When in search of lasting beauty, consider the flowers of nature which never fail to inspire.
Two weeks ago our table was adorned with a bright bouquet of yellow daffodils. They had been purchased from the American Cancer Society during their annual spring daffodil sale. As I admired their almost star-shaped petals and glorious fluted centers complete with ruffled edges, I was taken back to my first visit to Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts.
Here daffodils bloom wild and are as countless as the sands upon its shores. They showcase themselves each spring about the island letting us all know that we can breathe a sigh for balmier days. Their gaiety of petal finery, tender yet sturdy, proves that the grip of winter has given way to spring's warming.
Charles Repnow is a freelance writer who lives in Rugby. His column appears alternate Wednesdays in The Minot Daily News.
Allow me to share a few memories of my first journey to this wonderful island. As the Nantucket Ferry left Hyannis Port, we were informed that Nantucket is about 30 miles south of Cape Cod and that our ride this morning was going to include some heavy fog. My purpose for visiting the island was to see the daffodils in bloom and to take in some pure relaxation.
A syncopated duet played by the Atlantic Ocean on the sides of our ferry kept us in motion. Lively ocean breezes sprinkled with diamond salt greeted all passengers on the open deck. My eyes and heart were applauding the unfolding beauty that only an ocean wows one with.
Irresistible charm is how Nantucket Island greeted this visitor. Masterfully done in cobble-stone streets, whaling history, flower-filled window boxes galore, shop windows with every shade of colored glass dazzling in the light, and every place I looked, a sunny daffodil in bloom.
My solo journey here proved to be most rewarding. Walking and bicycling about were enjoyable and certainly easy -- even with all the folks in attendance for the festival.
There is something to be said about having the confidence to do a bit of traveling alone. You can spend as much time enjoying the charms that delight you -- without a care in the world. Nantucket is a photographer's bliss, and with camera in hand, the creative inspiration begins. The weathered window boxes stuffed with trailing vines and cozy geraniums ... snap; little rowboats in a rainbow of colors ... snap; Great Point Lighthouse ... snap. Needless to say I added some great images to my portfolio.
The Daffodil Festival started out as a flower show back in 1974, originated by the late Jean MacAusland, a summer resident of Nantucket and former publisher of Gourmet magazine. She persuaded the Nantucket Garden Club to sponsor a daffodil show, and the rest is history. Today there are more than 3 million blossoms in yellow, orange, white and even a few in pink. Daffodils in their flirty exuberance extol hats, bikes, dogs, fences, window boxes, and some very cool vintage cars during the annual festival.
I find it fitting that the sturdiness of the daffodil is associated with the American Cancer Society. Daffodils welcome spring in New England with joy. Their colorful flowers go straight to the fields of our hearts where they help us plant the joy of rebirth and hope, much like the American Cancer Society does for folks who are diagnosed with cancer. They bring forth for many the healing touch of our modern medical world, and each year they help save lives. Though their efforts, many are given the chance to see the beauty of spring over and over again. Daffodils have always won over the grip of winter, and now they are rising each spring with more triumphant gladness as they join in the cause for the cure for cancer.
I have had the pleasure of being at Nantucket several times and have enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner on this island. There is much great food to be enjoyed there! I share with you two of my favorites the potato salad was served at lunch and the roast loin of pork was an evening meal after an enjoyable day about this cozy island. Both of these meals have been served on the plains -- minus the daffodils. However, our many sunflowers serve the call just as brightly.
Here is a take on traditional potato salad with traces of French dressing and a boisterous bunch of stuffed olives that escaped from brown bread and Cheese Whiz! After tasting this unique and attractive potato salad, you may never want to restrict stuffed olives again.
Nantucket Potato Salad
2 cups cubed cooked potatoes
3/4 cup very finely sliced celery
3 tablespoons chopped chives or 1 bunch of green onions
1/2 cup chopped stuffed olives
Few grains of cayenne
1/2 cup French dressing
1/2 cup of mayonnaise to which 1 tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of light cream has been added
2 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped
Mix together the potatoes, celery, chives or onions, cayenne and French dressing. Cover and chill for about 1 hour. Mix in the mayonnaise with a wooden spoon. Serve on lettuce and sprinkle with chopped egg which can sprinkle with a dash of paprika.
Roast Loin of Pork, Cranberry Glaze
This recipe features cranberries which are native of Massachusetts. The play of color between the crimson cranberry glazed loin of pork and the sweet potatoes draws in your guests like a warm color palette. Once they enjoy a bite, they will find this duo to be eminently pleasing. The gravy is equally sumptuous and be assured it will be some time before this meal fades from the memories of your guests.
7 to 8 pounds of pork, center cut or loin end
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
8 sweet potatoes peeled and corn oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cranberries
1 table spoon of orange marmalade
1 cup of water
Wipe pork loin with a damp cloth. Sprinkle with half the salt and pepper and put in an open baking pan along with the onions. Roast for 2 hours.
Add peeled potatoes after the first 30 minutes of roasting. Turn potatoes once or twice and also brush once with corn oil.
Cook sugar and cranberries together for about 10 minutes, until sauce is thick and berries have burst once removed from heat add marmalade.
Remove potatoes from roasting pan and keep hot. Spread cranberry glaze over pork loin and return to oven until roast is glazed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove loin from pan and place on a hot platter.
Add remaining salt and pepper to pan and 1 cup water. If you prefer thicker gravy, you may want to add a bit of flour. Stir well and pour into gravy boat and serve with potatoes.