Soft Shell Crab

SERVES: 4

Inspired by Chef Robert Wysong of Colleton River Plantation


INGREDIENTS

4 soft shell blue crabs

all-purpose flour

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

peanut oil

Seafood spice

1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Blend all together

Remoulade Sauce

1 cup good mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish

1/2 tablespoon capers, finely minced

1/2 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, washed & minced

1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco


  1. Prepare crabs and dust with seasoned flour.  Carefully fry in heated oil, 325° until golden brown.
  2. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
  3. Season liberally with seafood spice mixture.  Split in half and arrange with lemon slices and whole leaf parsley for garnish.  Serve with remoulade on the side.

Editor-in-Chief Patricia Branning

South Carolina’s Lowcountry is a place of endless stories that rise up when least expected.  Your response to the Shrimp, Collards and Grits Series on our Lifestyle Book Series was one of those incredible, unexpected and amazing surprises. The series represents my love for this region, its people and culture, and evokes a sense of history and timelessness rooted in love and memory.  So much more than a playground for tourists, ours is a place that echoes on in the hearts of all who have experienced it.

 SCG Magazine will reflect this distinctive voice and presence, capturing the power of place; the style, character and enchantment of our coastal South. Whether you were born and raised here, or came later in life as a stranger, SCG Magazine will capture your heart and imagination with a hold that can never be broken.

If you want to fall head over heels in love with the coastal South, boil some peanuts, pour a tall glass of sweet tea, pull up a front porch rocker, grab your copy of SCG Magazine and relax while South Carolina’s finest writers spin bushels of stories and delve deep into Lowcountry lore while we serve up stunning art and photography.

Our beloved sea islands always inspire with waters that sparkle and enchant, cozy harbors, dunned beaches, inland secluded ponds, stately antebellum homes and a sun that shines brightly and often.  For this is a region steeped in history and folklore with magical powers that will keep you coming back for more.  But our seersucker suits, grits and gravy will not sustain the legacy of the South anymore than our beloved mint juleps.  To be relevant, we must contribute something of genuine importance to this nation.  May each issue with its collection of art, stories and photography give you a glimpse of life below the Mason Dixon line and help preserve this extraordinary region for the generations who come after us.

We acknowledge the full range of writers and people who contribute to the cultural collective that we seek to celebrate and explore.  We look not solely through the lens of elitism and wealth, but through the eyes of spirited lesser heralded men and women who fight battles every day to bring us the lifestyle we know and enjoy.

My heartfelt appreciation goes to the artists, writers and photographers, who warm the pages of this magazine with their masterful work and for all who share their love and cherished experiences and memories.When the romantic bubble bursts, I believe the real South will be left standing tall in the pages of great regional magazines like, SCG Magazine.

Spartina Grass

Photo by Marge Agin

“To describe our growing up in the low country of South Carolina, I would have to take you to the marsh on a spring day, flush the great blue heron from its silent occupation, scatter marsh hens as we sink to our knees in mud, open you an oyster with a pocketknife and feed it to you from the shell and say, “There. Taste that.  That’s the taste of my childhood.”  Pat Conroy

In my own backyard on Lady’s Island, I could catch a basket of blue crabs and a net full of shrimp just in time for lunch.  I love that all life begins in the marsh.  What could be better than a pot of Frogmore stew simmering by a saltwater creek with the aroma of pork sausage, mingling with freshly dug potatoes, ears of corn, blue crab and shrimp.

If you spend much time on the water in the Lowcountry, it’s easy to be transformed by the beauty of majestic salt marshes, muddy tidal flats, winding creeks, inviting barrier islands, and deep blue rivers. It all tempts us to immerse ourselves into this land and embrace it. Stand on the edge of a marsh and watch the sway of spartina grass in the wind. Lose yourself in the heart of the Lowcountry and the vibrant waterways that shape our ecosystem.

Did you know Spartina is the only plant that can grow while fully submerged in saltwater? It is native to our South Carolina Lowcountry and is also found all along the Atlantic coast from Canada to Argentina. We see it along our coastline or in tidal flats, defining the twists and turns of our creeks and rivers. It provides a thick barrier between the ocean and marsh edge while also acting as a natural filter to dilute the salty water from the ocean that is brought into estuaries. And it’s a food source for many other species, such as manatees.

Often this grass washes up onto beaches and makes its way into sand dunes helping support the dune foundation and providing vegetation for numerous beach animal life, including migrating shorebirds.

