THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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The Best Crabcakes

The Best Crabcakes – All of them. No really, I setting out this year (2019) on the hunt for best crabcakes. For I’m blessed to live in the great state of Maryland and if this state gets anything right, its crabs. The tastiest critters and the best spices in the WORLD. OK I might be biased a bit there, but I’d run it up the flagpole against anything, if food orgasms are the measure.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I love those tasty crustaceans, prepared in many ways, but the crabcake is something that’s special. Yeah I like to pick crabs. Yeah I like stuffed shrimp and crab imperial. I love crushed crabcake over rockfish.

Actually in all truth, this is a post I started last year and found in my drafts folder. We will call that background effort to this years event. I did do some extensive research and it paid off handsomely. THEY TASTED GREAT. I learned of some new and serious contenders. I sampled some old favorites. I just got lost in eating them. My apologies. This year I’ll do better.

Really few things will get Marylander’s riled up like arguing about the best crabcake. Hell just look at the confusion the word itself creates. Is it spelled “Crabcake” or “Crab Cake” or Crab-Cake”. Or maybe with the Eastern shore drawl  “CwabcAke”. Or if you’re at a fancy restaurant where eating a crabcake isn’t as comfortable because you’re in cloths you wear once or twice a year. And the waiter says you can get one crabcake if preferred in for the crabcake dinner and it takes all your strength not to get up and slap him silly and say “do I look like someone who eats only one crabcake, do I?”

The Wonderful thing about THE Best Crabcake is that they can be found in so many places. Part of that is personal preferences of the consumer. Some like fried, others broiled. Some like a little moist and some a bit dry. Some get mad at any filler to speak of, some prefer a plumper cake like. Some have to have a HUGE crabcake and others the more traditional size.

Some crabcakes just taste better looking out over the waters of the bay. Some are best with that lump backfin you brought home from the beach to make your “SPECIAL” crabcakes for your better half. Some are best while sitting on wooden tables and benches at some local joint that is a hidden secret. Some of course can be found in your finer dining establishments but are never as fun to eat there because I don’t feel comfortable uttering even in a low voice “this is the best F’ing crabcake in the world” so those places will never get my number one vote.

I’m going to enlist a few friends also in this adventure. I will make note at the time of year and as much positive things I can find to say about them. I’ll also be adding evaluations of Cream of Crab soup which is a long time favorite of mine and anything else they throw in. Please NOTE. these friends are “Professionals” Lifelong Maryland residents and some raised crabbing on the bay at their parents home. The kind of place you walked into that had multiple steamer pots, BIG ones. Multiple cages for caught crabs tied to their docs. They know Crabs. Ah the old days.

For those of you not from the Maryland/Virginia area, Old Bay is a seasoning that we love to put on crabs and other seafood dishes.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’ll provide a review as I eat through the state this year and do a wrap in the end. Don’t hesitate to suggest a spot.

Random Thoughts of the Day 

There are few better feelings, then when the weekend starts. Except all the feelings your having going through the weekend.

A lot of things seem to be missing heart.

Some decisions make sense over time.

Go Terps – back on track after last nights victory.

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Steak and Cake

As I was eating a chunky peanut butter sandwich last night for dinner, I was skimming some family shots when I found a few food/dinner shots mixed in. And I’m sitting here almost drooling over this plate of steak and crabcake  (this is how I choose to spell crabcake, I’m from Marland and that is what its called) I had at Fagers Island a few weeks ago and trying to decide where we should go out to dinner this weekend. No I’m not at the ocean again. We are home here in Howard County. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get a good meal around here.

Steak and Cake
Photo by Mike Hartley

But there were several very good meals at the beach a few weeks ago. I’m going to touch on a place that has been there for 25 years and I’m disgusted I’ve missed it up to this point. Its in Fenwick Island and its called Nantuckets. This was a wonderful meal and complete dining experience. So was Fagers Island fine dining. BJ’s was also good as well as the Dumser’s ice cream.

I was blessed with another wonderful day. I hope the same holds true for tomorrow.

There are somethings that laughter just can’t get you through. But it works for a majority of things.

Take the time, work the time, share the time, cherish the time, use the time, appreciate the time, don’t waste the time, just my dime’s opinion.

I forgot to tell a lot of people today that I love them.

I look forward to the day I can be fishing with brothers again.

Fishing moments are forever.
Photo by Mike Hartley

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Is it too early?

