I was born nostalgic for things I could not have a memory of ~ I just came out that way. For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in old things, old MUSICA, old movies, old houses and gardens, and especially stories of how people lived in the olden days. I’ve always loved history, I think because it’s nostalgia sanctified. So I belonged to Martha’s Vineyard the first moment I saw it because nostalgia is a way of life here so much so that it’s called “tradition.” People return to the island summer after summer looking for a connection to the past and they find it, alive and well.
You see it pretty much everywhere you go, the narrow streets, the fireworks in August, the ferry as it comes and goes, the meadows and fields, the view over Nashaquitsa Pond from South Road. Here we are at Nip and Tuck Farm (now a farmstand called Ghost Island Farm).
For years it was a dairy farm (famously owned by Fred Fisher) as you can see by the bottles decorating the back wall of the store. I used to go there for ice cold milk from their fridge and drink it in the car as I drove to the beach. It was the most delicious milk in the world.
When you go there now, they are playing music the old-fashioned way . . . our MUSICA today is what was playing while we were there . . .♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Look at those beautiful beets! I couldn’t help but take a picture.
We were there to pick up fresh veggies, arugula, green onions, and parsley so I could make one of our favorite Summer Traditions, something no summer of ours would be complete without, homemade Crab Cakes. I thought it would be fun to take you into the kitchen while I do it . . . because it’s easier than you would ever imagine and makes the restaurant-made ones pale in sad comparison.
We bought this canned crab meat at our fish market here on the island and you should be able to find it at your supermarket. If not, The Net Result (freshest most wonderful fish, they have lobsters too) will ship it to you. It’s pricey, around $25 a pound, but it’s all pure meat. And this recipe serves eight. And btw, a 3 oz. serving of this crab meat has 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, and no carbs. ‘Course that all changes by the time I’m finished with it!
“Lump crab” is what you need ~ but they’ve gone a little nuts with that “lump” and now you can be totally confused because there’s “colossal lump,” “super lump,” and “jumbo lump.” Ridiculous crab namers. You don’t want claw meat, because crab cakes should look like crab, so the lump you want is the one just above claw, which in our case was “Super.” That’s plenty big enough. You drain it, rinse it, and then break it up a little bit. You have to do that so the pieces will be small enough to stick together, but big enough to say I’M A CRAB when someone cuts into it. I really don’t like it when I cut into a Crab Cake and say, “Where’s the crab?” That won’t happen with this recipe.
From then on it’s a piece of cake. Two egg whites go into a large bowl . . .
then 2/3 c. of mayonnaise
some Dijon mustard
and Worcestershire sauce
A couple of teaspoons of fresh lemon juice . . .
which you’ll need to strain so you don’t get any seeds
chopped fresh parsley
a half-cup of minced green onion . . .
Here we stop: This is where I may have gone a little bit wrong. And you know Girlfriends, I am not here to lead you astray. This Crab Cake recipe (on page 86 of my Summer Book) calls for 1 and 1/4 tsp. of cayenne. The quote on the bottom of that page says, “Woe to the cook whose sauce has no sting.” (Chaucer) Well, no woe to any cook around here, because sting is what there is plenty of. I will say that there was not a crumb left on anyone’s plate, they were DELICIOUS. But if you make this, I suggest you put in only one teaspoon of cayenne. That’s all the woelessness you really need — go change it in your book as soon as you’re done here. Thank you.
Then add a bit of salt, a half-cup of fresh bread crumbs (you make yourself in a food processor) ~ Stir it together well, then gently fold in the crab meat.
This makes either eight large cakes or sixteen small cakes (about 3″ in diameter for the small ones), however you choose to do it. Form the little cakes, pat more fresh breadcrumbs on each side, put them on a flat surface and into the fridge for at least an hour before cooking them.
While I was making the crab cakes, Joe’s niece Arabella stopped by for a surprise visit from Oregon with her daughter Ava. Arabella is Joe’s brother’s daughter and she, along with her husband Blair, make their most delicious Trathen Hall wines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Joe’s family is all beautiful like this:
Here are the present and the future, and we who know them can definitely see the past. You can see between the first photo and this one, Ava is warming to the camera. And in the next one, she is her normal natural self, along with her beautiful mom.
