Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Love that glass

We collected fewer pieces on Memorial Day than we have on "first" days of the season in previous years. However, a number of them were verrrry cool.

Bottle lips

We found a number of pieces that were from lips and necks of bottles. The pale turquoise neck is long and narrow enough to be from a 19th-century bottle. The lip is small enough to suggest age, but not angular enough to be definitive.

Ten Pound Island glass

Vic and I went kayaking yesterday, and we collected some truly old glass at Ten Pound Island. I could assess its age by its thickness. (However, a couple of thick pieces had very regular shapes. Wondering whether ill-advised women are seeding the beach again.)

Above are two pieces that I am certain are aged. The style of flat bottle bottom is associated with liniments, elixirs, bitters, and perfumes, typically sold in the 19th century. Its purple color reveals lengthy exposure to the sun -- it was white or clear until the manganese used in its production was exposed over years to sunlight. I need to examine the photos carefully as they reveal some lettering that is too small and faint to see in vivo.

The kickup or "dimple" piece features some of the bottle bottom, and it is rounded. That suggests that it's a) a liquor bottle, and b) from the 18th century. The bubble in it strongly suggests 18th-century origins. I am very excited to have found this glass!

Post-kayak relaxing

My son and his boyfriend Dan. We let them use our kayaks on Sunday. Mike reported that seagulls (guarding their nests) dive-bombed them. Dan said afterward that his arms got a little tired -- from rowing, not warding off the gulls. I hope that he uses his torso in rowing; it saves so much wear and tear on the arms. I wouldn't have known how to do that if not for my Erbe lessons. Maybe that would make a good gift for these two; I must remember/bear it in mind!

Peonies are not in bloom (here)

So I bought a few at Trader Joe's. I also bought a few for my mother, last week, at Stop & Shop. Hers were white, to complement the iris with which they were paired.

If I haven't said already, our vintage peony out front survived the installation of a new gas meter (directly through it). Victor even thinks that it's healthier this year: taller, with more buds. It blooms nearly purple, when it blooms.

Smelly Daphne

I adore the aroma of a Daphne, as I'm sure I have said before in these pages. It fills the yard when the bush is first in full bloom. It is sweet but not cloying. Unlike commercial perfume preparations, it does not make me sneeze.

I believe that I will cut a stem and take it to my mother. It does not 'keep' well as a cut flower, but my hope is that some of that wonderful smell will be present for her in her tiny space at Essex Park.

My sea garden

It is picking up now that we actually have some sun. I will post columbine pictures soon; I took a few that were either too blurry or taken with the camera set to Movie. I'm no photographer!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


That stands for Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The sights along this mega-structure are pretty much the last that I noted on our trip. The rest of the ride home was devoted to research for a project that I and a fellow student are doing for a 'friend of Endicott' (actually, for a homeless shelter).

We stopped at the little snack bar along the CBBT, and what a surprise! It has been completely rehabbed. It used to be grotty. Now it's splendiferous. However, the barely 4'-wide hallway to the restrooms is unchanged and at times non-navigable.

Pears two ways

Of course, it's only two ways if you make both recipes. These were definite winners.

Steamed pear pudding (from Microwave Gourmet)

1/4 lb +2 tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 lb ripe Bosc pears (approx. 3 pears)
1/4 c lemon juice (fresh if possible)
1 c granulated sugar (I used a Splenda blend)
5 eggs
1/2 c heavy cream
1/3 c cake flour, sifted (I used plain old flour and did not sift)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Butter a 9" x 4" or a 4-cup microwave-safe bowl with the +2 tbs butter. Peer, halve, and core pears. Rub them with lemon juice to prevent browning. Put them in a dry 4-cup glass measuring cup (I bought one special for this cookbook). Cover the cup tightly with microwave wrap, and cook at 70% for 3 min.

Put all remaining ingredients into food processor. Remove pears from oven and add them to processor. Blend until smooth.

Pour mixture into buttered bowl. Cover tightly with microwave wrap and cook at 70% for 9 min (longer if it has not set yet).

Remove from oven and pierce wrap. Cover top of bowl with a plate and let stand for 15 min. Serve warm.

