Food writer Elena Rosemond-Hoerr isn't afraid to throw a few extra vegetables in her seafood boil.
lowcountry bowl
Credit: Elena Rosemond-Hoerr

Recently, my husband and I had the pleasure of spending time at our family house in Morehead City, North Carolina with my some of my immediate family. This was our first family vacation with two toddlers, and the week was the most wonderful combination of big adventures (like a day spent taking the boat up to Cape Lookout) and quiet family moments (like letting the kids splash in a baby pool on the back porch).

The house was built in the 1950's by the Hillsborough Volunteer Fire Department as a seaside retreat and was quickly co-opted by wives and children so it became less poker lodge and more family getaway. My great-uncle and great-grandfather were two of the firemen, and the house remains shared by their descendants. These days, my parents live just across the marsh from the house, which means that we are able to spend a good amount of time on Calico Creek, something that is undoubtably good for my soul.

We mostly cooked at home that week, grilling steaks, frying grouper bites, and making pesto pasta with the basil and garlic from my brother's garden. We kept it simple, enjoying good meals around the big table that has been the platform of generations of family dinners. One evening, after a day spent on Shackleford Banks, we pulled all the chairs onto the front porch and feasted on a seafood boil. With the marsh lapping the side of the bank at high tide, we ate corn, sausage, shrimp, clams, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, potatoes, and mushrooms all cooked together in a big pot with lots of hot sauce.

WATCH: How to Make Shrimp Boil Pasta

A seafood boil, also known as Frogmore Stew, a lowcountry boil, or just a boil, can consist of whatever you have on hand. Corn, potatoes, shrimp, and sausage are staples, but the addition of everything from broccoli to crab can make for a delicious boil. The real trick is lining the table with newspaper, pouring out the boil in the middle and sitting together as you pick through the food. That's the real fun of it.

Elena Rosemond-Hoerr is a Southern food writer, photographer, and cookbook author based in Wilmington, North Carolina.