I was just regaling some friends with my strange diet. I can eat anything at anytime day or night and I usually do. Comes from decades of fluctuating schedules and shifts. So to me, there is no too early or too late for any meal. There are no boundaries. If you can imagine it, I’ve had it at any meal. That is what happens with shift work. And by shift work I mean anything other that the Monday-Friday 9-5 with a few hours either way.

Just Deserts
Photo by Mike Hartley

Shift work is brutal. You have to develop a mindset that it doesn’t matter and do your best to participate with the 9-5 world. I’ve worked about every shift there is in addition to that normal day gig. I’ve worked shifts with weekends, I’ve worked shifts that include any holiday that lands on your work day. I’ve worked shifts from mid afternoon to midnight. I’ve worked shifts from late afternoon to late evening. That is the worst one for the drive home. Yeah the streets at 2 – 4 am are nice and clear. Of everything but drunks that is, or people looking for easy targets. Not just animals are dangerous at night.

Key Lime Pie
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think those who have to do the rotating shifts of a few weeks or months at days, then mid evenings and then overnight must take a horrible toll. Those are the ones I suspect cause the most damage. Then it’s that late night overnight shift that is probably a close second to damage to body and mind. The kind where the sun is coming up as your shift ends. And then on the days off you flip back to a day scheduled because that is when all your friends and family are up normally.

I’ve been on shifts that are 10 hrs scheduled. A few of those have been lucky enough to be 4 night weeks. That is actually like working part-time because most of my life its been 10-12 hr days 5-7 days a week. I guess that is a curse of working around inspired and dedicated people, it has its perks and penalties.

But back to food. Unless you worked those weird shifts you wouldn’t think about getting up and grilling a steak at 3am or a pepperoni and sausage pizza at 6am or a seafood pasta at 9am. Or maybe waffles at 4pm. Doesn’t matter. I still love it all. But its hard to eat correctly. It really takes some discipline. And if I’m honest I lack in that area so I end up not eating right. Ah, to hell with it, bring me another slice of PIE.

I liked the passion that Chester Bennington sang with. Reminded me of the first time I heard Roger Daltrey scream. May Chester rest in peace. It troubles me that so many don’t have friends or family that can step in, during times of crisis. Yes I’m sure there are cases when everyone has done everything and more that could be done, that end tragically, but a majority I think could be stopped.

Its incumbent on all of us to try to make this a better place for all of us. Do something simple each day for someone. Maybe a complete stranger. An act of kindness or friendship. Depression and suicidal thoughts can be turned around. I’m living proof of that. But there are so many, that those thoughts win out. It’s not like people think like that all the time. Sometimes its a series of events leading to a downward spiral, that can be reset by a good action or interaction in between. Try to be that person or friend or loved one.

I’m far from perfect in this effort. At times in my life I’ve been told how important it has been for my help along the way. At other times I know I should have said or done more.

Never underestimate the power of a smile or simple greeting.  Call someone who is alone. Write friends you can’t see. Say hello to a homeless person. Just be compassionate.


BBQ – Mission BBQ

I got to thinking about how much my friends, family and I like to eat BBQ. So I thought I’d start a trek to review the areas best BBQ and share it here. My first visit/establishment was to Mission BBQ in Ellicott City. Each visit, I’ve loved it. Service and environment are great. But I was really surprised with how much I liked it because I had heard two average reviews from some acquaintances.

Mission BBQ Route 40 Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

Mission BBQ Route 40 Ellicott City.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The Brisket, Pulled Pork and Chicken are very good and the sauces offered are a nice variety. Memphis Belle was my personal favorite. The mac and cheese is to die for and the baked beans are also very good. I’m looking forward to trying the Baby Back Ribs on the next visit.

I’ve been thinking of enlisting “The Crew” to join me for a feast of Howard Counties and surround area BBQ. Being that BBQ is a passionate debate in the least, I’ve decided to protect the names of my innocent companions.

Rest assured these are seasoned professionals. Maybe a bit to seasoned, just kidding. They are all grill masters themselves. Some of the meals they whip up certainly are right up there with some great restaurants I’ve eaten at. I’m sure 2 of them could be chefs.

So watch for the BBQ ratings to flow in 2017 and hopefully my waistline can remain somewhat intact.



Our friends had to cancel out of dinner plans this evening due to one of them being under the weather. But I’m still going to be hungry as well as my other half so a meal out sometime today is still in the plans. Not really planning on the Oysters in the photo but some type of seafood I think is going to tickle my palate.

