Friday, September 25, 2009

It's my birthday and I'm having a Low Country Boil party...

Hello to everyone from my fabulous vacation. The weather has been great and I am feeling so rested that I think by the time I come home I will be too limp to go back to work. Yea, like that could ever happen, but at least I feel that way today. Today is my birthday, 39 again for the millionth time but who is counting. For my birthday party tonight my family is fixing me a Low Country Boil. Although this is a re-post from much earlier I thought it was just right for today. I will be back from vacation soon with lots of new posts and photos so until then, enjoy this post and I'll eat lots for you all.
My family can't have a group gathering on holidays, birthdays or vacations without throwing together a Low Country Boil. It always serves a lot of people and it has something for everyone. We all love it and I've been known to down size it so that it will serve just two or three on a weeknight.

What is known as the low country region stretches from the coastal plains of the Carolina's to the Georgia border. Being a location heavy of seafood, produce, grits and rice the people were, and still are, known for their combinations of local shrimp, crabs, oysters and fish cooked together with what is plentiful at the time.

This low country boil is a combination of shrimp, smoked sausage, corn, potatoes, onions and if available crabs. Great to take to the beach and really easy to create for a crowd. Low country boil can be served on newspaper for easy clean up. The only rule of thumb here is the bigger the crowd, the bigger the pot. It doesn't have a exact measurement of anything since it is based on whatever you have or want so this is as close to what my family throws together and it is a solid hit every time.

Our Low country Boil

Note: Items are layered in pot and not stirred throughout. Put lid on pot as the steam rising from the bottom of pot is steaming all the flavors together and cooking them as the are added.
4 pounds small red potatoes washed but left whole
6 or 8 whole medium Vidalia or Sweet onions peeled but left whole
6 quarts water
1 small bag of crab boil seasoning optional but better with it.
4 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning (double if no crab boil)
3 pounds kielbasa or smoked link sausage, cut into 6 inch pieces
6 ears of corn, halved
5 pounds large fresh shrimp, (peeled and deveined optional)we cook ours with the peel on for added flavor.
Melted Butter and Cocktail sauce on the side.

Add potatoes and onions to large tall pot, then add 6 quarts water and seasonings. Cover pot and heat to a rolling boil; cook 5 minutes. Add sausage and corn on top of the potatoes and onions, and return to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Add shrimp to stockpot; If adding crabs add now for 10 minutes then add the shrimp and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain and dump the pot out onto the middle of a paper covered table or into a few large bowls and serve with bowls of cocktail sauce an bowls of melted butter.

Open a cold beer or pour a glass of sweet tea and dig into the pile. You eat it all with your hands and laugh and enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bags are packed and I'm off to the beach. P.S. here's a few details on the giveaway when I return...

I have packed and repacked until I managed to turn a month's worth of clothes into two suitcases. The trick to it was eliminating all the totally unnecessary clothing I always take on my two week vacation to the beach. I told you I would be able to get it done. My problem has always been my need to pack my complete wardrobe for a two week trip and the realization every year that I don't wear three quarters of the stuff I take. I feel like I am going through clothing withdrawal right now but I have it all in two suitcases and if I find I have to have something else it will be the prefect excuse to go shopping more while I am there. I am really very excited about vacation starting tomorrow since I am going to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, my favorite beach destination. We have rented a big beautiful house for a number of my family and some friends and it will be great fun to hang out doing not much but enjoying the people and the fantastic ocean. We go there in September each year because it is still warm enough for the beach but the crowds are gone for the summer and the prices on the rentals have dropped a lot! I will be taking my laptop and camera so I can see what y'all are writing and if I can I will post some of the pictures of the fabulous ocean.

As an extra treat when I get back, I have made a beautiful piece of jewelry for my fall give away. I will be posting the photos and dates when I return.
It will be selected randomly from the comments and the followers for this blog and the my other blog Sugar Creek Beads . Check it out if you haven't been there cause it is lots of fun and filled with information on life around my jewelry studio. Don't forget to make comments on both here and there and be a follower in both spots. It will double your chance in the drawing!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The count down and the packing has begun...

