Pickled beets: putting by the product of a Truro hothouse

Deep magenta water is rolling over the pot of earthy Truro beets I picked up this morning at the Wellfleet Marketplace. The golden roots of last week are off the shelves, replaced by container upon container of their ruddy purple counterparts.

While I'm saving some for dinner, the rest I'm putting up with pickling spices. I called my mother for her recipe: 1 part sugar to 1 part vinegar for the pickling syrup, a pinch of salt, hot beets, and dill were her recommendation. With no dill to be found, I threw in a handful of black peppercorns, cardamom seeds, and cloves.

A half hour water bath is required to preserve the low acidity vegetable; any less and I fear my grandmother's stories of canning gone wrong will come back to haunt me.

Once the jars are sealed, I'll tuck them away alongside the rhubarb pie filling in anticipation of colder months. For now, I'll eat the magenta slices with greens.


Makes 2 quarts

Boil 2 quart jars in hot water for 10 minutes to sterilize. Put about 4 pounds beets on to boil; let cook until tender. In a separate pot, combine 2 and 1/2 cups white vinegar, 2 and 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds, and 1 tablespoon cloves. Stir to dissolve sugar and bring to a boil.

When beets are tender, drain and process. It is fine to dunk beets for a second in cold water, as they will be too hot to touch otherwise. Peel skins, cut off root and top. Slice, dice, or put whole into hot jars up to 1/2 inch below top. Pour boiling vinegar mixture to fill, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Add 1 teaspoon salt.

Wipe rims of jars with rag dipped in boiling water. Screw on sterilized lids. Put into boiling water bath for 30 minutes; let cool upside down overnight. Store for later.


The Jo(h)ns and the Beanstock

I first met the Jo(h)ns—John Simonian and Jonathan Kelly—while interviewing for an article I wrote this winter on local coffee roasters for Edible Cape Cod. They gave me the grand tour of their Eastham roasting plant, let me in on a few tricks of the trade, and offered to send me packing with a few bags of beans.

Having already interviewed four other roasters in the course of the week, I told them I'd love to take them up on the offer—but on a later date. That was in October.

Today, having emptied my cupboard of its Cape roasted contents, I happened upon the duo taking a lunch break outside their office on Brackett Road. I hopped out to say hello, and left a few minutes later with a rich smelling bag of Decaf Espresso.

"The darker roasts make a better iced coffee," the two told me. "At least that's what we've found." I arrived home just in time for a late afternoon cup.

My test of the theory proved them correct. Four heaping tablespoons of grounds, a French press of piping hot water, and a few hours later, I enjoyed the icy treat.

If you're looking to pick up a bag of your own, check out these locations:

Provincetown: Angel Foods, Far Land Provisions, Blue Light, Spiritus Coffee, and Chach
Truro: Jams and Blackfish
Wellfleet: the South Wellfleet General Store, The Wicked Oyster, Box Lunch, Mac’s Seafood, and the Flying Fish
Eastham: Brackett Farm & Sam’s Deli
Orleans: Village Farm Market, Cottage St. Bakery, and Cape Cup in
Chatham: The Corner Store and Pampered Palate
Brewster: Bayside Seafood & Market and The Cook Shop
Falmouth: Sweet Tomatoes
Dennis: Health Nuts
Yarmouthport: Peterson’s Market
Hyannis: The Daily Paper, Cape Cod Beer, Brown Bag Bagels, and La Petite France Cafe
Barnstable: Whistleberries, Ojala Farm Bakery, and Cotuit Grocery
Sandwich: Paul’s Bean and Bagel
Osterville: Fancy’s Market
Edgartown: Herring Creek Marine & Market and Depot Market
Vineyard Haven: the Daily Grind


Twelve pies and counting: storing a spring harvest

Overwhelmed by the 15 pounds of rhubarb I had so excitedly purchased at the farmers' market on Saturday, I put down my rolling pin last night. After 7 pies (5 of which I sold at Mac's Seafood in Truro, the other 2 of which I tucked into the freezer), I could not face the prospect of another round of homemade dough.

I turned instead to my trusted canning book. A clear product of the eighties, it features the bouffant hairdos and tasty recipes of Sue Deeming and her husband Bill. Canning is a compendium of both techniques and recipes for everything from cinnamon rings to piccalilli.

Rhubarb is not left out. While I was planning to make jam, the index yielded something even better: pie filling. The happy couple recommends giving it as a gift, but judging by the appetite for pie in my house, it seems unlikely the jars will make it out.

This morning, 5 red tinged jars greeted me, sitting upside down to seal on the kitchen counter. After testing the seal, I tucked them into the basement pantry alongside the beach plum jelly and strawberry jam. Come November, I'm sure it will seem like quite a treat to crack one open and roll out another round of crust.


Makes 5 pints

Follow basic canning sterilization procedures for 5 pint jars. Cut up 12 cups rhubarb (about 5 pounds) and mix in a large sauce pot with 2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup orange juice (optional). Let stand for 15 minutes, or until juices begin to run.

Heat on medium, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to boil. Insert a candy thermometer, and continue boiling until the mixture reaches about 212 degrees (be patient; this can take a while).

Turn off heat and add 1 cup sugar mixed well with 1/4 - 1/2 cup cornstarch (the recipe calls for 1/2 cup, but I think this makes it too thick once it has set). Turn on heat again until the mixture returns to 212 degrees. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Label and store.


Hunting for Pokeweed: a forager's adventures in Provincetown

Ever heard of pokeweed? No? How about poke salad, poke sallit, cancer-root, cancer jalap, inkberry, pigeon berry, pocan, poke root, pokeberry, reujin d ours, sekerciboyaci, skoke, yoshu-yama-gobo, or yyamilin? These are all names for the same plant: Phytolacca americana.

The abundance of names alone indicates that the perennial plant was once easily identifiable to foragers all over the world. As a native to North and South America, East Asia, and New Zealand, it is found along woodland margins, in damp clearings of rich soil, and along roadsides. A stout, erect stalk can tower by the end of the growing season a good ten feet over the earth, widening into smooth branching shoots weighed down with deep purple berries.

