- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Month: June 2008

Who’s New, Who’s Moved, Who’s Gone 2008

A walk about town is always interesting this time of the year – many merchants have relocated, others have moved on and there are, as usual, a few new kids on the block. So, let’s take look at the summer of 2008’s merchants’ line-up.

Let’s begin with the Washington Street Mall – center for all retail in Cape May and fresh from a recent re-do – the rededication of which will take place June 21 at 10 a.m. The 500 block is pretty steady with no changes.

Over in the 400 block, we noted one change – the former Rick’s Café which changed over to Delaware Bay Coffee Company, which last year changed toFigs, changed again before the summer ended to Café Buon Giorno. It still serves a wickedly good cup of java and you can still get a breakfast treat and a light lunch there. One big change in the 400 block is the renovation of the building which up until last year housed Jewelry Emporium and Nostalgia Shop Antiques  The building underwent a major renovation by Jackson Mountain Café owner Mike Slawek and is expected to open within the next month or so as Cape May Fish Market. It should also be noted that Mike bought The Ugly Mug Café last summer from Bob and Lisa Ransom – so it is under new ownership. Cape May on Canvas has changed its name toScott Griswold Art. For those of you who remember The Market at the Bubbling Well, which housedCreate-A-Bear for several years, that building is still vacant.

Some big changes over in the 300 block, the most noticeable being the major renovation of The Lynn Arden Children’s Shop which closed in the fall and still has not reopened – but they look close to opening their doors any day now. The original circa 1916 building was demolished and a new three story a structure went up in its place. Around the corner,Wildberries moved from their Jackson Street location to Sawyer’s Walk in the 300 block, which was home to Tides of Time which has moved to the Pink House cottage, formerly Uniquely Yours II (the small pink cottage behind the Pink House on Carpenters Lane). InWildberry’s place is a new shop called Happy Baby Baby Boutiqueand right next door is another new shop (Wildberries had both locations) Cape May Sandal Shoppe. The Golden Gull is gone.Across the Way is in. This eclectic gift store is owned by the people across the way – Pam and Steve Smarro of Madame’s Port fame. Balance Yoga Studio is gone from upstairs at Stumpo’s Pizza. They moved to Park Center on Park Boulevard in West Cape May.

Moving around the corner to Perry Street, the big change there is the recent opening of Pink, a jewelry and clothing boutique owned and operated by the people who runVictorious in Congress Hall andVictorious II in the Washington Commons. Across the street the shops of Congress Hall have undergone some huge changes, most of them in the “gone” category. Gone are: The Museum Shop,Environs, 30 Degrees. Laura’s Fudgeleft last year. Tommy’s Folly has expanded into the form Museum Shop and across the aisle where Environs and 39 Degrees once were, are the sales offices for the soon-to-be built Ocean House, formerly The Rusty Nail Restaurant andCoachman’s Motor Inn on Beach Avenue.

Over at Washington Commons, theHenna Shop, which opened last year, is gone. In its place is a clothing boutique called Go Fish. Right next door was a vacant store which at one time wasCandlessence now has a new tenant – sort of. Riptide East, which sells college sports apparel, opened Riptide West, across walk and is a professional sports apparel shop. W.C. Gallery split his store in half to make way for Maggie’s of Cape May, a sandwich shop, which will be opening in the near future. Good news for the customers of the very popular Paw Prints. The original owner sold the store a couple of years ago. The new owners left and the original owner is back. YEAH! Boardwalk Bankmerged with Cape Savings Bank, on Jackson Street, and is now Cape Bank. So Boardwalk Bank is gone.Homestead Realty is in.

And speaking of Jackson Street, make sure you check out the Mad Batter Restaurant’s new bar, built entirely from “green” materials. It looks like a great way to stop have a cocktail and order some food. They are promoting music, like Jazz at theBatter on Wednesday nights with more to come as summer swings into gear.

Along Washington Street, GooseCreek gift shop is gone. Nothing in its place as yet.

Now where are we? Oh, let’s pop over to Carpenters Lane. Last summer Lynn Arden’s Children Shop opened a satellite store in the cute yellow building on Carpenter’s Lane. Lynn Arden’s is gone. BUT, guess what? Lizzie Fritz ofTradewinds fame is in. At the Merry Widow, Ocean Isle Tans is gone. Desatnick Real Estate is in.

