Tag Archives: Baltimore Book Festival

Mr. Crabcake on (what else?) crab cakes

Guest post by John Shields

A highlight of the Baltimore Book Festival this weekend will surely be chef John Shields’ discussion of his charming new book from JHU Press, Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields, 25th anniversary edition (on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at the Food for Though Stage). And if you have any doubts as to his qualifications to be the one-and-only “Mr. Crabcake,” read this wonderful excerpt from his book.


shieldsCrab Cakes

Paris may have its foie gras, New Orleans its gumbo, and Spain its paella, but the folks living along the shores and far-reaching tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay have their own signature dish: the crab cake. No dish is more closely associated with the Chesapeake and the blue crab than the mighty crab cake.

When asked to describe their aquatic culinary prize, locals are hard-pressed to come up with a concise description. “Well, hon, it ain’t a confection, and you don’t normally bake them, and sure ain’t a dee-sert . . . naa . . . it’s not exactly made in a cake pan either . . . well . . . oh hell, it’s more like a ball of crab all spiced up and fried.”

Now the crab cake may well be a unifying source of fierce regional pride, but its many recipes produce more squabbling, feuding, and heated family debates than either the local ball club or politics. Tucked away in each family’s archives is The Crab Cake Recipe. It is the only one; it is the best; and all the others are wrong. Period. I’ve witnessed barroom brawls over which restaurant or tavern serves the best crab cake. Research on the ubiquitous cake provides tremendous pleasure for the stomach, but is, all in all, a dangerous business.

Shields_cooking_1The Chesapeake crab cake has been a staple of the local diet dating back to at least the sixteenth century. Crab cakes were made by local Indian women who mixed the crabmeat with herbs, vegetables, and cornmeal, forming them into small cakes that were fried in sizzling hot bear fat. They were called “cakes of crab.” The preparation technique has changed only slightly over the centuries, with the exception that bear fat is not used for frying these days.

What remains true of Bay crab cakes today is that different regions of the Chesapeake have their own style of cakes. On the Eastern Shore folks prefer their crab cakes prepared simply so that the flavor of the crab is allowed to shine through. This happens by moistening the crab just slightly with lemon butter and adding virtually no filler, or what locals sometimes refer to as “sawdust.” Since there is little binding to hold the cakes together they must be broiled and handled with great care. The end result for a crab purist is sheer bliss: an absolutely pure, unadulterated crab cake. Folks from other parts of the Bay, particularly near the big cities, scoff at this notion and find these cakes bland. They prefer the style of cake that is flavored by a spicy, mayonnaise-enriched batter with a bread or cracker binding. The cake is then either fried or broiled. A third version of a crab cake, which is common in the southern parts of the Bay, is made by using a lightly seasoned cream sauce to hold the crabmeat together. The cakes are then chilled to firm them up and later lightly coated in bread crumbs and lightly fried. There are crab cake recipes for a full spectrum of tastes, yet people continue to experiment and discover  even more.

Now, what’s all the fuss about? They’re just little balls of crab all mushed together, right? Wrong. Here’s a guide to the structural makeup of a crab cake.

Choosing Crabmeat for Crab Cakes

This is like choosing a pet. Should it have a fancy pedigree or be a mixed breed? This all depends on your tastes and, in some cases, your wallet. The crab cake dishes in this book list the crabmeat grade the recipe’s originator believes works best, but feel free to substitute any type of crabmeat.

Jumbo Lump Crabmeat is what purists generally insist on and is the very best that money can buy. Crab cakes made with all jumbo lump are best sautéed or broiled rather than deep-fried. These big, beautiful lumps, with absolutely no shell or cartilage, come from the backfin on either side of the crab. In the old days of the crab business this type of crabmeat was aptly known as “backfin.”

Lump Crabmeat is a bit of a misnomer and is actually a blend of one-third jumbo lump and two-thirds flake (smaller pieces of crab from the chambers of the body). This type of crabmeat makes a beautiful cake of large, delectable lumps of crab combined with flavorful body meat. Just a touch of binding holds the  lump cake together nicely. This meat is perfect for any style crab cake you may wish to prepare.

