A friend's son went clamming over the weekend and made quite a haul, so he shared some of it with us. A dozen 4-5 inch chowder clams, the largest of the quahog (pronounced CO-hog) family, were delivered to our doorstep, and Peter and I immediately resurrected a recipe for Baked Stuffed Clams that another friend shared with us years ago.
The effort to make these is not onerous but it's also not insignificant, and the results are divine - so we went out to our local fishmonger and bought a dozen cherrystones, the next smallest quahog, to complement the catch.
Peter loves a good baked clam and is always sampling them wherever we go, with disappointing results most of the time. What makes a baked clam disappointing? Too much bread, too little clam, too dry, and garlic (in any proportion). So, what makes a baked clam memorable and worthy of repetition? A moist proportional mixture of bread to clams - remember they're called baked clams, not baked bread with clams, subtle herbs and a little cheese (to hold things together), and no garlic, it simply overpowers everything.
In his opinion, based on decades of research, this recipe produces one of the best baked clams he's had. If you want the maximum clam flavor, bake some immediately and enjoy. These freeze beautifully and we enjoy them all winter, but we have noticed the distinct clam flavor is reduced a little once they've been frozen. Personally, I'll take them any way I can get them, and hope our clamming friends continue to share their haul.
2½-3 dozen medium clams - "chopped"
1 (14 oz) pkg Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing
1 cup hot clam juice
¼ lb butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon (heaping) parsley
3 Tablespoons (heaping) Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon (level) dry mustard
Pepper to taste
½ cup cubed Swiss or Gruyère cheese
1 3-inch onion finely chopped
Enjoy ... these are really good!
Last Sunday, the Mini Cooper Club held a scavenger hunt in the Hamptons called MINIs Hunt the Hamptons. A friend told me about the event and said that she and her mother were going to participate and she encouraged us to come see what it was all about. So at 9:00 a.m. we were in the parking lot at Duck Walk Vineyards in Southampton watching a parade of Mini Coopers assemble to collect their maps and instructions for the day. We chatted with the event's organizers and they said we could join in if wanted to since there had been a few last minute cancellations. So we did!
The packet we received had a map of Long Island, a list of 14 items to be collected and a list of 21 questions to be answered by traveling the specific route outlined in detail in the materials. We had really come to photograph the event but now figured we could get some great shots if we got ahead of the pack and shot them arriving at a Town Landing, or turning a corner near the country club. This video/slide show highlights the day and underscores the enthusiasm of the Mini participants. The route took us from Southampton, through East Hampton, deep in to the woods of Amagansett, and back - on some roads that Peter hadn't traveled in 30 years. We think we got some fun shots and hope you agree.
Photos and Video by Claudia Ward & Peter Tooker
Slide Show compiled by Peter Tooker
Music: Notice Me by a local girl, Alexa Ray Joel
If you too are a Mini enthusiast, I'm sure you know the movie The Italian Job which was originally made in 1969 featuring Michael Caine and Noel Coward, and was remade in 2003 featuring Donald Sutherland, Mark Wahlberg, and Ed Norton, but in both movies the stars are the Mini Coopers. Peter's video clips of the parade of Minis rounding the corner near the Maidstone Club certainly bring this movie to mind.
We haven't done much with the Signs Series for a while, so when Peter and I saw these we had to see how many ways we could take pictures of them to tell some kind of story. This is my take on our little exercise.
"The Most Hospitable House in the Hamptons"
"You Can't Get There From Here"
"The Stuttering Stop Sign"
Seen any funny signs lately?
Whether she was a Hurricane or a Tropical Storm, Irene brought destruction to every place she visited. Rains to the west and winds to the east were all part of her arsenal that weekend, as she slowly crept up the east coast. On the east end of Long Island, we were spared the rains and flooding that have wreaked havoc and destroyed so many villages and towns in New Jersey, central New York and Vermont. Here, howling, constant winds brought down trees and power lines crushing houses and cars, and blocking some roads for days. Many were without electricity and water for 6 days.
