Margaret Walton, cooking up recipes for 26 years | WHIDBEY RECIPIES

We’ve all heard it so many times, that old adage “How time flies when you’re having fun,” but I’ve never felt it so strongly as I do at this moment. Today, as I’m writing this, it is May 15, 2015, and when I sat down at my computer, wondering which of several possibilities I’d use for a column, it suddenly hit me.

It was in May, 1989 that my first column appeared in the South Whidbey Record. 1989! I’m in shock as I realize that was 26 years ago, and there is no way I ever thought that would happen.

When I first talked to then Editor Jim Larsen about wishing there was a food column in our local paper, he suggested I try writing one or two and give it a test run to see whether it would work out or not. I told him I didn’t think I could just write every week about food, and his reply was more or less that I could write about whatever I thought might be interesting and/or relevant in the column and then add some recipes.

And that’s exactly what I did, every week, with the exception of a week or two here and there when John and I were traveling. Now I do it only once a month, by mutual agreement with The Record. At first, I thought I’d probably do the column for a year or two; it was fun and I learned long ago in my writing career that it takes deadlines to keep me at it, so that worked for me. Never did I imagine that I’d be sitting here turning out another column 26 years later.

But, it was and still is just plain flat-out fun. More than that, the column has, over the years, introduced me to new friends, new places on the island, and new experiences. I’ve heard from so many readers, far and near, with comments and responses to various columns, which I love, and it has even brought a couple of long ago friends back into my life when they happened to spot the column while visiting on the island and looked me up.

I’m not sure this particular column is fun, however, because it is suddenly bringing on a certain realization of the aging process, which I normally do my best to ignore. I don’t suppose you’d believe me if I told you I was only 20 when that first column was published? No? I thought not.

Enough with the maudlin reminiscing, but I would like to say thank you not only to our readers for hanging in there with me over all these years, but also to the people at The South Whidbey Record who have, right from the beginning, kept this whole process… fun.

And now, as I promised long ago, some recipes.


RECIPES: It’s that wonderful time in spring when shrimp season has opened, and fresh wild salmon are running, but getting caught. Seafood can’t get any better than it is right here in our part of the world, and it’s time to enjoy it as often as possible. I have literally hundreds of shrimp and salmon recipes; here is but a sampling.


(Note: This recipe wants the freshest shrimp you can get your hands on, and preferably good-sized ones).

1-1/2 lbs. fresh uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/4 lb. butter

5 cloves garlic, chopped

2 T. chopped chives

4 T. dry sherry

1 c. grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese

1. Heat butter in a skillet;  add garlic and saute, being careful not to let it burn. Add shrimp, chives and sherry; stir lightly until shrimp is cooked (about two min. depending on size of the shrimp. DO NOT OVERCOOK; they should turn pink and curl and they’re done.

2, Add cheese and toss. Serve with rice or on top of a fresh greens salad, with Italian or French bread. Serves 4 (or less, depending upon hungry shrimp eaters.)



1/4 cup olive oil

4 t. minced garlic

1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined

1 1/2 cups drained canned artichoke hearts, chopped

1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup chopped seeded tomatoes

3 T. fresh lemon juice

3 T. chopped fresh parsley

2 T. finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1- 1/2 t. dried)

12 oz. angel hair pasta or linguine

1. Heat oil in a heavy large skillet over med.-high heat. Add garlic and saute only for 20-30 seconds (don’t let it burn). Add shrimp and saute until almost cooked through (2 min.), then add artichokes, feta cheese, tomatoes, lemon juice, parsley and oregano. Saute until shrimp are cooked through (about 2 min. more; DON’T OVERCOOK.) Season with salt and pepper; remove from heat.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm; drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add shrimp mixture to pasta and toss to coat. Adjust salt and pepper seasoning to taste, if necessary. Sprinkle with a bit of chopped parsley and serve. Serves 4.


And another easy one, this time for salmon, but only when you have one fresh out of the water, cleaned and filleted. It doesn’t get any better, and Copper River Salmon is coming in even as you read this.


2 med. heads of garlic, broken into separate cloves, peeled

1/2 cup olive oil

3 T. unsalted butter

8 salmon fillets, 6-7 oz. each

4 t. fresh lemon juice

Chopped fresh rosemary, for garnish

1. Place garlic in a ramekin and add enough of the olive oil to cover. Wrap ramekin in a double  thickness of foil; bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until very tender (about 35 min.) Use a slotted spoon to transfer garlic and about 1 T. of the oil to a food processor. Add the butter; puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Turn oven to 450 degrees. Place salmon on a baking sheet; season lightly with salt and pepper. Drizzle each fillet with 1/2 t. lemon juice, then spread 1 T. of the garlic mixture over each. (You can do all this ahead; chill until ready to cook and serve.) Bake salmon uncovered just until cooked through, perhaps 15 min., or less depending on thickness. Please don’t overcook, which results in dry uninteresting salmon. Sprinkle fillets with rosemary and serve. Serves 8.