Featured Story
08/29/14 4:30pm
CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO | Fried blowfish with gremolata — parsley, garlic and lemon.

Fried blowfish with gremolata — parsley, garlic and lemon.

Eating fish can be complicated and no fish is more daunting than the blowfish.

Aren’t parts of it poisonous? Why does it look nothing like a fish? Is it even edible?

To those who hesitate to eat a creature that looks like a spiny piñata, I say, you eat pineapple, right? (more…)

10/07/13 10:33am

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | Maintenance Crew Chief Mike Dunning pounds a stake to mark the border of the Edible Garden at the Shelter Island School. The groundbreaking will be on Friday, October 11 at 1:45 p.m. Everyone is invited.

When soil, seeds, sun and water come together, you get food. But it was a bottle of carrot-ginger salad dressing that brought the spark of life to the Shelter Island Edible School Garden.

One day this past summer at the Shelter Island Farmers’ Market, Vicki Weslek asked farmer Ira Haspel how he came to be selling the bright orange bottles of salad dressing produced by the Southold School. Turns out his wife, KK Haspel is a slow food master farmer and had been advising the Southold School on their Edible School Garden. Soon Vicki realized she had opened the door to a dream she had for her children’s school: a teaching garden for Shelter Island.

Ms. Weslek got together with Slow Food East End, part of an international organization that promotes the growing and eating of local foods, home cooking and education. The East End chapter supports farmers markets, nutrition education, improvements in school food and the Edible School Gardens initiative. Vicki said getting the Edible School Garden project going on Shelter Island involved “food and community, paying attention and asking questions.” And when she found her way to the Slow Food resources, she discovered fertile ground.

Supported by stipends from Slow Food East End and the Josh Levine Memorial Foundation, KK Haspel is now advising the Shelter Island school garden, and has already provided advice on the site and equipment that will be needed. Funding for the garden is largely in the form of donations of time and equipment from the community, grants and cash donations.

Soon the Edible School Garden Committee formed: parents Vicki Weslek and Sarah Shepherd as the garden coordinators, farmers Ira and KK Haspel, Susan Paykin from Sylvester Manor, School Superintendent Dr. Michael Hynes, Maintenance Crew Chief Mike Dunning, Business Manager Kathleen Minder and high school science Teacher Dan Williams.

Dan Williams had already been working to establish a school garden to enrich his high school science classes by creating “a living lab.”

“I’m a gardener myself, and gardening is near and dear to my heart,” Mr. Williams said.

He realized the potential power of a garden as classroom when, during a biology class discussion of corn genetics, “several students did not understand that the corn we were discussing and the corn that comes in a can are the same plant.”

“We’re trying to teach our kids to be environmental stewards,” he said, “so they need to understand that what we put in the soil and how we treat the microorganisms in the garden affects the nutritional content of our food.”

Students in Mr. Williams’ biology classes will be able to test the vegetables they grow for protein, nutrient content and microorganisms.
A groundbreaking ceremony at the garden site will take place at 1:45 p.m. on Friday, October 11. Mr. Dunning has staked and marked off the 30- by 72-foot garden area next to the elementary wing of the school. Dr. Hynes will officiate, the entire school will attend and the public is welcome.

Then, on the weekend of October 19 and 20, the really heavy work begins. Donations of time, tools, and compost from the community, have started to come in, including rototilling and stump grinding to prepare the site. Still needed for the first work weekend: a sod-cutter.
Community workdays are planned for Saturday, October 26 and Sunday, October 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. People of all ages are needed to help with digging, edging and soil preparation.

Food and community. Add a little sun and water, and this time next year our children will be lecturing us on the nutrient content of our lettuce as we enjoy some of their homegrown salad dressing.

Shelter Island Edible School Garden Events:

October 11: Groundbreaking ceremony at 1:45 p.m. next to the elementary wing, just off the north end of the playground. The public is invited.

October 19 and 20: Heavy workdays, donations of time and a sod-cutter are still needed.

October 26 and 27: Community workdays, 9 a.m. to 1p.m. Workers of all ages invited.

For tool and equipment donations, contact Vicki Weslek at [email protected].

07/15/13 4:45pm

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO | Tomatoes from Wickham’s, basil from Sylvester Manor and mozzarella from Goodale Farms are the basis of this simple salad.

Every year around this time, I think a lot about when the tomatoes are coming.

The weeks prior to their arrival at the Farmers’ Market are anxious ones for me. Just as my hound obsessively checks every inch of the floor under our dining room table, so do I sniff around the offerings at the stores and markets. Are they from a greenhouse? Worse yet, did they arrive by truck, from far away?

This year has been crueler than usual, with a cold wet spring delaying the field tomatoes. Wickham’s (Main Road in Cutchogue), and K.K.’s (Main Road in Southold and  on Saturdays at the Shelter Island Farmers Market) now have heirloom and cherry tomatoes thanks to their greenhouses and raised beds that allow the tomatoes to develop in spite of the anti-tomato-weather.

I was relieved when the first yellow vine-ripened tomatoes from Wickham’s appeared. They are still not quite the deep red juicy beauties of late summer, but good enough to begin preparing my go-to summer salad. We eat this salad at least twice a week during the high season of tomatoes because it is dead easy, a crowd-pleaser, and it’s probably good for you. That last part depends on how heavy a hand you have with the mozzarella.

