We are delighted to be one of five Boston Social Clubs, BostInno singled out for "must join" status! We welcome all new members and have some exciting events on the horizon. Come slurp and sip and laugh and learn with us! We'll tell you why the old "R" month rule is passé and share favorite stories over a platter or two of our beloved bivalves.
Our sold-out Oyster Century Club© Slurps & Sips class was a hit! Sixteen oyster lovers became Oyster Century Club members and shared their favorite spots to enjoy oysters, as well as questions. I demonstrated how to buy, store and shuck at home, shared oyster facts and trivia, and we paired our oysters with three different beverages: a Muscadet, a Saké, and a Stout. Two of the highlights for me were the knowledge that 13 out of 16 attendees said they were likely to try shucking at home as a result of taking this class. I was particularly pleased that the majority of the attendees were delighted at the pairing of saké with oysters.
During and after the class, attendees were invited to Instagram, Tweet, post to Facebook and Pin pics of the class and of their next shuck-at-home adventure. We capped the contest period on June 8 World Ociean Day. Robin Lowe is our winner. She's the one holding our youngest member, William below. I can see delicious days ahead for this young man.
Oysters and Sustainability and Winning
Greenpeace's 2014 Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report evaluates and ranks supermarkets on their sustainable seafood policies. Whole foods and Safeway topped the ranking guide. One of the things we talked about was the role of the oyster in sustaining ocean habitat and maintaining protective reef structures that might mitigate super storms like Sandy or Katrina. Congratulations to Whole Foods for their commitment to sustainable seafood.
- Did you know a single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day?
Goodie bags for the class included:
- branded Oyster Century Club shucking knives
- a postcard with info on the Mass Oyster Project
- mignonette ingredients and cocktail sauce
In addition to Oyster Lover placemats for quiz winners, Robin wins a Williams-Sonoma Cooking Class for 2 (a $90 value!) Congratulations Robin!
Social Creatures Ostreaphiles
Oysters are delicious fun. Oyster lovers or Ostreaphiles, are fun and social! Beginning with the class and ending on World Oceans Day, our slurping, sipping attendees generated over 82,000 impressions! Remember to follow the hashtag #oyster100 or bookmark this site, find my Pinterest Boards on Oyster Happenings and The Oyster Century Club© - join us for our next event.
...there will be bubbles...
Thanks to Whole Foods Market Lynnfield, Williams-Sonoma for hosting and sponsoring!
Find out how we can bring oyster lovers to your venue, email me.
The thrill of travel is my siren song. I used to dream of filling a passport before it expired. Never happened, but I did manage to get to many great places. Machu Picchu, Xi'an, Tulum. Life can throw you one curveball after another, some good, some not so good. Layoffs, pink slips, food allergies. My high-flying life came to a decidedly more earthbound home. For several years I had time to travel but not the money.
The bitter and the sweet
As we get older, we begin to appreciate that one is enhanced by the other. Fast-forward several years and I am slowly building an entrepreneur's life. This means we swing from one trapeze landing to another, sometimes the grip is so tenuous, the next check so long in coming. But we learn to live with the anxiety that would have done us in before and push on, move forward. Grab and let go. Let go, grab.
This week I'm preparing for my first trip to Europe since my flight through de Gaulle to go to Mali but the last visit when I stayed and explored was a media trip to Valencia, Spain. That was wonderful, too. Both trips like evanescent dreams. Wonderful memories.
New opportunities, new challenges
I'm getting on a plane again 48 hours from this moment. I'm off to Brussels to work with the fabulous Nathan Fong on behalf of sustainable, delicious British Columbia seafood. After our success at Seafood Expo North America (#sena2014) - stir-frying with the Trade Minister! We're bringing the dynamic duo to the largest seafood expo in the world, Brussels! Now I'm dealing with multiple food allergies. Looking at the food there, dairy is definitely going to be a problem. I won't have time to shop all over and my Flemish is pretty weak. I think I've got this one down though: "Aangenamen Kennismaking" (Nice to meet you) it's just plain fun to say, isn't it?
It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't have food allergies. But imagine you're somewhere unfamiliar, and you literally cannot risk eating food because you may end up in anaphylactic shock. And traveling in a professional capacity, you don't want to make every group meal a tiresome litany of your issue and allergies. "Who knows Flemish for 'allergy'?"
Moules Frites? Waffles? (butter, dairy) Carbonnade? Waterzooi? (butter, cream) Food, glorious food. It's what I live for, what I organize my life around, what I share with friends, family and clients. But the prospect of being unable to find anything to eat made me realize I now have an extra list of travel prep tasks: researching, prepping, baking, planning. Even the flight to Belgium is a problem. Special diet meals include vegetarian (with cheese, nuts) Asian Vegetarian (may include dairy); Vegetarian (dairy). So what can I eat during the flight? Grab and go in the airport? Can you trust the labels on pre-packed foods? The fast food training? Erm, no. Basically, there was not one option that I could choose that was both free of dairy and free of tree nuts. Swiss International Airlines announced an "allergy friendly" service but to me it sounds like only a baby step further than what other airlines do.
Chips? (made in a facility that also processes nuts) etc. It's impossible!
Luckily, I'm a good cook. And I have good friends. And a very caring husband. He has turned into the best food sleuth!
My goal was to find things easy to pack and dense with protein to keep me going in the worst case scenario.
1. Research, research, research. What are the typical foods in your destination? What capacity does your hotel have to accommodate your allergies? (Or even, to speak English?) Check with TSA and your airlines.
2. Pack pouches. Really good tuna, quinoa cereal, and terrific peanut butter all come in these easy-to-pack pouches. Thanks Doc!
3. Bake ahead. Energy Bites; Crackers, Apple-Quinoa Cake.
4. Try to order Allergy warning cards in the destination language. I ordered cards from Allergic Traveler - hope they'll arrive in time!
The energy bites are great pre/post workout snacks. I love that they're not overly sweet and they're super easy to customize. This is based on Kim O'Donnel's original recipe from her Washington Post days. Her Lulu's Cookies became my Choco-fruit Energy Bites.
Choco-fruit Energy Bites
- 1 1/2 C of a combo of: sunflower seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and sesame seeds (I omitted sesame and used a combo of peanuts, bran, amaranth for the third 1/2 C.)
- 2 tablespoons flax seeds.
