Sep 17, 2019

Making Fish Cakes with Sea Purslanes

Before I went to Bermuda I searched for a place to do a cooking experience and found a unique one offered by Doreen Williams-James.  She calls herself a forager, an expert in locating, eating, and preparing food that grows in the wild. Foraging runs in the family; she learned from her father who learned from his father.  Doreen does many Wild Edible tours, makes a variety of items from items she has forage, and does cooking demonstrations.  Mostly, she makes things on order so everything is fresh. 

Doreen showed me how to make Sea Purslane Fish Cakes.  I was not keen on the fish part but the finished product was excellent and didn’t contain fish but made use of sea purslanes which are a perennial found along the coast in many regions of the world.  They looked like small snap peas. Eaten plain they were excellent. Not at all fishy but a bit salty and crunchy with a delicate lemony taste with a mild peppery kick.  I think they would make an excellent snack and they are healthy because they are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and beta carotene along with many minerals.

Sea Purslane Fish Cakes

Olive oil as needed
1 can of drained and rinsed cannelloni beans
1 can of drained, rinsed chickpeas
6 peeled and boiled potatoes
1/2 cup chopped Parsley
1 cup chopped onions
2 tsp chopped thyme
4 sheets of dried seaweed
1 ½ tbsp. vegetable bouillon
Handful of sea purslane chopped finely
Flour as needed

Salute chopped onions in a tbsp of olive oil, add chopped thyme
and bullion. Mash cannelloni beans, chickpeas, and boiled peeled potatoes in a bowl, add sautéed onion, mix in parsley, crushed seaweed sheets, and chopped sea purslane.  Mixed thoroughly and roll into balls. Take balls and roll into flour. Heat frying pan with enough olive oil to cover bottom of frying pan.  Place floured balls into the heated pan and fry till golden brown then turn over and fry other side. About two minutes on each side. Makes 12 - 15 fishcakes

St. George is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I met with Doreen at the World Heritage Centre in St. George where she often does the cooking classes and other programs. The World Heritage Center is located in the heart of the town near where the ferry lands. The Centre is located in the Queen’s Warehouse, an 1860 historic building that was once a cotton warehouse. The pulley system used to raise the cotton imported from the southern states of the United States is still visible in the center of the building.  The multi-functional building contains “Gateway to Bermuda”
Orientation and Exhibit Gallery on the main floor with interpretive and interactive exhibits. There is also Second-Hand Rose Shoppe loaded with “gently-used” second-hand “treasures.” A great place to look for a unique memento of Bermuda to take home. The Age of Discovery, Bermuda’s
historic links to Jamestown and the first settlers, the wreck of the “Sea Venture”, and the story of Bermuda’s first forts are explained. Upstairs there are three Exhibition rooms including a short film "A Stroll Through St. George’s" which is helpful when planning a walking tour of the town. They also offer several brochures including a handy walking tour.  I missed the “Daily Dunking” that takes place in King’s Square and other things I’d like to do so, hopefully I will get a chance to return.  

Sep 11, 2019

Exploring Downtown NYC

The last time I was in NYC I discover the Downtown Connection, a
free bus that goes from Southstreet Seaport to City Hall. It makes many stops but you can pull the cord for an unscheduled stop.  The shuttle bus runs seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The sign can be easy to miss but it is on the same pole as the bus signs and just says “Downtown Connection.” Most visitors to NYC don’t know about; and, it is handicap accessible.  There are many interesting stops along the way.  I used it on my last two trips to NYC.

There is a lot to learn in the Downtown area about the diversity of NYC; and many of the places are free. On a previous trip I took the bus to the last stop on the West Side where I visited the African Burial Ground.  During the construction of a federal office tower more the 15,000 intact skeletal remains of enslaved and free Africans who lived and worked in colonial New York were unearthed. The Burial Ground dates from the middle 1630s to 1795. Currently, the Burial Ground
is the nation’s earliest and largest African burial ground rediscovered in the United States. Today the site is a National Park with an area called the Ancestral Chamber created to bring to mind a slave ship; plus graves with the remains and artifacts of 419 Africans. There is an indoor visitor center but it was closed when I was there but the Outdoor Memorial is always open and free.  

