I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Farmers Market - Harvest Bounty

By late September, it is harvest time here on the East Coast and my local farmers market brims with treasures of a summer’s bounty. In June the choices are small--- pickles and tiny carrots, some radishes and baby field lettuces. But now comes the harvest, fruits and vegetables that are feasts not just for our table but for our eyes and souls. What a joy it is to shop, ubiquitous LL Bean tote in hand, with happy neighbors, enjoying the sunshine, morning-picked produce and the smiles of the farmers themselves. Such a lovely change from the dreary super–supermarket, all wilted lettuce, sullen clerks, and mountains of toilet paper and cleansers.
Now in its second year, our small market has grown from maybe five vendors to perhaps twenty. We have, of course, wonderful potatoes and corn, squash and tomatoes from our own island; we have an Amish farm with fresh produce--- eggs, homemade noodles and relishes and that special Pennsylvania sweet, shoo-fly pie; a Long Island winery; a fresh-caught fish seller of course and a new seller, a lavender farm, from the North Fork of Long Island. And since this is a New York, semi-urban market, we have a pickle man and a knish dealer and our very favorite, a Brooklyn seller of fresh handmade pastas and traditional cheeses. Yum!

This week I had the extra fun of going to the market with my daughter. Not only was it a pleasure to shop with her but the extra pair of hands to tote the harvest produce was a huge asset. And, best part, she brought new ideas to the kitchen, suggesting we buy Bread Alone’s exceptional French multigrain sourdough loaf, so dark and chewy, not “sour” at all!---called pain au levain, to use for our Wednesday TV night’s grilled cheese sandwiches. Very good, it took the simple American lunch staple to new gourmet heights.

At the fruit sellers’ we got fresh cider, Ginger Gold apples and ripe peaches (a rarity in the grocery stores) for a cobbler later in the week. It would be topped with a dollop of sweetened fresh ricotta from the Italian cheese vendor (Papa Pasquale’s, Brooklyn NY) Another stand was the source of tiny new potatoes no bigger than marbles, wonderful roasted with olive oil and lemon pepper. Also amazing beefsteak tomatoes, to slice for those grilled cheese sandwiches. And an enormous bouquet of flame red and golden yellow dahlias which we knew would be wonderful in a blue and white pitcher on the table. When I hesitated over the flowers---such a short lifespan--- my daughter turned to me and said: Those are gorgeous! And they are.

Last we chose two types of winter squash and some onions to make a Martha Stewart stuffed winter squash recipe on Friday night. Her recipe is called “Moroccan-style Stuffed Acorn Squashes" (though I believe the ones I used were Delicatas); it is on page 170 of the October 09 issue of Martha Stewart Living. It came out soooo delicious and everyone loved it. And by the way, only 350 calories per serving. I will say I simplified and made a few changes---because I have to admit I have no clue what bulgur wheat is or where to buy it! (Is that like the grain in taboulleh? Or the kasha in kasha varnishkes?) I plan to investigate, but this week I substituted wild rice, added a ½ cup of pre-cooked crumbled Italian sweet sausage and also I used chopped dried apricots instead of the golden raisins which my grocery did not have.

Next week, I hope the October pumpkins and gourds start to appear. And we plan to buy an assortment of the truly splendid exotic eggplants and figure out a use for them. Until then, enjoy!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Autumn Hearts

The calendar may say autumn...

but here at the beach it is still high summer.

Today I decided to set aside my indigo quilt project (more on that in the future!) and instead I packed my cooler, got out my hat and sand chair and lugged all the makings for my next batch of HEART sachets down to the beach to enjoy the summer perfection of the day.

This is not such an easy task---more like a labor of love!
I filled a huge LLBean tote with a couple dozen pre-sewn hearts, made with an assortment of autumn hued vintage and antique fabrics, half a bag of batting and a giant Ziploc baggie filled with my handmade potpourri.

Plus all those useful little tools, a big old silver spoon, a funnel, scissors and pins, a kebab skewer and an antique brass letter opener. Ten minutes later I was set up in solitary splendor at the beach, just me, the seabirds and a few surf casting fisherman.

The lure of beachcombing---treasure fever---tempted me, but I got a lot done...

Now if the first autumn storm rolls in tomorrow as predicted, I'll fill my blue Le Crueset pot with homemade corn chowder and sew by the window. But if not! I'll be right back here, enjoying my beach...



               .......gone to the beach

Friday, September 25, 2009

So here we are...

Welcome to The Beach!

Hi! Welcome to the Beach! I hope that you will enjoy sharing my world of sun and sand; trinkets, treasure and trash.
However shall I introduce myself? My name is Lizzy (AKA robin on esty & Ebay) and I am a recycle/ upcycle/ found object artist. I work in many genres, from quilts to folk art dolls, jewelry, sculpture, and collage. But somehow it all comes down to re-use, re-purpose---make treasures from trash or other people’s cast-offs.

Once upon a time I was a NYC fashion designer. And it was fun and exciting but as season relentlessly followed on season—always a year ahead! As if!----it was obvious that I was no longer enjoying my life. There I was in my black cargoes & white Hanes t-shirts, presenting yet another group of glitzy party dresses that I myself would never ever wear, even if my merry-go-round schedule of zillion hour workweeks actually gave me a Night Out!

Instead my Midwestern country girl soul---yep, never saw the ocean before age 23!—is drawn to antique china and silver, to vintage fabric and heirloom linens and antique quilts. Outdoor markets, flea or farmers, love them all! And instead of joining a gym, I walk for hours on the windswept shoreline, searching for “treasure”---sea glass, driftwood, shells---to turn into collage or jewelry or my folkart angels. And so here I stay, watching the tides and the stars and the shorebirds. The seasons still come and go, but oh so gently. Life is easy here, and happy. Summers are long and sun-filled, autumn can be just a blip in early December, the winters are clear and stunningly beautiful, marked by the occasional storm. Spring comes late and is often cool but the marshes slowly turn brilliant green, the egrets and ospreys return and summer arrives yet again.

Summer can last forever….here at the beach. And friends are always welcome. Enjoy!