Pear-brandy cocktail

3 tbs sugar
1/4 c water
1 slice ginger
1 tsp water
1 c pear juice or pear nectar
1 c cognac
twists of lemon rind

Grate ginger. Put water and sugar in a small pan over medium-high and cook until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and pour 2/3 of 'syrup' into storage container. Add ginger to remaining syrup and let stand 15 min. Strain and chill (if you want it cold; I did not chill mine, nor strain it for that matter).

Combine gingered syrup, pear juice, and cognac. (If you like it cold, combine them in a martini shaker half full of ice and shake it up.) Half a cup is a serving, with one lemon twist per.

Bridge views, off island

These views appear so peaceful, so serene. One is from the Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet (top of Hatteras), and others are from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. We traversed the latter on the way down and on the way up, and we saw dolphin both times!

Sweet zucchini pickle

I found this to be VERY good, even though I dislike sweet pickles. I liked especially the Vidalia onion prepared this way. The recipe comes from a cookbook by Susanna Hoffman, The Olive and the Caper: Adventures in Greek Cooking. At least three people in my family have copies of this cookbook!

3/4 lb zucchini
1/2 med onion (I used Vidalia)
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I used sea salt)
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp whole cloves
1/4 c dark brown sugar
1/3 c white wine vinegar

Slice zucchini into 1/4" rounds. Quarter onion and slice 1/8" thick. Put both in a colander, sprinkle with the salt, and toss. Let the zucchini begin to sweat, 10 to 15 min.

Mix everything else together in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over high, then remove from heat.

Transfer the zucchini and onion to the pan, stir, and set aside to cool. When you can handle it, transfer the mix to a storage container and refrigerate overnight.

Day in Rodanthe

The Chicamacomico day was spent largely in the Rodanthe area. Just north of Rodanthe is where we hoped to put in our kayaks, but we ran out of time. We used a zoom lens to zero in there on an osprey on his nest -- we saw him from our kayaks in 2009, and he still occupies the same spot, just to the right of the gap in a disused railroad bridge.

The Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo area is being developed, unfortunately. The sound side now features enormous multi-use buildings like this one.

Ocean side, one house (the distant green one) is tumbling into the sea. There's always at least one in Rodanthe! Vic feels sure that the one in the foreground will be lost before another two years have gone by.

Next to the recycling center, where we stopped to drop off bottles, is a boat ramp. It's actually a nice boat ramp, but the extreme right-hand side features a falling-apart building and an abandoned, sunken boat. The extreme left-hand side features abandoned crab traps and stacks of lumber. I think both make for atmospheric pictures.

Salad parador

Another one from All Around the World:

2/3 lb Swiss chard (note, we used escarole, no chard available)
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp garlic
1/4 lb green beans, trimmed
1/4 lb cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/3 lb shrimp
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
3 tbs Kalamata olives
1 lemon wedge

Separate leaves from thyme sprigs. Cut stems from the leaves of chard and cut leaves 1/4" wide (with escaraole I didn't bother to separate the stems).

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a skillet over medium. Add garlic and cook about 1 min, then add chard stems and sautee about 3 min. (Note, I cooked all the escarole here, in just under 3 min). Transfer mixture to a bowl.

Add another tsp of oil and the green beans, cooking over medium for about 4 min. Shake the pan to cook beans evenly. Then add beans to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the last tsp of olive oil and add tomatoes, shrimp, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium until shrimp are cooked through, about 4 min. Transfer to bowl.

The recipe says to begin cooking the chard leaves now, but using escarole made that step unnecessary. I just added balsamic, Kalamata olives, and a squeeze of the lemon wedge to the bowl and tossed the salad.

Graveyard museum

We went to the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum the same day we went to Chicamacomico. It's a sad little place -- or actually a great big place with only a little bit open -- yet it's quite capable of making me very angry (as in, year after year encouraging memberships, which then drop into a black hole of use-your-money but produce-no-benefit-to-you...).

It has opened a new room, predictably focused on pirates:

In that room you can watch through a glass wall as researchers (though none were present) clean encrusted sea life from artifacts, which is kind of cool. Also cool was a huge turnbuckle that had been recovered. I am accustomed to turnbuckles being no longer than my forearm.

In the way that only this museum can, it offered information on "current" shipwrecks that are on the beach but are also covered over and invisible. Also, it offered a brochure that was not present in its home slot.

