04 September, 2011

Tasty, Tasty Murder


You may have seen this t-shirt or at least heard the comment before.  It's a concept Scott and I laugh about a lot.  Watch enough food/travel shows, and you're going to see all sorts of animals - from cows to fish - killed and cooked.  Everyone knows that meat used to breathe and think.

I, of course, am more of a supermarket murderer.  By the time I get my food, it's long-dead.  I never saw its face, never watched it breathe, and certainly didn't help kill it.  Heck, I've never even caught a fish that didn't get released back into the water!

The Story:

Scott and I were told a perishable food-related thank you gift was to be delivered to us yesterday morning.  We were expecting an edible arrangement.  After all, the thank-you was for something we genuinely didn't expect to be thanked for!  And so, imagine my surprise when the doorbell rang and I opened the door to find a very large box under the welcome mat.  (about that: the UPS driver often "hides" our packages under our doormat.  it's always obvious - even a small package makes the mat look like a cat is hiding under it - but yesterday's was just-plain comical.  the box was at least a foot tall, and about the same other dimensions as the mat that was covering it!)  The box had a big logo on the side - LobsterGram!

No way!

Yes, way!

So I hauled the box into the house and put it up on the dining room table, grabbed Scott's pocket knife and pulled out the shipping manifest.  Now having some clue about the contents, I though I should probably open the box.  So I did.  And inside was a giant styrofoam cooler.  I opened that lid, pulled off a layer of bubble wrap, and saw a wax paper sort of thing.  I picked up the corner, enough to see a rubber-banded claw that was definitely not bright red.  I put everything back in, closed the cooler, backed away slowly, and took the shipping paper upstairs to Scott (who had been in the shower).

He came back downstairs with me and agreed that yes, there were two lobsters in the box. That were moving.  In our house!

In retrospect, I think we both probably made the face new parents make the first time their precious miracle has an explosive poo.  You know you should DO something, and quickly, but all you can really do is stand there frozen and staring.  It was really a "umm...what do we do now" moment.  Scott then covered the lobsters back up and closed the cooler.  I should mention that neither of us really has a humanitarian hang-up about lobster.  Like all sorts of other creatures of the sea, they also fall into the "tasty, tasty murder" category.  But I think maybe because I had fish tanks growing up, the sight of a lobster in a tank at the grocery store is really no different to me than the sight of fish waiting to come home with you and live in your house.

We of course knew right away that we weren't going to look a gift-lobster in the mouth, and started reading their enclosed cooking manual (how's that for a "To Serve Man" type fate?).  The paper that was on top of the cooler suggested that we pose our lobsters for fun pictures before cooking them.  I thought that was pretty mean-spirited, though did have a momentary flash of "Mary and Richard playing with lobsters?" that quickly passed.  Scott also read in the manual that sometimes the lobster tails will splash boiling water when you put them in the pot. Yikes! So we followed the sage advice of Alton Brown and put them in the freezer to stupefy them while the water came to a boil. 

When the time came, I held the pot lid, Scott deposited them into the water, and I put the lid back on.  And the worst was officially behind us.  I guess the freezer trick really worked, because this scene from "Julie & Julia" certainly didn't happen to us...

(coincidentally enough, I just saw this movie for the first time this morning. oh how I laughed!)

Nine minutes after the water came back to a boil, they were cooked.  Scott did the ripping and rinsing, and I got the clarified butter, a few glasses of chardonnay, and all the appropriate tools together at the table.  While Scott was still working on cleaning his lobster, I grabbed one of the legs off my plate and sucked the meat out of it.  And in that moment, I had a food-piphany.  Lobster is so good that it gives you lobster-prep amnesia!

The parts of the meal where we were able to extract actual big chunks of lobster meat from the shells were even more amazing.  I might have shattered-claw-shell shrapnel buried in my face (came close to getting my safety classes out of my work bag...for real), but that's half the fun of eating crustaceans.  I barely touched the butter. The meat was just so perfect without it!

I get it now - why foodies are so willing to kill and eat lobsters in their own homes.  I don't think I'm at the point emotionally where I could go to the store and pick one out of a tank... but I could probably give someone else the money to go buy one for me!


We had sort of a weird schedule yesterday, and actually ate the lobsters for lunch.  Tonight, we're having the rest of the stuff that came in the cooler with the lobsters.  It's the gift that keeps on giving!  And now I can add lobster to the list of things I can cook...with a little (ok, a lot of) help from my hubby!

Between Vacations

I spent August 24-27 in a whirlwind of family fun.  Of course, I'm a terrible blogger and didn't bother to record anything of note at the time.  Now on the eve of another "memory maker," I'm going to throw up a random list of things I want to remember about how wonderful it was to be with everyone again.
August 24 - evening - dinner at Downtown Disney with Rose, Gary, Mark, Dawn, and Scott.  Good food and wine, followed by a trip to Goodings to pick up ponchos for the tourists!

