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Part II: Visiting Martha’s Vineyard




imageWhen Labor Day approached, our rhubarb started waving its goodbyes and the fall leaf pie decoration starting trumping the flower. Then, as the mornings got chillier and the air started smelling bonfire-y, my ticking summer adventure clock reached midnight and I returned home from the Vineyard. My body was all of a sudden tired of checking for ticks every night and screamed, “gimme air conditioning and my bed at home!!” While I was sad to leave, I’m so happy to be home with my family and friends.

Now that I’m back and missing all my places, I must tell you about visiting the rest of the island. The good thing is, it’s still a great time to go visit the Vineyard given that the tourists are mostly gone but the weather will be nice. So, if you read this and have some extra vacay days, visit ye ole Vineyahd! Last time, we talked pastrami sammies,  a lil fishing village and my favorite breakfast spots. Today I want to share Edgartown, Katama and OB with you.

For all you ath-a-letes or outside-junkies…

My number-one activity for you to do as a family or group is to bike State Beach. Because I didn’t have a car, it was a bit harder to figure out transportation to and from each town when people came to visit. I figured out you could make a whole day activity out of biking from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown by going on the State Beach route. If you have a car, it is a 7 mile drive, but the scenic bike route ends up being closer to 8-9 miles.

If you’re willing to take the longer route, I’m telling you it’s a great 1-2 hour adventure depending upon how many times you stop and enjoy the views. Starting in Vineyard Haven, you can bike over Beach road, flanked by water on both sides and even a small beach (Eastville) if you’re interested. When my soul sistah Christine came to visit, we explored a new path and biked the East Chop loop around to Oak Bluffs’ town center.

This East Chop loop is a great way for you to feel completely obsessed with finding some way to live in one of these beachfront cottages with by far the prettiest sunset you may ever see on the East coast. That being said, proceed with caution. Zillow stalking is a REAL problem. Once you get into Oak Bluffs, you’ll see sooo many people and wonder how this much of civilization managed to cram onto an island with no stoplights and enough parking for about 1/10 of its visitors.

Stop at Nancy’s, have a cocktail to ease those tight glutes, or visit the Donut shop in the little town square for some delicciouuuusss donuts or apple fritters. As you continue along through OB and get to State Beach, you get to pass one of those fancy golf courses and then stumble upon the “Jaws Bridge.” I’m telling you, I still have not seen Jaws so I’m not sure where this actually shows up in the movie, but apparently it’s a thing. For most adrenaline-seekers, jumping off the Jaws Bridge is a MUST for all summer residents. If you ask me the MUSTS for a summer resident, eating a donut from Back Door donuts is much more important than visiting this bridge.

Here’s Mom on the other side of the Jaws Bridge


Riding along State Beach might be my absolute favorite thing about Martha’s Vineyard, to be honest with you. On one side, you see blue waters and beach for miles. On the other side, a serene lagoon with inlet-nestled homes offers calmer waters for kayakers, windsurfers, and slower boats. Also, according to my Google search as of 2 seconds ago, the rumor (that I started) that one of the houses lining State Beach was in Wedding Crashers is completely false. Ugh, failed the tour guide test :/

Anyways, if you think you’ve felt the letters V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N slowly start to form a different aura around your being when you go to the beach, you haven’t felt anything yet. Get on your bike, get up to State Beach, and get on this bike ride. It’s freeing, beautiful, serene, sunny, just warm enough, and there are sweets and ice cream at the end of your ride.

I like to end the bike ride in classic Edgartown. As much as I didn’t want to like Edgartown, with its expensive restaurants, art galleries, and manicured homes, I couldn’t stop coming back. Though the air is a bit haughty, Edgartown is what you came to Martha’s Vineyard to see. You came to see those shingled houses, white painted fences, waterfront views, blue blazers, and Vineyard Vines pastels. And here it is 🙂





When the bike ride is over, it’s off to Rosewater market, the cutest lil deli shop with all those cutesy cards you want to write your bestie along with lunch and expensive seltzer water. When my sister and I came here, we had some delicious BBQ and brussels sprouts. With Spencer, it was a massive strawberry cupcake. And Christine and I had a classic cold brew. When you’re ready for ice cream, I’m a tried and true Scoops girl, right across from the Seafood Shanty. Don’t make the same mistake as The Mitchell men and myself – we visited Scoops before END OF JUNE and apparently in Martha’s Vineyard it’s not ice cream time until END OF JUNE??? Bring your ice cream up to the second-floor dock that overlooks the Chappy ferry. Laugh at the ferry that carries literally 3 cars about 100 yards from Edgartown to Chappaquidick. Then, sit, and breathe. Close your eyes and listen to the breeze. To the sounds of boats entering the harbor, kids running for ice cream, and smile REALLY BIG. Sitting here on my bed back at home, I feel like the image of the those boats dotting the harbor in Chappy is one carved so permanently in my mind. My dad even did his pushup challenge up on the dock!!



