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Month: April 2013

First Annual Capt. Mey Day on the Washington Street Mall

capt-mey-&-dancerThe merchants of the Washington Street Mall and the City of Cape May celebrated the first annual Captain Mey Day Saturday, April 20th. It is a celebration of the founding of Cape Mey (later Anglicized to May) by the Dutch sea explorer Captain Cornelius Mey. Events included authentic Dutch Klompen (dancers), a guest appearance by Capt. Mey and the appearance of the King and Queen. Additionally, folks were drawn to see the hotly contested homemade Apple Pie Contest. Ribbons and prizes were awarded for the Best Bake Apple Pie and to merchants for the Best Dressed Dutch-themed Window.

SPRING WINDOW DRESSING CONTEST WINNERS
The winners are as follows:
1st place: Bath Time – Bonnie Mullock
2nd place: Whale’s Tale – Hilary & Chuck Pritchard
3rd place: Colors – Linda & Steve Haley

Bob-Anderson-pie-winner

Hotly Contested Homemade Apple Pie Contest

The winners are as follows:
1st place: Tie between Diane Hutchinson & Bob Anderson (pictured above)
3rd place: Bonnie Pontin


The Bread Lady

liz4

Her name is Elizabeth Degener. Her father calls her Biz. Her friends call her Liz. But to all who queue up on a Saturday or Sunday morning along Sunset Boulevard, waiting for her arrival – she is simply known as The Bread lady.

This is her third summer selling bread from a roadside stand located at the foot of the family’s Enfin Farms property. As one waiting customer observed, the bread stand looks like the one Lucy uses in the Peanuts cartoon. Lucy’s stand has a sign which reads “Doctor is in.” At 8:50 a.m. on a Saturday morning, nearly one hour before Showtime, The Bread Lady’s stand is unadorned.

I start to walk up the long driveway toward the farmhouse when I hear my name being called. It is The Bread Lady’s father, Rich Degener. He is tugging at some tree roots over on the far side of the selling area. He tells me he is clearing more land so she has room to expand. I ask him if he likes the attention his daughter is getting, and he looks up into the sky as though pondering the question, smiles and answers very proudly, “I don’t mind being referred to as The Bread Lady’s father. I like that. Just walk up the driveway, Biz is expecting you.”

liz3

It is getting onto 9 a.m. and I am anxious to meet The Bread Lady so, even though I would like to stay and chat longer, I begin the walk up the long driveway.

When the farmhouse comes into view, I don’t see Elizabeth about, but I do eye the wood-fired clay oven which was shipped in from California in one piece. I call her name and she pops out from behind a bush near the farmhouse and greets me. She is wearing a simple white shift and she has a kerchief about her head which keeps her thick, curly hair in abeyance. Elizabeth introduces me to Wesley Laudeman, who runs the farming portion of the business, and then offers me some freshly made ginger tea. It is still warm, garnished with a slice of cucumber and mint, has quite a bite to it.

I bake myself, although not bread. Pies and cakes are me specialty, and I am anxious to investigate the clay oven which sits atop a concrete stand, which I estimate to be about four feet high and four feet wide.. Elizabeth opens the oven for me so that I might get a first-hand look at its inners and slips a lone loaf of bread, which did not seem to be quite done, back into the oven. Then we go into The Bread Lady’s inner sanctum – a commercial kitchen where all the bread has been readied in lovely cloth-lined baskets. Rounds with baguettes. Classic French bread mixed with Pumpernickels. Rosemary & Thyme loaves mixed with Raisin and Spice loaves, and all the assorted breads which will be offered on this already very warm Saturday morning. At the appropriate time, the baskets will be loaded onto the back of her father’s pickup truck and he will back it down the driveway. Within minutes, the empty Charlie Brown bread stand and adjacent vegetable market will be transformed into a slice of Europe.

But how did it all come about is my question.

It actually began in Ireland. Elizabeth studied International Business at the American College of Dublin. “On my summer holidays I would bounce around through Europe and go to farms through the WWOOFing program.” WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. “They give you,” she explained, “housing in exchange for maintenance on the farm. You learn about farm production, agriculture, in some cases baking, and anything that has to do with primitive living, really.”

