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.”
We are now clearly making more withdrawals than deposits from our family food bank. On Saturday we opened the first jar of blackberry jam Skyla and her friends made from berries picked in August. Yesterday we thawed a package of smoked king salmon to serve at a friend’s party. And today I took a whole frozen silver salmon fillet out of the freezer for dinner tomorrow.
The great part about it all is that each package of food we picked or caught or grew, even it’s processed form, reminds us of when we harvested it. The salmon fillet, for example, says “Puget Sound Silver 9.5.13” on it, and just taking it out of the freezer brings back the excitement of Weston fighting it, Skyla netting it, and all of us high-fiving in the bright, late-summer sunshine. The value of these memories is not overlooked here in the dark chill of November.
I took the snapshot above for Lucky Peach (David Chang, of Momofuku fame’s gonzo foodie magazine) a while back, but thought I’d share it here as well. Kind of captures the spirit of the season. The question now, as it is every year, is will our supply last until we’re once again making deposits? Thankfully, it’s not a question of survival. The good stuff doesn’t last long around here.