The Sea Salt Project

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

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Of the million-and-one projects I have racing around in my head everyday I had the opportunity to begin an experiment I have been wanting to start since coming down here to the island: Making Sea Salt. So here are the facts, from what I understand.

  1. Collect ocean water
  2. Allow to slowly evaporate in shallow pools
  3. Presto, you have salt

I may be severely underestimating the process and scale of this project but as I stated above, this is an experiment. I will you keep you up to date with my progress.
What the lovely photo above fails to express is the work it takes to haul 25 quarts of sea water over a quarter mile of deserted sand dunes! It will be worth it, even if all I get is one teaspoon of salt.

Guacamole – A Love Note

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

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Dear Guacamole,

I have loved you for a long time. From the first moment we met, back in the formative years of my youth. You have always been there when I needed you, a snack with friends, the perfect topping for my tostadas, and even as a meal when I was too tired to cook anything else after a late night at work. You will always be the snack (meal?!?) for me.

But seriously, this one goes out to all the Cinco y Diez fans out there that miss the guacamole we used to serve. It is made with one of my all time favorite foods, avocados! Avocados are at their peak in late spring and summer and great guacamole is all about the perfect avocado. More often then not, grocery stores in the south tend to stock avocados rock hard. This is because most avocados come California or Mexico. There are Florida Avocados out there, but they are not my preferred choice for guacamole. They are larger in size and lack the buttery texture I love. When shopping for avocados, look for ones that gives just slightly when gently squeezed. When you cut them open, they should be a bright, buttery, light green that is slightly darker toward the outside.

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Guacamole

2 hass avocados
2 tsp. roasted poblano (minced)
1 tsp. of roasted onion (minced)
1.5 tsp. minced cilantro
2.5 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. of sour cream or crema
¾ tsp. kosher salt

To roast the poblano and onion you will need one of each set over an open flame (an eye on your range or a grill will work). Char until black on the outside. For the poblano, place in a bowl and wrap. Set aside for 10 to 15 minuets. This will slightly steam the pepper and allow the skin to peel off easier. Deseed the pepper and mince desired amount.
Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Spoon the avocado out of the skin and roughly dice. Add in poblano, onion, cilantro, lime juice, sour cream, and salt. Stir gently if you like it a little chunky. Mash it up if you like it smooth. Eat with tortilla chips… or however you prefer. This recipe yields a good size snack for two… or enough for one California girl.

Oyster Roast

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

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It is simply one of the great pleasures in life, enjoying the tradition of a southern oyster roast. I am a California girl raised in the desert, so the mysteries of fresh oysters or anything to do with them remained well, mysterious until my venture into the great wide world of being a Chef.

Since my squeamish first bite, I like to think I have really embraced oyster culture. I have eaten them raw, fried, grilled, braised, and stewed. I have explored Highway 1 on the California coast, and in one trip eaten at all three Hog Island Oyster locations. I have eaten the hard to find, super briney, Pemaquids from Maine and large, European “pied de cheval” (horse hoof) in Cancale, France.

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But given a choice between white table cloth and fine china or wooden table and open fire pit… I choose the latter. In the lowcountry they have perfected the art of the oyster roast. It’s a social gathering where you get your hands dirty, share a few drinks, and knock back a few dozen oysters.

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It’s not hard to pull off at home as long as you can get your hands on fresh oysters, which thanks to the internet, is only a click away. If you are lucky enough to be here on the Georgia coast, check out White House Seafood. They are located in Woodbine, Georgia and harvest oysters from right here on Cumberland Island. If your home is nowhere near the salt marshes of Georgia, check out two of my favorite wholesale oyster companies here on the east coast.

Island Creek Oysters http://www.islandcreekoysters.com/

Rappahannock River Oysters https://www.rroysters.com/

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So here are the basics to pull of your home spun version of a low country oyster roast. It is easier than you think.

Equipment:

  • 1 Wood or Charcoal Grill (you can use gas, but where’s the fun in that)
  • 1 Bushel of Oysters (1 bushel=100)
  • Oyster Knives (one for each person you invite)
  • Cloth Towels
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Lemons/ Horseradish/ Cocktail/ Melted Butter/Hot Sauce (the options are endless!)

Simply light up your grill. Get a nice hot fire, no waiting around for coals. Work in batches. The size of your grill will dictate how many you can put down at one time. You want to put the oysters on the grill in an even, single layer over the hottest part of the grill. After about 3 or 4 minuets they will begin to slightly pop open and that your cue. Simply use tongs or a small shovel and put the hot oysters in a bucket and place on a table for your guests. If you like your oysters well done, just leave them on the grill for an extra minuet after they pop open. I highly recommend eating outside, shucking oysters can get messy. Even the most experienced of us drop on oyster on the ground on occasion.