Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What to Wear to the Homecoming Parade

I wish I had one of these to wear to tonight's Open House at Pierson Milddle-High School. If I order it today, perhaps it will be here in time for Saturday's Homecoming Parade.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My New Laptop Sleeve

For a while now, I've been looking with an acquisitive eye at the mattress ticking and other upholstery fabrics stocked at the Variety Store (45 Main Street; 631-725-9706). When I found instructions for this laptop cover, I had my excuse. After I purchased a half-yard each of the stripe and the gingham, I pulled out my vintage 1979 sewing machine and whipped one up. Did I mention that it's reversible? I begged my parents to buy this Singer Genie for me when I was 15. Hanging out in the home ec room and making my own wrap skirts in high school wasn't that cool, but who is laughing now?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Corn Maze with a Message

How clever to carve the image of a snail and spell out "slow food" in this year's corn maze in Watermill (69 Horsemill Lane, Watermill; 631-537-6154). Local produce is taken very seriously at the Ludlow farm. After you make your way through the maze, you can revive yourself at the adjacent stand with freshly fried sweet potato chips in addition to roasted corn and just-picked apples. Mecox Bay Dairy cheeses are also available, just steps from where they're made.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oatmael Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Crystallized Ginger

If you invite me to dinner, I will bring the cookies. Here are a few I set aside for the children. I'm bringing the rest to a friend's house tonight:

Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Crystallized Ginger
Makes 32 large cookies

I like to bake with sweet-and-spicy crystallized ginger at this time of year. Provisions (7 Main Street; 725-3636) sells the best ginger, moist cubes that they keep in a bin with the other bulk foods in the back of the store. I drive to Citarella's or King Kullen to buy Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chocolate chips.

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Cream the melted butter and sugars together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and ginger. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes (or up to 6 hours) to let the dough firm up.
3. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges but still soft on top, 13 to 15 minutes. Let them stand on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove them with a metal spatula to a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

For Immediate Release: Mom's Big Book of Cookies Tops Elementary School Libarary Circulation List!

While some authors launch ambitious assaults on Amazon bestseller lists, my goal has been more modest: To have the most popular cookbook in the Sag Harbor Elementary School Library. Finally, my strenuous attempts to grow my readership by donating copies of my books to the Library, bribing teachers and office staff with baked goods, and volunteering to speak about cookies at Morning Program have paid off. This week, Mom's Big Book of Cookies beat out The Smithsonian Handbook of Cats (number 2) and Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets (number 7) to take the number one spot.

Friday, September 25, 2009

IGA Items of the Week

Yesterday, when four 10-year-olds turned up in my kitchen hungry for an afterschool snack, I offered them Saltines and Nutella from the IGA. A lame improvisation, from someone with an empty cookie jar? Hardly. When I was a child, my parents sent me to a sleepaway camp where I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with the camp director's wife, hoping to score some leftover chocolate birthday cake frosting that she was always making, and which she suggested I eat off of the Saltines she kept in a giant glass jar on the counter. That seemed like a weird combination to my 10-year-old self, but the first time I tasted it I was shocked at how much better the sweet frosting tasted in combination with the salty crackers. That taste memory alone may have inspired my career in baking. So it was fun to watch my daughter and her friends as they experienced the same surprised pleasure. Who knows? One of them might grow up and open that Main Street cupcake shop we so desperately need.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Attention Class Parents!

Do you have some time on your hands in the days leading up to Halloween and the urge to out-do all other class parents? I'll be returning Martha Stewart's Cupcakes to John Jermain Library this afternoon, so it will be available to help you in your quest for Sag Harbor Elementary School Halloween Party Domination. Or do what I'm doing and head over to Bookhampton (20 Main Street; 725-8425) where you can buy a copy of your own.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

On Monday I made a delicious and very simple butternut squash soup with garlic and chipotle chiles (recipe courtesy Vegetables Everyday). Yesterday I reheated the soup and used this basket of tomatillos from Quail Hill to make salsa for cheddar quesadillas, as an accompaniment. The roasted flavor of the tomatillos updates salsa for the Fall, I think. Here's the recipe:

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Serves 4

8 small tomatillos, husked and washed
1 medium ripe tomato, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Hot red pepper flakes

1. Preheat the broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil. Broil the tomatillos, turning several times, until they're soft and blackened in spots, about 8 minutes total. Let cool, peel, and chop.
2. Combine the chopped tomatillos, tomato, onion, cilantro, hot red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before serving.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Getting My Money's Worth

I just voted to pass John Jermain's operating budget, and checked out a few new books, so I know I'm getting my money's worth from our village library. Polls (at the library) are open until 8 tonight.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dealing with a Cabbage Surplus

