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. :)