On the beachfront, make note that theBeach Theatre’s demise was exaggerated and is back under the new management of the Beach Theatre Foundation. Every ticket you buy helps the theatre stay and keeps the condos they want build there instead out. Next to the box office –Create-A-Bear is out. Shades of Cape May is in. Louie’s Hot Dogs of Louie’s Pizza fame is in. The spot was vacant last year and occupied by Beaches &Cream the year before. Lu-Lu’s, at the Macomber Hotel is gone. Green Room Café is in. Also gone is – and can you believe it – Mother Grimm’s Bears. But you can still order your bears at 886-1200 or by Around the corner next to Louis’ Pizza, Art and Soul Paint Your Own Pottery is gone. Amassage place is in but at press time, they didn’t seem to know the name of their establishment.

On the promenade Godfather’s is gone.Surfin’ Sammies Beach Grill is in.

Over in West Cape May on Panico’s Brick Oven Pizza is in. Captain Blackbones is out. Cape Wallpaper and Flooring on Park Boulevard, next to Flying Fish Studio and Linen Outlet is out. Media in Motion is in.

Well, that’s the scoop for summer 2008. Give the new kids on the block a try and please keep patronizing the tried and true. If we’ve forgotten anyone, give us an email.

Higbee Beach…Journey Back to Nature

Wild and wilderness – that is Higbee Beach. Some know it as a place for nature, others a place for naturalists, still others as a place to retreat from the overcrowded beaches and byways of Cape Island.

This one-and-one-half mile stretch of beach at the tip of Cape Island, along the Delaware Bay, draws people passionate about all sorts of natural pursuits: bird watching, sunbathing in the nude, picking beach plums, picnicking with the family, hunting for Cape May diamonds, taking the dogs for a run, fishing and hunting. Higbee is a stage for some of the best bird watching in the world. It has lured botanists for decades searching the dunes for nearly extinct brambles and flowers.

You can find Higbee Beach as New England Road dead ends, and opens into the thick woods and swamp that shelters the beach from view. A right hand turn and the road diverges into the trees, hanging heavy with entangling wild white roses and pale yellow honeysuckle. The dirt road ends at the beach, the bay and the Cape May Canal. The scent of the flowers on a calm, cool June morning is a rare delicate perfume. The horizon opens wide, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Landing straight ahead across the canal. The ferry heads out into the bay and disappears in the mist. The fog horn sounds every 15 seconds.

You can see the entire stretch of Higbee Beach, containing the last remnants of coastal dune forest on the bay shore. The dunes soar more than 35 feet high in some places, the sand cliffs dropping sharply to the shoreline. The forest of holly, red cedar, sassafras, persimmon, northern bayberry, scrub oak, wild black cherry, common wax myrtle and beach plum stabilize the dunes, despite winds that whip across the 12 mile wide bay, at its confluence with the Atlantic Ocean.

Several hundred acres of woodland upland shroud the beach with a dense under story of tangled vegetation. There are a freshwater marsh, two fresh water ponds, a hardwood swamp and old farm fields, all of which combine to provide a perfect environment for migratory songbirds, raptors and butterflies. The 1,069 acre Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area grows frequently as the state of New Jersey buys land threatened with development. It is managed by the Division of Fish and Game and overseen specifically to provide a habitat for migratory birds. Higbee Beach is comprised of six different locales: Signal Hill, Davey’s (or Davis) Lake, Pond Creek, Sassafras Island, Hidden Valley, and the Magnesite Plant.

Each has its own characteristics and characters who frequent it. Davey’s Lake is a spot on the southern end of Higbee where local boys played hooky, went skinny dipping, and teens gathered to sip their first surreptitious beer. Hidden Valley was once a 92-acre farm between Bayshore Road and the Pond Creek Marsh. The Dickinson family, preferring it be preserved rather than developed, sold it to the state in 1986. Part of the acreage is known as Hidden Valley Ranch, and is leased for equestrian activities. The fields, trails and swamps are well known to birders.

