These are blue-sky days, great for weddings; but I am a gardener and hoping for rain. Everything I see is hanging in droughty ribbons. Yet “there is no drought, only abnormally dry conditions.”
Early Fall Garden
Gardeners face such a variety and quantity of projects and endeavors at this time of year that it is hard not to be bewildered and spun upon the wheels of indecision.
Redesign? Rework beds? Dig and divide? Renew soil? Prep houseplants to return indoors? Visualize plantings and order bulbs? Soil test? Lawn repair? Mulching? And it isn’t as if we are all ladies and gentlemen of leisure, daintily picking up a pair of garden snips in our endless idle hours!
However, let’s review these topics. The end of the season is a great opportunity to go through the garden with a revising eye, while the recollection of what worked, what did not, and what downright annoyed you, is still fresh. (This is where frequent photos of the garden help greatly.) In my garden, a Japanese maple sapling is coming out — not without guilt on my part. It was part of a scheme of three young trees, planted to create a backdrop with four-season interest for a portion of a bed. Well, this one proved to be more of a light-blocker than I’d anticipated, so — sayonara.
Reworking beds is simplified after plants have been cut back, although the digging can be laborious nonetheless. Removing growth creates clarity vis-à-vis their location and relation to one another, and there are no tops to deal with if you decide to shift some. This is a good opportunity to renew soil by adding compost or leaf mold, too, while plants are out of the ground, especially if you did find the soil hard to dig.
Mulching can be just about the last garden task of the entire year, done after leaf drop and cleanup, and just before true cold weather sets in. Alternatively, should you have had a load of mulch delivered and unloaded in a convenient spot, it can be spread, little by little, as you do this reorganizing work. Keep a bag of low-number, organic soil food (i.e., fertilizer) nearby, to side-dress the area around the plants as you mulch.
You know with certainty that next spring you will find that your place needs more spring-flowering bulbs, so don’t disappoint yourself. Ordering bulbs should be simplified if you have been perusing the bulb catalogues as they come in. Many arrive in spring, while bulb season is underway. The rub is that the lists may be made “mentally” and “mentally” disposed of, too.
With the endemic Island deer problem, where we can plant tulips for any real landscape enjoyment is a problem. For several years I have been locating tulips in my vegetable garden, more as a cut-flower crop than as an enhancement of the garden landscape. This year, however, voles (?) seem to have discovered them; I continue to find dug and gnawed tulip bulbs lying on the ground.
If you wish to have plants such as digitalis, lunaria, hesperis, and lychnis, biennials all, sow or locate the young plantlets and transplant, or let grow, now.
Houseplants have grown over the summer, and may need repotting before returning indoors. Water well and then remove root balls from pots and slice off about an inch of root mass and old soil, using an old kitchen knife. Replace in pots and fill in with fresh container mix. Soak them well. Top growth may need to be reshaped to balance the loss of roots.
Lawn repair and renewal is a classic fall project, but one that is predicated upon the arrival of fall rains. While warm, dry conditions prevail, hold off on this one.
Soil testing may be done now, and no oven drying is needed — the soil is already dry. The new address for UMass soil testing: UMass Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Lab, 203 Paige Laboratory, 161 Holdsworth Way, Amherst, MA 01003. Go to the UMass web site at soiltest.umass.edu for information and to download order forms. Specify that you want advice for organic management.
Fall Garden: Sedums
When summer’s annuals and perennials are looking tired, the sedums come along to enliven the garden scenery and attract myriad pollinators. In this dry month, they have been outstanding! Most familiar may be the sturdy, often-used “Autumn Joy” (Hylotelephium “Herbstfreude”), but there is actually much more to choose from among these succulents. Late-summer sedums’ color range is primarily pale pink aging through ruby to mahogany.
If one goes toplantlust.comone can view the many varieties and cultivars of sedum (also called stonecrop) available, and find where to get them. The variety is extensive and enormous, and many are for specialist gardeners. These are all succulents and well adapted to dry or rock-garden conditions, something to keep in mind during these “not drought” times.
My new sedum fave is “Xenox,” a dark-leaved cultivar just under two feet tall, with rosy pink flowers at summer’s end. I like it grouped with “Matrona,” a slightly taller German introduction with paler, starry flower heads that age pink, greenish foliage, and wine-red stems.