Peter and I usually venture out in storms to see what is happening and what the ocean looks like. With sustained winds in excess of 40 mph and gusts to 70, we let prudence prevail and we stayed inside all day that Sunday. When we did venture forth on Monday, we were astounded by much of what we saw and pleased as well. At several beaches it was apparent that the ocean had completely breached the dunes, mangling the beach grass, transporting benches and storm fences in to the parking lots, and filling those lots with sand. But unlike nor'easters we've had, Irene didn't eat away at the beach and dunes taking them with her, but rather she washed over them. Once she'd past, the beaches and dunes revealed the thrashing they'd taken, and yet stood defiantly bruised and beautiful.
The world and its occupants are incredibly resilient, and just one day after the storm had cleared, the beaches were teeming with people and their pets, all eager to shake off their cabin fever. Surfers couldn't wait to hit the waves and puppies couldn't wait to play. The sun was shining, the breezes were once again light, and Irene was fading, albeit slowly, in to memory.
Photos and Slide Show © 2011 Claudia Ward
Music: I'm Better at Hello (Karen's Theme), by John Barry from the Soundtrack of "Out of Africa"
Note: If you want to see the slide show in the highest quality possible, first click on the start arrow on the left, then click on HD in the lower right hand corner of the image. This will bring up a large HD and the words "Watch this Video in High Definition". Click on those words and you'll be transported to Vimeo. HD should be highlighted in the lower right hand corner of the opening image. Click on the start arrow once more and then the four arrows to enlarge it. This is a new process apparently, so please bear with us.
Rebuilding at the World Trade Center Site
It happens once a year - September 11th - but it hasn't been the same for any of us since 2001. That was a beautiful late summer day, the day that became ashen gray for those of us who lived and worked in lower Manhattan. The day we learned what hatred could truly spawn.
Peter, thankfully, was on the east end at home, and I was in our new apartment on John Street, just a few blocks east of the Trade Center. We had just moved in on the 1st of July and I was loving my new commute to the office - a seven minute walk. As I left for the office for an early meeting, I was struck by the sun reflecting off the twin towers - a blinding light, and I remember thinking that it would reflect differently and less harshly in the coming winter.
We were convening for a 9:00 a.m. conference call and when I reached the 21st floor of our offices at One Wall Street, people were lined up along the west wall looking up at the Trade Center. The first plane had struck the North Tower but the hole it created looked so small, we all assumed it had been struck by a small plane. We all attempted to return to work despite being morbidly fascinated by what had happened, and then ... the windows began to rattle and we could see the second plane flying due north straight for the South Tower. We couldn't believe our eyes. Needless to say, a dread set in, and we all began to file downstairs to the lobby, numb with disbelief.
When the South Tower collapsed around 10:00 a.m., we were in the lobby and first heard the shrieks of people racing into our building, running away from a mammoth gray-white cloud that appeared to be smoke and was rolling up Rector Street to our front door. We all thought it was the result of another explosion. The throngs forced us to the back of the lobby and on to a descending escalator, an escalator headed to New Street and the back door of the New York Stock Exchange. I remember looking at the Exchange wondering if it could be next, and then we were enveloped by the gray-white cloud and could see nothing.
Confusion reigned along with an eerily calm panic. We all went down two floors below street level to the cafeteria and waited for God only knows what. Some people had radios and we were surprisingly well informed. We heard that other planes were hijacked, we heard that the Pentagon had been hit, and we heard that fighter jets had been scrambled. What I don't remember hearing for quite a while was that that gray-white cloud was in fact not smoke but the cloud of pulverized concrete and gypsum which was once the South Tower. This was beyond anyone's comprehension; the towers were gargantuan.
As we were beginning to consider returning to the lobby to try to find our ways home, the North Tower collapsed, sending another cloud over downtown and the smell of smoke and fire down to our level. Throughout all of this, it's astonishing to me that we had access to land-line phones, jacks were in several locations and phones were brought out and connected. Organized lines formed quickly - everyone wanted to hear the voices of loved ones. There was an incredible feeling of being helpless, unable to do anything to change the events that were happening above us.
