Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Simply Bivalve-results

Well, I wasn't too far off with my choice for the Clam Chowder tasting competition this past weekend at the Essex Clamfest.

The results of the "People's choice" were

1. Tom Shea's, Essex (thick, creamy)
2. JR's Route 22, Essex (thick, creamy)
3. Periwinkles Restaurant, Essex (thick, creamy)

The results of the "Judge's Choice" were

1. Kelly's Roast Beef, Danvers (thin, milky)
2. Periwinkles Restaurant, Essex (thick, creamy)
3. Lobsta Land, Gloucester (thin, milky)

Simply Bivalve-results


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Simply Bivalve-licious!

The annual Essex Clamfest was held this past Saturday, October 25th. The weather was perfect for an October afternoon, albeit a little bit windy.

The highlight of the day was the Clam Chowder Tasting Festival. When we arrived, the line to enter into the tennis courts in order to sample the different chowders encirled the playground. It took close to 20 minutes just waiting in line!

Sorry, there will be no pictures of all the folks slurping down the samples of clam chowder. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera ran out after only one picture.

This year, the competitors all returned to the "traditional" recipes for clam chowder, unlike some of the past year's competitions where many went the eclectic route. (I should say "traditional" for New England Clam Chowder, naturally!) The major difference between the chowders this year was in the "thin, milky" broth vs. the "thick, creamy" broth.

My choice came down to two in the "thick, creamy" camp. It was a toss-up between JR's Route 22 and Periwinkles. It was a difficult decision, but I voted for JR's Route 22 mainly because Periwinkles has won the competition 7 times in the past.

The picture below is of the T.O.H.P Burnham Library which overlooks Memorial Field in Essex where the Clamfest is held each year. The building is also used for Essex's town offices.

Here's one recipe for Clam Chowder. This one falls into the "thin, milky" broth variety.

Fish House Recipes, 1940s
New England Clam Chowder Recipe

Clean and pick over one quart of fresh opened clams, using one cup cold water, drain, reserve liquor, heat to boiling point and strain. Chop the hard part of clams very fine; cut 1-1/2 inch cube of fat salt pork in small pieces and fry; add one sliced onion to this, fry five minutes and strain into stew pan.

Parboil four cups of potatoes cut in cubes in boiling water for five minutes. Drain and put layer in bottom of stew pan, add chopped clams, sprinkle with salt, pepper and generously with flour. Add remaining potatoes, again sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour. Add 2-1/2 cups boiling water.

Cook ten minutes; add four cups of scalded milk, soft part of clams and three tablespoons butter. Boil three minutes and add eight Boston crackers (split and soaked in enough cold milk to moisten). Reheat clam water to boiling point and thicken with one tablespoon butter and flour cooked together; add to chowder just before serving. The clam water has a tendency to curdle the milk, hence this must be added last. This will serve about eight.

Simply Bivalve-licious!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Simply Trees

I took a walk through Stage Fort Park on Sunday and shared my solitude with the trees and rocks there. The summer crowds have left and there just aren't as many people walking and climbing along the paths to keep the trees company.

Come meet some of my friends.

by Wendell Berry
I part the out thrusting branches
and come in beneath
the blessed and the blessing trees.
Though I am silent
there is singing around me.
Though I am dark
there is vision around me.
Though I am heavy
there is flight around me.

My friends on the rocky knoll keep a lookout over Half Moon Beach. They saw some divers earlier today but told me they haven't seen anyone else on the beach lately.

Tree Life
by Alan Sugar
I believe a tree exists
for making each turn a destination.
I think it is possible to travel this way--on all roads at the same time.

When I look at a tree--
thin, wide--
I move on roads
that become as fragile
as paper threads.

I still believe it is possible to follow them.
I look and at the same time I arrive
at those final points.
They call to me like a circle of voices,
like a breath of a star.

I arrive and at last I rediscover something
from the start--
points attached to the sky
like seeds filled with light.

The journey happens in a single glance.
A branch invites me to travel.
The root remembers the house
in which I was born.

by Carole Z. Spinelli
consider a tree whose seed was swept
across the landscape while it wept
and now
in distant soil is kept to grow

a solitary tree
against rocky shelf of mountainside
or in some cornfield, endless

for it, adversity lasts long
and it must by itself be strong
no forest round to share the sting of angry sun
and pounding rain
it simply cannot take its ease by leaning
against other trees

i should think that from the start
in such a tree there dwells a heart
and soul
that though apart from other trees
finds solace in the beasts and breeze
and that its lonesome tenure yields
from peaks and fields

Next time you have some time, please visit my tree friends at Stage Fort.

Simply Trees.


