...And the piper will lead us to reason   



C L A M M I N G
A Worthwhile Activity

All of the One-Legged Sandpiper clam and clamming entries on one page.


      Clamming is a very important yearly tradition at the beach. Success or failure clamming can have a huge impact on the quality of life for the duration of the beach trip. Success brings contentment at a job well done AND... A cooler full of clams and lots of great eating. The small yearly expense for licenses and a park permit, which we would probably get any way, is tiny. The result is a great feeling of accomplishment and hundreds of clams. They end up on the grill and in chowders and other recipes and bring happiness from the freezer all year long. This page is all of the One-Legged Sandpiper clam and clamming entries all in one place. Notice that the first entry is an excellent rum drink.

ENJOY!!!

Current Clamming Stats
Date Month Year Clams Rank Total Notes
06/29/02 June 2002 92 19 92  
07/06/02 July 2002 156 11 248  
07/22/02 July 2002 167 7 415  
08/10/02 August 2002 210 4 625  
08/23/02 August 2002 177 6 802  
09/14/02 September 2002 188 5 990  
? ? 2003 1 26 991  
? ? 2003 2 25 993  
? ? 2003 130 16 1123  
? ? 2003 166 8 1289  
? ? 2003 252 1 1541  
07/09/04 July 2004 13 24 1554  
07/10/04 July 2004 80 21 1634  
08/16/04 August 2004 103 18 1737  
10/01/04 October 2004 1 26 1738  
Date Month Year Clams Rank Total Notes
07/07/07 July 2007 53 22 1791 Back in the game after two years.
07/26/07 July 2007 104 17 1895  
07/28/07 July 2007 226 3 2121  
09/05/07 September 2007 164 9 2285  
09/26/07 September 2007 226 3 2511  
06/16/08 June 2008 154 12 2665 The earliest in the season ever.
07/07/08 July 2008 244 2 2909 Could have broken the record but had to get away from a thunder storm.
09/05/09 September 2008 133 15 3042 Farthest out yet, 6 or 7 places, 5 1/2 hours, Good luck north of the put-in on the east side.
06/29/09 June 2009 19 23 3061 Kelly by herself at the first area with no kayak. Almost lost the Clam Killer.
07/04/09 July 2009 142 13 3203 Made it back in time for the party at Matt & Shelia's house in Monterey Beach and fireworks at OB1. The park was closed temporarily when we got there. In the water by 2:00.
08/08/09 August 2009 135 14 3338 The latest start in the day ever: After 4:00.
09/05/09 September 2009 0 27 3338 The first ever with NO clams!!!
Couldn't get IN the park.
Tried by Wheelhouse Marina.
09/07/09 September 2009 158 10 3496  
09/25/09 September 2009 87 20 3583  
Date Month Year Clams Rank Total Notes



Saturday, October 4, 2008


Danger Kitchen
D a n g e r   K i t c h e n

The Dark and Stormy... Danger Kitchen Style


The BEST drink EVER!!!

Ingredients:

Goslings Black Seal rum (At least one bottle)
Ginger beer (Goya is nice and spicy)
Orange juice (No pulp is better)
Ice cubes
An interesting glass (Your soon to be favorite Dark & Stormy Glass)

Protocol:

Fill the glass with ice
Fill half the glass with Goslings rum (Don't be stingy, the ice takes up room)
Fill 2/3 of the remaining space with ginger beer
Stir... or at least swirl with your finger
Fill the remaining space in the glass with orange juice
Sip a little out so you can stir again
Make a face if this is your first one of the night (Or day)
Dunk your finger in a few times to swirl the orange juice around
Enjoy the best drink EVER!!!
Worked once... Ought to work again (See Below)

Notes:

     Rum never used to taste as good as I imagined it could until I discovered Goslings... Thanks to caterer and event planner Aggie Clifford Carmone of Soir‚e Full Service Event Planning. I mean... pirates drank it and all. It must be great right? Then you have your first taste of Bacardi something or other when you're too young to drink legally and it's a huge disapointment until...

Now the huge variety of estate rums available can be daunting. When in doubt... stick with the classics. Goslings is hard to beat. Time to try the Danger Kitchen Rum Cake with Goslings I think.


Links:

Visit the Goslings Rum website. Try the "Official" Goslings Rum Dark 'n Stormy recipe (Nowhere near as good). Try one with Goya "Spicy" Ginger Beer after you try one with Barritts' more traditional Bermudian Ginger Beer. The Danger Kitchen Dark and Stormy is more like the version served during events at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol Rhode Island... but quite a bit stronger. Call Aggie Clifford-Carmone at Soir‚e event planning in case you're planning a big shindig in Rhode Island... Dark and Stormys or Dark 'n Stormys or... Not. Check out the Danger Kitchen section of the One-Legged Sandpiper for a great Rum Cake recipe.


Errata:

"Worked once... Ought to work again" is my favorite line from the 1974 movie The Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds. Check out the Wikipedia entry for Dark 'n Stormys for another opinion about the drink and the making thereof. It was a Dark and Stormy Night when this was written.




Sunday, October 5, 2008


Green Side Up
G r e e n    S i d e    U p
The Herb Garden
T h e    H e r b    G a r d e n
I beg your pardon...
   Kelly picking herbs in August   
Click here for a high res picture of Kelly picking herbs at the herb garden in August

   The cold frame under construction   
Click here for a high res picture of the herb garden cold frame under construction
The Herb Garden...
A 23 year success story

     My interest in gardening came from four places. Mrs. Cotch told me all about the yellow snapdragons she always planted along the street next to her house in Ocean Beach, New Jersey when I was seven or eight years old. The Gurney catalog, the National Enquirer of garden catalogs, was another inspiration. When I was eleven or twelve I ordered peanuts and blue potatoes that I planted in the far corner of the back yard on Christol Street in Metuchen, New Jersey. When I returned from Ocean Beach when the summer was over, I was amazed to find some peanuts and blue potatoes waiting for me. A summer of neglect hadn't killed them off. The next time the bug hit me I planted on a much larger scale.
     The source of my next inspiration, I'm pretty sure, was an article in Great Foods Click here for copies of Great Foods Magaine for sale Magazine about French kitchen gardens. I read it through a dozen times, each time becoming more determined to have a garden. I broke ground in what was the hardest, nastiest gravel ever, and by summers end had a bumper crop of everything I could think of including giant corn from the Gurney catalog. The final piece of the puzzle came from a copy of Crockets Victory Garden. The book was inspired by the PBS TV series of the same name. I decided early in the summer of 1985 that I wanted to plant an herb garden in a compartmented raised bed identical to the one pictured above and diagramed below. I finally got around to it this year. There were probably way more important things to do, but this represented a small victory over things in general. A bit of sanity in an overall bad situation.
     What sparked the renewed interest after twenty some years was having access to some herb plants left to fend for themselves at the beach at the end of last season. Having fresh picked parsley, basil and sage became a focus of meal preparation. I know clam chowder tasted better with "Beach Parsley" in it. The basil and sage died off early but the parsley hung in there all winter. I used part of a Home Depot gift card to buy seeds and a few dollars here and there to buy leftover plants and had some seed starter trays and six-packs from previous gardening endeavors so the overall cost was less than $20. We stopped for fresh herbs three times while Kelly was up for summer vacation and I stop once a week still, and before every beach trip.
     I took advantage of some spectacular fall weather Saturday to cut up wood for a cold frame to help winter over the crop as much as possible. I'd like fresh herbs for the Thanksgiving and Christmas batches of chowder... and whatever else springs from the kitchen. I'm pretty sure the pea soup I had tonight tastes better with the fresh thyme and parsley and I can't wait to make a batch of chicken with s**t loads of garlic with fresh tarragon. The diagram below shows what's planted where. The whole raised bed is eight feet wide and four feet deep. The smallest compartments are twelve by twelve inches and the largest are twenty-four by twenty-four inches. Some didn't make it. Most did well. Two didn't get planted at all. Next year will be even better with the cold frame to start early. Who knows... maybe snow peas and tomatoes again. The cages still stand next to the lumber drier. Stay tuned for more Green Side Up.


Number Herb Type
1 Thyme Perennial
2 Rosemary Annual
3 Empty (Cilantro) Annual
4 Basil Annual
5 Lavender
Catnip
Perennial
6 Chervil Annual
7 Scallions Annual
8 Parsley (Curled) Perennial
9 Empty Empty
10 Parsley (Flat)
(Beach Parsley)
Perennial
11 Dill Perennial
12 Chives Perennial
13 Chamomile Perennial
14 Empty (Savory) Annual
15 Tarragon Perennial
16 Oregano Perennial
17 Marjoram Perennial


Friday, October 24, 2008


Anticipation and Expectation

Happy Birthday to me!

      Every year since 1980 or so I've made a point of spending the week that my birthday falls in at the beach. This year is no exception. Some years the weather is more like summer than fall. Some years the weather is brutal and stormy. Some years there are lots of people around. Some years just me.
      I start the week with some plans, or milestones, in mind but I've learned not to let expectations lead to disapointment. I can usually get the last swim in the ocean this week. Getting your hair all the way wet sometimes has to count. The last day with bare feet usually happens this week as well. That is: walking up the beach with coffee; walking on the beach to collect stuff; sitting up in a chair or laying on a blanket, all with bare feet. Daylight savings time changes everything this week. The long shadows from the beachfront houses reach you by four O'clock in the afternoon and the cold arrives well before that.
      There are other signs that summer is over. The seagulls become very needy. They flock to anyone walking up the beach with anything that looks like food. There's a steady stream of big cruising sailboats filtering down out of northern waters heading for more sun and warmth farther south. Trucks and fisherman monopolize the beach. The speed limits get raised ten miles per hour on the north and south highways. The roads are pretty deserted... Even on Friday night. It's time to put the storm windows in and take the awnings down. Time to test the heat any way. Time to keep everything secured outside. You never know when the wind will pick up from now on.
      There's still plenty to look forward to though. The last clamming probably won't happen but there's clams and broth in the freezer. I want to get out in the kayak a last time if only to test my new kayak seat. The first new one in ten years. The first boardwalk walk without encountering another soul. The first walk up the beach and not seeing anyone north to south as far as the eye can see.
      Beach people can be more in tune with the cyclical nature of life. Sunrise and sunsets. Seasons. Tides. Bird migration and fishing seasons. Every rhythm or cycle can be a cause for lament or celebration. The celebration should be the fact that it is happening and you are there to observe it. It could be way worse. You could be parked in front of a big screen TV and the only indication that life has changed around you is a different sporting even on or the sounds of the equipment that your lawn care company is using.
      So what all this means is that today is cold and rainy and windy. I'm looking forward to coffee in a Sponge Bob mug and the first walk up the beach. I can't wait to get the rest of the storm windows in and test the heat just to take the chill off. Kelly is looking forward to catching a giant striper and found two blue and one purple sea glass yesterday. Life at the beach holds limitless possibilities. Happy birthday to me.



Sunday, November 2, 2008



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What A Difference A Day Makes
It's suddenly winter.

     Yesterday was a gift. It was warm and sunny with almost no wind. I got to go kayaking again with my new kayak seat. We got to walk around barefoot all day and it stayed warm even when it clouded up in the afternoon. Kelly made two batches of fresh salsa for the party at her grandmother's house and all seemed right with the world (on a limited basis) for the last normal day of sunlight before the darkness of winter overtakes us before five O'clock.
     One of the things that make the beach so appealing is the sudden change possible weather wise. That change can also be traumatic. Today is a completely different animal from yesterday. It's bright and sunny and the ocean is covered with the blinding reflected sparkles that chopy water and sun create. You have to get your fill of that effect before the sun passes over head. There's a cold wind blowing strong out of the northeast and the fishermen are all of a sudden like so many hooded druids facing the pounding surf. This is what winter feels like. It was summer only yesterday.
     True beach people don't lament foul weather for long. We throw on another sweatshirt or two and go about whatever activity we can under the new conditions. I'll be doing my boardwalk walk tonight in the dark on a deserted boardwalk in a deserted town. It might be a great day to drive to the park after sleeping late and making a big breakfast. It could be a great day for an afternoon nap before the sun sets. It might be a great day to take sunset pictures on the way to the A&P for cocktail sauce. It's still a good day for a beach walk. Who knows what kind of sea glass may have washed up? There are less people looking for it when the weather turns bad so odds at finding a blue or something even more exotic are improved. Today will be the day we recreate my grandmother Dot Trautman's amazing stuffed clams with clams that were frozen after September's last successful clamming run. We'll be watching the Simpson's Halloween special while eating stuffed clams and the last of the giant rock crab claws Kelly got for my birthday. I've got Oktoberfest beer and ice wine (both birthday presents) left as well. See... things are looking up already.



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   A brand new kayak seat ready for testing.   

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   Still sitting in the summer spot.   

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   The view from my "spot".   

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Lined up with the sign in Lavallette and the tallest tower on the Seaside boardwalk.   

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   Triangulated with Nick's house.   

The Last...
A perfect fall beach day and
A new Kayak seat

      Life at the beach revolves around the rhythm of changing tides and seasons. The cyclical ebb and flow is marked by milestones typically divided between firsts and lasts. This time of year, the lasts are almost as traumatic as the firsts. Any day could be the last swim; barefoot beach walk, fish caught, clamming or any number of important events. Any day could be the first snow, the first time its dark before five O'clock, the first one beach walk only day or worse yet... No beach walk day. This means that every second counts double and if you have a chance to do the last of something you go for it.
      Friday was warm and sunny and I had a new kayak seat to test. A birthday present from Kelly, it's my first new seat in close to ten years. A first to balance out a possible last. The seat made me realize how bad the old one was and how much I miss kayaking the beach when I can't. The Rez is nice, but it's no beach. With any luck this won't be the last kayaking of the season. I should probably find my dry suit and try again at Thanksgiving or Christmas. For now... It doesn't get any better than this.
      Friday was probably the last swim. To count... You need to be submerged completely. Hair wet and all. There's no time requirement so... This one counted. To be a true beach day, you have to be able to walk up the beach in bare feet, sit in a chair for a while and walk back in bare feet. Usually that happens in November during the Thanksgiving trip.


Monday, November 3, 2008


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   Choose your weapon.   

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   The Shopping Cart... The very first one.   

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   Number two... The Catchers Mask.   

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   Darth Vader.   

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   The Clam Killer. The best rake of all.   

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   The New Shopping Cart... not as good as the old one.   

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   The Farmer. My personal favorite.   

Clamming
If it's worth doing... It's worth doing well.
Or
Don't dwell on the negative.

      Clamming is a lot like beachcombing. The differences are that you can eat the results of successful clamming and usually not so with beachcombing, and clamming is a much greater time and resource commitment and a heck of a lot more work. The similarities are as strong as the differences. Both are enjoyable outdoor activities. Both have elements of skill as well as coincidence or luck. Both result ideally in treasure that can be enjoyed immediately as well as the future (clams and broth freeze very well). Both activities are conducted next to, or in, water. Both can be weather dependent for participation and results.
      The first time we went kayaking at Island Beach state park, Kelly dug a toe in to the sand in the ankle deep water south of Tices Shoal and dug up a clam. We were soon armed with out first clamming rakes, an anchor, a traditional bushel basket in an inner tube to hold the clams and lunch in a twenty year old Playmate cooler. We made our way out to the sand flats west of the winter anchorage near the southern end of the park. We passed a canoe full of Pineys ( denizens of the Pine Barrens ) that seemed amused that we were wasting our time on the sand in clean ankle deep water while they slogged chest deep in murky water and knee deep muck feeling for clams with their toes. 92 clams later we felt we had a formula for success.
      There are some rules to be followed. You need a license to clam. One for each person clamming. You can't clam on Sundays... Clams are Methodists I believe. The most clams you can get in one day is 150 per person. We have yet to catch our limit but... That limit leads to counting, which leads to statistics. We do a rough field count as we catch them. We had a day where we only got one. We had a day that we got two-hundred fifty-two. We seldom get less than a hundred. Some times we get them consistently from the time we start. Some times we have to roam over huge areas to find a sweet spot. We've caught 3042 all together since we started counting... and not so much as an upset stomach from eating them. That is a tribute to how well New Jersey has done when it comes to cleaning up the coastal waters and keeping them clean.
      Quite a few times we have been chased off the flats by thunder storms and cold weather. Biting green flies can be a nuisance. Crabs can attack regularly. Cow nosed rays can be a little scary when you encounter them... They like clams as well. Above all... Clamming is hard work. Try dragging a long tined rake through deep soft sand in the burning sun and drying wind for hours at a time while swatting flies and dodging crabs. Then we have to paddle back to where we put in, dead tired, carrying anywhere up to a few hundred pounds of extra weight in the form of clams. Hating to have to get up out of the kayak to portage over the shallow spots. Kelly even had a kayak sink due to a crack near the foot rests and barely made it across the deep spot before the put-in area.
      In spite of all of the trials and tribulations, there's nothing more rewarding than a day of clamming. We get the clams back to the house and sort them on the patio before hosing them down with fresh water every half an hour for a while. This method, shared with me by David Sardinha of David's Seafood in Fall River, Massachusetts, results in virtually sand-free clams without any corn meal, cayenne pepper or any of the other old wives tales about de-sanding clams. The best part of the whole process may be the first batch of roasters off the grill. A batch of Uncle Pat's Clam Chowder is a great way to use a few more and there's nothing better than raw clams when they're this fresh. Ten days on ice and they are still better than store bought. Stay tuned for a New England clam chowder recipe, clams Negra Modelo, Mexican clam chowder and Dot Trautman's stuffed clams. Check in the Danger Kitchen online cookbook.
      One of the goals for this trip was to get clamming one last time. The weather was just too cold and uncooperative this trip. The best haul in October was eight clams. Good thing we always keep a good supply of frozen clams and broth for special occasions. Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday clam dishes have become a regular part of the celebration.


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   A pretty good haul... Just out of the mesh bag.   

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   Still a load of gear to get out of the truck and put away.   

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   Sorted by size and grouped by tens.   

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   Collateral damage... A bucket of crabs.   

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   Roasters AND crabs... This is as good as it gets.   



