|New from The Crabbiest Man on the Bay: Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook
No matter how much you think you know about crabs, youll probably take a back seat to Whitey Schmidt, lately of Rosehaven and now Crisfield. Thats because what many dream of, Whitey did.
He moved to Chesapeake Country and got caught by a crab. That was 20 years ago.
Ever since, the affable, laid-back, platinum-haired and bearded Schmidt has made crabs his business. Consuming and chronicling crabs, hes scoured every back road in Chesapeake Country, from where the Bay begins above Baltimore to down where it meets the ocean beyond Cape Charles. From Ocean City to the rising mountains, hes been there.
I love what Im doing. I wouldnt want to do anything else, says Schmidt.
You might have called Whitey a crab bum, were it not for Marian Hartnett Press. Under the good influence of his mother, after whom the publishing house dedicated to his work is named, Whitey has mined his rich experience of crabs in book after book.
At the top of Whiteys agenda was crab houses. The legendary fellow who never saw a crab house he didnt stop at, Whitey ate and drank in 250 of them for his first book, published in 1985, The Official Chesapeake Bay Crab Eaters Guide.
Next, for eaters who want plates under their food, came his Chesapeake Bay Dining Guide. By the time he reprised that guide bringing the number of eateries up to 212 in 1997, Whitey had eaten his way through 20,000 miles of Chesapeake Country.
Along the way, Whitey picked up more than a few albeit a very few pounds. When he liked a dish, he haunted its cook for a recipe. When he heard a story, he wrote it down. When he visited a place, he took notes. When he saw a crabby scene or sign, he snapped a picture.
He harvested that experience in a couple of cookbooks The Crab Cookbook in 1990 and in 1994, The Flavor of Chesapeake Bay, this one richly illustrated with photos lent by Bay photographer Marion Warren and in two travel guides to Chesapeake Country, one Bay Tripper for the Eastern Shore and a second for the Western.
His 10th book, planned to coincide with the millennium, would be his masterpiece. In it, hed combine over 200 recipes never before published but tested, some many times with 225 photos collected in his two decades of travels. Hed spice it with tales and tips. Hed put it all between hardcovers beneath a glossy, full-color cover.
In this book, Whitey dreamed, hed capture the unique Chesapeake Bay crab culture in whimsical roadhouse signs, succulent crab dishes, seaside crabhouse buildings, crab tattoos and crabbers at work. Even Elvis Presley would make an appearance.
It almost didnt happen. As the century ended, 20 years of dedicated eating and drinking caught up with Whitey. In December, 1999, his heart failed. Repairing the damage required what he calls four covered bridges on a coronary artery.
If theyd wanted me to cook in heaven, theyd have taken me in December. I guess they have a good crab cook right now, reflects Schmidt.
The reformed millennial Whitey eats his crabs without beer.
I dont like it, he says, but Ive passed the true test: sticking to iced tea when Im sitting around with old friends who are drinking beer.
Hes given up butter and except in crab cakes mayonnaise.
As youll see in his just-published The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook. Here are crabs fat and thin, in the shell, in soufflé, in bourride, in bread and in butter. Just about any way you can cook a crab is here and many, those of us about Whiteys age are glad to see, are happily heart healthy.
Consider, for example, Brushwood Crab-Cantaloupe Salad, in which halved cantaloupes, brushed with lemon juice, are filled with crabmeat and red raspberries tossed in vanilla yogurt and topped with toasted pecans.
Just as satisfying as the recipes are the photos. Many are Whiteys own, gathered over two decades of chasing crabs throughout Chesapeake Country. A few more are classics, borrowed from classic Bay photographers Marion Warren and Aubrey Bodine. A delectable full-color eight-page center section was shot by professional photographer Vince Lupo.
Twenty years, and that crab hasnt let go yet. Reprieved, Schmidt says he still has three or four books left in him.
In addition to The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook (240 pages: $29.95), three more of Schmidts books are in print. Get The Crab Cookbook, The Flavor of Chesapeake Bay or Chesapeake Bay Waterside Dining Guide at your bookstore or from the author at 888/876-3767 www.bluecrabguru.com.
Dont Get Lost on Chesapeake: Find Your Way with Maryland Cruising Guide
In this corner measuring in at 11 by 16 inches, with crisp lettering, bold heading, wearing a plastic, water-repellent cover is Marylands reigning champion of chart books: the 2000 Maryland Cruising Guide.
For nearly 40 years, this boaters must-have has helped make life on the water safe and sound.
As the local favorite, Maryland Cruising Guide bobs and weaves through the worlds mightiest estuary at a scale of 1:80,000, providing fists full of essential nautical info.
But if Maryland Cruising Guide has historically delivered knockout editions, why do you need a new one?
Because the Bay, formidable force that it is, is forever changing.
Channel markers, buoys, depths and landmarks, colors, numbers, ports and shorelines are all susceptible to the changing powers of both man and nature.
For instance, many mid-Bay boaters have long relied on the towers at Greenbury Point as a landmark for the Annapolis area.
This year, most of the towers have been removed, leaving only three. Especially at night, the reduction could be disorienting.
On the natural side, depths around Smith and Deal islands rise and fall from constant shoaling, creating a ground-running hazard.
Maryland Cruising Guide keeps you up with both types of changes.