- 3 C flour [I used 1 C Irish Wholemeal flour +1 C White Whole Wheat + 1 C AP flour]
- 2 cups rolled oats [I used rolled instant] + 1/3 C brown rice crispies + 1/4 flaked coconut
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dried fruit - cherries, prunes, apricots
- 1 cup hot water
- 3/4 C coconut + canola oil
- 3/4 C honey + golden syrup
- 1/2 - 3/4 C cup Enjoy Life chocolate chunks (free of 8 major allergens and made in an allergen free facility)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast seeds on a baking sheet about 8 minutes, or until the seeds turn a golden color. Be careful not to burn seeds.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt.
- Soak dried fruit in hot water for about 15 minutes. Drain, but reserve soaking water.
- Add dried fruit soaking water to dry mixture, plus oil and honey. With a rubber spatula, stir until combined. Add cooled seeds and stir to combine, then add fruit and chocolate chips. Don't over-mix.
- Form teaspoon-sized patties onto a cookie sheet, preferably lined with parchment paper.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Don't over-bake; the cookies will turn into rocks.
Makes about 50 cookies.
I love that these are like two bite energy bars without all the overly sweet, highly processed ingredients. These are like bites of shortbread chunks of sweet dried fruits and chocolate.
What are your tips for traveling with food allergies or intolerances?
Next up, the apple quinoa cake!
Top five reasons why you should join the Oyster Century Club - TODAY. 1. It's fun!
We get together and meet new friends, taste new oysters. Here's our last get together at Maré Oyster Bar:
2. It's a totally unique thing that will make you the envy of your friends.
Do you long for the type of camraderie wine drinkers have? Discussing grapes, vineyards, holding tastings? Ever met anyone in a wine century club? Tasting 100 grapes is worthy undertaking. We are tasting our way through 100 varieties of oysters. What's more fun than that?
When you join you will receive your own tasting sheet, where you can track your progress toward the goal of 100, note your favorites, record tasting notes.
3. Discover hot new venues.
One of the things I love about Maré is that you can feel transported to someplace carefree and sunny, think South Beach with less attitude.
4. Win cool prizes.
Along the way we've got some fun raffle items, from saké service, to cookbooks, t-shirts, to gift certificates.
Right now - new members will be entered to win a gift certificate for Maré! Drawing extended to 5 PM Wednesday October 16.
Another lucky winner will receive a Little Island Oyster tee shirt.
5. Enjoy sustainable seafood - at its peak right now!
At our recent screening of the documentary Shellshocked, we learned how and why oysters are good for the environment. When was the last time you could enjoy something so luxurious, so affordable, so sexy and so environmentally sound?
Oysters are storing up glycogen for their winter "hibernation" this means we get to enjoy extra sweet, plump and delicious oysters now and through the winter. These Nonesuch Oysters were fantastic last month, and the Little Island Oysters, too! Can't wait to try them both now! Thanks again to:
- Nonesuch oysters - Abigail Carroll, the accidental oyster farmer. See her TEDxYouth alk here: life lessons and getting your hands dirty, finding joy.
- Frank & Tonyia Peasley – Little Island Oysters - on the Bagaduce River in Maine.
I asked Andrew Jay of the Mass Oyster Project for his tips:
- Ask your oyster bar if they recycle their shells.
- Email the governor that Massachusetts should do more restoration.
- Get in touch with restoration movement- Like Mass Oyster on Facebook.
- See sidebar for PayPal button, look forward to enjoying some oysters with you soon.
Shellshocked Screening, Tweetup & Tasting
Monday, Sept 16 from 6:00p to 8:00p - Les Zygomates, Boston, MA
Love oysters? Of course you do!
Come see the award-winning documentary:
Shellshocked - Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves
Oyster tasting to follow film.
From oysters' glory days through a sad decline, to restoration projects; learn what's happening today, and right here in Boston.
- Dr. Anamarija Frankic - Associate Director of the School for the Environment at UMass, Boston, Dir. of the Green Harbors Project - Professor Frankic is also an adjunct professor at the Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography in Croatia and has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to establish a biomimicry course and the LivingLabs program in Croatia.
- Andrew Jay of the Massachusetts Oyster Project - restoring oysters to the Commonwealth’s estuaries. Mass Oyster has four primary activities- oyster shell recycling, education, direct oyster restoration, supporting other restoration programs.
Warm thanks to Les Zygomates and Nonesuch Oysters for joining the Oyster Century Club© in hosting this special event.
Meet Abigail Carroll through this lovely TEDxYouth presentation. Life lessons for all of us. Get your hands dirty! Can you imagine leaving Paris, money, a Count for a boyfriend and trading it all for hip waders, algae, and Biddeford, Maine?
She did it and we're thrilled she did. In this TEDxYouth talk Abigail tells her story and shares the lessons she learned along the way.
Reminds me of the oft-quoted Hemingway remark about how oysters instill us with the sense of possibility, and how they immediately lift our spirits.
Oysters as Homecoming
Just as Abigail experienced a homecoming through the acquisition of her oyster farm, so do we have a homecoming of sorts each time we bring an oyster to our lips. We are kissed by our mother, the sea.
I am excited to announce that Nonesuch Oysters will be one of our sponsors at the Oyster Century Club's screening of Shellshocked: Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves. Having just tasted her oysters I can attest to their lovely flavor. Abigail will be bringing oysters to share with us.
Nonesuch Oysters is a young, eco-friendly oyster farm located within a nature conservancy at Nonesuch Point in Scarborough, just south of Portland. Our Scarborough River is one of few in Maine to boasts outstanding natural resource waters. Home to these great-tasting, healthy oysters!
Already among Maine's favorites, Nonesuch Oysters are gaining fame nationwide for their bright, fresh, salty-sweet flavor with a delicate grassy undertone. In 2012, Nonesuch Oysters received the "Outstanding Micro Business of the Year" award from Scarborough Economic Development Corp.
Nonesuch Oysters have been showcased on the menu at New York’s celebrated James Beard House and the Grand Central Oyster Bar. We also received a lovely write-up in Rowan Jacobsen's, A Geography of Oysters website.
Our Oysters and Movie Night
We will be screening the award-winning documentary, Shellshocked which looks back at oysters' hey day in NYC which was then the oyster capital of the world, then look forward with the help of some very special guests at what is being done locally to restore oysters to their important place in our ecosystem.
