my unintended visit to pilgrim state hospital

DSC_0079There are some utterly raw and scary (and iconic) photos in Life Magazine of an infamous New York State Mental Hospital called Pilgrim State Hospital.CSC_0090

Well, en route to the Hamptons last week….I saw it.  Didn’t mean to.  The silly Google maps program had re-routed us because of traffic over the George Washington Bridge and onto the Long Island Expressway.  The generally 3 1/2 to 4 hour trip was stretching into disastrous time.  I had to go to the bathroom and we were lost being directed on and off the LIE to avoid traffic and we just randomly got off at the Pilgrim Hospital Exit. Being from Pennsylvania, we did not know anything about this hospital, or that it had its own dedicated highway exit…to nowhere.

DSC_0089All of a sudden there we were, in the rain, on the grounds of a HUGE mostly deserted and abandoned psychiatric hospital.  Yup, like a Stephen King novel come to life.  Kept waiting for Jack Nicholson with crazy eyes to pop out from behind a tree.

This horror show was built around 1929 and opened in 1931. It still has a small part that is open and apparently some developer owns the bulk of the land left which is like the largest DSC_0084undeveloped parcel of land on Long Island apparently.  I have been reading blog posts about people getting in trouble taking photos there and how horrible a history the place has. I don’t know how a developer can think about putting homes and stuff there – the place feels haunted and I don’t mean that in a good way and I don’t say things like that either. You can find some eerie photos on the Abandoned America web page. And this “on the road” blog photographed it a lot as well.

DSC_0078I did not take many photos, but I took a few.  I was sort of freaked out that we kept basically doing laps around this property but never getting out.  It was the most oddly ominous place I had ever visited.

Anyway, file under creepy.



american pie

In last September’s New York Times Magazine Mark Bittman wrote an article called Bye,Bye, American Pie. No it wasn’t the impetus for this post, but it is a good read.  This post takes inspiration from the farmers where I have been vacationing until a few hours ago: the farmers of Eastern Long Island, NY.  One farm in particular called Balsam Farms in Amagansett.

I feel like I have been cheating on my favorite Chester County Farmers, but I have to tell you the produce I bought while on vacation is truly amazing.   I think there is something with the fertile yet sandy soil that makes a difference.

Seriously, and it sounds like sacrilege, but the tomatoes I have had kick the rear of Jersey tomatoes.

And another interesting thing to note is in a lot of cases this organic produce I have been purchasing is less money than some of what I buy locally in Chester County.  I figure that is well worth mentioning since everything having to do with the Hamptons is equated with super expensive.

So this pie is all mine oh me oh my.  The recipe is not an exact science, and I am trying to get better with that.

Peach Apricot Pie


1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup oatmeal (Quaker quick oats will do – but PLAIN – no flavored stuff!!)

1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons sugar (white)

3 tablespoons of ice water

dash of cinnamon

dash of ginger

Mix all dry ingredients.  Cut in butter after cutting butter into teeny pieces.  Incorporate butter into dry ingredients until little crumbs are formed.  Add the water.  Bring it all together into a ball of dough that is not over-mixed, wrap well in plastic wrap so it is air-tight and refrigerate for  2 hours.

As you are getting ready to bring your dough out, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

After the crust is sufficiently chill, roll out between sheets of plastic wrap lightly dusted with flour.  Place crust carefully in a pie plate – I guess mine is a 9 inch – I have vintage glass pie plates and this was one that was shallow as opposed to deep crust.  Fix your edge of the crust by gently crimping with a fork and put crust in pan back in refrigerator to stay cool while you assemble the filling and streusel topping.


2 tablespoons corn starch

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 cup of brown sugar

Peach Apricot or peach preserves

5 or 6 regular sized peaches

5-8 small apricots

lemon juice

Slice up the fruit into thin slices.  Sprinkle a little lemon juice over them to keep them from turning brown and toss gently with sugar, corn starch, flour, spices. Set aside.

Streusel Topping:

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup oatmeal (same kind as above)

3 tablespoons of butter diced up

1/3 cup sugar (white and brown mixed together)

cinnamon and ginger to taste

Mix all the stuff together for the streusel topping in a small bowl until uniform crumbs are formed.  Set aside.

Remove crust from fridge and pour fruit gently and evenly into crust.   Dot fruit filling with dabs of preserves. You aren’t completely covering the top with preserves, you are dotting.   Evenly distribute streusel topping over this and bake for approximately 35 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees depending upon your oven.  You may wish to create foil “hood” to cover crust edge so it doesn’t burn.

Cool pie before serving on a counter or table or wherever it can cool off unmolested by pets or humans.   Serve with whipped cream sweetened with honey and ginger or vanilla ice cream.  Refrigerate leftovers.