- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Month: September 2010

American Redstart

This American Redstart took a ride in a fishing boat. Photo courtesy Steve Teitelman.

My husband was fishing about 12 miles out when this American Redstart alighted on his shoulder. After hopping on his head for a spell, it then proceeded to walk down his arm and settle on his shoulder. He stayed with my husband for about 30 minutes for his ride back to shore, finally resting on the instrument panel to stay out of the wind. With 2 miles left to go, his little friend decided it was time to go and did just that.

I wanted more information about this little bird than what was contained in my abbreviated bird book, so I contacted a friend who sent me this information:

Wow, what a cool experience! This bird is a male American Redstart–which is a warbler. It was probably a bird that bred further north in the US this summer, and has left the breeding grounds. It’s very likely that this bird was undergoing a long distance migration to Central or South America (where it will spend the winter), and got fatigued and looked for a place to rest. Out at sea, there aren’t many options! Typically, small birds like this will migrate at night, and then put down in the morning sometime to rest and refuel before nightfall. Most songbirds like warblers tend to migrate over landforms, though, sometimes get blown out to sea and get off course. Most likely, the ride your friend gave this Redstart may have saved his life by giving him a break and safe place to rest for a bit. I don’t think I know anyone who’s had a Redstart walk on their shoulder. Warblers like this tend to spend most of their time in treetops, and are quite active and rarely come close enough for a good look.  So, your friend is lucky!

We think so too!

Susan and Steve Teitelman
Cape May

Bathing Beauties: Cape May’s Swimwear History

Miss Philadelphia beach. Sandy Deacon MIller is second from the left. (Click to enlarge)

This story originally ran in the July 2008 issue of Cape May Magazine.

It is 1950, well, maybe ’51. The war is over and optimism abounds. Corsets have gone by the wayside, and designers are creating more revealing swimsuits that hide faults in a woman’s shape. They achieve this by adding stretch-tummy control panels to hold in the stomach and they use bra cups and boning to give bust support. Thus is born the strapless swimsuit.

In Cape May that summer, Sandy Deacon (Miller) was named Miss Philadelphia Beach. She did not win the coveted title of Miss Cape May Beach Patrol that year, but enjoyed the September ball at Convention Hall anyway.

The Skinner Twins, Margaret and Barbara, on Congress Beach in the late 1930s. (Click to enlarge)

“The lifeguards picked a girl to represent their beaches,” Sandy recalled. “We would go down to the Christian Admiral Hotel and have our picture taken. The contest would end at Convention Hall shortly after Labor Day where we would parade out in our evening dresses and bathing suits. I came in third that year.”

A lot has changed in the way we dress for the beach since the ’50s, but think of how much things changed leading up to the “I like Ike” days. Cape May has from its inception been about families coming to the beach. Fortunately for Cape May Magazine those very families have kept their own chronicles of those lazy, hazy days of summer. Many of them have shared their family photos with us and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did. And a special thanks to Don Pocher for sharing his collection of turn-of-the-century postcards with us.

1932. Gladys Wilsey Downs at center, mother of Cape May resident Marjorie Wetherill. (Click to enlarge)

Let’s turn the clock back to the ’30s. Swimwear was getting briefer and more risqué. The backs were often scooped out so that a woman’s tan would show off at night in backless dresses. Little skirts to hide the thighs were popular. But the age of the contour suit and costumes with higher cut legs made a splash when swimming stars like Esther Williams and Dorothy Lamour hit the water with their synchronized performances.

The roaring ’20s ushered in the athletic tank suit, a popular choice for both men and women. The tank was ideal for the “androgynous athletic figure” that characterized the ’20s. The tank featured often unflattering stripes or abstract patterns. Those with less than perfect figures covered them up with wraps. New on the scene was the bathing cap. It was tailor made for bobbed hair and similar to the cloche hat of the same era.

