2I don’t know if it’s the time shift, or the fact that I often fall asleep on the couch at 8 PM – but I find myself getting up before the sun these past couple months. Have been trying to be a little bit more productive with it. Getting up for a walk or run, snapping a few pictures of the sunrise along the way.

I thought that sharing my favorite photos I’ve snapped in the past month, along with a short blurb about what’s going on would be fun. I’m very fortunate to call such a magical place home, and I thought you guy might enjoy a little taste of that! So, we’ll see how it goes.

1Whiskey sours. This is a funny story! So, last summer I went to this fun blogger event sponsored by  the folks at Maryland Tourism. Local breweries and distillers were on site schmoozing with a variety  of local area bloggers. I got chatting with the folks at Louthan Distilling, who are out of Baltimore – but use grains harvested from the Eastern Shore. I mentioned that I lived on Chincoteague…would you believe the father of the distiller (who is the co-owner) literally have a vacation home one door down from me here on the island? It never ceases to amaze me how small of a world this is!

Naturally – we’ve become great friends. Len & Nancy have been over a couple of times for dinner, and drinks on the porch are quickly becoming a favorite pastime when they’re in town (who am I kidding, that’s always a favorite pastime around here!). The whiskey is phenomenal, wonderful to drink over a bit of ice or to use as a cocktail crafting agent. Santa brought the husband a nice collection of assorted bitters this year, so we’ve been fun experimenting with those!

3My morning walks I mentioned have been getting me a little more off the beaten path lately – which really says something for a girl who’s always got marsh mud stuck between her toes. Often, literally. I love to find a new perspective on things that I view on a daily basis!

4 Or, sometimes I’ll find myself more on the beaten path. Literally. For instance, this boat that’s on the side of the causeway (the long stretch of road over the marsh coming from the mainland to the island). I’ve driven by it a million times, always framing a shot in my mind – but never stopped to take the picture. Finally got around to it a couple weeks ago, and I love it. I need to get out there with my big girl camera soon and take some real photos!

5 Whenever we get a chance we love to take a drive up to the Dogfish Head Brewpub on a weekend for lunch.  It’s still the “off-season”, so they’re not quite as busy as they are in the summer months. The food and beer are always wonderful, and they’re very family friendly – which is a major plus with our crew!

Whenever we go, we always have to try a sampler of their brewpub exclusives – which are brewed in small batches right there at the brewpub. It’s always fun to see some of those brewpub exclusives materialize into beers that they then decide to bottle and distribute!

6 Speaking of good beer…guess who had a recipe in American Homebrewers Association’s Zymurgy this month? This girl! As a homebrewer and avid craft beer lover, this was a huge honor for me. And, if you haven’t made the Beer-Candied Bacon yet…stop reading this and go make it. Like, right now. We’ll wait.

7If you know me in my private life or through my Instagram feed – you’ll know that I’m obsessed with beachcombing – primarily for sea glass. While most of what I find is tumbled glass, which is beautiful – my favorite finds are pieces of pottery that have been broken and worn by the tumbling surf. I love finding something with a pattern or marking, and then tracing it back to what it was in the former life.

Most of  pieces I find are from the 1920’s – 1950’s. I drive about 30 minutes to the Chesapeake Bay side of the Eastern Shore, as I never have much luck here on the ocean side. You never know what the tide will bring in from day to day! On this particular morning I found quite a few blue & white pieces.

8This year during the off-season months our little movie theater has been showing classic films on Friday nights for $5. A couple of weeks ago it was Gone With The Wind. I saw it on the big screen back in 1999 for the 60th anniversary, but couldn’t resist seeing it again.

My girlfriend and I went (I may or may have not smuggled in a little bottle of rum to add to our Cokes) and had a great time. The perfect way to spend a small town Friday night!

9Spring has sprung and these little guys are hatching and crawling all over the island. They’re Diamondback Terrapins – once endangered due to over fishing (they’ll eat anything around here, guys!), and now facing daily dangers of getting caught in crab pots. I try to keep my eyes peeled for them on the road and avoid them when I can. I brake for turtles, y’all!