The basil and mozzarella are also important to this salad, and the Sylvester Manor Farm (Saturdays at the Shelter Island Farmers’ Market, and daily at 21 Manwaring Road) has some very beautiful and unusual basil. They raise two purple varieties, that Ben Hill, the Sylvester Manor markets coordinator says are called “Purple Opal”, and “Purple Amethyst.” They also have a lemony basil called “Mrs Burns,” named for the woman who grew this heirloom variety for decades in New Mexico. The mozzarella that Goodale Farms (Main Road in Riverhead and Saturdays at the Shelter Island Farmers Market) has been making is fantastic, and perfect for this dish because it is firm enough to slice thin.
This is what’s called a composed salad. It’s called composed because you don’t toss it; just let the ingredients get to know each other for a few minutes before serving. Also, because once I make it, I regain my composure, relieved of any anxiety about the arrival of tomato season.

Do not attempt this with a supermarket tomato.

Farmers’ Market “Composed” Tomato Salad

Serves 4

Arrange the following ingredients, in this order, on a platter that has enough depth to contain the dressing:

4 tomatoes, remove stem and slice crosswise (not end to end). If you don’t have a really sharp knife, use a serrated-edge or bread knife.

8 ounces mozzarella, sliced into thin circles, one placed on each tomato slice.

10 basil leaves torn or sliced into strips and scattered over the mozzarella.

1/2 red onion, diced and scattered over the basil strips.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil evenly over the salad.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar over all.

Sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

08/11/12 9:04am

The Sylvester Manor WorkSongers  will move their Saturday jam sessions to the Shelter Island Farmers Market on the Havens House grounds from the farmstand on Manwaring Road starting today and continuing through the month.

Shower and stage singers of all ages are invited to sing and play rounds, worksongs, choral arrangements and folk songs from all around the world at 10:30 a.m.

Bring a song, an instrument and a friend or just enjoy a hootenany while shopping for produce, fish, honey, cheeses and other locally-sourced food items. Call 749-0626 for more information.

06/02/12 9:00am

PETER BOODY PHOTO | Bri and Dan Fokine, organizers of the Shelter Island Farmers Market, which will return for its second season in June with more vendors.

The Shelter Island Farmers Market will open for its second season on Saturday, June 16, returning to the grounds of the Shelter Island Historical Society, market co-founders Bri and Dan Fokine announced last week.

In a change dictated “by feedback from the community,” Ms. Fokine said that the market will open an hour earlier this year, running from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday, rain or shine, through September 22.

In addition to the new opening time, changes to this year’s market will include several new vendors, including organic, free-range chickens from Browder’s Birds, wines from Nappa Vineyards, Blue Duck Bakery’s artisanal breads, local cheeses from Little Peconic Purveyors, plus cupcakes and confections from All Good Things.

“After such a wonderful first year with such great support from the Island, we are very much looking forward to an even better second year,” said Mr. Fokine, who functions as the project’s volunteer manager. “The market was more than just a place to buy food; it became a community meeting place, a place where everyone slowed down a bit, took some time to relish in the simple pleasures that a Shelter Island summer has to offer.”

Bringing the market back this year was a “no brainer,” according to Ms. Fokine, and there was never a time when she and her husband did not think of re-opening it. “The vendors were 100 percent behind it. They were so positive about the space and their relationship with their customers,” she said. Her husband added, “Of all of the feedback we got last year, the best was when someone told me that going every Saturday had become a tradition, something her whole family did together.”

Ms. Fokine said that the Shelter Island Historical Society was extremely pleased with the interest that the market generated for the Society and its Havens House Museum. “We heard from so many people that they hadn’t known that this place was here,” she said.
Most of last year’s purveyors will return, with the exceptions of Greeny’s, which went out of business, and Brigham’s Honey, which will sell through a different vendor (Grady Riley) rather than taking a booth themselves. “It was disappointing,” Ms. Fokine observed, “but more people wanted to join than dropped out, so we’re pleased.”

Returning vendors include Sawyer Clark with fresh fish, KK’s heirloom tomatoes, Zombie Free flowers, Pete’s Endless Summer condiments, Apotheca ointment and unguents, Grady Riley Gardens, Horman’s Best Pickles, Le Poeme’s Parisian and Corsican breads, as well as vegetables from Sylvester Manor and Goodale Farms. “We’re not actually looking for additional vendors,” Ms. Fokine said, “but if someone feels that they want to be involved, it’s not too late.”

In an arrangement that Ms. Fokine characterizes as “very unusual,” local wineries Pindar and Nappa are able to sell their wares at the market due to a special arrangement between the New York State Department of Agriculture and the State Department of Health. “The State of New York felt that it was a way to help grow small businesses and support entrepreneurs,” she said. “The two departments worked together to create a process that avoided making wineries jump through hoops” in order to sell in a location outside their wineries and tasting rooms.

In addition to their standard insurance and licensing requirements, the venue at which they sell must be “approved by the State of New York as a bona fide farmers market,” Ms. Fokine explained. “There has been a groundswell of support across the state for farmers markets and the opportunities they provide to showcase small businesses. We have a once-in-a-lifetime shot at this opportunity so it’s important to support it.”

The Fokines are relying on family and friends to help set up the market and manage traffic and welcome all volunteers. “It’s actually pretty amazing,” Ms. Fokine admitted. “Every Saturday morning you wake up and say, ‘How are we going to do this?’ It’s like throwing an event every week. But somehow it always works out.”