Monday, June 28, 2010

I Ate My Weight in Fresh Shrimp

Okay, not quite. But let me give a profound shout-out to one of my fave restaurants in the world--Gilligan's in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Old friends first took us there years ago and every time I'm in the Low Country (as I was last week), I get myself over there.

It's a local chain that started with one restaurant and has expanded over the years. Slaw is good and mayonaisse-y, fried okra is barely breaded and crisp. I've had the oysters, clams, mussels but the shrimp is my usual choice.

As a tribute to my friend Freddie Clarke, this time I ordered the AYCE shrimp. When asked about sides, I took a double okra.

The first helping was fried, the second steamed (a little too spicy for my mood on that evening but still yummy), after that--fried, fried, fried.

Lightly done, not too much breading--the star is the very fresh shrimp.

Are you waiting to hear about hushpuppies? Yes, I do adore those fierce projectiles and am particular about them. I am saddened to tell you the ones at Gilligan's were not the best on this trip. That award goes to the crisp, tender and slightly sweet ones from the Charleston Crab House. I can't remember much about my meal there but the hushpuppies were terrific.

And here they are--

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Black Raspberries! And Dreaming of Making Jam...

In recent months, many articles have appeared touting the cancer-fighting powers of these tasty summer fruits. They're rich in anti-oxidants, vitamin C, and fiber, and delicious! I've also found them to be pretty easy to grow. I have pulled up wild plants (they tend to grow near dead trees) and plant them by a fence where they get equal amounts of shade and sun. They tend to spread, so just pluck up the new young plants if you get too many, and share them with friends.

I moved this spring, and the lovely healthy berry bush I had growing died back when I uprooted it, and will not produce fruit this year, but it's already growing nicely again, so next year we should be back in business. I also pulled up another wild one and planted it this week, and once it finsihed drooping I will cut it back and wait for it to spring back next year.

I love them on Cheerios for breakfast; but only when they're fresh. Since they're only around for a few weeks, freezing is the best way to preserve them for year round enjoyment; I imagine I will throw them into my juicer occasionally. But I am going to make jam from them for the first time tis year. I've been gathering them and freezing them; a friend in the neighborhood has several clumps of bushes and can't eat all the berries; so he lets me come pick as many as I want (he'll get some jam for his generosity). Which is nice, since spelunking in the wild patches I picked from last week left me with big scratches on my lower legs, and a bee sting! Once I have enough, I will gather my jars and get cooking.

Last summer I made jam for the first time. The freezer jam was not so good (too runny), and the apricot preserves were too tart (should not have used pectin! next year I will follow this recipe to the letter), but the peach jam (pictured above), cooked slowly with a bit of sugar and a healthy dose of lemon juice, was lovely. It was my favorite as a kid, so I'm happy to follow in Mom's footsteps. I am going to try the no-pectin method again with the black raspberries.

I try not to eat too much sugar, and also not too many carbs; but homemade jam on toast is the breakfast of gods. When I read fiction from the good old days, they seem to eat an inordinate amount of jam. War-time films emphasize the importance of jam as a foodstuff in England. It's the next best thing to fresh fruit, I guess: juicy vitamins and fiber in a jar.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Good Eats

We've eaten a lot of pasta-and this week. We had rice-and one day, too. So I had a long day at work and am looking at another one tomorrow and didn't want to think about what to make for supper. But I'd used up all my easy things (see sentences above) and besides I wanted to eat something healthy and yummy. Possibly fried.

So I wandered out to the garden to see what I could eat. It was a garden of eden out there. Spring onions. Rainbow chard. A cabbage. Snow peas. Broccoli.

Holy moly.

I sauteed (well, it is kind of frying) the onions, then threw in the stems of the chard, while chopping up the cabbage. That went in, too, at least part of it did.

Some left-over chicken went into the happy cast-iron skillet. Toss, add some fresh cracked pepper.


After eating that, I steamed the broccoli and the peas separately, and we can eat those tomorrow.

I'm full, happy, delirious to have so much good stuff in the back yard. And it ain't even tomato season yet.