On my most recent trip I took the Downtown Shuttle to the free Irish Hunger Memorial. The memorial is designed to represent the rural Irish landscape with an abandoned stone cottage with stone walls much like it must have been when so many left Ireland to immigrate to the New World and escape the Great Irish Famine. There is a fallow potato field and
flowers from the Connacht wetlands.   There are stones for all 32 counties. An app helped me locate the stone from County Galway where my husband’s parents came from and where his cousins still live.  On the outside of the memorial there are stones inscribed with words that tell about the history of the famine and about world hunger today.  However, I found them hard to follow.  The view from the top is great. 

Another stop on the Downtown Shuttle is the National Museum of the American Indian, which is part of the Smithsonian so it; too, is free.  It is located in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House. The museum is extensive with hundreds of permanent objects on display, multi-media exhibits, live presentations, and much more.  Current holdings include all major
culture areas of the Western Hemisphere, representing virtually all tribes in the United States, most of those of Canada, and a significant number of cultures from Middle and South America and the Caribbean. 

 On my way to South Street Seaport to buy theater tickets I passed the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  It is a memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust. I didn’t know about it; had I, I would have made plans to visit. Next time! There is a fee. 

South Street Seaport is good place for lunch and where I like to buy half-price Broadway theater tickets because there is usually no line and I can get them a day ahead time which has not been the case with TKS in Times Square. Saw one of my favorites plays - “Chicago.”

Aug 27, 2019

Enjoying Herkimer, New York

Ok, the Herkimer Home, home of Gen. Nickolas Herkimer, is not in Herkimer but in Little Falls; however, it is where I started my day trip.  It has been on my list for years.  General Herkimer played a critical part in the American Revolution and was, in part, instrumental is thwarting the three-point British plan to win the war. When the British were marching on Fort
Stanwix in Rome; he, and the Tryon County militia, marched to reinforce the colonists in Fort Stanwix.  His force was ambushed in what is now called the Battle of Oriskany.  His side was losing.  His horse was shot, his leg injured, and, in spite of his injuries, he sat propped up against a tree, smoked his pipe, and directed his men.  He ordered them to fight in pairs so one could fire while the other
reloaded.  It worked so well that the attacking force retreated to Oswego.  The losses were so great that some families loss all their male members. Herkimer was taken to his house where his leg was amputated and he died shortly thereafter.  The British defeat at Oriskany meant the reinforcements never met up with the army of British Gen. Burgoyne. With only a third of the troops he counted on, Burgoyne ultimately surrendered at Saratoga considered a turning point in favor of the colonists who ultimately won the Revolutionary War. Today his home is a State Historical Site with a visitor center which is free and a tour of the house is available for a small fee.

Herkimer is only seven miles from Little Falls and there was another thing I have always wanted to do: diamond hunting at the Herkimer Diamond Mines. Of course, they are not really diamonds but naturally faceted quartz crystals that are diamond-like. Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, was spotted wearing a bracelet, earrings and rings made of Herkimer diamonds. I bet she didn’t mine them herself!  The price of admission includes a hammer and a plastic bag for all the diamonds
you can find.  There is also an informational video. Basically, the place has been professional mined out but there were a lot of people mining.  Some came prepared with big sledge hammers, some had tents set up as a work stations.  It was hot and hard work.  Needless to say
I didn’t find anything, nor did any of the people I asked.  The kids were happy with the “pretty” stones they found. There is also a sluice people can use to sort through the dirt for diamonds.  There were a lot of people there so I saw if more as a “gold mine” for the owners.  I can check that off my “gotta’ do” list.