The wild plant has almost as many uses as it does names. In the spring, the young shoots can be boiled for a dish similar to asparagus in looks and spinach in taste. The large, fleshy root can be sliced and dried for use as an alternative medicine (touted as an anti-inflammatory, expectorant, hypnotic, narcotic, it has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years to treat swollen glands, bronchitis, and other immune system deficiency diseases). Stock from boiled root can be used as a soap substitute, as it is rich in saponin (a natural detergent). The berries, while poisonous raw, produce a beautiful red ink and dye.

If you've been around long enough to hear the song "Poke Salad Annie" by Tony Joe White (covered by Elvis) you might've tasted it. Today, however, the making of poke salad falls into the realm of lost culinary arts. Many authorities advise—over-cautiously, in my opinion—against consumption of any part of the plant (as the roots, berries, and older shoots and leaves contain a strong poison). As a result, any would-be forager without a grandmother to hand down a poke salad recipe is likely to pass on the spring treat.

When asked, my grandmothers' response was not encouraging. "Isn't it a green thing that grows in the spring?" she asked. "My sister used to love it, but I never had anything to do with it."

Thus ended my experience with the plant until several days ago, when a friend arrived to work with a carefully wrapped "surprise." After explaining that it was the tender young shoot of a poke stalk, she agreed take me foraging the next day. When we crouched armed with knives and paper bags at the hunting grounds (the exact location of which I have been forbidden to disclose), we managed to cut a few pounds of the stuff within minutes.

Below is the recipe I used to prepare my first poke salad. Now that I've got a gathering spot, I'll happily welcome more.


Serves 4

Boil 1 pound short, tender poke stalks with leaves (stalks are edible until they reach about 9 inches in height or begin to turn purple; at that point beware of poisoning) for 3-5 minutes. Drain water, refill pot, and boil again. Discard water; boil again if stalks are on the larger side, as boiling reduces toxicity.

In a large pan, fry 6-8 slices of bacon. When done, remove bacon and add poke stalks to sizzling fat. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until hot through. Serve hot with bacon and cornbread.


Quahogs vs. steamers: a Memorial Day sustainability question

If my posts have seemed a bit harried these past few days, it is because I've been buried under a slew of fried clams. At the last moment, I was called into a local clam shack to help serve Wellfleet seafood to the masses as they descended upon the town pier for the weekend.

Even after five seasons, it never ceases to amaze me just how much Cape seafood an influx of 30,000 plus visitors can pack down. Between oysters, scallops, cod, lobster, calamari, and clams—both whole bellied and stripped—the restaurant served up almost 1500 plates per day. Even give or take a few hot dogs and hamburgers, that's a pretty hefty poundage of food from the sea.

And that's just at one restaurant. Add into the mix the hundreds of other high volume Cape restaurants, and clams are disappearing at a rate that's hard to imagine.

For the most part, clamming remains a sustainable industry despite the high volume sold to tourists during summer months. The littlenecks and cherry stones (quahogs) offered up on the half shell are farm raised in a sustainable manner by local shellfishermen (check out the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association for more info).

The supply of frying clams is a bit more volatile. Steamers for frying are dug locally on the flats of Monomoy Island in Chatham, or a bit further north in Ipswich and off the coast of Maine. These small white shellfish are wild, making them susceptible to red tide and over digging (the Chatham Squire alone reports buying and serving up to 9 tons of Monomoy steamers per year).

While a plate of steamers or fried whole bellies may be tempting, they're not always harvested sustainably. Next time I pick up a menu (or a clam knife), I'll be looking for quahogs.


Orleans Farmers' Market revs up for the season

The honey bears stood sentinel at the first sunny market of the season on a grassy patch in downtown Orleans this morning. Representing E & T Farms, they beckoned shoppers with a sweet tooth into the line-up of various bee products.

Long, tapered candles lined one basket, beautifully molded bedside candles filled another, and jars of honey in every size from bear to half gallon were flying off the table from every side.

The next booth brought rhubarb; 15 pounds according to the scale when I purchased the last of it in one fell swoop. At $2.50/pound, it was hard to resist as I conjured up an image of 15 pies stacked in the freezer for the celebrations of darker months.

The 30 pounds of asparagus brought to market by Surrey Farms was sold out by the time I reach the stand, but they promised more in two weeks time.

For greens, I swapped $3.50 with the Kitchen Garden for a gallon ziplock of two spinach varieties, kale, and baby bibb lettuce.

Between the various stands, I spent $40.50 at the market: $29 on rhubarb, $3.50 on greens, and $8 for a pair of beeswax dinner candles. I supplemented the shop with 2 half-gallons of local apple cider from Phoenix Fruits, which ran me in the neighborhood of $8, and a dozen eggs from the Orleans Whole Foods store for $4.50 from Lake Farm Garden in town. I picked up the half gallon of raw milk that I receive weekly as part of a coop from a farm in Foxboro at a friend's house near Rock Harbor and dropped $4.25 in the money bucket.

All told, the weeks' shop cost me $57.25; not bad for an all local harvest.


Local squid hits the boat for spring

Squid has arrived on the boats at local fish markets. Get your hands on some now, because they won't last long. Once the blue fish and tuna move in, the squid who have crowded the shallow waters to spawn leave their eggs for deeper, less predatory waters.

The pair of eight-armed friends I picked up came from Mac's Seafood in Truro. According to the fishmonger behind the counter, they are coming in from the Chatham weirs.

When I arrived home, I looked the dinner-plate bound pair in the eyes, muttered a brief apology, and began slicing. Off went the heads, tentacles and all, as I cut through the arms near the eyes. With thumb and forefinger, I squeezed out the inedible beak and set aside the tentacles for frying. The inside of the body cavity I cleaned out, and the outside mantle I sliced into 1/3 inch rings.

A half gallon of fry oil, a scoop of flour, and a sprinkling of parsley later, two plates of fried calamari sat on the dinner table staring up. I dipped the first delicate tentacle into a pool of spicy mayo and topped it with a smattering of lemon, toasting my former friends with the first crisp bite.

