Sunday’s Column: The Kitchen, Where We Celebrate Food And Family

Jul 22, 2012 by

Here’s Sunday’s Column from The Newnan Times-Herald:

There are many life lessons I am trying to pass on to the SONS of Thunder.

How to handle money. Why keeping their word is so important. To stand for what is right. To be their own man and not follow the crowd.

How to cook and really know their way around a kitchen.

And I’m not talking about happy face pancakes and “cloud” eggs, as the SONS call those sunny-side up delights.

By cooking, I mean creating. To actually make something that has some foreign word in it and does not involve the use of a microwave. How to properly handle a chef knife as long as their arm so that said arm stays attached. That also goes for fingers.

Most important, how to win the heart of their own Little Black Dress.

Last week I wrote about The Dance and The Kiss, and how those events usually happen in the kitchen. For us, the kitchen is one of the central parts of our home. It is where we create, where friends and family join us in laughter, where we experiment …

As The Dress likes to say, “many great memories occur in the kitchen.”

A while back a couple of newsroom colleagues were bantering about butter. And that somehow led to how one compatriot said she abhorred all things shellfish-related. We newsroom types are known to cover a variety of subjects in a short amount of time.

Anyway, that got me thinking about one of our favorites dishes, a rather awesome meal we had the other night – consisting of a whole lot of shellfish. So awesome I had to take a picture of it. And being the ornery type I am, I e-mailed said photo of said dish to my colleague.

So I thought I’d share it with you. Now if you are allergic to shellfish, or still debating the whole “clean” verses “unclean” food thing, well, I’d suggest you bypass this one. But we have many others to share.

On to the dish: one stick of butter; four green onions (scallions), diced; two shallots, minced; 10 mushrooms, sliced; two cups of white wine; one cup of olive oil. And, for us at least, two pounds of littleneck clams and two pounds of mussels. Add/subtract on the mussels and clams as you wish.

Please note diced, minced and sliced is not the same as scattered, covered and smothered.

At this point, The Dress also makes me remind everyone to scrub the clams/mussels to remove any “stuff.” Fresh mussels can have a “beard” and you need to pull it off. I have no idea why a shellfish would have a beard.

For the pot, I use a four-inch deep and 12-inch in diameter complete with a lid.

Melt the butter in the pot over low heat. Add wine and olive oil. When butter melts, add scallions, mushrooms and shallots and saute a couple of minutes until they are soft. Turn down heat and throw in clams and mussels. Stir with a big spoon to coat the shellfish. Turn heat back up to medium-high. Put lid on pot and gently shake back and forth. Have a sip of wine.

Every now and then, remove lid, stir shellfish around and put the lid back on. Eventually, the shellfish will start to open. If you don’t think there’s enough sauce, add water or wine. Once almost all the shellfish have opened, food is ready. Discard any that didn’t open. Have a sip of wine.

Sometimes we eat this as is, but more often than not serve it over some type of pasta. We leave the pasta choice to you. We usually put the pasta in a bowl or large plate and use tongs to place the shellfish around. The Dress loves The Presentation. Spoon over the sauce as appropriate.

Personally, I like to just put a big bowl in the center of the table and let everyone throw in their shells. The Dress, however, whose style and grace puts me in the Neanderthal class in comparison, suggests each person have their own bowl.

For us, recipes are, again to quote The Dress, “a celebration of food, family and friends.”

And they – the recipes, not the friends – are made to be broken. They are simply a blueprint. In a way, much like life. You have a general idea of what you should do, but it’s up to you to make it yours, to follow your own path.

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