Saturday, August 31, 2013

Raspberry + rose lime rickey

Here is another in a series 
of our weekly Saturday Sippers!

With ruby gems ripening like mad in our raspberry patch, our Saturday Sipper this week just had to include them. This is a fun twist on a lime rickey, with gin, rose water, and raspberries all muddled in.

1/2 cup fresh raspberries, muddled
2 ounces of gin
2 tblsp lime juice
1/2 tsp. rose water
2 oz simple syrup
4 oz raspberry lime seltzer
2 wheels of lime for garnish

Place raspberries equally in two glasses and muddle, then add gin, lime juice, rose water, simple syrup and ice and mix. Add seltzer and garnish with lime. Sip, and dance merrily around the raspberry patch.

Makes two berrylicious lime rickeys!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Color inspiration—purple string beans

How about that purple color?! Alas, once these purple string beans get dipped into a hot bath they lose their regal purple color. But if you like them raw (I don't), they look beautiful chopped in a salad or as part of a platter of veggies & dip.

To see more colors, click on the "color inspiration" label below.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Local characters

jellyfish girl

Doesn't everyone people watch? Well I do! I confess that I'm always people watching wherever I go. In Europe I can always tell the locals apart from the tourists. I particularly love seeing groups of older men or women sitting around catching up with news. On Martha's Vineyard though, I never really knew if I was looking at a local or a visitor, but it really didn't matter. Here are some of the characters that I came across. Above is a friend that we met at the beach. Her name is Taiena (yes, it rhymes with hyena), and she was catching baby moon jellyfish with her friend. She insisted that we look and feel the jellyfish!

superman boy and pork-pie hat boy

the pink club girls

pig-tail up-do baby

Roland and his mom waiting for the bus

fishing boy

All photos by DC

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The shell seekers

I brought my mini travel watercolor set to the island and found all sorts of interesting things to paint. This is what's left of a conch shell. My sister-in-law Sheri is a serious shell seeker and found this particular shell on Chappaquiddick.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Lurking inside Larsen's Fish Market in Menemsha was... (cue the dramatic music)... lobsterzilla! Yup, the biggest lobster I've ever seen. The fish monger gal scooped the lobster out of the tank by its claws to show us just how big the crustacian really was. Run for your lives!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Island grown

We also bought a lot of locally grown produce during our stay on Martha's Vineyard. Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown, walking distance from the house that we rented, supplied us with deliciously fresh produce, scrumptious blueberry muffins and French bread.

The lettuces were grown on what appeared to be 
someone's front yard on the way to the Farmstand.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Getting fresh

We had our share of local seafood on the Vineyard, including steamed clams and local (Katama Bay) oysters, quahogs and littlenecks. One night my brother made us a dinner of linguini with clam sauce using a big sea clam that he had dug up — using his feet while swimming — at the beach only hours earlier. (He also got a toe bitten by a crab in the process.) He chopped up the bivalve and added it to more chopped quahogs and littlenecks, but he left some of the littlenecks whole and in their shells for dramatic effect. So yummy.

A major culinary highlight came in the fishing village of Menemsha, on the western side of the island. Menemsha is a tiny, classic working New England fishing village and the seafood is as fresh as it gets. (It also has a nice beach that's popular for sunsets). Here's a photo of the best local oysters any of us have ever had at Larsen's Fish Market :

The briny seawater in these sweet shellfish made cocktail sauce unnecessary (though a nice addition). We also had these small steamers — golden little morsels that were incredibly tender and sweet.

And it was all "in the rough" — lobster traps with plywood for "tables," old wiring spools for "chairs." And it's BYOB! Here we're all reaching for the golden steamed clams. We made a second visit to Menemsha later in the week and were sure to have one more batch of those fresh Katama Bay oysters. Mmmm ...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Natural beauty

Where to even begin with all the photos we took on Martha's Vineyard? The natural beauty there is quite varied, from dramatic windswept cliffs, to windward-side beaches with pounding surf,  to quietly protected leeward-side beaches. Above is Aquinnah (formerly known as Gay Head) which juts out northward on the southwestern side of the island. It's known for these gorgeous clay cliffs (that artists love to paint) and its quiet serenity.

This is a pier off of Oak Bluffs on the Northeastern side of the island. When we went back a few days later this dock was being rebuilt.

