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Dave the Cook

eG Foodblog: Dave the Cook - Beachcraft

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I'm packing up to hit the road for our summer family reunion. My mother, daughter, and younger son will be driving from Atlanta to Dune Allen Beach in south Walton County, Florida -- one of the string of communities between Destin and Panama City along highway C-30A that comprises some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Tomorrow, we will meet up with my older brother and sister-in-law, and a couple of days after that, my younger brother will show up with his three kids.

Because I'm in a hurry at the moment (it seems that the last few hours leading up to a vacation are the most stressful), I'll cut to the chase, and we can get more into the area and the setup details later.

When I take a trip like this, where I'll be doing a lot of cooking, I like to pack a few things to make prep a little easier. There's the tools:

gallery_6393_1560_15981.jpg

and the bar equipment:

gallery_6393_1560_9931.jpg

a few spices, because what you usually find in rental units is old and limited:

gallery_6393_1560_4757.jpg

Like I said, just a few items. The thing is, the trouble that it is to get this batterie together is repaid in convenience and currency saved at the destination. And anyway, everything but the very biggest stuff gets tucked away in this:

gallery_6393_1560_4237.jpg

I apologize for cutting this off quickly, and not rhapsodizing about where we're going, who we're meeting, and all the great things we're going to eat and drink when we get there, but like I said, I'm in a bit of a hurry. I need to duck out for about nine hours; I'll go on to the point of boredom on all of those subjects when we've arrived and I've gotten back on line.

In the meantime, there's some background on the area in Steven Shaw's Daily Gullet piece on Sandor Zombori (whose restaurant, alas, is now closed), and you can catch me picking the brains of our cocktail peeps in the Beverages forum thread, Vacation Bar.

Happy reading. Thanks for stopping by, and I'll see you tonight.

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Dave! Finally the trip has arrived. I was so thrilled to know after all the time you put into the Vacation Bar thread and how wrapped up I got in it that now I get to see you blog it! Really cool!

Have a great time and I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with everything. I love the tackle box for all the kitchen gear, so manly :biggrin:

-Genny

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I am looking forward to a beet-free blog. :wink:

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This sounds like a cool blog.

Question: How do you use the forceps in the kitchen?

Have fun!

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Question:  How do you use the forceps in the kitchen?

I'm guessing they're for pulling pesky little bones from fresh fish.

Here's hoping for really nice weather, Dave. Looking forward to the blog.

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Now THAT'S I would call packing for a trip! :laugh::laugh:

I can't believe all the equipment, etc you are taking for this trip. How long are you going to be at the rental? How many people will you be cooking for?

Looking forward to seeing all the action!

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You can tell he's driving and not flying, can't you? (At least, he's not taking the airlines.) Can you imagine what the Transporation Security Administration would do with that tackle box? :laugh:

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I saw how Dave packed his gear when he came up for the pig pickin' in 2003, and I was astonished then. I've since learned never to be surprised by Dave Scantland -- he's always prepared.

He'll likely bring even more gear up for this year's pig pickin'!

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That box is da bomb, dave! :biggrin:

Didn't that area just get socked with a storm? You may therefore have the most equipped kitchen in the neighborhood... right in your car!

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My goodness Dave -- wow. You should see the way I pack for a trip.. but perhaps its better if you dont LOL. It would make you gag.

I cant wait for this blog to get started.

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Now that's what I call packing!

I want a box like that. Hell, I want the kit that goes into a box like that.

Dave, what are the spices you packed? I can't quite read the labels and can't identify anything past the bay leaves - is that orange powder in the foreground curry powder or am I sadely mistaken?

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Very exciting! I feel neurotic whenever we pack for one of our off-season weekends in Provincetown -- a few knives, some skillets, decent EVOO, and so on -- but now I know that there's an even more obsessive packer out there! :biggrin:

Dave, what kind of kitchen shears are those? They look quite like a Chicago Cutlery pair that I got dirt cheap and that have eclipsed my Wusthofs. Also, where are those spices from? I don't recognize the jars....

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That box is da bomb, dave! :biggrin:

It is. Like Varmint, I checked it out at the original Pig Pickin'. The man has so many thermometers I swear he could take a quail's intermal temperature from Mars. And that's just the thermometers.

Dave, it looks as if you're going to be cooking for the proverbial motley crew (Doesn't matter if it's family, it's still motley!) Are there folks with food phobias (like no fish while you're at the shore) special diets, underdeveloped tastebuds or teenage vegetarians?

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Dave, I'm really looking forward to seeing what you'll be making with those ingredients.