Simply Afloat

The calendar said it was October but the air had that November feel to it.

The USS John L. Hall was in port although many of the sightseeing trips were cancelled due to high seas and winds.

There were still some out enjoying the seas and the wind. Can you see all three?

How about now?

Simply Afloat


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Simply A Pair

A Sea-Side Walk
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We walked beside the sea,
After a day which perished silently
Of its own glory---like the Princess weird
Who, combating the Genius, scorched and seared,
Uttered with burning breath, 'Ho! victory!'
And sank adown, an heap of ashes pale;
So runs the Arab tale.

The sky above us showed
An universal and unmoving cloud,
On which, the cliffs permitted us to see
Only the outline of their majesty,
As master-minds, when gazed at by the crowd!
And, shining with a gloom, the water grey
Swang in its moon-taught way.

Nor moon nor stars were out.
They did not dare to tread so soon about,
Though trembling, in the footsteps of the sun.
The light was neither night's nor day's, but one
Which, life-like, had a beauty in its doubt;
And Silence's impassioned breathings round
Seemed wandering into sound.

O solemn-beating heart
Of nature! I have knowledge that thou art
Bound unto man's by cords he cannot sever---
And, what time they are slackened by him ever,
So to attest his own supernal part,
Still runneth thy vibration fast and strong,
The slackened cord along.

For though we never spoke
Of the grey water anal the shaded rock,---
Dark wave and stone, unconsciously, were fused
Into the plaintive speaking that we used,
Of absent friends and memories unforsook;
And, had we seen each other's face, we had
Seen haply, each was sad.

Simply A Pair


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Simply An Autumn Day At The Beach

The weather this past week has not been very nice. Each day, the weather reports called for a "sunny day ..... tomorrow". It took until late on Friday for the clouds to really break. Once it did, there was that slight snap in the air, the snap of autumn.

Even the sky had started to change from the summer hues to the fall palette.

The dogs were back playing and running on the beach, reclaiming their turf after being banished all summer. Look at this happy face.

The grasses on the dunes are preparing for their winter slumber.

It won't be long now. Look at this tree.

Early autumn at the beach is one of my favorite times.

Simply An Autumn Day At The Beach!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Simply Poetry

Sometimes, my travels around the web land me in unexpected places. A recent jaunt found me in Google Book Land where I picked up this small souvenir called Wild Roses of Cape Ann: And Other Poems.

Wild Roses of Cape Ann: And Other Poems
By Lucy Larcom
Published by Houghton, Mifflin, 1880
Original from Harvard University
Digitized Sep 23, 2005
272 pages

For your reading pleasure, here are a few selections.


How will it be when the roses fade
Out of the garden and out of the glade?
When the fresh pink bloom of the sweet-brier wild,
That leans from the dell like the cheek of a child,
Is changed for dry hips on a thorny bush?
Then scarlet and carmine the groves will flush.

How will it be when the autumn flowers
Wither away from their leafless bowers;
When sun-flower and star-flower and golden-rod
Glimmer no more from the frosted sod,
And the hill-side nooks are empty and cold?
Then the forest-tops will be gay with gold.

How will it be when the woods turn brown,
Their gold and their crimson all dropped down,
And crumbled to dust? Oh then, as we lay
Our ear to earth's lips, we shall hear her say,
"In the dark, I am seeking new gems for my crown" --
We will dream of green leaves, when the woods turn brown.


The Sea is wedded to the Sky,--
Element unto element:
She spreads above hime tenderly
Her blue, transparent tent.

The Sky is mated with the Sea:
In stormy tumult he ascends
Toward her retreating mystery:--
Not thus their being blends.

But when her deep, eternal calm
Enters into his restless heart,
Each mirrors back the other's charm;
Nearest, when most apart.


Into the ocean of Thy peace,
Almighty One, my thoughts would flow;
Bid their unrestful murmuring cease,
And Thy great calmness let me know!

The world is bright and glad in Thee!
No hopeless gloom her face enshrouds;
Joy lights her mountains, thrills her sea,
And weaves gay tints through all her clouds.

The shadow, Father, is our own,
That sends across our path a stain:
The discord is in us alone,
That makes the echoing earth complain.

O God, how beautiful is life,
Since Thou its soul and sweetness art!
How dies its childish fret and strife
On thy all-harmonizing heart!

Leaving behind me dust and clay,
From selfish hindrances set free,
I find at last my broadening way
Unto my ocean-rest in Thee.

One soul with Thee foreevermore,
Borne high beyond the gulfs of death,--
A joy that ripples on Thy shore,--
With Life's vast hymn I bend my breath.

Simply Poetry!