Our travel adventures this summer took a different turn. Instead of my long-anticipated return to Italy, our summer was made up of several mini-trips. This year was to be the summer of celebrations.
The children of our nephews and nieces, our great-nephews and nieces, decided that 2023 was a good year for marriage. We have a rather large family but over the years we have always remained close so as the invitations were received there was no doubt that we were about to take flight.
In early June we travelled to Stuart Florida for the wedding of great-niece Marcella and Adam. A very beautiful 3-day affair filled with lots of family time. We returned home just in time to get ready for our annual family beach vacation. 20 of us enjoying sun, surf and together time on Isle of Palms, SC. Mid July took us to Hauppauge, Long Island for the wedding of Sandy and nephew Vinnie. We spent a few days in the City before taking the Long Island RR out to the Island. Even as natives, the City never gets old. It’s rather ragged and sad looking right now but we visited favorite places and ate at our favorite restaurant on 2nd and 84th!
This wedding for several reasons was a little emotional, heartwarming, and beautiful. And, once again more family time which is great as we live in all parts of this country.
In August we were back out on the Island for a not-to-be missed 70th surprise birthday. And this time we took advantage of adding a few days to the trip and motoring out to Montauk at the very end of the Island.
Summer in Montauk is said to be peaceful, playful and visually stunning and it was all of that and more. There is no shortage of places to eat and we opted to eat at the local clam bars of which there are many and all meals were delicious. Nothing can beat eating freshly shucked clams while inhaling the aroma of the rolling surf.
Totally not in our planning was the arrival of Hurricane Lee. While it did not get close enough to Montauk to disturb our plans, it did bring us a very unexpected treat. The surf was too fierce for swimmers or surfboarders but the show it put on with the rolling tide and the thunderous waves was magnificent. Just as one anticipates the next explosion at a fireworks display, it was mesmerizing to stand and wait for the next wave. I could stand and watch for hours and be entertained by the beauty of nature showing off its magnitude and elegance. The skies were always blue and the clouds ample and billowy. The weather denied us the appearance of the whales which are usually plentiful in September, but the spectacular wave exhibition made up for all that.
And now we are home, but not for too long. In early October we will be heading down to Miami for the wedding celebration of great niece Elizabeth and Eduardo. Again, more time to spend with family. That will bring us back home for a while and just in time for me to get in gear for my favorite time of year…the holidays.
While still thinking of clams, I’ll share with you one of my favorite clam recipes and maybe a wave or two.
NEW ENGLAND CLAM PIE
FOR THE PIECRUST:
2 CUPS FLOUR
½ TSP SALT
¼ TSP BAKING POWDER
8 TBS BUTTER – chilled, cubed small*
2 TBS SOLID CRISCO – chilled, cubed
8 TBS ICE WATER
Mix together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Quickly work the butter*(you can alternately freeze a stick of butter and grate it rather than cube it) and shortening into the flour mixture with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with 8 tablespoons of ice water and stir with a fork until it just combines. Form into a ball, then flatten into a disc and divide in half. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
FOR THE FILLLING:
3 RUSSET POTATOES – medium, peeled, quartered
2 CUPS CLAM JUICE
5 BACON STRIPS – cut into ½” pieces
1 MEDIUM YELLOW ONION – peeled, chopped
¼ CUP FRESH PARSLEY – chopped
1 TB FRESH THYME LEAVES
3 CUPS SHUCKED STEAMER or CHERRYSTONE CLAMS – chopped
2 TB BUTTER – chilled, cut into small pieces
2 TBS FLOUR
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER – to taste
Boil the potatoes in clam juice in a covered pot over medium heat until soft but not falling apart. Drain, lightly mash with a fork and set aside.
Meanwhile, sauté the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel to drain. Add onions to the bacon fat in the pan and sauté until golden – about 15 minutes. Mix together the bacon, onions, parsley thyme, clams, flour and potatoes in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER:
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400º
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into two 12-inch circles. Fit one circle into a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Add clam filling, mounding it in the center. Top with butter. Lay remaining dough over filling. Trim dough, leaving about 1-inch around the edge to fold under and crimp the two layers together. Make a little hole in the center of the pie for steam to escape. Bake until golden – 50 to 55 minutes. Let rest and cool a bit before serving.
NOTE: For this dish you can eliminate the shucking of the clams and just steam the clams in a covered pan of water until they open.