When she was born we got four copies of Blueberries for Sal. Our Sal—Sally Hay, she will tell you if you ask her name—has lived up to her namesake. She looks just like those blue-ink drawings of the sweet toothy girl with the wild hair—and "booberries" are her favorite food.

I took her picking in Dennis last week—the last picking of the season. We didn't get much—they were limiting it to a single pint per person—but she loved it all the same. She ran up and down the rows picking and snacking from the lower branches while I filled up our boxes, and she ate her entire pint on the car ride home.

The woman who runs the place said the time to come is in early July. She said she and her husband never have to spray against fruit flies until later in the season (they had to spray twice this year) and so the berries are all pesticide free early on. There are also more of them, which means you can pick enough to fill your freezer or make jam or a pie. 

The farm is called Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm. I realize it's too late for this year, but I wanted to throw it out there for next season. I had no idea we had a pick-your-own blueberry farm on this end of the Cape! Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk...



Sunday mornings at our house in August and September usually mean corn fritters. This is when Maine corn is at its best. From the early Spring Treat through the late Silver Queen, the varieties just get better and better as the weeks go by. We don't grow corn in our garden—we don't have the space, and frankly, I don't have the energy to fight with the raccoons over it—but I usually buy it every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday at the farmers' market. That means corn on the cob on Tuesday and Friday nights, and corn fritters with butter and maple syrup on Sunday mornings. Does it sound like we're stuck in a rut? Well, it's a very nice rut! I recommend it.

The recipe I make is the same one my mother, and probably my grandmother, made. We're not talking anything deep-fried here. These fritters are just pancakes by another name. They're little pillows of fresh, sweet corn with just enough flour and egg to bind the corn together. There's nothing special about the recipe itself. It's a snap to make, and it requires only 5 ingredients—two of which are salt and pepper! What's special about corn fritters is that they really are a seasonal treat. I wouldn't think of making them with canned or frozen corn. That means we have about 8 weeks, tops—if we're lucky—in which to enjoy them.

I got started on this year's "frittering" two weeks ago, with Sunday brunch at Anna and Andy's house. I plan to keep it up for as many more Sundays as the corn holds out.


This recipe calls for 2 cups of corn, but don't feel you need to be spot-on with this measurement; a little more or a little less isn't going to matter. I've made these with both white flour and whole-wheat flour, with equally good results. When using whole-wheat flour, though, I use just a tad (maybe about 1 tablespoon) less than the 1/4 cup called for here.

2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Using a medium-sized, sharp knife, carefully cut the kernels off the corn cobs. It's easier to do this if you lay the ears flat on the cutting board, rather than standing them up. Don't worry about separating the kernels, which usually come off in chunks (see the photo above); this will happen naturally when you mix the batter. Set the corn aside.

Separate the eggs. Put the egg yolks into a medium-size mixing bowl and beat them lightly with a fork. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and stir, then add the corn and stir again—just enough so that everything is nicely mixed together. Beat the egg whites until stiff and then gently fold them into the batter.

Heat your griddle or frying pan to medium hot, oil it lightly, and then drop pancake-size dollops of batter into the pan. Cook about 2 minutes, or until you start to see little dimples forming on the top of the pancakes, then flip them and cook another minute or so. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup. 


PAUL ROBESON // the local food report

That's Paul Robeson. He's not quite ripe yet, but when he is, the red parts will blush a deep, mahogany brown. He's a slicer, and he's delicious.

He's named for Paul Robeson the man, legendary African American opera singer, actor, civil rights activist, athlete, you name it. Paul's the guy who sang Old Man River. He's the guy who played Othello in the longest-running Shakespearean production in Broadway history. He was fluent in at least 15 languages! And he spent a lot of time in Russia. 

The Paul Robeson tomato comes to the states from a Russian seed saver who wanted to pay homage to this great man. The tomato originates in the Siberian region of Russia, and it's absolutely delicious. I discovered it in my garden thanks to my friend Tracy Plaut, who gave us a few tomato seedlings this spring. It won first place for taste in the Carmel California TomatoFest a few years back for its perfect balance of acid and sweet, and it is an excellent slicer. It's good for sandwiches—my favorite is this bacon-avocado number—and in place of mango in this peachy, cilantro-laced salsa. It's also excellent tossed with basil and feta over warm pasta. 

