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Archive for May, 2008

Evolution

There is a very small list of things I just simply will not do. I will not drive in DC traffic. I refuse to play pool. Coconut is verboten. I would absolutely never leave the house in a bad outfit.

But there are plenty things I will do if needed, albeit begrudgingly. I will go to the ophthalmologist, though I have a borderline phobia about my eyes and anything touching them. If forced, I can sit through a basketball game, though I will be bored out of my skull. I will listen to country music (and maybe secretly like a few songs), though it is certainly not the way of my people. I will eat scallops.

If put in front of me, I will eat them. I don’t love scallops, I don’t seek them out, and their texture is less than ideal. Sure, wrapped in bacon, they are a tasty treat, but that has much more to do with the bacon than the scallop. Yet, one of the realities of being an adult is you sometimes have to do things you don’t like. If served scallops at a dinner party or a wedding, I can get them down.

We grabbed some scallops while in Cape May, sassE tempting me with promises of bacon wrapped goodness. We did wrap a handful in bacon, but there were several left over. We ended up throwing the remaining scallops in with some shrimp and making a quick, easy, and delicious dinner. Turns out, with enough garlic and wine, I like scallops. Stranger things have happened.

The recipe was improvised on the fly, the product of what we had on hand and three ladies who had already drank an excessive amount of wine. This is super basic, but did the trick. Also, this goes to show that you don’t need a ton of ingredients to make a lovely dinner. Feel free to improvise here; shallots, thyme and lemon zest are all additions I think would be lovely. The world is your oyster…er, scallop.

Shrimp and Scallop Sautee

Aunt LifeSaver/sassE/Lemmonex Original

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined

1/2 lb scallops, quartered

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Salt and Pepper

2 teaspoons Paul Prudhomme Seafood Seasoning (or any other seafood blend)

1/2 cup white wine (we used Chardonnay)

Heat oil over medium flame. Add garlic and sautee for about two minutes. Add shrimp and and scallops and sautee until shrimp is pink and scallops are cooked (about 5 minutes). Salt and pepper the seafood and add seasoning. Remove the seafood from the pan and add the wine to deglaze the pan. Let the wine reduce for about a minute. Put seafood back in pan and toss to combine.

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I have barely recovered from the trip back from Cape May, but I finally feel ready to make a few recommendations regarding food. It is a fantastic little town, perfect for a weekend getaway. I do not recommend driving there on a long weekend lest something akin to removing your kidney with a rusty fork sounds like a good time, but that is neither here nor there.

I swear this post is not an excuse in any way to show an achingly cute picture of me and SuperBoy:

We had a great place with a kitchen, so dining out was somewhat limited, but here are a few finds:

The Lobster House: A co-worker of Aunt LifeSaver recommended the Lobster House as the best seafood place on the Cape. Now, it was damn good, but I also contend it appears to be the only seafood market in town. I am sure there are lesser, smaller operations, but this is clearly the fat cat. This doesn’t negate the fact that it is a fantastic shop though; the prices are stellar, the seafood fresh and varied and the staff quick and efficient. The lines there are pure insanity, but our scallops and shrimp were phenomenal. It was well worth the wait.

Jackson Mountain Cafe: I have quite the affinity for onion rings and this little place did them very well. Crispy with just the perfect amount of grease, I was left quite satisfied. They could have used a bit more batter, but nothing in this world is perfect. SuperBoy had the requisite lunch of chicken fingers and fries…his fries did not disappoint. With my onion rings I ordered a daily special, the pulled pork sandwich, and it was large. Very large. And served on a footlong hoagie roll. It was like a bread scooner of pulled pork. It tasted pretty damn good, but I only managed to eat about a third of it. Aunt LifeSaver also had very positive things to say about the New England clam chowder, pretty high praise from a woman who grew up on Cape Cod.