Here is a grassy path that leads down to crashing waves on a beach in Edgartown, which faces south on the island.

all above photos by Diane & Dan

Although a mere 527 feet separate the smaller island of Chappaquiddick from the Southeastern Vineyard "main land," it feels worlds apart. We took the 2 minute Chappaquiddick ferry then went on a two-hour tour on a rugged four-wheel drive truck. The tour was by the Trustees of Reservations and covered their Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge and lighthouse. The photo above is from the top of the lighthouse. We drove right on the beaches and on the sandy trails that wind through the green shrubs. Chappaquiddick feels very remote in the summer, and probably even more so in the harsh winters! 

Here is an overhead view of the ferries going back and forth from Chappaquiddick (top right) to the main land of Martha's Vineyard, crossing Edgartown Harbor. (For the record: We didn't actually take this photo — we left our helicopter at home!)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The colors of Martha's Vineyard

Inspired by... The colors of Martha's Vineyard

beautiful azure blue skies

ever changing Atlantic Ocean

greens of beach grass

sandy shorelines

weathered shingled houses

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gone fishin'

We're currently down in Martha's Vineyard for some sun and fun! Highlights: languishing on gorgeous beaches with crashing waves... collecting seashells on the water's edge... swimming... eating the freshest raw oysters and the sweetest steamed clams on a working dock in Menemsha... sparkly diamonds dancing on the Atlantic ocean... blonde sand dunes with shimmering sea grass... skin all tingly from the warm summer sunshine... sunset cocktails...  It's all good on the Vineyard.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sweet potato vines

We have two copper lanterns that flank the entrance to our bistro courtyard, and around each of them sweet potato vines are growing like wildfire. The lime green foliage on them is bright and happy, and a nice contrast to the green grass.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Swedish Flying Monkey

Here is another in a series 
of our weekly Saturday Sippers! posts.

What do you get when you combine Swedish vodka, Swedish fish and a Lilly Pulitzer backdrop with monkeys on it?  A Swedish Flying Monkey, of course! Most flying monkey cocktails include some sort of banana flavor in it, but this drink is completely sans banana. There's a double Swedish nod with Swedish fish gummy candies, and Swedish Absolut vodka. Yaa, Yaa. This Saturday Sipper will have you swinging from tree to tree by the third sip. 

1 oz lemon Absolut vodka
1/2 oz blue curaçao liqueur
1/2 cup blue Gatorade light
 1/4 cup club soda
one wedge of lemon

Makes two swinging cocktails!

Combine first four ingredients and pour into two glasses filled with ice and a few Swedish fish. Add lemon wedge on rim of glass and start swinging.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ferris wheel

What's summer without a ride on a ferris wheel? This 150 foot-high ferris wheel stands proudly at Chicago's Navy Pier, and provides magnificent views of the Chicago skyline and lakefront. The wheel was modeled after the very first ferris wheel which was built for Chicago's World's Fair in 1893. The lovely photo, almost painterly, is by Amy via Flickr.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy bees

With the Bee Colony Collapse Disorder spreading like wildfire, I always feel fortunate when I see honey bees in action in the yard. I see plenty in my yard, and I'm not sure if I see them less over the years or not. All I know is that they really love the blossoms of this Sum & Substance hosta. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Zucchini + corn involtini

I made a grilled zucchini and corn salad recently, which I turned into a roll-up or Involtini—an Italian word for a small bite of food made comprising an outer layer of something (usually meat) wrapped around a filling. In this case I stuffed grilled zucchini slices (summer squash would work too) with a mix of a corn, onion, and lemon thyme. Think of it as a roulade, and just roll with it baby!

To make this salad, slice zucchini thinly lengthwise and quickly grill. In a bowl, mix 2 ears of fresh corn that has been sliced off the cob, 1/3 of an onion that has been diced, and sauté both in lemon olive oil, fresh lemon thyme, a squeeze of lemon juice, a little grated Romano cheese, and salt and pepper. Then you can either mix with zucchini or summer squash strips and serve as a salad, or place a teaspoon of the mix on the zucchini and roll up into involtino. I also added a little basil pesto to each one.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Crazy for coneflowers

I needed more purple coneflowers (echinacea purpurea) in my new wildflower cutting garden, so I packed the back of the Volvo with them! Strength in numbers, and the bees just love them. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pine needle smoked mussels

Yes, mussels cooked over a bed of smoking pine needles! (éclade de moules) Trust me, the aroma if these mussels was heavenly and the taste was nothing short of sublime. If the thought of flaming dry pine needles scares you, fear not, it was all quite contained, and we kept the grill lid and a hose nearby, just in case. The end result of this forest and ocean collaboration was tender mussels with beautiful, clean saltiness from the sea, and smokey pine overtones.

