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You Put What in Your Crabcakes?

Photo by Cheryl Costello.

Solving Chesapeake Country’s Challenges

By Meg Walburn Viviano

When the going gets tough, the tough get … creative.

That’s not exactly how the proverb goes, traced back to President John F. Kennedy’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy. But it is an excellent approach to many of life’s challenges.

In this issue of CBM Bay Weekly, we’ll introduce you to some folks on the Chesapeake who are getting creative in solving a variety of community problems.

A persisting school bus driver shortage is fueling frustration from northern Anne Arundel County to the bottom of Calvert County. Families are scrambling to get their kids to and from school, parents’ work schedules are suffering and morning drivers are getting stuck in gridlock caused by backed-up drop-off lanes at schools.

The problem has prompted some quick thinking from state transportation leaders, who are kicking the bus driver hiring process into overdrive. See the solutions at hand in our feature story.

In another case of frustration prompting creative fixes, a Crownsville couple struggled to discipline their young children but couldn’t get any approach to work. So they created their own tech tool that rewards good behavior in kids—like an electronic sticker reward chart.

The tool is such a fresh idea that the county put up six figures to back it, and Amazon recognized it in a national contest. (The way things have been going at my house, I’m ready to ask Santa to put one in each of my children’s stocking this year.) The family tells us how they hatched the idea.

And in a shining example of outside-the-box problem solving, a renowned Chesapeake Bay chef has come up with a way to contend with the high price of crabmeat. Due to a global shortage, a lot of restaurants are taking some of their crab dishes off the menu altogether, and fewer home cooks are making crab recipes.

So Chef John Shields, considered one of the foremost creators of Bay seafood dishes, dreamed up a crabcake recipe that uses only half the meat a regular cake requires, cutting the cost way down. How does he do it? He mixes the jumbo lump with … tofu. And he boldly declares that you won’t taste the difference. Don’t know until you try, right?

We love a creative solution, no matter how unusual or improbable. In fact, we have it on good authority that a large Chesapeake-region crab restaurant will release another boundary-pushing crab dish this weekend: pumpkin spice crabcakes. It sounds like an April Fool’s Day spoof, but we’re pretty sure it’s for real. And for the sake of research, we’ll probably try it. Because we must give credit to the Bay seafood industry—when the going gets tough, the tough will do almost anything to keep selling crabcakes.