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Archive for April, 2012

Wild Pigs on Edisto Island

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

It’s been more than 500 years since the Spanish first came to Lowcountry and South Carolina is still trying to take care of one big problem they left behind.

This problem lies in the fact that way back in the 1500s the Spaniards released wild pigs in the coastal areas of the state and descendants of those pigs are still around today.

Granted I’ve spent a lifetime on Edisto and have only seen a wild pig once, but they’re out there. The one that I saw was standing on the banks of the marsh opposite of Pine Island. The pig was large and muddy and looked out of place in an area where it is more common to see herons standing, but it was a good reminder that wild pigs are yet another animal that call Edisto home.

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, pigs can be found in all 46 counties in the state. They pose a problem because they are not native to the land (in spite of being around for centuries) and so they compete with native animals for food. They also eat just about anything and are blamed for uprooting lawns and crops.

In addition to their bad behavior on lawns and crops, they carry disease, which poses a risk to the other wildlife in the area.

It’s legal to hunt the pigs on private property all year long, but according to SCDNR experts that doesn’t help control the population because they breed at such a rapid rate.

One predator in the area that helps control the pig population a little is the American alligator. Some Edisto locals who spend hours fishing in the creeks have said that they have witnessed these wild pigs try and cross a creek only to find themselves taken down by an awaiting alligator hungry for a ham dinner.

Although it’s pretty rare to see a wild pig on Edisto, they are out there. Keep an eye out for them the next time you find yourself traveling through the creeks check to see if one pops its face up out of the marsh grass. It’s definitely a sight to remember.

Celebrate Easter Weekend at the Serpentarium

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Forget that fabled bunny that takes over this time of year. Nothing says Easter like alligators and snakes.

The Edisto Island Serpentarium, located at 1374 Highway 174, will open for Easter weekend beginning today. The educational snake programs and alligator feedings will take place throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 5-7.

Anyone unfamiliar with the Serpentarium should definitely take the time to visit the center while on Edisto. It provides a safe place for visitors to experience Edisto’s most slithery residents like alligators, turtles, snakes, and lizards.

The alligators are the stars of the Serpentarium. Two ponds at the center feature 19 adult American alligators. Three of the biggest guys are more than 10 feet long and go by the names Big George, Trouble and Sampson. Sometimes these gators get into the spirit of Edisto and do nothing more than lounge around in the sun-warmed plough mud, but other times they like to get a little feisty. One of the gators has been known to snap his jaws in the direction of visitors just to give them a good show.

Smaller gators can be found in another pond on the premises. Only two gators swim in the pond known as Alligator Alley. The rest of the gators are babies and state indoors.

This time of year is the beginning of the mating season for alligators. By June, nests will be laid on the banks of the ponds on the grounds.

Snakes are another big hit at the Serpentarium. Guests will get the chance to see both venomous and non-venomous snakes in their habitats. The Serpentarium is one of the only places in the south where people get a chance to view cottonmouths, copperheads and rattlesnakes without fear of being bitten.

Snakes and lizards also call the Serpentarium home. Lizards crawl about the grounds and spend their days swimming, climbing, and snacking.

Admission to the Serpentarium is $12.95 for adults, $11.95 for seniors, $9.95 for children, $6.95 for children ages four and five, and free for children three and under.

Call 843-869-1171 for more information.

Experiencing Edisto

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

It’s easy to forget that there’s more to Edisto Island than just the beach. After all, the beach is the biggest draw for everyone from locals to vacationers. But after spending some time on the island, it’s easy to remember why the island of Edisto itself is just as amazing.

I spent some time recently on a dock just looking out over one of Edisto’s creeks. The dock extended probably 50 feet out over the marsh and water and offered 360 degree views of all of what the island has to offer.

While sitting on the dock I witnessed a snowy white egret catch its dinner, countless pelicans fly over, small turtles poke their heads up from beneath the surface of the water, and felt the warm spring breeze offered by the afternoon. The family I was visiting said that from time to time they see alligators sunbathing in the marsh near the dock, but there weren’t any present the day I was there. However, even when the alligators do come around, it’s fascinating to see them in their own habitat.

