Authors Posts by Kelsey Perrett

Kelsey Perrett


Pizza at the Beach Plum is wood fired in their new oven. —Photo by Gabrielle Herman

There are a lot of amazing things about pizza — gooey cheese, herby sauces, crispy-chewy dough — and there are a lot of amazing places to grab a slice on this Island. But sometimes pizza is about more than quick and easy takeout. Pizza is best shared with friends, but even better when shared with a community. Almost everyone loves pizza. And there’s something beautifully symbolic about dividing a circle into shareable wedges — especially when the community pitches in to build the pizza oven. This fall, get a taste of that collaborative spirit at one of these up-Island pizza parties:

The Beach Plum Restaurant

In partnership with Island Grown Schools, the Beach Plum restaurant in Menemsha will host Thursday-night pizza nights from 5 pm to 9 pm until they close on Oct. 19.

“The Beach Plum is excited to introduce the community to its beautiful new wood oven,” Elana Carlson of the Beach Plum wrote in a press release. Construction of the oven started at the beginning of the summer, with help from craftspeople in the community. Beach Plum chef Chris Fischer and intern Miles Cornwall poured the foundation; Allan Klein and Andy Magdanz sourced, assembled, and set the oven, and mason John Maloney laid the brick and built the façade.

The Beach Plum collaborated with Island Grown Schools for several fundraising dinners this summer. For the 250-person IGS event in June, local students experienced the behind-the-scenes of the restaurant world, helping with hosting, waiting tables, and even managing the restaurant.

This fall, students are harvesting with Beach Plum staff at a different farm each week. Last Tuesday students harvested vegetables at Beetlebung Farm with the Chilmark Garden Club. Those vegetables were served on top of pizzas the next night.

The restaurant offers a limited menu on pizza nights. Last week included vegetable sides, a kale salad, two entrées, and dessert. Pizza choices will vary. Last week guests enjoyed a pork, nettles, fennel, and chili pie, a long-cooked greens, scallion, garlic, and sheep cheese pie, and a tomato, panna, and arugula pie. The Beach Plum is a BYOB establishment.

Pizza to-go orders can be placed calling: 508-645-9454. The Beach Plum is open Thursday, Friday, and Sunday through Oct. 19. For more information, visit

Orange Peel Bakery

Most Wednesday nights from 5 pm to 8 pm, the Orange Peel Bakery in Aquinnah has the outdoor wood oven fired up for make-your-own-pizza night. Orange Peel provides about 60 balls of homemade dough, plus sauce and cheese. Guests bring their own toppings to share on a pizza assembly line, and BYOB. The suggested donation is $10. “Anything goes” as a pizza topping, according to Orange Peel’s web site. “Consider olives, peppers, pineapples, pepperoni, feta cheese, onions, herbs, quahogs, mushrooms, duck, chicken, asparagus, and pesto.” Because it takes place outdoors, pizza night is always weather-permitting. In November, pizza night will move to Saturday nights. For updates, find the Orange Peel Bakery on Facebook, or visit

Chilmark Community Church

After a summer hiatus, pizza nights have returned to the Chilmark Community Church, every Tuesday at 6 pm through Nov. 25. The tradition is to come for pizza and bring a potluck dessert to share. Afterward, adults have a Bananagrams tournament while kids are free to run and play games outside. It’s a nice break from both the TV and the dinner, and all are welcome. Free. For more information, call 508-645-3100.

by -

At the Edgartown Bridge Club on Monday September 15, nine tables were in play.  North-South winners were Sue Collinson and Bea Phear, followed by Eric Stricoff and Rhonda Cohen in second, Sari Lipkin and Carol Whitmarsh in third, and Sunny Brownrout and Stan Kissel in fourth. Finishing in first place East-West were Barbara Silk and Deirdre Ling, followed by Mollie Whalen and Joe Ashcroft in second, George and Isabel Shattuck in third, and Molly Mattoon and Judy Cronig in fourth.  The Edgartown Bridge Club has moved back to the Edgartown Yacht Club until next summer.  The game will start promptly at 12:30.