Her travels took her to Germany for the summer proceeding her senior year and six months more after graduation. At that point, she became the cook for the community which included baking with a clay oven. After Germany, Elizabeth went off to India and also was the community cook there. In February 2010, she returned home.

liz1

“I didn’t have anything started yet,” she said, “but I knew I wanted to so something with farming and baking. So we [she and her dad) ordered the clay oven. I didn’t know what to expect. I took a big chance ordering it. The first summer was really slow. This is the third season and it is catching on, especially with [adding] the vegetables.”

Wesley, who is in charge of farming, is a childhood friend of Elizabeth’s and also had experience in the WOOF program in Mexico and Canada. Otherwise, it is a family affair, which Elizabeth would like to encourage. “My brother [Rick] just put in a big raspberry patch,” she said. “And he’s hoping to have a big yield within the year. He has big plans. We thought about planting blueberries, but we wanted something with high yield that you can sustain a small livelihood from and raspberries are very lucrative. We can get a substantial production out of them in one year. Blueberries take five years.” Her hope is that her other brother, Geoff, currently living in Baltimore, will return home and join the operation in some capacity.

So, I am wondering, what is a typical bread baking week like?

“All week I’m kneading the dough. It rises once. I shape it and I freeze it. Then [on Saturday] I get up at 4 a.m. I take the bread out of the deep freezer. It thaws and rises again. [Meanwhile], I fire up the oven. On the first day it will take two hours [to reach its appropriate temperature]. Tomorrow, only one hour.”

She makes, on average, about a 100 loaves a bead a day.

Before I know it, it is 9:45 and time to load the bread baskets, topped with linen towels or mesh domes to protect them from the bugs and insects, onto the truck. By the time we walk back down the driveway, making sure we say hello to the resident ducks, which Wesley says do a fine job of keeping the bugs off the vegetable and flower gardens, the bread line has begun and is growing. Seasoned customers come with friends and make a morning of it, chatting and catching up on the news. Others peek around while The Bread Lady and Wesley hang up the wooden signs which specify the choices. Within minutes, the stand and vegetable “market” have been transformed into a slice of Europe.

liz2

I dutifully take my place at the end of the line and when it is my turn buy – at the Bread Lady’s suggestion – a large loaf of Toasted Millet with sunflower, flax and poppy seeds, plus Chocolate Muffins for breakfast on Sunday. Who am I kidding? I wasn’t half a block down the road when I was enjoying one of those.

It’s a beautiful thing to see young entrepreneurs coming home to make a difference and I am sure The Bread Lady, who still hand-kneads all the bread, will be investing in a mixer one of these days. Her summer days of operation are Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

As an postscript to my story, The Bread Lady ran out of bread the next day and felt so badly, she went back to kitchen and made more bread and hand delivered it to a few of the customers who were left wanting. Now that’s a success story. historic-endmark


Coast Guard Searches for One – Good Samaritans Rescue Two in Cape May

450x338_q75Crew members from Coast Guard Station Cape May, N.J. are seen in the photo at right transferring two boaters to emergency medical services personnel who were waiting on the station’s pier, Thursday, April 4, 2013, after good Samaritans aboard the fishing vessels Captain Brown and Sandra Lee rescued them from the water. The station crew members, along with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., are continuing to search for one boater who is still missing


2013 Easter Fashion Stroll

easter-interiorThe 2013 Easter Fashion Stroll, sponsored by the City of Cape May, the Washington Street Mall Merchants and the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May,  prevailed even though light showers threatened to dampen the day mid-way through the judging.  But both the judges and the participants braved on. Mayor Edward Mahaney, Jr. presided over the event. Prizes were awarded according to age, gender and Easter attire and all donated by the Mall merchants and surrounding businesses.


