Monday, October 31, 2011

Kale Soup

The second thing an island girl does when there’s a nor’easter coming is make kale soup. Kale soup is like chicken soup around here. It is the cure for everything. Tough day? flu? cold? snowing out? blowing a gale? Have some kale soup! Everyone has a recipe and never the same one. There’s a large population of Portuguese descendents on this island of which my wonderful husband is one of. His great grandmother likes to remind me that I am her only chance for great great grandchildren.

I had never heard of kale soup until I moved here. After she was sure I was staying, Granma was kind enough to show me how to make it several years ago. (I told you she was amazing) I followed her for three hours through one step at a time. From picking the kale and stemming it to serving it at the end. My husband gets that wonderful twinkle in his eyes of a boy on Christmas and he hovers around the kitchen when I make the first batch of kale soup in the fall. A successful batch is indicated by an empty bowl and how much sweet bread goes with dinner to sop up the broth. This was a two roll bowl which is very good.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Nor’Easter

What does a girl on a New England island do when there’s a nor’easter coming? Two things. First, she goes scalloping of course! Saturday was the opening day for scalloping in the Lagoon. The Lagoon is one of the better places for scallops on the island and it’s a big day on opening day. No nor’easter was going to stop me. Well the low tide was around 7:30 and the wind wasn’t going to pick up until 10am or so. So there was plenty of time! And I wasn’t the only crazy person. Sunrise was at 7:10, I showed up at 7:05 and there were already people there. There were about 10 cars parked up the street and about 20 people in the water. My grandmother in-law joined me about 20 minutes later. She is an amazing woman and islander and has taught me so much. She was the one that taught me how to shellfish.

The scallops were big and plentiful. The water was calm and there was a light breeze. It only took us an hour or so to get our limits of one full bushel each. By then the wind was starting to kick up just a bit. We set up and shucked in Granma’s back yard while the wind got gustier and the skies became more imposing. The first rain drops began to fall as we were shucking the last ones. (I’ve talked about the act of scalloping and shucking here and didn’t want to become repetitive. Please visit for more info if you are inclined) When all was said and done I had this:

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That is 6 1/2 lbs of bay scallops! A good morning’s work. And at $20/lb at the fish market, a luxury that I couldn’t afford otherwise. So you may ask “what do you do with all those scallops?” I took out enough for dinner and then froze the rest for later. To freeze them I measure them out in 1 cup amounts and if there is not enough juice, add a bit of salt water (regular water is fine, but as an old salt once told me seaweed and saltwater add “flava”). If there is a lot of air between them they can dry out in the bag. I’ve done it in different amounts, but one cup seems to be perfect. Not too many or too few. 


For dinner, I made my favorite scallops wrapped in bacon over rice and I have pictures this time. They are super easy. You take half piece of bacon, wrap it around the scallop, and line them up in a pan seam down. You bake them in the oven at 450 and then turn the oven to broil to crisp up the bacon. The bacon I used today is local from Blackwater Farm in West Tisbury. One day I will take you there to meet the animals.



The second thing I do when there is a nor’easter coming is make kale soup. That will be tomorrow's post.


Preparedness-Challenge-ButtonI have joined Miss Amy’s Preparedness challenge this week. This post contains info on freezing scallops and self reliance by shellfishing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chicken Chat

It’s that time of year. Most of my girls are heritage breeds or mixes of heritage breeds. Which means they are more likely to go broody and they take a break from laying in the fall. Even if that means they haven’t started yet it seams. No one is laying. They don’t seam interested. There just hangin out, eatin, cluckin, and poopin. The only one doing any work is Betty. She has been tirelessly bringing up her baby. This one hasn’t been quite as bad as the last one and we are hoping she is a girl so we can keep her. The lavender Orpington is tough to determine until a little later. Though she looks like a girl to me, it may just be wishful thinking.

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Doris is molting and looks horrible, but has decided to pitch in on the raising efforts and has been calling the baby over for treats. I’m happy that she has accepted the baby as part of the family.

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The others are just hangin out. I keep looking for eggs. Last winter there were no eggs from November to January. Looks like it may be that way again. If things change, I would be very excited. Or is that eggcited?


Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Inside Girls

The chickens tend to take center stage around here, but there are also two inside girls that have been around forever that should be introduced. Please say hello to Ava and ZsaZsa!



Ava’s Favorite Position





Yeah ZsaZsa is easily distracted. But, if you have food……

dscf1981 (2)  She is there!

Ava and ZsaZsa are sisters that we adopted from the MSPCA a few years ago when they were kittens. They were really attached to each other, but nobody wanted to adopt them together until we came along.

ZsaZsa is more cuddly than Ava. She loves you to pick her up and carry her about and pet her. She’ll sit on your lap or right next to you on the couch. If she is feeling neglected she’ll weave in and out of your legs until you pay some attention to her. Ava has a discreet way of showing affection. She’ll curl up by your feet or on the back of the couch right behind you and start purring. If you pick her up she’ll start mewing like your torturing her. Ava loves to sleep right on the rug next to my side of the bed. I have to be careful getting up in the middle of the night and feel with my feet for a warm furry body first. Until about 6am when she will sneak onto the bed and curl up by my head or right up against my back like a furry purring heating pad. 

We lived on a busy street and moved to another busy street so they are indoor cats, but we leash trained them from a young age so they could go outside once in a while supervised. We let them in the front yard while the chickens territory is the back.They get so excited when they see the leashes. But usually decide it’s time to go back in after a half hour or so. Spoiled divas the both of them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wandering Wednesday is Back!

Let’s see where to go today?…….Ooh the Haarlem, Netherlands market. I love markets.

DSCF2209 (2) Train Station. Nice little bathroom cost a euro or fifty cent piece. Most bathrooms cost a bit to use in Europe. Always good to know where the decent facilities are. I digress.

