December 12, 2016: Post 1 – Cooking and Birding

December 12, 2016: Post 1 – Cooking and Birding

 In cooking news, I made two dishes: a linguini with shrimp and clams in a cream sauce, and a classic pot roast.  Both dishes were very simple, and they both turned out great.  For the seafood pasta:

  • 3/4 C whipping cream
  • 1 C clam juice
  • 1/3 C Chardonnay wine
  • 3 tbl butter
  • Half a chopped onion
  • One clove crushed garlic (strictly for the fragrance)
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 2 cans chopped clams
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbl flour
  • ½ tsp basil
  • 1 short tbl dried parsley
  • Dash oregano

Thaw shrimp.  Hint: unless you are on the coast, buy frozen shellfish.  The stuff under the glass behind the counter has been frozen then thawed out.  It sits back there in the open with all the other rotting fish.  Avoid it.

shrimp
It is easy to overcook seafood.  The raw shrimp on top should barely turn white when done.  The shrimp on the bottom appear horribly overcooked, and may have even been cooked, then frozen and thawed.  Horrible.

Cook shrimp in hot butter.  Hint: do not cook it much.  It is easy to overcook fish of all kinds.  When in doubt, consider it done.  The shrimp should turn from shiny to white with pink lines, barley.  Remember: you can eat it raw.  People pay a lot to eat raw seafood in Japan.  Remove the barely-cooked shrimp from the pan.

Drain pan, wipe pan (there will be water in that pan, you don’t want it).  Cook onion in 2 tbls hot butter until it starts to brown, then add garlic for no more than one minute.  Add 1 tbl flour.  Hint: you want to cook that flour a bit, because raw flour tastes doughy (duh).

Add the liquid ingredients and the clams and the rest of the spices.  Heat until bubbling and bubble for 2 minutes.  Add the shrimp back.  Stir, remove from heat, cover.  Let stand for up to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the linguini.  Hint: it will clump unless you stir it.  Add some oil to the water you are boiling the pasta in, and pull the pasta up through the oil when stirring.  Be sure to add a tbl of salt to the water.  You do not need sea salt.  Just use kosher salt, or regular salt.

Ladle the sauce over the pasta and serve with fresh parmesan cheese as a topping.  Drink the rest of the Chardonnay with the meal.  Hint: white wine needs to be chilled, but if not chilled, never add ice to it.

slide4
For classic pot roast pick red potatoes and add some parsnips or turnips (not shown). Use a good chef’s knife and drink a high-tannin red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon.  Two pot roasts were being prepared above.

For classic pot roast, I will not give a complete recipe.  Here are some hints though:

  • Use red potatoes, they hold together better, and do not cut them up much
  • I like to add a few turnips or parsnips; they add a slight peppery flavor to the au jus
  • Use less Worcestershire sauce than most recipes recommend; substitute apple cider vinegar; do not be afraid of using two tablespoons of vinegar
  • Drink a medium to high tannin red wine while preparing the pot roast, and with the meal; Androp Gerard always selects Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Use a good quality 8 inch / 20 cm chef’s knife at all times

Under the heading of birding, Androp Gerard went with a friend and participated in a two-person Christmas Bird Count.  Temperatures hovered around freeze-your-butt-off but above oh-shit-it-really-is-too-cold.  No visual evidence of the sun’s existence was noted, although it was light enough to see.  Two sites were visited, and a total of 27 species were seen:

slide2
Two sites yielded a list of 27 bird species after half a day birding.

Site 1, traveling 2.67 miles, 26 species:

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  6
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Barred Owl (Strix varia)  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  11
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  9
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  5
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  22
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  3
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  13
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)  4
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  11
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)  8
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)  2
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)  24
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)  1
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  1
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  72
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)  37
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  49
Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)  57     Juncos, song , white-throated, and swamp sparrows were common in the grasslands. Swamp sparrows were seen sometimes in groups of 10.
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  17
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  8
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3

Site 2, traveling 1.0 miles, 23 species:

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  2
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  8
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)  1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)  7
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)  12
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  55
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  8
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  1
American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)  1
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)  3
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  65
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)  44
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  12
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  13
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  3
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  1
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  2
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  1

By tradition, the tiring field survey was followed by consumption of a fried catfish sandwich and beer.  Androp Gerard’s pinkie fingers and his often- and recently-broken index finger were still tingling after the post-meal shower.

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