Catching and Canning Crab on the Oregon Coast

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We had extremely good luck catching crabs in Newport, Oregon, when we were there celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary.  Over the weekend, we pulled in over 30 crabs that we could keep, and of course, many more we could not.  It was very fun and rewarding.

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We cooked the crabs, gave away a lot to friends and family, and I cracked out the remainder.

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Then, I canned it in little 1/2 pint jars, as it was more than we could eat.  I wrote about the exact process here.

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We had a wonderful time, and are feeling very blessed by the crab, but even more so by the 35 years to marriage together.

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How to Buy an Albacore Tuna From the Docks, What to Do With It, and a Trip to Newport, Oregon.

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On Wednesday, we took our nephew, Jake, and our daughters Lovana, Ja’Ana and Patsy down to Newport, Oregon.

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Rob did some surf fishing for perch, but did not catch any.

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The big girls huddled in blankets because it started out foggy.

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The younger kids dug for hours, tried to dam up the little river, and otherwise enjoyed the beach the way kids should.

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We then visited the Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center.  It was awesome, as usual, and we loved the new exhibits.

After that, we went down to the docks.  We looked for signs advertising tuna.  We found a couple of places that had tuna, one for salmon, black cod, and a couple for crab (Dungeness).   We parked and walked down to one that had tuna.

We asked when the fish was caught, and it was very fresh (caught the day before).  He said it had been cooled very quickly after being caught, which is important.  It was $3.45/lb, and you needed to buy the entire fish.  For an additional $4, he would filet it out.    He was very busy, which was a good sign to us, and the people before us bought over $300 worth of tuna (4 big ones), and around $75 worth of crab (4 medium-sized ones).  We were able to see how nice the fish looked, and get our questions answered by watching.  (The other 2 times we have canned tuna, we had our son-in-law get it for us, and it came frozen)  There were people behind us waiting, but by that time, we knew what we wanted.

We asked for a good sized fish  (1), and he gave us a choice from his huge icy bin of tuna.  Ours was a little over 20 lbs. and he quickly cut it into 4 large pieces with no bones.  He gave me the belly fat, too, as I needed it for the best canned tuna.  He gave Rob the carcass, as Rob wants to do some crabbing soon, and will use it for bait.  We put the fish and carcass into a cooler with ice in it.  If you don’t go prepared, your fish will lose quality quickly, and maybe even rot before you get home.  If you buy it on a whim, you need to plan on purchasing an inexpensive cooler and some ice.  The young man had plastic bags for the fish pieces to ride home in.  We popped them right into the cooler, and then kept the fish well-iced all night as we returned home too late to process it that night.

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There was not much waste at all.  The young man was clearly an expert.  Later, at home, Rob cut it into pieces that would fit into the crab trap bait box and froze it.

The next day, I cut pieces that would fit into my 1/2 pint jars that I keep for this purpose.  They are shaped similar to a tuna can you would buy, but are canning jars.  I added a piece of belly fat to each jar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I did do a couple of wide-mouthed pints, too. Then, I put lids and rings on, and carried them out to the pressure cooker on our outdoor porch.  I was able to get 3 layers, separated by racks, in my extra-tall cooker.  It’s designed for layering.  I can get 2 layers of pints in, but these jars are so short I can get more in.  I put about 2 quarts of water in the bottom, fastened the lid on, and brought it up to 11 lbs. of pressure.  It had to stay there for 100 minutes.  Yes, an hour and 40 minutes!

At our house, someone always watches the pressure cooker canner, and we both wanted the job.  Rob had been organizing and cleaning in his shop all day and I’d been canning, and we both had been watching Jake–taking turns.  We were tired.  Rob got the job this time, and I did some other things I needed to do.

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After they were finished, we let the canner sit for about an hour to let the pressure completely go down.  They came out beautifully, and all sealed.  What a rewarding process.

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In case you want to do the math, this kind of tuna is not cheaper than the kind from the store.  We got 2 pints and 22–1/2 pints.  So, it’s around $3/jar.  There is more tuna in there than you get from the little cans at the store and the quality is amazing!  It comes out in a large piece/ or pieces– if I filled in cracks on the sides with pieces once I dropped the large piece of loin in the jar, and is full of the Omega Fatty acids that are so desired, since I put that little piece of belly fat in each jar.  There is no comparison to the store-bought tuna at all.

I use this tuna for sandwich filling, patty melts and could make fish cakes if I wanted to.  I mix in my home-make sweet pickles or relish and some mayo and go from there.  That’s our favorite way to eat tuna.  Our oldest daughter got us started doing this a few years ago.  This is the 3rd time we’ve canned our own tuna, and we are very pleased with the results.  The people in front of us were going to freeze it– that’s what they always do.  The lady 2 people behind us only wanted a carcass.  She wanted to make soup and go crabbing.  I believe that young man gave it to her for free.

