Virginia Crowell Jones' cookbook

Fresh From The Vineyard

by Tina Miller

Fresh From The Vineyard

Juliet Kraetzer's from the cookbook

Virginia Jones is a devoted voice for the Island’s environment, community, sustainability and local politics. Ginny’s blunt, honest, non-nonsense style comes to life in her cookbook Fresh from the Vineyard. This book features family, friends, local food, and tradition. It’s fresh from the Vineyard soil to the sea, with old-style and genuine love for the Island.

Though Ginny’s passion is the Vineyard, she has also spent a great deal of time sailing and cooking in small galleys on wooden boats. I imagine this also influences her sense of simplicity, using few kitchen gadgets and working with what is available in the pantry and what is fresh.

This spiral-bound book is illustrated with beautiful watercolor prints by Juliet Kraetzer, whom I remember as a neighbor when I was a child on Music Street. The colorful paintings evoke a time gone by on the Vineyard.

Ginny’s recipes are mostly outlines and come from experiences with family and friends on the Vineyard, like Hot Milk Cake from Mildred Huntington. Ginny recommends serving this cake with a yellow tomato conserve. Although there was no recipe for the conserve, I had a basic idea. The ingredients of yellow tomato, crystallized ginger, lemon, and sugar suggest tangy sweet, which sounds perfect with the simple Hot Milk Cake.

I began with the cake recipe, which was pretty clear, though there was no suggestion for a baking pan, so I used an 8-inch cake pan, which I greased. The batter was smooth and pourable. The actual making of the batter took me about 10 minutes, very simple. The texture of the cake was dense and moist, very old-fashioned; it brought me back in time and reminded me of homemade yellow cupcakes I ate as a kid.

For the yellow tomato conserve, I used my heavy copper saucepan and combined 1 cup of water, ½ cup of sugar, 1/3 cup thinly sliced whole lemons, and 3 tablespoons of crystallized ginger. I boiled these on medium-high heat for about 20 minutes. I then added one cup halved cherry yellow tomatoes. I boiled all the ingredients on medium high for about 15 more minutes. At that point everything had thickened nicely, and a natural jelly had been created. I served the cake with only the conserve, still slightly warm.

Fresh from the Vineyard takes a straightforward approach to cooking and focuses more on the ingredients and her personal relationship to the Island.