YARD-LONG BEANS // the local food report

My friend Victoria is always growing unusual veggies. She's into okra and fish peppers and round zucchinis and for melons, emerald gems. So when she told me she had some beans I had to see, I headed right over to meet her. She had a measuring tape and a pile of very long skinny beans in emerald green and ruby red, and the first one we pulled out measured nineteen inches. Nineteen!

The varieties are called Orient Wonder and Red Noodle, and as a category they're called yard-long beans. They're popular in Asia, where they're cooked in stir fries or deep fried. You don't want to boil  or steam them, because they're starchier than regular green beans, and cooking them in water makes them lose their snappy texture. Vic likes them not just because they're gorgeous and unusual, but also for this difference—she says she often finds traditional pole beans woody and big, and since these stay pencil thin, they don't have that problem. 

The best way I've found to eat them is fried up with garlic and chili flakes and peanuts. The beans get crispy, the flavors come together with a satisfying, lingering heat, and they're excellent alongside a piece of pan-fried fish or chicken. I didn't make any changes, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm going to send you over here, where I found the recipe. Happy frying!


FUDGESICLES // elspeth

For some reason this September I can't stand the thought of letting summer end. Logically, this makes no sense. Two weeks ago I would have given anything for the traffic to let up, for the heat to ease, for the restaurant to slow down. Yesterday marked the end of my thirty-eighth week of this pregnancy, which means I will spend these last two weeks of summer impatiently awaiting the arrival of another baby girl. Her due date is the second official day of fall. I should be begging for summer to end.

But I refuse to let go. I want the weather to last. I want to spend more late afternoons clamming in Truro, to keep taking noontime swims across Great Pond. I want more mint chip cones and more rainbow sprinkles and more striped bass and fried clams and root beer floats. I want to keep picking cucumbers and cherry tomatoes from the garden, and and I want to keep experimenting with beach plums. 

Also, I want to keep eating fudgesicles. I am not going to type the recipe up here, because I haven't done anything except make the exact version Molly posted on her blog. But I am going to encourage you—forcefully?—to make them, to savor them now. My sister and I made them for the first time the other day—whatever that night that was that was hot and incredibly sticky—and we pulled them out of the freezer after Sally was in bed. I asked Alex if he wanted one, to which he replied, "Only if they're good." He seemed worried they might be some sort of pseudo, healthy fudgesicle.

Happily, he was both right and wrong. As far as fudgesicles go, they're the best the three of us have ever tasted. (Four of us, if you count Sally, though I don't believe she has much in the way of comparison. Terrible, I know.) They're also made with fairly good ingredients. It's hard to go wrong with good dairy, chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa. There's no added sugar beyond what's in the chocolate, so you can vary the sweetness to taste, depending on what you like as a dark to milk ratio. For this I like something around 55% cacao.

We made ten on Friday and they were gone by Sunday. Last night I made another batch, and we ate them when we got home from a beach picnic. We were wearing hoodies and sweatpants, but we had sand on our feet. It is summer, still.



How many pancake recipes does one household need? Many, apparently. We like buttermilk rye. And whole wheat with oatmeal folded in. And thin, crispy cornmeal versions. Light and fluffy with zucchini. And today, upon the request of Sally, regular old buttermilk whole wheat, with molasses and blueberries. 

The recipe I like comes from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. A lot of recipes I like come from this book, because she does such a good job of sticking whole grains into ordinary, every day foods and coming out of the transformation not just with success, but with excellence. These pancakes are no exception. You take whole wheat flour, buttermilk, eggs, molasses, and some leaveners, and you come out with a wholesome, delicious breakfast. And when you are two-almost-three and you've been up too late and too early, this is apparently just what you need.


I've adapted these somewhat to fit what we had on hand. Kim's original recipe calls for half whole wheat, half "multi-grain" flour, and also uses sugar in place of the maple syrup and adds a little orange zest. You can go crazy with variations. Also, a note about buttermilk. We don't always have it on hand, and I've found mixing half plain yogurt with half whole milk makes a fine substitute.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons molasses
a handful of blueberries

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a smaller one, then fold them into the dry ingredients. Warm up a griddle, grease it with butter or olive oil, and fry the batter in rounds about the size of a tennis ball. I like to add the blueberries right after I pour the batter onto the griddle—I drop a handful into each round. When you see bubbles start to form, flip the pancakes and cook until golden. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.



Hi. We are tired, overwhelmed, and a bit short on time. But we're still enjoying the weather, and still trying to make the most of the last fruits of summer. Which begs the question:

What are you doing with your blackberries?

We've been picking and freezing, or eating them in hand. And now that they're in the freezer, we've been pulling them out to make this. Highly, highly recommended. Happy almost Labor Day, everyone.