 

Ft. Stevens State Park-2017

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Ft. Stevens State Park is up at the tip of Oregon, by the ocean.  We love to camp there because there’s so much to do in the surrounding area.  The park has a lake, Coffinbury Lake, where we like to fish.  Even on a “bad” fishing trip, we usually catch something.   On this trip, we went fishing 3-4 times, and caught a total of 5 trout.

For the first 1/2 of our stay, Rob and I only had 1 child with us, Patsy.  That is such a difference from our “norm” that I did nothing but sleep and fish for the first day!  During the second half of our stay, our nephew, Jake joined us, giving us a little more excitement:)  By then, we were rested up, and enjoyed doing things with both kids.

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Rob helped Jake catch a little bass, but we did not keep it.

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One day, we went crabbing off a bridge in nearby Seaside.  We got 2 keepers!  A kind man who was cleaning his freezer drove by the bridge where we were crabbing and offered us some old clams and some clam guts.  We gratefully accepted and that’s what we got the 2 keepers on.  We pulled up lots of females and too-small crabs on our usual chicken, but there were so many traps in the water that the larger, male crabs must have been in the mood for a change.

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We were disappointed because we were not able to catch razor clams this year.  Last summer, we had so much fun and got a lot.  We brought all of our equipment, but were informed that razor clamming was closed due to some kind of toxicity in the clams.   Sad as we were, we did not want to take any chances eating unsafe clams, so we did not follow any (bad) advice we were given by several older men to “just do it anyway” because they ate them and were still alive.  No thank you.  It may open again in October, we will see.

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Instead, we visited nearby Battery Russell, and the Ft. Stevens military museum and the site where the actual fort had been.  Most of the information dealt with defending the coastline during World War II.  Jake especially loved the guns, tanks and other military items.  It was his first time there.

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We saw deer, squirrels, birds of all sorts, and elk!  Several elk were meandering through the nearby town of Hammond one day while we were driving through.  I’m glad I don’t have to contend with those coming near my garden!!

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Of course, no beach trip is complete without digging in the sand, for the kids, at least!

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We went down by the wreck of the Peter Iredale, which is the carcass of a ship that’s been down on the beach near our campsite for as long as I can remember.

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We went to the mouth of the Columbia River and the kids fed the seagulls the old pancakes that were leftover from breakfast.  We got to see several boats, some of which were going out (maybe fishing) and some coming in (probably bringing in cargo).

We drove over the 4-mile bridge that separates the state of Oregon from the state of Washington.  We always enjoy doing that and the kids love it, too!  Between all of those activities, the kids built Legos, watched movies, and read books.  They listened to stories on c.d. from the library while we drove.

On Friday morning, we packed up early and headed back home.  It was a fun, busy, educational week, packed with lots of outdoor activities.  It was especially satisfying because we had wanted to give Jake experiences he did not usually engage in, and boy, did we succeed.  He wants to go camping some more, and that’s just how we wanted it to turn out!

Crabbing on a Pole at the Oregon Coast

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Too bad it is a female!  Rob and Patsy spent some time trying to catch both fish and crab off the jetty at Newport, Oregon.  They have tried twice in the past few days, but so far, no keepers.  Here’s hoping……

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Everything that was caught went back into the bay.

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There was lots to look at, though, as there always is at the beach.  We were marveling at the size of the rocks the jetty was built with.  The kids wanted to know where they came from and how in the world anyone moved them here to build the jetty.  We don’t know.  Maybe the mountains.  Maybe a big truck.   All we know is that they are huge!

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The waves were really crashing.  It was beautiful.

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In the midst of it all, the wild strawberries are bravely blooming.

We had fish from the grocery store for dinner last night.  Some fishing and crabbing trips are like that.  We didn’t catch anything edible, but instead, added many more fun memories to those we already made.  This summer is not going to be the same as last year’s “Summer of Adventure,” but I have a feeling that although it’s not summer yet, new adventures are already beginning.

Rolling Logs and Crashing Waves

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We spent Saturday night down at the beach.  The waves were majestic and extremely powerful. There were huge waves and they were picking up a lot of debris from the beach.  I enjoyed watching this log being tossed and thrown around by the waves like a toothpick.  It did remind me of why there are so many signs warning of danger from logs in the waves though, as I watched the waves effortlessly move it back and forth, and when I saw how many logs and other items were in the surf.

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This time, we stayed in a beach house in Lincoln City, Oregon.  We were with my sister and her family, and had a great time.  Since our time was so short, we spent most of our time there watching waves from the large, glass windows instead of taking trips to sight-see.  The view was amazing!

We stopped on the way there for a picnic.  That’s where I enjoyed watching the logs get tossed around from the safety and comfort of my van.  I couldn’t resist getting out for a closer look, and some photo opportunities.  Of course, the sea gulls were out in full force, and wanted our picnic badly.

