Photos & Slide Show © 2012 Claudia Ward
Music: Hornpipe from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
Photos & Slide Show © 2012 Claudia Ward
Music: Hornpipe from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
Once in a blue moon there will be a blue moon, one that is not actually blue but one that is out of the ordinary. There are, in fact, two separate definitions of a blue moon, one more firmly entrenched in astronomical and calendrical events, the other a modern misinterpretation of the former.
The Maine Farmer's Almanac first used the expression "Blue Moon" in the 1930's to apply a moniker to the third moon in a season that has four moons rather than the typical three. Every month typically has a full moon (although sometimes brief February doesn't). In fact, our word for month comes from the word moon. Since seasons are established by the equinoxes and solstices and not calendar months, and the lunar cycle is roughly 29.5 days, it's possible for a season to atypically have four full moons. Most of the time, the names for full moons coincide with particular months or seasons of the year, like the Lenten Moon, the Harvest Moon, and the Hunter's Moon. A Blue Moon is out of the ordinary.
In 1947, an amateur astrologist and writer for Sky & Telescope, misinterpreted the Almanac's definition indicating that a blue moon was the second full moon in any calendar month. Rightly or wrongly, this definition has been embraced by the populace, Trivial Pursuit, and even, now, the Farmer's Almanac, and is what most of us consider a blue moon.
This month there will be a blue moon on August 31st according to the modern popular definition, meaning this is the second full moon this month; however, it is not the fourth in this summer season, so it would not be considered a traditional blue moon. The next time we have one of those is August 21, 2013.
Whether you use the newer definition or the one from the Maine Farmer’s Almanac, a blue moon, while not common, happens on a regular basis. Either way, they occur approximately 7 times over a span of 19 years.
Question: Can there be two blue moons in a single calendar year?
Answer: Yes. It last happened in 1999. There were two full moons in January and two full moons in March and no full moon in February. So both January and March had Blue Moons. The next year of double blue moons will occur in 2018.
Hunter Derby at The Hampton Classic © 2012 Claudia Ward
For decades now, The Hampton Classic Horse Show has been on Snake Hollow Road not quite a stone's throw away from where we live but close enough that we can hear the announcers when the wind is right early in the morning.
Opening Day at The Hampton Classic © 2012 Claudia Ward
The Classic moved to Snake Hollow Road in 1982 and in the time since then and until last year, I'd only been to the Classic once when a friend had VIP tickets; Peter, however, had been several times with friends and family.
The Jump at The Hampton Classic © 2012 Claudia Ward
Last year, having been in Saratoga Springs earlier in August, Peter and I'd caught the bug for watching horses race and jump, so we decided to attend the Classic. We both were hooked. We never knew the Classic was so affordable, and in fact assumed it wouldn't be. It's always touted as one of THE social events of "The Hamptons" summer season so how could it be affordable. Well it is. It's $10.00 per person and $20.00 per carload - for hours of entertainment, fresh air, and sun, that's an incredible value.
Rounding a Corner at The Hampton Classic © 2012 Claudia Ward
Peter and I went last year, shot hundreds of images, and swore we'd return this year to shoot what we really loved about this remarkable event rather than all of the "tourist shots". And so, we attended yesterday, the opening day, of eight days of events on the Snake Hollow grounds.
White Hunter at The Hampton Classic © 2012 Claudia Ward
We're armed with the gear we have, which may not be fancy but it's tried and true, and generally reliable, and, naturally, our iPhones. We plan on returning for the early morning classes with specific lenses to really see what images we might capture. In the meantime, these are the images I caught on my iPhone when Peter borrowed my "real" camera.
Hunter Competition at The Hampton Classic © 2012 Claudia Ward
Note: All of these images were processed on the iPhone with the app "Snapseed"; although most, if not all, were taken with the app "Camera Zoom".
You've heard it here before, we're never bored - which today can be attributed to active imaginations. As I was compling the slide show that was recently posted on Sunflowers, Peter and I both began to laugh as we gazed upon this image. I told Peter I saw Yoda in this blossoming sunflower plant with it's leaves pointing skyward like Yoda's ears. Peter says he sees Bambi. What do you see ?
