Archive for August, 2010
I love my family for only taking foodie vacations, but after a while the calories will catch up to you. So I was actually a little relieved when my high school friends and I settled on New Hampshire for our post-grad bonding trip, rather than what would have inevitably become an expensive and calorific gastronomic tour of Quebec. We brought The Chef along to chaperone (cook), but I thought we were planning to spend our days on our feet hiking, swimming or at least antiquing. And we did…
What I failed to realize, was that the house we rented, on a strict college student’s budget, was a whole hour from Mount Washington, but a mere seven minutes away from the biggest budget basher known to mankind: the world’s longest candy counter.
It’s very dangerous to let me loose in a store like Chutters. With whole bins of cappuccino jelly beans, peach-apricot fruit slices, cognac cordials, chocolate-covered pretzel balls and chocolate-covered gummy bears (tasteless in one sense, so tasty in another) I was like a kid in a… never mind.
Candy here is stored in big jars, and sold by the pound, but I was assured that a pound of candy was a lot, so I set a budget in my mind, and set out filling my bag with what was, to my mind, a very reasonable amount of candy. I took a break from candy buying to take pictures, and 1/2 an hour later joined my friends at the checkout counter. All four of them spent exactly what they planned to… I rang up to almost twice as much.
I call this a mini anecdote, but really it’s the story of my life.
We are still in the middle of cornfields, which, oddly, I love. My husband, Mark, and I always describe ourselves as the Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert pair from the 1960s oldie-but-goodie television show, “Green Acres” (remember that?). For those of you too young to know this gem, Oliver opens with:
Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin’ is the life for me.
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.
To which his wife, Lisa, responds:
New York is where I’d rather stay.
I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view.
Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue….
These lyrics sum up our differences on urban life, but when I’m in Chestertown on the Eastern shore of Maryland and we make a right on to Route 290 and head into the cornfields, this feeling of complete relaxation comes over me. I also somehow stop worrying about things like whether we’ll have a leaky roof when we get home, or whether I forgot to pay the gas bill (which, come to think of it, I probably did!).
Part of the joy of coming here is staying with our favorite American innkeepers. We love Tracy and Jim Stone of The Inn at Mitchell House in nearby Tolchester. Their house is immaculate but has that wonderful old house smell.
Tracy makes the most scrumptious and hearty country breakfasts, such as homemade waffles with local blueberries and thick French toast with strawberries and perfectly crisp bacon. They are truly living an envious country life, with a balance of wit and hard work. I often wish I could be Tracy mowing all 12 acres singlehandedly, or Jim who enjoys fixing the tree swing for the millionth time after working all day as captain of a skipjack at the Echo Hill Outdoor School in nearby Worton.
We love going to the Dixon Furniture auction in Crumpton on Wednesdays, eating delicious crab dishes, playing croquet, and buying trinkets at Twigs and Teacups in town. But I what I really like the most about Maryland’s Eastern Shore is that I don’t feel like I have to do anything and that clears my head to do some of the things I love, like looking through my favorite magazines. We have piles of The New Yorker, Bon Appetit and Saveur on – I hate to admit it – the staircase leading to the second floor at home. I sometimes clear the deck for company and they get shoved in a lonely pile in the attic. I feel defeated every time I see them; the only time I can justify this kind of pure joy is here in Chestertown.
I also started a new indulgence when I opened the Fig Cooking School – Cookbooks. I love taking brightly colored stickies and marking pages of recipe inspirations for classes. The girls always run to get a glimpse of a newly acquired cookbook before it gets “mom-afied” – the point in a book’s life where it has so many post-its, the page perimeters looks like they’ve grown feathers. Over the course of the week, Mitchell House becomes my Mom-ification workshop.
The girls and Mark are ready to be picked up from kayaking. I’m sure they’re feeling baked from the sun and ready for lunch at the Fish Whistle, a great local place that overlooks the Chesapeake Bay. I’ll be back soon… In the meantime, enjoy these end-of-summer images from our trip.
I had such good intentions of doing a Wordless Wednesday post, but I realized too late that I’m incapable of doing anything wordlessly and on top of that, without my noticing, Wednesday turned into Thursday, and my plans were foiled. But I have a great many pictures to share with you, and they deserve an explanation anyway. Once a year or so my family has to take a vacation to a place with open fields, cows, fresh air, fireflies(!) and farms, or we’ll just go insane. There are a few different places we’ve tried but few work their magic quite the same way as Chestertown, MD. The difference between us in Connecticut and us in Maryland is immediate and extreme – Isabella even let me take a picture or two of her! My fantasy is to one day move down here, buy an old farmhouse and divide my days equally between cooking, exploring cornfields and catching fireflies in glass jars (with my children of course). It’s a very realistic dream.
We can’t cook down here, so we take pictures instead. Here are some scenes from our life this week. This post will be wordless starting… now.