Seafood with the Moorbys

By Tony Moorby July 28, 2023

I’m back on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware for a summer break, relaxing, fishing with my eldest grandson and going to the beach. 

A favorite pastime for Terry and me, along with her sisters’ families who live nearby, is picking fresh-steamed crabs. Maryland Blue Crabs, doused in seasoning such as Old Bay or a local version are delicious beyond description.

Learning to ‘pick’ or dismember them and choose the edible nuggets within, is a rite of passage if you live anywhere near the Eastern Shore. A daunting task at the outset but once a pattern is established, it’s easier than you think. We can demolish ‘two dozen large’ in short order, leaving the detritus and tools strewn around the brown paper table cover with paper sacks full of the now discarded bodies and empty appendages. Lips buzz to the savory spices in the seasoning. 

No self-respecting home kitchen around here is without a set of wooden hammers called knockers and old knives to help crack the pincers and knuckles. The major prize is the backfin meat, white as the driven snow and sweeter than a mother’s heart. 

Terry is an expert at making Maryland crab cakes using only the jumbo lump backfin meat. The lump meat is in large sections because it comes from the muscle that drives the back fins, which work the hardest. It’s highly sought after and therefore quite expensive. The cost is forgotten during the rapture of polishing off this gift from the sea!

Of course all the other seafood on offer is as fresh as a daisy and being a seafood lover, I’m thoroughly spoiled. Oysters, clams of all kinds and mussels are local and lovely.

It’s early in the season and Aiden hasn’t furnished anything to qualify as a keeper for the dinner table – it’s been catch and release so far. Time may bring its own reward. Actually the real reward is just being out there with him, his mastery of the angling arts has improved enormously since last year. He’s fished at home throughout the winter so his techniques are as varied as the places he fishes from; docks, piers, inlet rocks or the beach. I’m not the fishing type but he’s a joy to watch.

One of my daughters arrived with her three kids – all under five and between the beach and the community pool they’re already as brown as berries.

Just for a change, the other morning we took them to a peach and blueberry ‘pick-your-own’ farm. They were fascinated to see where the real things come from. I know they learn in school that fruit grows on trees and bushes but seeing, touching and picking the stuff is very affirming.

Not surprisingly, we came home with far too much and now the challenge of making the most of this abundance sits obviously in the kitchen and dining room. I’ve already made a monster batch of blueberry jam so jars have replaced bowls of the stuff. As soon as I finish writing this article it’s on to make the most of the peaches. Jam, pies, cobblers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Georgia crop wasn’t so good this year due to hard frosts and freezes so we’ve made up for it in this fruitful part of the world.

If we don’t pick things ourselves, the roadside fruit stands are cornucopias and look like Charles Wysocki jigsaw puzzles. 

I can truly say I’m indulging in farm-to-table cooking and enjoying life at the beach.

Last modified on Friday, 28 July 2023 14:32