Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Eastern Shore of Maryland – Easton, St. Michael’s and Tilghman Island

For anyone who has not traveled to the east coast and not visited the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I’m here to tell you that you are missing out on lots of great food, fishing and fun.  The Chesapeake Bay area is one of the most beautiful on the east coast.  Maryland crabs are world famous and you can get them fresh from the bay!

My mother’s family is from that area and I still have relatives living in Easton, Maryland.  My mother’s cousin was mayor of Easton many years ago.  As a matter of fact, my husband and I eloped to that small hamlet almost 19 years ago this month and were married at the courthouse, followed up by a wonderful seafood feast at the world-famous Tidewater Inn.

This 19 year old souvenir pencil still looks good!

Founded in 1712 the Tidewater Inn is a step back in time while modern conveniences offer a mix of comfort and charm to guests. It is the place for tourists from all over and you will also find lots of locals who gather at Hunters’ Tavern for food and friendship.  The hotel is currently under a remodeling project of the lobby.  But don’t worry it will still be business as usual.

Easton is the gateway to the rest of the Eastern Shore.  Head west to the “Town that fooled the British”, St. Michael’s on the Miles River.  Here you can rent a small cottage in town and walk to restaurants and shops or rent a mansion on the Miles River and relax in comfort.  Have your own private dock and catch crabs for a crab feast.

When the British invaded the St. Michael’s residents put lanterns high in the trees so that when the Brits fired shots they overshot the homes and the town was saved.  The town has it all including a rich history.  Visit the lighthouse and don’t forget the many wonderful restaurants.

Continue southwest and you will wind up at the end of the road – on a small island by the name of Tilghman Island.  This area was literally the summer destination for many Baltimoreans back in the day.  My parents owned a summer home there and at that time it was just a sleepy fishing village (crabs and oysters).  At some point a restaurant critic from New York discovered the island and all heck broke out!  Tourists by the car loads starting spending time and money on a three-mile stretch of land called  Tilghman Island.

There is a restaurant at the bridge as you enter Tilghman that has had so many owners and different names over the years it’s hard for me to remember them all.  But I will say that back on a January day in 1998 my husband and I put away about 4 dozen fresh oysters, the best oysters I ever ate and I mean that seriously!  If it wasn’t a 14 hour or longer ride I would pack up and head there right now just thinking of those oysters.

Over the next few years we made many trips from our home in New Jersey to Tilghman Island.  We stayed at Harrison’s Inn, which is where fishermen from all over stay in order to charter a boat for a day of fishing on the Chesapeake Bay.

We took our chicken legs, string and dip net to the dock near where my parents’ home was.  We caught crabs and cooked them on a Coleman stove in a parking lot by the bay.  It was pure delight.

There is so much to say about this area that I will have to continue this at another time.  But let me end by saying this….the people who live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland refer to it as “God’s Country” and they are right.  It is a wonderful place to visit for so many reasons.  

Check out the links, find a place that fits your needs and head there this summer!


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Get updates about my drive to Alaska

Preparations for the drive to Alaska are going well. I created a YouTube playlist to help answer your questions about our preparation progress, how to get to Alaska, what route we're taking and so forth. Expect videos to be posted about fundraising and updates from the road (as I have access). The trip is scheduled for July 31-August 4, 2017.

I'll be leaving about 10 days before that with a friend. She says she is up for what she's getting into. I'm taking her at her word! The route seems crazy at first glance, but makes sense when you think about it.

Here's the link to the playlist.

Getting there will take us from Tennessee through New Mexico, then to parts north and entering Canada near Bellingham. We will drive to the Alaska Highway from there and take that into Alaska. From there it's a (comparative) hop, skip and jump into Seward.

Going through New Mexico added about six hours of drive time to the trip. However, it also puts us in line for free accommodations a couple of places. (Like my daughter's house so we can stay and wash clothes for free.)

This isn't a fun, vacation drive. It is a mission trip with a hard and fast deadline that we have to meet. People are depending on us to get their stuff and a haul of Vacation Bible School materials to the worksite in Seward. This means going there, unloading the van and then driving back up to Anchorage to meet the team after we get there.