This is hardly a recipe; it's about as simple as food gets. But it's also unexpected, healthy, and incredibly good. And in my book, that makes it worth sharing.

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup frozen blackberries
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup

Put everything in a blender or food processor and whirl until smooth. Either drink as a smoothie, or freeze into popsicles.


AMERICAN CATCH // the local food report

Did you know that up until 1928 the average New Yorker ate 600 local oysters a year? Local as in New York City local, and so common they were priced at a penny a piece?
Today of course all that's changed. There are still wild oysters in the shores off Manhattan, but no one wants to eat them—the waters they inhabit have been degraded by toxic waste and sewage waste and other unappealing human inputs. And so instead, New Yorkers eat oysters from places like here: Wellfleets and Hog Islands and Duxburys and other specimens from waters where oyster ecosystems are still functioning.

This shift is the focus of Paul Greenberg's new book—American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood. In it he profiles three fisheries—New England oysters, Gulf shrimp, and Alaskan salmon—to try to get to the bottom of a startling statistic he came upon a few years ago. The United States controls more ocean than any country on earth, something like 2.8 billion acres. Yet more than 85 percent of the seafood we eat is imported. 

At first, Paul wrote this off as a typical case of America taking more than its fair share of the world's resources. But then he discovered something else. We're exporting something like 3 billion pounds of seafood a year—high quality seafood, like New England lobster and sea scallops and wild Alaskan salmon. 

In American Catch he goes into why, and how this shift has affected the ecological health of our coastlines. Alex and I were lucky enough to get to get an early peek at the book—we met Paul when he came to Wellfleet for a talk last summer—and it's a fascinating read. The oyster chapter, in particular is full of great New England history and ecosystem facts, and much of it is full of cautionary tales for our local industry. Among other things, I learned that Manhattan's "Pearl Street" derives its name from a time when the road with paved with native oyster shells. And that oyster reefs make harbors more shallow, and can help stabilize a shoreline and soften the blow from storm surges like the ones that devastated New York and New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy.

The book is out now, and next week, Paul and his family are visiting the Vineyard. He'll be giving a reading and answering questions at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven on Tuesday, August 26th at 7pm. If you're on island, it'll be a fun night. If you can't get there, I highly recommend the book. There's still time for a little summer reading, especially when it's both informative and fun.



We haven't really been cooking. We've been eating—greens from the farmers' market, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, green beans off the vine—but nothing really that needs preparing. Our prep time has been spent on preserving. We've made this tomato sauce, Alex's grandfather's bread and butter pickles, ratatouille from the Victory Garden Cookbook, blackberry jam. We've frozen blanched green beans and blueberries and blackberries. Now we're on to peaches.

I wasn't sure what to do with them at first—the whole crop has been affected by some sort of powdery mildew, which means many peaches are half good, half rotten. It's hard to eat them fast enough. But the other day I tried peeling them, slicing them up, and cooking them down with a few tablespoons of sugar. They let go of a lot of juice, and I realized why canned peaches are so popular. They make their own syrup with a little bit of sugar, and they're delicious over ice cream or plain yogurt. We've put up six pints so far, and eaten two more.

It's a lot easier than jam, which right now I don't have time for, and about as delicious as my mom's frozen strawberries, which she does the same way (minus the heat). If you have a bumper crop, give it a whirl. I'm thinking oatmeal with peaches and syrup come January.


This is more of a recommendation than a recipe, but here goes. You want very ripe peaches for this preserve—their skins slip off easier, and they'll have more juice. That said, a few under ripe pieces of fruit thrown in won't hurt anything, and they'll soften with the cooking. Here's a trick for peeling peaches: dip them in boiling water for 15 seconds. After that, the skins will slip off easily with your hands.

4 cups sliced fresh peaches, skins removed
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Combine the peaches and sugar in a medium size heavy-bottomed pot. Warm over medium-low heat until the juices start to release. Cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until there is enough juice in the pot to cover the peaches. Spoon into jars (if you're using glass, don't fill more than 2/3 of the way) and freeze. When the time comes, thaw and serve over oatmeal, plain yogurt, vanilla ice cream, with whipped cream, or on their own.



Do you ever get harvest panic? As in: you've planted a garden, watched it grow, and now it is time to pick, pick urgently—everything is ripe, perfect, bursting! But at the same time it is August and you are working extra shifts and there's a baby due in a few weeks and the lawn hasn't been mowed and you spent your day off at the beach because really how much sun is left? And so the lawn stays tall and the weeds stay put and the arugula for fall hasn't been planted and there are peaches and cucumbers and tomatoes and beans to pick and you Must Do It Now but somehow this feeling continues for a week before you actually make it out there. Anyone?