A little food….


(just ignore the McDonalds. I do. They’re everywhere.)




What’s the Netherlands without some flowers? It is customary to bring some flowers as a hostess gift.



This man nearly ran me over but he was very nice and jovial about it.


Hope you enjoyed Haarlem. It’s a lovely little town a quick train ride out of Amsterdam. Heavenly ham and cheese croissants at the little corner bakery.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Winter Farmer’s Market

I know it’s not winter yet. But, that’s what they call it. Maybe they just need to call it the “Off Season Farmer’s Market” or OSFM. Sounds a little better. Doesn’t cause immediate visions of in the head of snow and trudging in mud. OK it has now been dubbed the OSFM. Whatever you want to call it, it is held at the “new” agricultural hall at the fairgrounds. Though it’s not really new new anymore. But it will be called the “new” ag hall until they build an even newer one. In any case it’s one of my favorite buildings.

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It’s big and multifunctional the front section has a big kitchen, offices, and restrooms on either side of a white walled great hall of sorts with the centerpiece on the front facing wall of a large beautiful useable fireplace. On either side of the fireplace is a doorway into the back cross room that looks like a big barn with bare wood and timbers. It’s a warm and welcoming place. On cold OSFM days they light the fire and people line the benches in the front room drinking hot chocolate, coffee, and warm cider. Chatting away a Saturday morning catching up with their neighbors now that they have the time.

On warmer days like this weekend they throw the doors wide and let the breeze come through and people catch up sitting on the front porch absorbing the fall sunshine.

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I love these ladies hanging on the front porch. Their dogs were having a great time playing together. During the fair the front porch has rows of benches on it to sit and hang out on. It is the meeting place for families and a place for elders to rest and watch the goings on.

They have horse shows, and artisan festivals on a regular basis here at the fairgrounds in addition to the OSFM. There are also once a year events such as the fair and the harvest festival. There are two large barns to the left past the show ring and the pull ring. They want to develop a animal processing center on the property as well which would be a great thing for the island meat farmers. It would make processing animals so much less stressful for farmers and animals not to include a boat ride and a long trailer ride.

The OSFM had a plethora of great fall veggies. I took home carrots, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and turnips! ( I love turnips ). I was looking for broccoli too, but I didn’t see any good looking ones. Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures of my veggies.  Maybe next time.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

These Hands

Hello everyone. I know I haven’t been around lately and I apologize. It’s amazing how much you can take advantage of something you use every day and almost every minute until it decides not to work anymore. Over the last month or so the joints in my hands have decided they do not like to do anything. Sewing, knitting, typing,….shucking. After my last post my hands hurt and were stiff for days. This was the last straw. I am still quite young. In my mid-thirties. This isn’t supposed to even start to happen until at least fifty. (In my opinion anyway) I gave in and called the doctor. It takes a lot for me to call the doctor. We are working on it together, he took some tests, and he has referred my to a specialist. He also prescribed some pain relief so there should be a pick up in the frequency of posts. I have so much to share with you. The baby chick has gotten so big. We took a little trip to Vermont. The winter farmer’s market starts today! Yay!   

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It’s Scallop Season!

I love bay scallops. Correct pronunciation “skawllop”. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Scallops are a fall and winter crop, which means they don’t get gobbled up over the summer. Right when the people who live here get to take a breath, and life starts to slow, we can go scalloping. Bay scallops are small and sweet. Like little pieces of candy. They are a completely different experience than sea scallops. There are only a few places they live in this world and even fewer places you can harvest them. Fortunately, Martha’s Vineyard is one of those special places.


There are two ways to harvest scallops. The first is what the commercial guys do. They drag a metal net type thing called a “drag” (I know original) from a boat, it picks up all the scallops and the smaller things fall through the net. They then have a sorting board on the boat, which is like a big table with open sides, where they pick out the adult scallops and slide all the other stuff out the side back into the water. It’s done in the deeper water and you need a boat. Some families with boats do it this way.

The second way is for most people who have a family license but no boat and what I did this weekend. At low tide you go out in the salt water ponds in your waders or if your brave, without the waders. I don the waders. It keeps the crabs away from my toes.

You tote along your peep sight, net, and basket.

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While wading around you look through the peep sight at the pond floor. The scallops sit on top of the mud in little divits they dig out for themselves. For disguise they grow algae on the top side. Also called the dirty side. We will need that info later. You then scoop them up with the net. This is what the hunt looks like but it’s not me.

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It can also look like this if you end up too deep or your short. Also not me. But I have been known to be short. So usually, I am in this position.

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It’s so peaceful out there. The oystercatchers, terns, and other shore birds fly about talking to each other. The sea breeze lightly blows and sun shines (most of the time). The view through the peep sight is a view on a whole different world. There’s baby flounder and cod, minnows, blue crabs, pink crabs, hermit crabs, algae and seaweeds, baby whelks and little baby scallops. Pinks, reds, and greens. It’s gives me time to think and appreciate the world around me. I stayed out there four hours. With a calm mind and an exhausted body I headed home with only half a basket. Not a big harvest, but a good morning.

I was going to show you how to shuck. But, thought otherwise. It’s not for the queasy. So I will tell you and show you the end bit that’s pretty clean. I take the scallop in my left hand with the dirty side up. See I told you to remember. The dirty side is the flatter side. With my right hand I slide the shucking knife in the gap near the hinge and slide it along the top inside of the shell to separate the muscle. I then remove the top shell and then the guts.

Leaving this.


The finished product.


I rewarded myself for the hard day with scallops wrapped in bacon over rice. There was enough raw ones left to share some with Granma and to freeze some for later. Sorry there’s no pictures of dinner. But, I was so excited, I ate them as soon as they came out of the oven. 

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