April doesn't have to be the cruelest month!
Here are 5 ways to beat the early spring blues...
1. Be Hopeful
Nothing says hope like bright purple crocus and yellow daffodils peaking through a coating of spring snow. There is no doubt the sun will shine. The snow will melt. Summer is coming!
2. Make Plans for Summer
If you haven't already, call your realtor. It's time to secure your beach house for your Fire Island vacation. The best houses go first. Then, call Fairy House Mother. Your time is valuable, let us handle all those stressful details of your vacation.
If you own your beach home, call Fairy House Mother to handle all your FI needs. We'll open your house, deliver your weekly farm boxes, and get you all set up for the season, before you arrive. It's the little things that help you enjoy life. Dreams really do come true!
2. Take Short Trips
Now that Fairy House Mother has freed up your spring, take some short trips and try to enjoy life a little more.
Road-trip through New England or head east on Long Island... make it a food and wine adventure. Do a little research and go somewhere that gets you excited.
Here's an idea! Give yourself a clam-education. We have some of the best clams in the world. Take advantage!
Make time to visit a winery, brewery or both. Play with pairings. What works, what doesn't and why? Don't be afraid to take some notes. It will help get you inspired and remember what you enjoyed when you get home. Don't worry if others think you're a nerd. Own it! You'll be glad you did.
After your roadtrip, look through your notes and start collecting recipes. What chowder did you like best? Creamy New England style in Boston? Manhattan style chowder in Montauk? Or maybe you were pleasantly surprised by a vegan chowder upstate NY? My personal favorite is right in our own backyard and its right outside the ferry terminal gates. Don't miss The Chowder Bar in Bayshore. Lucky us to have such an authentic treasure in our backyard!
Pick a chowder that sparks your taste buds and ignite your own culinary wizardry. Keep a nice pot of hot chowder in mind for the first chilly spring night you spend at the beach. Chowder is the perfect seaside soup to warm you up.
3. Get Inspired to Cook
Nothing says spring on Fire Island quite like enjoying a hot cup of chowder on the first ferry ride of the season.
Visit my favorite hidden gem for chowder on LI, aptly named The Chowder Bar. It's right outside the ferry terminal gates on Maple Ave. Spring on Fire Island can be chilly and damp, especially on rainy days or after the sun goes down. Warm up from the inside-out with a pot of your own Chowda'. Chowda's good for the soul. It's the chicken soup of the coast.
Here is one of my favorites to warm your soul...
Treat yourself to fresh clams for this recipe — they make all the difference. This dish originated in Rhode Island during the late 19th century, when, as story has it, Portuguese immigrants added tomatoes to their chowder. British New Englanders believed their creamy chowder to be superior and named the Portuguese version after Manhattan, presuming that New Yorkers were the only people crazy enough to add tomatoes. -epicurious.com
Manhattan Clam Chowder
Yields: 3 1/2 quarts
2 strips bacon, fine dice (Go healthy/pescatarian and I leave out the bacon. My secret tip is to add a shit-ton of paprika instead. The paprika will add the smokey quality you want from the bacon, without the fat. Most people won't notice the difference and you'll actually be able to taste the wonderful briny-ness of the clams.)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large yellow onion, fine dice
1 large carrot, peeled and fine dice
2 ribs celery, fine dice
1 leek, white only, wash thoroughly, half moon slice
1 medium green pepper (optional), stemmed seeded and fine dice
1 clove garlic, mince
1 large can diced tomato (14.5oz), with juice
1 can tomato puree (10.75oz)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried
1 lb russet potatoes, 1/2 in dice (organic leave skin on - not organic, peel!)
3 1/2 cups or 2 (14oz) cans clam juice (the best clam juice other than fresh comes in a glass bottle)
2 (10oz) cans baby clams in juice
1 1/2 doz small hard shell clams
(I like to use a combination of canned and fresh clams if I can. Just make sure to scrub your fresh clams well and keep them on ice until its time to cook)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt to taste (be mindful of salt content from canned clams)
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
5 dashes Tabasco (optional), to taste
3 dashes Worcestershire (optional), to taste
Place a medium (6-8qt) heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the bacon. When it starts to brown, lower heat to medium and continue to cook until most of the fat has been rendered and the bacon is almost crisp.
Add the olive oil and veggies. If you're leaving out the bacon, start with the pan on medium heat and add paprika with the olive oil and aromatic veggies to toast the spice. Saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and onions translucent. Add the garlic and saute for a few minutes.
Add the tomato product, bay leaf, thyme and potatoes.
Add the clam juice to the pot. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add fresh clams and simmer, covered, stirring occassionally, until clams open wide, approx 10 min. (Discard any clams that have not opened wide after 10 min.) Remove from heat.
Remove most of clamshells with tongs, detach meat and return to chowder (chop if desired). Save a few clams in the their shells for garnish.
Season to taste. Bring back to simmer for a few minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread or oyster crackers (Westminster are my favorite -- baked in Vermont. 3 ingredients. Simple. Perfect.)
Note: Chowder without clams can be made one day ahead
recipe modified from simplerecipes.com
Pair with Fire Island Sea Salt Ale... or a nice Sauv Blanc from Macari on the North Fork of LI, which pairs perfectly with shellfish and the acidity of the tomatoes.
Don't forget we have some pretty spectacular farmland on Long Island!
Spring is about to pop with the freshest of fresh local greens and spring specialties like fiddlehead ferns, green garlic, icicle radishes and more... get ready and get inspired for what's coming! You'll need to secure a CSA Farm Share right away.