The stonecrops as a group are endearingly called “kinder” plants, as leaves and stem pieces root effortlessly, producing offspring, or “kinder.” Give them full sun exposure and well-drained soil, and divide after three or four years. The plants of large-flowered taller varieties may be pinched early in the season to make for bushier growth and daintier flower heads, which may lessen the need for staking a large clump.
Sept. 12, Zoia Properties LLC sold 63 Moshup Trail to John R. and Theresa M. Levinson for $3,025,000.
Sept. 9, Bertha M. Williston sold 11 Dreamers Way to Peter Thigith for $389,000.
Sept. 10, Mary Beth Baptiste sold 106 Pennsylvania Ave. to Tracey and Allen Williams for $500,000.
Sept. 11, Lisa Strachan, trustee of Subtrust for the Benefit of Penelope Thomas, sold 52 Waterview Rd. to Jaime C. Benavente and Caroline Crosbie for $762,500.
Sept. 12, Eleanor P. and Norman Hohenthal, trustees of the Eleanor P. Hohenthal Revocable Trust, sold 364 Barnes Rd. to Charles S. and Marianne C. Sebastian for $385,000.
Sept. 12, Treva Bass sold 7 Pacific Ave. to Sheila T. Beasley for $470,000.
Sept. 11, Paul Tines sold 98 Pine Tree Rd. to Elton T. Nascimento and Sarah R. Monast for $278,000.
Sept. 12, Charles Dana Bangs and James Dexter Banks sold 115 Skiff Ave. to Paul S. Bangs for $116,666.
Sept. 12, Paul S. Bangs, trustee of the Dorothy K. Bangs 1991 Revocable Trust, sold 230 Skiff Ave. to Charles Dana Bangs and Elaine Louise Phoutrides for $343,332.
Sept. 9, Christopher S. and Deborah L. Cini sold 89 Pin Oak Circle to Donald T. and Marcia W. MacGillivray for $245,000.
Sept. 12, John Lawrence Donnelly, 3rd and Amy Harrison Donnelly, trustees of the Harrison Donnelly Trust, sold 16 Red Coat Hill Rd. to Geoghan E. Coogan, trustee of 16 Red Coat Hill Road Realty Trust, for $445,000.
Sept. 3, Ann W. Bassett and Laurie J. Hall, trustees of the Gordon W. Bassett Marital Trust and the Gordon W. Bassett Revocable Trust, sold 49 Morse St. to Joseph B. McCall, IV, for $1,525,000.
Sept. 5, Joseph Araujo sold 1 Hollow Way to CIL Realty of Massachusetts Inc. for $625,000.
Sept. 5, Paul and Ashley Gilbert sold 29 Fourteenth St. South to Rebecca S. Hamilton and Jeffrey R. Lamarche for $505,000.
Sept. 3, Doris I. Williams sold 31 Cannahoot St. to Robert M. Diebold for $332,000.
Sept. 4, Richard and Ruth Gaffey sold 37 Katama Ave. to Lisa S. Crisp, trustee of the Generation Skipping Trust, for $364,000.
Sept. 5, Jason F. and Luke F. Debettencourt sold 10 Lagoon Rd. to Charlotte E. and Matthew A. Bolduc for $384,000.
Sept. 5, Kristin Hanna sold 15 West Meadow Lane to Jeffrey J. Younger and Lorinda Karoff for $735,000.
Sept. 5, Michael Ashford a/k/a Michael S. Ashford, Doug Ashford a/k/a Douglas E. Ashford, Jr., and Sarah Safford sold 184 Circuit Ave. to Mary Dzialo for $445,000.
Sept. 5, Melanie Forster sold 61D Ocean Ave. to Thomas and Mary Jo Hjerpe for $430,000.
Sept. 5, Larkin B. Reeves, trustee of the Larkin B. Reeves Family Trust sold 35 Wamsutta Ave. to Andrew F. Upton for $395,000.
Sept. 3, Helen D. Howze and Judith D. Corbett, individually and as trustees of the Florence A. Dove 1991 Trust, and Helen D. Howze and Judith D. Corbett, as Personal Representatives of the estate of Florence Asher Dove, sold 73 William St. to Ethan W. and Tracey O. Stead for $1,287,500.
Sept. 4, Harvey M. and Heidi R. Scher sold 132 Canterbury Lane to George W. Brown, Jr. and Margaret V. Brown for $545,000.