An afternoon in Edgartown requires a walk down Water Street to look at all the white houses, shiny red painted doors, Mercedes Benzs, and to peek in at the intricately carved staircases inside these homes. If you’re lucky, you might hit happy hour when one of these houses with the lush green grass backyards is hosting a cocktail party. Hint: follow a chic older lady who is hooking arms with a dapper older man, blue-blazer or polo clad strolling up Water Street…Either way, if you’ve got your bathing suit, you can go relax for a bit down by the Edgartown lighthouse. My sweet momma and I went down here after a long afternoon of biking. It’s amazing that with all the touristyness of Edgartown, going down by the lighthouse feels almost remote. It’s a nice quiet place to take your Rosewater sammy or a couple drinks to watch the sun go down






(view above is looking back to water street from the Edgartown dock)

Don’t think I forgot about dinner. All of you who have been to MV to visit me know that there’s only one place I ever want to go…..The Port Hunter. My dearest friend Raquel introduced me to this place. After our first round of drinks and dinner, I brought all my visitors there!! I must say, it worked out well for the baker’s schedule – we liked to be in bed by 9, so we would get there right when it opened for dinner (5:30 or 6). Getting to the Port Hunter early is essential, since there is a line out the door before it even opens.

I highly recommend sitting at the bar, drinking their cucumber-y lime cocktail or this spicy margarita that has Mezcal !!! There’s absolutely no question that you have to get the fried brussels sprouts with buffalo sauce and blue cheese dip. YUP, THAT IS a thing. Other great dishes include this harissa grilled chicky sammich that Christine enjoyed, their calamari, whole roasted fish, seafood chowder, fish tacos, and the chicken livers. And don’t forget why Raquel and I went there in the first place….for the FRIES!! My mom and I had a lovely girls night with Raquel and also ordered this amazing roasted chicken all loaded with herbs. Ugh, I could go back there every night, fresh off work from the bakery, loaded with french fries and in bed at 9. An IDEAL summer night 🙂


Goodness, I thought I was going to get all my recommendations out to you but looks like I’m going to have to extend this share-an-entire-summer-in-a-few-internet-writing-bursts a bit more!!


Here are a few more snaps from when I walked through this fancy tennis/polo-y club neighborhood and imagined my future life as a person with a very manicured lawn:






Herby-garlicky fried chicken



My first time making fried chicken. In the same way that people celebrate daughter’s first dance recital, graduations, sweet sixteens, and passing your drivers license tests, I feel like celebrating for my first fried chicken attempt. I’m thinking I should get a Colonel Sanders style sticker and a hug from Paula Deen.

I mostly feel accomplished because in true Katie-cooking-style, the production of this chicken started a week in advance, with me subtly mentioning “fried chicken on Sunday” to my boyfriend Spencer. TBH it was a conversation elongator where I thought about chicken and word vomited the preposterous idea of trying fried chicken for the first time for a crowd on Memorial Day weekend. I should really know my lesson by now that if I’ve skimmed a topic relating to food, someone is going to call me out on it if I don’t actually get around to making it.

Sunday rolls around and no preparations are in order, so I’m thinking I’m putting this adventure off for another time. Both Spencer and myself have moved into different houses, don’t know where anything is, and now we’re set on making fried chicken. It’s in these circumstances you realize that if you forget about the crowd and focus on the dish, things MAY ACTUALLY come together. Well, I wouldn’t say that’s always the case, but in this situation, the results were pretty good.

Before I know it, I’m driving back to St Charles where, of course, I’ve left the most random of kitchen accessories that happen to be needed for our recipe, large marinating plastic bags. In the rush of an unpacking afternoon, Spence was able to brine the chicken for ~3-4 hours before I took over the cooking. I tell you all this because if you’re not intimidated by the behind the scenes work to a barbeque or dinner party, maybe you’ll be more inclined to try something new for friends.

I think there’s a few camps when it comes to entertaining – on the one hand, if you try something new for a crowd, you’re overwhelmed by trying to master the recipe and entertain at the same time, but oftentimes in my case, the trying-something-new is part of the fun of the night. Somehow, it-all-comes-together-at-the-last-minute is the name of the game, like the orchestra started playing a little too early and the curtain guy is reeling up the curtain while the characters are still getting positioned on stage.