Thursday, November 6, 2008



Anticipation and Expectation

Anatomy of a Beach Trip


      A trip to the beach always begins with planning and anticipation. There will be things to be done as the seasons change… Chores and pleasure. There are always first and last milestones of some sort. Most of these events require a bit of planning. Some require extra or special clothing. Some require kayaks or clamming equipment. Special meals may require special utensils or ingredients that can be purchased less expensively up here in Connecticut. Part of the ritual is to make a list ten days out. That’s when I start looking at the weather.com ten day forecast. It’s not important… and usually wrong… but its part of the ritual. The last trip was supposed to include the first beach fire and the last clamming of the year. The weather and circumstances didn’t cooperate. That doesn’t necessarily result in disappointment. It’s the beach after all.

      In days past, my mind would be free of encumbrances and stress as soon as the truck was headed south. I used to leave in the morning to arrive before dark. Now circumstances prevent that but the rest of the arriving ritual is the same. I park the truck and walk up the beach. During warmer weather, the footwear comes off before I cross the Brielle Bridge on to the island. The first beach walk ends with bare feet in the water weather permitting. The next step is to unload the truck completely and stow all the gear as soon as possible so it feels like I’ve been there all along. A Dark and Stormy or two later and all is right with the world.

      The first morning is another important part of the ritual, but no less important than every morning. Making coffee and opening the blinds in the dining room is always the first order of business. I usually check email while waiting for the coffee to finish, and see what’s happening on cnn.com. That’s as connected to the world as I need to be except for sticking my head out of the door to check the weather. As soon as the coffee is done it’s time for a walk up the beach with a coffee in a Sponge Bob mug. If the weather is decent I walk down to the water and stick a toe in or at least check for beachcombing possibilities.

      Food is an important part of ever beach trip. This last trip had some high points. A fine batch of New England clam chowder made with clams frozen after what is now the second to last clamming safari of the year on July 7, 2008. We got 244 clams that day; the second best performance ever. Ham and Cabbage was another important meal, made with Connecticut cabbage from the farmers market in Danielson. We had spaghetti and meatballs at Kelly’s grandmother Agnes’ house. She makes a great sauce… I mean being Irish and all. She made a full-boat turkey dinner the following weekend for Kelly’s Aunt Sheila’s birthday. It’s hard to imagine twenty or more people for dinner in a traditional Ocean Beach house but it happens all the time there. We invited Agnes over for a roast pork dinner that turned out better than expected thanks to herbs from the herb garden, garlic and bacon.

      We didn’t get any boardwalk food or pizza this trip but did do burgers and dogs on the grill one stormy night and Kelly did her best to catch a striper for dinner. She caught a total of eight shorts (under 28 inches) and carefully threw each one back. No bluefish either but there’s still some fishing left to do this year. We had rock crab claws one night and great Black Angus steaks on the grill another night. It always seems to be wild and stormy on grilling nights… or perhaps Dark and Stormy as well. The grand finale was a delicious white scallop and cheese sauce over pasta on election night. Some Harpoon Oktoberfest beer, a 2005 Reif Estate Vidal ice wine and a bottle of Goslings Black Seal rum made the whole trip a gourmet experience. Kelly’s chorizo frittata and two different fresh salsas will be Danger Kitchen recipes soon as well as the second attempt to recreate my grandmother Dot Trautman’s stuffed clam recipe. Too much sage this time and not chunky enough. Old paprika and surf clam shells gathered at the last minute worked against us but they were pretty good any way.

      The beach isn’t just about eating. It’s about the things you do and the things you don’t but might next time. Beach walks are always a big part. North and south each have their own unique features. Sometimes we even go to another beach to walk but not too often. Walking the boardwalk is something I try and do every day rain or shine. Every day reveals something different somewhere. The ritual is as important as almost any. There is the day, yet to happen this season, that I’m the only one on the entire boardwalk. The last boardwalk walk of the trip can be emotional. It seems to have greater impact if it’s through sunset. Coming back to a cheery warm beach house after a brisk lonely walk during the winter is one of life’s simple pleasures. Whatever’s in the crock pot always smells better under those conditions. Walking the boardwalk in Seaside Heights or Point Pleasant is another option. The deserted grittiness of the Seaside boardwalk contrasts with the just-closed-for-the-season cleanly order of Point Pleasant. The four bars usually open on the Seaside boardwalk punctuate the walk nicely with a few lights and a few people visible through the condensation on the windows. We did two Seaside boardwalk walks this trip.

      Sunsets are always special at the beach. They always induce a nostalgic sort of melancholy over the end of the day. They also mark the beginning of a night at the beach which is better than a night almost anywhere. The last sunset of the trip is always tough. It’s better if it rains… Less traumatic that way. We did a sunset walk a week ago that took us from the old Wheel House Marina on Twenty-Fourth Avenue in Seaside Park to just south of the Seaside Park Yacht Club. We finished the walk just as the deepest last reds of the sun disappeared behind the trees in Bayville across Barnegat Bay. Sometimes just a quick drive to the bay beach in Lavallette for sunset has to suffice. We did two of those this trip.

      The last day of any visit is a day to think about the ups and downs of the trip. I could still walk up the beach barefoot… That’s a good thing. We didn’t get clamming… That’s a bad thing… But half expected. That made the last Clamming, Friday, September 5, 2008 with 133 Clams; the 11th best ever. We didn’t make it to the park either… That’s rare. We got a few beach days in... Did plenty of fishing. Took the last swim October 31. Went for the last kayak paddle (more than likely) on November 1. We found a piece of sea glass on the last beach combing walk in the rain so that was a good thing. Oh yeah… we elected the first black president… That's a good thing... Or the first half black one anyway. The first smart one in a while at least... That's the important part. So I guess it wasn’t a half bad beach trip.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008



Highlights of the Year

(so far)

Kayaking Alexander Lake for the first time.
A trip to the Nordic Lodge.
Hiking the bay trail in Island Beach State Park.
Kelly's summer vacation in Connecticut.
Finding Crabby at the Rez.
Hiking the cliffs above Ross pond in Killingly, Connecticut.
The Boston produce show.
Seaside boardwalk walks in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
Reviving the One-Legged Sandpiper.
Making mortgage payments.
Reclaiming a good portion of the Church yard.
Clamming in Island Beach State Park.
The Rez... Kayaking, fishing, hiking and photographing in Brooklyn, Connecticut.
Fire pit Fires at the Train Station in Danielson, Connecticut.
Beach fires.
Beach walks.
Dinner at Berkley Seafood in Berkley, New Jersey.
Having Work... That's interesting and different all the time.
Making my first "professional" videos.
Being hired as a wedding photographer.
Having many of my photographs published.
Spending time at Ocean Beach, New Jersey.
Starting the year on the beach with a fire in Ocean Beach, New Jersey.
Live music at the Rain Desert in Danielson, Connecticut.
Planting the herb garden.
Cooking with fresh herbs from the garden.

Holly Jolly Christmas Tuesday, December 9, 2008 Holly Jolly Christmas

Beach Front Pictures

Scanning the Horizon at Ocean Beach, New Jersey

      The beach front in Ocean Beach has certainly changed since I first remember it. Forty years ago the view would have been drastically different. The smaller houses remain mostly unchanged but the big new double and triple-deckers dwarf the old classics. They also block much of the view from what used to be Otto and Elsie Falb's house. If you are the second house back from the beach this is not a good thing.
      Forty years ago the windows of most of the houses would have been shuttered against the winter storms. Most people didn't have homeowners insurance on a summer home so there was every reason to secure the "bungalow" for the winter. Things were very different back then. The beach was mostly deserted from October on. Everyone battened down everything that couldn't fit inside and shut off most or all of the utilities. Lavallette used to shut off the street lights and traffic lights and the only thing that seemed to be open was the Pirate's Den or whatever the seedy bar that occupied the building that's now the Crab's Claw. I remember "camping" at the beach on a few occasions with no water turned on... Just gas heaters and electricity. If you walked down to the highway, or up to the beach and saw another light on anywhere it was a big deal because that meant someone else was there. The beach was always loaded with driftwood and there might be a tire track or two from a Jeepster or something similar driving on the beach. I miss those days.
      It wasn't ALL perfect though. There used to be pools of crude oil washed up and carcasses of oil soaked cormorants and gulls scattered around and garbage like nobody's business. The isolation and quiet was great... Unless you needed something you didn't bring. I miss those days now. I get that feeling back some times on night boardwalk walks during the week that's not a holiday and the island is mostly deserted. I like the days that I can walk up the beach and be the only one north and south as far as I can see. One of the most vivid memories from when we "camped" was going to "Uncle" Pat Stacik's house for buckets of water. Mr. Stacik was an old friend of my grandfather's and his best fishing buddy. He was the first person I remember staying at the beach all winter after he retired. The house would be warm and smelled of pipe smoke. There might be a fire going in the fire place and if we were really lucky "Aunt" Irma might have a pot of chowder going on the stove. Those moments were the inspiration for Uncle Pat's Clam Chowder... One of my best Danger Kitchen recipes.
      Too many things may have changed forever for those events to be relived. Maybe the impending financial meltdown we're probably going to experience will erase some of the "progress" that's happened since as long ago as I can remember. I'm glad I have the memories.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Island Beach State Park

