Teaching Tired Old Turkey to Swim!

Holiday dinners usually feature ham and turkey. You may start having left-over sandwich nightmares after eating turkey for the next six weeks! Many Florida families choose fresh seafood as a delicious and healthy addition to their traditional holiday meals.


Fish on a thick bed of ice with bellies down. Courtesy of Florida Sea Grant

This is a great time of year to purchase and enjoy seafood. There is quality fish, shrimp, and shellfish currently at your local grocery store or seafood market. Usually with the holidays, there’s more time to explore new recipes in the kitchen. Fresh ingredients are the key to any good recipe and helps ensure healthy eating. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) FishWatch website (www.fishwatch.gov) provides consumers with information regarding seafood nutrition, safety, and sustainability.


FishWatch suggests the following when shopping for fresh fish:

  • To be sure the safety of seafood is being properly preserved, only buy fish that is refrigerated or properly iced. Fish should be displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice that is not melting and preferably in a case or under some type of cover. Fish should be arranged with the bellies down so that the melting ice drains away from the fish, thus reducing the chances of spoilage.
  • Fish should smell fresh and mild, not fishy, sour, or ammonia-like odors.
  • A fish’s eyes should be clear and bulge a little (except for a few naturally cloudy-eyed fish types, such as walleye pike).
  • Whole fish and fillets should be firm and spring back when pressed.
  • Fish should have shiny flesh and bright red gills free of slime. Dull flesh could mean the fish is old. Note: Fish fillets that have been previously frozen may have lost some of their shine, but they are fine to eat.
  • Fish fillets should display no darkening or drying around the edges. They should have no green or yellowish discoloration and should not appear dry or mushy in any areas.

Fresh Florida Oysters are almost as popular during the holidays as pecans and walnuts; they are just a little more difficult to crack! Oysters are a welcomed addition to any meal, as side dishes, appetizers, or snacks between larger meals. You’ll enjoy finding great ways to prepare this nutritious shellfish.

Consumption of raw seafood such as oysters is not recommended for those whose immune systems are compromised. For example, patients completing chemotherapy or folks with blood or digestive disorders are at a higher risk for contracting bacterial infections. Ask your doctor if you have a question whether you are at higher risk. Properly cooked oysters (plump, opaque, and curled edges) are healthy choices. Cooking kills bacteria associated with raw seafood. For more information on oyster consumption and recipes visit http://safeoysters.org

One recipe that complements the traditional bird is oyster dressing. With this recipe you can enjoy both turkey and seafood together. For more oyster and seafood recipes like this one, visit www.fl-seafood.com


Complement a traditional holiday meal with seafood dish like oyster dressing. Courtesy of Florida Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS)

12-ounces Florida oysters
½ c. Florida celery, chopped
½ c. Florida onion, chopped
¼ c. butter
4 c. day-old bread cubes
1 tbsp. fresh Florida parsley, chopped or 1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. sage
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp. teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven to 325° F. Drain oysters; reserve liquid. Remove any remaining shell particles. Chop oysters. Cook celery and onion in butter until tender. Add oysters and oyster liquid to vegetables; cook for 10 minutes. Combine oysters, cooked vegetables, bread cubes and seasonings in a large bowl; mix thoroughly. If stuffing seems dry, moisten with additional oyster liquid or chicken broth. Bake dressing in a greased casserole dish for 30 minutes.


Posted: November 14, 2012

Category: Natural Resources
Tags: Bay Share, Fishwatch, Oyster Dressing, Panhandle Outdoors, Seafood, Seafood Safety, Selecting Seafood, Sustainable Living


Stacey Prescott
May 19, 2022

Hi I am a single mom my daughter goes to Bay Base after school while I work school is fixing to be out. The Bay Base summer program is 95.00 a week. That's a lot for our little family that is almost 1/2 of my income. Do you know of any way I might can get some help paying just a portion of that cost?

Scott Jackson

May 28, 2021

You will need the minus sign. In the ArcGIS search box type in the Decimal Degree conversion. for Fountain Bleu Box Cars -85.8833, 30.15 https://arcg.is/ubaHD

May 2, 2021

How do you put the negative number when I try to enter without no (-) tells me I am 4,000 miles away

April 26, 2019

Just a quick note thanking you all for providing valuable recovery information and tools.


February 13, 2019

Hi Susan, Registration opened on the 11th, and future events will also be 10 days before the event. The link to register is here https://uf_ifas_part2_shrubs.eventbrite.com If you have any trouble getting signed up please email me at juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu. I apologize for the delayed response, notifications on the website are not sent directly to me. Julie

Susan Higby
January 20, 2019

Hi Julie, When do you expect to open up ticket purchases for the next seminar on February 21st? Thank you so much for these series! Susan Higby

Scott Jackson

July 3, 2016

Latest release from Health Department in Bay County / Bay County TDC via Twitter June 28, 2016 https://twitter.com/Visit_PCB/status/748315619682983936

Detlef VanderMeer
June 17, 2016

Yes, I had a call about this problem this morning, they are here in Bay County

May 6, 2016

I noticed aphids on my lettuce and planned to take them in to show some students. On the planned date I found they they had been consumed by parasitic wasps. I felt it was a sign of a balanced ecosystem.

February 3, 2016

Where can I find seed potatoes (red)? I am in Gulf Breeze.

Ava Laurie
July 22, 2015

I was actually wondering about the issue with the mower blades. I am constantly getting the ends of the grass cut on a way that has the tip of it drying out. Is the fact that the blades are a little worn, that is causing this issue of the grass getting dry at the top.

Kristal Walsh
June 8, 2015

For sure on the Aucuba! I love it and use it throughout my front yard along with the cast iron plants. One of my favorite shade plants however is the Apostle's Iris, 'Neomarica gracilis'. They have survived the coldest winters so far and have come back beautifully. Thanks for the article. I have 2 shady beds I am renovating right now so I look forward to finding the Japanese Plum Yew and the Mahonia!

Ann Jeffcoat
April 19, 2015

An evergreen shrub that does well in the shade for me is Aucuba japonica 'Serratifolia' An all green aucuba.

Earl Mirus
April 15, 2015

Nice article Julie. Just a side note that occurred to me as I looked at the pictures. Please don't recommend (I know you didn't in this article) that people plant close to the flare roots of a tree. The first radial distance of 3x the DBH of the tree is very, very important root area and what the arborist needs access to for many treatments. As important, perhaps more important is: 1. the tree trunk and exposed flare roots need to be dry when it is not raining and having vegetation in close proximity eliminates the breeze and keeps the tree trunk damp creating a decay/fungi opportunity; 2. cast iron plant, Jasmine, fern, etc. are major competitors in that critical root area. If a tree is stressed one of the cultural remedies is to clear out plants in that critical root area and install organic mulch, preferably pine straw. Keep up the good work!!

Julie McConnell
March 26, 2015

Hi Stan, I don't know how frequently that is done, however, if the gardener plans to change out the plants after a very short period of time they may leave them in containers. Some commercial properties may do that if they plan to swap out if anything declines (theme parks, other high profile spots), but most plants should not stay in original containers indefinitely. Eventually the plant's root system will outgrow the pot and will be unable to take up enough water to sustain itself. Julie

stan luczak
March 14, 2015

Miss McConnell, Is it a common practice by some homeowners to leave the annuals in their pots when they plant them in the Spring? Thank you

Julie McConnell

December 5, 2014

Hi David, The palm you are describing is likely Butia capitata also known as Jelly Palm or Pindo Palm. The fronds have a bit of a blueish or silvery color to them that makes them fairly distinctive. More can be found about this palm at the following link http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/ST/ST10500.pdf. If you like, send a picture to my email and I can confirm if that's what you have. Have a great day! Julie juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

David Schoepf
December 4, 2014

We have a palm, locally known as a Jelly Palm" It's a very slow growing, like 12 feet in 15 years, and very bushy compared to the typical King palm. It puts out small groups of flowers, inside a hard, 3-4 ft. long woodlike, split, shell, which, of course become seeds. That is apparently what some old timers used for "Jelly:". Jelly Palm is not likely it's correct name. From that vague description, can you tell me what it is, or if not, what I can provide to help properly name it.

Lesia Andrews
November 5, 2014

Please give me a call. I would like to discuss how Farm Credit can be involved in this program. My number is 850-718-5511. Thanks, Lesia Andrews

Julie McConnell

September 7, 2014

Hi John, Butterflies are rather specific about where they lay eggs and which plants their larvae (caterpillars) will feed on. For the Gulf Fritillary, the passionflower vine is the preferred larval host. I would not expect having this plant in your garden would have any direct effect on the number of caterpillars that would target tomatoes and peppers. If you would like to learn more about pests that are more specific to tomatoes and peppers, please see the following publication at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/IN/IN16900.pdf "Insect Management for Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant"

John Nelson
September 3, 2014

if I plant this purple passionflower....will caterpillars start eating my tomatoes and green bell peppers. Thanks John Nelson

Julie McConnell

July 3, 2014

Glad to hear it, have a wonderful weekend!

July 3, 2014

Worked like a charm!

Julie McConnell

July 3, 2014

Hi Suzy, The link should take you to a leaflet publication by USDA Forest Service titled "Walnut Caterpillar." I checked the link embedded in the article and it is working tonight, but sometimes there can be other issues. I am adding the link below in plain text so that you can try to copy and paste into your internet browser. If you are still unable to access it I would be happy to scan it and send it to you directly as a .pdf in an email next week. Julie http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/fidls/walnutcat/walnutfidl.htm

July 2, 2014

Your link to the US Forest Service is not valid

Donna Legare
February 19, 2014

It would be great if you would submit this article for newspaper publication, especially Tallahassee Democrat. There are so many people that are misinformed about lichens and Spanish moss. Donna Legare Native Nurseries

Jonnie Smallman
December 3, 2013

Enjoyed your article. Wish I had time to plant winter annuals.

November 25, 2013

Noticed one of our longleaf pine saplings, in the middle stage has died out on the top 3" of the bud. The trunk and several lower limbs still have healhty green looking growth buds. We are located 3 blocks north of the Gulf of Mexico in Franklin County Fla. elevation +27' sandy soil. Approximately 25 trees are @200yr old, some cat faced. Another 50 trees are post turpentine era, and another 75 are in the grass and middle stages. We eliminated all the loblolly pine 10yrs ago in hopes of restoring the longleaf presence on our 4+acres. Regards, Paul Standish

Julie McConnell

November 19, 2013

Thank you, Phil!

Phil Smith
November 19, 2013

Excellent article! One of your M.G.'s ...Phil_Smith...

Matthew Orwat
September 10, 2013

What type of grass do you have? If you have centipede, you will not need any additional fertilizer for the season. How much did you put out in August/

Kenneth Smith
September 10, 2013

Applied fertilizer to grass early August as I was away for 5-6 months. Can I apply again on 9/15?

Scott Jackson

January 10, 2013

To register and view the draft agenda please visit: http://2013nwfarworkshop.eventbrite.com

Scott Jackson

January 10, 2013

To register and view the draft agenda please visit: http://2013nwfarworkshop.eventbrite.com

Scott Jackson

November 14, 2012

Have any favorite seafood recipes for the Holidays or maybe a treasured family memory? Post a comment and share!

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