Enjoy your week of blogging!

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Question:  How do you use the forceps in the kitchen?

I'm guessing they're for pulling pesky little bones from fresh fish.

Here's hoping for really nice weather, Dave. Looking forward to the blog.

Therese is right. Perhaps I could mark a milestone in my emerging food obsession at the point when I decided that they were more interesting as a pinbone remover than as a roach clip. I have another pair with curved jaws, but I can't find them.

(Are they really forceps? I thought they were hemostats.)

How long are you going to be at the rental? How many people will you be cooking for?
Dave, it looks as if you're going to be cooking for the proverbial motley crew (Doesn't matter if it's family, it's still motley!) Are there folks with food phobias (like no fish while you're at the shore) special diets, underdeveloped tastebuds or teenage vegetarians?

At the moment, there's four of us: me; my 74-year-old Mom(who I will try to remember to call Grandma for blogging purposes); my daughter Caitie, 17; and son Zak, 14. Late tonight, my older brother Alan and his wife Peggy arrive; on Sunday night, younger brother Andy blows in with his three: Kelsey, 15; Danny, 12; and Allene, 10. So at peak attendance, which will run from late Sunday until early Wednesday, we're talking 10 peeps.

Mostly we're omnivores, though my brothers and I grew up with a strong English-midwestern affection for big hunks of meat as dinnertime centerpieces. This has changed over the years, thanks to influences that I think will become evident over the course of the blog.

Dave, what are the spices you packed? I can't quite read the labels and can't identify anything past the bay leaves - is that orange powder in the foreground curry powder or am I sadely mistaken?
Foreground pouches: bay and ground ancho; left to right jars: granulated garlic, smoked paprika, ground cumin, smoked salt, worcestershire, thyme and Greek oregano. Back row: kosher salt, cayenne, rosemary (behind the worcestershire) and grenadine.

The worcestershire and grenadine are homemade, and I grind my own ancho. The rest of the seasonings come from The Spice House, whom I highly recommend.

Very exciting! I feel neurotic whenever we pack for one of our off-season weekends in Provincetown -- a few knives, some skillets, decent EVOO, and so on -- but now I know that there's an even more obsessive packer out there!

Dave, what kind of kitchen shears are those? They look quite like a Chicago Cutlery pair that I got dirt cheap and that have eclipsed my Wusthofs. Also, where are those spices from? I don't recognize the jars....

I'm already wishing I'd remembered a few other things, but we'll get to that when I do the kitchen survey and setup. Yes those are Chicago Cutlery -- like twelve bucks for two pair at Target (though they don't seem to be on the web site). They're cheap enough to toss when they get dull, but so far they're still doing fine. I had a pair of Wusthofs, too, but I no longer lament thier loss.
I am looking forward to a beet-free blog.
Um. I don't know how to tell you this, but I've come around on beets. I'll try not to get all evangelical on you, though.

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Therese is right. Perhaps I could mark a milestone in my emerging food obsession at the point when I decided that they were more interesting as a pinbone remover than as a roach clip. I have another pair with curved jaws, but I can't find them.

(Are they really forceps? I thought they were hemostats.)

Yes, they are actually hemostats. Or, as you point out, a roach clip.

Forceps would look like either salad tongs or barbecue tongs (or tweezers if very small). Also called pickups.

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What drinks did you have upon arrival???

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Looking forward to the fruits of this blog, DtheC.

And, possibly relevant: Aren't you the man to ask about brining shrimp? As in, do you? And, more pointedly timely, will you be?

I have a dedicated needlenose pliers for pinbone removal, although when I saw the surgical nurse around the corner whipping 'em out of an Arctic char filet with a hemostat I became envious. Please show them in action if the situation presents itself.

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I almost forgot about the eating part of blogging. Breakfast yesterday:

gallery_6393_1560_13606.jpg

The coffee is a blend that Grandma gets as part of a deal for subscribing to Sojourners magazine. It's fair trade coffee from Central America, which is nice, but not as important as taste. Luckily, it's pretty decent. The banana was slightly green and, for my taste, lacking in flavor. I prefer a slightly spotted yellow for eating out of hand, but in this case, the alternatives were throwing it out or coming home to an icky brown puddle.

