Harvest 2009

Harvest to Home

By Sydney Bender, EDITOR

Harvest 2009

When a clam rake cuts through the sand and hits a quahog, you can feel it. The clam causes a resonance that runs up the pole and into your hands. It’s a different sensation compared to rasping through sand, dead bivalves, and decaying shells—and coming up empty. Coop told me that long ago, when I bought my first rake and set of waders from him for clamming, and he was right.

Loading up my Volvo, black lab, and a couple of beers or a thermos of coffee, depending on the time of day and tides, I ventured into the pond waters wherever my home shellfishing license would take me. And when the Shellfish Constable showed up, I’d bound (as much as one can bound wearing waders and schlepping a rake and basket) through the brackish water to show off my permission slip and the requisite shellfish gauge dangling from my neck like a promised heart. Maybe, in retrospect, I was too enthusiastic…but it was invigorating to rake for the simplest clam chowder.

Every day we hunt, gather, and forage to eat, whether it’s from the Island’s sea, sky, woods or fields, the grocery store or the pizza joint for takeout after a too-long-a day-to-cook. It’s basic and undeniable. Even when it’s at the checkout, there’s adventure to enjoy by bringing food to the table.

In this Harvest issue of eV, Samantha Barrow and Chris Fischer share their perspectives about a similar topic: hunting locally and a locally grown grilled dinner. “Free-Range Fowl,” and “Hunt, Cook, Eat.” Shirley Mayhew reminisces in “My Vineyard,” about how the ‘lowly bivalve’ inadvertently became a family holiday tradition, while Geraldine Brooks traces cranberries and Island agricultural traditions in “Harvesting Sasumuneash.”

No issue of eV is complete without Susie Middleton’s tried and true recipes. In this issue she cooks up variations on a potato theme in “Cooking Fresh,” and bakes pies with Judi Worthington in “In Season.”

After the farmers harvest what they can, there’s gleaning to be done. Read about the MV Gleaners, and how the group is already having a salutary impact on our food system in “In the Dirt.”

In “Finds,” Nina Carelli illustrates a fantasy of foraging, and we rummage through friends’ kitchens for working knives. An old pocketknife humbly makes me appreciate that using what you already have is sometimes all you need.

These days the last pears fall off my neighbor’s gigantesque tree. Vineyard Haven’s wildlife and I are plenty full of the fruit, having gorged on this windfall for weeks. When a pear is bruised or has started to rot, I cut away the bad parts and eat the rest. You never know where your harvest will take you.

The Wild Things Are Here

Ox-Eye Daisy Capers: Great as a garnish and slightly reminiscentof artichoke hearts, these capers come from the ox-eye daisy. Perfect in an egg scramble or pasta dishes, $8.50-$14.