Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Lobster in Winter

It's January. Here in New England we are locked into extremely cold temperatures and in what seems to be a cycle of weekly snowstorms. No better time to have lobster. I took these photos last summer at Sanders Lobster Company in Portsmouth , NH. It is therapeutic to look back and remember summer. It will return.
But, in the meantime, why not have lobster. Let's head over to Sanders, the best fresh, live lobster in Portsmouth.

At Sanders we order 2 , two pound lobsters.
Sanders ships tons of lobsters each year around the world. It is still possible to go in and order fresh caught lobsters.
They will sometimes ask if you want soft shells, hard shells, culls, etc.
If you do not know, do not hesitate to ask questions. You will find them very helpful.
They know lobster.
I noticed that at the corner of Pray & Marcy Streets, on the Sanders sign which is a lobster with an arrow, that an additional sign was tacked on announcing "Native Shrimp"
During these winter months there is often fresh native shrimp available. Very local, very fresh and always delicious.

A photo from July 2010 of a view across the water towards the historic south end of Portsmouth, NH across the water.
Currently there are piles of snow everywhere in Portsmouth, and all over the rest of New England, but then it is January!

Here is a working lobster boat at a pier with a view of Portsmouth in the distance.
At best the work of the lobstermen (women) is tough. In these January days it is hard to even imagine the conditions that these lobstermen work in.
A big" Bravo" shout out to them!

It is all about eating local!
Classic steamed lobster, with drawn clarified butter and a squeeze of lemon and maybe a biscuit.
How delicious.
How New England!

Here is a recipe that we learned when we lived up near Blue Hill, Maine.
We found the recipe for "lobster fried over cold" in a book SaltWater Seasoning, by Jonathan Chase. He got the recipe from a lobsterman.
We have adapted it over the years, but the soul of it goes back to Maine.

(sauteed lobster)

Fresh chopped herbs such as tarragon or chives

Have the lobster pound cook your lobsters, or take them home live and steam them.
(slightly undercook,if possible)
Take the lobsters home in a cooler.

This recipe is great for those who can't or are not keen on cooking lobsters.
The recipe is also good for left-over lobster as well.

Remove cooked and cooled lobster meat from shells.
Heat sweet butter and clarify. (pour off top fat layer).
For two, 1 1/2 lb. lobsters you can start with about 4-6 tablespoons of butter.
Once butter is hot add lobster meat, larger pieces first.
You are only heating the lobster through , not re-cooking it!
Add a good squeeze or two of fresh lemon to brighten the flavor.
If you like, add fresh chopped herbs. We like a little chopped tarragon. Other herbs that work well are, thyme, chervil or chives. Use just a small amount of any fresh herb, the lobster is the star.

We serve with a small amount of drawn butter, but this is optional.

Try to divide into equal portions into bowls or plates so that each serving is equal to a whole lobster. No one wants to be cheated out of a claw!
We often serve this with a cream biscuits ( recipe will be in a future blog).
Asparagus, artichoke or corn when in season go well with this dish. In winter we will have a coleslaw and small roasted potatoes with fresh herbs.

Lobster bibs are not necessary!!!!!!!!

Summer will return, but in the meantime lobster,
is just as good in winter as in the long days of summer.
Don't forget the native shrimp, it is only available fresh in the winter.


Sanders Lobster Company
54 Pray Street (at end on wharf)
Portsmouth, NH
(603) 436-3716


Sanders Fish Market
(lobsters. fresh seafood & fish)
367 Marcy Street
Portsmouth, NH
(603) 436-4563
open daily

Next to Sanders Fish Market is one of our favorite wine shops:
Very helpful with a nice selection. They will help you pair seafood/lobster with wine.
South Street and Vine
359 Marcy Street
(603) 430-2984


Monday, January 17, 2011

Our Winter Garden: As New England gardeners we plan for "winter interest in the garden", but at times Mother Nature adds a deep blanket of white snow

The snow was falling at a rapid rate on Wednesday.

The Adirondack chairs, backed by the witch hazel, Hamamelis, 'Arnold Promise', measure the deepening snow. The chairs are barely visible by the time the snow stops later in the day.

This is the"Italian Garden". During the nor'easter the boxwood become fully covered, their forms hard to find at the end of the storm. Well, at least I understand there was snow in Tuscany and Umbria this winter, so perhaps the gardens there looked similar in recent weeks!

The snow stops. The sun returns. Time to dig out!
A path is shoveled to the garden and we carefully free the boxwood from the snow.
The sun sparkles on the fresh snow.

The summer view (sensa snow) of the Italian Garden. This garden was inspired by a garden in Rome. There is an April 2010 blog posting on the garden at the Villa Aurelia, where our inspiration was created.

A few days after the storm we see the long shadows of winter.
In our back mixed border garden we have a 60" long stone wall , and a retaining wall nearer the house of equal length. At the summer solstice , at noon, the shadow of our house falls at the retaining wall. At the winter solstice, at noon, the shadows reach all the way to the other wall.

Sweetbay Magnolia , magnolia virginiana

A January sunset over our New Hampshire garden;
the Italian garden and petite allee.

A Maxfield Parrish sky over our garden!
The painter Maxfield Parrish , lived, painted and gardened in Plainfield, NH. He was part of what is known as the Cornish Colony, which included a talented group of painters, sculptors, authors and the like. A visit to NH should include a trip to Plainfield and to the St. Gaudens
Historic site, here one can visit the sculpture studio and garden of August St.Gaudens

Well, it is time to head into our kitchen to prepare something warm and delicious for dinner.
Chicken under a brick
Risotto with wild mushrooms and fresh thyme (or rosemary?)
Arugula salad with clementine slices
maybe a few roasted carrots?

A glass of wine, Italian of course!

Note: If in NYC, there is the mural of Old King Cole by Maxfield Parrish. It is in the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel.
If you can, find a seat at the bar where you can not only enjoy the mural and also the best martini in NYC!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Garden Chores Continue in Winter: Providing Cover for the Lavender before the snow.

A view down the 'peony/lavender walk' in early July.

Our front walk is lined with peonies that flower from Memorial Day through June.
Just as the peonies end their show the lavender begins to flower, first a blue mist, then full flower of a vivid blue-violet borders the walkway.

Every January the Christmas tree is deconstructed to provide a blanket type mulch for the lavender. This year with a pending snow storm, James was sure to cover the lavender prior to the expected foot of snow.

So, even in winter there is work to do in the garden. After the snow has fallen, the boxwood will have to be freed from the deep snow, and a fresh path made to the bird feeder.

In our northern garden we grow lavendula angustifolia, 'munstead' and 'hidcote'. So far we have had good success with these two varieties. Every spring I prune them back about one third.
These plants have been in the garden now for about seven years, some are getting rather woody. Last summer the blooms were beautiful and even today their fragrance lingers in our house from the bouquets I gathered.

On a snowy day like this it is good to think about peonies and lavender. A few days ago, we brought in fresh thyme from the garden for our Sunday roast chicken.
The rosemary from the garden is now in our sun room. Tonight's dinner will include roasted potatoes with rosemary.
The herbs really do extend the gardening season right into winter.