Friday, November 30, 2012

Barnacle babies

Live near saltwater? Try your hand at some barnacle pots.

Locate glazed or unglazed pottery at yard sales, thrift shops, or a discount store. Hang them off a dock using stainless-steel wire. Let them hang in the saltwater for a couple of months while the barnacles attach and grow. Then pull up the pots, scare all the little crabs away, and immerse the pots in a 5-gallon plastic bucket with granular chlorine for several days. Afterward, carefully remove the pots and use a soft brush and cold water to clean off the mud and loose pieces of shell.

After they air-dry, they’re ready for display indoors. Once indoors, keep the pots in a safe, dry place, as the barnacles are fragile. Dust with a soft cloth.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Q&A with musician Robbin Thompson

Robbin Thompson and Blue Crab Bay Co. President Pam Barefoot were regulars in Richmond, Va.'s Fan District scene of the early '70s and reconnected on Facebook a few years ago.
Our company president, Pam Barefoot, asked,
and Robbin Thompson said yes!

On Saturday, July 28, Robbin of “Sweet Virginia Breeze” fame will return to Onancock, Va., after a sold-out performance last year at Historic Cokesbury Church. This time, the mesmerizing musician, who has shared the stage with Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Hornsby, and longtime friend Bruce Springsteen, will play Onancock’s Roseland Theatre, the first live performance there in nearly 50 years.

The concert, hosted by Blue Crab Bay Co.'s Relay for Life team, the Blue Crabbers, will begin at 8 p.m. Doors will open at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $20, and proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society's Relay. For more information, call 1-800-221-2722.

 A few questions Robbin took the time to answer for us:

When you first became a performer, who was or were your musical inspiration(s)? I would have to say that Ricky Nelson and Dion were big inspirations to me at first, but the Beatles, the Beach Boys and a lot of British Invasion groups were as well. I think the die was cast when one of my first bands in Florida got to open for the Beau Brummels. They needed a place to practice so they practiced at our house!! The lead singer, Sal (Valentino) and guitarist Ron Elliott took me aside and said I should keep singin' and writing. You really never stop being inspired by someone out there.

We know you’ve toured Europe quite a bit. What has been your favorite place and why? That's a tough question because there are many, but if I had to choose, it would be Murten, Switzerland, just because I have made friends there and like the venue so much.

How have your musical tastes changed through the years? They really haven't changed all that much. I always seem to be drawn to the lyric and the melody. What changes is your age. As you get older you tend to listen harder, and you get more knowledgeable - hopefully. I have a tough time with putting my arms around popular music these days, but I know it's because of my age.

Who was the most surprising performer with whom you’ve played and why? Saying Bruce Springsteen or Timothy B. Schmit would be easy answers, but to tell you the truth they weren't all that surprising. They were and still are just freakin' great artists that are nice guys. I would have to say Steve Cropper. Steve played on my first album, and I was in awe of him. Days after the session, he called me up and asked if it would be OK if he came back to re-do his lead on a couple of songs because he'd been thinkin' about them and thought he could do better. That was surprising. I'd have to say that it's amazing to me how totally normal and gracious people are in this business. The surprises are the ones that you think would be and aren't.

Which up-and-coming artist(s) would you like one day to say, “Robbin Thompson really influenced my music”? I'd have to say "anyone" to that.

What inspired you to perform at the Roseland? The sign on the building. I think it's right out of ... a movie? I've never really been in it, but the first time I sailed to Onancock, I took a photo of that sign.

Because this event benefits Relay for Life, tell us about anyone particularly close to you who has dealt with cancer or is dealing with it now. That would have to be me. I've been living with cancer for more than 11 years.

If you could leave one piece of advice in a time capsule, what would it be? Don't waste your life doing something you don't enjoy.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia is ready for your return, Robbin, and Pam wants another photo like last summer's!

Pam and Robbin in Onancock last July

Friday, July 6, 2012

From trade show to Roman mythology

From left to right: Pam Barefoot, Paul DiPasquale, and Linda Gayle in 1986

An old friend - and we mean old in the best possible way - visited Blue Crab Bay Co. recently. Artist Paul DiPasquale debuted his "peeking" ducks with Blue Crab Bay Co. at the company's first trade show in 1986 in Washington, D.C. (see picture above). Paul has thought bigger in recent years, though. He is the designer of the King Neptune statue that rules at 31st Street in Virginia Beach at the gateway to Neptune Park and the threshold of the sea. The bronze piece stands 34 feet high, 12 feet across, and weighs 12.5 tons. The statue of the Roman god of the sea was dedicated in September 2005. It was paid for entirely from private contributions.