The best part of the day was one of my favorite things: a ride on the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal is what made NYS the
Empire State.  The Canal was a global network for immigrants, the spread of religion, part of the Underground Railroad, and part of America’s Manifest Destiny. The cruise went through one of the oldest still operational locks on the canal system where the water level
changes 20 feet. It went past Plantation Island, a Nature Center, and one of the oldest surviving churches in NYS. In one place it is possible to see remnants of all three versions of the Canal. The original Erie Canal was such a success that it was immediately enlarged.  A great way to end a day trip to Herkimer. 

Aug 26, 2019

Visiting Church of Latter-day Saints sites in New York State

The founding of the Church of Latter-day Saints took place during what is called the Second Great Awakening. The early 19th century in Western and Central New York  is referred to as the “Burned-over District” where religious revivals and the formation of new religious movements of the Second Great Awakening took place, to such a great extent that spiritual fervor seemed to set the area on fire.

Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the Church of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the Mormon Church, lived during the time of intense religious revivalism. The family farm and his home are outside Palmyra and open for tours.  Smith experienced a series of visions including one of angel, Moroni, who directed him to a buried book of golden plates which told of a Judeo-Christian history of an ancient American civilization. There are free guided tours every day of the Smith Farm and Frame
Home.  It is wheelchair accessible. Today visitors can walk to the Sacred Grove where the visions occurred. Smith had English translation published called “The Book of Mormon,” which first published at the Grandin Building in Palmyra. There are guided tours of the print shop with hands-on activities and at the end visitors are free to explore interactive exhibits, artwork, and artifacts that tell the story of the Book of Mormon.

Down the road is the LDS Visitor Center with interactive exhibits and artwork that tell the story of Joseph Smith and the Church of the Latter-day Saints.  There is a road and walking path that lead to the top of Hill Cumorah where Joseph Smith was tutored by Angel Moroni.  It is where the Hill Cumorah Pageant has been held for years; however next year, 2020, will be
the last pageant.  Regardless of one’s religion it an amazing presentation.  Everyone should go at least one; I have been three times.  It is a chance for non-Mormons to learn more about the beliefs of a religion that has spread to all corners of the earth. The church was formally organized in the Peter Whitmer Home in Fayette, NY, in 1930.  It is on my list of places to visit.  It is open every day but Sunday. 

While the Church of the Latter-day Saints is the largest of the religions that can trace their heritage to New York State there are others.  There were the Millerites who thought the “Second Coming” would be Oct. 22, 1844, and the Shakers who has the communal West Shaker Farm near Albany. 

Most people have heard of Oneida Community but did not

associate it with a religion. It was a large Utopian group established in 1848 and became very successful until it was disbanded in 1881. It was known for group marriages where mates were paired by committee and the children of the community were raised in common. Today their Mansion House is a National Historic Landmark where they offer tours and have overnight housing. Occasionally they offer a two-part tour that includes the Mansion Home and former Oneida Limited factory, now the home of Sherrill Manufacturing and Liberty Tabletop. 

Social Gospel was founded by Washington Gladden while he was living and working on a farm near Oswego. Social Gospel was a Protestant movement that applied Christian ethic to social problems, especially issues of social justice such as economic inequality, poverty, racial tension, child labor and the like. Elements of it can be found today in several religions. 

Aug 20, 2019

Visiting Palmyra, New York

I love small towns and am always amazed at the things I find in them.  It is where the “gems” are. Recently I visited Palmyra, a small town that supplied those who traveled the Erie Canal during its heyday.  The William Phelps General Store was built in 1826 to supply boats traveling the canal. Proprietor William Phelps completed renovations to the store by
1875, which was subsequently left untouched by his son, Julius, who locked the doors in 1940. The store never had electricity or running water. While the store was left untouched the upper floors remain their family residence. After Julius Phelps passed away his daughter, Sybil Phelps, stayed on until her death in 1976 at the age of 81.  After an early attempt to become an actress in New York, Sybil returned to Palmyra. She resided in the family residence with post-Civil War furnishings and Victorian
splendor above the store where she continued to live without electricity or running water with her 15 cats. The Historical Society purchased the place in 1980.

