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The Joys of Food, Politics and Daily Life in Sag Harbor

Posted on 28 May 2009

Lauren Chattman is an unabashed fan of small town living. While her primary occupation is that of cookbook author (she has several yummy titles to her name, including “Mom’s Big Book of Cookies”) Chattman recently added another title to her list of skills — that of blogger. Her new blog, “Sag Harbor Days,” is all about life in her most favorite small town of all. 

“It was totally on a whim,” admits Chattman. “There are a million food blogs out there — but I thought I could write about every day life, shopping and cooking.” 

Yes, Chattman’s new blog is indeed about food — but it’s also about Sag Harbor. Every day or two, as all good bloggers should, Chattman sits down to write about what she has seen or heard around the village. It could be a reflection on Mother’s Day gifts, offerings at Bette Lacina and Dale Haubrich’s organic farmstand down on the Turnpike, a visit to the local paper with a basket of corn muffins, or a dispatch from the Memorial Day parade. 

“I recently finished a book on cookie swaps, which got me into the small town feeling,” explains Chattman, a former pastry chef, wife of Jack Bishop (host of the PBS show “America’s Test Kitchen”) and mom to their two daughters. “When I finished it, I had some time on my hands. So much of everyday life is in the book, but I couldn’t talk about Sag Harbor constantly in the book. So I decided to start a blog about the way I shop, what I see, and how I think this is a beautiful and great place to live.”

Interspersed with Chattman’s observations are tasty recipes that tie into the theme of the day. Recent entries include “Tonight’s Dinner Before the Middle School Concert” (pasta with creamy tomato sauce, salad from Bette and Dale’s, and homemade olive and rosemary ciabatta), “Pass-the-Budget Macaroons” (self-evident), and a recipe for scrambled eggs with goat cheese and chives which Chattman was inspired to whip up as a result of a sign in front of Bette and Dale’s farm.

When it comes to what’s happening politically, Chattman has certainly had a lot to choose from recently with the Sag Harbor school vote — between the differing views of school board candidates, the budget debate and the art at the polling place controversy.

“Last week, I was getting stressed out from the tension leading up to the election,” says Chattman. “This blog is my space to be really positive about Sag Harbor. Not that I’m a Pollyanna without a sense of irony, but it’s a way to shape my environment on the computer after listening to people arguing.”

While some bloggers start out strong but abandoned their efforts when the pressure to constantly produce becomes too much, Chattman, who started her blog in early May, is still going strong and having a blast.

“My husband thought ‘You’ll be able to sustain that for two weeks — so good luck,’” says Chattman. The secret to sticking with it, she finds, is keeping it simple.

“It’s so easy, if I didn’t do anything else during the day in my writing, it’s there,” says Chattman. “With the book, I thought about every word. But this flows easy, it comes out of my everyday life. I’m not casting a net for a wide audience — it’s like I’m writing for a friend and neighbor. With all that’s going on now, I think people will be interested in hunkering down and focusing on what they have in their immediate vicinity. It’s not just food, but appreciating little things.”

And appreciating the little things is a skill which Chattman has sharpened in recent weeks thanks to her blog. 

“Since I’ve started, my eyes are more open to what’s around me and it has invigorated my cooking,” says Chattman. “A lot of people are already reading the blog. I was walking in the woods near Mt. Misery and a friend stopped me and said ‘I bought radishes and used the leaves to make pesto.’”

The recipe for radish leaf pesto recipe is the May 24 entry on “ Sag Harbor Days.” 

“It’s great when people call me,” she adds. “I try to tie every post into something that’s happening in Sag Harbor.”

“Right now the purpose of the site is to get my creative juices going and connect with people in the community,” says Chattman. “I’ve been posting every day to get stuff up there. It’s really fun.”

“It’s things about our town that I really enjoy. It’s not manufactured.” 

To visit Lauren Chattman’s blog (which will soon be linked to the Sag Harbor Express website) go to Chattman’s cookbooks can be purchased at the bottom of the website. Her “Cookie Swap” book will be published by Workman next February. 






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