Sept. 5, John G. Early and Jeffrey Serusa sold 32 Breakdown Lane to Carl J. Kenney, trustee of the Kenney Family Realty Trust, for $550,000.
Building Shelter, Inc., of Oak Bluffs is now a Certified Passive House Institute U.S. consultant. The Passive House system is the most demanding energy building standard in the world, using advanced building science to create extremely energy-efficient homes, according to a press release. “Our clients will benefit from improved indoor air quality, very low energy use, and reduced operating and maintenance costs,” said owner Ben Kelley. “A Passive House is a critical part of the solution to our environmental challenges. These homes express our values.” For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-693-7734.
Excerpted from “Kale, Glorious Kale” by Catherine Walthers and photographs by Alison Shaw.
I thoroughly enjoy being a cookbook author in a local community. People are so supportive. Both Rusty Gordon from Ghost Island Farm and Debby Farber from Blackwater Farm let me roam their fields and use their kale to test in many dishes. Debby introduced me to baby kale — which is something everyone should try -— it’s so tender and delicious. A lot of the local farmers sell baby kale now at the stands and farmers market and I have a whole chapter of recipes. Early fall is a perfect time to plant baby kale in your garden.
A number of local people contributed recipes as well — Tamara Weiss loves kale and gave me Kale Revolution in a bowl -— a massaged kale salad with lemon, garlic, hazelnuts and goji berries that people love. Chris Fischer has his Kale Caesar Salad in there; and Jim Feiner created a kale-slaw. [There’s also] photographer Randi Baird’s kale farro salad — a favorite of mine, private chef Nicole Cabot’s kale veggie burgers, Jessica Roddy’s kale and feta pizza and cheesemaker Jackee Foster’s kale, cranberry and apple salad. I got some great ideas — such as the kale latkes from my friend Sarah Vail, and a tortilla kale soup idea from Laura Roosevelt. People are so supportive on the Island — I run into people all the time who make recipes from previous books and send books to their friends. Of course, this is the third book I’ve done with Alison and I feel very lucky to have her translating my recipes into photos… And of course, my husband Dave and son, who ate kale with me each and everyday during a six month kale testing period (140 days straight).
Kale, Bean and Vegetable Soup
This is a quick-cooking soup ready in less than 45 minutes to make use of fall garden or farmer’s market vegetables, including your kale. I enjoy the bright green hue of kale cooked separately in this soup. To skip that extra step, add kale directly to soup after it’s simmered for 10 minutes.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 whole leek, cut in half lengthwise, rinsed, and sliced
2 cups butternut squash, cut into 3/4 inch dice
4 carrots, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
6 cups water
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices, or 1 cup freshly roasted home tomatoes
5 cups kale, (about 1 small bunch), stalks removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed well with hot water
Salt and pepper
1. In a soup pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the leek, butternut squash, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté until leek is wilted, 8 – 10 minutes, stirring often. Add chili powder and oregano and stir 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
2. Add the water, a few pinches of salt and the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes, until vegetables are cooked, but not falling apart.
3. Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan and cook the kale, covered, in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain, and add to soup, along with beans. Season with additional salt, until the flavors pop, and pepper.
Butternut Squash, Kale and Corn
This is an attractive combo of three fall favorites, especially in that period when squash comes to markets, but fresh local Morning Glory Farm corn is still available. If you can’t find fresh corn – which does add a nice light crunch – try the Cascadian Farms frozen corn. We love this side dish with seared scallops and a basil or lemon sauce.
1/2 bunch kale, leaves stripped off stalks, chopped into bite-sized pieces ( 4 to 5 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 -3/4-inch dice (3 -4 cups)
1. In a large skillet with a lid, bring 3 to 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the kale. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally until tender, 4 – 6 minutes, depending on the kale. Drain in a colander, shaking a few times, to release steam and stop the cooking.
2. Dry the skillet and add the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the butternut squash and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and cooked without falling apart, about 15 minutes. Add a few pinches of salt while cooking. (The pan should be large enough to fit squash in a single layer). Add the corn, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper and cook 4 to 5 additional minutes, until corn is cooked. When ready to serve, add the kale back into the pan and stir gently to warm. Add another pinch of salt for the kale. Squeeze a little lime into the dish or pass lime wedges around for people to squeeze their own.