Today, the William Phelps General Store is a curious retail time capsule for visitors to explore. Phelps never moved, changed, repaired, or painted anything. When he decided to close, he just locked the door and just left everything which is what one sees today. I recognized the names of many of the products on
the shelves: Tide, Velveeta, Arm & Hammer, Heinz Pickles and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. The packaging was much more simplistic.  Check out the eggs. They were fresh back in 1940 when Julius Phelps left them on the counter in their carton where they sit today. Besides the old cans and boxes I found the gas coffee grinder and washing machine interesting. The sale of some of their land kept them in good financial straits. 

The Phelps General Store and Residence is one of five museums in the Historic Palmyra Museum Complex. The Alling Coverlet Museum features the largest collection of hand-woven coverlets in the country. All styles of hand-woven coverlets from 1820 to 1880 are represented. The collection also includes a Quilt Room, looms, spinning wheels, and other assorted weaver’s tools. The Historic Print Shop is where John M. Jones’ company produced presses that he exported around the world via the Erie Canal. Visit the Erie Canal Depot where
passengers purchased their tickets and the Palmyra Historical Society which was built in 1826 as a tavern and boarding hours. Upstairs in the Historical Society the rooms have individual themes: Military Room, Women’s Room, Toy Room, and Tool Room.  Entrance is via the Historical Society where tickets are sold and tours begin. For $10 visitors get a tour of all the sites. 
Across the street in the parking area is one of their historic murals. There are many throughout the area depicting the history of the area.  

Not too far away are several locks on the Erie Canal.  The Canal created Palmyra and many towns along the way. Many of the towns are now quiet places to live but at onetime the now serene Erie Canal was a place of ruffians and hoodlums.  In fact, at one time the Phelps store faced the canal but the intersection became known as “Bloody Corner” due to all the fights the canalers managed to get into so Phelps changed the front of the store to face Market Street so villagers would not be afraid to do their shopping there.  

Aug 12, 2019

Jamaican Goat Curry

In March I needed to get away from the cold and snow of so I flew
to Jamaica using my frequent flyer miles and stayed at Samsara Cliff Hotel in Negril. The hotel is a couple hours from Montego Bay airport but the hotel provided transportation for $87. The hotel is located on the cliffs with steps down to the water.  Guests enjoyed jumping in the water from the top of the cliffs and said the snorkeling of the
bottom steps to the water was great. Their sister hotel, Legends, is located on a beach not far away with free transportation between the two.  I was glad I opted for Samsara Cliff Hotel because it was much quieter, bigger, and I was able to have relaxing massages at their oceanfront, alfresco spa solana. The hotel is wide with several options for
accommodations.  I chose one facing the water with a great sunset view.  There were plenty of places to lounge about: around the pool, near the spa, along the cliffs and it was never too crowded. 

On the drive from the Montego Bay Airport I noticed many free range goats. Wondering how goats got to Jamaica I searched the
internet.  It seems that they were introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 16th century and through interbreeding and natural selection created goats that have adapted to the Jamaican climate. The hotel had a restaurant and bar with a water view but they didn’t serve any goat recipes; however, the hotel had
a second restaurant across the road from the reception area called
“Ciao Jamaica.” They served Goat Curry which made me wonder how curry, which I associate with India and the East, made its way to Jamaica. The English took over Jamaican from the Spanish and curry arrived along with people from the East India Trading Company many of whom had spent time in India. It has become a traditional Jamaican dish. Ciao Jamaica’s Chef Dwayne agreed to let me watch him prepare my Jamaican Goat Curry ($20). 