The first trip to one of the best places in New Jersey

      Island Beach State Park is an undeveloped stretch of land about ten miles long at the southern end of our island. The park is filled with wildlife of all kinds. Foxes and ospreys are our favorites to watch. Clams and crabs are our favorite to eat. We've seen an osprey mother teaching her baby to fly and stumbled across a five foot wide Cow-Nosed Ray that was clamming in the same area that we were and all sorts of other fascinating stuff. This first trip yielded a few pounds of mussels that made a great Marinara sauce the same night. The mussels were fresh and oceany tasting without a trace of grit even though they were dug from some nasty black bay mud.
      The park has always been an important place for us and getting a park permit is a signifigant symbolic success. The next big one will be getting our yearly clamming licenses. The two kind of go together. The state simplified the park permit procedure greatly this year... possibly in anticipation of the impending regime change. I guess more of us would rather enjoy the natural barrier island environment than launch a terrorist attack. This was the first of many park visits this year. Add a stop at Bakin' Bagels on the way in for everything bagels with scallion cream cheese and a stop at 7-11 (Sevo) for coca-mocha-latte-frappe-chino coffee drinks on the way out and you have the makings of a great day. We've returned home with a variety of "quahog" clams, razor clams, surf clams, steamers, mussels, crabs, blufish and flounder, rose hips and beach plums over the years. Last year was the toughest clamming year ever... like everything else. Maybe his year will be better.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009



Highlights of last Year

Kayaking Alexander Lake for the first time.
Two trips to the Nordic Lodge.
Hiking the bay trail in Island Beach State Park.
Hiking Cattus Island State Park to the south point on Silver Bay.
Kelly's summer vacation in Connecticut.
Finding Crabby at the Rez.
Hiking the cliffs above Ross pond in Killingly, Connecticut.
The Boston produce show.
The Boston seafood show.
Seaside boardwalk walks in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
Reviving the One-Legged Sandpiper.
Making mortgage payments.
Reclaiming a good portion of the Church yard.
Clamming in Island Beach State Park.
The Rez... Kayaking, fishing, hiking and photographing in Brooklyn, Connecticut.
Fire pit Fires at the Train Station in Danielson, Connecticut.
Beach fires.
Beach walks.
Dinner at Berkley Seafood in Berkley, New Jersey.
Watching the new Indiana Jones Movie.
Seeing 10,000 B.C. in the theater.
Having Work... That's interesting and different all the time.
Making my first "professional" videos.
Being hired as a wedding photographer.
Having many of my photographs published.
Spending time at Ocean Beach, New Jersey.
Starting the year on the beach with a fire in Ocean Beach, New Jersey.
Live music at the Rain Desert in Danielson, Connecticut.
Planting the herb garden.
Cooking with fresh herbs from the garden.
Watching plum pudding number 66 made by Agnes Walter.
Christmas.
Christmas in Piscataway.
Ending the year with a fire on the beach.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


A Starbuck of...
A new term of venery

Starbucks to close 300 stores as profit tumbles

The coffee chain reports fourth-quarter results below forecasts
and announces 6,700 more job cuts.


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Starbucks Corp. said Wednesday its fiscal first-quarter profit and sales fell short of Wall Street's forecast. The high-end coffee chain also announced 6,700 new job cuts as a weak economy weighed on sales. For the three months ended Dec. 28, Seattle-based Starbucks reported net income of $64.3 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with $208 million, or 28 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding certain charges, including a $75.5 million pre-tax charge related to store closures, the company said it earned 15 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting 17 cents. Sales in the quarter fell 6% to $2.6 billion from $2.8 billion a year ago. Analysts expected $2.69 billion.


      I feel bad for a lot of people that have lost jobs. Probably most of them but... Having a place on every other corner where one can spend upwards of seven or eight bucks for a cup of coffee if one so chooses is a symptom of many of the issues that have lead us as a country to the brink of financial doom. The word "chooses" in the last sentence is misleading. One can certainly choose not to but the cultural pressure to choose to is very strong.
      What I have no sympathy for is the smug superior attitude of the elitist wannabes that tend to work there. You're serving coffee... Get over yourself. Don't snob at me because I didn't know the drill at your little coffee shop and just wanted a lousy cup of coffee. I feel sorry for you if you need a coca-mocha-latte-frapuucuino-muy-splendisimo to make or break your day. I don't feel sorry that you lost your job and your little coffee shop is closing if you're a pretentious turd-face. We as a country deserve less of you. This brings me to the point of this piece. A term of venery or collective noun is a word used to describe a group of a certain type of members; gaggle of geese; pride of lions; etc. Here is a list of a lot of them. My new suggestion is in the list. See if you can find it.

aardvark: aarmory
albatross: rookery
alligator: congregation
alpaca: flock, herd
ant: colony, nest, army, swarm, bike
antelope: herd, cluster
ape: shrewdness, troop
auk: colony, flock, raft
baboon: troop, flange, congress, tribe
badger: cete, colony, set, company
barracuda: battery
bass: shoal, fleet
bat: colony, cloud
bear: sleuth, sloth, slought, maul
beaver: family, lodge, colony
bee: colony, grist, hum, swarm, hive, cluster
beetle: swarm
bird (general): fleet, parcel, dissimulation, flight, volery, cast, flock, aviary
bison: herd, troop, gang, thunder
bittern: sedge, flock, siege
bloodhound: sute
boar: singular, sounder, herd
bovine: herd
buffalo: gang, troop, herd, obstinacy
bullfinch: bellowing
bullock: drove
butterfly: rabble, flight, swarm
buzzard: wake, flock
camel: flock, train, caravan, herd
caribou: herd
cat: clowder, clutter, pounce, cluster, colony, glorying, destruction (wild cats)
caterpillar: army, nest
cattle: drove, herd, bow, bunch, draft, drift, mob
cheetah: coalition
chicken: brood, clutch, flock, peep, hatching, battery
chimpanzee: cartload
chinchilla: colony
clam: bed, flaccidity
cockroach: intrusion, swarm
cod: lap, school
colt: rake, rage
coot: cover
cow: herd, drove, pack, team
coyote: pack, rout
crab: cast
crane: sedge, siege, flock, herd
cricket: orchestra
crocodile: bask, nest, congregation, float
crow: murder, horde, parcel, hover, muster
deer: herd, leash, bevy, game, quarry, bunch, mob, parcel
dog: gang, legion, kennel, pack (wild), litter (young)
dolphin: team, school, pod, herd
donkey: drove, herd, pace
dove: dule, duet, flight, troop
duck: brace, flock, gaggle, paddling, team, raft, badling, bunch, waddling
eagle: convocation, brood, aerie
eel: swarm, bed. draft, wisp, knot
elephant: herd, host, flock, parade, memory
elk: gang, herd
falcon: passager, cast
ferret: business, cast
finch: charm, chirm, trembling, trimming
fish (general): school, shoal, draft, nest, cast, draught, run, catch, drift, haul
flamingo: stand, flamboyance
fly: business, hatch, swarm, community, cloud, grist
flying fish: glide
fowl: plump
fox: leash, skulk, earth, troop
frog: army, colony, froggery, knot
gerbil: horde
giraffe: tower, troop, corps, herd, group, stretch
gnat: cloud, horde, swarm, plague
gnu: herd
goat: tribe, trip, flock, herd
goldfinch: charm, chattering, drum, troubling, vein
goldfish: troubling
goose: flock, gaggle, skein, line, wedge, nide
gorilla: band
grasshopper: cloud, cluster
greyhound: gallop, leash
grouse: covey, pack, brace, drumming
guinea pig: group
gull: colony, pack
hamster: horde
hare: down, husk, leap, , leash, flick, kindle, drove, warren
hawk: cast, kettle, boil, leash, mews, aerie
hedgehog: nest, array, prickle
hen: brood, battery, parcel, roost, mews
heron: siege, sedge
herring: army, glean, shoal
hippopotamuses: bloat, pod, herd, huddle
hog: drift, drove, herd
hornet: nest, bike, swarm
horse: harras, herd, pair, team, stud, field, mob, troop
hound: cry, mute, pack, kennel
hummingbird: charm, chattering, drum, hover, troubling
hyena: cackle, clan
impala: herd
jackrabbit: husk
jellyfish: smack, brood, smuth, smuck, fluther
kangaroo: mob, troop, herd
kitten: kindle, kendle, litter, intrigue
lark: ascension, exaltation, bevy, flight
lemur: group
leopard: leap, prowl
lice: flock
lion: pride, tribe, sault, sowse
llama: herd
locust: host, plague, swarm, cloud
louse: colony, infestation, lice
mackerel: school, shoal
magpie: tiding, gulp, murder, charm, tittering, flock
mallard: sord, brace, puddling, flush
manatee: herd
marten: richness
minnow: shoal, steam, swarm
mole: labor, company, movement
monkey: troop, barrel, tribe, cartload
moose: herd
mosquito: scourge, swarm
mouse: nest, colony, harvest, horde, mischief
mule: barren, pack, span, rake
nighthawk: kettle
nightingale: watch, flock, route, match
orangutan: buffoonery
ostrich: flock
otter: romp, bevy, lodge, family, raft
owl: parliament, stare
ox: yoke, team, drove, herd, nye
oyster: bed, hive, cast, culch
parrot: company, flock, prattle
partridge: covey, bew
peacock: muster, ostentation, pride
penguin: colony, rookery, parade, parcel
pheasant: bouquet, nest, nide, nye, brood, covey
pig: drove, litter, drift, flock, hoggery, herd, sounder
pigeon: flight, loft, flock, dropping
plover: congregation, wing, leash
polar bear: aurora, pack
polecat: chine
pony: string
porcupine: prickle, family
porpoise: school, crowd, herd, pod
possum: passel
prairie dog: coterie, town
pretentious elitist: starbuck, latte
quail: bevy, covey, drift
rabbit: colony, nest, warren, bevy, bury, drove
racoon: nursery, mask
raptor: cauldron, kettle
rat: horde, mischief, rabble
raven: unkindness, congress, conspiracy, parliament
reindeer: herd
rhinoceros: crash, herd
rook: building, shoal, congregation, pack, parliament
salmon: run, bind, gib, school, shoal
sardine: family
scorpion: bed, nest, colony
sea horse: herd
seal: pod, herd, school, trip, rookery, harem, team
shark: shiver, school, shoal
sheep: drove, flock, herd, drift, fold, mob, pack, trip
skunk: stench, surfeit
snail: escargatoire, rout, walk
snake: bed, knot, den, pit, nest, slither
snipe: walk, wisp
sparrow: host, flight, quarrel, tribe
spider: cluster, clutter, venom
squirrel: dray, scurry, colony
starling: murmuration, cloud, chattering, clutter
stork: mustering, flight
swallow: flight, rush, swoop
swan: bevy, wedge, flock, game, team, ballet, regatta
swine: drift, sounder, herd
swordfish: flotilla
termite: colony
tiger: streak, ambush, hide. ambush
toad: knot, nest, knob, lump
tortoise: creep
trout: hover, leash, troup
turkey: rafter, posse, gang, dole, flock, raffle
turtle: bale, bevy, nest, dule, turn
turtle dove: pitying
toucan: durante
viper: nest, den
vulture: wake
wallaby: mob
walrus: pod, herd, huddle
wasp: nest, knot, bike, swarm, colony, pail
weasel: pack, gang, sneak
whale: gam, herd, grind, pod, shoal, school, mob
wild boar: sounder
wolf: pack, rout, route, horde
wombat: mob, warren
woodcock: fall, covey, plump
woodpecker: descent, gatling
worm: bed, bunch, clew
wren: herd
yak: herd
zebra: herd, cohorts, crossing, stripe