Alison Shaw and Catherine Walthers will be signing copies of their new book on Sunday, September 7, 4-6 PM at the Alison Shaw Gallery, Dukes County Ave., Oak Bluffs. www.alisonshaw.com. In addition to books, and Alison’s “Best of” new work from the 2014 season, Cathy will be providing taste samples of kale recipes from the book.
The Labor Day weekend rain, four tenths of an inch in my rain gauge, could not have been timelier. The flawless weather of the past several weeks was perfect for the Fair and likely drew few complaints from visitors. However, as drought conditions emerged, it was another story for farmers and gardeners. Watering has been doubled up, insufficiencies in irrigation programs revealed, and signs of stress have appeared everywhere, in domesticated and undomesticated landscapes alike.
It is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of composting, mulching, and using composted woodchips to build up soil and offset the detrimental effects of dry spells, as well as other extremes, but now is an apt moment.
A soil scientist could better explain the processes that take place in the breakdown of organic matter into compost and humus, but my own experience satisfies me sufficiently. Microscopic bacteria and fungi are at work, but I do not need to see them. Go out in the early morning and see what is wet with dew. Bare “dirt” is dry. Soil containing lots of organic matter — earthworm casts, leaf mold, compost — is dew-soaked and wet, due to its ability to attract atmospheric moisture out of the air and hold it.
Whatever your yard, lot, or garden generates, in terms of biomass waste, needs to go on a compost pile and be returned to the soil from which it originated.
It is good for your land and it is good for your municipal landfill! The lawn, flowers, or vegetables that are grown with this reinforcement are far more resilient, drought-resistant, floriferous, tasty, or nutritious than they would be without it. Although many of us could care less, it is a personal carbon sink as well.
When you see a tree or shrub with some leaves already turning yellow or red at this time of year, you may sure that you are seeing signs of stress. Drought stress is draining those parts of the plant of their green chlorophyll (which is almost like human blood) and revealing the underlying pigments that the chlorophyll’s presence masks. It is autumn, but prematurely.
Maples, with their shallow root systems, are particularly vulnerable to drought, or to the radiant heating of the soil that takes place at this time of year, but drought stress is not limited to them. Although maples (genus Acer), are the favorite tree of millions of Americans, this is one reason that I do not recommend planting them here. They are beginning to suffer chronically in this plant hardiness zone. Think Canada: the trademark tree of cool, northern, forest conditions is becoming too marginal for 7a.
However, if your maple or other woody plant is turning red in August, mulch the root run area, and then water it. Compost, leaf mold, straw, mulch, composted wood chips: all will moderate the soil temperature around the root system and help to attract and hold in moisture.
Though the thrum of cicadas is still rattling high in the oak trees, it is time to return to school. The earliness of it is a shock, since it seems as if the last day of school was only just the other week. I am thankful I no longer have to pack school lunches; the situation has become vastly more complicated by allergies and dietary preferences, leaving aside kids’ traditional pickiness. Kristin Kimball of Essex (N.Y.) Farm, the author of The Dirty Life, has some practical suggestions in this post about school lunches on the farm website,
The time of harvest is also here. My husband becomes Mr. Green Bean and takes responsibility for freezing them. He has recently expanded his repertoire to include making and freezing kettles of Garden Special, an indispensible, all-purpose base of tomato, onion, green pepper, and celery (our valuable collection of Mermaid Farm yogurt containers thus finds its ultimate purpose.)
The cellar, with its dehumidifier running anyway, holds trays of drying shell beans and mystery bags and bundles of drying herbs and seed-heads. Strewn around my kitchen counter are trays of halved and seeded paste tomatoes for the purpose of making Tomates confites, a delectable oven-roasted product that may be frozen or preserved in olive oil. (I am re-printing it because it is such a versatile way to preserve tomatoes.) This year I tried putting them in my closed cold-frame to pre-dry before turning on the oven, which becomes a “hot-frame,” achieving 150°F.
Tomates Confites (from Chocolate & Zucchini)
Ripe ‘Roma’ or ‘San Marzano’ (paste type) tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper, sea salt
Chili pepper flakes (optional)
Dried herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, thyme (optional)
Preheat oven to 210°F. Cut tomatoes in half and ream out seeds with your thumb (save juice and pulp for another purpose). Place cut sides up on a well-oiled or silpat-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, spices if using, and drizzle with olive oil. Put into the oven to bake for two or three hours, keeping an eye on them. Use warm or cold in pasta, salads, sandwiches, spreads, soups, etc. To freeze without clumping, freeze the baking sheet for a couple of hours, after which you can transfer the tomatoes to freezer bags or containers.
