West Tisbury


Tucked into crevices of tree bark, stonewalls, shingles, and wood piles, snow has remained un-melted as temperatures stayed below freezing all week. There is still ice underfoot in some places. Frozen drifts provide a canvas for purple shadows, ever-changing, as the light moves across the day’s landscape.

I had no idea there existed a group called West Tisbury Polar Bears until I received an email from Wayne Smith about their New Year’s Day swim at Lambert’s Cove Beach. Participants were: Wayne, Willoughby, Taylor, and Justin Smith, Mark and Kim Baumhofer, Max Conley, Michael Kendall, and David, Willa, and Ava Vigneault. They were joined by several canine companions. Anita Smith and Sara Vail observed the event, prudently and heavily dressed, from the beach.

Tara Whiting, our Town Clerk, wants to remind everyone of the upcoming state election on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown are running for the Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy. Get out and vote at the Public Safety Building between 7 am and 8 pm.

Henry and Louise Bessire settled into their Edgartown Road home for a well-earned rest following their “nomadic holiday” travels. Leaving from New York City, they spent Christmas Eve with their son Paul’s family in Boston, Christmas Day in Portland, Maine, with son Mark’s family, and ended up in Deering, N.H., where they spent New Year’s Eve with friends, the 55th year they have so gathered. Louise reported seeing robins in her yard here on New Year’s Day, “First 20, then 40, then it seemed like a hundred robins swooped back and forth between the bird feeder and the big trees.” She was so impressed that, upon leaving for New York, Louise instructed me to continue feeding the birds in her absence.

My friend, Brooks Robards, included my brownie recipe in an article on much-requested desserts in a recent supplement of the M.V. Times. I received an email last week from a Times reader who had a question about the recipe, so I am sending special instructions along with a reprint of the whole thing.


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heavily butter and lightly flour two 8- or 9-inch square baking pans.
  • Melt butter and chocolate together. Let cool slightly.
  • Beat eggs and sugar together until thick and lemon-colored. Add vanilla. Fold chocolate mixture into eggs and sugar. Mix well.
  • Sift flour and fold gently into batter. Mix till just blended.

This is the basic recipe. At this point, you can add 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans, 1 bag (12 or so ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 to 1 cup dried cherries or raisins, or any combination thereof. I use Ghirardelli’s chocolate both in batter and chips. Be creative.

Pour into prepared baking pans. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the center is just set. Do not over-bake.

Cool in pans before turning out. Cool thoroughly before cutting.

If you have trouble turning brownies out of the pan, try lining pans with buttered and floured parchment paper. Run paper in both directions with enough length hanging over the edges to just lift the whole thing out of the pans.

These brownies are very fudgy and dense. Really delicious. I like to chill or freeze them so the chocolate chips harden. Also, making two pans at once allows you to eat one right away and keep the other well-wrapped in your freezer. Cut off a piece whenever you need a chocolate treat.

I apologize for not checking the details of making this recipe carefully enough when Brooks asked me to. I have been making them for so long, I forgot that it’s all new to you.

Our library is celebrating 201 years of poetry and prose with a Poe-Pourri party for Edgar Allan Poe. There will be music, readings, and birthday cake. Featured will be Kevin Keady as the Raven, Mev Good, Jill Macy, Jonathan Revere, Wayne Greenwell, Fan Ogilvie, Dan Waters, and others. Sunday, Jan. 17, 3 pm is the date and time. Please come.

Also at the library, the J.C. Trio will perform their monthly jazz concert this Friday afternoon, Jan. 15, at 4 pm.

I had a wonderful trip down Memory Lane last week when a friend and I were reminiscing about our time in art school in the 1960s and the design icons we both venerated. She opened up drawers filled with the most fabulous collection of linens I have ever seen. Marimekko, Vera, Design Research, Conran’s. For any of you who remember, it was about brave design and lots of color. Wow!