The history of Higbee Beach goes back to the time of whaling here in Cape May County. According to Cape May County: A Pictorial History, written by Herbert Beitel and Vance Enck; “Higbee Beach played a prominent role in the early history of the county. One branch of New England Creek emptied into the bay where the canal is now located. A deep ‘hole’ in the bay offered an excellent mooring site, at first for whaling fleets and later for sloops that carried wood cut by farmers eager to clear the land, to Philadelphians desirous of warming their homes.”

Higbee Beach has had an illustrious intellectual past. The Cape May Geographic Society listed as its members scientific men of letters. A member until the Society disbanded in 1991, Keith Seager of Cold Spring has explored, photographed and shared his Higbee finds for 40 years. Among his photos are pictures of a very rare wild orchid,Spiranthes oderata (pictured bottom left), which grows only at Higbee. He is most proud of his picture of coast bedstraw (pictured bottom right), a ground cover. “It took me 20 years to find it,” he says.

Seager cherishes his affiliation with the Geographic Society and sought out an expert book binder to preserve the Society letters. They included botanists, geologists, and specialists in paleontology from the University of Pennsylvania, the Academy of Natural Sciences and Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Their 1946 charter promises to explore, collect and exhibit materials related to the marine life, birds, other fauna, plants and the geological background of South Jersey. They agree to share their writings in a newsletter, and to provide a weekly column for the Cape May Star and Wave.

The curator was Otway H. Brown, a highly respected Cape May botanist, though he only went to the third grade. He supervised the plantings at the Physick Estate in Cape May, lived on the fringe of Higbee Beach and was an intimate of the Higbee family. Brown’s 1877 home (now yellow) still stands at the intersection of New England and Bayshore Roads.

Geographic Society member Robert Alexander chronicled some history of the beach’s namesake: “At one time all of the land between the two creeks (New England, where the Cape May Canal is now, and Pond Creek) was owned by Joseph S. Higbee…” He began purchasing the land in 1823, “and came in full possession of the whole plantation in 1830. This plantation remained in the Higbee family for over a century.”

As early as 1807, there was a tavern at the mouth of New England Creek where travelers procured food and drink and lodging. This tavern was owned by Thomas and Rhoda Forrest from 1807 to 1823, and was called “Aunt Rhody’s” or “Rhoda’s Hole.”

The Hermitage Hotel, according to Alexander’s account, “was a large building comprising three distinct parts apparently erected at different times. Upstairs there were the bedrooms for guests and the employees. Among the legends about the inn is one telling that pirates brought their captives here, forcing them to go up the narrow stairway scarcely wide enough for passage, to the attic where they were securely bound and held for ransom. The inn, which stood at the south side of the present dirt road, remained a landmark until about 1940.” Seager claims there is still evidence of the foundation in the woods, as New England Road forks right toward the bay.

Alexander’s research found that Delaware River pilots, of which Joseph Higbee was one of the most famous, and sailing vessels used Higbee’s beach as a landing spot “bringing passengers down the river from Philadelphia before the landing was established near Cape May Point. After spending the night at the inn, the passengers resumed their journey to Cape Island, the old name for Cape May City, by stagecoach. “

Joseph Higbee died in 1872 at the age of 75. Despite the sometimes wild and raucous 184-year history of the woods and beach he owned, he rests in peace behind a heavy filigreed wrought iron fence in the family plot at the 1714 National Historic Landmark Cold Spring Old Brick Presbyterian Church Cemetery on Seashore Road, four miles from his namesake beach. His tomb stone reads: In memory of Joseph S. Higbee, son of Joseph S. and Martha Higbee, October 9th, 1796, February 4, 1872.

Stories have been written that his brother Thomas Horres Higbee, who inherited the property, devised a scheme to keep the plantation in the family as long as possible.

Thomas told his friend Jeremiah Eldredge as they sat under a big old cherry tree at the inn, “I want Etta (his niece) to have this place after I am gone, and if I am buried here, I know she won’t sell it.” Years later when Etta died, Thomas’ remains were removed from the beach to a vault prepared for the two of them at the Old Brick Church. And the property was sold, leaving the Higbee family tree about seven years after Thomas’ death.

The Higbee name for this special place lives on as does its colorful and sometimes notorious life.