Guests will include:
Dr. Anamarija Frankic, of UMass Boston:
Dr. Frankic, Associate Director of the School for the Environment at UMass, Boston, will discuss the exciting new field of biomimicry and how it can be used to restore our coastal environment. She will describe the Green Harbors Project she created with UMass students to explore through "LivingLabs" what nature would do to improve conditions in the harbor. Professor Frankic is also an adjunct professor at the Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography in Croatia and has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to establish a biomimicry course and the LivingLabs program in Croatia.
Andrew Jay, President of Massachusetts Oyster Project
Right Here, Right Now
- Celebrate National Oyster Day with The Oyster Century Club and Maré Oyster Bar! Rachel will be joining us. Rachel has been interning with me and recently went back to school at Rhode Island School of Design. I asked her to take a crack at designing a logo for us and am thrilled with the results! Come meet Rachel and enjoy half price oysters and clams during our Tweetup Monday, hashtag #oyster100
- Need a little enticement? Check out my earlier post on Maré: Go Here, Eat This: Maré Oyster Bar.
- It seems there's been a rash of oyster thefts on the Cape. This is not only just plain wrong, it hurts tourism built around our burgeoning oyster industry. Hope the next news on this is better.
- One of my favorite local writers is Tamar Haspel, publisher of Starving off the Land. You've read her in the Huffington Post, Washington Post and more. She and her husband are now farming oysters. Barnstable Oysters "Practice Shellfishness" is underway and we hope one day soon we can host an Oyster Century Club event featuring these babies. Read Time, tide, and temperature — Starving off the Land to learn more about what Tamar & Kevin are up to.
First Light Oysters - Mashpee Wampanoag - I recently learned about these oysters being raised by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. We're hoping to plan a tasting in the near future.
Shellshocked: Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves - I'm working on a screening of this oyster documentary coupled with a tasting. Stay tuned for more info.
About the Oyster Century Club
We're a merry band of oyster lovers working our way to tasting 100 varieties. By joining the club (see sidebar) you are entitled to prizes, giveaways and special deals at Oyster Century Club sponsors. When you log 100 varieties you'll get a certificate marking the accomplishment. So far at least one of us, Larry Yu, passed the quarter century mark, tasting 25 varieties.
I'm up to 50 - how about you?
If you're making lobster rolls at home you can start with shelled lobster meat or steam your own. Here's a beautiful lobster salad you can enjoy in a top split bun:
or on a bed of greens:
To humanely kill a live lobster, place the lobster in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will push the lobster into a state of hibernation (they're cold-blooded creatures) so you can handle the comatose crustacean safely and dispatch it quickly.
Next take your dinner-to-be and place it on its back on a firmly anchored cutting board. With a large chef's knife, slice from the bottom set of legs through the head. Then you can easily steam, boil as is or continue to halve it then pan roast for other preparations.
- Here's a post on WGBH.org Lobster Killer Qu'est Que C'est with others' expert advice as well.
This book figured into an almost mystical, years-long unfolding story of sushi, secrets, family and friends. I learned after the fact that June 18 is National Sushi Day. Someone once said "if she didn't have bad timing, she'd have none at all." This may be the best timing I've ever had.
So let me take this timely opportunity to visit the book apart from my own story. First, let's address sustainability issues, after all part of how Marisa came to ask me for a jacket blurb was through my sustainable seafood writing.
Tuna or No Tuna or ???
I was contemplating a second post on the tuna we used for the dinner anyway, but I figure now that folks might be searching for sushi at home tips - may as well post it now.
If you love sushi, and whether or not you've tried to make it at home, I highly recommend this book. The author, Marisa Baggett is a pretty interesting character: an African American woman caterer from Mississippi who falls in love with sushi through a catering job, closes up shop, buys a one way ticket west to go to the California Sushi Academy and ends up publishing this book. I mean, who even ate sushi in Starkville, MS back then? On top of it, Marisa in true American fashion has taken sushi in slightly non-traditional directions. She not only encourages folks to riff on the classics, she gives great tips for incorporating local ingredients.
She also focuses on sustainability, bringing us around to the issue of tuna. I stopped eating bluefin a while back. The population is so depleted, the only hope for its survival is careful management and probably a moratorium on them altogether. That's not likely but I personally do not feel it's ethical to keep eating them in light of the overwhelming data about the pressures on the stock.
The good news is that you don't have to forego sushi. Bluefin was not always the most popular sushi choice, you know. In fact, Japanese used to bury it to lessen the bloody taste of it. Only now as demand for it worldwide has grown, and so the market opportunity in fishing it, have we seen such a crazy feeding frenzy for tuna. Read more about this once disparaged sushi choice by expert Trevor Corson. It's a fascinating bit of Sushi history that most people are largely unaware of.
As with most of our food choices, conscious carnivores know that every choice, like our choice of tuna, carries consequences. In addition to the numbers, there's also the ways that tuna are caught (methods typically used now include unconscionable by-catch). If that wasn't enough, there's mercury which accumulates in unsafe amounts in these top-line predators.
So what's the answer, no more tuna? I think there are some options. We found this frozen yellowfin
under the brand "Sushi at Home" which lists it's country of origin at Korea (likely the processor only.) Anyway, it was an interesting option to incorporate and I was pleased with the texture and quality. I've written to the company to see if they will provide more information. Presumably Whole Foods Market has done their homework as well.
The other option now available here in Boston, is locally caught bluefin from Menemsha. I have mixed feelings about it, but I believe they're not using FADs and probably long lining or pole catching and limited in a way that's likely more regulated than the big international vessels. I'll drop an update here when I get more info on either the frozen or the fresh versions.
Sushi Secrets - the Book
Let's take a look at how the book is laid out, we'll use tuna as our example...and also highlight some Southern and some uniquely American items:
In the opening pages Baggett lays out what you need to know about making sushi at home, including a forward by Trevor Corson, Getting Started covers the 8 basic types of sushi. Planning, an overview of the basic types of sushi and tools - each of these include photographs and helpful tips. Buying sushi ingredients includes a suggestion toward local ingredients and a small note about why bluefin tuna is omitted. Great Sauces and Condiments for Sushi, is followed by the first Chapter: Appetizers. Included here are Japanese classics as you might find in a restaurant, Age Dashi Tofu, Chicken Gyoza, Soba Salad, Tempura.