Bonnie's Sunflowers © 2012 Claudia Ward
OK, it's official, the flower I once detested and despised is now on the list of things I most appreciate. It's taken several friends (and you know who you are) and a couple of photographers who I follow to open my mind and eyes to these strange beauties. So here are a few tidbits I've learned about sunflowers:
Pasta salads came barreling on to the culinary scene in the 1970s and everything but the kitchen sink was served in a pasta salad, from steamed vegetables to roasted meats, and I even read one recipe that combined pasta with prunes ... go figure! Not being impervious to the trends of the day, I too made several attempts to make a tasty pasta salad, one that would marry flavors rather than simply present separate flavors together in a bowl with pasta. The closest I came involved boiling the pasta, draining it and immediately tossing it with vinaigrette in the hopes that the dressing would be absorbed by those corkscrew noodles, and then adding steamed broccoli florettes and asparagus pieces, along with halved cherry tomatoes and perhaps some left over diced chicken. I learned in this process that pasta, unlike potatoes, does not absorb - one can only hope that some vinaigrette might cling to those slippery little pasta pieces. No matter how hard I tried my pasta salad wouldn't meld, rather it stubbornly maintained itself as a medley.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and tastes and palettes have broadened. Determined brave souls have continued to raise the bar on pasta salads and, in my opinion, one salad stands out above the crowds - Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Family Style. Ina attributes credit for the original recipe to Brent Newsom and admits making some changes, which I've taken liberty to do as well, but at the core of this recipe is flavor and lots of it, derived from sun-dried as well as fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives, garlic, capers, feta and Parmesan cheeses, and fresh julienned basil. This is a real crowd pleaser and tastes just as good without the cheese, if you happen to have vegans in your crowd. It also marries well over several hours or days - if it lasts that long.
Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced (I substitute crumbled Feta cheese for tang)
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (I use my own Slow-Roasted Tomatoes)
FOR THE DRESSING
5 sun-dried (slow roasted) tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of olive oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 8-10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add tomatoes, olives, mozzarella or feta cheese, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
For the dressing, combine the sun-droed tomatoes, vinegar, oilve oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.
Pour dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and basil, and toss well.
Sunflowers are an annual plant native to the Americas and they are everywhere this summer on the east end of Long Island. Farmers markets and grocery stores have been selling sunflowers since July and now the field at the Hayground Market on Montauk Highway is filled with these cheerful heliotropic blooms. When I passed the field the other day, I promised myself that I would return early one morning to face the challenge of photographing these young eastward-facing blooms in situ.
The next morning I awoke to a slightly overcast/hazy sky and ... not a breath of wind - ideal conditions for photographing this field of sunflowers, so I bound out of bed, loaded my gear in the Mini Cooper and set out to see what I could capture. It wasn't necessarily easy to find interesting patterns in this randomly planted field of flowers but I knelt on the ground and stood on tippy-toes, and I moved left and I moved right - all the time meeting the challenge of shooting these moving flowers. You see, there may not have been any natural wind but the traffic on Montauk Highway created gusts as each car, truck and bus passed by, and the sunflowers were obliged to respond.
After an hour and a half, and as the sun began to peak through the cloud cover, I returned home satisfied that I had done my best finding unusual patterns where I thought there had been none, and capturing the characters I saw in this blossoming field of sunflowers. I hope you enjoy the slide show.
Photos and Slide show © 2012 Claudia Ward
Music: "Beautiful Intruder" from the album of Matthew Bourne's "Play Without Words", music by Terry Davies; artists: Michael Haslam, Sarah Homer, Simon Gardner, Timothy Harries & Chris Baron
Looks good enough to eat!
Combining egg salad and tuna salad in a sandwich is as American as apple pie, or so my husband says. I tell him that I think it's a regional thing, kind of like putting vinegar on your French fries in Providence, eating cold poached salmon with mayonnaise and capers on the 4th of July on Cape Cod, having red clam chowder in Manhattan, and making pizza in a deep dish like they do in Chicago. This combination has to be a Hamptons thing and he indeed thinks it was first introduced to him at Southampton's quintessential soda fountain, Sip n' Soda. Wherever it originated, he loves this combination so I, as the doting wife that I can be, keep an eye peeled for new ways to give him what he likes. This recipe for Niçoise Toasts that I found in July's Bon Appétit combines egg salad and tuna on an open-faced sandwich. The only substitution I had to make in deference to Peter was 0% Greek-style plain yogurt replaced the cottage cheese. I thought that the ingredients would still be too "fresh" for him and that he would miss the heft of that extra piece of bread but, in fact, he declared these Niçoise Toasts "a repeat", which, in our house, means I have license to make them again.