Thursday, February 19, 2009


We Usually Find Shells

Be Vewy Vewy Qwiet

      Like a trip to the Rez , a trip to Island Beach State Park is always interesting. We see foxes and ospreys and find all kinds of intersting things alive and dead. We were walking along the edge of the water in the winter anchorage on the bay side. We walked out on the first dock and there it was in about a foot of water off the end of the dock. I fished it out with a branch off of a tree and we turned it over to the park police at the gate house at the entrance to the park. One was reported missing by a duck hunter and the park police officers were hoping that this was the gun. If not, they had another issue on their hands. Usually we just find shells.

A Beach Fire
Some unfinished Business

      A trip to the Beach always seems to have infinite possibilities. While there, a trip to Island Beach State Park seems to step it up a notch... Like when we found the Shotgun that afternoon at the park. The Connecticut version of the park is the Rez... A.K.A. Wauregan Reservoir. An event of similar magnitude would be finding and rescuing Crabby at the Rez.
      In any case... The reason for the fire tonight was to celebrate an interesting day at the park. The shotgun was just part of the reason. We also collected about five or six pounds of fresh mussels from the banks of the island that border the clamming area. The mussels grow in the nastiest blackest mud well above the water level but they are always sweet and plump and tasty and never the slightest bit gritty. They are a special treat during times when summer and clamming are months away and an attitude adjustment is necessary. We had a fine mussels Marinara before heading up the beach in the cold and wind to build the fire.



     Monday, March 2, 2009     


One-Legged Sandpiper Update

Bringin' Back More Old Stuff


The One-Legged Sandpiper The 07/05/99 Sandpiper, #28, The Wicked Wind of the West, is back on line. This one is the last of the easy ones to restore. There are only three more complete old issues after this and one that was under construction when the Dark Ages began. Number 29 was the start of the framed multi-page format that got away from the original primitive blog setup. Number 28 has garden and lumber dryer damage from a freak hail storm and a review of someone else's outdoor furniture. Shop Notes has a porch column replacement project for a Victorian house in Tivoli, New York and there's a big Green Side Up section with lots of landscape gardening going on around the Church. There are photos from trips to Tivoli, New York and Newport, Rhode Island and a little info about a new motel that opened just down the road from the Church. Beach material includes a lifeguard tournament in Monterey Beach, New Jersey and from Ocean Beach we have a new surfboard, "red skies in morning... sailors take warning" and a Barnegat Bay sunset. It's back to Tivoli, New York for project house pictures and a great church building, not that I need another one. Here's the Church has part four of the history of the United Methodist Church of Attawaugan and there's the biggest Danger Kitchen yet. Learn to make C.W.S.L.O.G. (Chicken With S**t Loads of Garlic), the Collins Brown Sugar Pie, Howard's Macaroni Salad With Tuna and see a bunch of pictures showing you how to make a Portuguese Clam Boil recipe. Finish up with a bunch of links and Sandpiper News: News about the news.


     Friday, March 13, 2009     


Danger Kitchen
Danger Kitchen

New England Clam Chowder


It can be more than paste and water with a clam dunked in it.


Ingredients:

1 pound of shucked clams (20-30 in the shell).
2 quarts clam juice from steaming them open.
1/4 pound salt pork chopped fine.
2 medium onions finely chopped.
6 stalks celery with leaves halved lengthwise and chopped.
4 medium baking potatoes in 1/4 inch or so cubes.
1 12-16 oz package frozen corn or 4-5 ears fresh ("OBR" optional but recommended).
1/2 bunch fresh parsley chopped fine.
2 bay leaves.
1-2 TBSP fresh thyme finely minced.
Fresh ground black pepper.
1/2 pint Heavy Cream.
1 quart half and half.
1 stick of butter.


Protocol:

1) Preheat heavy bottomed stock pot.
2) Skin the salt pork and chop finely.
3) Add the salt pork to the pot and stir constantly for two to three minutes to fry evenly.
4) Turn the heat way down and cover the pot while you're locating and prepping the other ingredients.
5) Peel and chop the onions and add to the pot after the salt pork has browned and rendered most of its fat.
6) Turn the heat up and stir the onions frequently while getting the celery ready.
7) Slice the celery in half lengthwise and chop. Add to the pot when the onions are translucent and stir.
8) Cover the pot and get the clams ready.
9) Slice the whole clams in thin slices and then chop finely. Random chunks are OK.
10) Add the clams to the pot and pour in the broth.
11) Cover the pot, turn up the heat, and get the potatoes ready.
12) Wash the potatoes and peel if you like although skin-on is fine.
13) Cube them into uniform sized cubes as much as possible.
14) Add the potatoes to the pot with the corn if desired.
15) Add the herbs (except parsley) and lots of fresh ground black pepper.
16) Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes or so until the potatoes are barely tender.
17) Add the parsley and simmer for ten more minutes.
18) At this point you can decide how you want to proceed. If you're likely to serve most or all of the chowder immediately or in the next day or two, add the dairy. If not set aside the portion of the chowder base to cool and freeze and use a corresponding percentage less of the dairy products.
19) Turn the heat off and let the chowder base cool for a few minutes.
20) Stir in the heavy cream and half and half slowly.
21) Drop the butter on top and heat gently until just barely starting to simmer.
22) Stir the butter in just before serving.
23) Sprinkle servings with fresh ground black pepper "FGBP" and/or fresh chopped chives or parsley or scallions (optional).
24) Serve with oyster crackers or bread.
25) If you're using thawed frozen chowder base you thaw it and bring it to a simmer and pick up at step 20. It freezes better without the dairy or you can use the base to proceed to Manhattan Chowder.


Optional:

Just in case this isn't good enough as it is... Try adding chopped crisp fried bacon to the pot or bowl just before serving. Use whole baby corn for a change or try adding chopped asparagus, Brussels sprouts or artichoke hearts after the corn to give the soup a completely new character. Sherry in the serving bowl can be nice or try a splash of stout for a different richness. Experiment on small amount so you don't mess up the whole pot. Garnish with croutons, crumbled bacon, chives, parsley or chopped scallion greens. Add chopped fried and drained Chorizo or Chourico for a Mexican or Portuguese variation.

Notes:

     When I think of chowder I think of Manhattan clam chowder. When you grow up in New Jersey at the shore, or anywhere else in the state for that matter, Manhattan is the chowder that you eat. When I moved to New England I was subject to bowl after bowl of lousy Manhattan or "Red" chowder as they call it because they put no effort into it. I finally needed to make some for myself and grew to enjoy it if it's done well. Left to my own devices I would still make Manhattan exclusively but Kelly prefers New England or "White" chowder. I also enjoy Rhode Island chowder which is a clear broth. No matter what you have to use fresh clams and it is well worth the effort clamming to get them.