It happens to me every year, and it's maddening.

But it's also incredibly satisfying when I finally there there. Take Saturday, for example. I didn't have time, but I went out anyway. It took almost an hour, but I came in with two colanders of ripe peaches, another two of pole beans, two quarts of Sun Golds, the first big ripe tomato, sixteen large cucumbers, and a bouquet of roses. 

I didn't get to vacuum the dog hair before work or do the dishes, but it didn't matter. We had peaches for breakfast yesterday and today, and a big cucumber and tomato salad last night. And for lunches for the week, I made my second batch of a brown rice summer salad I found in Edible Vineyard. (Side note: if you don't read that magazine, you really should. It doesn't matter if you live on or even visit the Vineyard—the photography and layout are beautiful, the writing is compelling, and I always find four or five recipes I can't wait to make.)

This one in particular is a keeper. For starters, it makes exactly the right amount—enough for our family of three to get about two meals out of it each, which is in my experience all you really want from most recipes. It's incredibly fresh tasting and summery, and it's simple enough for Sally but sophisticated enough for us. It's also a complete meal—whole grains, veggies, protein, good fats—which when we're this busy, goes a long way toward keeping us sane. August! It's here.


This is not a traditional tabbouleh. It is a stretch, in fact, to use that word, but salad doesn't seem quite right either. It's like a cross between the two—part veggie side, part meal—the perfect thing for an easy summer dinner or a picnic on the beach. The most important thing is to use fresh summer produce—crisp cucumbers and sweet onions, peppers, and tomatoes are what make the dish.
3/4 cup short grain brown rice
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
olive oil
fine grain sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
2 large cucumbers, chopped into chunks about 1-inch long and 1/3-inch thick
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup crumbled feta
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the rice with 1 and 1/2 cups water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and cook, covered, for about 30-40 minutes, or until the water is soaked up and the rice is tender. Turn the heat off, leave covered, and set aside.

Toss the pepper and onion with olive oil and salt in a roasting dish. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until slightly charred and tender. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toss the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, and feta together in a large bowl or container. Add the cooled rice, peppers, and onions along with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup olive oil. Toss well. Taste for seasoning and add more as needed. Serve chilled.



Market day is a conundrum for me. It is both exhilarating and exhausting, something I look forward to immensely and something I dread. I think most things that are worth doing are like this—that they involve some combination of getting up too early or staying up too late and feeling frantic, only to be interspersed with moments of pure joy and pride. 

Our market has grown a lot in the last three years. We've gone from a handful of vendors to over twenty, and our offerings have expanded from veggies and seedlings and eggs to include locally-raised meats, fruit, sea salt, artisan chocolate, chai, preserves, baked goods, bread, honey, and even mushrooms. We have live music every week, and the little green behind Pres Hall fills up with people—home cooks, day trippers, families, chefs. Some are there every Wednesday, and some stop in on their way to the beach or the pond, just that once.

By the time Wednesday nights roll around, I don't have much energy left to cook. Luckily it's a night we're both home, and recently, we've been making the same thing every week—sautéed mushrooms over either pasta or toast. I buy a grab bag from Wes—whatever he wants to give me—and Alex cooks them down with garlic and butter and white wine. Sometimes he adds a little mayonnaise at the end, to thicken the sauce, but mostly he just tosses the mixture over pasta or toast. It tastes meaty and rich but without all the fuss of roasting a chicken or simmering beef, and alongside a few cucumber slices or a handful of fresh carrots, it makes a meal.

It also reminds me why I love the market—for the food it provides to our community, and for the people who make it happen. It's a day and a place that are pretty special.


This isn't a recipe, really, so much as a suggestion. The mushrooms change from week to week, and so far as I can tell there's no such thing as too much garlic, or butter.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3-4 large cloves garlic
1/2 pound fresh mixed mushrooms, chopped
sea salt to taste
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 pound cooked pasta (we often use whole wheat fusilli)
optional: 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Warm up the olive oil and the butter over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Turn the heat up to high and slowly pour the white wine around the edge of the pan. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until it is reduced by half. Turn off the heat, taste for salt, and add more as needed. Toss the mushrooms with the pasta. If you want a slightly thicker  and richer dish, add the mayo and stir well. Serve warm.


BLUEBERRY BUCKLE // the local food report

We could talk about something else. But I'd rather keep talking about blueberries. We have eaten 15 pints in 8 days, and the feeling of bounty is what I imagine it might be like to win the lottery. We've picked 29 pints in all, frozen 13, and used one to make a blueberry buckle. 