Aviram Rozin, in a recent talk at The FARM Institute, described the reforestation work of his organization, Sadhana Forest. In arid, deforested parts of India, Haiti, and Kenya, Sadhana Forest’s projects focus on indigenous reforestation, water conservation, food production, and introduction of sustainable practices. They have enjoyed a high success rate due to practical, low-tech methods of propagation and planting, emphasizing long-term sapling survival above sheer numbers of planted trees.
An enlightening facet of Sadhana Forest’s projects has been the searching out of tree species to plant in each locale that are not only native, having food, fodder, or medicinal properties, but which are also oxalogenic. This is the ability to go beyond sequestering atmospheric carbon, which all trees and forests store in their tissues, to actually transferring it into the surrounding soils, in the form of calcium carbonate, for long-term storage.
Excerpted from Morning Glory’s Farm Food: Stories from the Fields, Recipes from the Kitchen by Gabrielle Redner with photography by Alison Shaw; published by Vineyard Stories, August, 2014. Morning Glory Farm is one of the local farms participating in the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival, October 16-20, 2014.
New Fields for an Island Farmer
by Jim Athearn, Farmer
Since I returned home to become a farmer in 1973, I have enjoyed walking in the footsteps of my Island ancestors, as well as countless generations of other farmers, who have turned the soil with a plow, dried hay in the June sun, admired green rows of healthy crops, led cattle to green pastures, and sat gratefully at a family table laden with foods drawn from our own lands and waters. I have felt a common bond with the men and women from all centuries who have worked hard and experienced suffering and joy from living with the forces of nature.
After forty years of thinking I was living in the past by my stubborn insistence on agriculture as my living and lifestyle, I am now finding I am not alone. All around me are people defining the future through small farms, living locally, and appreciating the simple goodness of fresh, pure food. I see this in the way my two sons and daughter are raising and feeding their own children, in the scores of enthusiastic applicants asking for work on our farm, in the vibrant West Tisbury Farmers’ Market, and in the new small farms popping up on Martha’s Vineyard. Eating local food has generated a new word, locavore, while across the nation food buyers are asking where and how their food was grown.
To be honest, we have always had people wanting local foods since we first set up our planks and sawhorses by the side of the road to sell vegetables.Through the years I frequently heard stories from our customers about how they visited their grandparents’ farms and enjoyed the lifestyle and food. However, these were also the first generations to reject farming for a living.They had come to believe there was no money in farming, and that the only food possible was from mass production on large farms. They got used to the supermarket quality of tomatoes and corn.They forgot what a good, fresh vegetable tastes like. Our customers, who have for almost forty years gone out of their way to buy fresh vegetables, were the exception, not the rule.
Many years ago, I ate in one of our local restaurants where the carrots — not my carrots but cheap ones from off-Island — were served as an afterthought to the entree and were tasteless mush. I thought, “These cooks do not respect the vegetables.” More recently, my daughter, Prudence, then a vegetarian and now a nutritionist, expressed great delight in the taste of some simple vegetable. I marveled that she could get so excited about a mere vegetable and realized that I, too, did not respect my vegetables, not the way she did.
I began to really taste each vegetable, unadorned with butter or salt, and now I know they are indeed equal partners to the meat on the plate. I could make a meal of sautéed shallots and bok choy now, if there wasn’t so much other good food to enjoy. I also began to appreciate their nutritional value.
I’ve realized:You can live on this stuff!
Like a converted agnostic, I want to preach to the world,“Respect your vegetables!” I want more of our customers to enjoy beets, Napa cabbage, and, of course, bok choy.This is one of the themes of this book and through these pages we are hoping to bring people a little closer to full appreciation and respect for our great home-grown foods—and the work and love that goes into them.
It was a great surprise and joy for me when our sons Simon and Dan wanted to join us on the farm. They’ve added new thoughts, energy, and excitement.Yet since the beginning we have been blessed with talented, dedicated employees who have contributed to our farm culture. Many have continued to work in agriculture after they have left us.
And many of the employees today reflect a growing interest in farming.They are serious about learning the technical skills of farming—about soil structure and chemistry, bio-controls, and cover cropping. On Chappaquiddick, four bright, educated men and women, led by Lily Walter, created a new farm from scratch on rolling land and unimproved soil. All veterans of our own farm, they have the experience and energy to make it work. Other young people, either new to the Vineyard or raised here, are launching serious ventures in food production.
