The Mast-Head: Box and Basket Bounty

Four weeks in, and we are already feeling healthier

Two things have greatly improved the way we eat at the Rattray house this spring. First, warmer weather brought the garden to life and helped encourage me to get out on the water to fish and clam. The other is that after talking for years about signing up for weekly produce with one of the community-supported agriculture ventures that have popped up here, we joined Amber Waves.

Four weeks in, and we are already feeling healthier. Tuesday’s food box, for example, contained kale, chard, radishes, lettuce, and baby turnips so sweet you could eat them raw. Parsley, which grows strongly in the cool mists of late spring, has also been supplied, which dovetails nicely with the half-bushel of clams I dug from a favorite spot after last Thursday’s editorial meeting.

I had planned to go digging with a friend that afternoon, but his work interfered, so I went alone, running the boat out to the flat just as the tide went slack. In a moderate east wind and under an overcast sky, a lone bayman was scratching far offshore. I gave him plenty of room, anchoring the boat about a quarter of a mile down the beach before jumping off on the leeward side with my rake and basket.

It was relatively easy going; a soft sandy bottom with few rocks gave up half a bushel of chowders with a couple of Little Necks and an oyster for good measure in less than an hour. The bayman was still hard at it when I climbed back aboard and headed to the dock. I wondered what he had been thinking about out there for the duration of the tide — probably about the same as I had, which is to say, not much.

The kids like clams well enough as long as they are prepared no other way than stuffed and baked or in chowder, so Lisa and I pretty much had the linguini alle vongole with a fat handful of chopped parsley from the box to ourselves the first night.

By the second night, I succumbed, mixing chopped clams with panko crumbs, sauteed garlic and onion, and olive oil, then spooning the mixture into opened shells and running them under the broiler to brown. The dozen or so I prepared were not enough, however, so there were complaints when the last one was spoken for.