Steamed Crabs and Shrimp

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Beach vacations are not complete without a seafood feast. During our week of fun at the house on the Colorado river, we managed to slowly but surely stockpile some crabs. Caught in nets, pots and with chicken necks on a string we stored them in the crisper of the freezer in the house we rented.    They enter a hibernation type state, and will come back to life after warming up as long as you keep them moist with a wet towel and not submerged in water.

As much as I enjoy crabs, I prefer them cleaned. If you like the “mustard” found in whole crabs I salute you and the recipe I provide remains unchanged; however, add a few minutes to the steam. My shrimp guy had huge 4-6 count shrimp (meaning 4- 6 shrimp equal a pound) for cheap and I jumped on them and added them to the pot.  When done right they are a lot like a lobster–just don’t over cook them.

We ate these as an appetizer before our fried fish, but with enough crabs and shrimp this can be an all around meal in itself.  Make sure you have lemon, cocktail sauce with lots of horseradish and paper towels to go around.

Ingredients

*  Blue Crabs, stone crab claws, 3 pounds of 4-6 count shrimp

* Old Bay Seasoning, 2 cups

*  3 Cups of Mushrooms

* 3 Onions

*  5 pounds of red potatos

* 5 ears of corn on the cob

* 3 sliced lemons

* Equal Parts Water and Apple Cider Vinegar (enough to fill your raised rack steaming pot to just below the rack)

*  2 Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon or equally high quality beer.

 

Method

*  Add water, vinegar and beer to your pot.

*  Layer potatoes and lemons on the rack and heavily season with Old Bay. Do the same with corn, then onions, then mushrooms and crabs, heavily seasoning between layers.  Don’t add the shrimp yet.

* Bring pot to a boil and steam for 15 minutes.  Add the shrimp, season and steam for another 2 minutes.  The juice from the crab will flavor the veggies underneath.

* Serve on news paper or butcher paper.  Garnish with lemon slices, cocktail sauce, and plenty of napkins.

Dirty Mouth

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Another fish that was biting were the lovely little toadfish.  Gruesome little buggers, they snapped at us as we tried to get the hooks out.  Apparently they like muddy bottoms and eating children’s souls.

Heavy rains are good, unless you want to fish near the mouth of the Colorado river on the gulf.  My plans of catching limits of specks in “trout green” waters under industrial sized lights were foiled by mother nature’s decision to empty several inches of rain the week prior to our trip. I managed a lone speckled trout in a week of fishing, but I must admit my efforts were not strong once it became apparent the water would remain the color of a good Cajun roux.  Even crabbing was weak, though we managed more success than we did with trout under lights.

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Luckily, Atlantic Golden Croaker, or simply croaker, were hammering dead shrimp and my boys stayed busy reeling in one after another.  The biggest went about 2 pounds, but most were in the half pound to pound range.  Fine table fare.

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Crabs were really slow, so we almost didn’t have enough but on the last day a small herd of crabs made their way into our pots.  We ended up with about a dozen keepers with about another dozen stone crab claws.

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Excitement ensued when I heard a loud splash and looked over and saw my 2 year old floating face down and arms flailing and survival kicking.  Naturally, in I went.  As luck would have it, so did the iphone in my pocket.  Awesome.  I also cut my bare feet on some oyster shell–luckily the mud plugged the wounds quickly before any of the toadfish could gnaw my legs off.  Susan, my wife, comes rushing out of the cabin and as I’m standing waste deep in the water holding my crying two year old, she asks “Did he fall in?”

“Nope.”

But my little guy was fine and he soon enjoyed the fun of blowing bubbles in 15 mph winds.

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The cool thing about kids, fishing and vacations is that even though the fishing was a bust, we had a good time.  And it’s not about the fillets for me anymore, its about the smiles.

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Coach’em Up

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I’ve been busier than the men’s room at Golden Corral on chili-mac and cheese night, coaching two little league teams. After learning 23 names, managing 22 games, and having about 25 practices I’ve learned to leave the gear in my truck, don’t forget the water, and have everyone visit the bathroom before the first pitch.

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I think we want all boys to lead active lives and build confidence in themselves through success after hard work.

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In a sense, I am always coaching; be it lining their knuckles up in while holding the bat, keeping their feet floppy in the free style, reeling in a redfish, or saying the dinner prayer.

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I’ve found my boys learn in waves. For instance, swimming the fly is a learning progression depending on timing and the kick. But if you tell them everything they must do before swimming it correctly, they will almost be paralyzed with information overload. Break it down into simple steps and after a few short sessions, they suddenly get it.

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No sense trying to explain the intricacies of the infield fly rule to a 7 year old.

I get excited and have fun. Go ahead and smile, yell, and get fired up with the boys. The younger they are the more they love it and learn to feed off your energy. Encourage them to celebrate and be goofy when they succeed. 20140515-092451.jpg

It’s all about the fun. When my wife grabbed a few tennis rackets at a thrift store, obligatory sweat bands were in order. Sadly, I couldn’t find any painfully short shorts to complete the 1980s look of these burgeoning McEnroe’s.

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The other night we set up a practice elk camp in the back yard, building a fire, roasting some dogs, and breaking out our new backpacking stove from MSR. The boys spread the sleeping mats and bags out, and scattered army men over the floors of the tent. You know, the essential stuff for an elk hunt.

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One of Davids song lyrics says “Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him,” and it’s true. If you have children in your life to mentor, train and coach don’t hesitate to do so. If sports aren’t your thing, coach them to do what you like. Whatever you enjoy, teaching a kid to do what you like and do it well creates a satisfaction way beyond your own accomplishments. I’ve been on some fine hunts, scored touchdowns and caught a bunch of fish but nothing is like seeing kids you’ve taught do the same. While it takes patience and time, the reward far outweighs the cost.