The Summer Garden!

From the Webster Man…

Well, it’s in!

Garden:2013

The Kitchen Island’s Summer Garden!

Tomatoes, squash, eggplant, basil, peppers, rosemary, lettuce, zucchini, strawberries, cucumbers, pole beans, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree – or so it seems. Four days – over two weekends – of tilling, cleaning, fertilizing, shopping for baby plants, coddling, digging, planting, smoothing, mulching, watering; all followed (amazingly enough) by four more days – not coincidentally two Mondays and two Tuesdays – of aching, moaning, groaning and the application of, alternately, Ben Gay and Tanqueray and tonics to cool the fires coursing through my weary posterior. From Springs past, I know intuitively that this will all be worth it (I have visions of that first sandwich built entirely out of one beefsteak tomato and two slices of semolina bread; oh! I salivate!) but good grief! I’d rather be sailing.

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Market Day!

Market day, indeed! And this was the first day of the season for this particular market, one of our favorites.

Webster and I were strolling the stands by 9.30am…that’s pretty good for yours truly.  I don’t believe I had ingested a single drop of caffeine at that point.  I was super excited to explore the vendors’ booths and put together some dishes using locally-grown produce, seafood and more.  So, on a windy, but sunny Saturday morning, Webster and I, headed about 10 minutes due East to contribute to our local economy!

Chickens, and ducks, and clams! OH MY!

Wanda and the Muscovy Duc

Wanda and the Muscovy Duck!

The market was a smorgasbord of local fare.  Our favorite poultry producer was back and this time he offered Muscovy duck.  Not being familiar with such a sought after specimen, I inquired about its texture and flavor as well as any culinary concoctions he would be willing to share.  Did you know about “duck butter”?  If not, then stay tuned.  The Kitchen Island will definitely be exploring Muscovy duck and the butter it creates while being roasted.

Leeks and asparagus quickly entered my cool reusable market bag.  Followed by fresh local eggs, a couple celery plants for the garden, and several bars of handmade soap…Hawaiian Ginger may be my new favorite soap scent.

Webster sez…

A trés, trés important day out here in the provinces! Our local markets are miniature versions of the markets throughout Europe – but better for the fact that after one or two visits you know everybody!

A stroll through this market is a social event as much as a provisioning run. Friends, business associates, sailing partners – all wandering around checking out the offerings, the vendors and the crowd. Throw in a few of the local canines blatantly begging at the home-made cookie table and you’ve got yourself a tableau of small town USA.

The Bounty

The Bounty…On the Island!

The intent of our market visit being the purchase of healthy local produce, the highlights of this visit, at least for me, were the homemade chocolate chip cookie booth and the pound cake booth, where no small amount of The Kitchen Island’s treasury was promptly deposited. But the closing argument, as it were, was the couple offering clams! 100 clams for 22 clam$! (A scintillating vision of an appetizer of steamed clams accompanied by a gin and tonic began forming in my mind. But I digress…) But my betrothed’s ongoing efforts to keep me healthy ruled the day. However, with her gentle forbearance, I was able to secure a couple of outstanding chocolate chip cookies, two onion bagels and a piece of almond pound cake! Bon appetite!

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On The Road…

Webster sez…

1The girls and I made a trip recently to Wrightstown, NJ, a small town on the outskirts of McGuire Air Force Base, not far from the state capital of Trenton. We ended up in this unlikely spot because there is a fairly significant military cemetery – the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery – about 15 minutes north. Our purpose? To attend a memorial service for my dad (a WW II veteran who died in 1985) and the long-awaited placement of his remains with those of other vets.

Given that this is a food blog, details of the day, as moving as it was, would be best left for a different venue. However, we had to eat – and again, given that this is a food blog – herewith a report from the field.

Tara's

Tara’s Tavern

As one might expect from the location – a military base – five-star beaneries were conspicuous in their absence. (When inquiring at the hotel reception about restaurant options, we were enthusiastically informed that there was a Taco Bell about a mile away.) Our first evening’s repast was enjoyed at Tara’s Tavern, about a mile (in the other direction) from our hotel. Replete with photos of fighter jets, refueling tankers, Apache helicopters and other memorabilia of America’s air wars, the joint was jumping with locals, all seemingly active or retired military personnel. (There was a noticeable pause in the conversational din when the girls walked in followed by a noticeable RISE in the decibel level as bedlam ensued once we were seated. This is not an uncommon occurrence when I travel with the girls.)