Next is Sashimi including Poké, Oyster San Ten Mori, Tilapia, Tuna and Avocado tartar.
Pressed, Gunkan and Nigiri sushi - includes Tuna Tataki among many others. One I'm dying to try is Avocado and Pomegranate Nigiri. Buttery avo and tart pomegranate sounds fantastic to me.
Thin Rolls is next and includes some of the most interesting combos: Butternut squah rolls, Lamb rolls with mint, Roast Pork Rolls with Sweet Gingered Cherries.
Okra - and Crawfish - Southern staples - makes their appearance in the next chapter, Thick Rolls. (My Mom used to call all my attempts at thin rolls "futomaki" or thick rolls, not necessarily a compliment.)
Catfish and peanuts, two additional Southern favorites - appear in separate Inside Out Rolls.
The Sushi Bowls chapter includes: Egg, Goat Cheese and Green Bean Sushi bowl, Sesame Tuna, Ham and Peach as well as Ratatouille Sushi Bowls (where a tomato is the bowl!)
Next up: Te Maki or Hand Rolls - Crispy Chicken Skin Hand Roll, Glazed Bacon Hand Roll, Coconut Shrimp...Kimchee, Tomato, Anchovy Hand Roll. The Spicy Calamari Te Maki looks divine.
Desserts include plays on themes like chocolate Fudge Wontons and "Eggroll" Cherry Pies, cocktails and mocktails finish the book.
A helpful Resources guide is included as well.
This small book it packed with photos that enable even novice sushi fans to explore sushi at home, to get creative and to focus on local sustainable ingredients. Doing good tastes good.
Sushi Secrets is published by Tuttle Publishing. It is available by clicking on the cover above through Powell's or at your local independent bookstore. You can also order it through Amazon.
Get to know Marisa via her site: In the Kitchen with a Southern Sushi Chef.
It all began with my Grandma. I went to visit her, in Hawaii the year before law school. She'd made a lunch of American cheese on white bread for her hapa granddaughter and I'd brought home a freshly grilled mackerel from the Japanese grocery. We had a good laugh and when she realized I loved Japanese food and flavors she asked me if I'd ever had sushi.
At that point, I really hadn't -- save for a late night party in restaurant after closing hours. A female chef told me hilarious stories of trying to learn how to make this new thing called sushi from Japanese sushi chefs she could not understand. She'd carefully dropped each nigiri rice bed into a pot of water because she misunderstood their accent thinking the master had said "put them in water". What he had actually said was to put them "in order" (which, in a Japanese accent would sound nearly like "in water").
Sushi eating, much less making well, it was all so mysterious back then. Sushi bars were not yet fixtures in every city, every grocery store. It's possible the story was a little funnier because of the after-hours drinks but ... suffice to say I didn't really feel like I knew my way around a sushi menu from that drunken walk-in cooler introduction.
Grandma took me to a local hotel sushi bar that happened to have an early bird special on sushi. I think it was some ridiculously good price for all you could eat sushi between certain hours. The sushi bar was tucked into an alley, between hotels and had all of five or so seats. In a city like Honolulu that caters to tourists, this was clearly a local hidden gem.
Grandma ordered a few pieces tentatively and watched for my reaction. I guess she thought if Ididn't care for it, it was not a waste of a ton of money. Then she ordered more, and more. She was so happy to see me enjoy it, and kind of in disbelief. She taught me to eat it with o-hashi/chopsticks. (I never told her what the Japanese businessman next to us explained to me: "In Tokyo we eat sushi with fingers." He implied that because she was from Hokkaido, she didn't know any better.)
She was delighted to watch as I ate my fill of this new treat. This was a fantastic visit and the only time she and I had had together, just the two of us. I will always remember how much I learned about her, and from her, during that week. We shared a love of travel and I admired her work part-time at a newspaper where the young staff valued her knowledge of kanji enabling her to typeset the printing plates with more accurate and nuanced vocabulary they did not possess.
Before my arrival, she had saved some money to buy me a gift. She explained that she was afraid she didn't know me well enough to be confident she could buy me an appropriate gift. It had been years since we'd lived near each other in Hawaii, after all. The distance between 8 years old (when she brought me my first camera) or even 12 years old (when we left Hawaii) and law school, was great. I expected no gift but her company and the time with her so I was surprised when she gave me some money, explaining I was to buy something that I wanted.
I'd noticed a small jewelers near the Japanese grocery where I picked that mackerel off the broiler/conveyer belt, still warm under its plastic. Something in the jewelry store window caught my eye. It seemed to me something solid would be a good way to mark this special week. I wanted to be able to look back and remember it with something tangible. I picked out a gold ring, easily the most valuable and extravagant thing I'd ever owned at that point. I thought about touching it in the future and remembering my grandmother and the special week we'd had - just the two of us - before I lost myself in law school, in practice, in life.
When I showed her my purchase and thanked her for it, she did the über-Japanese thing, a small polite smile and a nod. "Grandma, do you like it?" "If it pleases you, then I'm happy." Well it does please me, though I don't wear gold that often anymore, I do wear it to remember her and to mark special occasions.
Getting to the Sushi Secrets Part of the Story....
As I became more immersed in Japanese food, and learned more about sustainable seafood issues, I developed a different sort of relationship with sushi. When Marisa Baggett asked me to provide a quote for her upcoming Sushi Secrets book, I was honored to do so. It was during this same trip to my grandmother's that I met Marisa's publisher Mr.Tuttle himself who would ultimately publish Marisa's book. Curious, yes? Here's his nephew who shared a snorkeling trip to Hanauma Bay with me, with Mr. and Mrs. Tuttle on the left. (She is from Hokkaido, just like my grandmother was!) They were very kind to me, inviting me to their hotel for an afternoon drink.
Sustainable seafood and sushi are two passions Marisa and I share, in this book she skillfully combines them both. If you are aware of the growing scarcity of many species of fish, you may be inclined to forego sushi. Outside of a handful of Eco-conscious restaurants like Tataki and Miya's, you'd be hard pressed to find sustainability on the menu at most sushi bars you'll find. You can learn to make wise choices with the help of pocket guides and smart phone apps, but once you open your eyes to the depletion of our oceans, it's tougher to enjoy any old sushi joint.