Margaret Suelke and her sisters, Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Gimmel. 1910. (Click to enlarge)

Now let’s go back even further to the Victorian era when women were covered from head to toe. Women typically dressed in black, knee-length, puffed-sleeve wool dresses. They often had sailor collars. They were usually worn over bloomers. The later Victorian swimsuit outfit was still cumbersome, but more practical than the earlier serge or dark flannel bathing dresses. Edwardian swimsuits were very similar to Victorian styles in that they were still made of wool and included bloomers with an over-dress. The dress was now short-sleeved or sleeveless and was worn with black stockings and laced footwear.

And then there was the Great Cape May Speedo Caper of the early ’60s. According to then Mayor Frank Gauvry the rumors that an ordinance was passed banning speedos worn by men over the age of 12 from beaches simply to reduce the number of gay sunbathers was really not true. “It was the Canadians,” he maintained. “We passed the ordinance after a lot of merchants, residents and visitors complained about the Canadian men who were wearing nothing but a jock strap on the beach.

The women would take their tops off. Now the women eventually got the idea, but the men didn’t. So we had to pass an ordinance.” The speedo ban was repealed in 2005, thus proving that what goes around comes around.

Best of Cape May 2010 Results

Every year, we ask the readers of to give us their opinions on the very best Cape May has to offer, from accommodations to beaches to crab cakes. Here are this year’s winners and runners up, as selected by you.

Best Bicycle Route: The most popular answers were Sunset Boulevard and the Promenade, reminding you to ride early to avoid traffic! We had two very detailed write-ins for this category that we wanted to share with you:

John Schneider: From Ellie’s bakery to the Promenade down Pittsburg Avenue to Vermont Avenue to Washington Street back to Ellie’s.

Mark Miller: Start on Hughes Street, up Ocean, left before Washington Street Mall, head out to West Cape May, all through West Cape May into Cape May Point Sunset Boulevard & the Promenade.

Well, that’s it! We hope you enjoyed this year’s round-up of the best Cape May has to offer. Thanks to all of you for voting and helping to celebrate our seaside town!

25 White Marlin releases in a day

Forget Earl. That was nothing! The real news out of Cape May right now is a marlin bite that’s nothing short of “World Class.” If you’ve ever wanted to experience this type of action, now is the time. A large fleet of boats is fishing out of Canyon Club Resort Marina during our “Marlin Month” and many are experiencing claims of 15 to 25 releases per day. For more details, contact South Jersey Tournaments. For a slip, contact Canyon Club’s Dockmaster at 609-884-0199!

F is For Football!

My Sundays in the fall revolve around three F’s – Football, Food and Friends. It is always the food that ties the other two together. The game can be lousy and friends will still come over if you put out a good game-time spread. In the case of Big Games, the type of food you serve can actually affect the outcome of the game. I once made chili with chickpeas and the Giants blew a 20 point lead against San Francisco in a playoff game. A turkey, red-bean chili fiasco coincided with Dan Reeves being hired as head coach. A pastrami sandwich on really good rye bread and spicy brown mustard single handedly defeated the evil Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Cities renowned for a variety of good food are more successful in the NFL. Pittsburgh is known for its hearty pierogis and the inimitable Primanti Brothers sandwich as well as six Lombardi trophies. New York City is known for great deli, pizza, cheesecake, great street food and a culinary melting pot along with three Super Bowl rings – four if you count the Jets. I don’t. Dallas, the harbinger of Tex-Mex food, and San Francisco, the west coast capital of gastronomy, boast five championships each. Cities with no culinary tradition like Cincinnati and Cleveland? Zero wins. Towns with only one singularly famous dish don’t fare so well either. Buffalo, whose only culinary claim lies with those namesake wings? Zero for four in the big game. Being famous for cheese steaks has gotten the Eagles two appearances in the big game, but no victories for this one-dish town.

Good menu planning is critical! Don't plan on just chips.