At the Martha’s Vineyard Bridge Club on Tuesday September 16, seven tables were in play for an International Fund Game. Overall winners were Barbara Besse and Miles Jaffe, followed by Charlie Harff and Gail Farrish in second, Nancy Neil and Sue Collinson in third, Andrew Jacknain and John O’Keefe in fourth, and Kathy and Peter Clay in fifth.  Also placing in the were Cheryl Neal and Dotti Arnold in sixth place.

At the Island Bridge Club in West Tisbury on Thursday September 17, seven tables were in play.  North-South winners were Barbara Besse and Miles Jaffe, followed by David Donald and Charlie Harff in second, and Robert and Ency Fokos in third.  East-West winners were Mollie Whalen and Joe Ashcroft, followed by Dan and Nancy Cabot in second, and John O’Keefe and Andrew Jacknain in third.

Derby Special: Men’s cut (haircut, hot
lather neck shave, hot towel and neck
massage). Only $16. Mention the
display ad for the discount.

20% Discount for Derby Pins at
Back Door!

Island Inn
Special Contractor Derby Rates

Macdougalls’ Cape Cod Marine Service
Winter Storage, Free Fall Vessel Pickup
for all Vineyard Customers

The Seafood Shanty
Show your Derby Pin and get
10% Off All Food any time of the day

10% off when you show your Button
20% off if you get a Daily Prize
(must show dated award, present within 2 days of award)

by -
MVYLI Youth Leaders: Katrina Lakis, Avery Hazell, Maisie Jarrell, Lucy Dougherty-Soares. MV Environmental Club: Emily Kleinhenz, Kelsey Moreis; MVRHS Students: Jared Livingston, Oliver Silberstein, Owen Singer. MVRHS National Honor Society: Lee Foraca, Julia Neville, Charlotte Potter, Samantha Potter, Sabrina Reppert, Michaela Rivard, Galya Walt, August Welles. MVRHS Alumni: Emerson Hazell; Oak Bluffs School Students: Lilli Ahearn, Caleb Burt, Sasha Lakis, Shelby Ponte, John Rogers, Taylor Rogers and Jusselle Wildanger; Cub Scout Pack 90 & 93: Jack & Matt Heyden, Oliver, Dan Larkosh, Linus & Dana Munn, Henry & Kurt Redfield, William Thorton; BioDiversity Works: Liz Baldwin; Tisbury Waterways: Melinda Loberg, Pamela Street, Gus Lewis; Vineyard Conservation Society: Signe Benjamin, Rob Kendall, Jean Lewellyn; Black Dog Sails: Erin Jackson, Jeanne Rogers, Sofie Suter, Betty Worlfson; and boaters. Dukes County Manager: Martina Thornton, MVRHS Science Chairperson, Natalie Munn, MVYLI Parents: Kelly Dorr Hazell, Abby Lakis, MVYLI Team: Sharon Engler, Maura Valley, Marianne Larned.

On Saturday, September 20, members of the Vineyard community, young and older, joined with hundreds of thousands of volunteers at 5,583 locations around the world for the 29th annual Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. It is the world’s largest single day volunteer effort to clean up beaches, lakes and rivers, according to a press release.

The Vineyard cleanup took place on the Vineyard Haven Harbor and was organized by MVYLI youth leader Katrina Lakis, in partnership with MVRHS Environmental Club. Every piece of trash was tracked and will be included in the annual index of global marine debris. Owen Park had the most trash. There were 4,579 pieces of trash collected. The top three items: 3,344 cigarette butts, 221 small plastic pieces, 205 food wrappers. Prizes were given for the most cigarette buts, and for an empty Crystal Head Vodka container.