Jamaican Goat Curry

3 tbsp Jamaican-style curry powder
½ onion diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
½ Scotch bonnet pepper, diced 
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lbs goat meat, cubed
½ cup sliced carrots
1/2 onion sliced
½ green pepper Julianne
1/4 tsp dried thyme of spring of fresh thyme
2 cups water
1 cup potatoes, peeled and diced

Mix two teaspoons curry powder, diced onion, garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet pepper, black pepper, and salt. Rub mixture into the meat. Refrigerate for two hours.

Heat vegetable oil in a heavy bottom skillet over medium heat.  Add the remaining one tablespoon curry powder, sliced onion, green pepper, and thyme.  Sear for one minute. Add the marinated meat and carrots. Sear.  Add water.  Cover and allow to simmer for about 1 hour 20 minutes or until the meat is tender. Add the potatoes cook for five minutes or until tender.  

The chef’s helper fancied up the plate for serving. It was delicious. I had only had goat a few time previously.  Goat meat is healthy with less saturated fat than chicken and beef and certainly better than feedlot animals.  Goats are free range and will eat just about anything. Goat meat is lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol while being high in protein and iron. I guess any meat could be substituted for goat in this recipe but Scriba Meat Market sells goat.

Aug 5, 2019

Riding the mail boat on Skaneateles Lake

There are seven mail boat contracts in New York but not all carry
passengers and deliver to personal mail boxes. When I was a teenager summering in Raquette Lake I worked in the soda fountain of the General Store and each morning the mailman who delivered mail by boat to the camps on the lake would stop by for ice cream.  One day he invited me to go with him on the mail run. A couple of years ago I took the mail boat cruise of Fourth Lake. And, recently, I enjoyed a three-hour cruise on the Barbara S. Wiles while it was delivering mail on Skaneateles Lake. All great experiences.

Skaneateles Lake is about 15 miles long but Captain John and his assistant, Emily, did not start to deliver mail until about mile five because that is basically where the road on the east side of the lake bypasses the camps so the only access to the camps, at least most of them, is by boat. Along the way the captain pointed out the homes owned by some famous people: John Walsh of “American Most Wanted” fame; Scott Gregory, the Olympic skater; the owner of Revlon Cosmetics, and others.

They deliver mail to 25 customers but also make sure they have
treats for the dogs that come running when they hear the mail boat.  The children who come down on the dock to meet the boat also get a treat, too. There are mailboxes but many of the customers meet the boat… big excitement of the day.  If a camp has outgoing mail but no incoming they wait
on the dock and wave. Lourdes Camp is on the mail route and they offer special entertainment.  The staff and some of the campers gather on the dock doing high kicks like the Rockettes.  The camp usually receives a bunch of care packages from the family of the campers. 

In some places the terrain becomes high so access to the shore is
facilitated by steps, long ones, or, in some cases by trolley or an elevator-like system. The well-known football player, author, and lawyer, Tim Green’s home has one.  One estate has a car tunnel from the shore to the road.  Another large estate is owned by a
stamp collector who used the proceeds from the sale of one stamp to build his mansion. The largest home is owned by a person who owns a cell tower company. Most of the houses and cottages on the lake are beyond the price of most people so is membership is the Skaneateles Country Club which starts at $20,000. 

Captain John pointed out Staghorn Cliffs, a paleontological site that
was once a coral reef from 400-million years ago and where stag horn fossils are embedded in the rock.  He had a sample to pass around. 

Mail boat is not the only unique way the post office delivers mail.  The Havasupai Indians live at the bottom of the Grand
Canyon and receive their mail by mule train. Much of Alaska and also some place in the lower 48 have their mail delivered by bush pilots.  A mail boat on Detroit River delivers mail to passing ships via the “JW Westcott” which has its own zip code. The Skaneateles mail boat runs daily at 10 am in the summer. The fare is $30 for adults, $25 for children, you may bring your own lunch or snack, but they have beverages for sale on board. It is a great three hours on the water.