Island Vacations, Beach Books, & Royal Lunch Crackers

The beach at Assateague, Virginia.

The beach at Assateague, Virginia.

At a summer writers’ conference in the 1980s, they  bused us for the weekend to the island of Chincoteague, Virginia.  It was bliss.  We collapsed in our motel rooms and regained our autonomy after a week with roommates in a dorm.  We strolled around the village and ate ice cream.  I bought a Mr. Chocolate t-shirt for my husband.  We rented bikes and rode across the short bridge to Assateague, a wildlife refuge where you can see birds in the wetlands and the feral ponies.  (You may know of them from Marguerite Henry’s children’s book, Misty of Chincoteague.)  There are signs:  “Don’t feed the ponies.  They kick and bite.”  I would never dream of feeding the ponies.

A wild pony at Assateague.

A wild pony at Assateague.

For many years afterwards, we vacationed on the Eastern Shore.  We have been there in March, when we freeze and huddle on the beach in our sweatshirts, and in September when it is  lovely and warm and most of the tourists are gone. We always read a lot on beach vacations:  it’s nice to relax with a novel by Susan Richards Shreve or Jane Gardam.  Here are some books with specific beach or island settings:  Lawrence Durrell’s Prospero’s Cell, Nevil Shute’s On the Beach, Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, the Sea, Nora Johnson’s very weird but good out-of-print novel, Uncharted Places, and D. E. Stevenson’s The House on the Cliff.

A very weird out-of-print book, but I loved it!

A very weird out-of-print book, but I loved it!

Our tradition was to go the Piggly-Wiggly and buy a package of Royal Lunch Crackers.  These delicious milk crackers have, alas, been discontinued by Nabisco.  People on the internet are frantically trying to duplicate the recipe.

Today I tried to recreate the beach vacation feeling with a recipe for milk crackers at  They were delicous, but cookieish:  I will roll the dough thinner next time.  Here is the recipe.

2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. milk
1 lg. egg
In large bowl sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in butter until mixture is very fine. Add milk and egg. Mix to form a dough. Knead thoroughly and roll very thin. Cut into squares or rounds and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Prick crackers with fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. To make soda crackers, follow basic recipe substituting sour milk for regular milk and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for baking powder.

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