Some of them may have picked up some lessons from Morning Glory Farm, but they have also created a new community of forward thinking farmers.They may be motivated by media buzz about the local-food movement and a recognition that people who work the land are to be respected. But this newly vitalized acceptance of farming as a way of life is reflecting what I believe is a universal desire to work with the land to feed ourselves. Chefs and food writers have it right: they want to use what’s grown close, and they know it tastes better. Local farms are the focus of it all.
I feel stirrings of excitement as I discover new fields of learning and improvement opening up for farmers today. In particular, I am excited about discussions of soil health and how new methods of tillage and cover cropping, combined with better soil tests and more precise balancing of crop nutrients, can lead to healthier, more productive crops with less fertilizer. This year we have started growing some of our corn and pumpkins using no-till methods. Daniel is experimenting with ways to grow strawberries that don’t get swamped with weeds, and Simon is expanding our greens and winter crops for extended seasons. Our kitchen, bakery, and cannery keep finding new ways to process our vegetables, fruits, and meats to create more products for our customers to try. A young woman on our staff who has been trained in viticulture has planted our first vineyard.The grapes will be used for jams and fresh eating.
On an island it is easier to conceive of finite-ness. In America at large the experience has been that there are no limits: go west, go up, get more. Here on the Island each resource is limited.The natural resources of the Island—good fishing and hunting, shellfishing, crop fields and pastures, and nature trails on conservation land—help us share our values with each other, reinforcing the bond between Islanders. This environment is supportive to farmers trying to earn a part or all of their living by selling local food.
Our Island values have helped the Vineyard become a prime place for people who want to keep land free for farms and for conservation. Here, we want to eat flavorful fresh eggs, grass-fed, hormone-free beef, humanely raised chicken, fresh vegetables, and even milk and cheese from cows and goats raised here. Here, we also want to teach our children about what that means.
It is gratifying to see bright young people eager to learn agriculture and to witness the evolution of respect and demand for wholesome, fresh, sustainably-grown food. I hope they’ll become the next generation of farmers and locavores. And that, just as I did, they will want to protect our land for the many creatures who call Martha’s Vineyard home.
Special equipment: Baking sheet, 6-Qt. saucepan/servings: 4–6
4 ears corn, kernelled; reserve cobs
1 lb. onions, 2 medium, medium dice; reserve skins
2 ribs celery, medium dice; reserve ends and leaves
1 leek, white only, medium dice; reserve green
2 lb.Yukon gold potatoes, divided, 1 lb. large dice, 1 lb. medium dice
1 c. milk or cream
1⁄4 lb. pork belly, salt pork or bacon, medium dice, or cut in strips
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1⁄4 tsp. mustard seed or 1⁄2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1⁄4 tsp. crushed red pepper 1⁄2 tsp. thyme, finely minced Sea salt
1 tsp. dill, coarsely chopped 1⁄4 tsp. lemon zest
Preheat oven to 400°.
Prepare corn broth (see chef’s note below.)
Place large diced potatoes in 4-qt. saucepan with enough broth to cover, boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium, cook 20 minutes. Strain, return potatoes to pot, add milk, and stir vigorously to combine texture of mashed potatoes.
Over medium heat, render pork in 6-qt. saucepan.When fat is opaque and begins to brown, add onion, celery, and leek; cook 8 minutes.
Add garlic, mustard seed, red pepper, thyme, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking while adding corn kernels and medium diced potatoes. Cover with 2 qts. of reserved broth, boil, and simmer 30 minutes.
Fold in mashed potatoes; mix until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle dill and lemon zest over soup prior to serving. Keep extra broth in the refrigerator and use in dishes that call for water or canned vegetable broths.
CHEF’S NOTE: Corn broth is a great way to use leftover parts of plants. Combine cobs, onion skins, and leek greens, roast until beginning to brown, 18–20 minutes. In 6 qt. sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine 3 qts. water, roasted trimmings, bay leaf and any stems and herb ends, boil. Reduce heat to medium, cook 30 minutes, strain and set aside. Keep broth in the fridge.
Rainbow chard, bacon, and cheese quiche
Recipe contributed by Barbara Leckerling of Chappaquiddick.
