Okay, so to be truly “The Beaches of San Juan County” I’d need to have a much better sampling of various islands, plus I’m including one beach from Island County as well, but while we were on vacation, we visited a total of 8 beaches, and I loved every minute of it! Most of the beaches were on Orcas Island, but one was on another island, a much smaller and rather secretive island, which I am not going to name but which will feature – nameless – in an upcoming post!
This was the beachiest trip that I’d been on for years! I have too many pictures to make this just one post – in fact, it will have to be even more than two.
Truly, I love beaches. Not the movie – though I liked that okay, much to my husband’s bewilderment – but the places. The physical, rocky, shores of the ocean.
Note I said “rocky”. I’m not as much of a fan of sandy shores.
I found, on our recent vacation on Orcas Island, Washington, that even though I grew up there, I’d forgotten – or, more likely, never spend much time thinking about the fact – that not all beaches are created the same. I mean, I knew about the basic difference in a sandy beach vrs. a rocky/stony beach, but it had been so many years since I’d been on any other sort of beach, that I’d forgotten that such a thing existed.
The first beach for your perusal today is a private beach on Orcas where we went (with permission!) to dig clams. And I’ll even give you my sister’s recipe for clam chowder that was absolutely the best I’ve ever had in my life.
AND NOW, WHAT YOUR MOUTH IS WATERING FOR: MY SISTER’S RECIPE FOR FABULOUS CLAM CHOWDER! (Is it as good with canned/jarred clams? Probably not, to be honest, but if you like chowder, why not give it a try?!!)
Here’s the e-mail I got from my Island-Living Sister:
My recipe for clam chowder -
Bring enough shovels! Dig clams! (Butter and/or Horse clams) Remove from shells, leaving the empties on the beach. Clean, making sure to slice the neck in half lengthwise down both valves to rinse it all out, keeping what liquid there is from the clams and grind! (You will not have all the liquor from the clams when you clean them on the beach.) Set aside.
I do it all in one big pot so you get the bacon stuck-on bits to later end up in the chowder.
Brown bacon, lots, remove to a paper towel to drain
Onion, chopped, added to the bacon grease until tender, remove to drain if you like
3 or 4 potatoes, diced to the size you want to eat. Put in the large pot. Add back in the onions if you took them out. Add your clam liquor if you have any. Cover with enough water to cover potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil until potatoes are almost done.
Add clams, 2 cups or more, or a couple of cans if you can’t dig your own clams!
Add 2 cans evaporated milk, or more if making quite a lot
Salt and pepper
Heat to almost a boil, and it should be done.
I, GRETCHEN, HAVE ONE CAVEAT TO ADD: IF YOU ARE CLEANING YOUR OWN CLAMS, YOU MUST HAVE A STRONG STOMACH! The smell is rather strong…and it’s all a little overwhelmingly beachy!! BUT…it does NOT taste like the beach at all. It’s marvelous!!!!!!!
MANY THANKS TO MY SISTER FOR ALL HER HARD CLEANING AND GRINDING AND COOKING WORK SO THAT WE COULD ALL ENJOY SUCH A WONDERFUL MEAL!!!!!!!!!!! My brother-in-law made fresh bread for us, too, which was also fantastic! I just wish I’d taken a picture of the finished product. I was so excited to eat that it never occurred to me!!!
PS – Be careful if you are ever clamming and/or oystering (is that a word?!) to check first on something called Red Tide, a potential lethal algae bloom in the water that effects shellfish and the people who eat them! Sadly, my nephew’s wedding this coming weekend was supposed to include 400 oysters…but, due to Red Tide, will include zero. So sad!!!