Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Crabbing in Virginia Beach

When we were in Virginia Beach we went crabbing. We were so successful we spent a whole evening cracking and eating our bounty. You can find out an enormous amount of information on crabbing in Virginia Beach from the VB Guide: From late spring until early winter, the succulent blue crab abounds in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. All along Rudee Inlet and Linkhorn Bay, you will see clusters of people standing on the banks, dangling strings in the water. Although this method of catching crabs may seem primitive, it is highly effective.

A mature blue crab is usually between five and seven inches wide, across the back from “point to point”. The back of the blue crab is olive green, but their undersides and legs are white. Their claws have a blue-ish color, hence their name. One way you can tell a male blue crab from a female is by the tips of their claws. A female looks as if she has just returned from having a manicure- her claws are tipped in red. Many people assume that crabs are always red, but actually they become bright red-orange only when they are cooked.

A male crab is called a “Jimmy”. In addition to his plainer claws, you will notice that he has a small “apron” on this underside. A “Sally”, or she-crab, has a larger apron. If her apron is rounded and covered with an orange, spongy substance, she is known as a “sookie”, or egg carrying female. If you catch a sookie, you must return her to the water.

Crabbing is a major industry for the Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore. Commercial crabbers usually trap their crabs in “crab pots”, although some set long baited lines along rivers. In winter, when crabs are dormant, boats dredge the bay. In the late spring, Watermen traditionally bait their pots by using a Jimmy as a male siren to attract the innocent Sallies.

Although crabbing for a living is a hard life, catching enough crabs for dinner is fun and easy. Crabs will eat almost anything. Watermen say they prefer eel, but weekenders usually save chicken necks or hunks of “trash fish” for them. Tie the meat to a piece of twine, and throw it into the water. (You may need to weight it down with a spare key or fishing weight.) Wait about 5 minutes, then slowly put it in. Crabs are greedy and this is often their downfall. A crab will usually hold onto the line as you gently lift it up. Bringing them in is not difficult, but don’t try to grab the crab or remove it from the line! Crabs will protect themselves! Carefully retrieve the crab with a net and then flip it into a cool container. Do not kill the crabs you catch. They must be alive when you begin cooking them. Just keep them cool until you are ready to begin dinner.

Crabbing is permitted in Virginia Beach without a license, but there are certain regulations. Crabs must be a minimum of five inches wide from point to point, and all egg-carrying females must be thrown back. You may catch only one bushel a day.

Most crabs you catch will probably have hard shells, but you may come across a soft-shelled crab, either in a restaurant, or while crabbing. When a crab has grown too large for its shell, it will molt or discard the shell. The remaining skin hardens in a short number of days to form another hard shell. But in the meantime, it is very vulnerable and is referred to as a “soft-shelled” crab.

Watermen and crabbers can tell when a crab is going to shed its shell. Some companies sort out the crabs and hold the shedders until the day they molt. On that day, the tender soft-shelled crabs are sent, still alive, to the market. But because soft-shelled crabs can remain soft for such a short time, many are now frozen and then distributed. Soft-shelled crabs are prized as delicacies. They are best when small, lightly floured and sautéed in butter. However, most local restaurants serve large ones, battered and fried. You eat the whole crab-claws, skin and all-sometimes in a sandwich. Many watermen augment their incomes by selling fresh crabmeat. Commercial firms also cook and pick the meat and then pack it in cans, often pasteurizing it. Undoubtedly it keeps longer, but the process also tampers with texture and flavor. Really fresh crabmeat is unbelievably sweet and delicate, and it needs very little cooking because crabs must be cooked before the meat can be removed from the shell. Just sauté the crabmeat in butter with a little pepper and lemon. Another favorite is a spicy, steamed crab dish. Add some seafood seasoning to a couple of inches of water in a large steamer or pot. Pour in a beer or two and some vinegar. Bring to a boil and dump in live crabs. Cover and steam the crabs until they are bright red-orange. Pick and dip in fresh, melted butter.
Crab Balls

Southern Shores Specialties Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes and Crab Balls come from the Chesapeake Bay. a fluffy blend of jumbo lump and backfin crabmeats are combined to impart the sweet flavor of the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab. Crab meat washed and cooked within an hour of delivery, then handmade and frozen to ensure freshness.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Blue Crab Bay Company is 30 Years Old

2015 marks 30 years since Blue Crab Bay founder Pamela Barefoot sat down at her rural kitchen table to create herb blends for clam and crab dip. Since that day, her company has navigated the perils facing small businesses on Virginia's isolated Eastern Shore. The internationally recognized specialty foods producer has come back from a fire, weathered recessions and successfully reached beyond their remote location to a larger market seeking their high-quality specialty foods and crab stoneware. Their location is the source and inspiration of many of their products, including award winning clam-juice infused Sting Ray Bloody Mary mix.

Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer was featured in July on the MSN Travel page as their pick for a souvenir from Virginia! Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mix is featured in many of our Seafood Gift Baskets. We also sell Blue Crab Bay Seafood Soups and Clam and Crab Dips,

Monday, July 6, 2015

Easy Summer Party Pleasers

These recipes will make you look like a gourmet chef. Keep plenty of Smithfield Ham Sausage, Ham Slices and Bacon on-hand for easy summer party pleasers!

Grilled Barbecue Shrimp: Soak large peeled raw shrimp in orange juice for 1 hour. Wrap each piece with half slice bacon and secure with pick. Brush with barbecue sauce and grill until bacon is done.

Honey Blues: Spread softened Blue Cheese on baguette slices, top with ham slices and drizzle with honey.

