Yesterday Miss Hale, Francisco, and I joined some friends at their new apartment. It's the top floor of a house on the shore of the Severn river, about six miles upriver from Annapolis. It was a day of firsts for me: first day of this oppressively hot summer that I actually wanted to sit outside all day; first day I've actually had a chance to do so and, more importantly, first time crabbing and sailing.
The sailing was lovely, if uneventful. They have a little sunfish, good for only two people. I sat in the front and ducked when we tacked. There wasn't much wind, so we idled a bit, and rowed back to the docks. I was unaccountably proud of myself, considering I didn't do anything at all.
I did do a fair amount of crabbing, though. We hung drumsticks from the dock, and teased the crabs into our nets. We caught 20 in all, but had to throw three out that had died. They were feisty little fellows. And delicious.
Mix together 1 cup Old Bay and 1/4 kosher salt for every 20 or so crabs. Bring to a boil 1 can flat beer and 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar. Put the crabs in an ice bath, to stun them. When the beer is simmering, place in the pot a steamer basket. Meanwhile, run cold water, and scrub the crabs under the running water, quickly, before they wake up. Toss into the pot, douse with the old bay mixture, and cover the pot with a lid. (Or cookie sheet.) Repeat. You can pile them pretty high, but 20 in a pot will do nicely, and ensure that the bottom ones are not over-cooked. They are ready after about 8 minutes, when they are uniformly red.
As to the eating of crabs, I can't give you many pointers. Clearly, you need to cover your table with paper, and grab a couple mallets, and some knives. Beyond that, I am just horrible. I said last night that I can't wait till I'm married and have 5 boys. I will get them all excited about the crabbing, and teach them about the "mustard" and fool them into thinking the best part of crabbing is all the hard work that goes into harvesting the meat. I'll let them devour the crabs, relishing and savoring the entire process. And, I will claim my rights as mother, and eat all their crab legs, tricking them into thinking that it's not really very good meat.
But, someday they will know that I tricked them: because crab legs are truly the best part of the whole adventure.