It’s always a little bittersweet when summer starts to wind down. I don’t want to let go of the long days and carefree timelessness with my children. But, the cooler days that begin as Fall starts to show it’s colors are my favorite days of all. The kids are back to school but our weekends will still be busy with trips to the apple orchard and basketball games. My two oldest are off to college. It was hard enough to send Paul last year but now two move on. Joe is starting this next chapter at Saint Louis University. He’s already called to say the food is good but not what he’s used to at home.
Our family vacation to Shelter Island this summer was one of our best vacations ever. The kids have grown up going to our little island get away. Sometimes I feel envy for families who travel to different resorts. The truth is there is something special about the simple familiarity of our family summer home. Mark and I have been spending time on Shelter Island since before we had kids. Our kids have grown up walking the path to the beach, hunting for turtles, fishing, making sand castles, swimming and body surfing. One summer I spent 9 glorious weeks there with the boys. That is when I truly understood what a real vacation feels like. One week is never enough. I do love being able to enjoy good wine every evening with nowhere to drive and no alarm clock in the morning. With both Paul and Joe heading off to college every minute we have together is one I want to cherish. We packed as much as possible into our short week. This year I wanted to really enjoy every moment so instead of lugging my camera around I limited myself to my iPhone camera. I only brought my real camera out twice, so unlike me! I still captured the memories and took part in them too. My niece and her daughter joined us on our last day. Little B was like an instant little sister to my gang. She and MC share the red head gene.
It wouldn’t have been a summer getaway without our annual lobster feast. The anticipation is huge and when it’s finally all dumped out onto the table the party begins!
A lobster bake is a feast that brings everyone together around a table filled with fresh steamed flavors from the sea and it couldn’t be easier! Once you’ve collected your ingredients it’s just a matter of adding them into the pot. I’ve prepared them by boiling and steaming but I think we prefer steaming. My steamer pot has two compartments with a spigot at the bottom to drain the liquid. The main compartment holds 19-quarts and the lower steam compartment hold 12-quarts of liquid. You can use a large 24-30 quart pot with a steam rack on the bottom and a tight fitting lid or simply invert a metal strainer on the bottom of the pot to lift the food above the liquid to steam it.
The photographer in me would have liked to style this meal so it was beautiful and have everyone looking their best. The reality was that after a long day at the beach I had five very hungry people standing by who couldn’t wait to dig in. I was lucky to snap these pics. We didn’t let our tiny porch table limit us. We gathered around and piled it high.
If it’s available, put a inch or so of sea weed in the bottom of you pot to keep the lobsters and other ingredients from scorching. It will add an extra briny flavor.
1 750-milliliter bottle dry white wine
2 1/2 pounds small new potatoes, about 1′ in diameter
6 live lobsters, about 1 1/4 pounds each
6 large eggs (when the eggs are hard boiled the lobster is done)
6 ears of corn, husked, halved
1 1/2 pounds spicy smoked sausage (such as linguiça, kielbasa, or andouille), cut into 2′ pieces
1 lemons, quartered, sliced
1 orange, quartered, sliced
1 large bunch thyme
3 dozen littleneck, Manila, or steamer clams, scrubbed
3 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
3 lbs raw medium shrimp deveined
1 Tbs Old Bay seasoning
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, melted
Place a steamer basket in 30-quart pot. ( Add wine and 12 cups water and Old Bay seasoning; cover and bring to a boil.
Add potatoes; cover and cook 5 minutes.
Add lobsters and eggs; cover and cook 10 minutes.
Gently nestle corn, sausage, lemon, orange, thyme, in pot. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Add Manila clams or steamers (if using), cover, and cook 10 minutes.
Add mussels and shrimp, cover, and cook until shellfish open, about 5 minutes (discard any that do not open).
Peel 1 egg and cut in half. If it’s hard-boiled, lobsters are ready.
Using a slotted spoon and tongs, transfer clambake to a very large platter or a table covered with newspaper. Pour broth from pot into small bowls, leaving any sediment behind. Serve lobster bake with broth and melted butter.
This year we chartered a boat and crew to do some deep sea fishing in Montauk. In all the years we’ve been here, (Marks family has been vacationing on the island for 6 generations), we’ve never gone out to fish off the island. We are so glad we did. It was amazing. Mary and I stayed back to shop in the Hamptons while the boys went out with their Dad. I get sea sick in a puddle so there was no way I could do it and I’m afraid Mary was a bit fearful. After seeing how much fun it was I’m sure she’ll join the boys next year. The charter was for 5 hours but they had caught an obscene amount of fish in the first 3 hours. The captain and crew were amazing and all in all with all the fish we brought home it was less expensive than going to a baseball game.
We spent most of our days relaxing at the beach. This beach, Sunset Beach or some call it Crescent Beach, is a little strip of sand on this pretty inlet. Nothing fancy about it, but somehow it found it’s way onto a list of top ten USA beaches. I think it has something to do with the little bar across the street that has become a secret hide away destination of the Hampton’s crowd looking to escape the lime light. Shelter island is truly an escape. They haven’t built a bridge. You still have to take a ferry from Greenport on the North fork of Long Island or Sag Harbor on the South fork of Long Island. There’s nothing commercial here. Only local shops, a small IGA and a tiny ACE hardware. That’s how most people hope it stays. Our favorite beach is the Hither Hills State Park beach on the far east end of long island. The current is strong and the sand is soft. The kids can body surf there for hours on end. After a long day swimming there’s a little lobster shack about a quarter mile down the street that makes the best fresh lobster rolls. With a cold Montauk beer there’s no better way to end the day. YES Please, feel free to contact my husband and give him fashion advice. I know that we are a rag tag crew but somehow those shorts made it past inspection unnoticed. It was 4th of July and he was ready!
Sometimes the silliness is my favorite part of being family.In the end this Blog was started to share the recipes and stories that center around feeding my family. Everywhere we go we find a wonderful bounty of fresh ingredients that we have the good fortune to transform into great recipes that nourish the ones we love. Our blessing do not go unappreciated. We are so thankful for all that has been shared with us.