August 29, 2015

Rescue on the High Seas and a Lobster Reward

Boating is one of my favorite activities…

During my recent stay in Maine, a group of us, including my daughter, grandchildren, and Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and his family, went out for a day picnic and ride on my boat in Seal Harbor. It was a beautiful day - the waters were calm and the weather was clear. During the ride, we were taken by surprise when one of the two mechanical belts - the one which controls the water pump - suddenly came off. This caused the boat to overheat, and before we knew it, alarms were sounded and we were forced to turn off the engine. We were stranded at sea, very close to a rocky outcropping called Bunker Ledge. Despite the fact that my beautiful boat draws 18-inches, we were terrified about being tossed upon the rocky ledge, which was jutting out of the sea, and at the time inhabited by a few dozen sleepy Harbor seals, basking in the sunlight.

Fortunately, when out on the waters, boaters are always willing to lend a helping hand, and we were quickly towed back to the harbor, and then back to shore where we were able to make the needed repairs. Later that evening, we all enjoyed a delicious lobster dinner.

Here are some of the photos of our experience…

August 28, 2015

Pickling at Skylands

I always love this time of year when I can start pickling the delicious cucumbers from my gardens.

I remember pickling with my mom, Big Martha - she was a fabulous preserver, following the traditions established by her immigrant mother, Yadviga Ruskowski. Mom made garlic dills and sour dills and soft dills and crispy dills, all in six to eight gallon earthenware glazed crocks. She made bread and butters and piccalilli and cauliflower pickle and relishes.

I try to make a few of a lot of different pickles each year, but since my eating habits don't include so many meats and sausages as formerly, finding a use for so many different pickles is sometimes challenging. But I do find that everyone likes pickles, and providing a dish of homemade delectable pickles with a sandwich or a main course can be a delightful and welcome offering.

Earlier this month, while I was at Skylands, my home in Seal Harbor, Maine, I spent some time pickling. I used several recipes, which I wanted to share with you here. They include:

Emeril’s Homemade Sweet and Spicy Pickles

Cooks.com Open Crock Dill Pickles

Food.Com Polish Dill Pickles Made in A Crock

Cooks.Com Crisp Bread and Butter Pickles

I also used a delicious “Bread and Butter Pickles” recipe from "Joy of Cooking" by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker.

Pickling is a wonderful project to do with friends and family - I even got to pickle with Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. And, I can’t wait until Jude and Truman are able to make pickles with me too.

August 27, 2015

Propagating Snapdragons from Stem Cuttings

I always enjoy growing my own plants, but there’s something even more exciting and gratifying about propagating them - producing plants by dividing, grafting, or taking the cuttings from existent stems. It’s an interesting and very easy-to-follow process.

Recently, while up in Maine, I was given a beautiful collection of snapdragons, Antirrhinum majus. These blooms were so magnificent, I was eager to bring the stems home to my farm, where my head gardener, Ryan McCallister, could root new plants from their cuttings. With so many different varieties of snapdragons, certain types are harder to come by - they may be heirloom varieties that have not been as well-preserved. For some, propagating snapdragons from stem cuttings has been very successful - I can’t wait to see how these cuttings do.

Here are some photos…