Last summer my husband and I took a trip to Tangier Island, Virginia ~ a small historic island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, 12 miles off shore and accessible only by boat or small airplane. So why am I writing about a summer trip now, in the Fall? Because I think this corn pudding dish we discovered while there is a perfect Thanksgiving side! With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I figured now was a great time to share this find.
But before we get to the scrumptious corn pudding, let me tell you a little about this unique and interesting island.
To be honest, Mark was immediately comfortable on Tangier, but I was a bit apprehensive at first. It took me a couple of days to settle into the island way. But Tangier certainly grew on me. It's not easy to describe the island, it's people, the Tangier way of life, or exactly why we loved it. And I'm sure I won't even come close to doing it justice. But here are a few snippets of Tangier life to give a tiny glimpse into this unique place.
Water & Quiet:
I think these pictures speak for themselves!
|The beach ... in JULY!! If you want a private beach, here you go.|
There's an airport on the island, accessible for small aircraft - it's quiet, too. Have you ever walked to the beach on an airstrip? Well, Mark and I have! That's how quiet the airport is. You simply need just look up in the sky before embarking on your walk to the beach. All clear? Then go ahead!
|Our feet on the airstrip, walking back from the beach|
Crabbing is the way of life on Tangier. In fact, Tangier is referred to as the soft shell crab capital of the world. I had crab in some form or another for every meal while we were on Tangier. I love crab, and could eat it every day. I swear I could.
Thanks to Ooker, a local waterman and mayor of Tangier, we had the pleasure of visiting a crab shack and learning about the soft shell crabbing industry. From what I could tell, being a waterman is tough work, but also a tradition and labor of love for the residents of Tangier.
During the summer, a couple of ferry boats come to the island each day, allowing passengers to explore the island. The tiny streets would bustle with activity for a few hours each mid-day while these short-time guests visited the island offerings.
|Ferry coming in|
Golf carts (one of the island's modes of transportation) would buzz visitors around ...
... and then the visitors would board back on their ferry boats and the streets would return to their 'normal' quiet.
One of the most intriguing experiences on Tangier Island was hearing the unusual accent of the residents. Because of centuries of relative isolation, the islanders still speak in a unique island way that is similar to the speech spoken when Tangier was settled in 1686. The accent is still strong enough that some people are not able to understand everything that is said. I was one of these people. After several days on Tangier I was getting much better at conversing with the residents, but I admit that I had to concentrate. Many videos and documentaries have been made about the island, highlighting the unique island dialect, if you'd like to learn more. I've included one brief video here - an ESPN commercial filmed on the island (this, and a couple of others, were actually filmed the week after we left the island) - so you can hear a bit of the dialect.
Hilda Crockett's Chesapeake House:
And, finally, let's talk about Hilda Crockett's Chesapeake House, one of the three inns on the island, and the only inn also serving lunch and dinner. Family-style. With lots of food. Yummy home-cooking kinda food.
John Crockett settled Tangier island in 1686. Many of the inhabitants still have the surname Crockett - and I can only assume Hilda Crockett was descended from the island founder. Hilda Crockett's Chesapeake House was started in 1939 by Hilda herself, and is now run by Denny and Glenna Crockett.
Thankfully, Hilda Crockett's Chesapeake House is willing to share it's recipes. And, as you know if you're a frequent reader of this blog, I am a totally-obsessed recipe collector! So, naturally, I gathered all the recipes I could while visiting Tangier. I've made many of the dishes I learned about during our visit, and Hilda Crockett's Corn Pudding is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it's smooth-and-creamy, sweet-and-tasty deliciousness as much as I do! Thank you to Hilda and her family for graciously sharing her wonderfully scrumptious recipe.
(Visit Wikipedia to read more about Tangier Island.)
Source: Adapted from Hilda Crockett's Chesapeake House, Tangier Island, Virginia
3 T. cornstarch
3/4 c. sugar
1 (14.75 oz.) can cream style corn
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. butter, cut into small pieces
1. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch and sugar with a whisk. Add eggs and beat well. Add corn and evaporated milk; mix well.
2. Pour into a greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Dot with butter pieces.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour, until set and golden brown.