the return

Family Vacation. Cape Cod. August 2009.

Last week we watched L, our 14 month-old son, build sandcastles on the beach and ride gentle ocean waves while tucked inside our arms. He chased rabbits on the grassy front lawn. He sat with us in a hammock and pointed to the ocean waves.

“I want to go to there,” I whispered for him.

We stayed in a mid-20th Century beach cottage with a family of eight (including two toddlers) on Cape Cod overlooking the ocean. On our first night there we ordered Indian take-out and discovered that the cottage was built by an English professor who penned the history of the Cape in verse.

I wanted to curl up in bed that night with a book and drift off to the sound of the pounding surf. Instead I tucked in with L who by chance was on the verge of cutting four molars and needed much comfort and soothing.

Needless to say, sleep was not on the agenda. Nor was the opportunity to read about the Cape in verse or the many dusty volumes of classic and modern poetry and prose that were packed into the built-in bookshelves. My reading wish list: Henry David Thoreau, T. S. Eliot, Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle) and William Faulkner.

I did, however, manage to crack open Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker’s 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking and Marion Cunningham’s 1979 edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Both kitchen classics, these two cookbooks were instrumental in teaching Americans how to cook. These books offer a history of the American dinner table set in the same period as the cottage we stayed in.

In the spirit of Fannie Farmer, we ate food recently harvested from our farm share and from our collective gardens. We shared cooking duties and while we slept little, we all ate well.

We even managed to sneak out to the movies on the one day it rained to see the much talked about Julie and Julia. The movie theater was already packed when we arrived so I waited in line for the restroom. Once the line dwindled and I found myself in front of the mirror washing my hands, a young girl with dark curls and silver braces approached me.

“What movie are you going to see?,” she asked.

“Julie and Julia,” I said.

“Oh, we say that yesterday,” she said, “It was marrrvellous!”

“I look forward to it,” I said, “What movie are you going to see?”

“500 Days of Summer,” she said. She dried her hands with a brown paper towel and spun around in her skirt and out the door.

I have to say that I agree with her.

Peaches Poached in Sweet Blueberry Wine

(printable recipe)

Yield 4 servings

3/4 cup water
1/4 cane sugar (for a sweeter syrup, use up to 3/4 cup cane sugar)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cups sweet blueberry wine (or other sweet, fruity, and full-bodied red wine)
12 fresh mint leaves (I prefer using chocolate mint)
1 1/2 pounds ripe peaches

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, maple syrup, blueberry wine, and mint leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes. Slice the peaches in half; remove the pit and peel. Cut the peaches into 3/4-inch thick wedges and cook up to 10 minutes (for ripe peaches, longer for unripe) in the blueberry wine syrup. The peaches should be cooked just long enough to heat them up.

Allow the peaches to chill in their syrup. Serve cold with a few spoonfuls of wine syrup over top.

(This recipe is inspired by Lindsey Remolif Shere’s Elberta Peaches Poached in Red Wine with Cinnamon Basil found in Chez Panisse Desserts).


  1. Cristin says

    Great recipe suggestion. Though I've never seen blueberry wine, I'll have to see if I can find it out here in Oregon. Your post made me nostalgic for my days growing up in MA and going to the the Cape!

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