After what seemed like an eternity, in a basement that felt like it could become our tomb, we heard news that we were to be evacuated, south, to Battery Park where we would be taken by boat to New Jersey. Peter was 100 miles east of me; New Jersey was to the west. Friends were very kind offering me places to stay until we could figure out what was going on and how to get home. I queued up to use the phone, got through to Peter right away and learned that all public transportation in to and out of Manhattan was shut down. My choices were limited: evacuate to New Jersey or stay on this island. Our exchange was brief and we agreed to speak once more after he'd contacted a friend who lived in the 60s in Manhattan. Twenty minutes later, when I called Peter again, it was confirmed with our friend - the door would be open for me when I got there. When I hung up the phone, tears came to my eyes ... I was two floors below God only knew what hell with no idea if I'd hear Peter's voice again. When they demanded evacuation I felt glued to the floor, it took all my power and a few friends to get me back to ground level.
A young man from Canada had sought refuge in our building when the first Tower came down and his name happened to be Peter. This Peter had heard there might be buses driving north out of downtown from somewhere north of Fulton Street. As I said goodbye to friends heading south for New Jersey, I watched young Peter literally walk yards north and disappear into the gray white air. Everything was gray, the buildings, the street but especially the air - I'd never seen the world all one color. I called out to Peter, and he walked back out of the fog and agreed that we could walk north together. He was an incredibly kind young man and we held on to one another as we rounded the corner of Broadway and Wall Street, and began to descend the small hill toward Broad Street. The street was covered, at least an inch to two inches deep, with the remnants of the twin towers. You could almost conjure up the image of a light winter snow, but this was slippery unlike any snow we'd known.
What struck me most at this point was the silence. New York always has some noise even after a winter snow. The generators and ventilating systems are always humming, and even if they're not honking, the taxis are rumbling along the Avenues. This was total silence, in a world of total gray. As we walked down Wall Street, we saw a huddled group of four walking cautiously north along Broad Street, and shortly thereafter they disappeared into the gray fog-like air. Now there was no one else to be seen. Peter kindly agreed to stop at my apartment where I told him he could call anywhere in the world and talk for as long as he liked, while I collected a few things, got my contact lenses out, and changed my shoes. He spoke to his family in Canada and seemed comforted when he put the phone back in the cradle. Now for the walk north.
We walked east when we left my building on John Street, trying to veer away from the Trade Center site. At the corner of Pearl Street, people were handing out paper masks which we thankfully accepted. At Pearl, we turned north with the hope that we'd find buses queued up to take us out of this purgatory.
I will never forget this until the day I die. When we reached the corner of Pearl and Fulton, we jogged left to head toward the buses we saw parked just north of us. What caught my eye was color. In all of this gray heavy air there was color - lovely reds, bright yellows, greens and vibrant purples. There has always been, for as long as I remember, an outdoor flower market here on Fulton, and the woman who was caring for it that day, covered in ash herself, was washing off the flowers with a hose. Have you ever seen colorful flowers in a light fog ... that was exactly the effect. It struck me so poignantly that here, only hours after this disaster, this woman was bringing back her business, the best she could.
The buses, standing there ready and empty, wouldn't take us north; we were told we'd have to walk, so we did and were very shortly thereafter joined by another Canadian, David. Arm in arm, we walked out of lower Manhattan in shock yet relieved and looking north to a beautiful summer day.
China Town skirts the north end of the Financial District in Manhattan and by the time we got there the world was resembling one of those drama masks: light and comedic on one side, and dark and tragic on the other. To the north, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, and everyone was wearing bright summer colors. South of us the world was dark, a cloud of smoke and debris shut out all light, and survivors were covered with gray ash and dust from head to toe. The contrasts were stark, and yet painfully real. Crowds of people were walking hastily south making us feel as if we were salmon swimming up stream. Peter and David tried to assure them that they didn't want to go there - that there was nothing that could be done.