The drive from Atlanta to south Walton County, Florida is usually about 6-1/2 hours. Thanks to 1) a balky car-top carrier, and 2) a cold front, it took eight this time. (I've done it in five; please don't tell the Alabama State Patrol.) There are a bunch of routes; ours takes I-85 to Montgomery, then down US 331 to US 98. This is relevant only in that Montgomery is halfway through the trip -- an opportunity for both automobile and people fuel. No dummies in Montgomery. There are plenty of opportunites for both on the short strip between I-65 and US 331. Looking east:

gallery_6393_1560_16111.jpg

and west:

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Two things of note: 1) you can't see the other side of the expressway from these pictures, and it's just as congested; 2) if you compare the skies in the two photographs, you get an idea of why the weather was a problem: we rode down right on the edge of a cold front.

Oh, what did we eat? We were all suffering from pre-beach tastebuds. We wanted fish, so Captain D's it was.

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Oh, what did we eat? We were all suffering from pre-beach tastebuds. We wanted fish, so Captain D's it was.

I've been wondering what that was inside of that fried batter.

Thanks for the info!

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Yes, they are actually hemostats. Or, as you point out, a roach clip.

I send people to head shops (are they still called head shops?) for them. It's easier than finding a medical supply place.

What drinks did you have upon arrival???

I had a naked gimlet. After the drive, I needed something pretty straightforward, for relaxation purposes. I would have preferred a daiquiri or margarita, but I forgot to bring any citrus fruit with me. The good news is that glassware-wise, the place is decently equipped (pictures to come).

And, possibly relevant:  Aren't you the man to ask about brining shrimp?  As in, do you?  And, more pointedly timely, will you be?
I do, and I will. My formula is 1/2 C Diamond Kosher salt and 3T white sugar to one quart of water. Thirty minutes works for anything between 36-40 and 16-20 shrimps. I don't usually mess with smaller crustaceans (a long story involving Scandinavians and new potatoes); larger shrimp just require a little more time. Shrimp should be plentiful in the markets, and as Caitie doesn't eat any animal protein except that which comes from the sea, there will be quite a bit, along with blue crab and the local finfish catch.
I have a dedicated needlenose pliers for pinbone removal, although when I saw the surgical nurse around the corner whipping 'em out of an Arctic char filet with a hemostat I became envious.  Please show them in action if the situation presents itself.

Indeed I will.

Oh, what did we eat? We were all suffering from pre-beach tastebuds. We wanted fish, so Captain D's it was.

I've been wondering what that was inside of that fried batter.

Thanks for the info!

You got a problem with fried batter?

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I've been wondering what that was inside of that fried batter.

Thanks for the info!

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I recognized the Spice House packaging right away.! I'm a huge fan and lucky enough to be local to them.

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We were all beat when we arrived, and though I'd planned a trip to the grocery store for staples, we didn't have the energy.

So we had to play convenience-store roulette -- a game that requires you do the best with whatever you can find at the local version of 7-11 (here, it's Tom Thumb). The only fresh fruits and vegetables available were lemons, limes and heavily brusied russets. I got a few of the former for cocktails, and passed on the latter. There was a dozen eggs in the cooler, once I scavenged three cartons for unbroken specimens (according to the cashier, the damage was the result of a careless Budweiser delivery). On to the frozen section, which was entirely given over to snack foods and ice cream. I did find something green, though, and brought it back to the kitchen, where we made a:

Jalapeno Popper Frittata

10 eggs

2 scant T water

2 t ground ancho

1/2 t dried thyme

1/4 t cayenne (I would have used pepper sauce, but I didn't bring any -- places like this always have Tabasco, except this time.)

1 package frozen cheddar-cheese jalapeno poppers

1 T butter

Lemon juice (0ptional)

1. Bake poppers according to package directions and set aside. Reset oven heat to 350F, if necessary.

2. Add butter to an 8-inch, warped, non-stick skillet. Set it over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, water an seasonings to combine, but don't overdo it.

3. When the butter stops foaming, add the eggs to the pan and swirl to redistribute seasonings. Search in vain for a nylon spatula.

4. Lift the edges of the omelette with whatever utensil you can find, and let the uncooked eggs droll under it.

5. When the eggs are about half set, arrange the poppers artfully, nestling them in the goo.

6. Put pan in the oven, and check it in five minutes, both for doneness and handle meltage. Remove when one or the other occurs. The eggs should be cooked through, but not dry.

7. Slide the fritatta onto a plate, sprinkle with lemon juice, and let sit for a few minutes to firm up.

8. Cut into wedges and serve.

I'm sorry that I didn't get a picture of it. It was good enough that we might repeat it, next time with a salad of some sort. (I'm also liking the idea of a rolled omelette in which a couple of poppers could be enfolded), and I'll remember then -- or Caitie, my designated assistant for this blog -- will.

(Yes, Marlene, I will transfer this to RecipeGullet.)

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