Recipe Column: An old-fashioned crab boil
While a long weekend is always welcome, inevitably Labor Day seems to elicit a sense of disbelief. “Where did the summer go?” is a refrain I have been asking myself a lot lately.
In fact I was reflecting on this phenomenon a few nights ago on my deck as I looked over trees that are showing a smattering of yellow coming through. It seems like just yesterday I was marveling at their tiny green buds and anticipating the weeks ahead. Now those days are coming to a close and not only do I marvel at their swiftness, but also all the fun I had while they were here.
For instance, there’s no better place to have fun than on a lake, and that was especially true when I was out crabbing this summer on Birch Lake. Our lake club purchased a pontoon boat for the sole purpose of trapping rusty crayfish, which became a severe nuisance about 20 years ago. I’m happy to report that the crayfish population seems to be lessening due to diligent trapping but the boat has proved to be a spring board for all kinds of unusual guests and experiences.
Some of the most entertaining guests that come on board are the kids. Since the boat is docked at a resort, these youngsters come to the Northwoods from all parts of the country. They watch with wonder dockside as I prepare the boat before heading out, asking all sorts of questions. Then I invite them along and they dash off to ask their parents. Once on board I show them the process of snagging the trap lines with a hook and how to empty and rebait the traps. It isn’t long before they are part of the “crew” and are proudly doing the jobs while I sit back and captain. And unbeknownst to them, they are learning about invasive species, and how important it is to protect the Northwoods’ most precious resources.
But kids aren’t the only ones impressed with our crabbing operation. I’ve had dignitaries from other countries marvel at the process. Politicians have hopped on board, along with talented musicians, teachers, and once we even had German mayor (at least that’s what he told me he was) who had a liking for skinny dipping. I did tell him at the beginning of the cruise that disrobing was highly “verboten” but that didn’t deter his sense of fun and adventure as he snapped pictures while we hauled in our traps.
Once we dock and unload the catch people always marvel at the numbers. Usually we have two or three five-gallon buckets full of crabs and seeing these creatures in this multitude has a way of making people realize how destructive they can really be.
A few years back my crew and I decided the best way to celebrate Labor Day would be to have a Cajun-themed crab boil and we now have this affair down to a science. First we fill a tub with salt water and dump in the crabs which cleans out their innards. Then a turkey fryer is half filled with water and crab boil herbs and seasonings are added. Small potatoes are first put into the pot, then corn on the cob pieces. Those cook for a few more minutes and then the crabs are added. It isn’t long before they turn a bright red, signifying the feast is about to begin. The entire pot of goodies is drained and then spread on a table covered in newspaper. Cold beer rounds out the feast, along with dishes brought to pass with a Cajun theme and kick.
So that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend and I’m looking forward to it. But I know that sometime during the revelry I’ll be thinking about, once again, how the summer sure did fly by and wishing with all my heart that it could last a little longer.
Cajun Crabby Dip
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 tsps. anchovy paste
2 tsps. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups plain low-fat yogurt, drained
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1 lb. lump crabmeat,
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
1/4 cup minced green onions
Combine cream cheese and next 8 ingredients (cream cheese through hot sauce), stirring well with a whisk. Stir in yogurt. Add crabmeat and remaining ingredients; stir gently to combine. Serve with veggies or chips.
1 lb. lean ground beef
11/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
2 Tbs. Cajun seasoning
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. dried parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1/2 cup peach preserves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a medium baking sheet. In a large bowl, mix thoroughly the ground beef, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, onion, bread crumbs, milk, and egg. Form the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until there is no pink left in the middle. In a small bowl, combine the barbeque sauce and peach preserves. When meatballs are done, place in a serving dish and cover with the barbeque sauce mixture. Toss to coat.