If you have a share at Quail Hill, or are a member of another CSA around here, there comes a moment in September when you open the vegetable drawer and realize that you have 3 cabbages. This week I'm attempting to make a dent in this surplus. First recipe:

Risotto with Savoy Cabbage and Bacon

Serves 6

1 quart low sodium canned chicken broth

2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 slices bacon, chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

½ medium Savoy cabbage, core removed and finely chopped

1 small onion

8 sage leaves, finely chopped

½ medium Savoy cabbage

½ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Ground black pepper

  1. Warm the broth and water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium pot. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot.
  4. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and sage and cook until the cabbage is softened and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook, still stirring, for another minute.
  5. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue to cook, adding the broth mixture in 1-cup increments, always stirring, until the rice is al dente. If you run out of liquid, heat up some water and continue to add it to the pot until the rice is done.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter and the cheese. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Yummy Fall Plants

Perusing the Fall plants at the Sag Harbor Garden Center (111 Spring Street; 725-3345) this morning made me hungry! In addition to the rows of pumpkins, there were pots of kale and blazing orange and yellow chili peppers. I must return this afternoon with my wagon.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekend Weather Report

Even if it's beautiful here in Sag Harbor this weekend, I may have to travel to Hampton Bays to see this well-reviewed animated movie about one man's attempt, gone awry, to alleviate world hunger.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Apple for Teacher, and an Apple Sandwich

Tonight I’ll be attending a forum about ongoing contract negotiations, sponsored by the Sag Harbor Teachers’ Association, at 7pm at Pierson. I love our teachers. Maybe I’ll bring them some of these early apples, which I saw this morning at the IGA.

Cheddar and Apple Melt

Serves 2

Yesterday I made English Muffins for breakfast. Today I made these sandwiches on the leftover bread.

2 English muffins, split and lightly toasted
1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard
3 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
½ small apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons light brown sugar

Preheat the broiler to high. Spread some mustard on the cut sides of each muffin. Arrange the cheese on top of the mustard, then arrange the apples on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with the sugar. Broil until the cheese and sugar are bubbling. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

Yesterday's warm and sunny weather made me want to barbecue something and serve it with potato salad made from the gem-like, tiny red potatoes I'd gotten at Quail Hill on Tuesday. But I didn't want to make anything too summery. So I bought some boneless center cut pork chops at the IGA, pounded them to about 1/3-inch thickness, and marinated them in about 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar before grilling them quickly (6 minutes total was about right). The vinegar gave them a shiny mahagony crust and great flavor. For the salad, I roasted the potatoes and mixed them with a delicious dressing very heavy on the mustard and with some ground fennel seeds, which tasted great with the pork. Here's the recipe:

Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard and Fennel Seed

Serves 6

2 ½ pounds small new potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces if necessary

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ground fine in a spice grinder

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil. Toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast until softened and golden, about 35 minutes.

2. While the potatoes are roasting, whisk together the mustard, remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, shallot, garlic, ground fennel seeds, ½ teaspoon salt, and ground black pepper to taste.

3. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and let cool slightly. Toss with the dressing and adjust the seasonings. Stir in the parsley. Serve warm or refrigerate for up to 1 day and serve chilled.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

Melons mixed with pumpkins at Quail Hill are a sure sign that summer's coming to an end. To preserve a little something from the farm, I picked a small bunch of herbs, dried them in the oven, and stirred them together with La Baleine sea salt from the IGA. (I couldn't have resisted the packaging, even if this salt hadn't been half the price of the Camargue fleur de sel sitting next to it on the shelf.) I'll keep the bowl on my table to season my Fall dishes with a little summer flavor. Here's the recipe:

Sea Salt with Herbs
Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup fine sea salt such as La Baleine
1 cup loosely packed herbs (I used marjoram, thyme, and oregano--small leaves work best)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the herbs on a baking sheet and bake until they're dried but haven't lost their green color, 10 to 15 minutes. Let them cool, remove them from their stems, break them up if necessary, and stir them together with the salt.