To all you squid lovers out there, here's to spring seafood, and plenty of it—


Serves 2

Cut and clean 2 squid, reserving tentacles. In a deep frying pan, heat up several inches of frying oil (preferably vegetable). Mix together 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. In two batches, toss the squid in the flour mixture until coated. With oil boiling, drop in squid rings and fry for just under two minutes to keep tender. Serve hot with spicy mayo or marinara sauce and a wedge of lemon.


Truro hot house beets make a savory spring tartlet

At the Wellfleet Marketplace the other day, the produce special caught my eye. "Golden beets," it read. "Local, organic." I asked Paul for an explanation.

"A woman grows them in her hot-house in Truro," he said. I started to ask for a name, but he was already on to the next task in preparation for the upcoming weekend.

For $2.99, I took home nine of the gnarled yellow roots, each about the size of a kiwi. The fridge offered up a leftover ball of flaky pastry dough, and I set to work making a tartlet. With the beets boiling and the dough rolled out, I hand-pressed the crust into a flat-bottomed basin with a thick, short hem. I turned the oven up to 425, and put the shell in to pre-bake.

A quarter hour later a bite size savory tartlet sat on the table. Thinly sliced beets, a topping of caramelized onions, and a dollop of soft rosemary cheese from Shy Brothers' Farm filled the flaky crust to the brim. I cut a wedge, and sunk my teeth in for a taste of Truro earth.


Serves 1

Preheat oven to 425. Boil 2 small golden beets for 45 minutes.

Roll out a fist-sized ball of simple pastry dough. Place on a baking sheet and roll sides to make 1/3 inch rim. Pre-bake until barely golden, about 8 minutes.

While the crust bakes, caramelize several slices yellow onion. Peel beets and slice very thinly. Remove crust from oven and layer beets to top of rim. Top with caramelized onions, sliced thinly, and two crumbled thimbles of rosemary cheese from Shy Brothers' Farm, or local goat cheese. Return to oven to melt cheese, 2-3 minutes, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve hot or chilled.


Greens gone wild: dandelion salad

I distinctly remember the day I first learned that dandelion greens were edible. I was no more than six or seven, rooting around in the back yard with a friend, when she plucked a tender lion-toothed green and started chewing.

I was horrified; not only did she refuse to spit it out, but she went on to inform me that her family ate dandelions for dinner all the time. In the 23 years I have been alive, this has been my only introduction. Needless to say, my taste for the wild weeds never developed.

The other morning, however, I noticed a bundle of dandelion greens at the local grocer. Local, in season! the sign below them read. Having searched for months for a local green, I understood that they deserved at least my consideration. I hemmed and hawed, wandering through the rest of the aisles in search of local produce until finally I arrived back at the dandelion stand with an empty basket.

At home, I called my mother. “Do you know anyone who eats dandelion greens?” I asked. She quickly informed me that my cousin Bob, a doctor who tends to his backyard Middlebury, Vermont garden with the tenacity of a full-time farmer, is a connoisseur of the greens. “They’re Italian,” she tells me, “a family tradition from his side.”

I called the dandelion tamer to learn more. He informed me that he does indeed enjoy the greens all spring and summer long, and even went so far as to refer to them as a garden delight. “I started eating them when I was a kid,” he explained. “Dandelion greens are part of Italian cuisine. My mother bought them all the time from the local grocery stores in Brooklyn.”

Apparently the domesticated variety is sweeter than the wild, and can be harvested every 7-10 days by cutting the leaves when they are between 4 and 6 inches long. “The plants winter over,” he said, “so they are an early harvest—April or May.” Once flowers start to develop, the greens begin to lose their taste.

Our conversation gave me courage. I pulled out the sauté pan and turned on the gas. According to Bob, the best way to eat the greens is to sauté them with garlic and olive oil until they are soft but still al-dente. I followed his advice, substituting local butter for olive oil and throwing in a few tiny bulbs of spring garlic.

True to his description, Bob’s recipe was delicious. I ate it alongside a cut of line-caught cod, a feast that disappears within minutes. I was converted.

So changed, in fact that I decided to go in search of the wild greens. Like my childhood friend, I found them right there in the backyard. A quick nibble confirmed that they are indeed bitterer than their domesticated cousin, more akin to an endive than an arugula. Nevertheless, I forged ahead into the kitchen. I rinsed and dried the greens, and arranged them in a salad bowl with a sprinkling of pea greens from the Saturday farmers' market. I used the remains of a jar of last season’s strawberry jam to stir up a vinaigrette and topped the salad with a crumbled rosemary Hannahbell thimble.

I remembered Bob’s words as I took my first bite. “Connoisseur of the plant I am not,” he had stated decidedly. “Enjoyable recipient of Italian family custom, I am.”

As now, am I.

Dandelion & pea green salad with soft rosemary cheese and strawberry vinaigrette

Serves 2

Rinse and dry 1/2 cup fresh wild dandelion greens and 1/2 cup pea greens. Top with a crumbled Hannahbell rosemary thimble and strawberry vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon strawberry jam
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar (such as apple cider)
1/4 teaspoon salt


Cape Cod Beer: true to its word, a vacation (and a good dose of community) in every pint

Scroll down the Cape Cod Beer brewer bios, and they certainly look like they're having fun. There's brewmaster Todd, who gave up his gainful employment as an electrician to devote himself to beer. There's Brian, who mans the growlers. Blake is hard at work finding a meaningful relationship not with a person, but with the brew.

Oh, and Beth. But as the unofficial "troll under the stairs," she looks like she's having less fun than the rest with that mountain of paperwork.

But the fun isn't what's so exciting about these vignettes; more noteworthy is that I actually recognize a few of the folks behind my beer. I've seen them at restaurants around town, enjoying a brew right along with the rest of us. Try to imagine putting a face to your Bud Light; other than a toad, it's hard to do.

Last year alone, the young company supported over 50 local organizations, spanning every sort from fellow ale makers to local elementary schools to the Alzheimer's Association. They welcome suggestions for what the next brew should be; and they're out front to meet and greet as they refill growlers each afternoon.

As I cracked open my growler of locally brewed Heffeweizen last night, I couldn't help but catch a bit of the spirit. The Hyannis-made beer may offer a vacation, but at its heart, it's about Cape community. And that's an ethos I can drink to.