Links:

The 28th annual Great Chowder Cook-Off is happening Saturday June 6, 2009 in Newport, Rhode Island. Check out some chowdah.

The Danger Kitchen Uncle Pat's Clam Chowder recipe. Manhattan chowder... The real stuff!

www.dangerkitchen.com Danger Kitchen has a home.

Danger Kitchen is brought to you by The One-Legged Sandpiper.






     Thursday, July 9, 2009     



Anticipation and Expectation
Anatomy of a Beach Trip

      The yearly beach trip for the Fourth of July is a ritual I wouldn't part with. Sure the chaos and traffic and the packing and loading of gear can be a headache but the results are well worth it. After 6 weeks of crap weather, Karma cooperated and gave us three amazing days in a row one of which was the fourth itself. We fought traffic and worse but managed to get to Island Beach State Park for an afternoon of successful clamming before cleaning up and heading to Monterey Beach for Kelly's Aunt Sis's (Sheila) yearly Fourth dinner.
      After a great meal we headed back to Ocean Beach to watch the fireworks... Of which there were almost none thanks to the ridiculously overbearing presence of dozens of local police determined to take the fun out of our yearly barrage of explosives. There was just enough civil disobedience to encourage me that we're not all candy-asses and the night turned out to be decent anyway. The high point may have been the whole beach breaking into "God Bless America" to yank the chains of the cops that were hassling some guy in front of his wife and young kids that had the nerve to set off a rocket down by the water and then disappear into the crowd on the beach.
      The rest of the trip was text book beach activity. The final chapter of every beach trip is the return to reality such as it is. Part of the process is unloading the pictures from the camera and recording the clamming results (We keep statistics... Just because) and reliving the whole trip while selecting things to add to the Sandpiper or Danger Kitchen. The meal below is another example of how the beach keeps on giving... Sometimes almost long enough to stave off beach-withdrawals before planning the next trip starts... About a week before departure usually. I can't decide if the Steamed Clams meal should go in Danger Kitchen, Squalid Splendor or L.S.P. (Life's Simple Pleasures). Maybe all three. Stay tuned for a recap of the latest beach trip and Kelly's Vacation in Connecticut. One word... Closure!

Cheesy Anatomy of a Beach Trip Graphic



     Saturday, July 18, 2009     



   Wauregan Reservoir   
Click here for a high res picture of the Rez
The Rez
Five minutes to another world
A Summer Afternoon Paddle Break


     Wauregan Reservoir, also known as Quinebaug Pond State Park, is just a few minutes drive from the Train Station in downtown Danielson and a frequent subject of Sandpiper entries. The opportunities to experience "The Rez" in all its glory becomes an important part of summer when the last beach trip is just a memory and the next one is just an idea and a few notes. It's a beautiful spot any time of year and nothing soothes the need for nature in short notice like an afternoon paddle around the perimeter in a kayak.

     Today was my first day "off" in Connecticut in twenty days due to the Fourth of July beach trip and related schedule "compression". That means chores, chores and more chores but... There's always time for a Rez break... Or at least there should be. I loaded the kayak in the truck around 3:00 but it was 5:00 before I actually put a paddle in the water. Distractions are many. The sweltering heat and humidity of the morning had given way to a cool comfortable breeze blowing south to north across the wonderful little body of water. A couple of kayakers were just getting out when I arrived and seemed in a hurry to leave for some reason. There was a few threatening looking clouds to the west but nothing that seemed worth leaving for.

     The swimming areas were busy and the rope swings were swinging but I noticed only one other vessel on the water as I cleared the point south of the first swimming area that marks the beginning of the wide and deep section of the little lake. It's rumored to be forty feet at the deepest with huge hook-jawed Lake Trout inhabiting the cold depths. I've seen boats trolling deep using fish finders but haven't seen anyone catch anything bigger than the three and a half pound Large Mouth that Kelly caught three vacations ago. One afternoon two years ago I spotted a roiling disturbance in the water that was moving from the point near the swimming beach towards the deep water. The disturbance was similar to the ones created by the as yet unidentified fish schools that feed near the surface as dusk approaches every still summer night. As I closed in on the disturbance it seemed to move faster away from me just like the fish schools do UNTIL... I saw the flipper slice through the water just ahead of the most recent disturbance. The fins was enormous and the fish would have been six feet or more nose to tail if it hadn't been a diver in a wetsuit that slipped into the water unnoticed and was diving without a flag up. The Rez Ness monster was just an illusion but... Was another example of how there's never a dull day at the Rez.

     There were a few surprises this time besides the pond not being loaded with boats. The Blue Heron is back but without his or her mate. I hope it's actually another one with no mate but I can't tell. They do look quite alike from as close as you can get to them before they fly. I surprised this one while I was gliding silently up to some turtles. It amazes me that such a large ungainly bird can perch so effortlessly on such small branches without the slightest bit of wobbling or flapping or rustling of the tree branch. They must weigh next to nothing. The fish population seems to have settled in compare to the last paddle here. The south end shallows are still teaming with small fish but they all seem to be hiding more now. The sunny nests are empty now and I only spotted one good sized small mouth bass patrolling the weeds where all of the small fish were hiding. Everyone's getting down to the business of surviving after the spring population explosion. It would appear to be a good year to be a turtle certainly.

     The allotted time for a quick paddle around passed way to quickly and I found myself dogging it on the way back north to the put-in. The day was too perfect to hurry and I ended up drifting slowly with the breeze enjoying the sun and sparkles on the water. You can steer the kayak in the wind with the paddle raised and angled just right. We've done that on more than one occasion clamming when we were too tired to paddle back off the sand flats. Twenty more minutes lingering at the ramp put me into 7:00 by time I got back to the Train Station. The next chore wasn't so much a real chore but needed to be done anyway. A quick stop at the Church provided a handful of fresh herbs to season the steamed clams and broth on the diner menu... just in time to celebrate the two week anniversary of the last clamming run. I can't wait for the next one. Dinner was a bowl or two of freshly steamed clams in broth seasoned with fresh garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, chives, marjoram and oregano. Add a pat of butter, a little olive oil, some minced red onion and a splash of Guinness Stout and you have one of life's simple pleasures. An afternoon paddle at the Rez is another one. This is one of the best places in Killingly, CT.


     Saturday, July 25, 2009     


A Beach Fire
Some unfinished Business

This entry should have appeared on Friday February 20, 2009 but didn't. The pictures turned up while fixing the April, May and June archives and might be well worth getting online. Today has proven to be the warmest day of the year so far and it's getting warmer and muggier as the night progresses so it seemed like it might be nice to relive a warm day in February.


      A trip to the Beach always seems to have infinite possibilities. While there, a trip to Island Beach State Park seems to step it up a notch... Like when we found the Shotgun that afternoon at the park. The Connecticut version of the park is the Rez... A.K.A. Wauregan Reservoir. An event of similar magnitude would be finding and rescuing Crabby at the Rez.
      In any case... The reason for the fire tonight was to celebrate an interesting day at the park. The shotgun was just part of the reason. We also collected about five or six pounds of fresh mussels from the banks of the island that border the clamming area. The mussels grow in the nastiest blackest mud well above the water level but they are always sweet and plump and tasty and never the slightest bit gritty. They are a special treat during times when summer and clamming are months away and an attitude adjustment is necessary. We had a fine mussels Marinara before heading up the beach in the cold and wind to build the fire.



     Tuesday, July 28, 2009     


Danger Kitchen
Danger Kitchen

Steamed Hard Shell Clams


One of the simplest of life's greatest pleasures.


Ingredients:

  • Lots of clams... Size doesn't matter. The fresher the better.
  • Butter.

    Optional Ingredients:

  • Beer, ale stout or wine.
  • Heavy cream, half & half or sour cream.
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • Chopped red onion.
  • Chopped scallion.
  • Chopped chives.
  • Chopped or sliced garden tomatoes.
  • Lightly steamed fresh corn cur off the cob with the juice from the corn.
  • Chopped or sliced wild mushrooms or even truffles or a drop or two of truffle oil.
  • Fresh garlic lightly browned in a mixture of olive oil and butter.
  • Chopped fresh herbs: thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil etc.
  • Chopped bacon (of course).
  • Homemade croutons or oyster crackers.


Protocol:

1) Scrub the outside of the clam's shells with a stiff brush under running water.
    ( The more effort spent here the better )
2) Sort the clams into piles by sizes if you're doing multiple batches.
3) Put 2-3 cups of hot water per 10 lbs of clams into a steamer pot.
4) Add the clams, cover and turn the heat on high.
5) When the pot begins to boil over, hold the lid on and shake up and down to mix the clams.
6) Turn the heat down and return the pot to the stove.
7) Repeat the "shake" one or two more times before the clams are done.
8) Steam 10 minutes or so... To taste. Check often.
9) Remove the clams and shells to a large bowl to cool slightly.
10) Check bottom of the pot thoroughly for pilots that have ejected.
11) Strain the broth through a fine screen and set aside.
12) Shuck all of the clams into another bowl.
13) Rinse the shucked clams with hot water to remove any possible grit.
14) Divide the clams into serving bowls, top with a pat of butter, cover with hot broth and serve.
15) Add lots of fresh ground black pepper if desired.