Crispy Ham Sausage and Cheese Wafers

Crispy Ham Sausage and Cheese Wafers
·         6 ounce Ham Sausage
·         8 ounce Shredded Cheddar cheese
·         1/2 lb Butter, softened to room temperature (important)
·         2 cup Flour
·         1/2 teaspoon Salt
·         1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
·         1 1/2 cup Rice Krispies Cereal
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook ham sausage according to package directions. Drain and cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside. Combine cheese and butter. Add flour, salt and cayenne. Mix well until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Fold cooked ham sausage and cereal into flour mixture. Shape into 1-inch balls and place on baking pan 2-inches apart. Lightly flatten with fork. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Let cool 5 minutes on pan. Serve warm. Store in refrigerator or freezer.
Makes: 4 1/2 dozen

These are very similar to the Southern cheese straw, but are rich, delicate wafers with crunch from the cereal and great flavor from the addition of the ham sausage. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Virginia Gifts for Father's Day

Father's Day has been celebrated for over 100 years. The first Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Smart Dodd, often referred to as the “Mother of Father’s Day,” was 16 years old when her mother died in 1898, leaving her father William Jackson Smart to raise Sonora and her five younger brothers on a remote farm in Eastern Washington. In 1909 when Sonora heard a Mother’s Day sermon at Central United Methodist Church in Spokane, she was inspired to propose that Father’s receive equal recognition. The Spokane YMCA, along with the Ministerial Alliance, endorsed Dodd’s idea and helped it spread by celebrating the first Father’s Day in 1910. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge recognized Father’s Day and urged the states to do likewise. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation calling for the third Sunday in June to be recognized as Father’s Day and requested that flags to be flown that day on all government buildings. President Richard M. Nixon signed a proclamation in 1972, permanently observing Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June.

This year Father's Day is celebrated on Sunday, June 21. We know something a dad is sure to love to get for his special day......food. Dad's love Virginia Peanuts. We have peanuts for the golfing dad, the baseball loving dad or a can that says Father's Day and reminds dad to take some time off today. Dads also love tasty BBQ Sauces such as Bone Doctor’s Original Tomato Based and Vinegar based Carolina BBQ sauces, James River Barbecue Sauce. Some Dad's love soup, others have a sweet tooth for preserves and honey. Some of our gift baskets are perfect for a Dad or Granddad. Check out Southern Gourmet Treasures, Barbecue Time, Bloody Mary Brunch, or Tasty Days. How about a Smithfield Sampler that is sure to please such as the Smoked Country Sampler or a Smithfield  or Peanut Shop of Williamsburg Gift Basket such as the Virginia Country Breakfast or Classic Peanut Sampler.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Summer Spiral Ham Glazes

Spiral Sliced Half Ham
Add a little spicy heat to your Summer Spiral Hams this year.  Try these fruity glazes with mild “hotness” for an awesome sweet-hot taste sensation perfect for the hot summer days ahead. ENJOY!

SRIRACHA PINEAPPLE GLAZE: ½ cup Pineapple Preserves; 2 tbsp. Sriracha Sauce, and 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh Rosemary. 

JALAPENO PEACH GLAZE: ½ cup Peach Preserves, 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh Jalapeno Pepper (seeds removed), and ½ TSP finely chopped fresh Sage.

PEPPERY ORANGE GLAZE: ½ cup Honey, ¼ cup freshly squeezed Orange Juice, 1 tbsp. orange zest, and 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes.
Combine ingredients and generously brush over ham during final 30 minutes of cooking. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Maple Syrup Season in Virginia is Over

The Highland Maple Syrup Festival is over for this year and on March 30 Puffenbarger's Sugar Orchard's Facebook page announced: " The 2015 maple season is officially DONE!! "

Some interesting things about maple syrup:
Warm sunny days (above 40 degrees F) and frosty nights are ideal for sap flow.

The Maple season may last four to six weeks, but sap flow is heaviest for 10 to 20 days.

The harvest season ends with the arrival of warm spring nights and early bud development in the trees.

A maple tree is usually at least 4 years old and 10 inches in diameter before it is tapped.

Tapping does no permanent damage to the tree and only about 10% of the sap is collected each year.

Each tap yields an average of 10 gallons of sap per season. That yields about one quart of syrup.

A gallon of pure Maple syrup weighs 11 pounds.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March is National Peanut Month

From The Peanut Shop of Charleston's Facebook Page:
In honor of National Peanut Month, here are 10 fun peanut facts that you may not know!

1. Peanuts flower above ground and then migrate underground to reach maturity
2.The world's largest reported peanut was four inches long. It was grown in North Carolina by Mr. Earl Adkins. 3. Ever wonder where the term "Peanut Gallery" comes from? The term became popular in the late 19th century and referred to the rear or uppermost seats in a theater, which were also the cheapest seats. People seated in such a gallery were able to throw peanuts, a common food at theaters, at those seated below them. It also applied to the first row of seats in a movie theater, for the occupants of those seats could throw peanuts at the stage, stating their displeasure with the performance.
4. Adrian Finch of Australia holds the Guinness World Record for peanut throwing, launching a peanut 111 feet and 10 inches in 1999 to claim the record.
5. Tom Miller pushed a peanut to the top of Pike's Peak (14,100 feet) using his nose in 4 days, 23 hours, 47 minutes and 3 seconds.
6. The first peanuts grown in the United States were grown in Virginia, hence the Virginia variety peanut, which is the largest peanut grown in the USA.
7. As early as 1500 B.C., the Incas of Peru used peanuts as sacrificial offerings and entombed them with their mummies to aid in the spirit life.
8. Peanuts have come a long way from their original use of feeding pigs to becoming counted for as two-thirds of all snack nuts consumed in the United States.
9. Americans eat 3 pounds of peanut butter per person every year. That's about 700 million pounds, or enough to coat the floor of the Grand Canyon!
10. Peanuts are members of the pea family!

Eat Healthy Virginia Peanuts.... Live Longer