Monday, September 14, 2009

One for the Books

Take a look to the right and you will see I’ve updated my John Jermain Library reading list for the Fall. I can't decide which volume to dig into first. But I do know that I'll be enjoying one of the many "One for the Books" fund-raising dinners that the library is holding in October. I've attended these dinners for the past 3 years (I even hosted a dinner one year, and who knows, I could be hosting another one in the future), and they're a lovely way to get to know people in town who have similar taste in literature. Go to the library's website for tickets.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pita House

Every 6 weeks for the past 5 years I've driven my children to Medford to see their orthodontist. And every time we go we pass this sign for the Pita House on Rt. 112. Well, my incredible sense of adventure finally kicked in, and on Thursday right after our appointment, we decided to check out "The Top Middle Eastern Restaurant on Long Island." I don't know why I was surprised, since the place is called "Pita House," but the house-made pita breads, served with some yummy hummus, were a revelation, moist and pillowy and completely unlike the stale, thin pitas sold commercially. So last night I made my own pita breads, to serve with my own hummus. The children said they were "as good as the ones from Medford," which is in fact a big compliment. Here's the recipe:

Pita Bread

Makes Eight 6-inch Pita Breads

1 ¼ cups water, warm room temperature

2 teaspoons instant yeast

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Combine the water, yeast, flour, salt, and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula until a rough dough forms.

2. With a dough hook, or by hand, knead the dough until it is smooth and soft, about 10 minutes on medium-low in the mixer or 12 to 15 minutes by hand.

3. Spray the inside of a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has more than doubled in size and when poked with a fingertip doesn’t spring back, 2 to 3 hours.

4. One hour before baking place a baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured countertop and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, flatten into a disk, sprinkle lightly with flour, drape with plastic wrap, and let stand 20 minutes.

5. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into ¼-inch-thick circle. Let the pieces rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

6. Bake the pitas, 3 at a time, until they inflate and are just barely golden on their undersides, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately or wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and serve within 4 hours.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

The cooler weather and the turkeys I saw at Quail Hill Community Farm on Tuesday inspired this recipe, an adaptation of Jamie Oliver's Veal Meatballs in Lemon Sauce.

Turkey and Sage Meatballs

Serves 4

Ground turkey and a lemony sauce make these meatballs a light but satisfying meal, just right as Summer seems to be giving way to Fall. I served them with blanched green beans from the farm drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. But sauteed zucchini (which I also picked on Tuesday), would have been good too.

1 ¼ pounds ground turkey
½ cup plain breadcrumbs

1 large egg

1/2 jalapeno or other small hot chili, cored, seeded and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest


Olive oil for frying
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup white wine

1 cup low-sodium canned chicken broth

¼ cup lemon juice

1.Combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, jalapeno, garlic, sage, parsley, parmesan, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and mix with your hands until well-combined. Form into 1 ½-inch balls.

2. Pour ½ inch of olive oil into a large Dutch oven and heat over medium. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and fry until cooked through and deeply browned all over, turning often, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined platter to drain. Pour off the oil from the pan, leaving behind any browned bits. Remove from the heat.

3. Whisk together the corn starch and ¼ cup of broth in a small bowl. Add the wine to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and remaining broth, bring back to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt.

4. Stir in the meatballs and cook until heated through, another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and cook one minute more. Serve immediately with plenty of crusty bread for the sauce.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

IGA Item of the Week

Has anyone expressed that end-of-summer feeling better than Marty the Barber (66 Main Street; 725-2220)? I was overjoyed to send my not-so-little ones off to Sag Harbor Elementary and Pierson High School this morning with lunch bags from the King Arthur Catalog (yes, they've agreed to carry these) packed with sandwiches on Bread Alone's delicious whole grain health bread, available at the IGA.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Turkey Surprise

Just returned from Quail Hill, where I had an early morning surprise: The sight of a bunch of wild turkeys feeding right near the herb garden. A harbinger of Fall? They were the size of ostriches and kind of scary. So I ran to the farm stand to collect my vegetables, pausing to grab bunches of sage, parsley,mint, and oregano. Is it wrong that I'm thinking about turkey meatballs with sage? Recipe to come...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My New Book

My new book is reviewed in the October issue of Food & Wine! And they've re-printed two of my recipes! If you're wondering, the cake dome and stand that inspired the book came from Sage Street Antiques (114 Division Street, 725-4036) and Sylvester and Company (103 Main Street, 725-5012) respectively.

Secret Candy Store

All summer I had been meaning to stop in at the J&M Emporium (112 Division Street), but never seemed to have my camera when I was headed in that direction. I love the way they left the delicatessen sign over the shop when they moved in. Then I heard a rumor that in addition to antiques and flowers the store was also selling the candy inventory from the much-missed Candy & Flowers. It was the incentive I needed to rush over there before the end of the holiday weekend. Turns out that the owners are actually selling not leftovers but freshly stocked candy, along with many objects that would look great in my house, like these French candy jars. I bought some soft, chewy licorice to eat while I watch Julie and Julia this afternoon (I figure it is safe to go to the movies when the weather is this nice) and mull over the purchase of those jars.