Strawberry rhubarb waffles: a Sunday tradition gets a load of local fruit

For a faithful crowd of ten odd Wellfleetians, waffles are a Sunday imperative. We gather most weeks for a feast of fruit and bacon and heap upon heap of cakes hot off the iron.

On summer mornings, we descend upon the lilting kitchen and shady screened in porch of a tiny Cottontail road cottage. The mother of the house fills griddle after griddle with ladles of batter until finally we put down our forks, satiated.

This week, with two brand new kitchen tables and a hand-me-down waffle iron just arrived, I decided to repay the many mornings of generosity with a gathering of my own. I called over the troops, flung open the windows, and cranked up the cast iron press for a seasonal Sunday feast.

With the strawberry rhubarb compote I'd been using on my oatmeal, I mixed up a batch of fluffy spring waffles, and we headed onto the deck and into the sunshine for the first outdoor meal of the season. Two bowls of batter later, we sat full and lazy, soaking up the heat of the noontime sun.


Serves 4-6

Plug in waffle iron to preheat.

Cut up 3 stalks rhubarb, toss into a pot, and cover with water. Boil over medium-high heat 5-10 minutes, or until soft. Drain water carefully using pot lid. Stir in 1/2 cup strawberry jam and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3/4 cup white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Melt 8-12 tablespoons butter or bacon fat over low heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 and 1/2 cups milk and 3 eggs. Add melted fat and strawberry rhubarb compote; stir wet ingredients into dry.

Ladle batter into hot waffle iron, about 1 and 1/2 large ladles full at a time. Let cook until machine indicates done or stops steaming; remove with a fork and serve hot. Makes 3-4 batches.


Pea tendrils: Silverbrook Farm yields the first greens of the season

Today marked the end of my winter countdown. The first farmers' market of the season is always a turning point—the day when the first leafy edibles emerge and our waning faith in summer becomes tangible once again.

So when the morning of the first two markets of the season dawned cool and rainy early today, my mood sank. I had eaten the last of the butternut squash, the last gnarled hunk of celeriac, even the last cranberry. I couldn't wait much longer.

A phone call to the Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans confirmed my disappointment; no white tents were to dot the mid-Cape parking lot this morning. By noon, however, the clouds had scattered. I jumped into the Volvo hell bent on an afternoon trip to Provincetown's Ryder Square.

A quarter hour later I stood beneath a white plastic canopy listening to Silverbrook Farm representative Andy Pollock extol on the virtues of a strong-yolked egg. "A really dark orange means the chickens are eating well," he explains. "Plenty of organic matter."

One woman is searching through the cartoons in hopes of finding a "double." Pollock points her in the direction of his jumbo brown eggs, which he says are more likely to have the double yolk she is hoping for. Some attribute the tendency to lay the long, thin double yolks to genetics, some to good health, and others to a unsynchronized production cycles. Pollock attributes his lucky finds to the hens' good health. "If you find one," he adds, "let us know."

The other producers at the market are equally full of farm-tales and tidbits. I taste a cheese made by two very shy brothers whose mother sent them to France learn to make this one sought-after variety, a handful of pea greens, and a scoop of smoked bluefish dip.

By the time I have made my way through the ten odd stands, my belly is full with local foods and my bags heavy with the week's menu. It has taken me longer to complete my shopping in the square than at the grocer's, perhaps, and I have likely spent more per item. But I have picked up more, too; I learned the lore behind a double-yolked egg, buried my nose in a barrel of Cape grown lavender, and chatted with a dozen friends and neighbors.

This, I remember, is what food shopping should be: a cacophony of tastes and voices open to the air and the sway of the season. It's good to be back.


Makes 4 small crostini

Toast 2 slices Danish Pastry House six grain bread; cut in half diagonally. Spread each triangle with one Rosemary Hannahbell from Shy Brothers' Farm (about one tablespoon of soft, briny cheese). Top with pea tendrils and several drops of sweet aged balsamic vinegar. Enjoy immediately as an appetizer or light lunch.


Cabot's Famous Cape Cod salt water taffy

I've always wondered why the chewy candy sold in oceanside towns is called salt water taffy.

Today I heard two versions. The first, as I suspected, was that the recipe calls for both salt and water. But the candy isn't made with saltwater, today or ever.

The second, if no more likely, is a bit more winsome. As the story goes, stormy seas flooded a Mr. David Bradley's Atlantic City candy store in 1883. Pile upon pile of Bradley's taffy was soaked with ocean water. A little girl walked by in search of candy, and all he had to offer was "salt water taffy." She left thrilled, and the name stuck.

Whatever the true origins of the name, Cabot's Candy Co. in Provincetown has been making the oceanside treat since 1927. Begun as a family business, the local landmark has been making taffy by hand in small batches with the same recipe for three generations. Walking through Provincetown today, I couldn't resist a stop. I picked up a wax wrapped piece of chewy molasses to sustain me while I wandered home.

It was so sweet that when I arrived I dug out a recipe to test. Results will follow...


Makes about 1 pound

Before you begin, butter a baking sheet. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, stir together 2 cups unsulfured molasses, 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and then cook without stirring until a small amount of the sweet mixture dropped into very cold water forms a ball that holds its shape but remains flexible.

Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet, and spread using a spatula to cool. Get out a pair of greased kitchen scissors and a sheet of wax paper, and grease your hands. When taffy is just cool enough to touch, form it into several balls and stretch the lumps of candy from the fingertips of one hand to the other until it is almost a foot and a half long.

Double it up and pull again, continuing until the candy is porous and hard to pull. Stretch into a rope 3/4 inch in diameter, and cut with greased scissors into 1 inch pieces. Wrap in wax paper; twist ends to seal. Store in tightly closed tin.


Bog pops: last fall's cranberries make an early summer treat

When I gave my fridge a good spring cleaning the other day, I felt an oddly shaped bundle at bottom of my hydrator. An investigation turned up a well cloaked bag of October's longest lasting harvest: cranberries. Picked up at Rich's farm stand last fall, they remained firm and bright as the day I bought them.

In the midst of my orange juice ban, the Wellfleet fruit was a happy sight. I wasted no time in sparking the stove and putting on a pot of water to boil. Within minutes, the berries were rolling and popping in a scarlet sea, home made cranberry juice only a cheesecloth away.