With the advent of World War I, Higbee Beach moved into a different limelight – the industrial one. Eugene C. Grace, president of Bethlehem Steel, who was from Goshen and familiar with Cape May, needed “proving grounds” for munitions testing of artillery shells. In 1915 he purchased a tract of land along Higbee Beach for that purpose. It shut down shortly after the war ended, but remnants of its past lingered on the beaches. Joe Jordan’s book Cape May Point –the Illustrated History: 1875 to Present quotes Dave Rutherford who remembered that his father discovered a five and a half inch artillery shell along the beach one day in the 1920s which he kept in the house until his death. When the Navy Weapons Depot in north Jersey took possession of it, they had it exploded . “It had blown a crater in the ground big enough to swallow a bus.”

During prohibition (1920-1933), Higbee Beach was the site of a bootlegging operation. According to Jeffery Dorwart, author of Cape May County: The Making of a SeashoreResort: “Rumrunners unloaded Scotch whiskey from freighters beyond the three-mile limit off the Jersey Cape.” The high dune called Signal Hill got its name because it was a look-out for rumrunners.

More recently, Higbee Beach has had its share of controversy. The area’s unique nature lures all kinds of people. Many of them are interested in mating and migration rituals – although not always of the fine feathered variety. Several micro cultures over the years have laid claim to Higbee and, at times, there is intense conflict over the type of natural expression that can be enjoyed on the beach and along the trails that snake up and over the dunes and around the open meadows and fresh water ponds.

Voodoo Tree

Locals always skinny-dipped in the bay and romanced on lovers’ lanes far off the beaten path. The 1960s produced more travel and tourists everywhere, and Higbee, known mostly to locals and birdwatchers, began to draw crowds, especially those who preferred to go nude. Higbee became a naturist’s destination – with nudity on the beach unchallenged for many years.

Jordan writes in his Cape May Point book: “The public’s interest in nudists may be curiosity, lust or indignation. Besides the occasional passersby, the bathers were to be found in the binoculars of countless seafarers and fishermen, whose power boats assembled close to the shore for a really good look. Even the giant ferryboats listed to starboard or port as their passengers gathered at the rail to see what they could see on Higbees Beach as they were entering or leaving the nearby ferry terminal.”

Conflict did erupt. Neighbors on New England Road and Sunset Boulevard confronted Lower Township officials declaring there was lewd and lascivious behavior going on at the beach. The township answered, passing a law in 1986 banning nudity. This was an important beach for naturists and they continued to take off their clothes, contending that since it was owned by the state, Lower Township had no authority. It was a battle fought in the courts, and the naturists won that one. A decade later state courts did a flip flop: no more nakedness on Higbee Beach.

Nudists took issue. They were being stripped of what they had been enjoying for many years: a safe, secluded environment, “to relax and enjoy the beauty of the human,” says Robert Morton, who helped fight for the nude beach in his position as executive director of the National Naturist Society.

“Losing Higbee Beach is a great failure for us,” says Morton. “Naturists treasured this special beach. We fought the New Jersey state legislature, which in 1999 wrote a law on the grounds [alleging] there was illicit sex on the beach. Members of the legislature questioned how are authorities to make a distinction between good and bad naked people? They punished everyone and took the naturists’ liberty,” says Morton.

The new law allowed municipalities such as Lower Township to police and enforce nudity laws on state land. To give the bill some bite, the state awarded Lower Township police a $120,000 grant for enforcement. Authorities began sting operations using undercover officers to seek out indecent exposure and nudity. Last year Lower Township police issued 20 citations. Virtually all pleaded guilty and paid the $100 fine for first offense.

Bird watchers are the big winners in the passionate territorial struggles over the lands that are Higbee. Their numbers grow, and they are big business to Cape May’s ecotourism economy.

“Ask almost any birder in North America to name the best place to see fall migrating warblers and the answer is usually Higbee Beach,” writes Paul Kerlinger, bird book author and outdoor columnist who lives in the Cape May countryside. “Night migrating songbirds and day migrating hawks move into the Cape May peninsula and find themselves surrounded by water. Higbee Beach is a haven that provides shelter, food, and a place to rest. For a birder, it provides wonderful opportunities.”

One of America’s best known birders and authors, Peter Dunne, executive director of the Audubon Society’s Cape May Bird Observatory, says that some of the most exciting experiences in birding happen at Higbee. “The greatest fallout ever recorded in the history of bird watching occurred at Higbee Beach in the spring of 2005. The fields were just festooned with birds. There were birds in the treetops and in the grassy sites by the side of the road. The birds were feeding in the fields – there were about 1,500 orioles in one spot, and we would walk a step and kick up waves of birds. A warm southerly flow of air had stopped migration in its tracks.

