Photography by Melissa Grimes-Guy
“There are days when I pause and think to myself, ‘there is not another woman in the civilized world doing what I am right now,’” Vicky Mullaney says when asked to describe a typical day. “Of course, when I have these thoughts, I’m usually dressed in camouflaged waders either brushing blinds, power-washing oysters, driving tractors, working in impoundments, or herding baby mallards back to their salt pond.”
As chef and lodge manager at The Lodge at Black Pearl on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Mullaney’s day-to-day life entails a myriad of tasks associated with owning and running a renowned destination for waterfowl hunting and fine dining. A hunter and fisherwoman herself, Mullaney spends at least half of her time outside, either working or engaged in the sporting life.
“We enjoy our leisure time living on the Chesapeake boating, fishing, hunting, and watching the incredible amount of wildlife outside our windows,” she says of the off-duty time she spends with her husband, who hunted on Black Pearl Farms every season for 18 years before the couple purchased it from a friend 8 years ago and moved there from Albemarle county in Virginia with their 5 children.
It seems almost inevitable that Mullaney would end up cooking professionally at a hunting lodge. A native of the Virginia countryside, she could bait a hook, cast a rod, and watch a bobber before she started kindergarten thanks to her father, an avid fisherman. Later, she learned to hunt after marrying an outdoorsman. Cooking for a large family, attending classes by local chefs, poring over cookbooks, and plenty of practice contributed to her culinary background. In addition, “If you shoot it, you eat it” is a family rule (her children all learned how to duck hunt from their father), and what’s in season drives what goes on the plate.
Mullaney says her culinary philosophy revolves around her family philosophy, which includes the notion that mealtimes play an integral part in raising strong children and building great friendships. “Cooking for those we love is an act of love. The kids understand that. Your friends appreciate that,” Mullaney says.
In a homecoming of sorts, Mullaney will conduct a cooking demonstration and discussion at The Happy Cook in Charlottesville, Virginia, on September 26, during which she’ll make recipes from The Lodge at Black Pearl Cookbook, a comprehensive compilation of dishes and wisdom derived from her years of living and cooking along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. In anticipation of the event, she shared her recipe for Country Crab Soup with us. Read on for the recipe and information on how to register for her upcoming event.
Photography by Megan S. Mullaney
Country Crab Soup
“Maryland law allows property owners to set out two crab pots per dock. With three docks along the Black Pearl shoreline, we certainly catch enough crabs to feed our clan and more. The farmers on the Eastern Shore grow delicious corn, and its harvest usually coincides with that of plentiful blue crabs.” —Vicky Mullaney, The Lodge at Black Pearl Cookbook
Serves 8 to 10
- 5 quarts water
- 2 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes
- 2 Knorr beef bouillon cubes
- 3 cups canned stewed tomatoes
- 1⁄4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1⁄2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 11⁄2 cups sliced carrots
- 11⁄2 cups thinly sliced celery
- 11⁄2 cups white corn, fresh or frozen
- 11⁄2 cups green beans, fresh or frozen
- 3⁄4 cup chopped cabbage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cups cubed red potatoes
- 2 pounds jumbo lump crabmeat, any shells removed
- Salt and pepper
Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the bouillon cubes and stir to dissolve. Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire, Old Bay, hot sauce, and bay leaves, stirring to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add all vegetables except the potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to cook until tender. Add the crabmeat and heat thoroughly. Stir gently to avoid breaking up the lumps of crabmeat. Season with salt and pepper.
Event details: Location: The Happy Cook, 1107 Emmet Street North (located in Barracks Road Shopping Center). Date and time: Tuesday, September 26th, 6 – 8 p.m. To pre-register: Call 434.977.2665. This event is free and open to the public.