This has been our summer of hometown visitors. In the 11 and counting years we have lived here on the Emerald Coast I cannot remember having so many wonderful friends stop by to visit and break the proverbial bread with us.
Well actually with my wife’s gluten intolerance, we might break wheat-free crackers. In fact I found that others we dined with have similar allergies so eating can be a bit of a challenge. In fact it has become the norm now to ask dinner guest what they can and cannot eat?
It is no longer bad manners to pass up some of the host and hostess offerings at the dinner table.
In fact it is the host and hostess who are left with “organic cage free” egg on their face for not checking with their guests in advance.
Eggs aside, one of our former neighbors and still a close friend, (Dr) Lynn Tepley McGee, came to the beach with her extended family that included daughters, Allison and Lauren, one adorable grandson, one son-in-law, Hoyt, plus his brother, Scott, wife, Leeah, and their son.
Staying just down the street from us, not planned but a perfect coincidence, they decided there were too many of them and just a couple of us so we headed to their beach house for a very authentic Lowcountry Boil.
Prepared by Hoyt it was just about as good as it gets. One because he purchased and prepared a veritable feast of fresh local seafood, sausage and veggies and, two, I got to be a real guest. Imagine me sitting at the table while all around me people worked feverishly preparing, presenting and, best of all, cleaning up.
We sat at a long table spread with newspaper which was in and of itself a treat since who reads the newspaper anymore? Correct, so turns out that newspapers are now a perfect match for shrimp, clams, sausage, corn and potatoes dumped right from the pot into the center of the table to be eaten with your hands, no plates please! Are those white-gloved matrons from the past now whirling in their graves?
My bride brought along yogurt ice cream and tasty watermelon for dessert. It was seedless which destroyed the chance to have an old fashion seed spittin’ contest. She’ll know better next time.
Next up were close friends and part time neighbors down here, Peggy and Bill White. They came with their extended family of sons, Bill the third and Edward along with wives plus five grandsons and one grand daughter-in-law to celebrate Peggy and Bill’s 50th Wedding Anniversary.
Friends from Chattanooga joined them including Martha and (Dr) Chuck Sternberg as well as our next door part time neighbors Carolyn and Randall Pierce. I should note that Randall and I have a friendship that dates back to grammar school and we spend a lot of time remembering the past and finishing each others sentences. That’s the growing old part you don’t hear too much about when you are young.
It was a weekend celebration than included a party we held with the Pierces to honor the golden couple and one of their sons, Edward along with wife, Kara and their two incredible well mannered young grandsons, Ben and Lucas.
Carolyn and I planned the menu then got our respective spouses to handle grilling and setup duties. Since Edward, like my wife, is gluten intolerant we had to choose carefully when deciding what to prepare and the ingredients that would be used.
I discovered that there is actually a gluten-free beer, Red Bridge, that is made without wheat or barley and really didn’t taste much different than my favorite, Yingling. I made beer Margaritas and once the beer was incorporated with a good bit of Tequila, frozen limeade concentrate and a splash of Sprite, it tasted pretty darn good. Good to the last drop as a matter of fact.
Along with cold Gulf shrimp, a grilled molasses glazed roast pork tenderloin and a tasty spinach and artichoke dip, it was perfect fare for a just right repasts after a day in the sun on our white sandy beaches. As the children noted, “we went from the beach to the pool to the beach and back again”. Made me remember why you have children when you are young.
With the summer only half over we expect to see and hear from more out-of-town friends and neighbors before Labor Day arrives. There are always children and grandchildren coming and going and always time to cook out, plan a picnic at one of our parks where there are concerts all summer long or consider a watermelon seed spittin’ contest with friends.
HOYT’S LOW COUNTRY BOIL (Serves 8)
1/2-1 cup Old Bay Seasoning
1 lime cut in half
Several handfull’s of veggie scraps(carrots, celery, etc.)
3 lbs new potatoes
2 lbs sausage cut in 2 inch chunks (Andouille if available)
50 small neck clams, closed and scrubbed
3 lbs shrimp, 31-35 count
1 lemon cut in half
1 onion cut into quarters
5 ears of corn, cut into thirds
optional Blue crabs 8 count
In an extra large stock pot (30-60 qt) with straining basket, fill
with water 3 inches from top. Add Old Bay, lemon, lime, onion, and
veggie scraps. Boil on low for an hour. You may need additional water
at this point. Add new potatoes and bring back to a boil. When
potatoes are fork tender add corn, sausage, blue crabs, and clams.
Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 3 minutes or until clams
start to open. Add shrimp and cook 2 more minutes.
Carefully pull strainer out of water and dump contents on a table covered with
newspaper. Shake Old Bay over all of it for some additional flavor. This is a serious
“Hands On” experience!