David peeled off from our small band in the 20s and Peter headed to his apartment in the 30s. For the next 30 blocks, I was on my own. It was all so surreal. Sidewalk cafes were filled to the brim with people enjoying their lunch in the sun. Bar doors were open to the street to enjoy the summer air, but I did notice everyone straining to hear the news on the television - the one that should have been reporting sports scores. As I approached 41st Street I was struck by the jubilation of two young girls who were jostling one another with their shopping bags filled with pillows and bedding, obviously elated and oblivious to what was happening only blocks south of them.
I walked, one foot in front of the other, stunned by all that had happened and shocked by the contrasts I was seeing, when I noticed the shoes of the man walking in front of me. Like mine they were covered in ash. Sadly, I felt like I'd found a kindred spirit, one who would understand my shaky voice, if I spoke to him. When he stopped at a street vendor for something to eat, I did speak to him. He had driven in to the city for a meeting in the Trade Center - something he very rarely did. He got out in time and was now trying to figure out how he could get back home. We said very little to one another, not wanting or needing to share the details of where we had been. We found comfort in each other's company and were equally dazed by what appeared to be an unchanged city.
It took roughly two and a half hours to walk from Wall Street to 65th Street, and I was greeted warmly by my friend. Now I was able to see and hear the news for the first time, and to truly view what had happened ... in utter disbelief. How could anyone hate us this much? How and why did the towers implode, instead of fall over? How did and could we survive?
The following day our Disaster Recovery Plan for the bank went in to effect, and I traveled by train to Pleasantville, NY (that isn't a joke, it's real). The bank had a facility in which, in the days to follow, we would all build a temporary bank. What was, on the first day, just wide open warehouse spaces, became operations, communications, and client service. Simple folding metal tables and chairs, store-bought fax machines, and phone lines defined the functions we were accustomed to and our responsibilities for that day. We literally saw a bank rise from the ashes - another thing I will never forget.
We were blessed that the breezes on 9/11 and the two days thereafter carried the smoke and residue from the collapsed towers to the downtown area. There was a fresh northerly breeze that pushed it to the south and spared those north of it the stench of fuel, asbestos, and God only knows what. On the third day the wind changed and I physically froze, smelling what I hadn't smelled since that Tuesday and I was unable to make it to Pleasantville. Fortunately, Peter had found a way in to the city and he trundled me off to the east end on one of the first buses possible.
One week after 9/11, we returned to work in One Wall Street, only blocks from what was now being called Ground Zero, breathing the air "they" were assuring us was safe despite its smelling vile. The constant tick of the industrial air-detectors in every hall was not at all reassuring. In the days and weeks to come, we all adapted in our own ways to our new reality. No one would say it was easy to live or work downtown in that first year with the constant reminders all around us. The steel and debris from the 110 story towers now stood 7 stories tall and had to be meticulously removed to barges to be transported to Fish Kills Landfill on Staten Island. Being a resident of downtown, I couldn't wait for the remnants to be removed and my heroes became those who cleared the site in less than a year. I will always be eternally grateful to those brave souls.
Writing this, I've been astounded at how painful it truly is remembering the details of that day - my mind still has a hard time comprehending that much danger, hatred, death, and destruction. There are few residuals from that day in my daily life and until today the details have been tucked away in the deep recesses of my mind. The residuals that do exist all relate to planes. I stop in my tracks and my heart races whenever I see a plane flying low over Manhattan and I'm no longer comfortable flying which was something I used to love. Small prices to pay but still reminders that the world has changed forever.
Today is a day of remembrance for all of those who died, not only that day but those who have died since as a result of their unselfish efforts to heal and rebuild the city they call home.
We all remember and are forever grateful for those who were in our lives and for those who are. God bless us, one and all.
Believe it or not, I had a devil of a time trying to find a single photograph of a chain in my not so small inventory of images. This is all I could find with the time that I had.