While I saved most of the juice for early morning consumption, I did manage to fill up a tray of freezer popsicles with the extra. This afternoon, on the first high mercury day of the year, I slipped one out to celebrate.


Boil cranberries in equal part water. Once the berries have popped, continue boiling for several minutes to intensify flavor. Depending on preference, strain berries, saving flavored water, or blend berries and water together for a thicker mixture. (If you choose to strain the berries, be sure to save them, as they freeze well and make an excellent oatmeal topping or pie filling).

Sweeten warm juice with pure white cane sugar to taste and mix well to dissolve. If cranberry flavor is too strong, thin the juice with cold tap water. Pour into a tray of freezer popsicles and let chill overnight. To eat, run under hot water and enjoy outside.


Dirt Bomb season opens up for the summer: a visit to Blue Willow

One morning last summer, a friend and I arranged an unusual breakfast date. Rather than meet at her house or mine, we decided to pull together a picnic at a marshy beach midway between the two.

My job was coffee; I picked up two steaming Beanstock espresso lattes at the Wicked Oyster. Hers was French Breakfast Muffin babies: the bite-sized cinnamon sugar muffins stacked high atop a cake stand each morning at the Blue Willow in South Wellfleet. While the muffins (also available as "Dirt Bombs" at the Cottage Street Bakery in Orleans) are baked in the larger size as well, we figured out long ago that the smaller treats offer a better sugar-to-batter ratio.

Clutching our coffee and a bag of mini-dirt bombs each, we spread a blanket across the damp sand and watched the morning begin around us. Busy crabs scuttled in and out of sand tunnels, the tide turned in, and before long the feast had disappeared.

Today when I drove by the South Wellfleet Post Office, I noticed the Blue Willow flag flapping against the door again for the first time since December. I dropped in to start off the dirt bomb season. With the first bite of crystal and spice, that lazy summer morning was back in an instant. To the friend who shared it with me: don't wait too long for a trip home to picnic again.


Prepare recipe for Buttermilk Nutmeg Muffins with Amaretto, repeated below from previous post.

Makes 10 large muffins

Sift together in a large bowl 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup cake flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 large ground nutmeg seeds.

In a separate bowl, stir together 2 large eggs, 1 cup buttermilk, 2/3 cup honey, 6 tablespoons room temperature butter, and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Beat lightly to incorporate honey and butter.

Mix dry ingredients into wet; fill 10 well oiled muffin cups to the brim with batter. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

While muffins bake, melt 1/2 stick butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. In a wide shallow bowl, mix together a batch of cinnamon sugar using 2/3 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. When tray emerges, brush hot muffins with butter and roll in sugar. Eat hot or enjoy cool for several mornings to come.


On Briar Lane, a 76-year family tradition throws open the shutters

This summer will be the first in 30 years that Marjorie Wiles Sayre doesn't spend her days selling jelly at the family stand on the corner of Rt. 6 and Briar Lane in Wellfleet. Instead, she will pass the torch to her daughter-in-law Terri and watch with a grin as the 76-year-old business carries on.

Sayre's retirement is the second since her mother, Esther Wiles, opened up shop after the Depression in 1932 to help make ends meet. While the family's original garden and orchard are long gone (having disappeared under the highway when Rt. 6 plowed through in the 1940s), Terri now tends to a new one off-site. "I've got grapes, apples, quince, zucchini," she tells me as the cars whiz by. "I put up all the juice as they come, and then make the jams and jelly over the winter."

On the freshly painted white shelves today are 45 varieties of preserves, in every flavor from zucchini pickles to cranberry & quince to beach plum jelly. Though she doesn't officially open for business until Memorial Day, Terri says she's been keeping the window up for fresh air and the occasional sale to passers-by. A young girl emerges from the back with a roll of labels for the latest batch of rhubarb jam, and Terri introduces her as her daughter. "It's her first day of training," she explains, and a fourth generation gets underway.

While she didn't give up any of the guarded family recipes, Terri did let me take home a jar of corn relish that she put together from the local farmers' market last summer. The sweet kernels and bits of red pepper made a marvelous topping for an oyster at lunch: the sugar balanced by brine, with this year's land harvest coupled with today's from the sea. I suppose if it's been 76 years and the recipe's still going strong, it shouldn't be a surprise that it tastes just right.


Spring seedling, fall soup: the start of a pot of Portuguese kale

The woman bundled in mittens, scarf, and hand-woven hat sitting outside of Rock Spray Nursery in Truro this morning was busy seeding when I pulled into the white shell parking lot.

An NPR discussion on the rising number of American kids entering—perhaps unnecessarily—the world of higher education floated out through the shed window. With the rising price and four-year opportunity cost of college, many of these kids would do better to go to a trade school, or apprentice themselves to a local craft person, the guest trailed off. I wondered what the learning trade-offs would have been had I chosen a Maine gardener over Middlebury.

One thing's for sure: I would surely have a better knowledge of the round-up of hardy little seedlings ready for planting this time of year in our false-spring climate. Luckily, today the nursery was there to help.

Vegetable seedlings were on sale—10 for $3. I picked out three shoots of brussel sprouts, two miniature heads of lettuce, two wavering fennel bulbs, two leafy kale sprouts, and a tiny radicchio. An early summer's bargain harvest.

While picking time is still a long way off, by the time I had them home I already knew how I planned to eat my kale: in a pot of Portuguese Kale soup. The recipe comes from Alex; it's the one he makes daily for Mac's Seafood on the Wellfleet town pier. For those of us feeding a family rather than a town, the large batch makes plenty to freeze for later.


Makes one large soup pot full

In a large frying pan, sauté 2 large chopped onions, 6 minced cloves garlic, and 2 pounds linguica in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add 4 chopped fresh tomatoes and cook for another two minutes.

Pour 2 quarts water into a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Add 8 diced medium sized potatoes and cook until almost tender, being careful not to overcook. Add linguica mixture, 2 pounds kale, 1 quart beef broth, 1 pound fire-roasted canned tomatoes, and 1 pint canned red kidney beans. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.