We've extended our sign-up deadline for Fire Island deliveries! So you have a little more time to decide but be sure to sign up with FHM before April 15th.
Here is a sample of what your first farm box could look like in June. What would you make?
4. Care about a Cause - SAVE THE BEES
The common honey bee is not so common anymore. In fact the honey bee is soon to be on the endangered species list, if we don't do something soon! The fate of the honey bees greatly affects the food on our collective table.
Honey bees are the pollinators and protectors of our food source. We are in big trouble if they disappear. If you don't care about the honeybees, I strongly suggest reconsidering. You should care. It's a big deal. Here's why:
"Native pollinators in the US provide essential pollination services to agriculture which are valued at more than US $9 billion annually," Eric Lee-Mäder, program director at the Xerces Society, the non-profit organisation that petitioned the US government to label the bees as endangered, told CNN.
The plight of bees across the world has been making headlines a lot lately, largely because bees are one of the world’s greatest pollinators. Without them, roughly 30 percent of the world's crops and 90 percent of our wild plants would fail.
Many researchers believe that the widespread use of insecticides, ecosystem destruction through both human and natural interactions, and climate change all can be considered attributable forces to the loss of honeybee colonies. Thankfully, bee conservations and the issues surrounding colony collapse are moving to the forefront of our collective consciousness. Read More at wedderspoon.com
So now that we are aware of this problem,
the big question is what can we do to SAVE THE BEES?
With garden season upon us, STEP ONE - avoid purchasing any plans pre-treated with neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids affect the nerve system of bees, just like in humans but much more dramatically because bees are tiny. Lowes and Home Depot have promised to phase out of pre-treating with these toxic insecticides by 2018. Why so long? Because neonicotinoids is a seed treatment, its not sprayed. That's right. It's more GMO shit. Wake up America. This shit is bad news. And not just for bees... it affects the whole eco-system. Bird populations are experiencing huge losses too because of the insect population drop-offs. Any birder can tell you, we've seen a huge drop in hawk migration on Fire Island the last few years.
Solution - Buy from local organic nurseries and farms only. Talk to the farmers and people who grow and care. Sign up for your FI CSA Farm Share Here! The big congloms don't care about you, me or the bees. All they care about is their bottom line.
STEP TWO to help SAVE THE BEES, is to plant native plant species and an herb garden that pollinators can thrive in. These links are a great place to start! Seed bombs are awesome too if you like the wild free-spirit look.
STEP THREE - start your own hive and become your own beekeeper. This hive of the future is perfect for those of us who don't want to get stung or where the crazy costume. Check out this ingenious hive called HoneyFlow. I want one, stat. Kudos to the designer and builder! (The health benefits of bee products is another blog post in and of its own... maybe next time.)
STEP FOUR - choose non-GMO and support those who are doing their part to SAVE THE BEES. Buy local. Support local. Join a local CSA Farm Share program. We even have one on Fire Island now. Find out more.
STEP FIVE - spread awareness of your new cause and celebrate SAVING THE BEES with friends. Try this honey-sweetened Prohibition-era cocktail that makes me think spring. “It’s simple, clean and refreshing—like a winter toddy that’s gotten a spring makeover,” -Lynnette Marrero
2 oz your favorite Gin (or try 1oz of pear infused gin like Jackelope and Jenny, and 1oz of regular Gin)
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz honey simple syrup (1:1) (use raw local honey or beefree honee, made from apples)
Shake with ice and strain into a coup or champagne flute, garnish with lemon twist
To lighten it up for a daytime treat, pour over ice and finish with a splash of sparkling water.
Want to relax with friends instead of mixing cocktails? Need Bartending Services for a party this season? Hire your very own professional bartender to serve you and your guests. We can even design a specialty cocktail just for your event. Packages available in the SHOP. Or contact us directly for more information.
5. Be(e) Mindful
There's another kind of buzz that's growing in popularity. The practice of mindfulness is catching a lot of buzz these days. (puns intentional) This might be the single most valuable shift in consciousness of the 21st century. Yogis have practiced mindful meditation for thousands of years. And it seems the rest of the world is finally catching on to the benefits of being mindful.
The main cause of unhappiness and illness in modern times is stress. Mindfulness is the answer.
Until recently, there was little science to back the practice. But thanks to modern technology, we now have evidence.
MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. Read More at scientificamerican.com.
Our very own Carin Winter has been busy spreading mindfulness in education. Check out her work at Mission Be. She's teaching the youth of America how to practice mindfulness and it's truly helping children thrive!
If you don't believe it, let's give it a shot. Don't worry, nobody's looking. Sit still for two minutes, and focus on your breath.
Recognize what it feels like to inhale through your nose... and exhale gently through your mouth. Is the air cold when you inhale? Do you smell anything in the air? Acknowledge that thought and let it go. Bring your focus back on your breath. Continue slow conscious breathing. Does your exhale taste warm and sweet? Pay attention to the sensation of the breath in your lungs and on your lips as you exhale. What does it feel like? Acknowledge it and let it go...
Congratulations! You just meditated. Do you feel different? Calm... alert... happy? Try to practice a little mindfulness today and let that shit go.
If you're interested in learning more about how to meditate, practice mindfulness or just keep up with your yoga practice this summer, keep your Fairy House Mother in mind. I offer private and group sessions at your house, on the beach or a secluded spot on the bay. A private yoga + meditation class is a great addition to a ladies weekend getaway!
Your Fairy House Mother