Optional:

Add a splash of beer, ale, stout or wine right before the hot broth. Add some chopped bacon, red onion, chives or all of the above. Add chopped parsley or combination of chopped herbs to the bowl before adding the broth and try stirring in some sour cream, heavy cream or half & half to give it a richer New Englandy kind of taste. Don't get too carried away... You just want a hint of other tastes. Don't overpower your clams. I like a little extra virgin olive oil drizzled in before adding the broth as well. Fresh tomato slices or chucks can add an interesting twist. Feel free to experiment but don't stray too far from simple.

Notes:

     When I think of summer I think of clamming. The quickest and easiest way to have clams is as Roasters on the grill or steamed and served in a bowl of broth. Steaming up a batch for chowder is a good enough excuse to make a little extra to have right out of the pot. They're a little chewy and the broth is pure "clambrosia". This is one of life's simple pleasures for sure. It's an easy boat or beach meal as well... One pot and one burner or grill and you're in business.


Links:

Roasters or Clams on the Grill.

The 28th annual Great Chowder Cook-Off is happening Saturday June 6, 2009 in Newport, Rhode Island. Check out some chowdah.

The Danger Kitchen Uncle Pat's Clam Chowder recipe. Manhattan chowder... The real stuff!

The Danger Kitchen New England Clam Chowder recipe.

The Danger Kitchen Clam Bake in a Large Pot recipe. When you can't get to the beach.

A Potuguese Clam Boil recipe... Danger Kitchen Style.

My Carne de Porco a Alentejana recipe... With input from three great Portuguese cooks.
           ( Pork with Littlenecks )

www.dangerkitchen.com Danger Kitchen has a home.

Danger Kitchen is brought to you by The One-Legged Sandpiper.






     Thursday, July 30, 2009     


Danger Kitchen
The Danger Kitchen

New England Clam Chowder Recipe

Is finally in the Danger Kitchen Online Cookbook

     When I think of chowder I think of Manhattan clam chowder. When you grow up in New Jersey at the shore, or anywhere else in the state for that matter, Manhattan is the chowder that you eat. When I moved to New England I was subject to bowl after bowl of lousy Manhattan or "Red" chowder as they call it because they put no effort into it. I finally needed to make some for myself and grew to enjoy it if it's done well. Left to my own devices I would still make Manhattan exclusively but Kelly prefers New England or "White" chowder. I also enjoy Rhode Island chowder which is a clear broth. No matter what you have to use fresh clams and it is well worth the effort Clamming to get them.





     Monday, August 17, 2009     


Only a week ago but it seems like forever!


     Monday, August 24, 2009     



Clamming - 2009 - Island Beach State Park
Island Beach, New Jersey

Good Clamming Results After a Tough Year


      Clamming and the results of the activity has always been a barometer for life's overall condition at the beach, at least for Kelly and me. Sure the results have contributed to some great eating over the years and yeah it's good exercise... back breaking and exhausting at times... but the whole activity is more than the sum of its components.
      Getting all of the gear ready and getting to Island Beach State Park before crowding closes the gates for a few hours can be a logistic challenge. Heat and wind, tides and flies can all make or break an outing. On a perfect day we stroll through ankle deep warm water in a gentle breeze from the east and have plenty of little sandbars to pull the kayaks up on for lunch and we get lots of clams. Some days we fight strong winds out and then back after the wind changes directions. We're slogging through knee to waist deep cold water in clouds of biting green flies and schlep for miles on the flats in search of a decent spot and find it just in time for a thunder storm to chase us back home.
      There is a limit of 150 clams per person per day. Clams have to be a minimum of one and a half inches long to keep. We have yet to get our limit but have come close a time or two. There is a protocol for keeping track. We fan out from the kayaks and collect as many clams as we can in our pockets (8-12 usually) before returning to the kayaks to count them into the mesh athletic bag that hangs off of my kayak seat in the water to keep the clams fresh and happy during the day. The field count is always verified back at the house at the start of the de-sanding process before getting them in a cooler on ice. The need and desire to know how many has lead to the keeping of statistics (see below). These are not as elaborate as baseball statistics but way more important to the grand scheme of life.
      You need a license to clam legally. You can't clam on Sunday. I believe clams are Methodist. You need to pay to get into the park, either $6 per day weekdays or $10 per day weekends or $50 for a seasons pass. We always try and get a pass. Some years we have gone New Years Day for one... the very first day of the year. We always go to the park New Years Eve so we start and end the year there.
      You need clamming rakes to get the big hauls, we have six and they all have names: The Clam Killer, Shopping Cart, Farmer, Darth Vader, Catcher's Mask and New Shopping Cart. Kelly's favorite is the Clam Killer. It belonged to Pat Stasick, my grandfather's lifelong friend and fishing buddy, of Uncle Pat's Clam Chowder fame and is probably sixty or eighty years old. I like the Farmer the most. Kelly uncovered the rusted head of the Farmer while cleaning out the lifeguard storage box at the end of Ocean Road in Ocean Beach quite a few years ago and I mounted an aluminum pole from a drift net buoy to it as a handle after wire-brushing it and priming and painting it with RustOleum. The shopping cart is the next most used but doesn't see much action any more. Kelly's Dad's friend Rick repaired the Clam Killer last year in exchange for some clams and it looks like its ready for another sixty or eighty years of action. Kelly forgot it at the park on her solo clamming excursion in June and was warned sternly by park police for traveling twice the posted speed limit to get back to rescue it. We do find a good percentage of the catch with our feet while raking or just walking to a new spot. Some people just use their feet. We get way more clams than the "treaders".
      Even with no clams to be had after October or before June, there's always something to do or see at the park. We can get mussels any time of year and have made fine batches of mussels marinara to celebrate nothing more than going to the park. Another off-season ritual is a stop at 7-l1 ("Sevo") in Seaside Park for Sun Chips and Coca-Mocha-Latte-Frappuccino-Coffee drinks out of the machine before hitting the park. Sometimes we get a cup of chowder at Berkley Seafood Restaurant and Fish Market which is just outside the gates of the park and the last business heading south on the island. Sometimes we stop at the boardwalk in Seaside for a slice of pizza at Three Brothers or the Saw Mill before heading home.
      What to do with the clams has never been an issue, even with 3,338 total. Some are eaten raw. If you've never had a clam fresh out of the clean clear waters of Barnegat Bay you have no idea how good clams can be. The sweet fresh taste and tender texture is sublime. Many (hundreds) have been given away to clam lovers of every persuasion. They are always well received. Kelly has made fresh fried clams that were out of this world and many end up in Uncle Pat's Clam Chowder, New England Clam Chowder, Potuguese Clam Boils and just plain old Steamed Clams in Broth. When there's too many to eat within two weeks, they get steamed and shucked and frozen in their own broth for special treats during the clam-less winter months and special events. Birthday chowders and Clams Negra Modelo are always special occasion meals. Our clams are as good or better after two weeks on ice as the clams you get from most raw bars or supermarkets. Fish market clams aren't much better. Clamming is so worth doing for all of these reasons and more.



Clamming Stats
Date Month Year Clams Rank Total Notes
06/29/02 June 2002 92 18 92  
07/06/02 July 2002 156 10 248  
07/22/02 July 2002 167 7 415  
08/10/02 August 2002 210 4 625  
09/14/02 September 2002 188 5 990  
? ? 2003 1 24 991  
? ? 2003 2 23 993  
? ? 2003 130 15 1123  
? ? 2003 166 8 1289  
? ? 2003 252 1 1541  
07/09/04 July 2004 13 22 1554  
07/10/04 July 2004 80 19 1634  
08/16/04 August 2004 102 17 1737  
10/01/04 October 2004 1 24 1738  
07/07/07 July 2007 53 20 1791 Back in the game after two years.
07/26/07 July 2007 104 16 1895  
07/28/07 July 2007 226 3 2121  
09/05/07 September 2007 164 9 2285  
09/26/07 September 2007 226 3 2511  
06/16/08 June 2008 154 11 2665 The earliest in the season ever.
07/07/08 July 2008 244 2 2909 Could have broken the record but had to get away from a thunder storm.
09/05/09 September 2008 133 14 3042 Farthest out yet, 6 or 7 places, 5 1/2 hours, Good luck north of the put-in on the east side.
06/29/09 June 2009 19 20 3061 Kelly by herself at the first area with no kayak. Almost lost the Clam Killer.
07/04/09 July 2009 142 12 3203 Made it back in time for the party at Matt & Shelia's house in Monterey Beach and fireworks at OB1. The park was closed temporarily when we got there. In the water by 2:00.
08/08/09 August 2009 135 13 3338 The latest start in the day ever: After 4:00.


Hopefully two or three more runs this year!

You can never have too many clams!