“Witnessing bird migration is a window into the power of the universe at a time species are increasingly estranged from their environments,” says Dunne. “It is remarkable that unspoiled Higbee Beach is within a three hour drive of 50 million people. People come here and see a spectacle that is the equal of any natural history phenomenon on the planet.”
This spring Dunne and his team shattered the old national record of species identified in 24 hours during the World Series of Birding in Cape May. They chose Higbee Beach and a site near Davey’s Lake as their required 17-foot circle to record the birds by sight and sound. In 20 hours, from midnight to 9 p.m., with two folding chairs, one cot, two coolers, flanked by spotting scopes, they recorded 139 species, shattering the old record of 129.

But before birders and way before nudists, there were folks who just lived there. These were gentler times at Higbee when local families journeyed there on horseback for picnicking and gathering beach plums. Nancy McPherson was a Taylor whose great-great-great grandfather George Taylor settled on Cape Island in 1675. He became a large plantation owner, and his family still operates No Frills Farm on Seashore Road. Through the generations beach plums became a ritual. “My father was Sheppard B. Taylor, who operated a store on Columbia Avenue in Cape May, now Cliveden Cottage,” says Nancy. “He had a horse-drawn produce and milk route. Each of us four children had our own pony. We rode into Cape May on Sundays after church, and we trotted out to Davis Lake at Higbee and in season, carried along buckets and brought home gallons of beach plums.”

To this day, Nancy, now 76, makes beach plum jelly – lots of it. It is her art form, her passion. Last year she put up 1,100 half-pints. She distributes her clear rose-colored jars to local produce stands for sale. A few years ago Nancy gave up picking the fruit in the August heat and mosquito and poison ivy-infested Higbee dunes. Now she has several trees flanking the driveway of the old Taylor homestead where she lives, on Seashore Road. “I sit on a stool and pick a few quarts a day,” she says. “Christmas would not be Christmas without my gifts of Nancy’s beach plum jelly.”

So, the next time you visit Cape May or if you’re a local – drive, or bike on down New England Road. Walk the paths that lead to the beach and see if you can find the special places that make it Higbees. There are plenty to choose from: the voodoo tree, remnants of the Hermitage Hotel, old railroad tracks, the man in the tree.

And is it Higbee Beach, or Higbee’s Beach or Higbees Beach or Higbees Wildlife Management Area (which is what the state signs say)? Just depends on who you are talking to, and who writes it.

This article originally appeared in the August 2007 issue of Cape May Magazine.


Cooking with Curry

Culinary focus in the United States has had a definite Euro-centric slant.  In recent years Asian cuisines have become more popular and mainstream. But one Asian flavor is still largely misunderstood in America. Curry.  The fluorescent yellow curries of the past made from jar curry powder are about as authentic as Ragu is to a true Italian spaghetti sauce. These have thankfully made way for Thai, Vietnamese and true Indian curries.  Indian curries vary widely from region to region. Spice powders are often used, but the spices are most often roasted and ground together according to family recipes. The aforementioned neon yellow curry is Madras Curry and was developed to be shipped back to England for the curry addicted colonial masters.

Here is a simplified Indian Curry Primer which illustrates the major difference in Eastern and Western culinary traditions. Most Indian Cuisine is influenced by the Hindu philosophy of Ayurveda derived from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning span of life and veda, meaning knowledge. This philosophy recognizes that different substances affect the body and mind in different ways. Combining the same ingredients in different proportions will have separate effects on the mind and body (I wonder what the effects of Twinkies and McDonald’s French fries have on the mind and body.)

This philosophy is shared with two southeastern Asian countries that also are known for curries –Thailand and Vietnam.

Ayurveda characterizes food and drugs three ways: by taste; potency; and function. The basic tastes are: sweet, sour, salty pungent, bitter, and astringent. Potency is defined as the action the spice has on the body. An example of function would be the fact that figs and dates are both sweet, but figs have a purgative property.

The most important step in making curries is in choosing the fat oil in which to fry the spices. This is called ghee otherwise known as clarified butter. The base, if non-vegetarian, is always stock usually made while simmering the meat or meat on bone in the curry.

