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Fall Forward!

Hey there coastal cooks! September is an exciting month for us here at Coastal headquarters. Our new series, Coastal Cooking with John Shields, is set to begin its national debut on public television September 10th. As you may know, there are lots of independent public television stations across the country, and they can air the series whenever they feel it best fits into their lineup. So give a call to your local PBS station to find out when Coastal Cooking will be shown in your area. We hope you travel along with us as we visit America’s top coastal destinations and whip up delicious coastal fare.

Ah…it’s time to catch those last rays of summer sun and to feast on late summer/early fall’s bountiful harvest. I’m loving all the varieties of tomatoes – especially the unbelievably, full-flavored heirlooms at my farmers’ market. Growing up we always had a back yard garden amply planted with tomato vines.

By September with the vines loaded down with perfectly ripened tomatoes it’s canning time – for sauces and whole tomatoes to be enjoyed throughout the winter. Who says summer has to end?
By late September I’m picking a lot of firm green tomatoes that are perfect for pan-frying – delectable breakfast side – and also may be transformed into a green tomato chutney or mincemeat. Check out our recipes for the perfect Fried Green Tomatoes and Green Tomato Mincemeat in the Coastal Kitchen.

Tomatoes are not the only must-buy at the market right now. I live in the Chesapeake Bay region and September is the kick-off of oyster season. We enjoy our oysters in a warm creamy St. Mary’s County Oyster Stew, on the half shell with just a squeeze of lemon or a dab of sinus clearing horseradish-infused cocktail sauce, fried with a light cornmeal coating, or as a plateful of savory oyster fritters. Sound good? Well you can experience these dishes and more at our annual event – Oysterama - at my restaurant, Gertrude’s, right here in Baltimore, Maryland. It will de a delightful evening of delicious food, wine parings, music and great company. And this year’s Oysterama benefits Maryland Public Television.

We’re talking lots of vegetables and shellfish in the kitchen right now. Another fantastic recipe for this month is Eastern Shore Crab Soup – a recipe chock full of vegetables in a tomato broth and sweet blue crabmeat. It’s a quintessential coastal-style soup that not only tastes good but also is good for you and the budget. A single pound of crabmeat can serve 6 to 8 people with this vegetable based crab soup. The recipe included features blue crab, but just about any other fresh, pasteurized, or frozen crabmeat will work. Try not to use canned crab – works better as cat food.

If you are a crab soup fan stop by the Save the Bay Crab Soup Cook-Off at the Maryland Seafood Festival, held at Sandy Point Park on September 10th.

It’s an amazing collection of restaurants from around the Chesapeake who bring their signature crab soups for folks to sample – and to raise funds for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Seafood Restoration Projects.

I’ll be there MC-ing the event – so see you there!


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