Special Equipment: pie pan, large skillet; servings: 6
1 prepared pie crust (recipe, page 184)
8 oz. bacon, cut into small chunks
1 small yellow onion, diced
6 c. chopped rainbow chard (about 1⁄2 bunch)
5 oz. brie, cut into small chunks 8 eggs
1/3 c. milk or fat-free half-and-half 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper
Heat oven to 450°.
Unroll the pie crust and set into a pie pan, crimping and trimming as needed to form an even edge. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine the bacon, onion, and chard. Cook until the chard has wilted and released water, about 6 minutes.
Let the bacon mixture cool slightly, then use a slotted spoon to transfer it to the crust, arranging it in an even layer. Scatter the brie evenly over it.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Pour the egg mixture into the pie crust, then bake for 25 minutes, or until puffed and set at the center and lightly browned at the edges. If the crust browns too quickly, use strips of foil to cover the edges.
CHEF’S NOTE: This recipe calls for brie cheese, but I recommend substituting Springbrook Reading, a wonderful melting cheese from Vermont that is carried both at Morning Glory and in other fine cheese stores.
Roasted Chicken with roasted peaches, tomatoes and leeks
Special equipment: Large, oven-proof skillet; servings: 4
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. butter
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 whole medium carrots, tops removed, cleaned, and sliced
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 large leeks, white part only, sliced into rounds
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced sea salt
4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped 2 peaches, sliced
4 split breasts on the bone, skin on, or one whole chicken, halved or cut into parts
1⁄2 c. orange juice, or juice of 2 oranges
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Dash of hot sauce or Morning Glory’s Mellow Yellow chili sauce
Preheat the oven to 375°
Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a skillet.Add the celery, carrots, onions, leeks, and minced thyme. Sprinkle with two pinches of sea salt and four grinds of black pepper.
Sauté for 5 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and peaches and immediately shut off heat.
Situate the chicken on top of the sautéed vegetables in a single layer.
Whisk together all the glaze ingredients in a bowl.
Brush on chicken or spoon over the top of the chicken. (Use only what you need; you won’t need all the glaze).
Sprinkle the chicken with a liberal sprinkle of salt, a grind of pepper, and a pinch of smoked paprika per chicken piece.
Cook for 45–50 minutes, basting every 15 minutes with the pan juices.
For Islanders like you who’ve graduated to accumulating wine by the case, the time may have come to consider cellaring your loot.
If you can’t imagine stowing your bottle bounty in anything but an actual cellar, so be it. In July your correspondent was inadvertently locked in, and therefore had ample opportunity to examine a bona fide, lavishly-stocked Edgartown wine cellar while interviewing award-winning executive chef Justin Melnick at the Terrace restaurant. Since Chef Melnick’s cell phone signal couldn’t penetrate the cellar to reach help upstairs, we were afforded ample time to talk about the chamber’s construction.
“The building of the wine cellar was pretty remarkable to witness,” said Chef Melnick. “Gery Conover [owner of the Charlotte Inn & Terrace Restaurant] has such a great vision for projects like this expansion, and gets results quickly.” He expanded on the process in a later conversation. “As I mentioned when we were locked in the wine cellar [lest readers think I exaggerated], it was all dug out by hand and transported out one bucket at a time through a small window leading to the back of the inn.”
Max Barbosa, who works at The Charlotte Inn, led the labor force with a helper and had the entire cellar dug out in just over a week, Chef Melnick said. After that, the concrete was poured, and the shelves were custom made by Dave Root who does a lot of the carpentry work for the inn. “This was a good winter project,” Chef Melnick continued, “when there is otherwise not much else happening. The attention to detail in the wine cellar is in line with the rest of the inn. All the copper pipes are glistening, everything was painted, light fixtures installed, the ‘stage is set’ as Gery often says around the property. Then it was my turn to fill it with wine, organize the locations of everything, and get it to a point where it is streamlined for easy access during service. Each bin has a number plate that Gery installed once I had an outline for how we were going to be setting it up.”
Done in a sort of an Edwardian style, the cellar has a regality you just wouldn’t expect from what is essentially a specialized storage room. As time wore on during our stay there however, the handsomeness of the surroundings gave way to crackpot ideas: maybe we could drink our way out? Eventually, after rapping on some pipes and then positioning his cell phone against one so it acted like a booster antenna, Chef Melnick reached somebody upstairs and we escaped without having to use the Remy XO as a battering ram.