Backfin Crabmeat is all flake from the center body cavity of the crab. While it does not make a particularly nice crab cake on its own, it works quite well when mixed with jumbo lump or lump. Higher in shell content than jumbo lump and lump, this type requires careful picking over to remove small bits of cartilage. It’s a great way to bring the price of the crab cake down and still produce a high-quality crab cake and make the family proud.

Claw Meat provides dark, sweet meat and a less expensive crab cake. These cakes, while not regarded as top of the line, are what are served in many coffee shops and neighborhood taverns, as well as at local fairs and carnivals. They are quite tasty and economical for large gatherings and parties. Crab cakes made with claw are generally fried and have a wonderful crispy outside with a delightful flavor from the sweet meat. Claw meat tends to have a higher moisture content, which requires a tad more binding to hold the cakes together. Most locals use claw meat in their vegetable crab soups as well.

Mixed Cakes are made from a blend of two or more types of crabmeat. My favorite mix is half jumbo lump and half lump, but actually any combination will work. Try your own formulas to find what you like best.

Meet John at the Baltimore Book Festival at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Food for Thought Stage. Or stop by Gertrude’s to pick up your signed copy.

Read Wednesday’s blog post for more information on where to find the JHU Press at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival.

 

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Filed under Baltimore, Book talks, Food / Cooking

Don’t miss the 2015 Baltimore Book Festival, September 25-27

BBF 2015 logo-bbfLook for books from Johns Hopkins University Press at the Ivy Bookshop tent at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival!  The Festival takes place at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor  this weekend–with great music, food, and books, books, books (and more books).  The Ivy tent on Rash Field features a JHUP table with a display of some of our latest regional titles, and several of our authors will speak and sign books during the weekend. Read on for more information and a 2015 festival map.


Friday, September 25, 3:00 p.m. at the Inner Harbor Stage
Michael Olesker, Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age
Charles W. Mitchell, Travels through American History in the Mid-Atlantic: A Guide for All Ages


Saturday, September 26, 12:00 p.m. at the Ivy Bookshop Stage
Martha Joynt Kumar, Before the Oath: How George W. Bush and Barack Obama Managed a Transfer of Power

kumar


Saturday, September 26, 12:30 p.m. at the Food for Thought Stage
John Shields, Chesapeake Bay Cooking

shields


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Filed under American History, Baltimore, Book talks, Current Affairs, Food / Cooking, Press Events, Regional-Chesapeake Bay, University Presses, Writing

Don’t miss the Baltimore Book Festival, September 26–28

BBF_logoJohns Hopkins University Press and the George Peabody Library are jointly hosting the JHU Press Book Sale along with talks, book signings, and special exhibits. Visit us at the 2014 Baltimore Book Festival in the beautiful Baltimore Visitor Center overlooking the Inner Harbor.

The JHU Press Book Sale takes place inside the Visitor Center throughout the Festival, with Press authors scheduled to meet the public and sign books throughout the weekend. The George Peabody Library will offer a special exhibit of archival books and materials related to Baltimore history, and members of the Special Collections staff will offer a Peabody Collections Spotlight each day.

Visitors Center

The JHU Press Book Sale will be held in the beautiful Baltimore Visitor Center when the Baltimore Book Festival moves to the Inner Harbor this year.

Presentations in the Visitors Center include book talks by JHU Press authors Gil Sandler, Fraser Smith, Mike Olesker, Rick Striner, Melissa Blair, Steve Grant, Michael Wolfe, Charley Mitchell, and others. Each day will end with with performances by students from JHU’s Peabody Conservatory. The Visitor Center will remain open for business as usual during the Festival, welcoming visitors and showing a short film about Charm City every 20 minutes.

See the entire JHU Press/Peabody Library BBF schedule here.

The Ivy Bookshop will host two JHUP authors for talks in the Ivy tent on Rash Field at the Book Festival: Jeremy Greene discusses Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine on Saturday, September 27, at 1:00 pm; Charley Mitchell discusses Travels through American History in the Mid Atlantic: A Guide for All Ages on Saturday at 3:00 pm. See the Ivy’s BBF schedule here.

