Category Archives: Seafood Traditions

Nutrition Leaders: Vera Gaskins

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Marrying a weekend angler in 1961 brought Vera Gaskins abruptly, but willingly, into the world of cooking seafood. A New Bern native, her husband, Walter, grew up by the water and fished every chance he got. He once even made the local paper Down East for reeling in two tarpon one year, as well as king mackerels and trout, his favorite.

gaskins_vera

Vera Gaskins
Photo by Scott Taylor

“He loves the sport and I have always tried to use his catches to feed our family,” says Gaskins, a native of Alabama. Her sister-in-law passed along a few tips on frying oysters and fish, but for years Gaskins relied solely on the book The Art of Fish Cookery by Milo Miloradorvich for help and ideas. When she and her family moved to Carteret County in 1978, she came across a copy of Seafood Cookery, published by the Carteret County Home Extension office. “These two books were my only sources until I agreed to represent our local homemaker club as a Nutrition Leader” in 1982.

Before then, Gaskins fried 90 percent of the seafood she cooked. Now she bakes, grills, microwaves, stews, steams and fries. “I’m not afraid to experiment and alter recipes, and I no longer shy away from cooking seafood for a crowd — or opening freshly caught bay scallops and clams.”

Being a Nutrition Leader taught the former Emerald Isle mayor other valuable cooking lessons, too. Like keeping fish refrigerated before time to cook; pulling small bones out of fillets with pliers before cooking; baking fish only until it flakes; and using glass or non-metallic cookware for seafood. She notes she uses a lot less oil these days, too.

Find out more about Vera Gaskins and her fellow Nutrition Leaders in Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of  Fresh Seafood Ideas. It is available from North Carolina Sea Grant by calling 919/515-9101 or 252/222-6307, from your local bookstore, or from UNC Press.

From: Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas

Contributed by Joyce Taylor

Seafood Nutrition Leaders: Judy Blessing

seafood traditions

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Judy Blessing Photo by Scott Taylor

Judy Blessing
Photo by Scott Taylor

Cod and canned tuna were about the only fish dishes on Judy Blessing’s menus before moving South. “Being from a Catholic family, I can remember eating fish every Friday,” recalls the Athol, Mass., native. “We only had cod with tartar sauce or tuna casserole. Nothing fancy.” Plus, she wasn’t allowed in the kitchen, either, except to do the dishes.

All that changed when she married her husband, Frank, in 1977, and moved on board a 32-foot sailboat dubbed “Moon Mist.” For six years, the newlyweds toured the world, sailing to the Caribbean, Ireland, England, the Mediterranean and finally the South. In 1983, they docked their boat in Beaufort, becoming the first to tie up at the new downtown dock. They started a farm and settled into the county where they knew they could farm and fish.

Find out more about Judy Blessing and her fellow Nutrition Leaders in Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of  Fresh Seafood Ideas. It is available from North Carolina Sea Grant by calling 919/515-9101 or 252/222-6307, from your local bookstore, or from UNC Press.

From: Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas

Contributed by Joyce Taylor