     Sunday, September 13, 2009     

Today saw the weather turn from a clammy humid fall-feeling morning to a great late summer afternoon. Work is underway on a Crabby page to honor the poor little critter and I think I got some great shots of some great sailboats as night fell on India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island. I hope to have those up tomorrow time permitting. There's clams in the cooler that need steaming (or eating) and a million other things to tend to but I'm still fighting off a summer cold/flu type of thing that made tonight's walk in Providence a bit of a chore. The last mile back to the truck really sucked but the sailboats and the waterfront revived me for a while. Time to call it a night and get some sleep. There may not be too many more balmy nights to have the windows all cranked ope and hear crickets so go for it.



     Monday, October 5, 2009     


Clamming - September 2009 - Island Beach State Park
Island Beach, New Jersey

Decent Clamming Results For This Time Of Year


      September clamming got off to a tough start. We tried the day of the Labor Day beach picnic but the logistics of getting ready put us at the park too late to get in and we ended up putting the kayaks in at the beach next to the old Wheelhouse Marina which now belongs to Island Beach State Park. We worked for hours to no avail and had to leave to make it back to the beach picnic. Kelly was planning on putting clams in a boil for the non-participants of the picnic but had to make do with shrimp and crabs. The boil turned out great and the beach picnic was better than usual but the disappointment of "no clams" was still stinging.
      We went out again Monday for Labor Day and hauled in 158 which is decent for September. Most of them were huge chowder size. This put us back in the zone after the previous defeat and we planned to go out again as soon as I could get back to the beach. This batch of clams was steamed and shucked and frozen for future chowders and such. We got back to the beach and cleaned up just in time for the Labor Day Cookout at Kelly's Aunt's house in Monterey Beach.
      The next shot to go was Friday, September 25. The day started out cold and VERY windy and cloudy. By two o'clock the wind had eased slightly and we were working against a schedule that left us no other days to go out so... We made our move. It wasn't the coldest or windiest we've been out but it was sure close to it. The first hour and a half yielded ten clams even though we were as far west and south as we've ever been. We were getting very discouraged and decided to move back east and started hitting them well. We got close to sixty clams in less than thirty minutes and our moods were much better.
      We were both coming off of being sick and I was still on antibiotics for bronchitis so our pace started slowing as the sun sank lower. Big dark clouds were heading towards us from the west and it was getting colder by the minute when Kelly called it. There was no discussion. We lucked out and were able to walk two thirds of the way back to the put-in ramp and got a few more on the way. It felt good to be back out of the wind and we lingered at the ramp for a while trading clamming stories with some beach folks that were showing some company around the park.
      We got back just ahead of the evil looking storm that defined the weather for the rest of the weekend. Kelly headed to the store for the ingredients for beef stew and I unloaded and unpacked the gear and counted up the spoils. Kelly made a fantastic beef stew with giant corn kernels from the market in Patterson in it. The weather turned so cold so fast that closing up the windows didn't help much. The pot of stew on the stove warmed up the house nicely and made everything smell great. After showers and warm dry clothes and a few Oktoberfest beers we settled in to watch some "ghost shows" on TV. The storm didn't keep us from grilling up a whole grill full of roasters (clams) and enjoying the fruits of our labor. A bowl of stew and a few more Sam Adams later and there was nothing left to do but settle in for a great night sleep listening to the ocean waves and the howling winds batter the beach.



Clamming Stats
Date Month Year Clams Rank Total Notes
06/29/02 June 2002 92 19 92  
07/06/02 July 2002 156 11 248  
07/22/02 July 2002 167 7 415  
08/10/02 August 2002 210 4 625  
08/23/02 August 2002 177 6 802  
09/14/02 September 2002 188 5 990  
? ? 2003 1 26 991  
? ? 2003 2 25 993  
? ? 2003 130 16 1123  
? ? 2003 166 8 1289  
? ? 2003 252 1 1541  
07/09/04 July 2004 13 24 1554  
07/10/04 July 2004 80 21 1634  
08/16/04 August 2004 103 18 1737  
10/01/04 October 2004 1 26 1738  
Date Month Year Clams Rank Total Notes
07/07/07 July 2007 53 22 1791 Back in the game after two years.
07/26/07 July 2007 104 17 1895  
07/28/07 July 2007 226 3 2121  
09/05/07 September 2007 164 9 2285  
09/26/07 September 2007 226 3 2511  
06/16/08 June 2008 154 12 2665 The earliest in the season ever.
07/07/08 July 2008 244 2 2909 Could have broken the record but had to get away from a thunder storm.
09/05/09 September 2008 133 15 3042 Farthest out yet, 6 or 7 places, 5 1/2 hours, Good luck north of the put-in on the east side.
06/29/09 June 2009 19 23 3061 Kelly by herself at the first area with no kayak. Almost lost the Clam Killer.
07/04/09 July 2009 142 13 3203 Made it back in time for the party at Matt & Shelia's house in Monterey Beach and fireworks at OB1. The park was closed temporarily when we got there. In the water by 2:00.
08/08/09 August 2009 135 14 3338 The latest start in the day ever: After 4:00.
09/05/09 September 2009 0 27 3338 The first ever with NO clams!!!
Couldn't get IN the park.
Tried by Wheelhouse Marina.
09/07/09 September 2009 158 10 3496  
09/25/09 September 2009 88 20 3584  
Date Month Year Clams Rank Total Notes


Hopefully one more run this year!

You can never have too many clams!




     Tuesday, October 6, 2009     

A Pre-Clamming Beach Breakfast
Friday, September 25, 2009

This isn't a Danger Kitchen feature but this was SO good I want to relive the event again and again. The weather was cold and windy and we needed to wait a while to see if the wind would die down so... Time for a big breakfast. This can best be described as a Breakfast Torta... A Mexican inspired egg, potato, chorizo and grilled cheese breakfast sandwich that can kick an Egg McMuffin's butt! It was the perfect gut-bomb breakfast before trudging through knee deep cold water in howling wind for four hours.

     Sunday, October 11, 2009     

Danger Kitchen
Danger Kitchen

The Last Clams Get Steamed

Check out the One-Legged Sandpiper Clamming page.


Clamming Results
The Stats Get Changed

One gets by the goalie!


      Clamming is very rewarding and hard work so we always like to maximize our results. Keeping statistics is a very important part of the process. We seldom get clams that are too small (less than 1.5 inches) but it does happen. What happens WAY more often is that we find "fake" ones.
      Fake clams (our term) are clams that are buried in the bottom just like normal clams but the clam itself has died and been replaced over time with silt and muck. When you first hit them with the rake they seem the same as any other clam. Often they fall apart when you pick them up. Some times they make it into the bag, back to the house and some times even into the cooler.
      Twice now a fake one has made it much farther. The first time was a small one that was actually cooked into a batch of Clams Negra Modelo on the cold rainy first night of Kelly's 2008 summer vacation. Luckily it didn't spill any grit or muck into the dish. I have no idea how. The next time it happened was last night. A big one was scrubbed and placed in the pot with the rest and held together until I attempted to shuck it open after steaming. That's not uncommon since the clams on the bottom of the pot are crowded and weighed down by the others on top of them so they often don't open fully if at all.
      To add insult to the injury of a tough, tough September... We had to decrement the clam count by one. Luckily the rest weren't spoiled by this fake one. There was just a little grit o the bottom and I rinsed its neighbors as they came out of the pot to make sure. These will be the next batch of chowder, stuffed clams or maybe even clam hash at the beach in a few weeks. The revised stats are below.


Clamming Stats
Date Month Year Clams Rank Total Notes
06/29/02 June 2002 92 19 92  
07/06/02 July 2002 156 11 248  
07/22/02 July 2002 167 7 415  
08/10/02 August 2002 210 4 625  
08/23/02 August 2002 177 6 802  
09/14/02 September 2002 188 5 990  
? ? 2003 1 26 991  
? ? 2003 2 25 993  
? ? 2003 130 16 1123  
? ? 2003 166 8 1289  
? ? 2003 252 1 1541  
07/09/04 July 2004 13 24 1554  
07/10/04 July 2004 80 21 1634  
08/16/04 August 2004 103 18 1737  
10/01/04 October 2004 1 26 1738  
Date Month Year Clams Rank Total Notes
07/07/07 July 2007 53 22 1791 Back in the game after two years.
07/26/07 July 2007 104 17 1895  
07/28/07 July 2007 226 3 2121  
09/05/07 September 2007 164 9 2285  
09/26/07 September 2007 226 3 2511  
06/16/08 June 2008 154 12 2665 The earliest in the season ever.
07/07/08 July 2008 244 2 2909 Could have broken the record but had to get away from a thunder storm.
09/05/09 September 2008 133 15 3042 Farthest out yet, 6 or 7 places, 5 1/2 hours, Good luck north of the put-in on the east side.
06/29/09 June 2009 19 23 3061 Kelly by herself at the first area with no kayak. Almost lost the Clam Killer.
07/04/09 July 2009 142 13 3203 Made it back in time for the party at Matt & Shelia's house in Monterey Beach and fireworks at OB1. The park was closed temporarily when we got there. In the water by 2:00.
08/08/09 August 2009 135 14 3338 The latest start in the day ever: After 4:00.
09/05/09 September 2009 0 27 3338 The first ever with NO clams!!!
Couldn't get IN the park.
Tried by Wheelhouse Marina.
09/07/09 September 2009 158 10 3496  
09/25/09 September 2009 87 20 3583  
Date Month Year Clams Rank Total Notes