The symbiotic relationship of food and football is undeniable. Good menu planning is critical. I prefer to go with dishes representative of the teams involved. Looking at the NFL’s opening week schedule, the culinary competition is fierce. Opening night should be an easy win for the defending champs – the New Orleans Saints – over the Minnesota Vikings. Gumbo and po’boys tackle pickled herring any day. That Sunday gridiron gourmets can choose from a cheesy contest between the Green Bay Packers and that team from Philadelphia or a Deli-ightful contest will have the New York Football Giants barbecuing those Panthers from Carolina. All mouth-watering match-ups.

Picking the right food for the game, means serving food that can be made ahead or that involves little last minute preparation. Being in the kitchen, flambéing while listening to your buddies scream as your team gets toasted, when the opening kick-off ends up being run back for a touchdown, makes for a long afternoon. Hot and spicy queso dips taste good and go well with cold beer. Buffalo wings or any of the hundreds of variations are also good game grub. Make real ones. Don’t buy the pre-cooked frozen varietals. They are expensive and not as flavorful as homemade.

Serve Red Curry Chicken Wings as part of your next all-star lineup.

Here is my all-star lineup of football food favorites. Starting with dips – first team is Spicy Green Chili Queso with tortilla chips. Second string is Crab and Artichoke Dip with pita bread. Hearty soups and stews are led by Raging Red Beef Chili with Beans with honorable mention to Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. Sandwiches are flanked by Sausage and Peppers and the Ultimate Patty-Melt. At the wingback position, we have Fiery Red Curry and the mild, but fan-favorite – Honey Barbeque. Special teams are led by New Castle Brown Ale and local favorite, Yuengling. For defense? Tums and Prevacid with Advil, if the home team loses in overtime.

As you get ready to kick-off your football season, try the recipes for Raging Red Beef Chili, Red Curry Chicken Wings and the Ultimate Patty-Melt. Until next month, Bon Appétit.

Note: Real sports fans never change teams. I was born a Giants fan and remain so, even though I live in enemy territory. Go Big Blue.

Raging Red Chili

  • 2½ pounds chuck steak, ½-inch dice
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 Shinerbock® beer
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Pancho® chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 23 cups cooked red beans
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (save juice)
  • 4 cup whole peeled tomatoes, canned, chopped or broken up
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt
  • pepper

In Dutch oven, heat oil, dust beef with flour, brown, reserve. Add chopped garlic and onions to pot. Sauté over high heat. Add meat back into pot. Add spices. Brown lightly. Add chipotle and juice. Deglaze with beer. Add tomato product, beans and water. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 2 hours. Adjust seasonings. Serve with warm tortillas, chopped scallions, cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Ultimate Patty Melt

(Makes 4)

  • 2 onions chopped and caramelized
  • 4 6-ounce ground chuck patties, seasoned with salt pepper and Heinz 57® sauce
  • 1 loaf rye bread, sliced ½-inch thick (8 slices)
  • 16 slices bacon
  • 2 large pickles, sliced lengthwise
  • 16 slices Swiss cheese
  • Melted margarine
  • ½ cup mayonnaise mixed with 3 tablespoons Gulden’s® mustard and 2 tablespoons horseradish

Cook burgers on grill until desired doneness. Heat griddle to medium. Brush bread with margarine. On top side, slather mayo mixture, then 2 slices cheese on each slice. Top with onions on one half of the sandwich and bacon and pickles on other half. Cook until cheese melts and bread is golden and crispy. Put burger on onion half. Top with bacon. Cut in half.

Red Curry Wings

  • 3 pounds wings
  • 1 cup flour, seasoned with 1 teaspoon each: paprika, salt, granulated garlic, chili powder, black pepper, coriander

Place seasoned flour in plastic bag. Add wings a few at a time. Shake well. Place floured wings on baking sheet that is well oiled. Bake wings at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes until fully. cooked, Toss in sauce


  • ¼ cup red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons garlic
  • 2 tablespoons ginger
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 cups coconut milk

In sauce pan, heat oil. Fry garlic, ginger and curry paste until lightly brown. Add honey and coconut milk. Simmer on low 10 minutes. Toss with wings.

persnicketychefJon Davies is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University of Culinary Arts. His work as a chef has taken him to Aspen, Colorado; Cape May, NJ; and the odd private jet for culinary gigs for the rich and famous.