Longtime fan of Hopps Farm beer Bob Gusa with restaurant and retail operations manager Jessie Holtham. — Photo by Siobhan Beasley

Offshore Ale Co. celebrated the annual release of the Hopps Farm Road Pale Ale on tap at its Oak Bluffs brewery and alehouse on Tuesday, Sept. 23. While Eric Johnson and Jeremy Berlin played their Tuesday-night live jazz set, customers enjoyed food specials paired with the Pale Ale. “This much-anticipated beer draws a local following,” said Jessie Holtham, restaurant and retail operations manager at Offshore.

Jon Hartzband manned the bar for the busy grand tapping.

The Hopps Farm Road Pale Ale is brewed annually each fall with locally grown hops, primarily from the West Tisbury road of its namesake. “Regular customers Alan Northcott and Ken Rusczyk began a hobby of growing hops on their Island properties five years ago,” Ms. Holtham said. “They offered their hops to Offshore Ale Co. who graciously accepted.” A core group of volunteers — mostly friends of Mr. Northcott, Mr. Rusczyk, and Offshore staff — carry out the harvesting each year. The hops are grown on tall trellises and poles. When the poles are brought down, the hop vines are slipped off and onto a large table where the volunteers pluck the hop cones and gather them in baskets.

Offshore drew a full house to celebrate the release of Hopps Farm Road Pale Ale on Tuesday.

Offshore has been brewing the Hopps Farm Road with contributions from Island growers for five years now. “It’s a pale ale, but a little light on the malt flavor to really let the fresh hop character come through,” Neil Atkins, head brewer at Offshore, said. This year, he brewed 10 barrels — 310 gallons — of Hopps Farm.

“Moderately spicy foods will pair well with this Pale Ale,” Ms. Holtham said. “And locally grown foods will complement the locally grown hops.” On Tuesday, special pairings included local blackback flounder from Menemsha Fish House and local acorn squash from Norton Farm.

by -
  • The Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole trip at 10:45 am has been diverted from OB to VH due to weather conditions.
  • The Woods Hole to Oak Bluffs trip at 11:00 am has been diverted from WH to VH due to weather conditions.
  • The Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole trip at 12:15 pm has been diverted from OB to VH due to weather conditions.

For more information, visit

The "Rasputin's Revenge" pancakes from the Black Dog. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Before you bite into your next breakfast, do you know where it’s been? I’m not talking about your cook’s loose interpretation of the five-second rule. Nor am I suggesting that your food once shook hands with a molecule of gluten (for shame!) and didn’t wash. I won’t even discuss the farm whence your eggs came, and whether or not that farmer’s neighbor allowed the chickens to play in his yard. I’m talking about the metaphorical “been.” The big been. As in, does your meal have a history, a backstory, a name worthy of something other than “eggs and bacon”? If you’re eating at an Island restaurant, the Magic 8 Ball says: “Outlook good.”

Sure, there’re plenty of restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard where you can order eggs and bacon. Or two eggs and two strips of bacon, and so forth in various numerical increments. But this is a land of artists, and writers, and creative types who shun the straightforward. At many Island restaurants, you may have to read the fine print to know just what it is you’re ordering. There are a lot of geographical locations on the menu: Chops and Beaches and Katamas (which almost always have avocado — whether or not there’s a reason for that, Magic 8 Ball says: “Better not tell you now”).

The menu names get even weirder, but if you want to know why, the 8 Ball won’t tell you. Yes, there is a limit to everything, even omniscience. You’ll have to ask the cooks.

Biscuits in Oak Bluffs generally favors the straightforward menu items, until you scroll down and reach “The Stormin’ Norman” omelette. Owner Chris Arcudi says he named the menu item after a hyperactive childhood friend. “He was always storming around, so I called him Stormin’ Norman. I wanted to name a dish after him, and it has all the things he likes: bacon, ham, sausage, and onion.” ($7.99.*)

The Art Cliff Diner in Vineyard Haven has a few quirky names on its menu, but most of them are coded to the ingredients inside. The Smokin’ in the Shower, for instance, is a toasted bagel with smoked (get it?) salmon, red onion, tomato, cream cheese, capers, and a shower of lemon. ($10.50.)