This dock over the marsh reminded me of all the many times I’ve dropped a crab trap in the water and pulled it up later to see it brimming with crabs. I’m sure the crabs weren’t too thrilled to be turned into dinner, but there are few things better than eating fresh crab legs right out of Edisto’s waters.

It also reminded me of all the times I’ve explored the creeks either on a boat or kayak. Boating through the creeks gives you the chance to see parts of Edisto that just can’t be experienced otherwise. For instance, it’s one thing to see the dolphins in the area swim together in their pods while standing on the shore, but when you’re in a boat, it’s like you get to travel along with them.

The island itself always surprises people with how big it actually is. There are roads leading to pockets of houses situated in the abundant pine trees or off to solitary trailers tucked away from everything. The majority of Edisto’s locals live on the island, not in the town of Edisto Beach, so it’s fair to say that the island is what many people call home.

To explore the island, turn off onto any of the side streets that run along Highway 174 and drive around. There are numerous old plantations, cemeteries, and ruins from the past that can be seen on a self-guided driving tour. It’s common to see deer and other wildlife walking around without a care in the world. You might also come across someone boiling peanuts in a pot in their yard or weaving some sweet grass baskets.

It’s pretty difficult to get lost on Edisto, so don’t worry about using a map to get around. Just get out and explore the island and when you make your way back to Highway 174 you’ll be able to find your way home.

After soaking up the island life, you’ll definitely get a new appreciation of how lucky all of us are to be able to experience life on Edisto Island.

 

An Edisto Recipe: Chicken Under a Brick

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

A Southern chef is a gift to the palate. An Edisto chef is an even greater gift.

Miles Dean, former chef here on Edisto, agreed to share some of his most favorite southern recipes with us so that no matter where you are, you can eat like you’re vacationing here at the beach.

This recipe of his, Chicken Under a Brick, doesn’t have a fancy name, but that doesn’t take away from its tastiness.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A charcoal grill (gas works, just not as well)

Grilling items like tongs, towels, maybe a beer

Brick

Aluminum Foil

Full chicken

Garlic cloves

Butter

Vegetable oil

Red pepper flakes

Cayenne Pepper

Sirachi hot sauce

Bacon

Seafood Magic or Montreal Chicken Seasoning

1 Orange, Lemon, or Lime

 

To begin, wash the brick and dry it. Wrap the brick in foil. Then take the chicken and use kitchen shears or a very sharp knife and split the chicken along the breastbone to make it flat. This makes it cook more easily and evenly.

After the chicken is split, take 10 cloves of garlic and chop it into fine pieces.

Melt a stick of butter in a pan on the stove and add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to the mix to increase the burning temperature of the butter. Once hot, add the garlic to the butter and let it almost get to the point of being sautéed. Then, add in a pinch of red pepper flakes, teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and two to three tablespoons of Sirachi hot sauce.

Remove the concoction from the heat.

Go back to the chicken and stab it with a knife liberally. This will make it absorb the flavor better. Put the chicken in a bowl then and add the mixture to it and massage the meat – remember, the more massaging you do, the better it will taste.

Place the chicken and its mixture into the fridge so that the buttery garlic mix can settle and the meat can absorb the flavor.

If you’re using a charcoal grill, set it up so that one side is very hot and the other side has a good medium heat. The hot side will be used to sear the chicken, the medium heat side will be used to finish the cooking without getting the chicken too charred (remember that some charring is good and will add to the crispy, crunchy skin).

If you’re using a gas grill, turn the heat all the way up and let it preheat.

Now take a piece of bacon, fold it up, and hold it with a pair of tongs. Then use it to oil the grates of the grill.

Take the chicken out of the fridge and sprinkle it with Montreal Chicken Seasoning or for extra spice add Seafood Magic.

Put the chicken on the hot side of the grill, skin side down and place the tin foil wrapped brick (which should also be coated in bacon juice) on top of the chicken.

The chicken will pop, sizzle, flare, and smoke, but do not remove it from the heat. Keep it on the burner for 3-5 minutes and then turn it over and grill the other side.

When both sides are finishing searing, move the chicken to the medium side to finish cooking.

After the chicken is cooked, squeeze a fresh orange, lemon, or lime on top just before serving for an extra zing.

Serve with a side dish of your choosing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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