New Oyster Beach

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After putting it off for as long as possible, we finally had to go into town to buy Skyla a new pair of tennis shoes. An hour of The Hell That Is Shoe Shopping, and we clearly needed a breath (or 50) of fresh air. So we decided to check out a nearby beach that I’d heard had oysters. Weather was marginal, and we had to be back for a kid sleepover, so I thought we’d just squeeze in a quick walk down the beach to scout it out.

But maybe I was just telling myself–and the kids–that to manage expectations. After all, the tide just happened to be hitting full low when we arrived. And I did have a couple oyster knives, a bucket, plastic containers and knee boots in the car. You know, just in case.

Good thing, too. A hundred yards from where we parked, we found oysters on top of oysters. We shucked enough for dinner and a few leftovers, then made some quick test digs for steamer clams (plenty there) and hit the road home. Grabbed a pizza for the kids sleepover party on the way and made it home just in time. Monday night, when it was just us, we broke out the flour, eggs and panko for a serious oyster fry. And felt lucky that somewhere between shoe shopping and sleepovers, we found time to gather a meal.

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Oyster Girl

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This time of year, I start craving oysters. I’m not sure if it’s some latent seasonal foraging instinct, or simply a long time since we’ve had ’em, but I have oysters on the brain. Saturday, I finished up some farm chores, jumped off the tractor by early afternoon, rounded up the kids and hit the beach.

With the Skyla (above, counting out her harvest) and Weston gathering, and me shucking, we finished our limits quickly then got to work making mini-aquariums out of tupperware bowls. Rock pricklebacks, limpets, shore crabs and the prize of the day, a baby sunflower star, filled the bowls and made it hard to leave the beach. The kids have been doing this since they were tiny, and yet, watching small seashore critters continues to draw a powerful interest from both of them. And, I admit, me, too. But we were getting hungry, so we released our captives, and headed home.

Back in the kitchen, Skyla helped accelerate the breading process (flour, egg wash, panko) and kept us ahead of the game on turning each oyster in the pan as it turned golden brown. What a meal. A little brown and wild rice, some fresh asparagus spears, and big piles of crispy, briny oysters. Skyla ate nine, Weston gave her a run for her money with seven, Stacy ate a dozen, and well, I don’t even want to say how many I ate, other than that it was at least double anyone else’s count. And now I’m ready for more.

For anyone not keen on oysters, Weston has a tip: “You just have to not look at the insides after you take a bite. Then they taste great.”