Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Gallery of Photos: Ogunquit, Maine

Near Perkins Cove

Maine isn't that far away--three hours at its closest spot, but that's following little two-lane country roads plus on/off connections to three interstates plus hoping not to get involved with too much construction or Concord, New Hampshire's, rush hour.  But then, there it is:   the sea air!  The wide Atlantic.  The sound of the surf.  And, of course, this time of year, the massive number of people who fill up the massive number of motels, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts.

I just returned from spending a few days there, re-connecting with the sea, walking the beach, and doing my usual thing of taking lots of photos--fortunately taking two cameras this time because (unfortunately) I found the sensor of one defective.  The days were totally sunny, surprisingly hot (85 degrees), and really quite splendid.  No, I didn't go swimming, keeping to long sleeved shirts and a hat.
  • I found that there were a good number of Québécois there, both from the number of license plates as well as from overhearing wisps of a language that, to my ear, sort of resembled French.
  • And then I saw a young man riding his bike no hands ... because he was texting.  And ... concentrating on his i-phone the way he was, he wasn't looking where he was going but seemed to have no problem with that.
  • I also discovered that there's such a thing as gummy lobsters.  I had a request for some and, yes, they do exist. 
A note about some of these photos: 

Ogunquit has one of Maine's great sand beaches--which are all concentrated in the southern part of the state since the coast becomes rockier as one goes north.  But, sorry to say, I lost all the shots that would give any indication as to just how extensive the beach is.  The ones I've included here, however, do show an end sand bar that gets completely covered at high tide--thus you can see rivulets that remain after the tide has gone out.

The sea and waves are in the far distance.  The Ogunquit River is in the foreground.  The sandbar in the middle is covered at high tide.

Ogunquit also boasts the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.  This is a piece by Bernard Langlais.

Just so I don't forget, besides the art museum (with a current exhibit of Andrew Wyeth's works), Ogunquit also has a summer playhouse, a splendid 1.5 mile oceanside cliff-walk called the Marginal Way, and a dear little cove, Perkins Cove, where you can look at the boats, get lobster rolls, and peruse the shops.  Alas, the town's bookstore that I once enjoyed has gone out of business.  But there is a handsome library just down the road.  And good ice cream shops.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

An August Supper

A few nights ago a family member joined me for supper, giving me the opportunity to make a couple of favorite recipes--ones I seldom make just for myself.

Since I had recently resurrected my old hibachi, setting it out in the garden where it wouldn't set fire to anything, I decided to make Middle Eastern kebabs from a packet of ground lamb that I had in the freezer.  Being tomato time, it seemed perfect to add a fabulous tomato pie to the menu that I hadn't made for more than a decade.  Then, with cucumbers plentiful, I could toss in a nice cooling Middle Eastern yogurt/cucumber side dish.  So I put on my apron and set to work.

Middle Eastern Ground Lamb Kebabs

1 pound ground lamb
1 slice of white bread, no crusts  (I used a nice, firm sourdough)
1/4 t. ground cumin
1 t. paprika
1 t. salt plus some pepper
A large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 T. tomato paste
1 egg, beaten

Put lamb and bread (torn up) into a food processor and mix well, at least several seconds. (You want to mix the meat and bread but you also want to break the fibers down a bit so that the meat can better stick to the skewers.)  Put into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and use your hands to mix well.  Then mold onto your skewers.  I only had 6 so formed the remaining mixture into two patties.  Put on a grill and cook.  This amount could serve 3 people well.

Yogurt and Cucumber Side Dish

Simple.  Grate a couple of small cucumbers.  Mix in some plain yogurt.  I used sheep yogurt, but goat or cow would be fine.  Add a bit of salt and pepper.  And there you've got it.

Tomato Pie

First, make a quiche crust.  The recipe I used for an 8" pan follows:
1 & 1/2 c. flour
1 stick butter
5-6 T. ice water
1/4 t. salt
Prepare as you would any pie dough.  Preheat oven to 400º.  Roll out, arrange on pie plate, prick bottom of crust, and pre-bake for around 8 minutes.  I put a few of those little round pie weights in the bottom but am never sure if I need to.  Take out of oven to cool.

