Saturday, August 17, 2013

A day at the beach

Actually, make that overnight at the beach!

White Horse Beach, Plymouth MA, 29 July 2013, 7:30 pm

I love the beach. This is only a 40 minute drive for me but, sadly, I rarely have time for it. This was my last trip to the beach. It's been two years? Really? But here my sister and her husband, from the upper midwest, rented a beach house for a week at the height of the summer season. Obviously a *huge* deal for them! Big deal for me too, actually. While I can visit the beach any time the mood strikes, staying overnight is a huge treat. Especially here. On a dead end. Where, by 7:30 pm, it's just the locals and the sand and the waves.

One of my sister's best ideas *ever*.

I have this minor obsession with (wild) Beach Plums.

Beach Plums

Beach Plums grow wild on the beaches from Maine to Maryland but the Massachusetts coast and islands are thick with them. Nothing says "beach" to me more than Beach Plums. The flowers smell wonderful. Yankee Candle had(?) a Beach Plum scented candle that they apparently no longer make. That's a bummer. That was a favorite. Around Labor Day you make the most delicious jam with Beach Plums. If you're lucky enough to have Beach Plums here's how it's done.

There's a fresh fish market not 200 yards from this beach house which provided us with wonderful dinner choices which...brings me to the back story of my last post. We got some clams and some crab cakes and some striped bass and some local corn. We even had some...

Caviar and crackers

But we didn't have...


You see, this market didn't shuck. So we missed out on these beautiful oysters. Looking at this very picture several days later inspired me to try shucking my own oysters! Never again will I miss out. My overnight bag will have a permanent church key can opener. Right alongside my corkscrew :)

I have no idea what these yellow flowers are. But I found them very pretty. I always try to stop and enjoy things like this.

I had such a good time I might just have to rent that beach house myself next year. You see, it's close enough I can still hang out with my horses for some of the day!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Aw Shucks

Oh <groan>. Tell me you didn't see this coming.

There's a back story here I'll explain later.

Between shucking contests and gory stories of knives being pushed through the palms of careless hands, oyster shucking is something I've never done at home. Never even thought of it. Like carpaccio and tartare I've always left oysters to experts.

Oysters. 3 August

I love seafood. I eat seafood 2 or 3 times a week. Sometimes more. I especially love oysters! I should be able to do this. So with a bold shrug I decided...what the hell. I'd try shucking oysters at home. Maybe I'd waste a few oysters. Which would be a crime but just maybe I'll add a whole new dimension to dining at home.

Julia Child shucks oysters with a church key can opener. It's really rather easy and safer than using an oyster knife. There's a video here from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home where she uses a can opener to open an oyster. It's about 4 minutes into the video.

I scrubbed the sand and stuff off the outside of my oysters. Don't *ever* rinse the inside! I wrapped the oyster in a towel to more easily hold it, bowl side down (they have a small flat top shell and a bowl shaped bottom shell) with the more pointier end exposed. I gently worked the pointy end of the can opener into the little space in the "hinge" and, working in as far as I could, gently pried it. And...crack, the shell separated just a little. That's as far as you'll get. The muscle still holds the shell on. Here's where you'd use an oyster knife but I used a butter knife. Just slide the butter knife in the seam between the shells and scrape it back and forth along the top shell to cut the muscle loose. With the top shell removed run the knife under the oyster to free it from the bottom shell. Be very careful not to lose any of that liquid. There! Have a look at that! I was so very proud of myself. I could have done a happy dance on the spot.

Add some cocktail sauce and Sauvignon Blanc. Or Champagne. Or beer. Or some sparkling water.

I was a little unprepared for success so my presentation is somewhat lacking. Next time I think I'll have a Mignonette Sauce with them.
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