Photo contest staff picks

In February, Cape May Magazine held its first photo contest, and the winners (who were chosen by the magazine’s Facebook fans) are published in the Spring 2013 issue. But we thought it would be fun to share our staff favorites with you here on CapeMay.com.

kingoftheworld

“I’m King of the World”

Photographer: Katrina W. Miller – November 8, 2012
Who liked this best: Jessica Keeler, web & social media manager

*****

sun

Photographer: Valerie Cancel – August 2011
Who liked this best: Susan Tischler, Editor

*****

yellowgull

Photographer: Mary Gentile – April 2012
Who liked this best: Bernie Haas, Publisher

*****

buoys

Photographer: Steve Haas – Spring 2011
Who liked this best: Stephanie Madsen, Art Director

*****

driftwood

Photographer: Lisa Ryan – July 4, 2010
Who liked this best: Michelle Bumm, staff photographer

*****

Do you have photos of Cape May you want to share with us? Post them on CapeMay.com’s Facebook page or tag your pics #lovecapemay on Tumblr and Twitter.


A trip to the zoo

daytripping-zoo

Did you know a peacock has a super loud mating call? It’s a scene, man. And that a lion’s roar can be heard really far away? How do I know this? No, I haven’t been to the African Savannah or wherever it is where peacocks live; just went to Exit 11 off the Garden State Parkway ̶ about a 15-minute drive from anywhere in Cape May.

Right there, about a mile off the main road, lies the Cape May County Park and Zoo, and wait till you see what’s inside. Lions and tigers and bears? Oh my!

Once school lets out, my kids and I crank Schools Out for Summer by Alice Cooper and roll the windows down ̶ a move that would be far more rebellious, say, if they weren’t only in preschool and my car was a cool ’57 Chevy and not a Honda minivan. We start looking for little trips to take for a morning or afternoon that gets us some culture, fun and sun. Our first trip of choice is usually the zoo.

peacock

The Zoo and Park sit on 85 acres of land. The zoo has over 550 animals, representing 250 species. The best part? Even though this sounds like a lot to take in, the zoo is very manageable and can be walked through in an hour, or three, depending on the length of time your children will give you.

On our zoo day, we pack a lunch (there are picnic tables on the park grounds), and head out early. Crowds can build up quickly in summer mainly because the zoo has free admission. You heard that correctly. There is no charge to go to this zoo. They only ask for a donation. Be prepared to give one, it’s very hard to say no to the kind, retired man who hands you a map and holds a bucket out towards you as you pass through the entrance.

As we drive in, my boys completely forget we are going to see wild animals and beg me to go to the playground. The park and zoo have two really cool ones that sit adjacent to the front parking lots. They are busy with kids almost all year round. I say, “We’ll go after the zoo if you’re good,” and this usually settles down my beasts. Note: if you go on the smaller kid’s playground behind the big one, try the blue twirly cups. They are better than a ride at Great Adventure.

Once inside the zoo, you are treated to a snowy white owl. We call her Hedwig even though we don’t know if she’s a boy or girl. One day I’ll be able to read the signs that tell all about the animals… but it hasn’t happened yet. Right after you visit Hedwig, you’ll most likely meander toward the goats and chickens. There is food available for purchase (bring some quarters) and it’s fun to let the animals eat right out of your hand. My kids love this part. I can still imagine the goat’s big dark pink tongue sticking out and grabbing the food from my palm. The zoo has antibacterial soap dispensers right there. I love that part too.

camel

From the goat and chicken coop, you can head in a couple of directions. We usually keep on a straight course and watch the pair of bald eagles fly around or just look majestic up on their perch. This path also leads to the indoor bird exhibit. The one (and only) time we went through, my little one got startled by the two birds that often greet visitors as they pass through the vestibule. Use caution if you have someone who doesn’t like loud sounds. But if you do go in, it’s a pretty awesome experience to have birds flying around you with no cages and all freedom inside the room.

Outside of the bird exhibit and near the bald eagles, you can usually find a peacock or two strutting around. They mate in spring, around late March/early April, but if you’re lucky, you’ll see a male in full plumage. Just be aware that they make a loud sound with their call. There are also guinea hens walking around there.

goat

All paths at the zoo lead to something pretty awesome. My boys, Salem and Finn, like the African Savannah area the best. And I think I do too, though when I walk through the large gate and up the boards, I can’t help but think what would happen if I was left at the zoo with the animals all Jumanji style.