We had to stop everything to enjoy this precious moment. I knew you would like it. But too soon they were on their way again. As you can imagine, they are a very popular pair and had rounds to make, friends and family to see and not ever enough time.
And I was back to the Crab Cake project, making up a batch of homemade Tartar Sauce to go along with. Another easy, fast recipe (both recipes with all the correct measurements will be at the bottom of this post) ~ a quick stir of mayonnaise, minced parsley, capers, minced green onion, minced sweet pickle (or relish), and cider vinegar produces the most fabulous concoction, fantastic with fish, amazing with French fries.
And VOILA if I do say so myself. The Crab Cakes are broiled, four minutes on each side until toasty brown. See all the chunks of crab meat in there? Serve them with a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
I put the cakes on a bed of arugula along with the lemon and the Tartar Sauce for the first course of our dinner with friends.
Here’s what the cakes look like inside. They actually taste BETTER than this picture looks. I hope you try them.
Mas MUSICA? Oui? And now, speaking of Traditions, how about Library Days? First off, this was the pretty article that ran in the Sunday Cape Cod Times the day before I was to appear at the West Falmouth Library. I didn’t see it myself, but one of our Girlfriends was kind enough to send it to me (Thank you Pennie!).
The event was perfect, sold out with seventy-five people in attendance and all the proceeds went to support the Library. It could not have been nicer.
This library has been around for a hundred and fifty years. It was started by five young women in the mid 1870’s in the quiet farming village of Falmouth. From the start, as you can imagine, it was a focal point for the community. It’s still in the same building where it’s been since 1896 and has evolved beautifully to the information age, as a library (and all of us) should do, in keeping with tradition and a nostalgic eye on the future.
I talked about my inspiration for A FINE ROMANCE, how I got the idea to do a diary of our trip through the English Countryside and how all of you came along as stowaways and how much fun that was. There were lots of questions. Here I am, trying to explain how we felt while Joe drove the narrow back roads, squished between hedgerows and cottage walls on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road. Do I look scared? I should!
I’m immersed in nostalgia these days, because we are going waaaay back in time with my newest book and it could not be more fun to paint and write. I’ve been looking through lots of old diaries and photos . . . here’s a photo when I’m just teaching myself to paint, about five years before moving to Martha’s Vineyard. I’m in Hawaii, but I’m so excited about my new hobby, I had to bring that metal box full of my art things on vacation with me.
I’ll leave you with this, one more little step back in time, because despite the crazy wildness of the days in which we live, this is who we are and who we will always be. We just have to remember that and make it come alive in our own lives. For balance.
Byee, love you ♥ have a wonderful time wherever you are! XOXO
C R A B C A K E S
- 2 egg whites
- 2/3 c. mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 c. minced parsley
- 1/2 c. minced green onion
- 1 tsp. cayenne (don’t be afraid, this is perfect)
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 2 lbs. lump crab meat, drained and rinsed (“Super lump” I would say)
- 2 c. fresh bread crumbs (I make mine from sour dough bread and don’t let them get too fine)
- lemon wedges
Drain and rinse the crab meat. Make sure there’s no shell in it while breaking it up a bit. If the pieces are really big, it will be hard for the cake to hold together, but you still want them big enough to show . Stir together first nine ingredients, then gently fold in the crab meat and 1/2 c. of bread crumbs. Form the mixture either into 8 large patties or 16 small ones (small ones would be a little under 3″ in diameter); press bread crumbs into each side, place them on a flat surface and refrigerate them for an hour or more. This helps them hold together when they cook, which they do, perfectly. TO COOK: preheat the broiler, put the rack four inches from the heat source. Put the cakes on a lightly oiled sheet pan and broil them 4″ from the heat for 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve on a bed of arugula with lemon wedges and Tartar Sauce.
T A R T A R S A U C E
- 1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. capers
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. minced parsley
- 3 tsp. minced green onion
- 3 tsp. minced sweet pickle (or sweet pickle relish)
- 2 1/4 Tbsp. cider vinegar
Blend ingredients and chill.