Kohr Brother’s Frozen Custard: I know, I know. Kohr Brother’s is a chain and can be found on most boardwalk locales. The place is worth mentioning for two very special reasons: 1) The peanut butter custard is divine. Generally, peanut butter soft serves are a dissapointment, kinda sorta tasting vaguely peanut buttery. Kohrs’ variety is rich and creamy and there is no mistaking what it is. 2) They call sprinkles “jimmies”. Now, I have always called sprinkles jimmies, but then someone in college told me that was racist. My white liberal guilt would not allow my frozen treats to be dusted with candied bits of hate, so I adopted the term sprinkles. Well, sprinkles no more! If Kohr’s Brothers tells me it is ok, jimmies has happily found it’s way back in to my vernacular.

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Under a Haze

As soon as we walked in, K smelled it.

“Is that pot?”, she asked. It was a rhetorical inquiry.

We shrugged our shoulders, mildly amused that someone would be so brave as to spark up on the roof deck of a crowded bar on a Saturday night.

The night proceeded. Cinderella, K and I spent the night swatting off various men, tsking at the slim pickings in the crowd. That night, I had felt lazy and worn a sexy low cut shirt that was causing a stir even among the women in the crowd. Sometimes, a girl just doesn’t want to depend on her personality. I was beginning to feel some regret over the shirt, though; I am old enough and smart enough to know I don’t need to depend on my rack alone. The ogling was wearing on me.

Just when my frustration was reaching its peak, a man sitting on a stool began talking to me. His proclamations that I was hot! beautiful! stunning! gorgeous! were all received with caution, but I am not above admitting flattery can get you pretty far with me. Sometimes a girl just needs a compliment and I was in desperate need that night. The previous week had been a doozy. He seemed nice enough, laughed at my jokes and accepted my mocking retorts with ease. I told him he thought my rack was beautiful, he countered it was my eyes and my hair. (Has every man in this city received the memo that my hair is my achilles heel?) I was trepidatious due to his cheesiness. I knew I was being gamed. Yet, my inner attention whore was beaming.

It was then he pulled out a joint and lit up.

I am the most beautiful not in a low cut shirt, not in glossy haired glory, but under the haze of a cloud of marijuana smoke.

I trudged home that night, frustrated and smarting from this cruel twist of irony. I opened the door and was welcomed by the pungent smell of the mussels Cinderella and I dined on earlier. Much like the events at the bar, the mussels were a let down. The broth was rich and flavorful, but the actual shellfish was of subpar quality. It ruined the whole meal, a meal which I had really been looking forward to. You can’t control these things. Sometimes, you just get a bad batch.

Sometimes, you just have an off night.

Mussels with Wine and Herbs

Adapted from Julia Child (via Smitten Kitchen)

2 cups light, dry white win or 1 cup dry white vermouth

An 8- to 10-quart enameled kettle with cover (or large pot

1/2 cup minced shallots, or green onions, or very finely minced onions

8 parsley sprigs

1/2 bay leaf

1/4 tsp thyme

1/8 tsp pepper

6 Tb butter

6 quarts scrubbed, soaked mussels

1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley

Bring all but the last two ingredients to boil in the kettle. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes to evaporate its alcohol and to reduce its volume slightly.

Add the mussels to the kettle. Cover tightly and boil quickly over high heat. Frequently grasp the kettle with both hands, your thumbs clamped to the cover, and toss the mussels in the kettle and an up and down slightly jerky motion so the mussels will change levels and cook evenly. In about 5 minutes, the shells will swing open and the mussels are done.

With a big skimmer, dip the mussels into wide soup places. Allow the cooking liquid to settle for a moment so any sand will sink to the bottom. Then ladle the liquid over the mussels, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

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“I am never driving anywhere again!”, declared SuperBoy yesterday.

This declaration came about 7 hours in to our 10 hour journey home yesterday.

His six-year-old mouth is allowed to utter words my 27-year-old one could not, but yes. I agree with him. I never want to be in a car again. The open road can kiss my ass.

I really did do my best. Honestly, I tried. I attempted napping, keeping my mouth shut, reading, cracking jokes. SuperBoy held it together well, Aunt LifeSaver exhibited the patience of a saint, and sassE handled the whole situation with aplomb.

But ten hours? Ten God forsaken hours? There was no need for this. It was if the whole state of New Jersey was attempting to find it’s way back to DC. My stomach hurt from the tragic combination of lack of a real dinner and a weekend filled with boardwalk confections. My ass was numb. At one point it took us two hours to move NINETEEN MILES. Around hour 8, it was as if my spirit levitated out of my body. I was not Lemmonex anymore, but a broken, defeated sack of bones.

I finally thought we were in the clear when we pulled in to DC. This is when SuperBoy vomited on me. How poetic

The car ride, and it’s spectacular denouement, left me yearning for a simpler time, a time when all was right in the world, when I did not know the horrors that lay before me, a time when I was enjoying my trip (which I did, greatly), a time when my pigz in blanketz destiny was fulfilled.

I have never made pigz in blanketz myself, and sassE charitably taught me the ropes. She also insists is pigz in blanetz, NOT pigs in blankets, as she is straight up gansta. Aunt LifeSaver had the genius idea of sprinkling some of them with a salty herby mix and she created a dipping sauce of dijon and maple syrup. (It was good, trust me. Kinda like honey mustard). Ya know, we had to keep it klassy.

So, while I may have had the worst car ride home in the history of car rides, I will always have my beloved pigz in blanketz.

Pigz in Blanketz

1 package mini wieners (this is the ONLY way to go)

1 package crescent rolls

Optional: poppy seeds, sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350. Cut crescent rolls in to strips (about 1/2 inch wide). Wrap around wieners. Lay on cookie sheet which has been sprayed with Pam. Bake about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Gorge thyself.

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Shannon asks:

Can you please recommend a tasty salsa recipe that isn’t tomato-centered or boring, but isn’t so bizarre that my friends’ kids will refuse to eat it? Bonus points if there’s watermelon involved, as that’s on special at Safeway and I’m a horrid cheapskate.

Now, let me first assert: you are not cheap, you are a realist. Food prices are insanity lately, as we all know. Cindarella called me just yesterday with a very valid rant after spending $17 at the supermarket and leaving with three items. Three items! And none of them contained gold, meth or anti-aging elixir.

I poked around a bit and found a watermelon salsa at Epicurious that looked better than most of the others. Cucumber and watermelon are great compliments to each other, and not only in some horrible body lotion you can pick up at the mall. The flavors work well together and the crystallized ginger in this recipe appeals to me. (You can probably get a small nub of it at the devil store Whole Foods. It is good for some things.) If there are kids around you may want to cut down on the jalepenos, but I say teach kids not to be food-phobic at a young age and keep the heat.

I love avocados, a love almost proportionate to my love of Javier Bardem, and a corn and avocado salsa would be lovely and cheap. The avocado is the only real cost, and this recipe only calls for one. It also calls for an ear of corn, but if you cannot find fresh, I promise I will not tell anyone of you use canned sweet corn.

On the avocado tip, my friends Foxy Moron and Shiftless Badger recently had me over for dinner and made a mango and avocado salsa. It was pure simplicity and could not have been better: mango, avocado, lots of lime, chili, cilantro, salt and pepper. Just, um, please don’t use as much chili as dear Foxy did, because I had steam coming out of my ears for two days. Still, quite delicious, though my digestive tract will never really be the same.

There is no salsa planned in my holiday future, but you may have inspired me. Up until now the plan was to drink wine and eat pigs in blankets at Cape May all while teaching my six-year-old cousin yes, it is normal to sob when you put on your bathing suit and, no, I am not a ghost, my legs are just this pasty.

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Dear Barton:

I have a confession; I’ve a bit of a crush on you. I think you are crazy delicious. I know, I know. You aren’t really my type; you are blond and, at 29, a bit young for my tastes. You actually seem like a pretty swell guy, what with your dedication to responsibly sourced seafood and locally grown produce, and I generally do not tend to gravitate towards nice guys. Compassion and caring isn’t really my style. Yet, the sly grin in most of your photos tells me there may be a bit of bad boy lurking underneath. Maybe there is hope for us.

Today, I finally made it to Tackle Box, your new casual dining destination in Georgetown. Barton, this shows how deep my devotion runs…I went to Georgetown for you. You and your food are worth it.

Your fries are dark brown, salty and delicious; they are made even better by a healthy dousing of malt vinegar. The fried oysters are creamy, crispy, and fresh. I found the blueberry pie supremely enjoyable; not too sweet and the wonderfully flavorful crust left me wanting more. Your staff was stellar as well. Everyone was friendly, warm, and accommodating. They even checked on us half way through our meal; at such a casual joint, this little touch did not go unnoticed. Even the decor was cheeky and charming.

But Barton? Baby? Please don’t get mad because you know how perfect I think you are, but I have one teeny, tiny complaint. The lobster roll could have used a bit more salt and some celery. A little bit of crunch really helps highlight the rich creaminess of the delicate lobster salad; it is a wonderful contrast in most other rolls that I missed in yours. But kudos to you! You used the perfect amount of mayo in the roll. The toasted bun was also divine. But maybe can you reconsider the celery/salt situation? I promise this will be the only thing I ask of you. OK, maybe I will ask for the occasional back rub, but my skin is incredibly soft. I bet you’ll like it, too.

I promise I will be back to see you. This small difference of opinion regarding a silly little lobster roll is not enough to keep me away. After all, no relationship is perfect and you sure do bring a lot to the table. Maybe next time you will come out and talk to me? I promise I won’t bite…unless you ask.

Yours in devotion,

Lemmonex

xoxoxox

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All Grown Up

No matter how old you are, you will always be your parent’s babies. As adult children, we still climb in backseats, sleep on couches and dutifully take out the trash.

This is why I found sneaking around with my mom and my aunt for a cigarette during my visit two weekends ago a positively surreal experience. When my aunt started asking about any drug use on my part, not as a condemnation or trap, but as a mere curiosity, my brain liquefied. I think I gave my mother the best Mother’s Day gift of all when I admitted, truthfully, that recreational drug use isn’t really my thing.

Aren’t I still supposed to be a kid in their eyes? A kid who doesn’t smoke and behaves in a respectable, responsible, mature fashion at all times? How did I get to be old enough where a lit cigarette in my hand doesn’t illicit a lecture from my mother? Instead, the three of us were sneaking around like those girls your mother warned you about, lighting up in the supermarket parking lot. Can my mother warn me about her?

At least being grown up means your family trusts you to cook a meal and not screw it up. I have come a long way from the boxes of Hamburger Helper of my youth… Truthfully, I only made Mother’s Day brunch and part of Mother’s Day dinner. Because I am no fool, I finagled grilling duties for myself alongside my fantastically funny uncle. I was thrilled with how well these tuna steaks came out. I threw it together mainly using things my parents had around the house (and most people have in the pantry). Red pepper flakes could be swapped out for the jalepenos and sesame oil would be a great addition as well. It’s a flexible marinade, though I do think the combination of the soy, mustard, and lime are key. The sweet and spicy components of this marinade complimented each other perfectly and after a quick trip to the grill (tuna should only be eaten rare), we had a great dinner on our hands.

Tuna Steaks

A Lemmonex Original

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 T olive oil

Juice from one lime

1 T brown sugar

1 T honey

1 T dijon mustard

1 T finely diced jalepeno pepper

1 clove minced garlic

1/2 inch nub ginger, finely minced

ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour to let flavors meld. Put tuna steaks in bag and add marinade. Marinate for 45 minutes and grill.

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