Through these forested lands, you’ll find signs telling which trees are which (these we read) and eventually you’ll come to the main attractions, though there is plenty to see and hear along the way. Once the forest clears, the savannah comes into view and (gasp!) there’s a giant giraffe just a few feet away. No cages, just separated by space. Awesome! There are also bison and ostrich in here, but they seem to play second and third fiddle to the spotted crew. Zebra and bongos also live in this area.

giraffe

The zoo is laid out so well that you never feel like there isn’t a place to pull off the main drag, give your baby a bottle, or your big girl a sippy cup. Food isn’t allowed in the actual zoo – but drinks are. You will get thirsty walking around if the weather is sunny and warm.

And the zoo knows this, which is why we have alligator and other various animal-shaped sport bottles in our kitchen glass cabinet. Every so often along the zoo paths, there is a cart selling lemonade in those cool cups. Cave in – the lemonade is on the verge of sickly sweet, but it’s relatively inexpensive for a souvenir and a drink. Plus you’ll have quiet kids for at least five minutes. Worth it!

If we have a red letter day at the zoo here is what happens: We see the lion roar a giant roar and pace back and forth. The alligators are out (though it’s debatable whether they are real – their stillness is unnerving). The cheetah is on the move. All the lemurs are playing with each other (Zooboomafoo!). The two bears are walking around their cool area. And, finally, we spot the capybara.

There are so many animals at the Cape May County Park and Zoo, you’ll leave a little smarter than you arrived, having added a few species to your knowledge. There’s both a cute factor (snow leopards), a scary one (Burmese python!), and a fun factor (train and carousel rides) – all in all, the zoo is a winner no matter the day or season.

The Cape May County Park and Zoo is open 364 days a year, closed on Christmas. For more information, visit www.capemaycountyzoo.org.


Oopa! for George’s Place

georges

You know you’ve found the right place when a stranger, waiting on the sidewalk for a table at a restaurant, tells you, “You know, this is the best place in town.” George’s Place is a small 10-table Greek restaurant in Cape May that looks like a diner during the day and feels like a taverna at night. “Oopa!”– Greek for “Cheers” – is spoken here.

George Tsiartsionis opened George’s Place in 1968, and has been serving breakfast and lunch for 34 years. He sold it in 2002, to his son-in-law, Yianni Karapanagiotis, who felt dinner service had potential and added it to the menu. Today, Yianni and his “kid” brother, Pete, own three restaurants – George’s Place, offering Greek food; YB (“Younger Brother”), specializing in New American cuisine; and Pano’s, a coffee shop on the Washington Street Mall they opened with their cousin.

A friend and I had dinner at George’s Place earlier this summer. We made reservations, which I strongly recommend. The restaurant takes same-day dinner reservations only, starting at 5 p.m. It caps reservations at 30 per night, so anyone hoping to eat there had better start speed dialing then or put their name on the list in person. To its credit, George’s is precise in setting reservation times, which minimizes waiting. Fair warning, though, late arrivals may need to search out another restaurant.

We arrived seven minutes early for our reservation. Yianni greeted us warmly at the door, welcomed us inside, and pointed to a clock on the wall, politely suggesting we return in seven minutes. Yianni is the big Greek personality who sets the tone for the restaurant. He is funny and irreverent and fond of saying to regulars, “Now don’t give me a hard time,” which they clearly delight in doing.

Our sidewalk enthusiast also gave a hot tip on an appetizer. “Get the flaming cheese,” he suggested. “It’s amazing, my wife and I get it all the time.” Sold, we ordered it. Saganaki is a popular Greek appetizer consisting of grilled kefalograviera cheese doused with ouzo, then set on fire. It’s served with grilled pita. The dish was wonderful, but the “fireworks” was the show-stopper. When the cheese is lit, the staff erupts in “Oopa!” and many of the diners from nearby tables, which is practically everyone in this smallish restaurant, join in. Ours was a five “Oopa!” night. It gets crazier, apparently.

