New England Clam Chowder

Last summer I did a poll on Instagram on clam chowders – Manhattan vs. New England. The cream-based New England won by a long shot, at 80%. I’ve had a recipe for the tomato based Manhattan clam chowder here on the blog for a couple of years. But it was clear I needed to get my version of the cream based up here as well.

We’ve been doing our fair share of fishing lately. Alternating between going out on the sea side, and the bay side of the Eastern Shore. We’ve had some great days, including my first citation fish – a 14 pound sheepshead. Still walking on air over that one!

Often our fishing leaves sessions leave us with some leftover bait, in the form of fresh big chowder clams. Shout out to Chip, our clam man, who makes home deliveries!

The kids have also started to dig them up on Sundays when we’re out at Little Beach. Usually they’re smaller and we just toss them on the grill – but sometimes they’re big enough to become a pot of chowder.

At any rate, I finally got around to making it AND taking a photo of it. It’s rich and creamy, filled with chunks of bacon, potatoes, onions, celery, and chopped clams – that lend a lovely brininess. And as with most soups, it’s even better the next day!

If you can’t find fresh clams, no worries. You can easily used canned clams and clam juice – both of which are available at any grocery store.

We need good cocktails more than ever, y’all. Ive been going through my fair share of vodka – and crushes will always be my favorite way to put it to good use.

Orange Crushes are the gold standard, and probably the first thing that folks think of when someone mentions crushes. But honey, I’ve done crushed every fruit under the sun. Grapefruit, strawberry, watermelon, cantaloupe, coconut, lemon – I even wrote an article about my love for them in Chesapeake Bay Magazine last summer!

But in the times we are in, you may not have a plethora of fresh fruit available to turn into cocktails. That’s why I love these Cherry Lime Crushes – because I’ll usually have all the ingredients on hand. And, thats awful handy these days.

We are looking forward to some warm temperatures and sunshine this weekend here on our little island, I hope that you all get a taste of it too wherever you may be. And also, these crushes. Stay safe, friends!

Cherry Lime Crush

2 oz vodka
1 oz triple sec
1 oz marashino cherry juice
juice of 2 limes
splash of lemon-lime soda
ice
marashino cherries, for garnish
lime slices, for garnish

Pour all ingredients into cocktail mixer and shake.

Strain into a cocktail glasses filled with ice.

Garnish with a slice of lime and a cherry.

Makes 2 cocktails.

With all the time we’ve spending at home, we’ve done a lot more eating. We’ve gotten a bushel of crabs twice since the season has opened, and it’s not even Memorial Day. First world problems, right?

A bushel if blues usually constitutes one meal for our family, followed by a bunch of picking of the leftovers in the following days. We usually will take the legs and top shell off – making them easier to store in the fridge, as well as less mess and trash on your hands once picking commences.

I usually go for the standards when I have copious amounts of crab on my hands – my favorite crab cakes, cream of crab soup, creamy crab dip, Maryland crab soup. Sometimes I’ll go a little more out on a limb with something like crab pizza or a crabby Bloody Mary.…but crab pie? That’s a first for me.

I love savory pies – whether it’s a juicy tomato pie, or a quiche that’s chock full of roasted veggies and goat cheese. So, I was definitely down with the concept of a crab pie. Freshly picked crabmeat baked in a cheesy creamy custard base? Okay.

I’m happy to report it turned out to be a winner. If a crab cake and a bowl of crab dip were to have a lovechild – it would be this crab pie. It’s rich and filling, and super impressive. I served it warm, with a nice green salad to lighten and brighten – and it was a perfect meal.

Years ago Jon and I were enjoying dinner at one of the finer establishments here on the island. The couple sitting behind us were visiting the area – and not yet acquainted with oyster stew when they saw it on the menu. When they asked the waitress what exactly it entailed, she replied in a thick Chincoteague accent with “Honey – it’s oysters. With a little bit of milk in it”…

Jon and I both laughed – because seriously, how could you not know what it was? And also, her reply was so cut and dry – and perfectly summed up oyster stew. I still think about it and chuckle every time I see it on the menu!

Last week the good folks at Cherrystone Aqua Farms were kind enough to send me a box full of oysters and clams. They’re started shipping these Eastern Shore of Virginia delights all over the country recently, so if any of my friends are looking for a taste check them out. I’m picky about my bivalves, and I can’t rave enough about everything that they offer.

Of course we love to enjoy them as is on the half shell, that happened approximately three minutes after the box arrivied. But I wanted to make something I could take a photo of and share with you guys. Not that photos of just oysters aren’t pretty…I love those too, obvi.

But, I’ve been needing to get more oyster recipes up. And, with being stuck at home with nothing to do besides cook – it was the perfect opportunity to get another one under the belt here at Tide & Thyme!

We had rainy weather for most of the weekend, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity for a batch of oyster stew. Ashamed I didn’t have this on the blog yet, as it’s one of the most Eastern Shore-y of all Eastern Shore dishes. It’s simple, quick, comforting and very filling.

Just like everything else, everyone  has their favorite way of preparing it. I like to use heavy cream instead of milk, because why not? I love the combination of the rich cream and the plump briny oysters. I also add some minced celery, which is pretty conventional – and some minced shallot, which isn’t.

Don’t be afraid to make it your own, just don’t go too crazy. You want to let the flavor of the oyster shine in this simple stew!