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At one point, while we were in the van, one gull kept trying to come through the window for tasty tidbits he was interested in.  We had my niece, nephew and 2 daughters with us.  They all got a laugh as Rob turned on the windshield wipers to scare the bird away before it could leave any presents on the window of the van.  Other people were feeding them, so they quickly moved on to greener pastures, leaving our kids to eat in peace!

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Clams

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Last week while we were at Ft. Stevens State Park, we took the girls clamming.  Rob and I had not been clamming for many years, and the girls never had.  We had one clam gun and one shovel.  The clam gun worked the best, but we did get a few with the shovel.  It only took Rob and I a little while to remember what to look for–a little bump on the sand where the clam was getting its air from.  Sometimes, it was a little hole with no bump.

When one of these tell-tale circles was spotted, the person holding the clam gun quickly twisted, pushed and dug down with the plastic tube.  Then, her finger was placed on the hole at the top to create suction, and the tube of sand was pulled up.  When the finger was removed, the sand fell out of the tube.  Hopefully there was a clam inside.  Truthfully, more times than not, it took several digs to get one, and sometimes they escaped.

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Sometimes they didn’t!

We got a total of 39 clams.  We could have had more, but it started pouring rain on our heads, and after all, there was only one clam gun and we had to take turns.  We were so soaked when we finally did stop that we had to go to the laundromat and wash our coats and clothing that afternoon.  We were having that much fun!!!

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We followed the instructions on U-Tube and dipped the clams briefly in boiling water to easily remove the shells.  Then, we (mostly Rob) cleaned them out.  Frankly, we were not great at that.  We ended up with a lot of pieces, not the large, whole clams on the video, but still, we were satisfied.

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The rules said that you had to take them all, broken or not, so we did.  The broken ones were especially sandy.  I washed them many times and finally trimmed off any parts that were so sandy I couldn’t get them clean.  I froze 2/3 of the clam pieces and saved out 1/3 to experiment with.

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I made a gluten-free tempura batter from Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 flour (about 1 cup), 1 egg, some milk and a little seltzer water.  I dipped them, and then fried them in a shallow pan with oil in it.  I could have used more oil, but made do.

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We then sprinkled them with Lowrie’s Seasoning Salt.  They were good, but were on the tough side.  I think I cooked them too long.  I thought I’d make bigger clam strips than what you get in restaurants, but I guess there’s a reason they are small.  I think it takes too long to get the larger amount of tempura to cook all the way through.  I also could have cooked them more quickly if I had owned more oil.  I want to try it again.  I also plan to make clam chowder with some of the frozen ones.

We will go clamming again.  Everyone had a good time.  We now have our shellfish licenses, so can use them all year.  It was very rewarding to catch so many.  The tide was very low, so we will try to find another day with a low tide and try it again the next time we are down at the beach.  We might even want to invest in another clam gun or two.  Then there won’t be so many discussions about whose turn it is……

Memorial Day Weekend-2016-Day 1

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We had an easy drive down to Ft. Stevens State Park, near Astoria on Thursday.  After setting up camp, we decided to go fishing in the mouth of the Columbia River.  Actually, Rob wanted to go fishing, the rest of us went along for the ride.

We drove down the road, and turned into the place where Rob had fished years ago.  Our “Summer of Adventure” got off to a great start when the road was no longer there, and it turned quickly into a sand path.  Obviously, others had traveled down that way, so we tried to as well.  We quickly changed our minds and turned around.  Much to our dismay, our van was not up to the task, and the wheels began to hopelessly spin in the sand.  Oops!  After fruitlessly spinning for a while, going a bit, then getting stuck again, I declared I needed OUT!  NOW!  So, I jumped out while Rob, with a determined look on his face, gunned the engine, got going and blasted his way out of that predicament!  Whew.  To get out of the sand, he was going pretty fast, and got a little ways down the road, while I trotted behind.  He stopped.  I got back in and we both started giggling hopelessly.  “Summer of Adventure” we chorused in unison!

The next place we tried was better.  There was a parking lot.  Nice and firm.  We parked and got out, and went down the path.  Sadly, that one led to a drop-off and we knew that we could get down, but probably not back up–so it was a no-go.  We hiked first one way, and then another, and Ja’Ana found a way.  This was through quite a few bushes, I will say, which was interesting with the fishing poles, but we made it.

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Rob has a 2-pole license, so he set up the 2 poles, and the rest of us read, sat on chairs, or roamed the beach at will.  He got 1 bite, but had fun.

We were treated to the sight of the lumber ship, pictured above, leaving the mouth of the Columbia, heading out for unknown ports.  It was a majestic sight, weaving between the markers that led it through the channel.

It started raining, so we packed it up and headed back to the camper.  Day 1 was a success.