“Once one is lit, the whole dining room says, “I want that,’” Yianni says, creating the potential for a 30- “Oopa!” night!

john

I had the Roast Pork Tenderloin next, Sliced Medallions of Meat marinated in lemon and peppercorns, with Eggplant Orzo (a rice-shaped pasta) and Greek Salad. The pork was tender and flavorful, but, served over a bed of orzo and salad, suffered somewhat of an identity crisis. My friend chose the Lamb Chops, five “lollipop” lamb chops, served with Eggplant Orzo, Tzatziki, a cucumber yogurt sauce and Greek Salad. He loved it. It’s also George’s most popular dish.

We went back to the restaurant a week later for breakfast. There was a 15-minute wait for a table and there were more families with young children on this visit, but, otherwise, our food was just as enjoyable and the service was just as friendly as before. We ate well. I had the Homemade Chipped Beef on whole wheat toast with hash brown potatoes. (I actually search out restaurants for chipped beef, which is not a pastime many of my friends share.) My friend ordered the Breakfast Quesadilla, with two eggs, turkey sausage, peppers, onions, cheddar cheese and tomatoes and mildly spiced salsa on the side. Both dishes were excellent and meal enough for the day.

George’s only accepts cash, so come prepared. We hadn’t known, but were impressed when our waitress graciously told us we could eat first and pay later, and pointed us toward the ATM next door at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House.

Word of Cape May’s small corner of Greece spread to The Food Network in 2010, which featured the restaurant on the show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The buzz has put even more people on the sidewalk.

“Instead of 40 people lined up at 4:45 each day, there were 100,” Yianni says. Just imagine a 100-“Oopa!” night.

#####

George’s Place is located at 301 Beach Avenue. It’s open year-round for breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. In season, it’s also open for dinner from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. In winter, it’s open for dinner on weekends. The restaurant is BYOB. Call (609) 884-6088 for reservations.


Oyster Stew: Simply Sinful

oysterstew

Some foods are just easier to work with than others. The flavors and textures are so perfectly created by nature that the chef’s main job is to not screw it up. The oyster is a prime example –delicate in texture yet brimming with the saltiness of the sea and an earthy mineral flavor. The oyster needs little adornment, save for lemon, hot sauce and horseradish. Still chefs with our arrogance and conceit, part of our charm, think we can improve upon nature. With experience and seasoning in the kitchen, the good chefs learn to restrain this impulse and let good ingredients shine. Sometimes simple can be more powerful than an arsenal of spices and heavy handed techniques.

Oyster Stew is one such dish. I first experienced this nectar of the ocean in my grandmother’s kitchen. Her cooking was peppered with the simplicity and frugality of someone who had lived through the Great Depression and wartime rationing. In a saucepan that had aged less gracefully than its master, she would methodically render the ends of bacon. The center pieces were always saved for the breakfast table. After draining some, but not all the fat, into the always present can on the counter, she would add the onion. Here I would be reminded to gently let it soften being sure not to let it brown. As the kitchen filled with scents of smoky bacon and sweet onion, the oysters would appear. Plump and freshly procured from Gaskin’s market the whole pint, liquor and all, would hit the pan with a sizzle. The next step was executed with perfect precision only when the edges of the oyster had begun to retreat and curl would the cream be added. As the pot started to bubble, salt and pepper would be added. The finishing touch was butter, from the cupboard never the icebox, the golden gobs would slowly melt into the creamy foam.

oysterstew2

Pronounced perfect, she would ladle it into a bowl and serve it to her best friend, my grandfather. A smile of anticipation appeared as quickly as the bag of Trenton Oyster Crackers. These round hard biscuits seemed inedible on their own but my grandfather would crush two together in his hand and let the broken pieces fall into the stew, then he would savor every spoonful.

When I was finally allowed to partake of this dish, the flavor was ethereal. Straightforward and with no nonsense or adornment much like the woman who made it. Enjoy my re-creation of this simple dish. Until next month, Bon Appétit.

