Category Archives: Seafood Traditions

Nutrition Leaders: Dorothy “Dot” Whitley-Overton

seafood traditions

Dorothy “Dot” Whitley-Overton
Photo by Scott Taylor

“Daddy was a fishing and hunting man,” recalls Dorothy “Dot” Whitley-Overton. “Mother canned fish and anything else that we could use. My bedroom looked like a grocery store” with Mason jars full of meats, fish, beans, potatoes and other vegetables from the family farm lining her shelves. “I was 16 before I knew what a hamburger was. Back then life was hard and you had to eat what you had.”

But life near Havelock was good. As the oldest of five children, Whitley-Overton learned to cook by her mother’s and grandmother’s side without benefit of measuring utensils or temperature gauges. “Cooking on a wood stove? What was 350 F?” she asks. “Somehow you learned. We never were hungry.”

Find out more about Dorothy “Dot” Whitley-Overton and her fellow Nutrition Leaders in Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas. It is available from North Carolina Sea Grant, from your local bookstore, or from UNC Press.

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

Contributed by Joyce Taylor

Nutrition Leaders: Valaree Stanley

seafood traditions

Valaree Stanley. Photo by Scott Taylor

Valaree Stanley 
Photo by Scott Taylor

Yes, Valaree Stanley knows seafood, after growing up on the Newport River and cooking the catch for more than 80 years in Carteret County. But she knows what tastes good after a hearty seafood meal too. Cake.

The baby of 13 children, Stanley got her start in the kitchen at about age 7 or 8 by watching her mother and older sisters, especially Alice. Alice loved to bake cakes from scratch, even making her own butter, and to sell them at the Morehead City curb market, which opened in 1935.

“Some weeks we sold as many as 125 cakes,” Stanley recalls. Cottagers and locals alike clamored each week for their cakes – chocolate, lemon, jelly, coconut, pineapple, German chocolate, devil’s food with white caramel icing and more. Stanley and her sister, who became known as “The Cake Lady in Carteret County,” sold their mouth-watering goods at the market for almost 60 years, until Alice was in her nineties. “I got three children through college with money making cakes,” Stanley notes.

Note: Stanley passed away on Nov. 18, 2011. Read her obituary here.

Find out more about Valaree Stanley 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.

taylor_mariners

 

 

 

 

 

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

Contributed by Joyce Taylor

 

Nutrition Leaders: Mary Dudley Price

seafood traditions

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Mary Dudley Price Photo by Scott Taylor

Mary Dudley Price
Photo by Scott Taylor

The seafood Mary Dudley Price remembers from her childhood in Tarboro and Raleigh came in cans or was salt-preserved. “Only oysters could be had fresh, and they were ladled out from large tins into quart and pint cardboard containers such as were used later to haul goldfish home from the store,” says Price. Every now and then when her family got hungry for oyster soup, she and her sister, Josephine, would head from their Oakwood home down New Bern Avenue in Raleigh to a little “mom-and-pop” grocery for the fresh, juicy shellfish.

Her mother used the canned salmon for croquettes during the winter. And the salted fish (mostly mackerel, cod or herring) was soaked overnight and broiled in milk for family breakfasts. Too, “Mother often made fish cakes by combining canned fish with mashed potatoes.”

Note: Price passed away on Oct. 22, 2010, aged 95. Read her obituary here.

Find out more about Mary Dudley Price 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.

taylor_mariners

 

 

 

 

 

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

Contributed by Joyce Taylor

 

Nutrition Leaders: Betty Motes

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Betty Motes Photo by Scott Taylor

Betty Motes
Photo by Scott Taylor

A love of food and family run so deep in Betty Motes’ life that no line can divide them. Like many coastal North Carolina families, Motes’ mother and father farmed and fished, grew vegetables, and raised hogs and chickens to make a living.

“I grew up an only child in a home where good food was a way of showing love,” Motes says. “I didn’t learn to cook while growing up because the kitchen was my mother’s sanctuary.” But she watched, carefully, and learned the ways of the farm and food.