There won't be as much pressure to get home. We'll take that part of the trip will a little less pressure, but we still won't dawdle.

Our team is currently in the fundraising stage. Cookbooks will be available soon and jewelry parties (80% profit) are being scheduled. I will be offering a postcard subscription service before we go. More details will be coming out about that later on.

Thanks for following the progress of our trip. I'm on Twitter @gaylecrabtree and you can leave a comment on any of the YouTube videos in the playlist. Of course, email still works too. I look forward to sharing this journey with you. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Year in Review

Since we are now into 2017 I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of my blog articles of 2016.  If you missed any of them you can catch up!  I have written about our garden, vacations, restaurants and products.  I hope you enjoy this quick review.

The air fryer – a big and continued ‘thumbs up’.

The air fryer is still in my home and I have no intentions of getting rid of it – ever!  I am thinking about buying a second one.  For all of you who love fried foods, you can ‘fry’ in the air fryer and it is much healthier for you.  I cannot say enough good things about the air fryer.  No matter what brand you buy they all work the same way.  I bragged about mine and I will continue to brag about it.  Some of the things we tried are:  bacon wrapped shrimp, coconut shrimp, chicken fried steak, wings (several times and my husband the non-chicken lover loves them) and various forms of potatoes.

If you are still on the fence about an air fryer – jump off the fence on the fryer side – you have a 50/50 chance of loving it.  But, please note, you really need a cookbook.  Usually a very limited number of recipes comes with the air fryer so you really need to get a decent cookbook.  Just today I received one I ordered from Amazon – written by, non-other than Paula Deen.  I can’t wait to check it out.

The Heavenly Cafe and BBQ, Decatur, TN – still on our ‘go to’ list.

This is still our quick and easy go-to place.  We probably eat there three times a month.  I stick with their chicken sandwich which I do ‘custom order’ and they oblige me! As with the other owners and other names of this location, they never seem to be very busy.  That’s not a good thing for a restaurant, but it does give us quick service when we go.  Seriously, I hope they make it since the owner really cares and she is a nice person!  They are open for breakfast but they are not open on Sunday.

The Lake House Restaurant,  Ten Mile, TN – not sure if it will open again or not.

When they opened sometime in summer they had normal days of operation.  By the time we discovered them they had cut back to Friday/Saturday/Sunday.  We went several times and then all of a sudden they had issues.  One week they couldn’t open due to a fire outside which filled the place with smoke.  Another time they couldn’t open due to the fact the owner/cook was in an accident.  You can’t just close a restaurant and expect your customers to hang around waiting.

A few weeks ago I send them a message on Facebook asking what the special were for that day.  The response I got was, and I am not quoting, just paraphrasing:  Business was slow around the holidays so we closed for the winter.  I was told to check back around mid-January.  Again, a business is not going to last under these circumstances.  There are other restaurants at the lake that don’t close.  I wish them luck.  If they get their act together they could do very well there.

Mother Earth Meats, Marryville, TN – planning our next trip there.

I can’t say enough about their meats.  Yes, it costs more than at the grocery store but it is a much higher quality meet.  I am willing to pay more for something that I can chew.  We have been back several times and will continue to do business with them even though they are more than two-and-a-half-hour round trip from our home.  We try to get there early in the morning, get out meat and then head to The Shrimp Shack, which is just a few miles away.  Nothing like some fresh shrimp to go with the good steak!

The Garden of Eatin' – a small plot with big impact.

Since it is winter that means no veggie garden.  Our little 8 x 16 raised bed has been put to bed for winter and we are already anxious for spring and the goodies it will provide us.  One thing I really miss is my fresh Swiss Chard.  Nothing like a nice big pot of Swiss Chard straight from the garden…oh dream on…but thankfully I have some in the freezer!

Thinking of spring, warm weather, gardening – those thoughts are keeping me going through this little cold spell we’ve had here in Tennessee.  When it’s 4 degrees and a blanket of white my mind turns to warm places, warm thoughts and warm people!

If you want to read more of my articles use the search box and type in:   AbbyG

Photos belong to AbbyG