North Carolina Oysters

During the late 1880’s, North Carolina oysters were being harvested as an alarming rate and shipped out all over the country. At it’s peak in 1902, 800,000 bushels of oysters were harvested, exhausting the supply and threatening the future of the species [information from NC Oysters]. Thank goodness that efforts have been made to rectify this and increase the population.

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Like I’ve said before, I have been fortunate to grow up surrounded by fresh seafood. Oysters aren’t a delicacy to me but are simply another reason to gather around at my grandparent’s house. We’ve had oyster roasts for as far back as I can remember, though when I was younger, the oysters were heated on top of a wood stove until they popped open. Now we steam them over a cooker but they taste just the same – delicious. Typically we wait until January to cook oysters the first oysters of the season(sometimes we will have them on Christmas Eve) though the recreational harvest season runs from October 15 through March 31.

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I tend to like my oysters a bit firmer than most (otherwise it tends to look like snot). I also  chew my oysters (unlike most of my family). Once I’ve waited as long as I can wait, I snatch the oyster from the cooker, careful to avoid the steam. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned to open an oyster with moderate success. You lay the blade of your oyster knife into the hinge of the oyster and twist until it pops apart.

If there is any juice, I sip it. The salter the better and where/when your oyster was harvested sometimes dictates the saltiness. I slather the meat in homemade cocktail sauce (a mixture of horseradish and ketchup, though I’m a bit heavy handed on the former) and eat it.

When we get fresh oysters, we always eat them steamed. If we are wanting to fry oysters, we usually will pick up a jar of already shelled oysters from Quality Seafood.

This wouldn’t be a post on oysters if I didn’t highlight the oyster knife of my dreams. Made by Carolina Suckers from an old railroad spike, this oyster knife is practically a work of art to me.

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The Mother Shucker

Maybe one day I’ll get my hand of one of these beauties. For now, I’ll just keep using the crusty – well, let’s call them vintage – oysters knives rummaged from drawers at my grandparent’s house.

Do you eat oysters? What is your favorite way to eat them (steamed, fried, make into an oyster stuffing)?

Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s Haul

Like I said in an earlier post, I’ve been working on clearing out my pantry in anticipation for my quarterly Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods excursion. My boyfriend and I almost messed up. The weekend before Christmas, we went to Moore County to visit his family for the holidays. On our way up, as we passed through Raleigh, we decided that we would stop to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Cabela’s on our way home. Monday came and it was a dreary day as we set off back to our house with a truck full (and I mean jam packed) with gifts.

We stopped to Cabela’s but decided to bail on the other two stores. We were tired, ready to get home, and most of all – our truck was FULL! So we decided to stick to our original plan of making a day date of it while I was out on break.

That same Monday night, I attacked the kitchen in a whirlwind after we arrived home. I cleaned out our pantry – putting items that have been in our pantry for months – into a bag to donate to the local food bank (I ended up with two large bags full), throwing some expired items away. Then I started on the spices. There were spices in there from back in 2011! I let Robb go through everything before I tossed it and if he said keep it, we kept it (fair trade).

When we went to Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s the day after Christmas, neither of us were feeling at our best. That may have been why we didn’t go as crazy as I had anticipated. But that’s okay. It still ended up being a good “date” day for the two of us and I enjoy spending time with Robb. Even if it’s doing something that seems as mundane as going to the grocery store!

Here’s what we purchased:

 

Some of our favorite purchases were:

  • Growler of Ginger Kombucha from Barefoot Bucha (first tried at the Heritage Festival at Monticello) from Whole Foods (Me)
  • Olives from Whole Foods (Robb)
  • Creamy Corn & Roasted Pepper Soup  from Trader Joe’s (both of ours)
  • Trader Joe’s Roasted Potatoes (mentioned before in this post)
  • Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina Flour from Whole Foods (Me) – this is for homemade corn tortillas using the tortilla press I got for Christmas!
Molten Chocolate Macaron from Trader Joe’s – this thing is HUGE!

Since we went on Monday, we were able to take advantage of the Pasta Night at Whole Foods. For $12.99 we were able to get a pound of fresh cut pasta (our choice was spinach pappardelle), 16oz of Severino sauce (we went with the Fra Diavolo) and 4oz of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Our pasta night deal from Whole Foods with chorizo, mushrooms, and onions thrown in. Delicious!

A few nights ago, I was able to try out my new tortilla press. I know that a tortilla press is a weird thing to ask for but I love the idea of being able to make fresh corn tortillas. I still need to practice but I think I did okay! I paired my homemade corn tortillas with homemade pico de gallo, homemade lime crema, cilantro, coleslaw mix, and pan seared Alaskan halibut (with a adobo seasoning purchased from Whole Foods).

Tacos?? A good first try.

I’m already looking forward to our next trip!