10The arrival of spring also means that all my favorite spots are opening back up! Sea Star Cafe opened a few weeks ago – my favorite spot for lunch. Always fresh and amazing! Ray’s Shanty – for all my seafood needs (heading there today – shrimp & grits on the menu tonight!). Poseiden’s Pantry – my go-to spot for specialty ingredients and craft beer. And, Saigon Village – a phenomenal little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place right up the street. If you’re ever visiting Chincoteague, I highly recommend all of them!

Smith Island Cake

If there is one item that’s long been on my baking “bucket list”, it would be the Smith Island Cake. Baked by the wives and mothers of waterman on Smith Island to send off with their husbands and sons, who headed out to dredge oysters for days at a time in the fall and winter on the cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s legendary here on the Eastern Shore, and was named the official cake of the State of Maryland back in 2008.

It’s traditionally 10-layers, individually baked, and then layered and covered with a rich, fudge-like frosting. It’s spreadable when it’s warm, but then solidifies helping to hold the layers together as well as to seal in the moisture. Keeping the cake fresh and moist for the hard-working boys on the water who were out there digging up oysters for people’s Thanksgiving tables.

I finally tackled it for our 10 year anniversary a couple weeks ago, and I’ve gotta say – I don’t know why I was so scared. I used Francis Kitching’s recipe, the legendary hostess and cook of Smith Island. I only ended up with 9-layers, I should have used a little less than 2/3 cup, but I was still so impressed with myself I could barely contain my excitement. The cake baked up nicely, and the fudge frosting was easy to work with. So happy I gave this one a whirl and can finally say I have it under my belt. I look forward to experimenting with new flavor combinations in the future!

Add it to your bucket list , but do yourself a favor and don’t wait as long as I did to make it. It’s so impressive, a perfect cake to make for the holiday season!

Source: Mrs. Kitching’s Smith Island Cookbook

Crab PizzaOur summer is starting to come to a close. We’ve been making sure to get plenty of beach and boating time before it does, but…it’s coming, whether we like it or not.

That’s not to say that I don’t adore fall…really, it’s my favorite season! Chilly mornings with hot coffee, the leaves turning, and most importantly – cheap, fat crabs. They’re down to $50 a bushel here on the Eastern Shore, which makes a spontaneous crab feast on a Saturday afternoon totally doable. Which is precisely what we did last weekend…

We ate our fill, then had plenty leftover to pick the next day. Ended up with close to 3 lbs! Of course I had to make a batch of my creamy crab dip, and I’ll be making some crab cakes to freeze. But, I wanted to do something a little different this time around.

Last month we took a cruise up to Seacrets in Ocean City in our friend’s pontoon boat (thanks, Captain Luke!). A few cocktails were consumed, as well as this delicious pizza. They actually call it “crab toast”… to which, I call bullshit. It’s a crab pizza, and it’s absolutely delicious.

I kept it simple, the crab is the star ingredient here, and it should shine. A light covering of a simple garlicky white sauce, topped with cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and the crown…jumbo lump crab. Now, let me just go ahead and put this out on the table – don’t use canned crab. Ever. For anything. The quality is absolutely critical for an application such as this. So, if you can’t get the good stuff , just don’t bother.

That’s why we have to get while the gettin’ is good here. Another bushel will probably be on the menu this weekend!

Source: inspired by Seacrets Crab Toast

Boardwalk Fries

I was kind of shocked when I realized I didn’t have a recipe for good, old-fashioned boardwalk fries here on the site. It’s shameful really. Sure, I have oven fries (which employ the same soaking technique I’ll touch on later) and fish & chips…but I needed to have an entire post devoted to these crispy, salty favorites.

My first taste of boardwalk fries was of course at Thrasher’s in Ocean City, MD…notorious among Marylanders, Eastern Shore folks, and really the entire nation in some cases. That’s because they’re the best. Their first trick is a soak for the cut potatoes in hot saltwater. It helps to remove some of the starch, and softens them up a bit for cooking.

The second key step is the twice-fried technique. The potatoes are cooked in hot oil for one round, basically to par-cook them. They’re then removed from the oil, set aside to drain, and then added back to the oil to attain that beautiful golden brown and crunchy exterior.

Immediately season with salt, and apple cider or malt vinegar. Never ketchup! It’s actually a rule at Thrasher’s…they don’t have it available. The place  next store has a racket selling containers of it at exorbitant prices. We don’t have boardwalks here on Chincoteague, which is just fine by me – but it’s nice to have a little taste of it here at home!