Fleetian fusion: Thod mun (thai fish cakes) with Cape cod

Last night in the kitchen of a trim Commercial Street cape, Wellfleet met Bangkok. Surrounded by a well-kept garden and backed into a hill sloping down to Duck Creek, the kitchen was cluttered with foreign spices and the illegible packaging of Asian markets. A basil plant sat plucked bare atop the center table, and the stove spat a high blue flame.

Tiny white fish cakes hit the oil with a sputter. Rice paper wraps of spring greens, mint leaves, and cellophane noodles filled a shallow, black bowl. A dipping well of sweet mango chutney graced the table, and a puffy pastry festooned with kiwi and banana languished atop the corner hutch.

It was hardly the scene of a local feast. Crumbled peanuts had flown in from South America; the Mexican mango was just coming into season; and the sticky rice paper showcased an imported eastern market specialty. The main ingredient, however, was found locally.

The cod chopped and blended into the thod mun was straight from P-town or Chatham; wherever the day-boats had docked that morning. So local that it was hardly a moment from the sea, it nonetheless fused easily into a recipe with origins half a world away. It wasn't the base of the dish so much as the garnishes that bespoke far away harvests; with a few modifications, the Asian dish could easily be made Wellfleetian. Trade in the lime leaves for cilantro, swap the mango chutney for one of rhubarb or beach plum, serve aside a seasonal vegetable, and the transformation will be complete.


Serves 4-6

In a large mixing bowl, combine: just over 1 pound chopped cod or other local white fish, 1 egg, 1/2 cup finely sliced string beans (last year's pickled beans will do fine), 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon salt, and at least 1 tablespoon red curry paste (more to taste). Knead well by hand or blend in a food processor until sticky.

In a deep frying pan, boil 3 cups cooking oil. Form small cakes using 2 tablespoons of fish mixture, deep fry until golden brown. Serve hot with local fruit chutney.


Fiddleheads are the most ephemeral of vegetables. After lying dormant for the winter, coiled beneath the damp earth of forest floors and stream banks, they began unfurling about this time of year.

Those with a hunting spot head out to duck under drooping hemlocks with their noses to the ground, on the prowl for New England's most unique vegetable. Its followers tend to be fanatics; gathering enough of the ferns so that they can sell and eat 'em now, while saving plenty to pickle for later.

If you've ever eaten a fiddlehead sautéed in bacon grease and doused with a dash of salt, it's an obsession plain enough to understand. The coiled ostrich ferns' crisp texture and taste reminiscent of a cross between asparagus and spinach make them a delectable wild spring edible.

Unfortunately, the Cape is a poor hunting ground for the ferns. The lack of freshwater streams, rich topsoil, and heavy forest cover make for little acceptable habitat. But inland, the ground is teaming with them, and local grocery produce vendors have taken notice. Phoenix Fruits in Orleans is offering fiddleheads by the pound fresh from Deerfield, and Ruma Fruit & Produce, an Everett-based specialty store, received a shipment of 2,000 pounds just this morning. Happily, they're willing to share. Wherever you find them, give the fleeting fronds a try—it won't be long before they're gone.


Serves 4-6

Clean 1 pound fresh fiddleheads and boil for at least 10 minutes (the University of Maine Cooperative Extension warms that the ferns should be boiled for 10 minutes before eating, as an outbreak of food-borne illness was attributed to them in 1990. Eating the greens raw or sautéed is not recommended.)

Heat up 3 tablespoons saved bacon fat in a frying pan. Sauté fiddleheads for 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve sizzling as a dinner side.


Rhubarb pie: the one little thing that can revive a guy

It is just after 6 o'clock on a Saturday evening. The news from Lake Wobegon is drifting out through the screen door. The weather is hazy and cool; it is springtime on the Atlantic.

Suddenly, events on the air begin to spin out of control. A woman screams, a door slams, and the sound of a man weeping echoes across the waves.

Wouldn't this be a good time for a piece of rhubarb pie? asks the familiar voice of Garrison Keillor. A piano chimes in, and the woman recovers herself for a rendition of beebop-a-reebop rhubarb pie.

It's strange, but the thought of a piece of rhubarb pie can do that to a person. Around this time of year, when the broad green leaves emerge drooped against scattered fences, I get the urge to pull up a pink stalk and crumble a sugar cube beneath its raw root. I remember sitting on my mother's kitchen counter, fingers sticky, slowly crunching through a bowl of raw pie filling on many a spring evening. The warmth of the sugar followed by the sting of the fruit made every bite necessitate another, until finally the syrupy stalks were hustled away from me and into the pie shell.

There are still few treats I prefer over a sugared slice of raw rhubarb. While this recipe ought to make 4 pies, it seems it only ever yields 3 when I'm baking. Passed down from Alex's grandmother, it has a subtle tang and a thick, flaky crust—a combination that can't be beat.


Makes 4 pies

Filling: In a food processor, mix 5 cups rhubarb with 2 cups sugar and 6 tablespoons flour until well blended.

Crust: Mix 4 cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in 1 and 3/4 cups butter. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup cold water, one egg, and 1/2 tablespoon vinegar. Add to flour and butter mixture and stir lightly. Roll out on a well-floured surface.

Bake pies at 350 for 30-45 minutes, or until crust is crisp and slightly golden.


Having eaten the curds, on to the whey: baking biscuits

Following my adventure in cheese-making last week, the salty mound of curds disappeared within an evening. The whey, however, was still sitting in my refrigerator in a glass jar yesterday when I went to rummage around for lunch.

Wondering what on earth to do with the liquid (which appeared on the basis of smell, sight, and taste exactly the same as that floating atop an unstirred yogurt), I turned to Google. The first several hits weren't much help: a little Miss Muffet reference, a note to body builders that it is excellent in power smoothies, and a recipe for a slow simmer soup that would take hours.

But halfway down the page I found it: a simple recipe for whey drop biscuits. It sounded too easy to be true—and a little too low-fat, also. Undeterred, I doubled the butter, swapped the white flour for wheat, and began mixing. One shattered mixing bowl, an oven fire, and a few burnt biscuit tops later, I managed to pull one perfectly golden dozen out of the oven unscathed. I swept up the pieces, turned off the gas, and fed a charred treat to my ever-hungry black lab. As for the dozen that made it through the mishaps—the whey lent them a tangy flavor and the added butter a superb flaky texture—making my lunch certainly worth the blunders.