The second base, or thickening agent, could consist of onions, nuts or coconut milk. Flour is not used for thickening in Indian cooking since it does not contribute to flavor.

To complicate matters even more, the same ingredient may function differently in various recipes. For example, onions lightly fried or pureed will thicken, but if browned may function more for taste and color.

The most complex part is in adding the spices which is dependant on which spices you choose; the sequence in which they are added; whether they are fried or boiled, and for how long. Other components include souring agent (like lime, green mango yogurt and tomato,) and the coloring agents (tumeric, saffron, red tomato and garam masala – if fried for 1 minute in hot oil.) Spices also have two other roles: taste and aroma. This part confused me at first since all spices have tastes and aroma. But understanding how some are more dominant in one area than another teaches you how to customize your curry.

Don’t be caught in a curry conundrum. Play with the spices and see how the end result changes. The true joy of cooking curries comes from a highly personal expressionthrough food. This month curry favor with your guest by cooking the Indian Vindaloo or the Thai inspired curries.  Enhance them with Rote bread, cucumber raita and green chutney. Until next month, Bon Appétit!

Lamb Curry Vindaloo

  • ¼ Cup red curry
  • 1 Teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 6 Cloves
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 10 Peppercorns
  • ½ Star anise
  • 1 Teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 2 Tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 6 Cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon tamarind
  • 4 Teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup oil
  • 3 Onions chopped
  • 1½ Pounds lamb stew meat
  • ½ Teaspoon palm sugar

Grind all spices with vinegar. Rub meat with ¼ of prepared spice mix. Marinate 15 minutes. Heat oil in pan. Sauté onions 15 minutes until brown. Add remaining spicepaste. Cook five minutes (add water if necessary). Add lamb. Cook 5 minutes. Add 4 cups water, salt and palm sugar. Cook over low heat until tender.

Masoor Dal Red Lentils

  • 2 Cups red lentils
  • 10 Cloves garlic
  • 1 Medium onion, diced
  • 3 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoons ginger, chopped
  • 3 Green chiles, chopped
  • 1 Teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ Teaspoon cumin ground
  • 1 Teaspoon red chile powder
  • 2 Teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 Teaspoon butter

Wash lentils. Soak 30 minutes.

Cook lentils in 7 cups boiling water. Bring back to boil. Add salt and all ingredients, but oil and two cloves garlic. Cook for 30 minutes. Add lime juice. Mash until smooth. Fry garlic in oil 1 minute, add to Dal. Serve.

Cucumber Raita

  • 1 Cup yogurt
  • 1 Cup cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dash cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon sugar
  • Dash paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon cilantro, chopped

Mix all ingredients. Chill.

Tomato Raita

  • 1 Cup yogurt
  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons minced onion
  • Salt, pepper, cumin

Mix garnish with cilantro

Green Chutney

  • 1 Cup mint leaves
  • 1 Cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 Jalapeños
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • Cumin, salt, pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons lime juice

Puree all ingredients, except lime juice. Add juice. Mix well. Cover refrigerate lasts 2 days


  • 2 Cups cream of wheat
  • 2/3 Cup warm water
  • 4 Teaspoons oil

Mix cream of wheat and water to form dough. Add oil. Knead 5-8 minutes. Rest one hour. Break into 12 pieces. Roll on floured bowl.  Cook on flat griddle. Cook turning twice. Press with spoon if necessary.

Green Thai Curry

  • 4 Chicken breasts, sliced
  • 2 Cups coconut milk
  • 1 Onion cut in squares
  • 1 Red pepper cut in squares
  • 1 Green pepper cut in squares
  • 2 Tablespoons green curry paste
  • 4 Tablespoons fish paste
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 Tablespoon palm sugar
  • Lime zest

In small amount oil fry curry paste 3 minutes. Add vegetables. Cook one minute. Add coconut milk. Bring to boil. Simmer. Add chicken. Simmer until done. Adjust seasoning.

