June 2016
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

Beach Vacation? Don't Forget Your Net and Bucket!

R.J. Rhodes, author’s father, is harvesting scallops on foot without swimming or snorkeling.  

June is scallop season for our coastal neighbors.

Rolley Len and Cason have long had a fascination with cooking shows on television. Rolley Len never took a second look at a TV until one day she spotted Rachel Ray on the screen. The colorful kitchen and storytelling had her hooked. Cason might not have become interested in cooking if it wasn’t for Helen Cavallo’s quick, healthy eating "That’s Fresh!" segments interjected between his nighttime cartoons. He would be almost asleep (I thought) and he would holler through the house for me to come watch Cavallo make chocolate mousse out of avocados.

Over the last year, Rolley Len and Cason have become more and more intrigued by the cooking competitions on TV. They watch the contestants closely to see what recipes the chefs come up with, how each overcomes obstacles in the kitchen and who the kids think will be cut next.

There are a lot of great reasons for your children to watch any of these shows. First, they encourage your children to try familiar ingredients in new creative ways or to try new foods to encourage variety. They also learn about nutrition and balancing their plates and diets. Children will develop a curiosity about food and cooking that can awaken a desire to learn more about science, nature and art because cooking has all of these components.

Rolley Len and Cason are very competitive, so it was just a matter of time before they started their own foodie competitions at home. Cason has been especially aware of elevating his personal fruit salad recipe. Each time he makes it, he adds or takes away an ingredient or adjusts the amounts. He constantly reminds me that when he goes on "Chopped Junior," he will be making this special salad.

Over Christmas break this past year, the kids competed in a home-style version of "Chopped Junior" at my parents’ house. Each of them made a fruit, pudding and cake-filled trifle to be taste-tested by their Nana and Pawpaw. All the ingredients were laid out, instructions were given, the timer was set and they started working diligently on their creations. So far I have been lucky the kids mostly want to create desserts or fruit salads, but I am sure it won’t be long before they move on to side dishes and entrees.

One night, Cason and I were watching one of the shows together and the main ingredient for the challenge was scallops. He perked up and started talking about what ingredients they chose from the pantry shelves and how they were preparing the scallops. I just knew he was going to ask me to bring some home for him to cook. To my relief, he fell asleep before placing his order for seafood.

Not long after that my parents came to visit and we were talking about the children cooking more often. I mentioned the scallops and to my surprise my dad said it was almost scallop season in Florida. The season starts in June and the harvest zone is along the Gulf Coast, including destinations such as Port St. Joe. My father said you just need a net, a bucket and, if you want, snorkeling gear. For the cost of a fishing license and a few supplies, we could easily and inexpensively bring home our own scallops for our next meal instead of paying up to $15 or more at a market.

On our next trip to the beach, I will be taking Rolley Len and Cason scalloping with my parents. They already love to fish so I can only imagine how excited they will be gathering scallops from the sea. We will also have to have our own seafood-themed "Chopped Junior" while we are there. I can’t wait to see what they come up with all on their own.

There are rules and regulations. If you and your family decide to try scalloping, be sure to check the website myfwc.com/research/saltwater/mollusc/bay-scallops/season/ or ask your local wildlife authorities. Also, the red tide last fall may have affected scallop breeding season negatively enough to change the dates and weight limits for the 2016 harvest season.

Here are some easy recipes that even your kids can make with a little help.

SCALLOPS AU GRATIN

½ pound sea scallops
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, finely minced (can be jarred)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Lightly grease a 1-quart baking dish. Place scallops in dish. In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs, butter, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Crumble mixture over scallops. Bake at 425° for about 15 minutes or until scallops are opaque and crumble is golden.

  Easy Seared Scallops

EASY SEARED SCALLOPS

Scallops, cut into small pieces
Kerry garlic
Herb butter
Lemon

In a large skillet, sear scallops with garlic and herb butter. Squeeze lemon on top after they are done.

SEARED SCALLOPS

1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
4 large scallops
Parsley, chopped, to taste
Basil, chopped, to taste
1 small shallot or onion, chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons milk (not skim)
Lemon, to taste

In a large thick skillet, put olive oil and butter. Heat on medium-high. Salt scallops and cut them into quarters, unless they are very small. When butter melts, put scallops in pan and sear until the sides are golden brown. Add parsley, basil and onions as desired. Lower heat to medium. Cover for a minute and allow to cook. Remove from pan and turn off burner. In pan with scallops, stir in heavy cream and milk. Heat on medium-low and cover for a minute. Squeeze lemon on top after serving.