And I Can Cook, Too

Sunday, July 30, 2006

May 29, 2006

It’s Been a Real Nice Clambake

I woke up the morning of Memorial Day realizing that my craving for a clambake had been ignored for far too long. Walter and I quickly dressed and went out to the courtyard, inviting all we saw to join us that at the pool that evening. Kim volunteered corn on the cob, Kenny tossed in a bag of potatoes, and Walter and I were off to buy the rest. We returned home with clams, shrimp, and sausage, and were ready for the feast. I loaded two steamers pots with potatoes, corn and sausage and let them steam for 10 minutes. Then I added the shrimp and clams steamed it all for 15 minutes more. I layered pool tables with newspaper, and added bowls of cocktail sauce, drawn butter, and lemon wedges. The crowd gathered, and we were ready. After the initial surprise of buckets of food dumped on the table without the benefit of plates or silverware wore off, we dug in. Initial cries of “no-one’s eating the food!” quickly turned to “we’re running out of food!” as we slurped clams, peeled shrimp, and horded sausage. Jen proved herself to be an ace with a boiled potato by clocking Big Red in the head several times before the wine altered her aim and she hit Leia the dog. Kim resolutely insisted that the all-sprout salad she brought was delicious and going to be eaten if she had to eat it all herself. (The rest of us encouraged her to do so.) Someone (I think it was Tammy) revealed that she’d never eaten a clam before and was immediately mocked by 11-year-old Lani. Jen defied anyone to touch her (out in the open and easily pilfered) Jolly Rancher supply. I agreed to return the Jolly Ranchers on the one condition that Kim never find out I had done it. Torn by the conflict of either getting back the Jolly Rancher or getting bragging rights, Jen reluctantly agreed.

But the absolute highlight of the evening was without a shadow of a doubt the cleanup: we (and by we I mean Walter and Big Red), rolled up the newspapers with anything that had been left on them, and threw it all away.

It was a real nice clambake.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

May 28, 2006

Ante Up!

Red, Jen, Walter, and I were gathered at the pool when we noticed Rob, Shannon, and Kim getting their kayaks ready for a trial run around Coconut Island in Kim’s new inflatable kayak. As we watched them gingerly open the inflatable, bets were quickly placed as to how long it would be before the boats touched water. The person who was closest to the actual time without going over would take 5 American dollars from each of the losers. Walter, generous and assuming the best as usual, bet that they would have the boats on the water within 30 minutes. Jen, cynical and suspicious as usual, wagered that it would be 62, I, relying on history and Kim’s’ general disposition as usual, determined that it would be 90 minutes, and Big Red, out to win as usual, stated firmly that they would never leave. Cocktails were poured, and from a discrete hiding place behind the pool table we watched the action. The kayak unrolled, Kim, Rob, and Shannon proceeded to carefully inspect every square inch. Rob whipped out a foot pump and Walter began to sweat. The discovery of a small hole in the kayak knocked him out of the competition with fewer than 15 minutes to go on his bet. The discovery of the hole created much meandering from the boat to Kim’s place and back again. As the words “patch kit” were tossed about, Jen started to feel uneasy. 31 minutes elapsed, and Walter, always one to take defeat lying down, demonstrated a serious breach in protocol by wandering down to the waters edge to distract Rob. Kim finally returned, not with a patch kit, (the enthusiastic topic of a potential side bet), but with duck tape. Jen knew she was finished. As she conceded her loss, I was overcome with confidence. The clock ticked as Kim continued her boomerang journey between the boats and her house. With baited breath we watched as they debated who would use which boat when, realized they needed bottles of water, went to get them, forgot the paddles, remembered they forgot the paddles, and went to get them. When the first boat went in at 87 minutes, I felt certain that victory was mine.

Then Rob decided to use the washroom before leaving.

As Rob and Kim paddled off to Coconut Island and Shannon paddled directly into a rock wall from the neighboring marina, the next round of betting began. Same rules, same ante. Walter, generous and assuming the best as usual, bet that they would return in 60 minutes. Jen, cynical and suspicious as usual, wagered that it would be 83. I, relying on history and Kim’s’ general disposition as usual, determined that it would be 90 minutes, and Big Red, out to win as usual, stated firmly that they never come back.

We miss them.
Poached Lobster with Beurre Rouge

For the Lobster:
One Lobster Tail per person, overwhelmingly preferably fresh

Court Bouillon (recipe follows)

½ C. Celery, roughly chopped
1 C. Sweet Onion, roughly chopped
½ C. Carrots, roughly chopped
1 C. White Wine (NOT Chardonnay. NEVER use Chardonnay.)
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Bouquet Garni (Peppercorns, Bay Leaves, Parsley Stems, and Thyme wrapped in a small piece of cheesecloth and tied closed. If you don’t have cheesecloth, just throw everything in and pick it out later)

For the Beurre Rouge:

1 C. dry Red Wine (I always pour a generous cup)
2 Shallots, minced
1 stick cold Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
2 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
Salt & White Pepper to taste

Using scissors, open the Lobster Tails by cutting a line through the top of the shell down to the tail. Pry slightly open.

In a stockpot, add all the Court Bouillon ingredients and enough water so that the Lobster Tails will be covered when you add them. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Add the Lobster Tail, and cook, uncovered and without boiling, for about 15 minutes. Remove the Lobster from the water and pull the meat through the open top of the shell, allowing the tail section to remain attached. Rest the meat on top of the shell.

While the Lobster is cooking:

Put the shallots in an un-buttered sauté pan. Cover with the wine. Bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer until the wine has been reduced to 1/8 cup. Whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Add the heavy cream. Taste, and add salt and pepper, if desired. Drizzle on the Lobster Tails, and serve.

Friday, July 21, 2006

May 16, 2006

Symphony Ball

Tux and ball gown donned, my husband and I set off for the Honolulu Symphony Ball and a night of dining, dancing, and free champagne. Unwilling to repeat the unexpected purchase of a six foot by six foot coffee cup from the previous year, we had carefully perused the auction catalog prior to leaving home and promptly left it on the dining room table. We arrived at the convention center to discover a new auction system. Rather than bid sheets and pencils, the symphony was using an electronic bidding system into which you swiped a bidding card. Several glasses of champagne in, I came to the conclusion that this new bidding concept was crushing the auction’s spirit generally encouraged by being able to see who your bidding competition is. In an effort to turn the evening around, I opened the bids on several lonely items, confident that this would inspire those around me to up the bids.

Dinner was served, and we were treated to a lovely poached lobster tail with beaurre rouge, fingering potatoes and roasted asparagus. During the concert portion of the evening, my husband and I discussed our bids, and determined that we were content to be outbid on everything. We’d done our part.

Have I mentioned that I’ve always wanted a piano?