Cooking Tips from an ES Parent

My parents and I always celebrate my birthday in non-traditional ways, which usually ends up in overeating, leftovers for days, and hangovers. Since my birthday is in late August, it’s always the perfect time for crabs. This year, given that the price of lobster has dropped dramatically ($4.99/lb at our local market!) I suggested a seafood extravaganza. The mistake, or maybe point of brilliance, was when I texted Russell:

“My dad backed me into a corner in the kitchen and shoved a live crab in my face and it almost bit me”

“Why wasn’t mom taking photos, can you do it again? (I’ve never seen a live crab/lobster being dunked)”

My father, having both a deep-seated family history in “show business” and an obsession with Russ’s twitter, sprung into action and suddenly we were making videos to show the Brit how to kill crustaceans.

If you’re interested in learning how to make the best shrimp, want to see what happens when two generations of drunk people try to steam lobsters, or are curious about how to properly name your crustaceans, head on over to my YouTube channel to check out Sonny himself.

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What Gadget Is Worth a Dumpster Dive?

Last month I went “camping” with my parents on Assateague Island. The second night I was there, we of course had a multi-course meal, consisting of crabs, shrimp, corn and — of course — crabs again, finished with BLTs (normal to end a meal with BLTs, yes?)

But between crabs round one and crabs round two, something horrific happened. We somehow lost our beloved crab crackers (red, seen above). I don’t like them that much, but they are my dad’s favorite.

Our worst fear: that they were already in the dumpster, rolled up with the newspaper and crab shells.

There was about 5 minutes of panic. What would we do? How were we going to eat the rest of our crabs tonight and for life? How could we possibly go on, having thrown away an important gadget? I suggested we find another tool. Like a beer can or one of the 1000 tools in my dad’s truck. But my dad couldn’t be reasoned with. He was in serious distress, and said he was going in the dumpster.

Luckily he was about 15 Miller High Lifes in at this point, so he was moving rather slowly. But he didn’t stop repeating “I’m going in” as he tried to get up from the table. In a few minutes we found them, hidden under the second layer of newspaper.

This brought up some startling realizations about our priorities. If you accidentally threw away a kitchen item in a moment of crisis, would you dumpster dive to save it? Would would you go in for? What would you let go?

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Screeching, Squirming and Screaming: Crabbing and Fishing in Oregon, Part II

Last week I started photo-journaling my first fishing experience. I left off in the waiting period, which is pretty much what this type of non-casting fishing is all about.

While drifting around in one set of coordinates without any luck, our fisherman Dave got on his cell phone. Yes, I said cell phone. Here we are, on the Columbia River, caressing through the misty Oregon air and Dave chats it up with another fisherman, finding salmon in another set of coordinates.

We brought in our reels and Dave (above) drove us to a new area. (PS-You can totally hire Dave to help you find fish.) Forty-five seconds later Greg, our event organizer, started screaming. A salmon hooked onto Nick’s line. Greg screamed for everyone to reel in their lines, for fear Nick’s catch would tangle other lines. Within another 45 seconds, a 12-inch salmon wriggled in the hands of Nick and Dave. Cameras snapped and the salmon soon returned to the water, for it wasn’t a native fish and it wasn’t the right time of year and salmon politics are awfully complicated.

The excitement hung in the air for another few minutes as we eagerly awaited another catch in our new sexy coordinates.

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Gridiron Grub: A Case of the Crabs

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Growing up in Northeast Pennsylvania, fresh seafood wasn’t really an option for me. So for the majority of my life, I missed out on such gems as mussels, pollack, porgy and much more.  Since my introduction to saltwater proteins, my absolute favorite seafood dish is the regional specialty, Maryland blue crabs. How can you go wrong with a crustacean whose scientific name actually means “beautiful savory swimmer?” Wifey grew up just a short trip from the Chesapeake and crab feasts were a regular part of life. Her parents had one for their rehearsal dinner 30 years ago,  their family always got together in the summer to swim and “pick crabs” and one of the first get-togethers to let me know I was part of the family was a crab feast.

For those of you who aren’t familiar the traditional Chesapeake crab prep is a simple mixture of spicy Old Bay seasoning, rock salt and vinegar steamed together. Once the crabs are cooked, we typically cover a table with layers of newspaper and just spill everything out and begin picking. Picking crabs takes time and effort! I have gotten better but the process of breaking the crabs down and getting every luscious bit of meat out is not for everyone.  That is why we always have plenty of beer and plenty of time to talk to each other. That combination of great food, drinks and 3-4 hours of quality time makes Maryland blue crabs the perfect Gridiron Grub. They may not be available everywhere but if you get a chance definitely try this while enjoying the games.

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Sushi Takes Over the World

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Why does sushi only come from Asia? Cultures all across the globe each developed their own varieties of noodles, sandwiches, sausages and stews. But only people in one corner of the world ever thought to roll all of their ingredients into one beautiful bite-sized piece. Until now. At Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, Connecticut, chef Bun Lai explores what the world might taste like if everyone made sushi.

Bun took over the kitchen at Miya’s a few years ago from his mother, who had already built a loyal local following for her traditional Japanese sushi rolls. But instead of sticking with the formula, he transformed Miya’s into what is almost certainly America’s most inventive sushi restaurant. He eschews traditional, overfished sushi ingredients like bluefin tuna, red snapper and unagi, instead focusing on sustainable species like bonito tuna and catfish, and incorporates them into a wide variety of inventive rolls listed on a magazine-sized menu that comes complete with historical footnotes and detailed eating instructions.

In the roll pictured above, Bun explores what it might have been like if sushi came from, say, north Africa. The roll encompasses ingredients found in Ethiopia: a tempura of rare tuna, goat cheese, flying fish caviar, apricots, avocado, pickled radish and a Berbere spice mix, all wrapped in a thin, housemade teff grain flatbread. Biting into it is like playing mindgames with your tongue — it has the texture and proportions of sushi exactly right, but with ingredients that just aren’t supposed to be there. If you can get past that, it also happens to be delicious.

And what would sushi taste like if it came from Guadalajara or Georgia? Keep reading…

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