“My mother cooked fish at least once or twice a week, but they were always fried except for a baked flounder with bacon, potatoes and onions once in awhile,” she recalls. “We went clamming in the summer and bought oysters in the winter. We caught our own hard crabs in the summer. … My daddy loved soft crabs.

“We also canned fish roe, which we ate with eggs from our own chickens, for breakfast. My daddy went down to the menhaden fish boats in Beaufort and broke the fish to get the roe. Many in Carteret County did this.”

Find out more about Betty Motes 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

Nutrition Leaders: Lissie McNamee

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Living on the coast has its advantages.

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Lissie McNamee
Photo by Scott Taylor

“I have my own gill net – 50 feet long – three crab pots and a rowboat,” says Lissie McNamee of Merrimon. “It’s just enough for me to go out there and catch a few mullet when I can on Cedar Creek off the Intercoastal Waterway. I do it right from my yard.”

She can dip her crab pots off the pier jutting from her house, too, for a few fresh blue crabs for dinner. “If you’ve got it right there in your front yard, you might as well learn how to harvest it,” she says.

McNamee has learned more than how to catch a crab in her 20-year tenure with the Nutrition Leaders. Before joining the group, McNamee had never cleaned a crab or filleted a fish. “I really only knew frying,” she recalls.

She grew up on a farm near Wilson’s Mills, the sixth of seven children, and learned basic cooking skills helping out in the kitchen.

“We had lots of vegetables. We grew our own,” she says. “And we raised our own beef and pork. Plus we had sheep, chickens and goats.”

Then in 1963 she had the good fortune to marry a man who caught, cleaned and cooked his own catch. For 16 years, her husband, Wayne, a commercial fisherman, brought home fresh snapper, shark, grouper and the likes straight from the sea.

Joining the Nutrition Leaders in the late 1980s taught McNamee even more ways to prepare their fresh-caught fare. Plus she learned how seafood helps fight fat.

Find out more about Lissie McNamee 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

 

Nutrition Leaders: Anne Lawton

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Anne Lawton
Photo by Scott Taylor

When it comes to creating things, Anne Lawton’s hands could work magic. Whether working behind a kitchen counter or a craft table, Lawton could turn a few scraps of cloth into a pretty quilt or a handful of ingredients into a mouth-watering dish.

“She was an excellent cook, no matter what she made,” says her daughter, Anne Lawton of Morehead City. “She made a rice pilaf that you just made a pig out of yourself eating.” It wasn’t unusual to go back four or five times for “seconds” of her mom’s sumptuous shrimp, rice and bacon dish. Then there were the crab cakes and fruitcake, too.

“She had this big metal tin that she mixed the fruitcake in,” her daughter recalls. “I can just see her elbow-deep in the batter, stirring it with her hands.” Those fruitcakes tasted unlike any you could buy.

One of five children to grow up on a farm outside Summerville, S.C., Anne Smith married Elmore Lawton, an Army man, in 1939. The couple moved from station to station in Louisiana, California, Virginia, Austria, Japan and Pennsylvania, and raised five children before retiring to Carteret County in 1968.

Find out more about Anne Lawton 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

Nutrition Leaders: Kay Holm

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Kay Holm Photo by Scott Taylor

Kay Holm
Photo by Scott Taylor

Squid. That was the first seafood ingredient Kay Holm was introduced to as the newest Nutrition Leader one day at the Seafood Lab in the early 1980s. “I looked at it and thought, ooooooh. But it was darned good!” says the long-time Merrimon resident. “We cleaned them. We fried them. Those things were buggers. But they were very, very good.” The group even served the recipe at Carteret County’s Strange Seafood Festival the following year, and she remembers people coming back for seconds.

In almost 20 years with Taylor and the Nutrition Leaders, Holm has learned a lot more, too, about other species, ways to cook seafood, herb and spice use, and entertaining with seafood.

“I learned a great deal about cooking fish,” she says. “I can look at a fish that comes out of the sea and say, ‘I think I know what I can do with it.’ ”

Find out more about Kay Holm 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