Eat them any month you want — that’s an old wives tale.

Here we are in fall, which has always been a favorite season of mine. However, now that the registrar and I have figured out that I do not, in fact, have one class to go but have two before achieving MPH status (a degree I have been pursuing part-time for so long that there is now an entirely new set of infectious diseases to worry about) I am slogging through this season with a little less of my normal zeal and a little more bitter self-pity. Still, yes, I know, two classes is a lot less than seven hundred and so we carry on and here I am with my SPSS manual, exactly zero statistics skills, and backpack at the grad center again.

In between homeworks, though, I’ve been thinking about that glorious summer we had where we managed to shoehorn in nearly a month away. Oh: we ate so well. Nothing like the trusty but slightly boring root vegetables piling up in our kitchen now. I want to tell you about this one night on Chincoteague, when we had this charmed meal with our friends K and M (you might remember them as the impetus for this blog) and D and T.

KM gets up at the crack of dawn, even on vacation, and I follow in search of a decaf americano not soon after. On Saturdays the island has a tiny but mighty farmers market with produce that is so much better than the stuff up here. I do feel bad saying that, since I bleed yankee, but to be fair, I mostly just walk around with nursing my decaf and smiling brightly since I cannot follow a word of the virginia islands accent. (Skip to :40. Amazing, no?).

Anyway, our friend K wandered down with us and got into conversation with the oyster guy. I don’t have time to give you the whole Chincoteague oyster history right now and KM will do it more justice than I ever could since she is the heiress to the defunct S&M Oyster Company (do you hear me cackling with glee?). Suffice to say a few minutes later we were walking home with the most amazing watermelons, tomatoes, basil, and glorious oysters, six ridamndiculous dozen of them. K earnestly tried to explain the math to us as we strolled the short block back to Miss Elsie’s house. “It was five for a dozen or nine for two, and then if I got another dozen it was another dollar for each dozen and…” and somehow we got home with six dozen oysters for a song.

T took one look and restrained himself until we were back from our morning beach trip to start making a watermelon shrub, some sort of cocktail that has something to do with vinegar and acidity. We named it the Kate Middleton because it was pithy with a smooth finish, just like her.

He ran out and decorated it with mint from the backyard that comes back enthusiastically every summer. Oh Kate Middleton Cocktail! You are winsome and go well with briny creatures of the sea.

K and KM set about shucking six dozen oysters while I baked my 9089th loaf of bread (I’m not even going to bother to tell you how to do this. Just read my college roommate’s food blog, where she writes about many things assorted and interesting with as many exclamation points as she uses in realtime, but most importantly, where she has mastered the bread recipe that a million of our friends now use. Call me if you have questions and get used to having crusty perfect bread every week).

Somehow they soldiered through the entire pile. I heroically shucked one and felt uncomfortable and then waited for the rest of the oysters to assemble majestically in front of me. We tossed them back, with a little lemon, a little horseradish, and not much else, while KM put the finishing touches on crab cakes. By this point, we’d had fresh flounder every night for, oh, five nights and were excited about something new, but these crab cakes stopped our sparkling conversation dead. All we could do was eat, marvel, eat, conduct case-control studies of the gluten-free vs breadcrumb ones, marvel at how each bite was better than the last, and spear another from the pile. Now that we’re home, we’ve made them with lump crab meat and they will totally get you through to next June.

After that, we broiled half peaches and topped them with a dollop of homemade yogurt. Are you kidding me. And then, after those perfect crab cakes and warm bread and tomato-cuke salad and the Kate Middletons, we wandered out onto the porch, M singing softly the whole time, and let the happiness fly. Goodbye, summer.

Chincoteague Crab Cakes

1/4 mayo
1 egg
a couple scallions (or 2T-ish grated onion)
1 t. old bay
salt+pepper
mix all those things together and then fold (gently!) into 1 lb crab. Add 2 T corn flour (for gluten free; or 2T breadcrumbs otherwise) and then form into cakes (K says: I like tiny cakes) and chill in the fridge for at least a half hour. Dredge in more corn flour and then saute til golden brown. Serve immediately — these love cakes are best right away.
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