You can also learn to make sushi at home. If you don't think you can do it, I'm here to convince you otherwise. Marisa's book is a perfect guide. Just take a look at these kids making sushi in this video.
The Spam + Friends part of the story...
When I got the chance to assist Chef Nathan Fong at the British Columbia Sustainable Seafood booth at the International Boston Seafood Show, I quickly said yes. Of course we didn't have any spam on the menu there, but do feast your eyes on some of the phenomenal food we put out for the show. My job was to shop, prep, assist, clean, etc. and I had friends who helped me schlep the groceries, lent me their carts, a bin, and so on. After the show was over, I wanted to thank my friends with a "Gokurosama Sushi Secrets" dinner.
Gokurosama is the Japanese way of thanking someone for their effort.
On the menu for our Gokurosama Dinner:
- Stir fry of sablefish with onion, black bean chili garlic sauce, cilantro
- Cucumber radish salad
- Gungkan Maki - uni
- Gunkan Maki - ikura
- Nigiri - tuna
- Nigiri - tamago
- Spam Musubi
- Kappa Maki
- Ume Shiso Maki
- Negi - Avocado Maki
- Takuan Maki
A funny thing happened while I was planning this dinner. A new couple moved in next door. I ran into them and invited them to come meet their neighbors and have some sushi, warning them that it was a bit of a crazy menu and crazier crew.
And that Band of Gold...
Turns out Cody and Carlos were engaged and we all fell in love with them. Cody had some hidden sushi ninja skills and brought the star power that only a former child TV star can bring. She also brought a charming Bolivian, now her husband, and a bottle of Prosecco. We were smitten. We made sushi together, using Marisa's excellent book.
Here's Cody showing two Chinese girls, Lisa and Jesse, how to make rice for sushi - in the microwave. That's Carlos on the left checking out the recipe.
Here's our disappearing Spam Musubi. Cody's hidden talent, at least one of them, is making these.
Secrets Shared - One Ring Lost, Two Blessed
In just a few short months, we've become so close and shared (some might say overshared) so much. We even got invited to their wedding. I'll not steal their thunder but I will share one little secret. I wore my gold ring, purchased to commemorate my special week with Grandma, to this weekend wedding in the Berkshires. And promptly lost it.
I searched everywhere and could not find it. I kept it to myself, sharing the secret only with Doc, in case it might feel like a bad omen or something. I thought about my Grandma and that week and focused on the important things: one, the memory and not the ring is what's important; two, there was the most uplifting wedding going on where gold rings were being exchanged to signify Cody and Carlos' commitment. This was a joyous weekend and the only tears were happy tears. On checking out, I quietly left a request to the staff that if the ring should turn up, it be returned to me. I was pretty certain it was gone.
And during this weekend I had hoped to actually write about this first night we met Cody and Carlos over Sushi Secrets. I thought it would be a fun post for folks to see just after the wedding.
But it wasn't happening. There were drinks, and laughs, and friends. There were tears of joy, new friends, and more laughter. And there was this gorgeous wedding between two really sweet new friends going down. So the post, I decided, could wait. And in a moment in a hammock with my (city boy) husband, I remarked how things that seemed urgent before, suddenly felt less so now. Being in the moment is a lesson I seem to need to learn over and over again.
Cody and Carlos did exchange their rings, after a lovely "ring warming" where the rings are passed from guest to guest, during the ceremony imbuing them with all our best wishes for a lifetime of joy.
I was sad about the ring I lost, but so very happy for these wonderful people and their marriage, that the sting of my loss was diminished. Such is the power of love.
Back to Secrets of the Edible Kind
Sushi is not a meal you would typically make at home, especially in the U.S. where we have a penchant for quick "3o minute meals" and we're mad for shortcuts. These notions are the opposite of how the Japanese approach, well, almost ANYTHING. However, Marisa does a great job of laying out step-by-step instructions, photos and recipes making the job of rolling or pressing sushi eminently doable.
As with any cooking, it pays to plan ahead and think about what you'll be preparing. In this case, I was celebrating my friends and showcasing fantastic seafood from British Columbia. So I had some prep to do: Dashi, tempura sauce, sweetened soy and spicy mayo, as well as rice soaking/steaming. All recipes are clearly laid out in simple instructions, and many have step-by-step pictures.
My plan was to have drinks, introduce the concept of the evening, and introduce friends to each other while we nibbled a bit of the sablefish stir-fry. Then, I figured we would not be starving and could begin trying our hand at making sushi, following the various recipes. We began with Spam Musubi partly because it was a quick one to put together. There's also nothing like sharing something as retro as Spam to break the ice.
I had the table set with Lisa's special sushi plates, dipping sauce dishes, new fancy chopsticks for everyone to take home, and of course, drinks!
We prepped and cooked, and rolled, and pressed.
Ikura, uni "gunkan" or battleship style sushi. Tamago in front, garnished with Northern Divine Caviar.
ume, shiso, kapa, takuan, negi, mushrooms all got rolled into ....
tuna, avocado, nori and my crazily tabbed book.
Full Circle - Rings and their Significance
I never planned on being married, myself. So I never had a fantasy about "the ring." Caleb changed that and showed me, shows me every day actually, the value of the commitment it symbolizes. Cody showed me her ring and how proud she is to have incorporated design elements from her beloved Mother's ring into her own. We held their rings and wished good things for them and were buoyed by the love that swirled around us all weekend.
We're so happy to have such great neighbors we can count as friends, like family really. We've already shared so much including this first raucous sushi feast.
As we unpacked from the weekend wedding and began to plan our week ahead and to think about the work to be completed Sunday night, I found in my suitcase the ring I was so sure I'd lost!
This whole story, my sushi discovery, meeting Mr. Tuttle, choosing a ring to mark my time with Grandma, developing an awareness of and appreciation for sustainable seafood, gaining such solid friends and sharing their wedding with them, losing and then ultimately finding my ring...rediscovering how joy supplants sadness...it all creates a perfect circle. I tend to learn in rather deliberate if not dramatic ways, don't you think?
My Grandma's presence is certainly here in this story.
So here's what I've learned from its unfolding:
Life can bring you friends and connections that might take years to mature, as with my Tuttle connection; or in the case of our friendships here, they might deepen very quickly. Joy shared openly can diminish loss. People who matter are with us in our hearts even if no tangible thing remains to remind us.