Surrounded by sea creatures, King Neptune reigns over Virginia Beach.
Paul also designed the statue of tennis legend Arthur Ashe on Richmond's Monument Avenue. Paul lives in Richmond with his wife, Kelly Kennedy. They recently came to the Eastern Shore of Virginia to spend the Fourth of July with our president, Pam Barefoot, and her husband, Jim Green. While they were here, Pam brought them to work for a tour (see the couple below in front of our retail shop). They reminisced about pictures and articles that adorn our walls at the office.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The toad prince

Before: This swelling toad is in defense mode fresh off the boat.

Inquiring minds want to know: Would you eat this guy? Well, we can tell you one thing: We folks on the Eastern Shore sure would and do! For those of you who don't know already, this is a swelling toad, or northern puffer. Swelling toads are club-shaped fish that puff up into a ball in self-defense. They visit the deep flats of the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay from spring through fall. They use their strong, beaklike mouths to crush the shells of small mollusks, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. Eastern Shore cooks fry them up into tasty treats, like those seen below.

After: Fried swelling toad is something you don't want to miss.

In fact, a popular local restaurant, Big's Place in Painter, Va., about 10 minutes south of Blue Crab Bay Co., recently garnered a mention in Parade magazine, which referred to the dining establishment's swelling toads as "sweet little panfish fried in butter." Who could say no to that? An interesting aside: Kelley Gaskill of Big's Place is a friend and former employee of Blue Crab Bay Co.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mom's the word

Capital Cooking with Lauren DeSantis has included our Blue Crab Stoneware in its Mother's Day Gift Guide. Depending on where your delivery location is, you might still have time to place an order for the special day. If not, don't hesitate to shop for Mom (or for yourself) just because ...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Devilishly good

We all have special food memories. Our company president, Pam Barefoot, shared this one: "In the late 1950s and early 1960s, my mother would take me on our annual trip to North Carolina's capital city, Raleigh, to shop for school clothes. A highlight of our trip was a visit to the long lunch counter at Woolworth's department store, where we would order deviled crabs. And those deviled crabs were heavenly, not devilish! I never could figure out why they called them 'deviled.' This was my only experience with crabs as a child, as we lived in the heart of sweet potato, hog, and tobacco country."

Try this recipe out at home:

Chesapeake Deviled Crab

2 tbsp. yellow onion, minced
2 tbsp. bell pepper, minced
2 tbsp. celery, minced
2 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¾ cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
1 tbsp. dry sherry (if desired)
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
½ cup fine breadcrumbs (divide in half)
1 lb. fresh crabmeat or 2 tins crabmeat
6 to 8 clean crab shells or ramekins, lightly greased

Sautè onion, pepper, and celery in butter until tender. Blend in flour and gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. In a mixing bowl, beat an egg and add lemon juice, mustard, sauces, sherry, and all seasonings except Chesapeake Bay Seasoning or paprika. Add cream sauce to the egg mixture. Blend in crabmeat and half of the fine breadcrumbs. Place mixture in well-greased crab shells or ramekins. Over low heat, lightly butter the remaining breadcrumbs. Put the buttered bread crumbs over the top of each shell and sprinkle with Chesapeake Bay Seasoning or paprika. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about six servings. Enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A soft spot for soft shells

Our friend Judy Brunk harvests soft crabs.

A soft-shell crab is a culinary term for a crab that recently has molted its old exoskeleton and is still soft. Around here, we love to get our hands on these! And now is the season.

Once you're in the kitchen, prepping these treats for cooking is a breeze. Just take some kitchen shears and cut off the crab's face, slicing about a quarter-inch behind the eyes. Pull up the soft upper shell, leaving it attached, and remove the spongy gills underneath.

Now, you're ready to fry. There are numerous variations. Some people like a simple dusting of flour and frying in butter. This is one we like: Try dusting the crabs with flour, running them in a milk and egg wash, then follow with a seafood breading with some of our Herbs for Seafood or Chesapeake Bay Seasoning mixed in. Fry up until golden brown. Experiment, and have fun doing it! The flavor is wonderful! See below for some dinner ideas.

A home chef popped one of these fried delicacies into a tortilla for a tasty wrap.

The cook on this one took the panko crumb route.