Some menu items on the Vineyard have been around so long that the staff can’t remember exactly why they are called what they are called. Nadine Barrett, a server at Linda Jean’s, can confirm that the “Jacob” was named after one of the cook’s kids “back in the day when Linda Jean’s first opened. He would come in here and eat home fries with onion, tomato, broccoli, spinach and cheddar cheese all the time.” ($7.99.) The “Sampson” (two pancakes, two eggs & two sausage patties, $9.99) she wasn’t so sure about, but she believes it was the name of someone’s pet. “We’ve had a lot of menu items named after beloved animals and pets,” she said.

“Bozo on the Bus”: poached eggs over French toast at the Black Dog. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Jeffrey Hefflin, fondly known by his staff as “Heff,” has been a cook at the Black Dog Tavern since 1986. He can remember the stories behind most of the menu items because he named them himself. After a stint in the military, Heff came to the Island to teach, but found himself drawn instead to a little shack called the Black Dog. “I saw the last of the old hippie days here. Back in the day we used to have stereo wars over Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix vs. punk rock.” Those days live on in the “Are You Experienced?” omelette with asparagus, mushrooms, and cheese. (Grass and shrooms are kitchenspeak for asparagus and mushrooms, respectively.) “They’d never let us play that type of music now,” Heff says, but he still gets to have an awful lot of fun with the menu. Here are a few of his favorites:

  • Bozo on the Bus: The “bus” in this breakfast is the French toast, which provides a sort of vessel for the poached eggs. The “bozo” used to be a customer’s name, but the customer — who definitely can’t be named now — complained and demanded to have his name taken off the menu. Heff obliged, and the next day “the so-and-so on the bus was off the menu, and the Bozo on the Bus was on.” ($9.)
  • Candy Ghost in the Big House: “Our friend got sent to Framingham for driving without a license too many times. It’s two poached eggs surrounded by four walls of French toast.”
  • Charley on the Fence: “Charley was a cook here one summer, and he was a little out of control. He crashed three cars that summer, and one was up on a fence. He’s since cleaned up his act, but he was rather infamous that summer.” (Omelette with mushrooms, onions, bacon, and melted cheese, $9.)

Wait, I’m sensing a theme here, Heff. Just how do you get your name on the Black Dog breakfast menu? “It’s usually something you’re not real proud of,” he admits. The menu is a way to immortalize the stories surrounding Black Dog customers and staff, a way to make sure what happens on Martha’s Vineyard stays — forever commemorated — on Martha’s Vineyard. Then sometimes, they just paint a funny picture.

  • Vlad Surfing the Net: “Back when the Iron Curtain fell, we had a bunch of Czechs come to the Island. Some of them worked here and some were our friends. Vlad was all into the Internet, he was just amazed by it. We couldn’t get him off the computer. I think that item was originally called Vlad has a Techno Party.” (Scrambled eggs with bacon, tomato, onion, and cheese, $8.)
  • Rasputin’s Revenge: “We had this dishwasher that looked just like Rasputin. Long hair, crazy, wild eyes. Every day he would eat strawberry chocolate chip pancakes. Dishwashers are either young kids, foreigners, or people that could have gotten a degree from MIT, but they dropped out. They’ve always got something a little wacky in their head.” (Small $6, large $8.)
The Black Dog's "Happy Heff": scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and cheese. —Photo by Michael Cummo
The Black Dog’s “Happy Heff”: scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and cheese. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Heff himself has made the breakfast menu hall of fame, twice, for his love/hate relationship with the morning shift.

  • Happy Heff: “They switched me to doing breakfast. I didn’t want to get up that early. I was doing lunch or dinner and I liked it because I wanted to go out at night. The happy Heff was kind of a play on my rather grumpy mood in the morning. It worked out well though, I’d much rather get up early and work now.” (Scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and cheese, $8.)
  • Crabby Heff: “They’re the same thing. The only difference is it has fresh crab in it.”