Makes 20 drop biscuits

In a large mixing bowl, combine: 5 cups whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cut in 2 sticks butter and work in using fingertips. Add 2 cups whey and knead lightly. The dough should be moist and sticky; add flour if needed. Drop biscuits with a spoon onto 2 baking sheets; cook at 450 for 7-10 minutes or until golden on top.


Lunch at Grumpy's: an early summer lobster roll

Grumpy's in Dennis self-advertises as a haunt for hearty appetites and tight wallets. It is the type of restaurant best hit-up in a state of frenzied morning hunger, pre-coffee and post-late-night bar tab. After helping a friend ready his boat for the season at the Sesuit Harbor Northside Marina yesterday, I stopped in for my first time to grab a bite for lunch.

Scanning the menu, I looked for local options. Seafood was it, with Cape scallops and haddock, but both were served deep-fried with a side of French fries—hardly fresh in presentation. Opting out of the fry-o-lator, I went for the lobster roll—a New England classic that for the most part guarantees satisfaction.

This time around, it managed again. Despite the mayo-soaked coleslaw and semi-soggy fries, the Atlantic meat was delicious. It's not surprising; we are heading at full velocity into the six-week season from mid-May to the end of June when northern lobsters are at their prime: hard-shelled, sweet, and plentiful. The abundance makes for cheap meat, meaning it's the perfect time of year to whip up your own roll at the kitchen counter or on the back porch grill.

With fresh ingredients, the succulent meat doesn't need much—a handful of chives, a dab of mayo, and a sprinkling of lime juice inside
a good bun lined with a leaf of Boston Bib will do the trick. So eat up; it won't be long before the water warms up and the bugs begin to molt.


Serves 4

Cook three 1 and 1/4 pound lobsters; pick and chop meat. Toss with 2 teaspoons lime juice, 1/2-1 cup garlic mayonnaise from scratch, and salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Brush four good hot dog buns with 4 tablespoons melted butter and toast over hot coals or griddle. Line with a leaf of Boston Bib lettuce, spoon meat into buns, and top with a sprinkling of chopped chives.

To make mayonnaise: whisk the yolk of one good, fresh egg with a tiny dab of very cold water. Very slowly at first, begin to add one cup olive oil in a slow drip, whisking constantly. Once the mixture becomes opaque, add oil more quickly until it is all absorbed. Season with several pinches garlic pepper or another favorite spice.


Maine oats with a strawberry rhubarb compote

One might imagine that after almost 2 months of near daily oatmeal breakfasts, I would be a bit weary of the cereal. Yet with ten pounds from my winter order still to go, I find myself anything but. I mix it up: vanilla nutmeg one morning, squash butter and milk the next. Today, it was rhubarb.

I heard from my friend Chelsea at a dinner party Saturday evening that her father's rhubarb patch was ready to pick. I found myself (as I often do these days) becoming perhaps overly interested in the offhand statement, hoping to weasel my way into a few green stalks. (Her father, Jim Rose, is the friend who sells eggs and whatever else he has to offer at the moment at the end of his driveway at 2426 Rt. 6 in Wellfleet).

I drove by Sunday; no luck. Yesterday morning, on my way to work I left a note: Rhubarb? Upon my return nine hours later, there it was, tucked into a bag on the back porch with a carton of eggs. Thought you'd need these for the pie, it read.

I haven't made pie; not yet at least. But while I wait for the weekend's bake day, I'm certainly enjoying spicing up that tenth pound of oatmeal.


Serves 2

Cut up one stalk rhubarb. Boil in very little water (just enough to cover the bottom of a small pan and soak the pieces) until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain water and add 3-5 tablespoons of last year's strawberry jam (not jelly, as the berries should be whole). Sweeten with sugar as needed and enjoy hot over oats or toast.


A trip to Enzo: Cape-French fluke at its finest

Last night, we headed to P-town for a final evening out before the season descends. We picked Enzo—the upscale Italian joint in the early blocks of the West End—as an eatery. The ingredients were local, the food fresh, and the menu great. The only strange thing was that the dishes were all French.

That aside, I picked the local fluke from the tantalizing list of France's finest. The summer flounder (as fluke are often called) is a sure sign of spring—it is only recently that the fish have made their way from the offshore depths into the sandy folds of Cape Cod Bay. Served over a squid ink pasta with tendrils of marinated red pepper, the flat fish arrived at my seat pan-seared to perfection.

The fish was so good, in fact, that it inspired me to peruse the flounder selection today at Mac's Seafood in the Wellfleet Marketplace. I had a bag of fresh Deerfield fiddleheads from Phoenix Fruits in Orleans already in mind for dinner, a half gallon of milk in need of use, and a tucked away jar of pasta hiding up above the refrigerator—with the addition of the fish the makings for an tasty spring meal. I grabbed a half-pound filet and headed home.

Just now in the door, I haven't started cooking yet, but here's the recipe I've got in mind:


Serves 2

Steam 10-15 well-washed fiddleheads for 10 minutes; set aside.

Put on a pot of water with a dash of salt to boil; when rolling add 1/2 pound linguini.

In a heavy fry-pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté one medium sized chopped onion until it starts to become translucent. Add the peeled cloves of one head of garlic; sauté for several minutes or until the cloves begin to soften.

Slowly add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 cup whole milk to fry mixture, making sure to keep pan hot; reduce by half. Add whole fiddleheads and sauté to absorb flavor. Add pasta to sauce and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate pan, heat up 2 tablespoons butter and sear 1/2 pound flounder until just golden. Cut in two, place over hot pasta, and enjoy.


Steamers, part two: breakfast from the flats

This morning we awoke to another damp, chilly day on our Atlantic peninsula. The roadways were slick with days of drizzle as I made my way into town on my mother's 1970-era bicycle to pick up a Sunday paper before breakfast. By the time I made it home with the news safely tucked into its orange sleeve, I was thoroughly wet and ready to eat.

