08/19/17 6:00am

Season bounty preserved at home (from left): adult applesauce, tomatoes with basil and peaches with cinnamon. (Credit: John Ross)

My parents grew up on farms in Ontario, where their mothers spent much of the summer canning fruits and vegetables for use in the long, cold winter. The produce came from their garden, which was tended all summer long. My wife grew up on a farm in Michigan, where her mother spent much of the summer canning. She would drive all the way to Traverse City to buy buckets of cherries, one of the few things that she didn’t grow herself, to be preserved and end up in cherry pie. Preserving, a necessity for farm families then, is pretty much a lost art now that we purchase most everything ready to eat. But if you want to experience the fresh, preservative-free taste and aromas from our local tomatoes, peaches and apples, here are some small-quantity, easy-to-make beginner recipes. (more…)

08/14/17 6:31pm

Victoria Witzcak knows how to take giving back to a whole new — and tasty — level.

Last year, the 12-year-old from Cutchogue decided to create an event dubbed the NoFo Tomato Sauce Boss Contest as a way to raise money to pay back a grant she received from the organization Katie’s Krops. The money enabled her to grow produce to donate to local food pantries.

She continued the tradition at Pugliese Vineyards in Cutchogue on Thursday night.

“I’m happy because it gives back to more people,” Victoria said about why she is proud to raise money for the organization, while also continuing to donate her freshly grown vegetables. (more…)

08/09/17 6:02am

Isola has recently opened on Shelter Island (Credit: Madison Fender/Isola courtesy)

Isola — it’s the Italian word for “island,” and an entirely appropriate name for a new restaurant on Shelter Island specializing in new Italian cuisine. That, according to Seth Nathan, Isola’s executive chef, translates to sourcing the freshest ingredients to be found on the East End and infusing them with the flavors of the Mediterranean.

“We’re surrounded by water, so the menu is heavy on seafood, locally sourced ingredients and the comfortable, approachable — yet beautiful — environment,” he said. “The concept gives us creative license to expand beyond various regions of Italy and into other parts of the Mediterranean.”

When it comes to Italy, Nathan admits to being a big fan of Calabria in Sicily. The natural salinity of the food found there is something he appreciates, dishes like cleanly cooked fish served alongside great produce.

“I also like a little heat and Calabria peppers,” he said. “I realize that’s not everyone’s palate, so I’m not forcing it, but I offer it.” (more…)

08/05/17 6:00am

The younger set at poolside during the author’s recent family gathering. (Credit: John Ross)

This was the summer when the relatives came. Nine grandchildren, three sets of parents, a couple of in-laws and three dogs. A wonderful long-awaited gathering months in the making. Feeding this group is a labor of love, but for a chef who cooks from scratch using fresh ingredients it presents a challenge in 2017.

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