The next time you come across a funky name on a breakfast menu, don’t pass it over in favor of a list of ingredients. Ask your waiter. You might hear a funny story. And if you’re ordering from any of the above restaurants, you’ll surely get a breakfast that lives up to its name.

*Some menu items are specials, and their prices and contents are subject to change.

by -

After 23 years of exploring Chappaquiddick, Carl Treyz gets a whole new view.

After 23 years of vacationing on Chappaquiddick, Carl Treyz thought he had seen all of the island there was to see. He’d hiked and biked all the trails, driven out to the most remote beaches, and fished every shore. Then last year Treyz bought a quadcopter — a remote-control aerial mount — for his GoPro camera. He began to see the island from a whole new perspective: from above. In an email to The Times, Treyz answered a few questions about his videography, and how it can be applied to conservation efforts.


Do you have any background in photo/video?

I first got into photography and videography when I bought my GoPro three years ago. I bought it for a college study-abroad trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands. I ended up making a series of films (like blog entries) of my time there so that my friends and family could get a glimpse of what I was doing. Since then I have been making short films and doing photography on the side. I have filmed everything from sharks to woodpeckers.

When did you get into doing aerial photography?

Just over a year ago I ordered the quadcopter specifically for my GoPro. It opened up a whole new world. Now I take it with me whenever I travel. When I traveled to the Bahamas I was able to get some great footage, and aid researchers by giving them an aerial perspective. I was working at the Cape Eleuthera Institute for the Shark Research and Conservation Program from August to December of 2013.

How do you keep track of the quadcopter when it’s in the air?
The quadcopter is controlled by a single controller with a range of up to about 2,000 meters, depending on trees, hills, and weather. I do “line of sight flying,” and always have eyes on the quadcopter to keep it to a safe distance. Fortunately, the quadcopter has a setting which allows the controller to be the center point, so no matter which way it is facing, if you pull back on the controller it will head back toward it. It is also equipped with GPS, and will hover at a set altitude without any input from the controller. When all else fails, it comes with a safety feature, so if the batteries in the controller die or the controller gets dropped in the water, the quad will automatically sense that it has lost connection and fly back and land itself where it was first turned on.

How do you get to the spots you film?

I usually just drive up to these places, like The Trustees of Reservations and Land Bank trails. After all the time I’ve spent on Chappy, I thought I had hiked and explored every part of it, but since using the quadcopter I’ve found spots I never knew existed.

Such as?

One of the new spots I found was across from the Gut on North Neck Road. I had been to the Gut many times before, but had never been on the other side on Cape Pogue Bay. After flying over the Gut, I saw another pull-off by The Trustees of Reservations, which I then decided to stop at and have a look around. I ended up getting the intro shot to my video from that location through the winding pines and out over the steady drop to the bay. Unfortunately, I was not able to fly at my favorite stop, the rock pile, along East Beach due to wind conditions, but it was great to see the Cape Pogue Lighthouse looking back, from the ocean’s point, of view.

How long did it take to film this and edit/produce it?

The whole process took me about two weeks to complete. All of the filming for this video was done over a few days when the winds were just right, and the rest of two weeks was spent editing. I took over an hour of footage, which got condensed down to almost three minutes. I can get around 15 minutes of film from one flight, so there is a lot of footage to go through.

What do you think of the fisheye distortion effect you get with aerial photos? Do you like it, or does it pose a problem when editing video, etc.?

I think the fisheye is a defining characteristic of the GoPro cameras. I have learned to embrace it over the years, and feel that it gives a much broader perspective and feeling of landscape. It is actually fairly easy to get rid of the fisheye effect of the GoPro. There are settings where it can shoot in a narrower field of view, negating the fisheye lens. GoPro also has free software that can take the fisheye effect out of the video and pictures.