It plays a crucial role in the protection it provides for the shoreline, preventing the tides from eroding the bank. A salt marsh is “born” by the arrival of a seed or the rafting of cord grass. The grass spreads by means of a subterranean rhizome system. Its thick base and complex root system under the marsh floor allow it to extend anywhere from three to seven feet vertically, providing a strong barrier against water and wind.

It’s a thriving perennial and plays this important role while alive, and it continues its importance in the ecosystem after it dies, as well. You’ll see it in large clumps in the creeks and rivers of the Lowcountry mainly in the fall and winter months as the seasons change. Thick clumps of dead marsh grass float down the rivers and along muddy flats. Just be careful not to catch them in your boat’s propeller. These clumps of cord-grass are known as wracks and, when broken down by bacteria, organisms, and fish, they become small enough pieces for other animals to eat such as clams, oysters, mussels, snails, shrimp and crabs.

Explore it for yourself and watch as the tide recedes and fiddler crabs appear. Notice how the spartina grass gives support to their homes as they burrow and make their homes at its base. It’s not unusual to find a group of mussels or oysters clumped together at the foundations of the grass providing them a safe place to live. Watch the tides by the water’s edge, the ripples in the river, feel the warm breezes, and notice the great salt marsh changing with autumn’s chill from green to golden brown.

Black & Blue Oysters

Inspired by Chef Matthew Roher

Ingredients

2 dozen shucked fresh oysters

4 ounces small chunks of country ham scraps, chopped small

3 ounces blue cheese

1 tablespoon balsamic syrup (see note below)

4 ounces mild blackening seasoning

1 ounce all purpose flour

3 ounces heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter

thin cut scallions for garnish


  1. Arrange reserved oyster shells on plates. Combine flour and blackening seasoning. Drain oysters and lightly dredge in flour mixture and place on a plate.  Heat a skillet on medium heat for a full 3 to 4 minutes.  When all oysters are coated, drop butter into the hot skillet, then working quickly, sear oysters to develop a quick crust. Once seared, place oysters into their shells. If pan is hot enough, the oysters will sear in about 10 seconds.
  2. Once oysters are seared and returned to their shells, add ham to the pan and toss quickly.  When slightly crispy, remove ham and sprinkle on oysters.  Add heavy cream to the skillet and reduce to a thick bubble.  Drizzle over oysters, garnish with blue cheese, balsamic syrup and scallions just before serving.
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Artist Ray Ellis

From the time he was a young boy, Ray Ellis knew he wanted to be an artist. Painting became as essential to his life as drawing his next breath. Growing up in Philadelphia, Sunday afternoons were frequently spent visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Mr. Ellis describes himself as a painter on all seven continents and attributes his prolific nature to a dedicated work ethic. He attended the famed Philadelphia Museum School of Art, served four years in the Coast Guard during WWII, founded his own advertising agency in New Jersey and New York, but continued to paint in his spare time. It was not until 1969 that he was able to devote all his time to painting. Over more than 70 years that he’s been painting, he estimates that he has completed more than 6,000 works, including many that have been published in his 15 books.

Of great significance to Ellis were artists who were especially accomplished in watercolor — Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent and Ogden Pleissner. It was Winslow Homer, however, who exerted the greatest and most enduring impact on Ellis’ art in subject matter and style.

Never was retirement his goal, but to continue to paint for as long as he could hold a brush and have a sound mind. With so many compositions in his sketch book for future paintings, his greatest frustration was that he might not have time to finish them all. His biggest thrill was to start a new painting.

For three consecutive years beginning in 1998, Mr. Ellis was commissioned by the President to paint scenes of the White House to be reproduced as the official Christmas card.

He is represented in fine art galleries across the country and overseas. His works have been exhibited in U.S. Embassies in Geneva, Vienna and London, and are in the permanent collections of the White House, museums across the country and private collections worldwide.

A portion of the proceeds of this book will be donated to the Ray Ellis Foundation.

The Ray Ellis Foundation

The Ray Ellis Foundation, Inc. was founded in 1999. The mission of the foundation is to foster, encourage, aid and promote the visual arts and their appreciation by the public. Since its inception the foundation has provided scholarships to determined and talented high school students that intend to pursue a career in painting. It was important to Mr. Ellis to carry on the tradition of encouraging young people as he had been encouraged by teachers, mentors, and collectors. The Ray Ellis Foundation, Inc. is a 501(3)(c) not-for-profit corporation. Donations are tax deductible.

Visit www.rayellis.com for more information on the foundation and artwork.

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