Keeping up is no pleasure cruise for 17-year-editor Mickey Courtney of Shady Side. He tackles most of this arduous task himself.
A small change in a Bay navigational aid usually means changing two or three charts in the book, said Courtney. Thats because many of the books 20 charts overlap.
Courtney also has to contend with the U.S. Coast Guards Local Notice to Mariners publication, which tracks changes in the nations waterways.
Sometimes you find information in the Notices that doesnt match with the chart readings, so you update the chart to match the notice, said Courtney. Then may come a second, superseding Coast Guard notice requiring another chart change.
I like to say the Coast Guard goes out there with a Global Positioning System, gets a position du jour and publishes it in here, joked Courtney, waving the latest Local Notice.
What do these changes all mean for you?
Not knowing what awaits you on the Bay could cost you your vessel, or worse, your life. The last place you want to be surprised by navigational changes is on the water.
Maryland Cruising Guide can help prevent surprises. Itll tell you where you are, where youre going and what to do in case of an emergency.
But it can only keep you safe, dry and oriented if you know whats inside it.
Boaters need to learn how to use the guide before setting out into the water, Courtney said, pointing to the Using This Guide instructions on page two. To get whats inside the book inside your head, youll need to go beyond page two, practicing the principles on the chart of the part of the Bay you frequent. Thats not just once but before each trip.
If you have a boat, youre going to need charts, warned Courtney.
Boating safety instructions, a list of assistance firms and good boating practices all appear in the guides user friendly pages.
Get your millennial copy of this nautical prizefighter at most marine supply stores or order by phone from Nautical Enterprises at 410/867-4152.
From Soup to Sights, Serving Bay Bounty
Katie Moose would make a good name for a storybook. In fact, shes an author in search of a good story. A lover of both cooking and history, shes found a bounty to write about combing Chesapeake Country and other ports along the Atlantic coast.
When the Annapolitan discovered a guidebook had not been published about Marylands Capital city since 1984, she set out to set people straight with a guide that not only presents a complete description of the town and its history, but side trips in the Western and Eastern shores as well.
Moose says her Annapolis: The Guidebook 1999 is the most detailed and only guidebook, with everything you ever wanted to know about Annapolis.
Thats the way Katie Moose does things. Between her volunteer work and sponsoring Naval Academy midshipmen, she manages to publish a book a year, working on several at the same time. With books combining gourmet cooking, fine wines, history, sailing, genealogy, theology and travel, Moose might well be the Martha Stuart of Annapolis.
Chesapeakes Bounty: Cooking with Regional Favorites is the latest work out of Mooses own small publishing house, Conduit Press. A first printing of 1,000 copies was gone in three weeks.
An introduction of historical facts on Chesapeake Country makes a fitting appetizer for the regional bounty to follow. There is nothing so comforting in cooking as the familiar, which youll find in recipes stretching from crabs to coleslaw, including oysters frittered and scalloped. Others may not be so familiar venison two ways, stewed and wined; peanut lace cookies; and plum pudding but still use ingredients abundant in Maryland.
Moose calls recipes in Chesapeake Bounty easy, but elegant. Some were contributed by family members, some collected on the Eastern Shore by husband George, who owned two restaurants and who also took photos for the book and designed the cover with an enticing plate of raw oysters and a skipjack backdrop.
Sister Lilis Beef Burgandy may not be spelled the way wed spell the famous red wine, but you cant argue with the simplicity.
Suggested menus for New Years Eve spiked Fish House Punch, a cold winters night perked up with Ruthies Mexican Dip or an easy dinner party finishing up with Apple Brown Betty may not make for earth-shattering culinary news. But theyre as likely to be favorites around your house as they are at Katie Mooses. Besides, when you want to go elegant theres always Lilis Eggplant Caponata or Lady Baltimore Cake baked right here in Maryland since the 1800s and noted for its sweet walnut filling.
Born in Baltimore, Moose says she lived in many of the U.S.s great culinary, architectural, historical and waterside gems, including Annapolis. Currently, shes working on a book about Marylands Western Shore, from Havre de Grace to St. Marys, and a cookbook about Nantucket, where she summers.
Find Katie Moose in print at local bookstores or by writing the author at 111 Conduit St., Annapolis [email protected].
In New Hampshire, the annual jumping frog contest in the town of Rye may proceed in the spirit of Mark Twains story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Kids persuaded local officials, who had called it off, that they will be careful handling the contestants
In Cincinnati, theyre taking an artistic cue from Cows on Parade, the statues that adorned Chicago last year. But instead of cows, it will be The Big Pig Gig. And rumor has it that Washington state plans to erect statues of eight-foot long fish in the Pacific Northwest. Theyd call it Soul Salmon
Idaho may be sending a land-wrecker to Congress. His name is Butch Otter, hes the lieutenant governor who won the GOP primary last week, and hes been fined $80,000 for illegally and repeatedly excavating wetlands on his property. Otter insists that since theyre his wetlands, he can destroy them
Our Creature Feature this week comes from Canada, where a new corps of border guards arent the Royal Mounted Police. Theyre 600 chickens, who will live in cages this summer along the 1,550-mile border and act as sentinels to provide an early warning system against West Nile virus, the mosquito-borne virus that killed seven people in New York last year.