Had originally planned another recipe to share with you today, but after enjoying this meal on Friday night – I had to share it with you guys ASAP. I’d had it on my list since I saw it in the Lee Brothers cookbook, and couldn’t wait to make it. We have a couple of fig trees (bushes?) in our yard, which produce two crops of giant, juicy figs a year. Once in the early summer, once again in the fall. They aren’t the traditional dark-skinned Mission fig that you usually find in the store, either. They have a very pithy white skin, that usually proves a bit complicated when going to make something like preserves with them, and I end up having to give them a peeling first. Didn’t matter for this dish, they just cooked right down into a delicious gravy.

And the Madiera. My God. I’m sold on this stuff as a marinating liquid! The pork has a relatively quick 1 hour soak in the Madiera, then is seared off in a cast-iron pan and finished off in the oven. Madiera is a sweet, fortified wine that I always have hanging out in my liquor cabinet. Great for a quick deglaze, and after-dinner drink, or a marinade. The sugars in the wine helped to give the most gorgeous caramelized crusts I’ve ever seen on a hunk of meat. No joke. Then, you add the marinade to the pan, along with the figs – and put it all in the oven for about 20 minutes. What comes out is sheer perfection. I served with some steamed broccoli and garlic rice pilaf. If you have figs available to you – whether in your back yard, or at the grocery store – add this to your menu plan. I can’t wait to make it again!

In the summertime here on the Eastern Shore, it’s rare to go a week without enjoying blue crabs in some way, shape, or form. Crab cakes, crab soup, or crab dip are all shining examples. But, nothing beats a good old-fashioned crab feast in my book! A big tray of freshly steamed crabs, some corn-on-the-cob, and plenty of ice cold beer. It’s just not summer without it!

Now, I know that many of you folks don’t have access to live blue crabs. But, many folks who do buy them already steamed and seasoned. And, that’s just no good! You don’t know how long ago they were cooked, and you usually end up paying more money to have them do it for you.

The steaming instructions listed below apply to any amount of live crabs – whether it be 1 dozen, or one bushel. Quantity does not matter. Bear in mind if you are steaming a whole bushel, you’ll need a very large cooking device. We have an old keg that we’ve converted to a steam-pot, and it’s great! I also recommend cooking outside if possible. A turkey frying rig is wonderful for this purpose. A side burner on a grill can usually do the job as well. I find that when I do steam them inside, it creates a funk smell in the house that lingers for a day or so. Kind of like when you fry something!

Line a table with multiple layers of newspaper, and dump the crabs right into the center of the table. Have wooden mallets and picking knives at the ready. We like to serve melted butter, and cider vinegar that’s been seasoned with plenty of Old Bay.

Strangely enough, I don’t care for cream-based soups. Keep all your chowders, and cream of mushrooms – I’m a tomato in my soup kinda gal. Jon, my husband, however – LOVES all creamy soups. And, cream of crab is right at the top of his list! The sweet cream and the crab are just perfect together, the flavors mingling and playing off each other.

It’s a quick and easy dinner to make too, which is why I love it – a light roux, a quick saute of some celery and onions, then adding the liquids and thickening. I like to add the crab in the last few minutes of cooking time. You want the meat to remain in chunks, and not disintegrate. Don’t sweat it if it does though,  it will still be delicious!

I usually do not tend to think of soups as elegant dining – but cream of crab definitely is. It’s heavier and filling, so it would be great for dinner served with a green salad. But, served in a cup and saucer it makes an impressive first course. The sherry on top is optional, but I really like the sharp bite it lends to the creamy soup. Enjoy!

It’s been a trying week in my kitchen, and it’s only Wednesday. To start out the weekend, I discovered the door to our stand up freezer in the basement was left ajar for a couple of days. It needed a good cleaning out anyways, but still, talk about a waste. Then, to make matters worse, when cooking dinner on Friday evening – the propane tank that fuels the cook top ran out. We only have to have it filled once a year, and I guess it just slipped my mind. That meant going until Monday without a propane delivery. Thankfully, we have a beast of a grill with a handy side burner. It’s saved our butts more times than I can count when we’ve been without electricity for an extended period of time.

However, one thing that I couldn’t do on my trusty grill was preserve the 15 lbs of strawberries we picked on Saturday afternoon. So, we went over to my Mom’s house yesterday to can, and it was a great afternoon. Mom always enjoys spending time with the boys, and it was nice not to have them pulling on my apron strings when I was in the process of canning. Hot jars + boiling water + toddlers just makes me nervous!

I couldn’t be happier with how this jam turned out. At first taste, it’s pure delicious strawberry.  But, comin’ up from behind is a lovely smokey, slow burn from the chipotles. I intended to do one batch of this, and one batch of a traditional strawberry jam. But, I loved this so much that I went ahead and did a double batch. I can’t wait to try it mixed into BBQ sauce, brushed onto grilled pork, or making a fun dipping sauce for coconut shrimp. Definitely plan on entering this one into my local fair come August!