Then, make the filling.  This takes awhile.
3 lbs. of tomatoes.  Drop 3 at a time into boiling water for 10 seconds, take out, peel off skin.  Then cut each in half and squeeze out juice and seeds into a bowl.
1 medium onion.  Dice and saute in olive oil.
1 garlic clove, crushed and chopped.  Add to onion.
Chop the tomatoes and add to the pot along with: 
Salt and pepper
A pinch of dried oregano
3 T. chopped fresh basil
Let cook a bit.  Then remove from heat and put onion/tomato mixture into a colander.  Collect the juice underneath the colander and pour that back into the pot to reduce down until it becomes a thick sauce.
Transfer onion/tomato mixture to a bowl and pour in the reduced juice.
2 eggs.  Beat and add 1/3 c. mayonnaise.  Add this to the cooled tomatoes and reduced juice.
1/4 lb. sharp cheddar cheese.  Grate.  Put half into tomato mixture.
Spread that mixture into the crust and top with the remaining cheese.
Bake 30 minutes at 375º

Here 'tis.  I have to say it was fabulous!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gallery of Photos: the Florence Griswold House in Old Lyme, Connecticut

View of the house painted by Matilda Browne
This is the last in a series of three about my recent visit to Connecticut.

Florence Griswold (1850 - 1937), the daughter of a sea captain, lived her entire life in Old Lyme, Connecticut, in a big old house which, with growing financial problems, was turned into a school for girls and then a boarding house.  It was in 1899 that the artist, Henry Ward Ranger--newly returned from Europe after a good view of the Impressionists--rented a room and urged his artist friends to do likewise.  Soon, there was a little colony of painters working in their own impressionist style, mostly en plein air.  Childe Hassam came.  Matilda Browne.  Also Woodrow Wilson's first wife spent time there as an art student.

View of the house from the back garden

One of the guest rooms

The parlor

Painting by Childe Hassam

Though they ate out on the porch in the summer, several of the artists took the opportunity to paint on the wood paneling in the dining room.

You can see some of the wood paneling paintings in the far corner.

Today the house exhibits American Impressionist paintings of the Old Lyme Art Colony.  And its corresponding museum has regular shows featuring art and historical items.  The Griswold house is located at 96 Lyme Street and lies just on the Lieutenant River.  The house has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Entry to the museum on the same property.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gallery of Photos: Groton Long Point, Connecticut

As well as seeing Mystic, Connecticut (see last week's blog), I visited a friend in Groton Long Point just down the road from there.  It was a perfect enclave for taking late afternoon walks with the low golden light and the distant views across the Sound to islands I was not able to name.  Mornings, children took sailing lessons on safe lagoons or practiced their tennis while their mothers got in some good running. 

It's mostly used as a summer residence with a great exodus in September, but some full-time residents do winter over.  Though Hurricane Sandy hit this coast pretty hard, I saw no visual evidence of damage.  I rather marveled at that, but apparently people just hauled to and got things fixed early on.

That pole out there supports an osprey nest platform where we could make out mother, father, and fledgling.

My friend and I also took in the scene in nearby Noank where we stopped for supper at a fabulous clam shack.
A good heap of fried clams.

Thanks,  C.  It was a great visit!

Next week:  the Florence Griswold Museum and House, part of the Old Lyme Art Colony.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Gallery of Photos: Mystic, Connecticut

I just came back from a few days at the Connecticut shore.  It was heavenly to get back to a place where I could walk along a beach, pick up shells, get sand between my toes.  I also appreciated the fact that it was flat!  That may sound strange, but everything around here requires climbing up or down.  Even my own property is on a hill.  So I took a few walks, especially during the early morning hours when no one was out and about except to wash off a sidewalk or get in a morning constitutional.  And then that good sea air felt splendid.  As one friend commented, "We landlocked folks have to satisfy that craving for the edge now and then."

An historic town with many former sea captains' homes, Mystic is on the Mystic River where it flows into Long Island Sound.  Right in the heart of town, a large drawbridge lifts hourly allowing passage of various boats--totally stopping automobile traffic--but soon closes again as everything sorts itself out quickly enough.

Almost no one's around at this early hour.

Who remembers that movie some years back--Mystic Pizza with a young Julia Roberts?  A real pizzeria, it's still there.

Next week:  Groton Long Point, just a few miles from Mystic.