The three of us now comfortably seated (in a booth for eight), libations ordered, we settled in. We were obviously not from the neighborhood but after a couple of interactions with the staff, we felt right at home.

Appetizers arrived, most notably a cup of French onion soup for your humble Wesbter and French Onion Soupcorrespondent the likes of which I hadn’t seen in many a year! Overflowing with Gruyere, I was anticipating the possibility that I would, by the time we walked out of this place, be looking less like the respectable middle-aged American I appeared as we walked in than a disheveled Mardi Gras reveler coming off the weekend before Fat Tuesday. However, the ominous start depicted in the accompanying photo notwithstanding, I managed to find my way through the meal while maintaining a modicum of dignity.

Wanda and TaraThe high point of the evening was meeting Tara, the proprietress of Tara’s Tavern. (Like most small business owners, she was on the front line tonight, cleaning tables as the crowd began to thin.) As is their wont, by the time dessert arrived, the girls were quite animated (wine for Wanda and a strawberry daiquiri for The Bug) and as the table-cleaning lady finished the one next to us, Wanda asked, “Are you the owner?” She was. “Are you Tara?” Indeed! There followed a stream of compliments about the decor, the food, the dessert, the waiter (who was flirting with The Bug since the strawberry daiquiri) and untold other aspects of the evening that had escaped yours truly entirely. “We should get T-shirts”, I heard. And in mere moments, a couple of handsomely crafted, one-of-a-kind vestments appeared! We now had a new friend in Wrightstown and I was guaranteed to be seeing double in the morning when the girls were sure to roll out of the sack wearing the same shirt! (sigh…)

A votre santé!

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Wine Blogs We Like

Webster sez…

Wine pour

Add a bottle of wine to your meals!

We have wine with every meal (except with the Cheerios, of course) and have built a wine storage/display case in our kitchen. We’ve started following a couple of wine blogs and will be dishing on these periodically.

The first I want to mention is The Cellar-Fella (cellarfella.com), who states that his blog contains discussions of “…wine, and words composed under its influence.” Having written more than a few words “…under its influence…” myself over the years, I immediately identified with this London-based author and promptly subscribed. Give him a look-see. (We’ll be blogging about other wine blogs in the future.)

As a general rule, our wine selections at The Kitchen Island are generally readily available in local grocery stores and wine shops, and are modestly priced – usually in the $15 a bottle range and rarely more than $20 or $25. No matter where you live, there are a lot of great wines out there. We’ll try to make a couple of general suggestions with each recipe that Wanda posts. But don’t take these suggestions too rigorously. Experiment! Pick up something new on the way home. You will often be rewarded with a great new find!

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Killer Parmesan Shrimp and Grits!

Well, here it is! The first recipe!

The finished product

Voilá! The finished product! Bon appetit!

When I first posted this photo on Facebook, it received a huge response. I knew it had to be the first one posted to this blog.

The recipe, instructions and a bunch of additional photos are all here for you to get started and enjoy a fabulous but easy southern favorite. Please let us know what you think.

So let’s get started!

Continue reading

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The Update

We’re getting close! We’re now on Twitter! The blog will be online shortly.

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Lobster Fest! Good Heavens, look at those babies!

Girls with Lobsters

The girls with the goods!

A celebration at the Kitchen Island! Friends who bought lots near us are about to sit down and enjoy one hell of a lobster dinner!

Steve, Juliann, Norm and Kirsti will follow shortly but look at those lobsters!! (And Webster sez…”Them gals ain’t too bad, neither!”)

The table is set and we’re ready to pour! Click on the photo for a better view! If we can ever get releases signed by all the participants, we’ll post some additional incriminating photos. 🙂

Lobster Table

The table is set for the New Landowners’ Celebration 12 Nov ’12

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