguese Islands, the Azores and Cape Verde in the 1830's brought eastern Atlantic islanders, immigrating permanently to America. Brazil was once a Portuguese colony so... we have many Portuguese Festivals and the best kale soup in the world!

I digress. But it's a good thing, lol.

So today I give you a great - HA - chicken recipe (again with the chicken! WTH? lol) straight from the brazilian luncheon plates so prevalent here in the restaurants. This recipe, Grilled Brazilian Chicken with Rice and Beans, is what they call a - ha-ha - "rice and beans" recipe - ie. the basics. Usually the "brazilian plates" consist of rice, beans, a small amount of protein (chicken, beef or pork), at least one green veggie and salad greens. It is healthfully cooked and it is delicious!

So, voila - my own version of a brazilian lunch plate.

Grilled or Sautéed Portuguese Chicken
olive oil
crushed or fresh minced garlic clove ( adjust to preference)
salt ( enough to bring out the simple tastes of the oil, garlic and chicken)
boneless chicken - enough to serve your crowd
use deboned legs and white meat boneless raw chicken tenders
optional: adding rosemary and oregano and a little Louisiana-style hot sauce to the marinade

Mix up a good amount of oil and garlic (and optionals) as a "marinade" and pour into a large ziplock bag. Put chicken in the bag and refrigerate shaking it around so that all the chicken is covered, from time to time, at least 2 hours, if not all day.
Remove from marinade when ready to cook and grill away till done!

Sautéing (my current fave method):
You can either make up the marinade and let it go in the frig. all day, then sauté, or you can just:
Heat olive oil in the pain medium heat, sauté the fresh garlic to bring out the flavor, add the chicken and cook till done.

On the plate you may add:

Brazilian Rice - which is basically adding a little sautéed onion to the rice when you cook it.
I use a rice steamer so the cooking is done for me - I recommend it!

Brazilian Beans

a little oil
a Tbs. of diced bacon
a garlic clove
1 16 oz. can of pinto beans (cooked with salt only)
about a cup of water
salt to taste
green onions/chives finely chopped

Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly till there's no frothing on top of the beans.
Heat the oil, add the bacon and garlic, and sauté till golden brown, then add the beans, mashing a few into a paste.
Add the water. Bring to a low boil and cook till the broth is kinda thick and brown colored - you might need to add a little water. Salt to taste and garnish with the chopped green onions or chives.

Then you can add your own have green veggie - I like broccoli - and a salad and you are done!

I like this recipe because it stretches my intuitive cooking skills (do I even have any of those? lol) in a safe way. It helps me just "wing it." :)

This isn't a slow cooker recipe, but you can prep the chicken in the morning, cook the beans a short while before dinner, like when the rice is cooking, add a bagged salad, store-bought dressing, and you are good to go, giving you some great knitting or beach time.


Have a Good One. :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm BACK. Seriously. :)

Well, it has been a time ago, hasn't it?

 Going through computer problems has been trying. First it was, what's wrong. Then it was, how could this happen! Then, how the #$%@ do we fix it. Then, what do you mean, we DON'T fix it? lol.

So a new computer was bought, the old failing hard drive scoured for any info. we could save. A back-up drive, and transference lol later, and volia, a new so-expensive-it-seems-like-I-paid-more-for-my-first-car Mac made its way to my writing table.

Now, what have I been doing in the meantime?
I'm working on a photo montage.
Stay tuned.

Meantime, ponder this lovely scene, provided by my niece, Julie.

Evening at the Black Dog

Have a Good One. :)
Wow. That feels good just typing it again.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ruh-Roh: "Every Day Is Like a Wednesday"

Hard drive on computer failed.
Road construction ahead.
Expect delays.


Have a Technical One.  : /