Time to Wine

There is a lot of interest in growing grapes in the Cape May area now. This year’s September Food and Wine Festival affords the opportunity to visit these enchanting places.

People have always grown grapes in southern New Jersey, and we have history of wine making for over 200 years. One of the oldest wineries in existence today in New Jersey is Renault Winery, which began in 1864. According to the Garden State Wine Grower’s Association, during the Prohibition, Renault produced sacramental wines and medicinal “tonics.” In the 1800s the wine and grape juice industry was concentrated in Vineland (named for its vineyards), Cumberland County. Dr. Thomas Welch, a prohibitionist dentist, started Welch’s grape juice there. There were many immigrants in southern New Jersey who first grew grapes to make the wines they were used to drinking with their meals. Most had grown grapes all their lives and did it naturally. Each fall, making wine was also part of the local harvest.

Some folks, like me, grow grapes aesthetically to add a quaint look to a structure in the years. The grapes are good for making jelly, but that is the most we do with them. I call it real grape jelly when lots of fresh grapes are used to make a natural grape-rich jelly or jam. Follow the easy recipes on any pectin box and enjoy local grapes at their best.

For others who want to make wine, growing grapes can be a more complex and even time-consuming project. The climate and soil conditions in an area can dictate which grapes to grow. Helpful advice is free from the county extension service. It is best to choose a grape variety (or a few grape varieties) appropriate for your needs. It may take your plants a few years after being planted to produce grapes.

If you do not need a lot of grapes, try to buy established plants that are grown in containers, some may already have a few grapes on them. If you send for your vines and they are bare, root, sake and plant as soon as they arrive. If this is not possible, bury them and keep them moist until you can plant them. Do not let them dry out.

Plant your grapevines at least 8 to 10 feet apart in rich, well-drained soil. The soil can be in sandy or rocky soil since this drains well.

Good drainage is most important to grow good grapes. Even though grapes need well-drained soil, they still need plenty of water during the first month or so after they are planted. After planting, soak the entire root and keep them moist for the first few months. Keep the area under the plants weed free and add a layer of compost to insure sturdy healthy plants.

As the grapes grow, you need to train them on a trellis or arbor. The county extension service has pamphlets on this. They will also tell about pruning which is important to help the energy go toward making fruit. Pruning is often done in late February or early March. New vines grow from buds on last year’s vines. Keep your vines pruned to allow maximum airflow and sunlight to reach the vines and fruit.

You will also want to protect your grape plants from pests, such as insects, birds, and mildew or fungus. Birds will try to eat the grapes as they ripen. You can guard the fruit by throwing a net over the vines and fruit when it gets close to harvest time. Make sure the net is pulled tight to prevent the birds from getting caught under the net, and being injured. Growing grapes in a sunny location, with an abundance of air circulation can help cut down on powdery mildew and fungus growth. Sulfur and copper are natural fungicides that will help the homeowner naturally.

I have been told that it is time to pick grapes when the bottom and middle of the cluster are ripe. Taste to determine whether the fruit is ripe. Wine makers often test their grapes with a kit to check the sugar levels and pH in the fruit to determine whether the fruit is ripe.

Our grapes are the nursery cover a wood structure and make shade on our potting table. They look pretty and add some charm to our potting area. I usually forget to spray them with fungicide so the humidity takes a toll.

It is fun to go to a winery for wine tasting. I have many friends who like to make wine. It is fun, but a lot of work. The Cape May wineries are great to visit. Check out the upcoming food and wine festival date for visits to the local wineries. Some Cape May restaurants also provide the local wine. Enjoy.

Get Cape May area vineyard & winery tour information

lorraine-kieferLorraine Kiefer has gardened all of her life. She is a garden writer, floral designer and professional horticulturist. Lorraine teaches many classes at Triple Oaks nursery and Herb Garden in Franklinville, NJ. Email for garden help or leave your questions below!