A quick scan through the kitchen yielded few possibilities: a carton of eggs, a jar of honey, and 10 pounds of oatmeal seemed the only options. As a staunch believer in distinguishing weekend breakfasts from those of ordinary weekday mornings, I ruled out oatmeal as a work-week staple. Eggs without bacon seemed a bit mundane, and honey on savory toast (baker's choice for the week was a country loaf with onion, butternut-squash, and rosemary) was not quite right.

At the moment of dubiety (honey sweetened oatmeal pudding?), the bowl of leftover steamers from earlier in the week caught my eye. With a few bread crumbs, a flick of the blender, and a pinch of salt and pepper, I could put those eggs to good use frying up a batch of clam cakes.

In it all went. Just a few minutes later, the plates were arranged with a bed of CapeAbilities' hydroponic lettuce and a ring of hot pepper sauce. As I bit into a well-done cake with a sprig of chive and a splash of hots, I peeled open the crisp front page of the week's paper and the morning was made.


Makes 6 large cakes

Finely chop 1 lb. fresh steamers and one medium sized onion. In a large mixing bowl, combine with 3 eggs, 1 cup bread or cracker crumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, and 1 teaspoon paprika. Fry in 3 tablespoons bacon or other leftover fat over high heat until very crisp; 5-10 minutes. Serve hot over a bed of lettuce with a side of hot sauce or spicy mayo; garnish with a chive.



As I discovered this morning, making farmer's cheese is a piece of cake. After boiling the milk, stirring in a teaspoon of salt, adding 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar (there were no lemons to be found), and pouring the strange looking curds into the corner of a white pillow case (no cheesecloth, either), I pushed out the whey and left the bundle tied up with twine over the sink.

It drained overnight, and in the morning I pushed out the dry curds into a Pyrex custard cup. The soft cheese molded easily into a mozzarella-esque ball and plopped upside down onto a plate. Topped with a sprig of rosemary, it looked almost too pretty to eat—until of course, the weekly bread came out of the oven. and I slathered on a slab.

FARMER'S CHEESE: revised recipe

Pour 1 gallon milk into a large pot. Stir in two teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil over a medium flame, stirring occasionally. When the milk comes to a boil, turn off the heat. Stir in the juice of one large lemon or 2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar. The milk will curdle within 5-10 minutes. Line a colander with cheesecloth (or, in a pinch, a white pillow case), and pour the milk through. Gather the cloth around the curds and squeeze out as much whey as possible. Tie curds into cheesecloth and hang over a large pot to drain for 4-12 hours. Spice as desired; eat fresh.


Dutch cheese: a birthday delivery from Henry Willig to Wellfleet

Henri Willig processes 30,000 liters of Dutch goat milk every day to make cheese. He makes it the old-fashioned way, by pouring milk into a cheese tub, adding a bacterial culture, and heating it up with a bit of rennet to start the coagulation. Within 30 minutes, the milk starts to thicken into a pudding. He cuts it carefully with a knife to separate the curds and whey, and packs the curds into molds. After two hours of pressing, the cheese takes a dip in a brine bath. A natural rind forms, and with its protective layer of salt the wheel is left to dry.

Perhaps three weeks after Willig completed this process for one particular wheel of Goat Gouda, I was so lucky as to receive it as a gift. (You know your loved ones have you pegged when they bring you samples of the local specialties from their trips abroad; I also received a handful of Guatemalan Cacao beans.) The wheel—which I ate atop homemade chive biscuits—was mild, soft, and salty.

In fact, I enjoyed the gift so much that it inspired me to try my own hand at cheese making. Tonight, I will begin the experiment. I have decided to make Neufchatel, an unripened cheese with French roots similar to the American "Farmer's Cheese," as by all reports it is the simplest with which to begin. It can be eaten fresh, seasoned with herbs, or crumbled and spread like a soft chevre. The only ingredients are milk, lemon juice, and salt: as simple a list as they come.

My prospects as a cheese-maker time will make clear. With any luck, my attempt to heat, cut, press, and brine will transform this week's gallon of Ayrshire milk into a wheel worthy of eating.


Pour 1 gallon milk into a large pot. Stir in a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over a medium flame, stirring occasionally. When the milk comes to a boil, turn off the heat. Stir in the juice of one large lemon. The milk will curdle within 5-10 minutes. Line a colander with cheesecloth, and pour the milk through. Gather the cloth around the curds and squeeze out as much whey as possible. Tie curds into cheesecloth and hang over a large pot to drain for 4-12 hours. Spice as desired; eat fresh.

Reports will follow as the cheese-making experiment continues. To contribute advice, expertise, or words of warning, click on the "COMMENT" button below. Wish me luck!

In Dennis, growing Hydroponic lettuce takes CapeAbilities

This morning on my way home from an interview with chef Peter Hyde of Blue Moon Bistro (who grows the restaurant's herbs and raspberries in a garden out back), I passed by a glossy black and gold sign advertising CapeAbilities Farm. The burgeoning farm, which opened almost three years ago, is a branch of the CapeAbilities non-profit organization, which works to provide housing, transportation, and jobs to the area's handicapped population.

While the sign read "CLOSED, Farm stand opens May 9," I decided to pull in anyways. Armed with a writer's curiosity and a journalist's lack of propriety, I careened down the dirt driveway and into the midst of several rows of earth and glass.

A sea of friendly faces greeted me, and after a quick introduction I was welcomed onto a Willy Wonka-esque tour of the various greenhouses. Behind the glass doors lay magically plump, green tomatoes, head upon head of plush hydroponic lettuce, a rainbow of swiss chard, and overgrown pots of basil—in other words, a spring eater's dream. The plant roots sprung out from carefully sized holes in a series of shallow irrigated troughs—the hydroponic farmer's soil. A thin algal layer of nutrients and water coated the base of the newly planted Butter lettuce, and tomato stems hung tied to a skyward trellis.

I left after making the rounds with a gift bag of Boston bib and a single cherry tomato, and headed home for a lunchtime salad. I drizzled the first veggies of the season with a dash of balsamic and several drops of oil, topped them with a crank of sea salt, and sat down to enjoy the start of a fresh new season of greens.

To learn more, visit CapeAbilities Farm online or stop by their farm stand at 460 Main Street on Rt. 6A in Dennis for fresh produce. The stand opens for the season on May 9; hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm.


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