On Your Mark, Get Set: Local Catch and Seaside Vegetable Patch
By Valerie & Eugenie Maine
We live by the sea, so when our neighborhood marina opens for the season sometime in April we can check out its notice board for any seafood available for sale from the local fishermen. Lobsters and clams are always the first to appear for sale as early as May, followed by summer flounder (fluke) and an occasional sea bass or tuna, all according to quotas and/or the prescribed fishing season. Most of the fish are supplied by sport fishermen with limited commercial licenses. Our procurement system is very simple; the marina operates on a first come first serve basis, so when we decide we want seafood for dinner we make the two minute walk down to the pier and check out what’s on offer. Once we decide what type of fish we want, we locate one of the dock hands trained to filet fish and then hang around the dock with the seagulls while the fish are transformed into dinner before our eyes.
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So, when Mandy relayed to us (we’re working as a mother daughter team) her recipe for Melon Salsa, we immediately envisioned salsa as an accompaniment to our very locally-sourced fish. One member of our RecipeRelay team (the mother) finds herself on the opposite end of the spectrum from Mandy when it comes to cilantro, so we do not grow any of this herb in our Rhode Island seaside vegetable gardens (we have raised beds spread around our property); however, unlike Mandy, who is gardening in southern New Hampshire, here in southern Rhode Island we already have a variety of herbs and vegetables ready for harvest: mint, basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, lemon cucumbers, green peppers, and a bountiful crop of fennel – one or more of our herbs will provide a delicious replacement for Mandy’s cilantro.
On our weekly, Saturday morning outing to the Farm Fresh Rhode Island Farmer’s Market, in South Kingstown, RI, we frequent the Sosnowski Farm stand, owned and operated by the Susan and Mike Sosnowski. Susan represents our district in the Rhode Island Senate and is the only farmer in the State Legislature. Along with her husband Mike, Susan owns and operates a 65-acre farm in South Kingstown, RI and is a strong advocate for local Rhode Island farmers. At their stand we can find local vegetables to augment our own garden and eat our way through the seasons – already past are spinach, rhubarb, asparagus, and broccoli; featured at the present time are blueberries and scallions crying out to be included in our salsa. We have some grilled corn on the cob left over from a barbeque on the beach that we want to include – we are a week or more away from being able to source this locally – so we will add this element from New Jersey into the mix. Our meal is taking shape – we’ll find a way to cook the fish on the grill and we think we have all the ingredients for a salsa produced from almost 100% locally grown produce. After living for a decade in Asia, our family cannot eat fish unless it’s accompanied by basmati rice, so this leads us to the final question: will other foreign ingredients manage to insert themselves into our attempt to eat locally? To find out if we can stay the local course, tune in for our Thursday post!
Valerie and Eugenie Maine are a mother-daughter team who have put hours of love, sweat, and toil into cultivating their small vegetable garden. Eugenie is a retired teacher, avid philanthropist, and tennis player. Valerie is a graduate student in clinical psychology who has spent the last two years living amongst the vegetable patch in Eugenie’s backyard.