Right time, right place. Bethany Oyster House. Photo by Mike Hartley

Right time, right place. Bethany Oyster House.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Didn’t know which photo to use so I put them both here. The bloody marry and bottle of Tabasco are good but the oysters didn’t pop like the one above.

Breakfast of Champions Photo by Mike Hartley

Breakfast of Champions
Photo by Mike Hartley

Never developed a taste for the raw oysters but fried or stew or Rockefeller I’m in. My best friend and his wife said these were great. We were at the Bethany Oyster House this past summer for a wonderful lunch. I’ve got to work more on my food photography this coming year. I enjoy it for some reason, oh yeah I LOVE to EAT. So maybe I’ll get a start today with some shots of our dinner if I think of it. That is the key to doing more. Thinking and acting.

Seasonal Thought

Shopping, not my bag but out I go. Should be fairly easy, got a plan and list. And my better half takes care of most of the family stuff. I do some things also but she gets credit for the success of our holidays. We both decorate but she really makes it look great. I do some lights and the tree’s, but the rest she does. And she does a good bit. Kind of reminds me of how special my parents would make the home with seasonal items and decorations.

So as the preparations come to a head for the holiday weekends, I hope you all are able to appreciate the company of family and friends. Only one more week to get through and then I’m on vacation. HELL YEAH.

Thoughts on Craig Sager passing

Traits I admire. Courage and perseverance. So it left me with a heavy heart Thursday evening to learn of Craig Sager passing.  I’m a big basketball junkie and TNT really does the best work in the pro’s so I saw a lot of him. Genuine person is what you would feel through the camera.

In watching the tributes this past evening it was touching in many ways. It was fitting and ironic that he passed on a Thursday night with TNT having a double-header. Because you could see how far and many friendships he had fostered. You kind of thought this person would be the sharing type but then you hear the specific stories of him helping and sharing all his experience and knowledge is a special trait. One of the main things wrong with business now is that people don’t share, its to competitive. But I’ve tried to do the same in my career. I don’t use knowledge as power, I give away freely of what I know. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blowing my own horn, it doesn’t take all that long to share the experience I have professionally. But I’m also always learning so the well never runs dry.

But that was just one things he seemed to bring to his work family. It sounded like he also gave very wise career advice to some of the successful people who worked with him. Craig sounded like the whole package because was the person always glad to see you and greet you with a smile. And it was genuine because you see it in the people talking about it, that felt it. Another behavior I admire.

The quality of the people he impressed as a person is impressive indeed. But that fight to the end was something to behold. And his speech at the ESPY’s getting the Jimmy V award was something impressive. A quote from him follows:

“Time is something that cannot be bought, it cannot be wagered with God, and it is not in endless supply. Time is simply how you live your life.”

And that for some reason has stuck with me and made me a better person. Because no matter what, I’m glad of the gift of another day, another chance to love and be loved. To create and converse. To smile, laugh and cry. To live.

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Grill’in group

Well we have another month or so that the grills will be active. Or group has been known to grill year round but not as often as we age gracefully. Now while this meal might not look that healthy, we always have veggies and salads with these slabs of meat. Think I’ll do some chicken later today. These steaks below were done by my best friends, both grill masters.

Nice 1 1/2 " steaks from the Laurel Meat Market. Photo by Mike Hartley

Nice 1 1/2 ” steaks from the Laurel Meat Market.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So let’s get this coming week off to a smoke’n start. I’m ready mentally. Feeling better physically also. The last few days were a struggle at times but I’ll take a fresh start.

The Weber is an all season appliance. Photo by Mike Hartley

The Weber is an all season appliance.
Photo by Mike Hartley


  • randomthoughtsNow I know why they put the election so close to the holidays. So we can get back to practicing getting along together again.
  • This weeks weather is like a shot of positive mental health.
  • So is the weekend here yet?
  • I miss watching my grand dog.
  • I have the best better half in the world.

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Nothing like a good seafood dinner. And there are few states better than Maryland for seafood. I’ll give the upper northeast the corner of the lobster market and maybe clams. Good thing I’m not a food photographer, I’d be 500 lbs. While this wasn’t on the menu today, but we did have a great lunch at Facci in Turf Valley. We took my wife’s parents and all had a wonderful time. Great service and food. We will be back again.

Scallops, slaw and baked potato w/sou cream. Photo by Mike Hartley

Scallops, slaw and baked potato w/sou cream.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The crabs were excellent at Crab Bag this year.

I could claw my way through a few of these.  Photo by Mike Hartley

I could claw my way through a few of these.
Photo by Mike Hartley