From the Redwood Forests to the Dungeness Crab

Last Sunday, I had a — this land was made for me for you and me — kind of day in Sonoma County. My nephew, Chase, was nearing the end of his visit so I wanted to show him the redwoods in Armstrong Woods. We went out for a drive through Guerneville to the park and took a lovely walk among the large redwoods.

I like this photo I took, which seems to invite you to go off the path and make your own way, climbing over fallen branches.

Redwoods at Armstrong Woods

Redwoods at Armstrong Woods

Chase easily fit inside the hollow of a redwood. He was fascinated that redwoods are able to survive forest fires with their thick bark. He was amazed that the largest tree, named Colonel Armstrong, was as tall as football field is long.

Chase fit inside a redwood hollow

Chase fit inside a redwood hollow

After our time among the giant trees, we went to Santa Rosa Seafood store to buy Dungeness Crab for dinner. When we arrived, we learned that the crab were still on the truck making its way from the coast. The commercial crab fishing season had opened earlier in the week. We weren’t the only ones eager to have crab for dinner.

When we came back to the store, the clerk told us that the crabs were here but we’d have to cook them at home or wait another hour. I asked for some advice on cooking crab because I had never done it before. The clerk said to throw them in a large pot of water. “For eight crabs, you’ll need about nine pounds of salt.” That seemed like a lot of salt but the process itself seemed doable.

At home, I studied up on how much salt to put in. I found many recipes for cooking live crab that did not add salt. Yet the clerk’s insistence that it really mattered for flavor made me follow her guidance. I ended up putting in a cup of salt per gallon of water. The large pans we used to cook the crab came from our brew room.

The crab were placed in boiling water and cooked for about 20 minutes.

  • The Crab Just Before Boiling
  • Crab in Boiling Water
  • The crabs in the sink ready to be cleaned.

Once removed from the water, the crab were cooled down in the sink by running cold water over them. The next step was to clean them by removing the shell, scraping the gills and other gunk out and running more water over the bodies. Cleaning was fairly easy.

The crabs were soon on the table, served with a home-cooked succotash and my own Ceasar salad. We celebrated Ryan’s birthday and wished Chase well on his return home to Kentucky.

A walk in the redwoods followed by cooking and cracking crab, what a nice day.

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