Painting by Mark Hiles – Zoll Studio of Fine Art

Please note that the hours of operation at Flowers Seafood and Geechie Boy Mill may have changed due to COVID-19.  Call before planning a trip for those delicious blue crab!

Finding comfort in life’s simple pleasures.

When a friend of mine told me she was going to start taking local trips around the area, I started to think it might be a good idea.  After these months of quarantine, it would be fun to make a trip to Edisto.

Edisto is a sub-tropical barrier island just south of Charleston – a place of majestic live oaks, heavily laden with Spanish moss that form cathedral-like canopies over winding sandy roads. These trees are so ancient that many were here during the days when Indians roamed the woodlands and dug oysters and clams at the water’s edge. Oysters still crowd the creek banks and shrimp, blue crab and mullet are there for the taking for anyone with a cast net.  Most of the land is a jungle of tangled oaks, magnolia trees, palmettos, and yuccas standing high above the earth below.

 

 

crab, Crab Cracking on Edisto, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

 

The landscape is dotted with fishing docks, rustic bateaux, and fishermen. Charleston artist Sandra Roper depicts these scenes with great sensitivity and insight.

www.sandraroper.com

crab, Crab Cracking on Edisto, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

 

There’s something here very unique.  It possibly lies in the fact that when in Edisto – you know the seafood is local, fresh, and served with a whole lotta love and tradition.

 

      Edisto

It’s about a sense of place and people who know how to take off their shoes and work their feet into the mud to feel for clams, catch a blue crab with a chicken neck, cast a shrimp net into the river and use their hands to pull oysters from a reef.  Whether you’re returning home or just visiting – Edisto makes you feel like a local.

 

Approaching the island on Highway 174, Geechee Boy Market and Mill is situated on the right.  Stopping here on a sultry June afternoon, I picked up a cup of fresh coffee and a cornmeal muffin.  I lingered awhile, stocked up on my favorite Jimmy Red Grits, and purchased a large box of tomatoes picked that morning from the fields out back .

Greg Johnsman – owner of Geechie Boy Mill is proud of his first rice harvest.  Theirs is a family farm where they work hard to bring their customers the best in heirloom grains and crops. www.geechieboymill.com

crab, Crab Cracking on Edisto, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

 

Home-baked cornbread is served fresh daily from a cast-iron skillet.

crab, Crab Cracking on Edisto, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

 

Then I headed back down the road toward the beach. The terrain is rural, rustic, and inviting.  I feel the decades peel back and an appreciation for those times.

crab, Crab Cracking on Edisto, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

 

I had not gone much further before I spotted a little blue shack right off Highway 174 with a giant crab painted on the side. Vincent Flowers himself was at the counter, a man whose family has been earning a living by hauling in fresh seafood for generations on Edisto Island.  After briefly introducing g myself, I asked, “What changes have you seen over the years?”  In his rich, flowing old Edisto accent, he replied, “We’s down from 23 to just two local shrimp boats.  Foreign shrimps been hurtin’ us, but we ain’t leavin’ and we ain’t quitting.”

 

There’s a mobile kitchen trailer in front of picnic tables under tents out back with a handwritten special board announcing “Garlic Blue Crab, $30.00/dozen.

I placed an order for sweet tea, boiled peanuts, fried shrimp, hush puppies, and garlic blue crab.  Sitting down at one of the tables I began the feast with garlic steamed crabs, cracking the claws one after the other revealing the juicy succulent meat within.  The shrimp was fried just right and the little hush puppies had fresh corn inside every satisfying bite.  Everything was fresh from the sea and delicious, It doesn’t get any better than this feast beneath the I’ve oaks beside the tidal creeks at a no-frills roadside stand.

 

Sandra Roper – Charleston artist

crab, Crab Cracking on Edisto, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

Sandra Roper www.sandraroper.com

crab, Crab Cracking on Edisto, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

The mobile trailer also serves take-out.

crab, Crab Cracking on Edisto, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

crab, Crab Cracking on Edisto, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

If you can’t get over to Flower’s Seafood, here’s the secret to fixing your own for a down home Lowcountry crab crackin’.

 

Garlic Blue Crabs

6-8 blue crabs

3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

1 cup butter

1/2 cup fresh garlic, chopped

kosher salt

In a large pot with a basket, bring water to a boil, place crabs in boiling water, making sure the water covers all the crabs.  Sprinkle in Old Bay seasoning and kosher salt.  Continue steaming crabs until they are red, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Crack crabs down the middle into two sections, removing lungs and leaving claws attached. In a skillet melt butter with chopped garlic, then add the crabs.

Painting by Mark Hiles – Zoll Studio of Fine Art

crab, Crab Cracking on Edisto, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning