Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Today's lesson is: if you let the children lead, the journey is easy. As we sat down to our Wisconsin meal a couple of days ago, we discussed what our next state should be. Florida was quickly decided as the best choice--but what to eat? There are so many possibilities--endless varieties of seafood, Latin and Cuban food, citrus, avocados, tomatoes, and so on. Lucy quickly ended the confusion when she declared: "shrimp." Of course.

Neither of our children had ever eaten shrimp, it would be a completely new experience. As the meal grew closer, the voice in the back of my head was suggesting that this would not go well. I expected them to take one look at the leggy, squishy crustaceans and beat a quick retreat. I, not for the first time, completely underestimated my children.

This morning, Lucy and I went shopping for our meal. Citrus seemed a natural for this dish, so we were planning a lime/orange/garlic marinade for the shrimp before they were to be grilled. We are lucky to have an excellent member-owned cooperative grocery store in town and I bought 1 pound of 21-24 shrimp. (The numbers refer to how many shrimp you can expect per pound--our choices were 16 or 21-24; I asked for a "good pound" of the 21-24 and we came home with 30 shrimp.)

Without the slightest sign of squeamishness, the girls helped me clean the shrimp. Lucy peeled and Maia de-veined. We had a rather long conversation about what exactly the "vein" consists of--Lucy was the first to catch it. When I said, "well, it's not a vein, but some other stuff in a tube." "Poo," was her knowing response.

Lucy peels

Maia shows off her knife skills and expertly removes the "poo-vein."

On the side, we served a cucumber orange salad, from a recipe posted on the website for a Florida orange and produce grower:

Orange juice plus a little mint makes a refreshing, low-fat dressing for this salad or other favorite salad combos.
1 large head Boston or bibb lettuce
3 medium Florida Oranges, peeled, halved, thinly sliced, and seeded
1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
1/4 cup frozen Florida Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 or 2 tablespoons salad oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon snipped fresh mint or 1/2 teaspoon dried mint, crushed
Line 6 salad plates with lettuce. Arrange orange and cucumber slices in circles atop lettuce.
For dressing, in a screw-top jar combine thawed concentrate, vinegar, salad oil, honey, mint, and dash pepper. Cover and shake well. Drizzle over salads.
Makes 6 side-dish servings.

After we cleaned the shrimp, Marc was in charge of the marinade and grill. He first coated the shrimp in olive oil, chopped garlic and fresh thyme. Immediately before grilling he added salt and pepper. The shrimp were put on skewers and grilled on a good hot grill for about 2 minutes on each side. After they came off, he sprinkled lime and orange zest over them. We considered marinating the shrimp in fresh lime and orange juice, but decided that process might actually cook the shrimp (like ceviche) before we grilled it. These turned out perfectly, the slight char flavor from the grill with the garlic and citrus is delicious!

So, you're wondering: what did the kids say? Crazy things like: "mmmmm" and "delicious!" Could have knocked me over with a feather.

Next stop: Pennsylvania!

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