August 25 - Magic Kingdom with a ton of people! 

Our original plan was to meet up with Dawn and Naomi and their respective spouses and children, sign them in, and go off with just Dawn and Mark.  Then 7 others showed up, including Jenn and her family, so we stuck with the crew long enough to ride Pirates (not a good idea with a tiny baby...she wailed through the whole thing, and everyone on the boat was throwing me the "bad mommy" look because I was holding her!), Hall of Presidents, and Haunted Mansion.  By the way, the new and improved Hitchhiking Ghosts at the end of Haunted Mansion blew my freaking mind! I want to go back again and again and again!  After that, we bailed on the family fun and headed home... with a Dole Whip pit stop.  Mmm...magical Magic Kingdom treat...

August 26 - Happy Birthday Scott!
The day started with a little birthday brunch for my halfway-to-70-year-old.  Actually, it started as a little brunch and ended up being me feeding 11 people and trying to keep the stress away from Scott.  Note: I've never even really participated in Thanksgiving dinner (besides the pies).  I was so proud of myself - sticky buns, a bread casserole (with pancetta...that I fried...with splattering oil), individual chicken pot pies... and the only thing we didn't do from scratch was mashed sweet potatoes from our local favorite BBQ place.

Then we napped.  I needed it!

The evening was spent in celebration of Aunt Mary and Uncle Richard's 50th anniversary. In addition to the planned activities - dinner, musical performances by some grand kids, and a DVD of 1950's home movies that made me laugh and cry - we brought a little entertainment of our own.

I bought these 2 11x17 picture frames on clearance a few months ago, for the purpose of using them as silly photo props.  I brought them with me and stashed them in a corner until I saw a photo op.  As soon as the frames came out, they were like catnip for the kids, even the camera-shy ones.  People were squeezing as many faces as they could, going 3D and popping out of the frames, and generally laughing and having a good time.  I got major brownie points for bringing them along!

Alicia as Richard, and Richard as Mary
I was also a (small) part of the night's most fun surprise: "Flat Mary" and "Flat Richard" - customized masks of their faces, perfect for taking even more ridiculous pictures!

After the evening's fun and frolic, we asked everyone to take a pair of masks home with them, and to take pictures where they live.  Our plan is to create a travel diary of The Adventures of Richard and Mary.  I hope people remember to take pictures!

August 27 - Another day of Park Hopping, this time with Rose and Gary, Laura and Richard, Alicia, Alex, and Megumi.  We did almost all the "E-Ticket" rides at the Studios and at Magic Kingdom, got caught in a monsoon, and had lunch at Prime Time Cafe.  Some of the highlights for me:

Laura and Richard's 10th Anniversary Hoop-La!  We got them bride and groom mouse ears and anniversary buttons. Everywhere we went, people congratulated them.  They got up on stage for the Indiana Jones show, got shout-outs from parade performers, and generally got a lot more attention than they were probably comfortable with.  It was awesome!

The new Star Tours was so much better than I expected it to be!  There were 9 of us, which apparently qualified us for our own private ride.  I was the "rebel spy," (you'll understand when you ride it) and Alex was yelling back at the screen that he wanted to turn me in.  Our tour saw Chewbacca, Yoda, and JarJar Binks.  The 3D is great, and the simulator motion matches the image on the screen pretty seamlessly.

Riding Big Thunder Mountain with Alicia and literally laughing until I started to sob.  Because the lap bar was set to my legs and she's so much skinnier than I am, she got tossed around a lot.  The first dip, I thought she might fall out.  From then on, I just couldn't stop laughing.  By the time we pulled into the station, I had tears streaming down my face. When I recounted the story to Scott, people were looking at me to see who the sobbing freak was!

Laughing to tears again on Space Mountain. I was in the front of our rocket, and every time we went through a jarring turn on sharp drop Alex would yell "woah, Space," as though he was trying to get a horse to stop. It just got funnier and funnier.  Honestly, I can't remember the last time I had so much fun on Space Mountain!

Having great seats for both the Electric Light Parade and Wishes. Thanks to this, I was able to learn about what I'm now calling the "shaky shaky" feature on my camera and get some killer pictures of both without a flash.

And of course, we brought Flat Mary & Rich along for some killer photos "where Magic lives," but I won't be previewing those quite yet.

Driving home after a marathon day in the parks, with sore wet feet and total exhaustion setting in, it was hard for me to not get emotional.  I miss them all already - not just the ones I had a chance to "play" with, but the ones I only saw at the anniversary party.  I met some new extended family members, made a baby cry in terror, and took a zillion pictures (of which, about 50 came out).  We had a fabulous time - even better than we were anticipating - and look forward to seeing everyone again.