Sunday, July 5, 2009

Island Life - Part I

Pier at the HookTime and heart rates slow on Chebeague Island. Actually, its therapeutic qualities kick in the moment one sets foot on the ferry to Chandler’s Cove. Just the thought of being on island acts as a balm on the spirit. My first visit felt like a homecoming somehow. As if I had always known about the place in my heart, and had finally reached my destination. It’s been that way ever since. I kid my Chebeague family that I will be buried on the island, and had I not already promised my ashes - interned in a Mexican surfing monkey figurine - to Matty O’Food and his progeny, I would follow through on that threat.
 
Hamilton HouseJenks Landing homestead
Most of the permanent families on the island have been here for generations, some go back as far as the first European settlers to Chebeague. Many of the summer folk, too, have been coming here for ages. They are a very tight knit group. Property is passed down to descendents and rarely leaves a family. There is also hint of WASPiness in the air; that benevolent neglect that only impeccable breeding and the right boarding schools can produce. You see it in the shabby home furnishings and in the aisles of Doughty’s Market. No high-end, organic vegetables or pesticide-free stone ground flour. Nope, it’s the all-purpose bleached kind and Cracker Barrel cheese in the refrigerated section. And I just love that. Before Whole Foods came to the mainland and offered delivery to the islands, one made due. That attitude, by and large, still holds sway.
 
Chandler's Cove
Summer life on the island officially opens with the Fourth of July weekend. Before that, the locals are employed mowing lawns, dusting and airing houses closed for the season and repairing damage brought on by the harsh winters. American flags are hung along the Main Road in front of the Library and market, lining the parade route from Stone Pier to the Rec Center. In years past the annual picnic used to be held on the beach at Chandler’s Cove, just down the road from our cottage. This year for some reason, the townsmen moved it to the fields behind the school.
 
Seashells on the HookJenks Landing
Every year, on the Friday before the 4th, our clan feasts on fresh Maine lobster and recipes culled from four generations of Webb women. Martha Ann (Nancy) Webb, née Bukeley, compiled a cookbook of easy dishes that could be put together with the basic stores offered at Doughty’s. It has been added to over the years. I hope to one day have a recipe or two included.
 
The Webb Cottage cookbook.
Gazpacho – from the Webb Cottage Cookbook. A Nancy Webb recipe
  • 2 hard cooked eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 sweet green pepper
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large (46oz) can V-8 juice
  • 2 cucumbers
  • toasted croutons for serving
Mash egg yolks with olive oil and lemon juice in a wooden bowl. Seed bell pepper and cut into chunks, peel onion and coarsely chop. Peel, seed and coarsely chop 1 cucumber. Chop garlic. Purée chopped vegetables with a splash of V-8 juice in a blender until just chunky. Add more V-8 as necessary. Pour purée into the salad bowl, stirring constantly. Add remaining V-8 juice. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with chopped cucumber, chopped egg whites and croutons as toppings.
 
Gazpacho soup ingredientsRoughly chop everthing.Run everything through a food processor or blender.
Gazpacho is always our first course on lobster night. It’s spicy, well balanced and cool. We cram the breakfast and dining tables diagonally into one room and eat off mismatched Blue Willow china that all the islanders purchased a hundred years ago. Seashells and beach glass decorate centerpieces. Toasts are offered up to the cooks, family and friends. And thus, we complete an island cycle established by great grandparents, and changed very little ever since.
 
Still life with Gazpacho soup
 
 
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food
 
 

1 comment:

THE FOOD THERAPIST! said...

Great history, great tone, wonderful read and good food...what else could you want from a blog. But this goes beyond a 'food' blog...this is a sublime 'life' blog. Great post.