It is susceptible to blight, but the fruits will still ripen, even on a dying vine. It's a trooper. 

And for all you heirloom enthusiasts: if you have sauce tomatoes instead of slicers in your garden, check out this recipe for thick homemade tomato sauce and this five-minute tomato sauce from Heidi Swanson. 

The season is upon us. Hooray for homegrown!


RASPBERRY SHORTBREAD // the local food report

Let's cut straight to the chase: Ellie Arsenault makes the best shortbread I've ever had. She sells at the Orleans Farmers' Market—she's the one standing in for Gretel's mom this July and August—and she makes mostly Finnish pastries. She grew up in a small town—Royalton, in Western Massachusetts—and her father owned the local grocery store. There were a lot of Finnish imigrants in town, and as Ellie got to know them at the market, she also got to know their recipes.

What you see up there starts with the dough. She mixes flour and butter, a couple egg yolks and some vanilla and brown sugar. She presses the dough into the pan and spreads her homemade raspberry jam—that she makes from her own berries—on top. Then she sprinkles it with coconut flakes and chopped walnuts, and puts it in the oven. It's about as simple as it gets.

Raspberries are coming back into season. And with this recipe in my repertoire, I'm thinking jam. 


Ellie says the Finns usually make something like this as tarts, but to her that seems like a lot of work. The bar version is simple as can be and just as tasty. For the raspberry preserves, Ellie likes jam, not jelly. It's all about the texture of the berries. Also, she says other jams work too—strawberry, peach, blackberry—you name it.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup light brown sugar
a 12 ounce jar of raspberry preserves
a handful of chopped walnuts
a handful of shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together the flour, butter, egg yolks, vanilla, and brown sugar until they form a dough. Press the dough evenly across the bottom of a 9" by 15" Pyrex baking dish. Spread the raspberry jam evenly over top, then sprinkle with the walnuts and coconut. Bake for 30 minutes, then take the pan out and turn the oven off. Cut the shortbread into bars, then return the pan to the still-hot oven for 15 minutes to allow the jam to set. Serve at room temperature.



Hi. I have to work a double today and it's hot and busy and August but I just wanted to drop by and say I hope you're eating tomatoes. We're not having a particularly productive tomato year in our garden—we would not, in fact, be having a tomato year at all if it weren't for our kind neighbor George, who brought over some seedlings in late May after I forgot to start mine in April. But while there will be no sauce for the freezer, we have plenty of tomatoes for right now, for slicing and dicing and salads. We've been eating sliced tomatoes with mozzarella and basil and balsamic and roasted eggplant with tomatoes and feta and zucchini. And this morning, Sally and I had chopped tomatoes with olive oil and garlic on toast. I first had pan tostado con tomate y aceite for breakfast in Spain my sophomore year of high school, and I've made it every summer since. If you haven't tried it, do. I hope you've got tomatoes coming your way, and I hope things are good. I'll see you soon, friends.


Sometimes I'm amazed at how much I still have to learn about vegetables and gardening. Take these Ailsa Craig onions, for example. I'd never heard of them until we started getting them in our CSA share a few weeks ago. They're almost the size of softballs—and at least as heavy!

I now know that Ailsa Craigs are the north's answer to Georgia's Vidalia onions and to Washington's Walla Walla onions. This large, sweet heirloom was introduced in 1877 and is named for a small island off the west coast of Scotland. It's adapted for 38–60 degrees latitude, which is basically the northern half of the U.S. and into Canada. From what I've read, two-pound Ailsa Craigs are easily the norm, and even five-pounders are not uncommon. From personal experience, I can also tell you they're delicious—even raw or barely cooked. And more good news: they keep well in the fridge for at least three weeks.

As soon as I saw these beauties, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. I pulled out my recipe for Walla Walla Onion Pie, written down for me by my dear friend Genie, who grew up in Seattle. The caraway seeds is this delectable quiche are an unusual and distinctive addition. I don't want to tell you what to do, but my advice is not to leave them out. Genie mixes the caraway seeds in with the flour when she makes her crust. I've done that too, but you can also mix them in when you sauté your onions. The caraway taste in this pie is fairly subtle, so you might try using 1 1/2 tablespoons and dividing them between the crust and the onions.

