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My family — most of it that is — gathered for brunch this morning at Eola Hills Winery in Polk County west of Salem to celebrate my younger sister’s birthday. Not only was it a lovely setting, but the brunch was wonderful with a large spread of scrumptious food. Since we all are busy and live in different areas, it is often around birthdays and holidays when we can find time to stop down and get together.

In fact, collective outings have always been part of my family’s “culture.” I was thinking about that this afternoon as I sliced and diced and put together a salad from http://www.skinnytaste.com, because it includes crab. And as a child, going crabbing for Dungeness on the Oregon Coast was something our family did. We never went out in a boat, in those days you could crab pretty successfully from the dock. Dad would wire smelly fish pieces into the crab rings, tie the rings to the dock rails and then toss them into the bay. We three kids would eagerly go from ring to ring, anticipating the moment when dad said they were ready to hoist up. And then we’d hold our breath waiting to see if there were crabs in the ring or not….and then if they were the right gender and size.

Sometimes my aunt and uncle would go too, sometimes my grandma and grandpa, which somehow made it all even more fun. Once we caught so many crabs (12 per person) that we went home and cooked them (in pots outside, mom didn’t like the kitchen/house to smell like a seafood cannery) and then sat at newspaper-lined picnic tables and picked the meat from the crabs, which later became yummy cocktails and Crab Louie salads. Much like anything else, there’s nothing like that super fresh crab just pulled from the ocean only hours before.

Even though I did not have the luxury of such crab today, I thought this recipe looked so appealing that I snagged a can of lump crab from Trader Joe’s, along with some amazingly sweet Sugar Plum tomatoes and put together this salad that just shouts “summer.” Here’s the link to the recipe (I didn’t change a thing) and it is indeed fabulous. Just try not to eat the whole thing at once.  http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/08/summer-tomatoes-corn-crab-and-avocado.html