In this case, I started my part while Andrew and William were already working their magic with some delicious avocado mac ‘n’ cheese and a blackberry strawberry kale salad. With little kitchen space, the three of us managed a meal of epic proportions without any major accidents, burned food, or overcookery of sorts.

I saw this recipe on an amazing episode of the Barefoot Contessa where Ina invites Tyler Florence over. In one afternoon (yes this timeframe amazes me as well), Ina and Tyler make a wedding cake sized birthday cake, homemade fried chicken, and take a leisurely visit to the local Hamptons farm.

In the case that you watch this episode, I’ll give you a sense for what you actually might be able to accomplish based on my timeline . I’d say you may want to just focus on this fried chicken, as we had to take a bit of time brining the chicken, then prepping the chicken, then returning to the store to buy more oil for frying. I’m not sure when they made this birthday cake but luckily it came together in one afternoon! Whew, to be Ina!

Here’s a few things that differed in our rendition of this meal. 1) Lenzie and Trent brought those amazing fake-cakey cookies with the themed frosting instead of having cake, 2) We kept to their use of bone-in chicken except for the breasts which Spencer deboned , 3) there was no visit to the local farm and 4) instead of having Tyler Florence help guide the cooking process, I had 3 twenty-something guys and 2 parents all pitch in!

I’m hoping you’re not intimidated by Ina’s spotless white kitchen, always-plentiful bowl of silver spoons, and lively-never-droopy blue hydrangeas. Make this for your friends and family and watch their episode at the bottom of this post if you have 1.99 to spare 🙂

Here’s a little snap of our cooking adventure featuring the crew: Andrew, William & Robin; the last few seconds continues with our MDW braves game visit…we ate fried chicken before we went so its all relevant right??

Tyler Florence’s Fried Chicken, adapted very slightly, serves 8-9 comfortably with a few leftovers

2 3-4 lb whole chickens, breasts de-boned, all other pieces bone in (thighs + drumsticks + wings)

3 cups all purpose flour

2 TBS garlic powder

2 TBS onion powder

2 TBS sweet paprika (can use regular if you run out of sweet)

2 tsp cayenne pepper (Adjust here if you’re partial to less spicy)

4 cups (1 quart) buttermilk

2 TBS sriracha or other hot sauce you like

peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying (we used a mixture of both since I ran out of peanut oil…make sure to buy one of the big jugs at the store)

1/2 head garlic, smashed, husks still on (this is for frying dont worry about the husks)

1/4 bunch fresh sage

1/4 bunch fresh thyme

4 big sprigs of fresh rosemary

fresh black pepper and kosher salt

2 lemons, cut into wedges, for serving

  1. A few hours in advance, or the night before, set up your chicken to brine. We used a big tupperware, but you can use a large bowl. Cover the chicken with water 1-inch above chicken. Sprinkle 1 TBS kosher salt for every quart of water you’ve added. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight. This is what’s going to make the chicken really tender.
  2. When you’re ready to start cooking, take your chicken out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while you prep the frying ingredients. In a shallow platter or deep tupperware in my case, mix together your flour, dry spices, and season with salt and pepper. We learned that you don’t need to add too much salt here, because your chicken already has a good bit of salt absorbed from the brining process.
  3. Pour oil into a heavy bottomed pot / Dutch oven, about 2/3 of the way full. Put your whole herbs and garlic directly into the cold oil . As these heat up, don’t worry about them burning, these whole spices are what will flavor your oil. Clip on your candy thermometer, ensuring that the bottoms of it isn’t touching the bottom of the pan. Heat stove to medium high heat, and start prepping your station as the oil heats to 350-375.
  4. Meanwhile, set your chicken to the far left, setting a plate next to the brine mixture where you want to dry the chicken before putting it into the buttermilk. Next set a shallow dish with your buttermilk and sriracha next to the chicken. Set flour mixture to the right of that, closest to the stove.
  5. Heat the oven to about 150,or whatever is its lowest setting. I wanted to do this to keep the chicken warm while other batches were still trying. **if your chicken is still a bit cold when you start frying, you may need a quick bake after frying to finish cooking your chicken. A few reviewers from Tyler’s original recipe noted this. Our chicken was at room temp so we didn’t have this issue and we only used the oven for warming.
  6. Set a sheet pan or 9×13 dish in the oven where you can set chicken after frying to keep warm
  7. As your oil heats up, start dredging process with a batch of two pieces. The first step is to dry the brined chicken off with paper towels. You need to do this to make sure the coating sticks properly. Next dip chicken pieces in buttermilk mixture, shake gently to remove any excess, and dredge in flour mixture. Press gently in flour to make sure you get all the crevices covered, then flip to the other side. You can leave chicken in this mixture before frying.
  8. Once oil is hot, gently place two pieces in the oil with tongs. Let chicken fry for 12 minutes per batch, moving around about halfway through to make sure nobody is stuck on the bottom of the pot.
  9. While you wait for one batch to fry, start prepping 2-3 more pieces. Also have at least 3 onlookers observe and ooh and aah over frying oil cauldron. Make yourself a yummy cocktail or mocktail
  10. After 12 minutes, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness if you have one. Chicken should be at 155 when it comes out, but will cook off a bit more than that after you take it off. Thank you Julie Mitchell for checking temp for me since we didn’t have a thermometer!!
  11. place done pieces in the oven covering with aluminum foil while you move on to the next batch
  12. After all the chicken is done, place on a plate and garnish with your fried herbs. Squeeze a few lemon wedges to taste and place a few other wedges on the side to garnish . Serve to hungry friends, and smile big after you savor each bite. 😀









