Monday, July 29, 2013

My New Secret Ingredient

Dry sherry!
It is what is missing in all creamy sauces! It gives cream of crab soup that awesome kick that separates it from other cream soups, until now. From this day forward it goes in all my cream soups, and or sauces.

Awesome Quick Mushroom Cream Sauce (that tastes super fancy):
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 soup can whole milk
1/2 teaspoon chicken stock paste
1 clove garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons minced onion
3 tablespoons butter
2 fresh basil leaves
2-4 fresh oregano leaves
3 fresh parsley leaves
splash dry sherry (or a couple splashes)

Melt butter, add onion and garlic. Saute. Add soup and milk and chicken stock paste. then chop herb leaves into sauce add splash of dry sherry.
I poured it over ravioli, shredded some mozzarella cheese over it then sprinkled with bread crumbs and baked at 350 for 30 min.

This one was a last minute experiment so I didn't take pictures as I went but here is the final product:

Since I started this post I have used my new secret sauce on smoked chicken and mushroom crepes, and an experimental casserole based on the filling used for oyster's bienville. 
(Which is a creamy shrimp and mushroom sauce) Both were awesome!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to make homemade birthday invites and get your kid to do most of the work!

Bubba loves to color!
His artistic sensibilities inspired me to let him "make" his own birthday party invitations this year.
First I gave him a blank 3 x 5 index card and a box of crayons, once he decided he was done with a picture I gave him another card. He made three or four of them at a sitting. I started about two weeks before I wanted to mail them out.

Sure he is happy here, but those last couple of invites were tough. He really likes coloring books better than blank index cards. I bribed him with the prospect of being able to color in a "grown up" kitchen table chair vs his high chair to finish up the batch.  :)


Then I printed out the party info and glued it on the back with a glue stick.
Now I just have to teach him to glue the party info to the back and address the envelopes and I won't have to do anything. I guess there is always next year ;)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Favorite Soup in the World!

Before we were that crazy family who saved mice from the garage, or the crazy couple with a bunch of cats, we were the crazy hermit crab couple. How we became these hermit crab owners isn't as good a story as how we stopped being hermit crab owners.
This post seems to be going in an odd direction... when do I talk about soup?!
Let me explain. My favorite soup in the world is Cream of Crab Soup, but in recent years I  can't help but associate cream of crab soup with hermit crabs. A Maryland favorite, almost every restaurant on the Eastern Shore serves Maryland Blue Crab Cream of Crab Soup. I grew up in Maryland, vacationing in a beach town called Ocean City, the perfect beach town with a board walk that had a carnival at the end of it. On the board walk they sold the best caramel corn, french fries and soft shell crab sandwiches, and of course tourist shops which sold T-shirts and hermit crabs about every 10 feet. My brother and I always wanted them, but my parents steered us away from the cages filled with colorful shells. Now I know why. Don't get me wrong, they are great, easy going pets. But there are a lot of things you don't know about the care of hermit crabs. For detailed info please visit this forum. My shortest explanation is hermit crabs are social creatures and always need a buddy. (THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART) You get two hermit crabs, knowing they are social and bring them home from the beach, you give them the perfect aquarium home with toys and food and even fresh coconut meat as a treat. Then one dies. What do you do? They are social they need a buddy. So you go to PetCo to find him a new friend. And the vicious cycle begins....
The only way out of the cycle is to find a new home for your last remaining crabby, and that is where the forum comes in. They have a section to match crabbies with new adopting families. After deciding we could not participate in the cycle any longer we searched for a home for our last remaining crabby. Shortly after we made the post we were contacted by a woman whose son had several happy hermit crabs. We know because she provided pictures. The drop off time and location was set, it would be the next Saturday morning at a McDonald's between our towns. (You can't make this stuff up.) The drop off went off with out a hitch, and our crabby was happy in his new home with new buddies, again we know that because pictures were provided.

How does all of this relate to awesome soup you ask? After owning our little crabbies I realized some of the smallest creatures still have personalities. Some hermit crabs are shy, some are out going and some are just dicks. We actually had one that was. We described him as  Benny- the dick. He was mean to all the other crabs. But we also had two that were best buddies and hung out in the same corner of the cage, and followed each other around. Here they are together:

Anyway enough hermit crab politics. It is enough to realize that they are more than we think. Which makes me feel bad about eating my favorite soup. Since it is made of crab. But I love it so much! So I just buy prepackaged crab meat, and try not to think about my little buddies.
Now on to the soup!

First you'll need to make the crab stock, since it is impossible to find prepackaged. This I had my Dad do at his house the night before and he brought it up the next day with all the other supplies. To make it you can by some blue crab parts and simmer in a pot for an hour or so.

Strain out all the shell bits and stuff through a coffee filter.
(It looks a sort of weird grayish blue color, that doesn't seem appetizing but trust me it make a big difference in the flavor of the final product.)

Then you'll need:
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups crab stock
1 pint light cream
1 teaspoon chicken stock paste
1 lb lump crab meat
old bay and white pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry sherry

And if you want to get really fancy:
soft shell crabs (as many as bowls of soup you'll need. this recipe makes about 6)
panko crumbs

Make roux with butter and flour. First melt butter then stir in flour.

Then add the cream and the crab stock,

And the Old Bay

And most importantly the lump crab meat

A bit of chicken stock paste

And a little dry sherry,

Maybe a little more...

Mix it up well then cover and keep on low heat to keep warm while you make the fried soft shells.

Here they are! 

First coat them in flour,

Then beaten eggs

And finally panko bread crumbs

Let rest in a pan to give the bread crumbs a chance to stick

Then fry in hot canola oil

Til golden brown

Place the fried soft shell crab into a bowl of soup and garnish with fresh parsley.


At the time Bubba refuse to try the soup and the fried crabs, so did my brother Tim, who hates seafood. Instead they shared Tim's famous smoked ribs.
Though in recent weeks Bubba has started eating fish sticks and will try most smooth soups, so maybe next time he'll get to enjoy my favorite soup in the world!