You can make this recipe with any sweet onion, of course. Since we live in Maine and not Seattle, however, I can't in good conscious call this Walla Walla Onion Pie. So here it is, Ailsa Craig Onion Pie. Thanks, Genie!


Like most quiches, this savory treat is good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner—and maybe even better as a cold leftover. I like to let any quiche cool for at least 10 minutes after I take it out of the oven. It brings out the flavor better.

1 pie crust (bottom only, and preferably homemade—which is so much better than store-bought)
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups thinly sliced onions
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
a few slices of cooked bacon, crumbled up (optional)

Line a standard-size pie plate with the crust and set aside.

In a large skillet or shallow kettle, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions and caraway seeds until the onions are nice and soft. Let this mixture cool slightly and then spread it on top of the pie crust.

Combine the flour, salt, paprika, cheese, eggs, and milk. Mix well and then pour this over the onions. Another pinch of caraway seeds makes a nice topping. If you're into bacon, you can also sprinkle some of this on top—as Genie wrote on the recipe card she gave me, "Yum!"

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 30–40 minutes, or until the eggs are set and the top is nicely browned. Let the pie cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving it.



Sigh.  It's August. 

August means shorter days and cooler nights.  It means my last month without school before a new semester starts up.  This time of year always makes me feel nostalgic for summer, even though there is another month or so left of it, and I find myself scrambling to take advantage of the warm days.  

Luckily, August also means the peak season for local produce.  

I debated for a while about what to do with these beautiful berries.  I looked through all of my favorite cookbooks and ultimately decided on a recipe for blueberry corn muffins from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook.  Muffins seemed like a safe, although somewhat boring choice, but for these berries I'm so glad I decided to go the muffin route.

Large, high bush blueberries are perfect for baked goods because they form little berry bombs that make each bite perfect.  It's hard to resist eating these muffins straight out of the oven with a pat of butter.


After deciding on this recipe I realized that I had no corn meal, so I used oat bran instead with excellent results.  

1 cup oat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons yogurt
1 egg
1 2/3 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line muffin pans with muffin papers or oil the muffin pan well.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and add the buttermilk, olive oil, yogurt, and egg.  Stir until ingredients just come together.  Fold in blueberries.

Fill each muffin tin about three-quarters of the way with batter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.


BEET-ZA // the local food report

Hi friends. Are things a little bit nutty out there in your world? Nutty enough for...beet-za? Beet pizza? Yes? Still with me? I hope so. That up there is Abby Miner and Caleb Lemieux. They farm at Crooked Farm in Orleans, and this week, they taught me a lot about beets. Including but not limited to: those things you plant are really beet pods, which is why you get three or four seedlings per planted item. So, no matter how carefully you space those rows...it ain't gonna happen. They've accepted it and moved on. They now plant their beet pods in seed trays, and then transplant them into nice, even, straight rows. You can do that too! Also it's not too late to plant beets for a fall harvest. And in case you need a reason...we're back to beet-za. 

Last year Abby and Caleb canned a bunch of beets simmered down with apple cider vinegar and sugar. They said it was epic. They said it made a sauce that was bright bright red, that was good on pasta or even in stir fries, and that was especially good as an unconventional sauce on pizza. Also, they used an immersion blender, which Abby said changed her life. Anyways. Back to beet-za. That term seems to have been coined by a super awesome, kinda nutty farmer/food blogger in the pacific north west named Andrea Bemis. She gives her recipe for a full on beet sauce, goat cheese, oven-baked pizza over here. It's delicious. 

But there's still the canning idea to contend with. I can't seem to find a recipe for what Abby and Caleb are talking about, but I did find this.  It's a sauce called Chrain, and as far as I can tell, it's what they're talking about...with lots of horseradish. Leave that out and I believe you're good to go. Or keep it in if you like some kick, though personally I think it would be a bit odd on pizza. Or rather, beet-za.

I'll leave it at that, friends.


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