Shrimp Lemon Grass Curry

  • 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 Cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 Stalks lemon grass, peeled, cut into pieces
  • 2 Red peppers, julienned
  • 4 Tablespoons yellow curry paste
  • 3 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons yellow curry paste
  • 2 Cups coconut milk
  • 1½ Pounds shrimp
  • ½ Cup basil
  • ½ Cup cilantro

Heat peanut oil. Add garlic and lemongrass. Sauté until golden. Add pepper. Sauté one minute. Add curry paste. Sauté one minute. Add fish sauce. Add coconut milk. Simmer five minutes. Add shrimp. Cook until done. Toss with cilantro and basil.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

The New Jersey coast is one of the best places to have an herb garden. The well drained soil, sunshine and breezes all encourage healthy plants.

Rosemary and lavender grow best at the shore and throughout most of the Delaware Valley, but then so do many other herbs. A mild but cool winter allows perennial herbs the rest they need and the long growing season from frost to frost gives them plenty of time to grow.
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme as the old song goes are among of the most popular herbs of all and almost everyone is familiar with them.  There are many more, many culinary but some fragrant, historic or native. Herbs are fun, they smell good, and they are useful. They make me think of a peaceful sunny garden of long ago, and they are among the oldest plants grown by man. Herbs are timeless! Early man used them for medicines, food, and pleasure. People have always been fascinated by the fragrant, medicinal, and culinary qualities displayed by many of these plants.

An herb garden can be as small as a barrel or window box, as fancy as a bricked path knot garden, or as casual as some generous rows planted among the tomatoes and beans. There are many such examples inCape May. Several of the historic places such as the Physick house have herb gardens. Many home owners have herbs in both their flower beds and vegetable gardens and there are pots and window boxes every where with the homeowners favorite basils, parsley, and other culinary herbs.

An herb garden is so essential to a home and family. There is lavender for love and fragrance. Make potpourri with it or tie it into bath bags. There is basil for all the Italian dishes, sage for immortality and Thanksgiving dinner. How about using rosemary for remembrance and for the pork roast for Sunday dinner?  Fragrant mint for tea, chives for the baked potato, dill to toss with sour cream on cucumbers and lots and lots of parsley for just about everything you serve. Sweet woodruff can go in the May wine with strawberries, and thyme has many uses too. The list goes on and on and on and on.

Although most culinary herbs do best in sun, there are a few exceptions that can take less than full sun if they get good sun at noon.  A lot of this placement is trial and error. Some spreading herbs such as mints, lemon balm, monarda, and even woodruff are all best grown under trees where they become a useful ground cover and smother out weeds. Try mowing mint before a picnic and the whole yard smells nice and is said to be insect-free. This is a good reason to grow mint beneath the picnic table. 

To begin your herb garden now or any time this summer choose a sunny spot in which to grow your favorite herbs.  Landscape ties (8x8x4) filled with a good, well-drained soil work very well.  You can edge this with thymes, parsley, nasturtium and viola.

As you move near the center use the shorter herbs and then plant the tall ones in the center. Try sage, lavender, rosemary, basil, Italian parsley, lovage, chives, tarragon, dill, cilantro, lemon verbena, lemon grass and scented geraniums for a few that will be fun to grow and use. Save the mints, lemon balm, bergamot and oregano for a spot outside the raised bed where they can spread readily. I use many of these under tress as a ground cover that is fragrant and easy to grow to keep weeds away. Try a few herbs now, they will grow on you!

75th anniversary of Herb Society of America!

In 1933 group of woman in Boston first met in a garden to share their knowledge and enjoyment of herbs.  This was the beginning of the Herb Society of America. Their mission states “The Herb Society of America is dedicated to promoting the knowledge, use, and delight of herbs through educational programs, research, and sharing the experience of its members with the community.”  This national society is open to all and has local units in many areas.
I have been a member of this group for over 25 years.  Ten years ago we have started a local South Jersey unit of the Herb Society of America, which has members from Cape May, Gloucester, Camden, Cumberland, Salem, and Burlington counties. This group meets throughout the region with some meetings in Camden County, others in Cape May County, and several rights in the middle at the Franklin Township community center in Gloucester County. Meetings range from teas to garden visits to programs with speakers on herbal lore, crafts, food, and history.  Many of the members have an herb garden ranging from a large pot or barrel to a large plot.  Some members volunteer to work on public herb gardens as helpers and many do educational projects such as talks and demonstrations at public events.  The group plants and maintains a garden at Scotland Run Nature Center.

– Lorraine Kiefer

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