As always, there is joy in sharing a meal with friends and with some attention to what we eat, we can revel in food even while being mindful of our impact on the planet. With some thoughtful care for friends and partners, we can and will share many more meals together.
With Baggett's Sushi Secrets they might even be homemade, sustainable sushi.
Congratulations to Cody & Carlos on their marriage.
Congratulations to Marisa Baggett on this beautiful book.
May we all eat well and remember the words we Japanese say before consuming our meal: "Itadakimasu" which is to humbly receive the lives given so that we may eat. A fitting pause before a sushi meal.
If you were thinking about joining us and decided against it, you might be kicking yourself about now. It was a stellar gathering of friends from near and far - many in town for the International Boston Seafood Show. The Oyster Century Club shared stories of oysters up and down the East coast and West, tales from the seafood show, and tips on pairing, tasting, and more. We had several friends from Sewansecott Oysters, Shooting Point Oyster Company, Martin Reed Captain of I Love Blue Sea and crew (Matt, Rocky & Danielle), consultant Emma McLaren, Justin of Northern Divine brought some fabulous caviar we tasted on some West coast oysters, and then, on our hands, of course. Duff Hu of Best Honour International Seafood (that's some fabulous geoduck!) was there, too.
We even had a world class shucker, author and publican in our midst: Patrick McMurray (aka Shucker Paddy) and his man from Ceili Cottage ("Kay-lee") it's Irish, and they've got a Yurt in Toronto. Not making it up.
Good craic as they say, eh?
Sounds Like Fun - How Do I get Some of That?
Now, if you're wondering what the heck the Oyster Century Club is, we're a group of hedonists tasting our way through a hundred varieties of oysters. We mark our efforts on our tasting sheets (get your very own here) and we meet up occasionally at favorite oyster bars like Les Zygomates.
To host the Oyster Century Club's next Tweetup or if you want to sponsor our adventure and stake a claim in our hearts forever (and get on the radar of oyster lovers near and far) email me here. I'm also available to do an Oyster 101 class at your next team training or event.
Saying goodbye as we schlepp our wares out the last day. Then a feast at Jade Garden including fantastic geoduck, fish maw soup, scallops with vermicelli and toasted garlic and so - much - more.
What a pleasure it was sharing the delicious variety of sustainable seafood coming out of British Columbia!
All agreed it was a successful show. Thousands of samples served. Deals done. Relationships built. Looking forward to next year already.
Snow, high winds, flight delays, missing shipments, three-wheeled carts...nothing stopped us from getting it done.
Top row, L to R: Snow falling in front of the Chinatown gate, snow at South Station, Snow on Beach St., a cart that caused Chinese cashier to say "too much."
Second row, L to R: Groceries, squeeze bottles, astro turf, materials.
Third row, L to R; Empty Convention Ctr day before 18K people descend; plows outside Convention Ctr; Snow; Registration done.
Last row, L to R; Checking the booth set up, MacGyvered a "vacuum"; the prepped and cleaned "kitchen"; all veg, washed, peeled, prepped.
Missing picture: the cart that lost a wheel!
Four hands, three days, sustainable seafood that knocked the socks off the International Boston Seafood Show. Thanks to Chef Nathan Fong and the whole British Columbia crew. We wowed 'em, eh? (see I speak Canadian now)
Top row, L to R: a shot of the show floor; filleting a fish; French scrambled eggs with Northern Divine Caviar; Uni & Ikura on Koda Farms heirloom varietal rice.
Second row, L to R: sockeye salmon corn dogs, sockeye fried rice with ikura; Chefs Fong, Duarte, and me; Justin Henry of Northern Divine.
Third row, L to R: Fanny Bay oysters (and my coffee, of course); the "kitchen"; oyster chowder; Justin and Nathan.
Last row, L to R: Chef Fong with sockeye salmon in tomato-citrus ceviche; waiting for a cab to the Consulate event, BC wine (tasty!); and Oysters (of course).
I'm often asked what foods one should avoid, whether carbs are evil, and people sometimes assume I eat gluten free (who knows where that came from?!) The simple truth is no true food is really evil and much of the "healthy" advice out there is pure poop. As many of us are thinking about resolutions, it's a good time to separate wheat from chaff. And poop. Speaking of poop, I have decided to make poop the theme of this year's "resolve to eat better" post. More on that in a minute. First, let's review what makes a resolution or any goal succeed or fail. Here's a mnemonic device to help you remember: SMART. How to make your goals and resolutions SMART:
- S - Specific. Instead of "eat better" try a specific goal: "One meal a week will be whole grain based." It's not so hard. Make whole grain waffles one Sunday (you can freeze and toast for breakfasts later), a pumpkin brown rice risotto for dinner. Bake whole grain muffins on a weekend for grab and go breakfasts.
- M - Measurable. "Eating better" isn't going to be something you can measure accurately. Make it something you can measure. For example, "eat one meatless meal per week." Easy, especially with the slew of good vegetarian cookbooks out.
- A - Achievable. This is about setting yourself up to succeed. I could set a goal to exercise 6 days a week. If I were my husband, I might succeed. I am not. I would be more likely to achieve my goal if I said "I will walk three days per week." I could aim for 4-5 but set my lower limit of sloth at three.
- R - Reasonable. If you grew up like most of us with meat-centric meals, it would be unreasonable to quit carnivorous ways cold turkey, so to speak. How about resolving to buy only pastured, grass-fed beef? Or cage free eggs? Sustainable seafood?
- T - Time-bound. Goals that are time-bound are more likely to be met. Let's say you have a goal to "exercise more" - sounds nice, right? But isn't it more likely to be achieved if you say "I will walk at least 20 minutes each walk." Or "we will try one new veggie recipe each week."
The Straight Poop
First the bad news. Much of the advice flying around the internet is poop. "Avoid gluten and lose weight" a favorite canard. When people have gluten sensitivity or are Celiacs, of course they must avoid gluten. The rest of us really are better off with whole grains in our diets, and yes, that includes gluten. Those who have experienced weight loss eating gluten-free most likely have done so because they've largely eliminated processed crap from their diet. Do that and you're ahead of the game either way. In fact, most people find that eating whole grains help them maintain more steady blood sugar, a feeling of fullness and an enjoyment in the eating itself from added flavors and textures. All these benefits will help in anyone hoping to lose weight. This is why I don't like the "low carb" craze. It works for some (more for men than women) but I've seen precious few who can maintain it and if you're eliminating foods that could be helpful, which you could enjoy in healthy ways, you're depriving yourself of healthy and sensual dining experiences. Why?