Island pan-barbecued shrimp

This doesn't taste a whole lot like typical barbecue, but it's yummy nonetheless. This and the herbed wild mushrooms are both from the All Around the World Cookbook, by Sheila Lukins.

1/2 lb shrimp
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs garlic
1/2 tbs fresh rosemary
1/2 tbs fresh thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp salt
1 lime

Chop garlic and rosemary and separate thyme from stems. Combine shrimp, oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, pepper, cayenne, and salt and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat a dry skillet over medium-high. Put shrimp in and cook 5 min per side, longer if they're really large shrimp. When cooked, brush any remaining marinade over them.

Serve with lime wedges.

Couldn't resist

We revisited Dolphin Watch (in Frisco) on our way up to Chicamacomico. Also, in the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo area (where Chicamacomico is) we revisited Captain's Choice, on Mac-Oca.

The former house, where we stayed in 2008, just didn't have good flow. The latter home, where we stayed all of the first three or four times we visited the Banks, is now blocked from beach access. A monster house built in front of it butts up against the fence around the large, adjacent camp, so there's no way through to the dune.

Herbed wild mushrooms

2 lb fresh wild mushrooms, such as shiitake and portabella
2 tbs olive oil
4 lg shallots
2 lg cloves garlic
1 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/3 c fresh parsley
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp pepper, freshly ground
1 1/2 tbs lemon zest
salt to taste

Coarsely chop mushrooms (remove any dirt and tough stems), shallots, garlic, and parsley.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-low. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme and cook about 3 min, until shallots have softened a bit.

Increase heat to medium-high, add mushrooms, and cover to cook until mushrooms soften, about 5 min.

Open and add parsley, butter, pepper, and lemon zest and cook about 4 additional min, until mushrooms release some liquid. Season with salt.

On second thought

The house where we stayed doesn't look so bad from the outside. It's kind of like a house that you'd find on the ground, however, as opposed to up on stilts. It was sooo comfortable. We have looked at a couple of houses for next year, but we're stuck on the question of whether we revisit non-OBX destinations, such as Cornwall (England, 20th anniversary of our honeymoon trip) or Maui (10th anniversary). Or do we simply go back to the OBX?

Dip and sauce

We enjoyed both of these in our last week on the Outer Banks. For the dip, we cut wedges out of Indian nan and baked them until toasted.

Feta-Red Pepper Dip

6 oz roasted red peppers
6 oz feta cheese
3/4 tsp lemon zest
3/4 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 med shallot
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
fresh parsley as garnish

Combine all in food processor and pulse until desired consistency. If you don't have a food processor, mince red peppers and shallot and combine with all but parsley. Place in bowl and sprinkle sprigs of parsley over top.

Chimichurri Sauce

3 cloves garlic
1/2 c fresh cilantro
1/2 c fresh parsley
1/4 c onion
1 tbs white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Combine all in food processor and pulse until desired consistency. If you don't have a food processor, mince garlic, fresh herbs, and onion and whisk together with the rest of the ingredients.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

OBX architecture

The first picture is of the house where we stayed, from the road. It's an expanded, oddly colored beach box. The exterior is not so great, but the interior is terrific. Was. [sigh]

The second picture is of a house with which I fell in love. Something about the symmetry and the cedar shingles and the crab-like appearance of it had a powerful appeal to me. If we are ever in a position to have a home built (say, we buy a lot in NC), I'd like to model it on this one!

Rest of Chicamacomico

Most of these were taken inside the lovely, detailed boat house (the one with the ramp). I can't imagine being rescued from a sinking ship in a metal bean!

The cookhouse contains a variety of fake foods and such. But that stove is great. In another building -- a residence -- the kitchen was tiny and the stove so huge that we envisioned heat exhaustion for any person who tried to cook there.

If you can't read the sign in the last picture, it says "Relics from the sea."

Saturday, May 21, 2011


We hit Chicamacomico yesterday. Today we're heading off island, but I choose not to reflect on that at this time!

Chicamacomico is a preserved lifesaving station. In another post I'll add some of the lifesaving equipment. We're stopped at the Atlantic Coast Cafe buying muffins and using up some time so that we can do lunch at Chilli Peppers as we head off the Banks. This will be my only post, probably until tonight!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Portsmouth the glorious

There is such a tremendous feeling of connectedness and then transcendence when you stand on Portsmouth Island a little while.