Of all the incredible things the Lowcountry had to offer, my favorite has to be all the fresh produce and seafood. In our backyard we had lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit and mulberry trees and if we ventured to the dock, we could catch fish, shrimp, and crabs. My favorite days started with homemade mulberry syrup ladled over pancakes, moved to tree-ripened lemon squeezed over lunches of freshly caught fish, and finished with gin and tonics, complete with freshly picked-lime juice.
Every Saturday morning began with a trip to The Port Royal Farmer’s Market. No matter what time of year – it was open with flowers, bushes, fruits and vegetables of the season. While the farmer’s market is a staple for the residents and visitors of the Lowcountry, the Lowcountry is an agricultural staple for the United States. Known for its hundreds of acres of tomatoes, watermelons, and blueberries, St. Helena Island commercially ships their produce across the entire country.
The fruit trees were not the only treasures to be found at Tombee. Wedding bells, paper-whites. Daffodils, and camellia bushes filled our gardens with the sweet smells of summer.
When we looked past the land and into the water, we got to see dolphins running up and down the creek to strand feed – it was captivating. Strand feeding is a learned behavior in which dolphins and some other marine mammals herd and trap a variety of fish species such as mullets onto mudbanks, sandbars, or shorelines. The phrase “strand feeding” actually originates from the way dolphins momentarily beach (or strand) themselves, as they push their prey ashore before sliding back into the water.
I could go on forever, about the magic of this place but we have now sold our beloved Tombee to a nice family to carry on where we left off.
While we may not have a permanent place in the Lowcountry, the memories and magic will stay with us.
I’m leaving you with a favorite recipe that we have served many times as we entertained, not only at Tombee, but at home in Nashville as well.
Here is my Shrimp Boil from Servin’ Up Summer
1 gallon of water
1 bag of Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp & Crab Boil seasoning
2 bay leaves, crushed
1 lemon, cut in half
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium sweet onions, washed and quartered
14 small red or yukon gold potatoes
3 ears of corn, cut into thirds
1 package kielbasa sausage (12 ounce), sliced into two-inch pieces 2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds shell-on, 16-20 count shrimp
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
Dash of hot sauce
In a large stockpot, add one gallon of water, bag of seasoning, bay leaves, lemon, garlic, onions and potatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook until the potatoes are cooked through and tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the corn, sausage, and butter, keeping the pot at a boil for an additional 8 minutes.
Add the shrimp and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook the shrimp for ap-proximately 5 minutes or until completely cooked through and opaque.
Remove from heat.
Using a slotted spoon, remove all the solids from the boiling water and transfer to a large platter. Discard the boiling liquid.
Sprinkle generously with creole seasoning. Dash with hot sauce, if desired.
This recipe serves 8 to 10 people but can easily be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled