We always plant a garden in our backyard in the summertime. The tomato and pepper harvests seem to vary from year to year, but the one vegetable I can always count on to have an over abundance all season long is green beans. They’re easy to grow, easy to take care of, and they just keep giving and giving. Will enjoyed plenty of them in his baby food this summer, and we love to enjoy them simple steamed or sautéed with a bit of olive oil and garlic. Even with eating them two or three times a week with dinner, I STILL always have more than I know what to do with. Enter the dilly bean. I started canning them 2 or 3 years ago now, and they’re always a favorite around our house. While we’re fans of pretty much anything pickled in this house – dilly beans really stand apart from your “standards”. They are packed with wonderful dill flavor. So crispy and delicious. You can also pig out on the whole jar, and don’t have to feel that guilty about it. Try them as a garnish for your next Bloody Mary, instead of a boring stalk of celery!

Pickled items are a great introduction to canning because you don’t need a ton of special equipment, and due to the high acidity of the brine – it’s virtually impossible for any bacteria to survive. Things like botulism, I hear they are not so good. At any rate, feel free to play around with the spice combinations. The only thing you want to adhere to for certain would be the water/vinegar/salt ratio.

It’s springtime here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and that means that crabs are starting to come back into season. Crab soup traditionally comes in two varieties; Cream of crab – a, well, cream based soup. And, Maryland crab – a tomato based soup. My husband is a fan of the Cream, where I am a Maryland kind of gal.

This recipe is for the tomato based soup, and it’s wonderful. A little heat from the old bay, lots of flavor from the crab meat, and tons of veggies! My 3 year old loves it. I always find that soup is a good way to get anything I want to into him!

On another note, we have a new addition to the family. I’m such a horribly slack blogger, you would think I would have posted something earlier…but time is just running away with me these days! So, without further adieu, this is William or “Will” for short. He was born December 19th, and was a hefty 10 lbs at birth. He’s now going on 5 months, and is close to weighing 20 lbs. He is a beast! While Andrew is a carbon-copy of Jon, I think I’ve finally got one that resembles me now. He’s such a sweet and happy baby boy, we are truly blessed!

Okay, back to the soup. It makes a relatively large batch. But, leftovers freeze well. I like to make my own seafood stock with various shells that I leftover from seafood. Crab, shrimp, lobster – all cook down to make a beautiful stock. If you don’t have any of those things available though, try substituting bottled clam juice. I think it would be just as good!

peachberrycrumble

For this trip to the orchard I got white peaches, as they were larger and prettier in general this week. Blueberries happened to be on sale this week too, for $1.28 a pint. So, I made this dessert for almost nothing. I think it would also be absolutely wonderful with raspberries, or even blackberries.

The original recipe calls for making individual crumbles in ramekin dishes. But, it was just us chickens here tonight – and I diddn’t feel like getting into all that for just us. I went ahead and doubled the crumble portion of the recipe as well – just ’cause that’s how I roll.  If you do decide to do individual portions, you’ll want to cut the crumble amounts in half and shorten the cooking time to 40 to 45 minutes.

friedshrimp

Fresh shrimp are very easy to come by here on the Eastern Shore. Shrimp are wonderful, you can virtually do anything you want to with them. I will spare you all any Bubba Blue quotes, but the man did have a good point. I’d go as far as to say they are the most versatile thing in the whole ocean. But, I have to say, my favorite preperation of a shrimp is the good old batter and fry. While I absolutely adore a zesty shrimp scampi, or an piping hot batch of Old Bay-laiden steamed shrimp, there is something to be said about the simplicity of a fried shrimp.

Because shrimp cook so quickly – things easily go awry. The difference between perfectly cooked and shrimp jerky is a matter of seconds. And, nothing is worse than an overcooked shrimp. Well, okay, I’m sure there is something worse…but, it’s pretty damn bad people!

Feel free to use frozen shrimp (I pity the fool!). Just make sure they have been thawed completely before battering and frying.