The design moral? Like walk-in coolers and even, say, automobile trunks, wine cellars should have an exit failsafe. Remember that when you get the desire to go big and subterranean.
If you’re unable to bankroll a stone-by-stone castle transfer from Europe to house your own subterranean bottle hoard or you haven’t inherited something with catacombs, you’re not out of luck. Without the need for so much as a crawlspace, safe storage for your liquid loved ones can be achieved above ground, sans masonry, for a relatively modest investment and with less risk of being trapped underground. A simple household closet, for example, can be transformed into a proper wine room, albeit a little one, with a short list of supplies and building materials and a solid understanding of what type of defenses you’ll be setting up for your wine’s wellbeing. Those defenses are as follows:
1. Blocking the sun: Sunlight is the bane of wine. Consider all your bottles (red or white) to be so fair skinned they’re practically albinos — with exposure akin to climbing into a skillet with bacon and eggs. Just because your wine comes in colored glass (as a minor hedge against sun damage) that’s not an invitation to display bottles where sunrays can reach them. Curb the urge to install a glass door on your budding wine closet. Your wine wants to hide in the dark like a mushroom. Let it. If you have more than one closet in your house, choose one that’s not adjacent to a window so opening it in the daytime doesn’t cause intermittent solar damage. You’ll of course need illumination in your wine closet but avoid mounting fluorescents. They can emit ultraviolet light that over time may degrade your wine.
2. Maintaining temperature: Wine likes it cool and steady. When wine gets too hot or too cold, its flavor and longevity are gutted. Fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature wine is most content at. Anywhere between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable, however. You will need R19 insulation (at a minimum) throughout your wine closet to be able to keep temperatures in that range. Rigid insulation is easier to cut and sandwich. Though some homes may sustain these temperatures through beefy insulation alone, it is more likely that a small cooling unit (widely available online from companies such as Breezaire and CellarPro) will be necessary. Try not to choose a closet space adjacent to a refrigerator, dishwasher, or dryer, as those appliances are heat emitters. Definitely avoid choosing a closet space adjacent to a furnace. Be conscious of hot water pipes, or occasionally in old houses, steam pipes, running inside walls. Extra insulation may be required to offset the heat these can generate. Be wary of light fixtures that burn hotly.
3. Keeping moisture: Though horizontal storage is the customary method of keeping corks moist, uniform humidity augments that method and keeps corks extra happy. Wine with screw caps or artificial corks are not subject to threats from dryness but wine sealed with genuine cork risks cork-shrinkage, and the damaging oxygen intake that can occur as a result of such shrinkage. Fifty percent to eighty percent humidity is the accepted range for wine storage with seventy percent being the sweet spot. If shelling out for a humidifier seems too much, a bowl of water may suffice. However, humidity can’t be decently retained without a vapor barrier (likely polyethylene sheeting) lain over the insulation. If you store wine by the case, store the case upside down so the corks remain steeped.
4. Nixing agitation: Though the effects are different, shaking a bottle of wine is like shaking a bottle of Coca Cola in that you likely won’t enjoy the results upon opening. Safe to say you’d have to be pretty angry to shake a bottle of wine, unless it’s champagne and in that case you’d be just plain reckless. You can, however, be of otherwise sound mind and neglect to situate your wine away from sources of vibration such as some of the aforementioned appliances. Railroads not being extant on the Vineyard, exterior sources of chronic vibration are uncommon. However, if you suffer from one, shaking champagne and aiming the cork at the problem may prove therapeutic. Suffice it to say, wine, especially maturing wine, thrives on stillness.
Assembling the materials to realize your wine closet will take time and care and most assuredly, additional research but knowing how badly you want one, you’re going to make it happen. If for some reason you find you can’t muster the skills necessary to execute the wine closet of your dreams, an actionable backup plan is available. Standalone units can be bought from a wide variety of manufacturers and simply inserted in the designated closet with little more than a plug needed. Contrary to the preceding warning, you’ll need to accept that these units almost always sport glass doors. A sun-tight outer door is then a prerequisite.
You can manage that.
Lobster trap or not, Chef Melnick’s wine cellar aids him in holding some of the best wine events on Martha’s Vineyard. The next one features Lorenzo Savona on September 19 and 20 – well worth attending; theterracemv.com. Chef Melnick is also one of the featured chefs in the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival on October 16-19. For more information, visit: mvfoodandwine.com.