Another pet peeve is the "juicing to remove toxins" craze. Now, fresh pressed juices from organic fruit and vegetables is good, don't get me wrong. Is it a cure for a season of overindulgence? No. Is it a replacement for well-balanced food? No. Read this excellent article Why Juice 'Cleanses' Don't Deliver - Eat + Run (usnews.com) debunking the juice cleanse. Movement. Another word for poop, of course, but also a concept to strive for. Incorporate movement into your SMART goals. Move to music, walk through the city (see my friend Marc Hurwitz' AMC urban hikes, for some group walks).
Some of us have suffered losses in 2012 or setbacks in our work, stumbled in relationships. "Move through it, learn from it, get over it" is my motto. Obviously, grief takes time and is never a straight line. All of life's losses have something to teach us and movement can help us avoid getting stuck in a bad place. "Get over it", is not to be flip, but to remind myself to laugh. Spend time with a toddler or a baby and have some belly laughs. Watch how they laugh from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes. Go see a funny comedian or watch a favorite funny movie. So get up and MOVE your body.
- Try standing instead of sitting at the computer. Try doing it one or two days a week to start. Sitting for long stretches, more than six hours a day, can make someone at least 18% more likely to die from diabetes, heart disease and obesity than those sitting less than three hours a day. (read more.)
- Even getting up every 20 minutes or so can be beneficial. Make scheduled breaks for a walk to get a glass of water versus a break for social networking - seated, online - will be an improvement.
Moving toxins through our system.
We'd like to eat bad food, drink like fish, and then do something simple like drink a smoothie and believe that will undo the harms. Me too! But it just isn't so. I'm not advocating a monastic lifestyle. Not the girl with the pound of foie in the fridge. Eating all sorts of things and drinking in moderation is okay in my book. Okay, as long as it doesn't become our norm and as long as we keep to the routine of moving, moving. I've over-indulged this holiday season but am trying to walk as often as I can. (doesn't sound like a specific, measurable goal does it? hm...) One of the best ways to move toxins -- or to be more accurate, waste -- through our system is to eat sufficient fiber. Fiber is what "grabs" waste and forms poop which we eliminate. Much good fiber comes from vegetables and grains. More of these are not only more satisfying to cook to eat, to chew, to enjoy; they are also far better at helping your process of elimination.
Another thing which can help is adding probiotic foods or supplements to your diet. Since much of our diet is further in time or geography from its source, we lose some nutrition even if we eat as locally as possible. Especially during the winter months in the Northeast. We also tend to eat less fermented foods here than in other countries. Fermented foods are a rich source of probiotics which are the good bacteria that support gut health. I've been adding Kombucha to my diet, thanks to my sister-in-law's recommendation. I love it and definitely feel it's helping keep the gut happy.
And by "gut" I mean the poop shoot. This is a good scholarly paper on the emerging medical wisdom of the need to address gut health.
← Poop shoot!
Our intestines are where many things - good things - happen. Absorption of nutrition we take in, regulation of immune function, etc. At the very least, it seems safe to say that eating a highly processed, low fiber diet, leading a sedentary lifestyle both contribute to less than healthy outcomes.
In the end
Here are a few SMART things you can do to improve your eating, your wellness, your enjoyment of life in 2013. These will also improve your "process of elimination" better than any products you might buy, and support all those good things that happen in your poop shoot. 1. Incorporate a whole grain based meal one day per week.
- Culinate has a great grains guide. Their list includes TWENTY. Pick one for each month and find a recipe that intrigues you, try it out!
- Maria Speck's Ancient Grains for Modern Meals (link takes you to Mussels with Farro post and includes links to book, site) is inspirational. A beautiful cookbook bringing the sexy to whole grains.
- Grain Mains is another great book for "grainiacs" - including this new staple of my pantry: Whole Grain Waffles. (favorite whole grain sourcing info included in that post.)
2. Make a movement goal.
- Try yoga in the privacy of your own home with a DVD like Rodney Yee's Yoga for Beginners. Just 20 minutes in the morning or afternoon or evening is all it takes.
- Walk more. Try a goal of parking further from the grocery store. Taking two flights of stairs instead of an elevator you normally take for four. In just a week or so you will see improvement. Who can't do two flights of stairs? Okay, start with one.
3. Make it a goal to improve the quality and decrease the quantity of meats you consume.
- Even if you cannot do it with every meat purchase, make a goal to do it some percentage of the time. Or choose some items that you'll buy organic and give yourself wiggle room on others. For example, these items carry the highest pesticide load: The Dirty Dozen.
- Grass-fed meats have a lower carbon foot print and better nutritional profile. Choose pastured meats from local farms instead of "cheap" meats that contain antibiotics you don't need. Cows are ruminants and their stomachs are not designed to eat grains. Prophylactic antibiotics are used to keep them from getting sick on the unnatural, rapid-fattening diets they are fed. Don't get me started on horrible feed ingredients that sometimes include downer cows, and more.
- Eat one meatless meal per week. Meatlovers' Meatless Celebrations is a great book for eating well, even at holiday and special meals. Recipes will satisfy carnivores and vegetarians alike. This is not about "giving up" it's about "adding to" your culinary repertoire.
[Shameless self-promotion warning]
4. Take a class with me to gain more kitchen confidence. Learn to shop, cook, eat, better with a trusted friend by your side in the comfort of your own kitchen.
- Learn how to avoid marketing influences that lead you away from whole foods, true foods and toward processed. Take me shopping with you and we'll explore how to read labels and choose foods wisely. Which foods are more or less sustainable? Which veggies are loaded with pesticides?
- Explore adding joy and chew and flavor to your diet through whole grains. We'll cook delicious whole grains you will be excited to incorporate into your regular rotation.
- Tailor a class or a series to you and yours: cooking with kids; exploring flavors of North Africa; Japanese food you can make at home.
- To learn more about the kinds of things I can teach you, click on over here.
If you'd like to customize a session, please call! Thanks for sharing this info with your foodie friends.
