Happy New Year to all! We've just returned from a wonderfully relaxing time up at Mark's parent's house in Newport, Oregon. Some of you may have seen the delectable chicken hearts that we ate last week, but somehow I think this post will have you craving the content a bit more. This was my very first experience participating in a crab feed from start to finish! The crab fishing in Newport is one of the best and especially for Dungeness crab.
It felt like a covert operation. We were on a mission to get the freshest crab possible, right off the boat. Mark's sister, Lauri, had a phone number, a first name, and very brief instructions - "Pier 7 between 2-3pm. Ask for Carrie". So off we went, cooler in tow, to seal the deal. The boat had just pulled into port and they were unloading their massive catch. Massive in a couple of ways - the shear amount of crab they had and the enormous size of these Dungeness crab! As cruel as it may sound, it was fascinating to watch the vat full of crabs as they clumsily tried to climb over each other in the hopes of getting back to sea.
Unfortunately, their fate was sealed and we happily placed them into our cooler where they could spread their claws just a little bit more. We took our seven back to the truck and after Ryan opened and closed the cooler about 5 more times to check on our catch, we were off to have them cooked.
I'll admit my naivety here. I imagined us going to a grocery store, walking up to the meat and seafood department with our cooler, and them taking it away in the back to be cooked. I'm so pleased I was wrong since what we did encounter was so much more exciting! An outdoor crab cooker right outside a market. Seems that others had the same idea of having their crab cooked versus cooking them at home, since there was a 40 minute wait to get our magnificent seven put in the cooker. Conveniently, the Rogue Brewery, (which will be discussed more in an upcoming post), was close by to quench our thirst from our big adventure.
When we returned, our crabs were already in the cooker nearly done, so unfortunately, we didn't get to hear the crab screams as they were tossed into the steaming vat. At least that's what Ryan thinks :) When they are done, they are taken out of the cooker and placed into a cooling container, also filled with water. This lady in the picture actually did take that 1 crab out with her bare hand, but also mentioned that he happened to have his claw out of the water, so she can't do that amazing feat all the time. The next part was our job!
After 5 minutes in the cooling container, we were to take the crabs out ourselves and plop them in our cooler. This was definitely going to be a job for Ryan. They were a bit on the heavy side though, so I pitched in - also didn't want to accidentally rip off any of those precious crab legs! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...I think I counted them about 5 times to ensure we had all 7 of our crabs since you couldn't see the bottom of the cooling vat. Didn't want to forget any!
Back at home, the cleaning process began. I know I said I participated in this process from start to finish, but I must admit, I was simply the photographer in this next portion.
Their honestly wasn't enough room for three people to clean the crabs and Ryan (with a fresh new haircut, courtesy of Lauri) was determined to help Grandma Schulz remove the innards, with his glove on, of course. Shortly after they chilled, they were served up on ice, with a table full of wine, beer, cocktail sauce, drawn butter, and garlic bread. It was a feast and one that lasted awhile. You definitely appreciate the crab much more when you have to work for it!
I might venture to say that Mark is a little bit obsessive-compulsive when it comes to getting the meat out of the crab. That, or he just really LOVES crab and doesn't want to loose any morsel. He is very patient though, and waits until he has finished the entire process before taking his first bite. After some explaining to Ryan on the intricacies of getting all that you can out of the crab crevices, he was finally able to enjoy his meal along with the rest of us, even though he may have been the last person sitting at the table.
The best part of the meal was the enjoyment of family and laughing at the different ways we got to that tender crab meat. I can't thank Lauri enough for inviting Ryan and I along on the crab adventure, since it opened up our eyes and made us appreciate it even more!
Lastly, I want to leave you with another special family memory from the Schulz home. I love quilts and although I doubt I will personally ever make one, I appreciate them immensely and the history that they hold. Ryan used such a quilt during our stay, and this one was rich with history. Mark's grandmother made this quilt out of old suits that his grandfather wore. When the suits had reached their time, she cut them up into swatches and created this beautifully rich quilt with several different patterns and textures. The back lining of quilt is also made out of suit material, which makes it heavy and comforting. Mark has fond memories of this quilt growing up and it made him smile to see it again. For our whole family, this trip created fun new memories and allowed us to reminisce on old ones.