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Whidbey Recipes

"We're off and running! It's what I call the annual summertime dash, usually beginning on or shortly before the Fourth of July and ending sometime just after Labor Day. And somehow, every year, in spite of my best intentions, the weeks between those two dates become a blur in my memory banks and I wind up wondering where the summer I thought I'd carefully planned actually went.For example, I'd barely caught my breath from a fun-filled Fourth of July when I found myself sitting on a stool at Choochokam getting bright blue streaks painted onto my silver-white locks, thanks to two granddaughters who convinced me it would be a cool Grandma thing to do. One of them had green streaks throughout her long, blonde tresses and the other had a rainbow gilding her curly locks. Hey, I thought, why not; a few blue streaks can't hurt; it'll be fun. And it was fun, until I was riding back alone on the ferry from Mukilteo after delivering the two girls back to their mother. I kept noticing some rather strange looks from fellow ferry riders and was wondering if I'd grown horns, when I remembered the bright blue streaks in what was now a rather bedraggled head of hair. I can't even imagine what some of those others thought of the otherwise matronly lady with the disheveled, blue-streaked hair. And now, with my Choochokam curly-fries barely digested (it takes awhile), it's off we go to Loganberry Fest, a long-time favorite in our family, although the kids miss the berry-picking part now. Great music, fun vendors, warm breezes, a nibble and a nosh, a glass or two of wine, and zip! Another packed weekend on Whidbey will become part of the blur of summertime activities. By the time we throw in a few excursions on the boat, a bit of fishing/clamming/crabbing, a 10-day visit from our Austrian granddaughter (making her first trip to her American relatives alone this summer), the Coupeville Arts & Crafts Fair, and a couple of trips in to the mighty metropolis of Seattle, it'll suddenly be time for the biggest summertime bash of all, the Island County Fair. And before we've barely recovered from a three or four day Fair overdose, it'll be Labor Day and that last frantic sprint to the finish line of summer. Yes, it's hectic, it may be over the top, too much, and it may all end up a blur in the memory banks, but gosh, how I love Whidbey Island in the summertime. RecipesAnother reason to celebrate summertime on Whidbey Island is a four-letter word that doesn't mean someone who's cranky. Crab trap buoys dot the waters all around our end of the Iisland right now, as crab season goes into full swing. Whether you're bringing in your own (the best of all worlds), or buying them fresh from local markets, it's time to enjoy crab every chance you get. There is no finer seafood, in my estimation, than fresh Dungeness crab.Finger food is great on a summer day when you can be messy outdoors, and this mild curry dish is finger-lickin' good. Have some damp towels handy.Curry That CrabFor the cooking sauce:3/4 cup chicken broth and 1 T. each of cornstarch, soy sauce and dry sherry1 t. each salt and sugar4 t. curry powder1/4 lb. lean boneless pork (shoulder or butt), finely chopped or ground1 large cooked crab, in its shell, cleaned3 T. vegetable or salad oil2 cloves garlic, minced1 onion (Walla Walla sweet is good; otherwise a not-too-sharp yellow or white), cut into wedges and the layers separated1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares1 egg, lightly beaten1. Make cooking sauce: In a small bowl, combine well the chicken broth, cornstarch, soy sauce and sherry; set aside.2. Sprinkle the salt, sugar and curry powder over the pork, mix well and set aside.3. Cut the crab body into quarters, leaving legs and pincers whole, but use crackers to crack each leg in one or two places so the sauce can get in while cooking. Set crab aside.4. Place a wok (or other skillet you use to stir-fry) over high heat. When wok is hot, add oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add garlic, stir once, then add seasoned pork and stir-fry until pork is no longer pink. Add onion and bell pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add crab and stir often until heated through (3-4 minutes, don't overcook). Stir the cooking sauce, then pour into the wok and stir until the sauce boils and thickens. Add the egg and cook, stirring, just until egg begins to set (egg will be in thin ribbons or pieces). Serve immediately with warm rice. Serves 3-4.Note: This also works well with fresh shrimp: Use about a pound of medium-size raw shrimp, shelled, in place of crab and stir-fry just until they turn pink and curl.As long as we're being messy, here's another easy way to serve crab legs (use the body meat for scalloped crab, or crab gratin, or etc. etc.). Be sure to have crab crackers and big napkins handy.Marinated Crab Claws1 1/2 cups quality olive oil6 T. champagne wine vinegarJuice of 1 lemon or lime1 T. dry vermouth or dry sherry 3-4 cloves garlic minced1/2 T. Tabasco2 t. each fresh oregano, fresh basil and fresh chopped cilantro1/4 t. dried dill, or 1/2 t. fresh snipped dillSea salt, freshly ground black pepper and dash of cayenne, to taste24 cooked crab claws (crack each section once very lightly)1. Combine all ingredients (except crab claws) well. Chill for an hour or so.2. Place crab claws in the bottom of a shallow dish, give the marinade a stir then pour over the crab claws, cover and chill overnight. To serve, drain the marinade off the crab claws, reserving marinade. Arrange crab claws on serving platter or in a bowl and serve with the marinade or other seafood dipping sauce.There are so many wonderful things you can do with crab meat, it's hard to know how to choose, but for something unusual, elegant and easy, try these tasty little crab puffs for your next hors d'oeuvres offering.Crab Puff Delights1/4 cup mayonnaise2 t. olive oil6 oz. cream cheese, softened2 cups (about 1 lb.) crab meat1-1/2 cups ground pecans2 T. mango chutneySalt, to taste1 t. curry powder1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans, or shredded dried coconut, or chopped, toasted pine nuts (any of these is very good for the outside layer; you may think up one of your own)1. Place mayonnaise in a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl and add the olive oil in a slow fine stream, stirring constantly, until oil is thoroughly blended into the mayonnaise.2. Combine the cream cheese with the mayonnaise, then add remaining ingredients, except for chopped pecans or whatever you're using for the outer layer. Mix thoroughly and roll into small balls (about pecan or walnut size), then roll the puffs in the chopped pecans (or coconut or pine nuts or whatever you choose). Place on a cookie sheet and chill well. Makes about 30 puffs.REMINDERIt's not too early to start thinking about entering the Fair with your own special homemade creation. Too many of us don't think of entering our cakes, cookies, breads, pies, jams, jellies, etc., but we should. I know for a fact that the Fair judges and personnel would welcome new entrants, and it's so easy to do. Pick up your Guide to Entering at The Record office or Chamber of Commerce and you, too, could go home with a blue ribbon or two and even some cash in your pocket. "

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