The Ivy Bookshop and JHU’s Sheridan Libraries co-host a talk by JHU’s Alice McDermott in the BBF Literary Salon on Saturday at 1:00 pm.

Admission: Free; visit the Baltimore Book Festival for more information.

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Filed under Baltimore, Book talks, Press Events, Regional-Chesapeake Bay, Sale

JHU Press events in September: Star-Spangled (and then some)

September is shaping up to be a banner month for JHU Press authors and staff—and decidedly star-spangled here in Baltimore. This month, the city hosts the Star-Spangled Spectacular to celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore and the moment when Francis Scott Key put pen to paper, and we’ll be waving the JHU Press flag at a book sale in the National Park Service tent at the Inner Harbor during these once-every-200-years festivities. The Press returns to the Inner Harbor at the end of September when the Baltimore Book Festival tries out a new waterfront location. Author talks and signings from New York to D.C. to South Carolina to Ohio round out the month. So spread the word, please, and wish us luck!


10 September 2014, 6:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing –
“The Battle of Baltimore: How Our Harbor Helped Define America”
With Marc Ferris (Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America’s National Anthem)
Burt Kummerow (In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake)
and Ralph Eshelman (IFGR and Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Reference Guide to Historic Sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia)
National Aquarium
Baltimore, MD

Ferris_jacketThe Battle of Baltimore—which took place in September 1814, shortly after the British attack on Washington, D.C., and the torching of the Capitol and the White House—was an uplifting victory for beleaguered America. The success of Baltimore’s citizen soldiers hastened the war’s end and famously inspired Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As tall ships return to the Inner Harbor for Baltimore’s bicentennial celebrations, join us for a special program exploring the history and legacy of the Battle of Baltimore, featuring a panel of historians and authors whose recent work has focused on the War of Travel_Guide_cover1812 and its impact on American identity. A reception and book signing precedes the program. This event is hosted by Aquarium CEO John Racanelli and is co-sponsored by JHU’s Odyssey Program, the Maryland Historical Society, and the National Aquarium’s Marjorie Lynn Bank Lecture Series. Book-signing at 6:30 p.m.; program at 7:00 p.m.

Admission: $15.00; register online through JHU’s Odyssey Program (refer to session 918.088.91) or call 410-516-8516.


11 September 2014, 12:00 pm
Author Interview
  Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of Americas National Anthem
Midday with Dan Rodricks
WYPR, 88.1 FM


eshelman201211 September 2014, 12:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing –
The Battle of Baltimore

Ralph Eshelman
In Full Glory Reflected and Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake
Johns Hopkins Club
Baltimore, MD

Admission: $20. Club members should call the Hopkins Club for reservations; non-members may contact Jack Holmes for information at 410-516-6928.


SSS logo

1214 September 2014, 11:00 am to 8:00 pm
Book Sale at
Star-Spangled Banner Spectacular
National Park Service Tent
McKelden Square, Inner Harbor
Baltimore, MD

JHU Press will sell books related to the War of 1812 and host our authors for book signings in the National Park Service tent during the Star-Spangled Spectacular at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Join us at the NPS tent in McKelden Square (at Pratt and Light Streets) to celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner”!

Admission: Free. Visit Star-Spangled Spectacular for information.


13 September 2014, 9:15 am
Author Interview
  Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner
Weekend News
WBAL TV, Channel 11

Ferris_jacket13 September 2014, 6:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing –
Marc Ferris
Star-Spangled Banner
The Ivy Bookshop
6080 Falls Rd
Baltimore, MD 21209

Book talk, performance, and signing by Marc Ferris at the Ivy during Baltimore’s Star-Spangled weekend!

Admission: Free; call the Ivy at 410-377-2966 for information.


