Notes From Swan's Nest


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Mother's Day

-dedicated to my Mom

I grew up as one of four daughters, and our dad traveled a lot, so I remember Mom as an ever-present, fun-loving, ready-to-try-anything parent. One of my favorite memories of Mom is spending the summers with her on Cape Cod. No matter where we lived – our family moved to a new city or state every few years – my sisters, Mom and I would spend our summers in our modest, two-story grey-shingled house that sat on a bluff overlooking the marsh (pronounced “maaash”) and Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth, Massachusetts. Dad’s visits to the beach bookended our annual vacation. He’d drive us there in early June and pick us up again in August after spending a week or two at the shore with “his girls”.

Summer days on the Cape quickly fell into a predictable rhythm. We’d sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, change into bathing suits, and then stroll down the sandy roads to the beach, often with a picnic lunch stashed in our beach bags. Since most of the families on our beach had visited there for decades, everyone pretty much had their traditional spot on the pure white sand. We’d spread out our blanket and beach chairs, and while Mom would settle in with a book or visit with friends one blanket over, my sisters and I would dash for the water.

Mom, who had a great figure and an almost-overnight tan, always wore flowered bathing suits, but they rarely got wet. Mom wasn’t much of a swimmer, but we could count on her for just about everything else. She would pack terrific lunches, help us make sand castles, allow us to bury her up to her neck in the silky sand, give us money so we could buy frozen candy bars from a vendor down the beach, and bought us linen dresser scarves and colored embroidery floss in town so our neighbor, Mrs. Mahoney could teach us how to cross stitch as we gathered around her on our beach blankets.

On rainy days, Mom became our tour guide – the kind that loves to shop. We bought sweaters at the woolen mills; candles, striped candy sticks, and pine incense at the always-intriguing Colonial Candles Shop; embroidery supplies at the linen shop; cranberry glass in every gift store in town; and one-layer packaged cake mix at the supermarket for rainy-day baking marathons. We’d cook dinner together – often preparing rice pilaf (a recipe we learned from Mrs. Mahoney) and then spend our evenings playing cards with the kids next door or reading Reader’s Digest condensed books. Each year promised an idyllic summer that bound me closely to my mother and sisters, and left me with a lifetime of treasured memories.

In honor of my Mother and our summers at the Cape, I’m happy to share my updated recipe for Cape Cod Rice Pilaf. I hope it becomes a favorite in your home, too. Happy Mother’s Day!



2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup fideo mediano or angel hair pasta, broken into 1-inch lengths
1/3 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrot
1 cup long grain rice
2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preheat a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and butter, and swirl the pan to mix. Stir in the fideo and cook, stirring occasionally, until it lightly browns, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add onion and carrot, sautéing 1 or 2 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in rice. Sauté the rice 1 minute, stirring constantly, add the chicken broth, and season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 25 to 30 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. When the rice has finished cooking, add the parsley and fluff the rice gently with a fork to separate the individual grains. Serve immediately.

Note: Leftover pilaf may be covered and chilled several days, or placed in an airtight container and frozen up to 1 month.