My daughter called me this week with a crisis. It had rained where she lives in Oakland California (it hardly ever rains there) and ants, which decided to move in to avoid the wet weather, had invaded her. Now when I say “invasion” I’m talking about a swath of ants eight inches wide that marched under the front door across the carpet, up a wall and then continued on through the kitchen to the back door where they exited. It would have been fine if they had all exited but some curious ants decided to stay and take a look around!
She called and said, “The landlord won’t answer the phone, what should I do?” I asked if she had left a message yet and she replied, “No.” This is what I told her to do. “Lindsey, call and leave this message.” “Hello, This is Lindsey McCartt from 313B. I’m having a problem. Oh my goodness would you look at that! WOW, I’ve never seen anything this bad!!” Then hang up. Don’t say what the problem is and I guarantee he will call you right back! In about ten minutes Lindsey called me and said, “Mom you were right. The landlord called right back. He couldn’t stand not knowing what the problem was!”
I’m the same way; I can’t stand not knowing. Christmas about kills me. Not knowing what’s in all those packages under the tree. It’s sheer torture. My mom is worse. I can’t take any presents to her house until Christmas day or she will open every one!
If you want to impress your friends and co-workers with all your savvy culinary skills at Christmas parties this year, I’ve been working on a recipe that will wow them. Your appetizer will be the talk of the evening! The bonus is you can make it in advance. It will keep for 2 days in the refrigerator. If your house is like mine, you’ll want to make sure to the shrimp actually make it to the party. I suggest putting a note on the bowl that says. “Not for you!”
Lemon Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce and Old Bay Crackers
2 pounds large raw shrimp
(Look for the already peeled and tails removed raw shrimp. This will save time)
2 Tablespoons pickling spice
1 large stalk of celery including leafy tops, sliced
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Bring a large stockpot of water with picking spice, celery and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. After 10 minutes bring water back to a boil and add shrimp. Cook shrimp for only 2 minutes (unless you want rubbery shrimp) then quickly pour water and shrimp into a large strainer. Rinse with cold water to stop cooking process. Drain. Peel and remove tails. Remove celery. Set shrimp aside and make the marinade.
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 and 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
1/2 of a 3 ounce jar of capers with their juice (fill jar back up with white vinegar for next time)
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco hot sauce
1/2 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onions
3 bay leaves, crumbled up
2 thinly sliced lemons
Mix all marinade ingredients together. Add shrimp. Stir to coat shrimp with marinade. Refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving (it takes 24 hours for the flavor to fully develop). Will keep for 2 days in refrigerator. Stir occasionally. To serve: Drain and put in a glass bowl. Serve with your favorite cocktail sauce and saltine crackers that have been brushed with butter, lightly sprinkled with Old Bay Seasoning, and baked on 350 F for 5-7 minutes. Enjoy!
Published in The News and Neighbor on December 14, 2013