It's a theatrical experience to be sure, and would certainly entertain your guests. I would have never,  ever thought of this recipe on my own—all credit goes to grilling guru Steven Raichlen, who found it on one of his worldly BBQ pilgrimages in France. Leave it to the French. Read what Steven says about the experience here, and click here for his mussels on pine needles recipe. We anointed our smoked mussels with luscious melted butter. To round out the meal we had halved radishes with french Feta cheese to start, and a simple mesclun salad to finish. Although Raichlen states that it would be criminal not to have anything other than a dry Muscadet wine with the mussels, we think a French rosè made for a darn good pairing.

"The heat causes the mussels to open, 
while the smoke from the burning pine needles 
perfumes the shellfish in a way you can't even imagine."

 grilling guru Steven Raichlen

To start this light summer meal we had
halves of crisp radishes with French feta cheese 
and a few snips of chives.

smokey mussels... mmmm... insanely delicious

 Finally, a crisp mesclun salad with colorful baby carrot spears 
a mini crottin of goat cheese from Vermont Creamery,
and a crusty French bread.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

You say mojito, I say mojato

Here is another in a series 
of our weekly Saturday Sippers! posts.

Just kidding... I really say mojito. What to do with all that crazy wild mint in the garden? Muddle up a batch of minty, Cuban mojitos, of course! There are some reports that the Cuban mojito was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway, and some that say he was a diabetic and stayed away from sugary drinks, but in any case, we decided to name this Saturday Sipper The Big Papa!

15-20 fresh spearmint leaves
one lime, cut into quarters
4 oz simple syrup
2-3 ounces Bacardi white rum
1/2 cup club soda

Makes two minty mojitos!

Place mint leaves and lime quarters into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to bruise the mint leaves (not shred) and crush the lime to release the yummy mint oils and lime juice. Pull out most of the mint, but leave some for effect. Add simple syrup and rum.  Fill 2 glasses half way with ice. Pour your muddled mix over the ice in each glass, and top off with club soda. Stir Garnish with wheel of lime and sprig of mint. Toast and sip to the Big Papa.

Friday, August 9, 2013

By the sea...

Dan and I went on a cultural road trip last week to see two big art exhibits in Maine. The first show was by an artist who painted by the sea, the second show was in a building physically located by the sea.

First we drove up to Bowdoin College to see the Maurice Prendergast exhibit, which blew my socks off! I was always a fan of MBP's work, but after seeing his watercolor and oils in person I am absolutely smitten. (Click here for more information, and here for a story written by my favorite art critic, Sebastian Smee of the Boston Globe). The colorful canvases and sketch books were wildly painted and almost manic in style, but they were also calming in their continuity, and ultimately were somewhat mesmerizing. It was a big show, with room after room filled with joyful and enchanting works. My heart raced with excitement the entire time I was in the museum, and for about the next 24 hours afterwards. Yup, Prendergast stole my heart.

Next, we drove down to Portland, Maine, to see the Paley Collection at the Portland Museum of Art. The museum is located near enough to the Atlantic coastline that outside we could hear the seagulls squawking overhead, even amid the urban pulse of the city. The Paley Collection was colorful and beautifully varied. Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse, Monet, Bonnard, Picasso — all were represented in the show. Read a review of the exhibit by Sebastian Smee here. And the rest of the museum has some spectacular artwork, including some gorgeous Wyeth and Homer paintings. And speaking of Homer...

If we could have acquired tickets to the Winslow Homer Studio exhibit on Prout's Neck in Maine, it would have been quite a day—the Triple Crown of museum hopping. Alas, the tickets are hard to come by.

Still ... what a day! If you live anywhere in New England, I urge you to pack a cooler and go on a road trip to these museums. You won't regret the chance to see these paintings.

Paul Gauguin's mystical The Seed of the Areoi

Winslow Homer's moody Weatherbeaten