Amish_QuiltsAmish Quilts Events in September – Janneken Smucker
Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Icon

12 September 2014
Study Session
American Quilt Study Group Annual Seminar
Milwaukee, WI

15 September 2014, 1:00 pm
“Abstract Art or Country Craft: The Quilts of the Amish”
Friends of the Bucks County Historical Society
Mercer Museum
Doylestown, PA

18 September 2014, 7:00 pm
“The Amish Quilt Craze: Art, Business, and Authenticity”
Hagley Museum and Library, Soda House Auditorium
Wilmington, DE


Generic18 September 2014, 6:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing – Jeremy A. Greene
Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine
The New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street
New York, NY 10029

Sponsored by The Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health and the Fellows Office.


Renegade_AmishRenegade Amish Events in Berlin, Ohio – Don Kraybill
Renegade Amish: Beard Cutting, Hate Crimes, and the Trial of the Bergholz Barbers

19 September 2014, 7:00 pm
Book Talk & Signing

Perry Reese Community Center
Hiland High School

20 September 2014, 9:00 am to Noon
Book Signing

Gospel Book Store

Admission: Free, call 330-893-2523 for more information.


Coastal_Fishes24 September 2014, 6:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing – Val Kells
“Art of the Sea: Illustrious Fishes”
Hosted by the Gibbes Museum of Art
The South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf
Charleston, SC

The Gibbes Museum of Art hosts this cocktail lecture with marine science illustrator Val Kells, whose work appears in A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes and other JHUP books. A longtime contributor to exhibit art at the South Carolina Aquarium, Kells leads guests on a behind-the-scenes tour focusing on the value of hand drawings in today’s digital world, and gives a presentation on her illustration process from research to final painting.

Admission: $30; $20 Gibbes Museum members; call 843-722-706.


20–27 September, 2014
JHUP Exhibit  American Ornithologists’ Union
Annual Meeting
Estes Park, CO

Information: AOU Annual Meeting


LOC Folklife logo

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress

25 September 2014, 12:30 pm
Book Talk & Signing  Felipe Hinojosa
Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture
Many Paths to Freedom Symposium
Sponsored by the American Folklife Center
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.

Admission: See the program schedule for more information.


BBF_logo26–28 September, 2014
Baltimore Book Festival

The Inner Harbor
Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins University Press and the George Peabody Library jointly host the JHU Press Book Sale along with talks, book signings, and special exhibits. Visit us at the 2014 Baltimore Book Festival in the beautiful Baltimore Visitor Center overlooking the Inner Harbor.

The JHU Press Book Sale takes place inside the Visitor Center throughout the Festival, with Press authors scheduled to meet the public and sign books throughout the weekend. The George Peabody Library will offer a special exhibit of archival books and materials related to Baltimore history, and members of the Special Collections staff will offer a Peabody Collections Spotlight each day.

Visitors Center

The JHU Press Book Sale will be held in the beautiful Baltimore Visitor Center when the Baltimore Book Festival moves to the Inner Harbor this year.

Presentations in the Visitors Center include book talks by JHU Press authors Gil Sandler, Fraser Smith, Mike Olesker, Rick Striner, Melissa Blair, Michael Wolfe, Charley Mitchell, and others. Each day will end with with performances by students from JHU’s Peabody Conservatory. The Visitor Center will remain open for business as usual during the Festival, welcoming visitors and showing a short film about Charm City every 20 minutes.

See the entire JHU Press/Peabody Library BBF schedule here.

The Ivy Bookshop will host two JHUP authors for talks in the Ivy tent on Rash Field at the Book Festival: Jeremy Greene discusses Generic on Saturday, September 27, at 1:00 pm; Charley Mitchell discusses Travels through American History in the Mid Atlantic: A Guide for All Ages on Saturday at 3:00 pm. See the Ivy’s BBF schedule here.

The Ivy Bookshop and JHU’s Sheridan Libraries co-host a talk by JHU’s Alice McDermott in the BBF Literary Salon on Saturday at 1:00 pm.

Admission: Free; visit the Baltimore Book Festival for more information.

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Filed under American History, Anabaptist & Pietist Studies, Baltimore, Book talks, History of Medicine, Press Events, Regional-Chesapeake Bay, The War of 1812, Washington