We'll talk more about the buckle in a minute, but in the meantime I want to take a second to talk about varieties. I was picking wild blueberries the other day, and I noticed that there were very light and very dark blueberries on bushes right next to each other. Some were big, some were smaller, some were tart, and some were sweet. But they were all there, in the same swamp, side by side. I decided to check in my field guide when I got home, and I discovered that there are four distinct varieties of wild blueberries that grow in our area. I also learned that huckleberries are a close relative, and that something called the bilberry is also related and edible. (Though I have yet to knowingly encounter one.) The distinguishing feature to look for on all three berries is the crown at the base of the berry—it should have five sharp points ringed in a circle. I also learned that blueberries and huckleberries often cross in the wild, which could explain why I saw so many varieties growing in one area. If you're interested, here's the blueberry page, from Wild Edible Plants of New England by Joan Richardson. (It will get bigger if you click on it.)

I think I've found mostly early low and classic highbush blueberries around here, though that doesn't explain the darker berries, which I'm guessing are a blueberry-huckleberry hybrid. I've seen them on the edges of ponds, in the woods all over Wellfleet, and in wet areas in the dunes on the bay side. 

All of this reading up got me curious about domesticated blueberry varieties, too, which is how I met Stephen Spear of Hokum Rock Farm in Dennis and put together this week's Local Food Report (you can listen here). He grows five varieties, and in the process of researching for the show, I discovered there are dozens of other domesticated varieties. The best online review I've found for gardeners in our area is through Cornell University over here. Stephen grows Duke, Spartan, Bluecrop, Bluegold, and Coville, all of which do well with cold winters and are known for big, sweet berries with high yielding plants. This in turn makes for happy pick-your-own customers, and a productive acre and a half. Stephen's planted 1500 plants in all, and the varieties ripen in the order listed above to span a season that lasts from early July to mid-August. It's pretty neat.

As for the blueberry buckle, it's Stephen's recipe. I'm not entirely sure how it's intended to be eaten, but it's one of those things I think can be called a cake at dinner time and a coffee cake in the morning. In other words, I can always find an excuse to cut off a slice. It feels celebratory and decadent and is both sweet and moist, and in general lives up to the way summer ought to feel. It's a keeper, I think.


This recipe is adapted from the one posted online at the Hokum Rock Farm website. You could use small berries, but I think it's best with the big highbush varieties, as they melt into the dough and form big pockets of sweetness. If you're freezing berries, this would totally work as a winter dish—just thaw the berries before you throw them in.

for the cake:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons soft butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 cups blueberries

for the crumb topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square cake pan. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, and egg. Stir in the milk.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed, then fold the berries in carefully. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.

To make the topping, whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl and then cut in the butter. Spread evenly over berry mixture and bake for 40-50 minutes, until just set.

Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. After dinner, a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top is nice. In the morning, it's especially good with milky coffee.



Most of the time, I like my green beans al dente. Raw even, in a salad, or lightly sautéed so that they're just past crunchy, moving toward tender. But there are exceptions. This dish, something Rawia Bishara calls "Fasooliya bi Zeit" in Arabic, is one. It's a side dish, something you want to serve with bread or rice, something you want cooked through, wilted, thoroughly sauced. It takes the best of summer produce—green beans and tomatoes—and cooks them down with garlic and shallots and spices into a sort of July comfort food. It's more of a meal than most things I've done with green beans, and it's delicious.

It's not, as you can see, very pretty, but it makes up for that in droves with its flavors. Oh! And that's the bean teepee I told you about this spring, all fleshed out. We choose Rattlesnake and Blue Coco for our pole bean varieties, and as you can see above and below, they're thriving. Sally loves having a hiding spot in the garden, and I like it because it keeps her somewhat contained and happy.

Happy bean season, friends. 


This recipe comes from Olives, Lemon, & Za'atar by Rawi Bishara. She's originally from Israel and now runs a restaurant in Brooklyn that we learned about through a friend's wedding. She says this dish is a regular on Friday night dinner tables in her home country, and it's best served with bread or rice to mop up the sauce.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 and 1/2 pounds green beans, both ends trimmed, cut into 1 and 1/2-inch pieces
1 and 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
3 large tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
8 ounces diced or crushed canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Warm up the olive oil over high heat in a large pot. Add the shallots and sauté for about a minute, until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic, cook another 30 seconds or so stirring constantly, and stir in the spices. Cook another 30 seconds and add the green beans, salt, and tomatoes. Stir to combine, turn down the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, until the green beans are tender. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and lemon juice and cook uncovered for another 4-5 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

The original recipe calls for serving this hot, but I actually like it better cold the next day. It reminds me of a deli side. That said, it is still delicious straight out of the pot. This serves quite a few, so you should have enough left over to experiment with it both ways.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.