The Chappy ferry and Edgartown beyond. — Photo by Carl Treyz


The Chappy ferry and Edgartown in the fog. — Photo by Carl Treyz


Chappy —Photo by Carl Treyz


Chappy —Photo by Carl Treyz


Chappy —Photo by Carl Treyz


Chappy —Photo by Carl Treyz


Chappy —Photo by Carl Treyz


Chappy —Photo by Carl Treyz


Chappy —Photo by Carl Treyz


The breach. — Photo by Carl Treyz


The breach. — Photo by Carl Treyz


Wasque. — Photo by Carl Treyz


The Chappy Community Center. — Photo by Carl Treyz


Dyke Bridge. — Photo by Carl Treyz


Dyke Bridge. — Photo by Carl Treyz


Cape Pogue Pond to Cape Pogue Bay. — Photo by Carl Treyz


Dyke Bridge and Cape Pogue Pond. — Photo by Carl Treyz


The Gay Head Light —Photo by Carl Treyz


The Gay Head Light —Photo by Carl Treyz


Oak Bluffs —Photo by Carl Treyz


Oak Bluffs —Photo by Carl Treyz


Oak Bluffs —Photo by Carl Treyz


Oak Bluffs —Photo by Carl Treyz


Oak Bluffs —Photo by Carl Treyz


Oak Bluffs —Photo by Carl Treyz

Any other Vineyard projects? What’s next?

I have flown briefly over Oaks Bluff and Gay Head, but am planning on making a similar video containing all of the lighthouses on the Island. I am also producing films and working on more projects for the EnTidaled Project.

Tell us more about EnTidaled.

I co-founded the EnTidaled Project with several friends I have met over the years through my time in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. In a nutshell, we’re striving to connect people to conservation and sustainability efforts around the world, using engaging photos, stories, and short films. We hope to help bridge the gap between science and the public, because there is a lot of amazing, important work being done that people just don’t know about. In a time when everyone is connected to the Internet, fewer and fewer people are connected to the outdoors and things happening in their own backyard. Most people would rather watch a short, two- or three-minute entertaining video than read a scientific paper. We just started, but are getting ready to launch our community page, which will be featuring several well-respected organizations and individuals who want to work with the EnTidaled Project to increase visibility for their efforts and hope to reach new audiences.

What else do you do?

I am currently living in Westchester, New York. Right now I am working as a dental assistant for a private dentist as well as at a local dental clinic. I recently applied to dental school, and hope to start next fall. Outside of dentistry and videography, I am an avid fisherman, PADI divemaster, and just love spending time outdoors.

For more info on EnTidaled:

Frozen fruits and vegetables can be dehydrated right out of the bag.

It’s no secret that processed and packaged foods are laced with weird preservatives and pumped with way too much sodium. Camping food is no exception to the rule. Normally, so many calories are burned and nutrients depleted on a backpacking trip that the body can handle a couple of not-so-ideal ingredients. Unless, of course, you have food intolerances, and at least one item on that long list of packaged ingredients is guaranteed to set off your stomach.

Use a dehydrator to make a trail mix from dried fruit and your favorite nuts or seeds.

This was the problem I contemplated when planning a recent backpacking trip through Glacier National Park. Fresh food wasn’t an option four days in, and if I was going to carry my food over fifty-something miles of trails, it had to be light. Most backpackers get by with little pouches of dehydrated meals, like Mountain House or Backpacker’s Pantry brands. It’s not that they aren’t tasty (though pretty much anything tastes good when it’s freezing and you just hiked 20 miles), but they are full of junk, the vegetables are skimpy, and the meat comes from an unknown source which is made doubly scary when the water is sucked out and it turns to a dry, pallid gravel.

There were two options, as far as I could see. A) Eat packets of tuna three meals a day for five days, constantly attracting hungry grizzly bears, or B) Skip the middleman, and make my meals at home with a food dehydrator.