Oyster Stew

(Yields 2 man-sized portions)

  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • ½ pint oysters with liquor
  • ½ an onion, minced
  • 1 pint cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  1. In sauce pan render bacon at medium heat.
  2. Add onions. Cook until softened.
  3. Add oysters and liquor. Cook until oyster edges curl.
  4. Add cream. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer.
  5. Season with salt and pepper
  6. Dot stew with butter. Let melt. Serve immediately.

httpvh://youtu.be/OGZOsvZfiCs


Good Sense and Good Senses

dogsontheground

Part Two

This month we are changing the “Good Read” section to the “Good Quote” of the month, so here goes with our first Good Quote of the Month:

No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich.” Louis Sabin

Last month we talked about a dog’s sense of sight and a dog’s sense of taste. This month we’re going to touch on the sense of touch…. and, now listen up….the sense of hearing! We’ll get to the sense of smell next month!

A dog’s sense of touch is among the first of the senses to really develop. Even before a dog’s eyes open, a pup is using its sense of touch. Immediately after birth, the mom dog licks her pups, and very quickly, a pup learns to find mommy dog and litter mates by using touch. On the dog’s face are sensory receptors called “vibrissae,” which are what we call the “whiskers.” They are located on the muzzle close to the nose, above the eyes, and below the mouth on the dog’s jaw. Dog’s also have sensitive nerve endings close to the skin all over their body. The “whiskers” or “vibrissae” sense an object through the movement of air as the dog moves, letting the dog know about any object close or nearing. Dogs that are handled and socialized early and often are generally more likely to accept and welcome petting. Dogs that are not handled early may be more reticent to petting since the object approaching (your hand) is unfamiliar – both in the action and thus the movement of air toward the dog, as well as your scent. But from day one, and throughout the dog’s life, the “vibrissae” – the “whiskers” – are a very important tool for the dog.

In spite of the general facts about a dog’s senses, we need to remember that not only are a dog’s senses different from our own, but each breed is different, and in fact, each dog within a breed is different. In other words, just as each person is an individual, each dog is an individual.

When it comes to hearing, a dog hears very differently than we do. First of all, dogs can hear different pitches than we can, some of which we cannot hear at all. Dogs also hear a wider range of frequencies than we can hear, and they can hear all of those sounds at a greater distance. This explains the science behind the dog whistle which is pitched so humans cannot hear the sound, yet dogs can. Another example is like when my dogs are asleep on their beds and all of a sudden they jump up and go to the door barking. I have not heard a thing, yet they know that someone has entered our walkway or parking area. They precede the doorbell and I call them my “early warning system.”

Dogs also have a wider range of hearing since they not only have a wider range of movement of their ears, but dogs can also move each ear independently. If sounds are coming from the sides, since a dog’s ears are on the sides of their head, they don’t have to move their ears much. When sound comes from behind, a dog will rotate one or both ears to improve the reception of the sound. When a dog is facing the sound, the dog may cock an ear or two, or they may tilt their head – both visible signs that the dog is listening, even if the words we say are more noise to them than actual words. It appears they “understand” what we are saying, because they are good at recognizing sounds when heard frequently enough. Guinness and Jameson a very attuned to the sounds of “treat” or “walk” or “ride” even more than “wait” or “come” – especially if there is a squirrel around! And I love watching them come to attention, tilt their heads, and cock their ears when they “hear” that something good is in store! Even dogs with ears that hang over and cover the ear canal are still usually better at hearing than we are for all of the reasons above. And dogs are very good at using tone of voice as an indicator of what is meant. If you tell your dog s/he is goofy or in trouble with a sweet tone, your dog will be pleased and happy, but if you tell your dog about how great and well behaved s/he is with a nasty tone, your dog will be upset and unhappy.

So be careful how you speak to your dog, since they are great interpreters, and be careful what you say since they can hear much more than you think! Show the love in your voice and your dog will “hear” you! Feel the warm ocean breezes with your alert whiskers and hear the sounds of the ocean waves on the shore, and hurry to make your reservations for a visit to Cape May with your favorite “pup/s.” Then tell the dog/s that it’s almost time for vacation! They will understand!