"Go Here, Eat This" is my series of mini-restaurant reviews. Instead of a full blown standard review, I give a simple recommendation of dishes to try at various spots I've enjoyed. To find other recommendations, search on "Go Here, Eat This". Mangia Bene! Boston's North End, our "little Italy" section of the city, is chock-full of great discoveries. Like its European counterparts, this is a village you can wander aimlessly in, and one that provides an array of wonderful discoveries. Even frequent visitors and locals get pleasant surprises now and then. Such was the case a month or so ago when we wandered out on a warm late-Autumn afternoon and discovered the newly renovated Mare now includes...a raw bar!
We sat looking at a beautiful handwritten menu behind the bar, with a dining room behind us that looked for all the world like some spot in South Beach. Sun flooded the room, some less-than-gracious tourists shouted at servers, and a gentle breeze moved through huge open windows.
Naturally, my attention was focused on this spread of oysters. As the founder of the Oyster Century Club© it is my duty to scout out the best oyster selections, the cleanest shuckers, the deals. It's work I take seriously.
Mare might have the best shucker in town. I had a dozen oysters, each pristinely shucked, not a bit of shell and no oysters nicked. This selection blew me away. I had six varieties in my dozen, several that were new to me:
- Stony Island, Orleans, MA
- Little Pleasant Bay, South Orleans, MA
- Black Fish Creek, Wellfleet, MA
- Sunken Meadows, Eastham, MA
- Rock Creek, Orleans, MA
- Belons, Darmariscotta, ME
Doc ordered two items: both delicious and well-prepared. Shrimp pizetta and pulpo (octopus). I have known Mare as a restaurant promoting sustainable seafood. In fact, my introduction to them was at a sustainable seafood dinner. Disclaimer: these two items (shrimp and octopus) are two that are difficult to source sustainably; so I'm not sure if their appearance on the menu signals a departure or if there is info that just wasn't available to us about the sourcing. If I get
Mare Oyster Bar
Open for Dinner Sunday - Friday 4 - 11 PM and Saturday 2 - 11 PM
135 Richmond St., Boston 617.723.6273
To learn more about sourcing sustainable seafood:
- My resource guide from Teach a Man to Fish. TONS of links to great sites and blogs.
- Monterey Bay Seafood Watch - Octopus - gives a brief intro to some of the issues with octopus.
The oyster bar at Mare is fantastic and oysters are a sustainable seafood you can enjoy without worry.
Mare Oysters - before
Mare Oysters - after
What are the essential books for ostreaphiles, oyster lovers, and cooks who love bivalves? I start here with a handful, which would you add? Special thanks to Jacobsen who's graciously allowed us to share materials from his site in our class.
Books for Reading
The Big Oyster – Mark Kurlansky
Tracing the history of the oyster in America, specifically New York, Kurlansky introduces us to the characters whose lives were intertwined with the humble oyster. He takes us through rough neighborhoods like Five Points, and explains the relationships of oysters to industry, to captains of industry, to the settlement of Manhattan - all peppered with historic recipes, anecdotes and terrific quotes.
A Geography of Oysters– Rowan Jacobsen
Really an ostreaphile’s bible, Jacobsen’s Geography is essential reading for anyone who wishes to know more than the fact that they love oysters. It illustrates concepts like terroir or merroir, gives apt descriptions for the various taste profiles and profiles selected oyster growers among the various oysters of note from coast to coast.
Recipes, sellers, oyster bars and more included. Be sure to see his companion website for fun additional materials.
Shucked – Erin Byers Murray
A homegrown story that just happens to touch on a few things we really love: the life of a writer, life-changing mid-course corrections, and an intimate feel for the life of a locally beloved oyster producer through the eyes of a city-girl-turned-oyster-farmer. Reading her journey you can feel the sun on your back (as well as the ache in it) and the cool water around you.
A terrific guide to oyster varieties, maybe the best book for a new oyster fan. Great photos and easy reading style invite you to shuck your own. Known for his shucking prowess, McMurray is more than a world champion shucker, he's also a "publican" pub owner, and author.
Books for Cooking
Cookbooks belong here, too. While I prefer my oysters on the half shell, usually with some saké, I've got to admit a few broiled or grilled recipes have caught my eye. For anyone a fan of, or curious about, sustainable seafood cooked at home, I highly recommend the following:
Becky Selengut's Good Fish. With some simple and some more cheffie-style recipes, Becky offers us notes on sustainability and ingredients, as well as wine pairing suggestions. From stunning mignonette to classic Hangtown Fry and some intriguing succotash, she's got oysters covered, too. How about Oyster, Apple, Chorizo stuffing? Yes please!
Barton Seaver's For Cod & Country. "Oysters are what is known as a keystone species, a species that holds together the whole intricate framework of the environment." Without them, Seaver notes, the waters get murky and the whole ecosystem falls apart. In fact, Barton says "eating farmed oysters is our patriotic duty." Try his oysters with peaches and paprika.
Jill Lambert's Good Catch. Great clutch of oyster recipes including oyster leek chowder, and a po'boy sandwich too. Yeah, it's Canadian, go figure.
Julie Qiu of In a Halfshell fame, has compiled her own recommended oyster reading list here.
One hour, twelve varieties, tips, fun facts, goodie bags...
All for $20? C'mon now, you know you want to join us.
Whether you're in the Oyster Century Club© already, or just joining, you can knock off up to a dozen varieties in one hour! All are welcome.
Come to Whole Foods Market - Charles River Plaza Thursday October 11 from 6:30-7:30 for the whole shucking thing!
Spread the word and bring a friend.
Seats are limited.
Dungeness Crab from our friends at I Love Blue Sea. Forging new model of distribution to bring fishermen and consumers closer, ILoveBlueSea.com has partnered with Capt. Ken Burns to bring his Dungeness crab directly to your door. I got to experience this courtesy of a sweet deal from our Oyster Century Club© sponsor and friends at ILoveBlueSea.com
These babies were so delicious - sweet, almost as sweet as Maryland blues, but nice big chunks of crab.
Found this wonderful roasted tomato vinaigrette in Becky Selengut's wonderful Good Fish. This dressing or some version of it, became a staple in our kitchen this summer.
Check out this delicious door-to-door delivery of sustainable seafood. You will be shocked at the low shipping prices and the freshness of this seafood.
And don't forget - they've got a terrific selection of oysters! Order with the link on the sidebar and get a free shucking knife!