The food dehydrator is an intimidating object. Mine turned out to be way bigger than I expected, taking up half the kitchen table in my small apartment. It resembles a UFO, and though there are no blades to cut yourself on, it looks like it could easily warp you into another dimension if you pressed the wrong button. Then of course, Google complicated things by showing me “about 232,000” different ways to use it. Could I dehydrate the meat and veggies at the same time? Should I turn them halfway? Would I ever use this ginormous appliance again after my vacation? Some web sites said yes, some said no.

Eventually, I ignored all directions, cooked five homemade meals that I felt would taste good as mush, threw them into the dehydrator at 160 degrees, and waited eight hours until they felt dry to the touch. Then I poured them into plastic bags and hoped to God they would work.

“What if they don’t rehydrate right?” my boyfriend asked. “Are you sure they won’t make you sick?” my mom asked. There are ways to ensure success, I told them: You weigh the food before and after dehydration, so you know how much boiling water to add. To kill off bacteria, meat has to reach at least 145 degrees for at least 20 minutes. Of course, I hadn’t actually checked either of these things, so there was only one way to test my meals: The night before my flight, I boiled up some water and made a sampling of each. Beetlebung Farm zucchini noodles with Black Water Farm ground beef and pasta sauce. The Good Farm chicken curry. Pulled barbecue shoulder roast from Grey Barn with sweet potatoes. FARM Institute eggs and bacon. I was bringing my local ingredients on the trail with me, and they tasted just as good as the day I got them at the farm stand. And no, Mom, they did not make me sick.

It was easy cooking on the trail. I brought along my trusty insulated canteen, boiled some water on a mini fold-out stove, mixed it with my meals, and gave it about 15 minutes to come back to life. The temps drop this time of year in Montana’s mountains — we even got a little snow — and I was glad to have a hot meal in place of cold tuna fish. Plus, there was something extremely satisfying about having done it all myself. I felt like a true pioneer, preserving my food from the harvest to take up into the mountains with me. Sure, the technology of my UFO dehydrator made it easy, but the skill set is one that can benefit any self-sufficient kitchen dweller.

Maybe you don’t backpack, but maybe you have a garden on Martha’s Vineyard, and it’s harvest time, and you are still drowning in tomato and zucchini and who knows what else. Dry the extras to use in recipes. Maybe you love kale chips — try making them in the dehydrator. Maybe you love potato chips, but your bag got a little soggy at the beach — pop them in the dehydrator and they will be good as new.

Jan Buhrman, caterer and food educator at the Kitchen Porch, says a dehydrator is an especially good tool on Martha’s Vineyard because “the air is too moist, you can’t dry anything.” She uses her dehydrator for drying herbs, raw foods like corn tortillas, and preserving tomatoes “because they taste so wonderful at the peak of the season.” She’s also a big fan of making fruit leathers (kind of like a healthy Fruit Roll-Up) in the dehydrator. Looks like I may be using my dehydrator again after all.

Jan Buhrman’s Fruit Leather

  • Fresh fruit (quince, peaches, beach plums, berries, apples, pears, grapes)
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Sugar (if needed)
  • Spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)

Rinse the fruit. If you are working with peaches, plums, etc., take out the pits and chop the fruit. If working with apples or pears, peel and core them, then chop. If working with grapes, remove the stems. You will need to adjust the sweetness based on your taste, so sample the fruit before proceeding. Note how sweet the fruit is; add sugar as needed.

In a large saucepan, add a cup of water for every eight cups of chopped fruit. Bring to a simmer, uncover, and let cook on a low heat for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through. Place the fruit in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste the fruit and add sugar in small amounts to desired level of sweetness. Add lemon juice one teaspoon at a time, along with a pinch or two of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or allspice.

Continue to simmer and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the fruit purée has thickened, another 5 or 10 minutes.