I generally don't care much for those chain mail emails that are so prolific across the internet. They generally are interesting but I hate the feeling of obligation that comes with them, an obligation to forward them to others in your circle, many of whom guard their privacy dearly and find them immensely annoying. Well one arrived in my in-box about a week ago that listed 45 lessons of life. The lessons struck a chord with me - perhaps because the anniversary of 9/11 is just a few days away and that always makes me feel a bit philisophical and a lot grateful. So I'm sharing these with you now, hoping they may strike a chord with you too.
These were reportedly written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio. Those that truly resonated with me are highlighted. Let me know those that rang true to you.
"1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come...
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."
My mother was not a cook. Having grown up in residential hotels, she never spent any length of time in a kitchen, let alone cooking in one. When she married after the war (WWII that is), it allegedly took her several months before she dared to make jello ... or so the family story goes, and keep in mind she entered the kitchen to cook in earnest in the 1950s - enough said?
Mother's method for cooking nearly everything was on a cookie sheet. Baked chicken breasts? Place chicken on a cookie sheet, cook in a 350℉ oven for one hour - serve. Pork chops? Brown the pork chops in a hot skillet, place chops on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350℉ oven for one hour and serve, preferably with lots of applesauce. Carrots came in a bag from the freezer, peas, green beans, and corn came from a can, and potatoes and fish were nearly always in the shape of a stick.
When dinner was a steak or hamburgers, Mother used the broiler to near disastrous results. Almost without fail, they would catch fire - one which she would extinguish by smothering it with a liberal amount of table salt. This is probably the source of one of the only cooking lessons I remember getting from my mother and that was - always listen to what's cooking! It may also be the reason why my father placed a small hibachi-like grill in the fireplace where he would charcoal grill these meats to tasty perfection.
If and when we needed poached chicken for chicken salad and casseroles, the process was simple. Drop chicken breasts into boiling salted water and let them simmer for nearly an hour. Allow them to cool, remove the skin and bones, cut the meat into bite-size pieces and dress liberally with anything moist because the result was what one should have expected - dry, rubbery chicken meat. Please don't get me wrong, we didn't ever starve but let's just say the cuisine was simple. The result of this culinary experience? All of her daughters can cook - some liking it more than others.
These days, as most of you know, I have an extensive library of cookbooks, which are the sources of my ongoing culinary education and many a wonderful meal. I do have favorite authors and teachers including Patricia Wells, Ina Garten and Bobby Flay. Patricia came out with a new cookbook last spring called Salad As A Meal in which there's a divine recipe for Poached Chicken Breasts. Peter and I both reveled in how moist and flavorful the meat was and added it to many of our summer salads. One batch I kept covered in the stock in the refrigerator for several days before using and when I removed it I just had to take this picture ... to me, it looked like art.
1 quart Homemade Chicken Stock
1 onion, quartered (do not peel)
Several fresh tarragon leaves
Several fresh thyme sprigs
1 celery rib or several celery leaves, chopped
2 fresh or dry bay leaves
6 whole peppercorns
4 plump, moist garlic cloves, peeled and halved
6 fresh parsley sprigs
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (each about 8 ounces)
Try this, I think you'll adopt this as your recipe of choice for poached chicken going forward.
It's been one week since my last post, that's a first in over a year and a half. One week ago today, we were bracing ourselves for Hurricane Irene which arrived in Tropical Storm form the following day leaving a path of destruction and outages in her path. Long Island was hit quite hard with downed trees every where, hitting houses, cars and power lines. We fortunately survived unscathed, however we did lose phone, TV, and my beloved internet on Sunday and just got it back, thus the reason for my silence. There are plenty of photos of the impact of Irene and its aftermath ... being worked on; however, the work is being interrupted by the Hamptons Classic Horse Show which began four days late due to the storm but is now underway and wonderful. So please be patient with this "gap"; I promise I'll be back to regular posts shortly. In the meantime, here's just a few images from the time of Irene.