I am so so ready to be sitting in that chair, watching a sunset, having a glass of wine and chilling out by the ocean. Next week at this time you will find me right there enjoying the beginning of my long waited for vacation. It's the Outer Banks of North Carolina time and I am already walking around with a smile on my face. What is driving me crazy though is the packing! My big problem is I am only going away two weeks and I always pack enough for a month or more. My thought is maybe I'll need that dress or what if its chilly and I need clothes for two climates, warm and cold. This has to be a woman thing because any man I have ever traveled with could throw a shirt and a toothbrush in an overnight case and tour Europe without any problem. Me, I am just going to the beach! My goal, when I started typing this blog today was to get control with the amount of clothes and make a list of only what I really need. How many bathing suits are enough? Speaking of enough, what about panties and bras, do I always need a suitcase just for them? Crazy I know, even crazier is the knowledge there is a full size washer and dryer in the house we rent. And then there is the issue of the extra couple going with us this year... what to do, what to do? Okay ladies, this is my plan, two suitcases, nothing more. Really, I mean it! I never, ever wear all the stuff I take with me so with that thought I should be able to get control. Jeans, shorts, tops and tees with two (well, maybe three)pairs of shoes in one bag. Stuff panties and bras for two weeks, not a month, in the corners of the bag and that takes care of one suitcase. The other case gets 4 bathing suits (you never know), robe and pj's and toiletry case. Skip the dress since I know I won't put it on and if I need a sweatshirt or sweater I can use it for another excuse to shop. What do you think? Is it really possible to pull this off for a clothes horse? Speaking of horses one of the things I love there is watching the horses wander in the surf and through the dunes and I know they never give a thought to what I have on. I think writing this blog today has been good for me, tonight I will pull out only two suitcases, and practice getting my toned down version of packing right till I leave on Friday. I know y'all will hold me to the two bag plan. I will take lots of pictures and my laptop so I hope to send you some of my fun, even if I have the same clothes on every day.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Warm kitchen memories and figs...

There are certain things that always make me miss the south. Being a born and bred southern girl from Mississippi one of my best memories and joys, when it comes food this time of year is figs. I grew up with figs as something my Mom and Grandmother preserved and canned every year, then brought them out for special occasions and sometimes just because. When we moved to Maryland some years ago, one of the first things my Mom did was to plant fig trees, so we wouldn't miss that special treat.
I loved to sit and watch them cook up all the figs and stuff them hot into the Ball jars. It is a fun process that begins with picking the ripe figs, washing them and placing them in a large pot with equal amounts of sugar. The best preserves are made, for example, with 5 pounds of figs to 5 pounds of sugar. We also slice 2 whole lemons for the 5 and 5 mixture and add them to the pot with a cup of water. (You can of course use any combo you may have say 10 and 10)
Cook them on a low boil for around 1 hour or until they have cooked down as you like them to be. Some people like theirs almost still whole and others, like my family, like them cooked until they are rich and chunky and have a deep caramel color. This is a treat for anytime for me and my family. I also love having a supply in the pantry, when I want to take a special goodie to a friends for dinner, or it's a cool fall or winter Sunday morning. I will slide a pan of homemade biscuits in the oven, put a big pot of tea on the stove to brew and empty a jar of the richest, deep amber colored figs into a pretty bowl, feeling like I am in my Mom's kitchen and being hugged by the goodness of it all. It is something very special to me as I bite into the warm biscuit, smothered in the figs, and remember the little girl so excited to share the love that comes from the three generations of southern women and those very special figs.
Do you have special kitchen memories as a child? I would love to hear about them so please share them in the comments.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hurray for long weekends!!

After such a stressful and busy week I'm so glad we are having a long weekend to kick back and regroup. One of the smartest things our government ever did was to move most all holidays to a Monday so people could have tiny vacations all during the year. Me, I am going over to the shore to Mom's and hang out at her pool, veg out and eat steamed crabs! Don't get much better to me. I am crazy about steamed crabs, love everything about it, the picking, the mess and the great taste.
Maryland is known for the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab, the best there is when it comes to steaming crabs. All you need is a big pot, a bushel of live (most cook live, sorry)crabs, water, beer and our equally famous Old Bay Seasoning. Get yourself a bunch of old newspapers to cover the table, some knives and hammers for opening, lots and lots of napkins and a cold drink. Holidays are meant to have crabs in Maryland.
I hope you enjoy your holiday as much as I will and I will be back next week. If I have some crab meat left I'll make crab soup for you and give you my recipe. I know you'll like it. Until next week...