4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese (or 0% Greek-style plain yogurt)
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley plus 1 cup of leaves
2 Tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice, divided
1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped capers
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup quartered pitted mixed olives
4 ounces tuna packed in olive oil, drained, broken into pieces
1 1/2-inch-thick slices rustic bread
1 garlic clove, halved
We love to cook and use our double ovens all the time. Each oven has three racks and these can become really nasty after months of roasting whole chickens, broiling racks of lamb, browning chicken wings, and roasting water-laden vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and tomatoes. Most kitchen chores don't depress me, but this one does. Spending an hour per rack with several brillo pads, unknown amounts of hot water, and lots of good old elbow-grease is just torture. The grease doesn't want to come off the racks and the "nooks and crannies" hold on to their greasy treasures with no remorse. It's just a thankless job but one that demands attention when your fingers begin sticking to the rack anytime you move it.
The time had come to address this greasy condition on at least three of our racks, and Peter and I were bargaining and bartering to see who would do one, some, or all of them. Being a man who is all about solutions, he asked whether they could be cleaned in the self-cleaning oven as it was being done. The answer was "No". They will discolor and never achieve their former shiny appearance, but more importantly they will lose their ability to roll in and out of the oven. Then he wondered whether we could use an oven cleaner like Easy Off - a cleaner that can't be used on the oven. I decided to ask the universe what they do to solve this problem and, low and behold, I found a number of suggestions for cleaning oven racks: some toxic (using ammonia), some unacceptable (using the bath tub), but one sounding perfect: taking the racks outside, spraying them with Easy Off (blue can, not the yellow one that requires rubber gloves), placing the racks in a leaf bag over night, and then hosing them off. It worked! All six of our racks were treated and put in the leaf bag overnight and they all came out gleaming like they haven't gleamed in over ten years.
Chilled Fresh Zucchini Soup
In our household, "fresh" has multiple definitions. We agree on "fresh" for fresh fish, fresh meat, and fresh vegetables - those are the ones originally and freshly from the sea, the butcher, or the garden - unaltered, unadulterated, and as nearly from their source as we can have them.
And then there's "fresh" in cooking and our individual interpretation of what that means.
For me, fresh in cooking means the ingredients' flavors shine in their own right and are complemented by the herbs, spices, or other ingredients that may (or may not) be added. They are not overpowered or disguised. A fresh pea would taste sweet and explode in your mouth with flavor, a strawberry or blueberry would overpower you with its true flavor and natural sweetness, zucchini would be subtle and fresh like the air and earth - little salt or sugar should be added, because I want these short-lived fresh flavors to prevail.
When Peter uses the word "fresh" to describe something, I know he thinks it tastes a little too natural and perhaps lacking in salt or sugar. Now, please don't get me wrong, Peter loves the fresh produce we get here on the east end - especially the fruit, but he's a recent convert to vegetables, other than the corn-on-the-cob we always consume during the summer months.
So this recipe by both of our definitions is "fresh", and cool by the way. To correct the "freshness" my husband detected, he added a little Pickapeppa Sauce and Lemon Pepper and declared it a resounding success. No matter what your definition of fresh may be, I think you'll like this summer soup.
Chilled Zucchini Soup
1/4 pound Shallots, thinly sliced crosswise (1 cup)
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini (3-4 medium), thinly sliced
2 (2-by-1 1/2-inch) strips lemon zest
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup flat-leafed parsley leaves
1 Tablespoon finely chopped dill
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Note: Soup without the yogurt can be made a day ahead and chilled, covered. If making ahead, chilling in the ice bath is unnecessary. Stir soup well before serving.
Thank you Gourmet EASY DINNERS, once again!