Last weekend Artie and I went to the Berkshires for the first time. It was a magnificent start to the summer.
Our friend Pete teaches 3rd grade and every year his school holds a teacher appreciation raffle/school fundraiser. Parents donate prizes, and teachers buy the raffle tickets. He won a pretty amazing prize this year.
A weekend at a fully restored 18th century farmhouse. As you can imagine, Artie and I were pretty thrilled when he asked us to join them!
Their friends Becky and Dan came too. We hadn’t seen them since Pete and Paige’s wedding a few years ago, and we had fun catching up, wandering around town and exploring the property, but mostly just enjoying the down time.
They are both architects, and Becky just finished graduate school for landscape architecture, so we had fun oohing and ahhh-ing’ over all the period detail in the house, and the 46 acres of wonderfulness surrounding the place.
My favorite part of the trip? The animals.
The family who owns the house spends most of their time up the street, at another one of their properties. But the caretakers, Bill and Sue, live in a house just a few feet away. In addition to keeping the place running smoothly and looking beautiful, they take care of the various animals that call the place home.
A girl can dream right?
But no one was as friendly as Tiger, the cat. Who will follow you everywhere, and run at you full speed from an acre away for a snuggle.
No really, he is the nicest cat you’ll ever meet.
How many cats do you know that seek out attention from wildly flailing toddlers? who pet whack-a-mole style? No offense Violet, I know you are trying to play nice with the kitty, you just haven’t honed your small-motor skills yet.
Tiger may have been the friendliest animal on the farm, but this little guy edged him out in the cuteness department.
He lost his mom, so Bill has been bottle feeding him and the little guy just follows him everywhere.
Bill is his new mom.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Bill and Sue’s grandson was playing on the farm (he lives right down the road) and there were pony rides, and motorbike rides, and as Bill told us later, trips to the tree house they built in the woods, and bonfires.
Maybe I can convince them to adopt me as a grandkid too.
On Saturday, we went to the farmer’s market and got all kinds of goodies for our surf and turf dinner: steaks, scallops, spring onions, cheese, and strawberries for short-cake.
We cooked, we feasted. We walked around a little bit. That was pretty much it.
It was perfect.
I couldn’t leave you without an easy summer recipe, so here are my soft-shell crab sandwiches with avocado and chipotle mayo, that ran in The Boston Globe this week. You can make them in 10 minutes, and they are perfect for those too-hot-to-cook nights.
Serve them with cold beer and lot’s of napkins!
Look for large crabs that are alive and kicking, and ask the fishmonger to clean them for you. I like New Deal in Cambridge, MA.
Happy summer everyone!
Here’s the print-out
Soft-shell crab sandwiches with avocado and chipotle mayo
Soft-shell crabs are a delicacy only available for a few months, usually from April through the summer, harvested in more southern waters. On restaurant menus you’ll often see soft-shells deep-fried, but they need nothing more than a quick saute to really shine. Carl Fantasia of New Deal Fish Market in Cambridge says that after the crabs are caught, they are kept in large tanks and checked every four hours. As soon as they show signs of molting, or discarding their hard shells, they are harvested and shipped out, as the shells begin to harden again in hours.
|2||chipotle chilies inadobo sauce, chopped|
|Juice of 2 limes|
1. In a small bowl whisk together mayonnaise, chipotle, and lime juice.
2. Taste for seasoning and add more chipotle, if you like.
|4||cleaned soft-shell crabs|
|1½||teaspoons Old Bayseasoning|
|4||hamburger buns or sandwich rolls|
|1||avocado, pitted and sliced|
|1||large tomato, cored and sliced|
1. Season the crabs with the Old Bay.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil. Add the crabs, rounded sides down, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn and cook 5 minutes more.
3. Meanwhile, cut open the buns or rolls and toast them. Spread mayonnaise on both sides of the rolls. Add a soft-shell to each, and top with avocado and tomato.