Put the purée through a food mill or chinois. Alternatively, purée it thoroughly in a blender or food processor. Taste again and adjust sugar/lemon/spices if necessary. The purée should be very smooth.

Pour the purée on dehydrator sheets and place in the dehydrator.

We usually keep it in the dehydrator for 12 to 24 hours. The fruit leather is ready when it is not sticky and has a smooth surface.

When the fruit leather is ready, you can peel it, roll it, and place in plastic wrap. Keep it in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

— Jan Buhrman


by -
— Ralph Stewart

Lately, around the office, forks have been disappearing. We’re not quite sure what’s happening, but it seems we buy some silverware from Chicken Alley, and the next day, all that’s left is butter knives and a few spoons. Nelson thinks we should take a page from the bank’s playbook and attach the forks to the kitchen table via chains. Until that day, we eat our monthly birthday cake with our hands, and for those of us who pack lunch in the morning, either we remember to pack a fork, or we make sure to depend on finger food.

Finger food is a glorious thing. There’s something joyful and childlike about it. Plus, in the spirit of Labor Day, which we celebrated Monday, it’s too much work sometimes to wield forks and knives. We deserve some time off from our dependance on tools.

I’d recommend sandwiches as the all-time best handheld meal, but I already wrote about that. I’ve also been required to give up bread these days, which calls for a little creativity when it comes to finger food. You gluten-free folks will dig these meal options. (Carb lovers, don’t worry, I’ve got something for you too).

Breakfast: The breakfast burrito is a tough thing to live without. So if you’re without tortillas for some reason, try simply turning your burrito inside out. Gather your typical burrito ingredients: I like eggs, cheddar, bacon, pico de gallo, and guacamole. Instead of rolling them in a tortilla, buy some really good deli ham (I just got some delicious Boar’s Head rosemary ham from Stop & Shop). Fry a couple slices in a pan for just a minute, and then use it to roll up your eggs, etc. Result: low carb finger food, AND a filling breakfast.

Lunch: Whether you’re brown-bagging it to work, or you’ve got little kiddies who won’t eat cafeteria food, finger food is always a good idea. You never know when the office fork-thief might strike. That’s why the agriculture gods invented lettuce. Because of its mild flavor, you can wrap basically anything in lettuce — burgers, veggies, and/or hummus. Just look for large, pliable, yet sturdy leafs. Morning Glory Farm grows some nice varieties. I like romaine for the crunchy support beam that runs through the center of the leaf.

Dinner: I have to tell you about meatza. Meatza is a creation from Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed paleo cookbook, and it’s the ultimate meatlover’s special, because the meat is the crust! Crazy, right? Yes, but crazy delicious. You season and bake a pound of ground beef (I always get mine from Blackwater Farm), add your toppings (go wild with the cheese if you’re not actually paleo), and pop it back in the oven for a few minutes. It’s totally grain-free, but just as satisfying as actual pizza, mostly because you get to eat a chunk of meat with your fingers.

Eating out is another story. I would not recommend handling spaghetti or ice cream with your fingers, but there’s plenty of spots on Martha’s Vineyard that are fair game when it comes to eating with your hands. Think fried. Sure, you can eat fried clams with a fork if you’re a British princess worried about the paparazzi, but otherwise I say dig in, fingers first, at these Island locales:

Vineyard Haven: The Net Result for fried shrimp.

Edgartown: The Square Rigger for french fries.

Oak Bluffs: Offshore Ale for fried ravioli.

Chilmark: The Bite for fried mac and cheese.

Aquinnah: Faith’s Seafood Shack for fish tacos.

West Tisbury is lagging a little when it comes to the fried food department, but you can always grab a slice of pizza at Fella’s or a cookie at 7a.

It’s also wise to grab a couple of plastic forks when you’re out, and stash them in your desk or lunchbox. Or, if you’re like me, maybe you have an overabundance of forks in your apartment, and you just can’t imagine where they all came from. Do the noble thing, and donate a few to your workplace. Let your co-workers eat cake.