From-scratch Baked Falafel Salad with Honey Tahini dressing


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It’s sppprrriinnngggtiimmmeee peoples!! How do you all feel about having a birthday party for spring? As many of you may know, I have a die-hard obsession with Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers movies (the Parent Trap featuring Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Loan and You’ve Got Mail being at the tippy-top of the list). In Nora Ephron’s top success (if you ask me) You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan famously says that Fall “makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

Now what would you say about Spring to your mysterious email-pal? I know my friend Molly would say she’d send somebody a package of freshly cut green grass, as she claims the green lawns of UVA made her commit to going to school there. I might say I’d like to take a music box and capture the sound of birds in the morning or the sound of the whistle from soccer practice. What about the last class before spring break? How about the smell of dew hitting your nose as you walk out the door, the fresh scent of lilies, or eating warm ham biscuits with mustard on Easter? Going to Mellow Mushroom after soccer practice, and walking through the gardens at UVA. I love it! In addition to loving spring, I also love a good revival of an old fashion trend to bring back when the weather gets warm. One year it was overalls. This year, I’m feelin the comeback of platform flip flops. Thoughts?

And in true spring fashion, I’ve got a green-colored dish for you all. It just so happens that it’s the day before St. Patty’s as well. This year, I went to Savannah for St Patty’s and brought some Guinness cupcakes with me!! Are you an enthusiastic baker who jumps at the chance to make holiday-themed baked goods?? If so, come hang with me.

On to falafel. Fa-la-la-la-fel. One of my absolute FAVORITE foods, and also one that I haven’t ever mastered. Falafel is essentially a fried ball of chickpeas and herbs (but in this case baked.) Alas!!! A baked falafel recipe worth sharing from Cookie and Kate, a favorite blog in my home. There’s this place that sells delicious falafel by my office called Ameer’s. Every time I go, I try to craft a falafel salad which ends with me ordering side salad and falafel appetizer. Awkward meal, no more. I had heard that to make a homemade version of falafel, it is essential to use dried chickpeas. Well I don’t know if I mastered how to cook dried chickpeas, but I did get a good consistency.

Cookie and Kate says to soak the chickpeas for a long period of time, but I think you are also supposed to cook them once they soften. Mine were a little bit dry but all it did was make the falafel more firm.

Baked Falafel, adapted slightly from cookie+kate

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water at least 8 hours
  • ⅓ cup chopped onion (she says red I only had white)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prep two wide skillets with 2 tablespoons olive oil while the oven heats.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine soaked and drained chickpeas, onion, parsley, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Puree until smooth, 30 seconds-1 minute.

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3. Before you start forming the falafel patties, make sure you’ve oiled the pans because otherwise you’re going to have a mess. Scoop out roughly two tablespoons of the mixture and roll into a ball first. Then flatten the ball lightly into a patty about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick.

4. Place each patty into one of your oiled skillets and drop a few sesame seeds on each.

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5. Bake falafel on the middle rack of your oven for 13 minutes on one side. While the first side is cooking, prep your dressing.

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6. QUICK DRESSING: Whisk about 2 tablespoons tahini, 1/2 tsp honey, 1 TBS water, a dash of cumin, salt and pepp, 1-2 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar together.

7. Flip your falafel and bake for another 13-15 minutes. I found that for the flip I needed some more oil to get a crispy crust. In reality, this recipe may need more oil all around because I never got them to be super crispy.

8. Remove falafel from the oven. Sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Serve on a bed of lettuce, with chopped cucumber, carrot, tomato if you have it and some toasted walnuts. Drizzle dressing over top or use as a dipping sauce. Enjoy!!

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