Monday, March 28, 2011

Shoop (aka Salt n Pepa Shrimp)

Holy pajoli, that was a beautiful outpouring of love and support, and I'm so grateful. Honestly. What would I do without you? I appreciate that so many of you wrote to, and I laughed a little bit about some of the emails you cc'ed me on--many of which said, in essence: You stink, but you should hire Catherine back, even though she's too good for you and I hate you. Smiling isn't going to get my rent paid, but it sure lifts the gloom. To be clear: I am still writing for FamilyFun, which is a magazine that I love. I know it's not like you're going to spot James Franco reading it on the subway, or whatever, but the kids and I get tons of ideas from it. I'm just saying. And to be fair: gave me enormous creative license when I was writing my recipe column for them, and I was very lucky in that way.

That said, I have a little bit of the writing version of that feeling when you take your bra off at the end of the day: ahhh. And you'd think, with my boobs hanging out, figuratively speaking, I'd post something totally crazy here today. Rice-pudding Pot Pie for 100! Pork Parfait! But no. I'm giving you this, which is, like, the world's simplest dinner, and makes for phenomenal gorging provided that one person in your family hates shrimp and so is eating only bread and cheese leaving a glut of shrimp for the rest of you.

The shrimp are addictively spicy and salty, and you'll want plenty of crusty bread for mopping up all the delicious spicy and salty (and oily) juices. I know I always say this, but: do use the full amount of salt. The point here is that you're salting the shells, and you want to get enough salt on there so that your fingers and the shrimp get nice and salty while you're peeling and eating. Does that make sense? If you were using peeled shrimp, you'd want to cut the salt way back, but I'm not sure by how much.

If shrimp don't speak to you, you could always have this meal instead:

Granola and mango smoothies for dinner. It's a classy operation we're running around here.

Salt-n-Pepa Shrimp
Serves 4
Total time: 10 minutes

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 bay leaves or kaffir lime leaves (optional)
1 pound large, shell-on shrimp, thawed if frozen
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the leaves, if you're using them, and the shrimp, spread them into a single layer, and sprinkle on half of the salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, then flip the shrimp with a spatula, sprinkle on the rest of the seasoning, cook for two more minutes, and serve.


These are the shrimp I like, from Whole Foods.



That's the shrimp before you flip them.
And after.

On a plate. With this bread and the world's yummiest salad: spinach tossed with leftover coleslaw and diced pickled beets.

Ben is a lover of shrimps.

Birdy is a lover of cheese.

Shrimp shells. Sigh.

Thank you so much for stopping by.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Dear Ones,

Over at, you'll find brown-butter whole-wheat shortbread (perfect) and Mexican Brown Rice (imperfect but good), and also, gulp, my last column.

If ever you were going to comment over there, now would be a great time (i.e. feel free to express your feelings). I'm also trying to gauge your interest in ongoing recipes, since I'm thinking of continuing to post them here. (And if you're new to here from there, then welcome!)

More soon, including the promised give-away, which I am getting to, I swear!

xo Catherine

Thursday, March 03, 2011


Birdy turned 8 today. "My baby!" I keep crying, and wrapping my arms around her. But seriously. My baby! She is so dear to me, that girl.

Spunky and kind, fierce and fair, loyal and loving and silly. Ben's been home sick, and when it was time to take Birdy to karate--our plan was just to leave him alone for a few hours--his fever was creeping up and up. "How bummed would you be to miss Power Girls?" I finally asked, and Birdy said, "Oh, Mama, I know. I was about to say the same thing--I really don't feel comfortable leaving him." That little brow furrowed with concern. I could bite her. I did bite her. Sigh.

Meanwhile, a lovely ginger-vinaigrette chicken recipe is here, and a less intuitively appealing but nonetheless delicious smoky chickpea recipe here.

Can we talk a little more about books and games?

Malena Watrous, a new friend I've never met, very kindly sent me her novel and I loved it.

If You Follow Me. It's about a young woman's year teaching English in Japan--but really it's mostly about trash, and I laughed out loud every few pages. When I offered her my incisive analysis--that it's about trash--she said that, in fact, she was going to call it the Japanese word for trash, but her editor dissuaded her, so there you go.

I have also recently read and loved Twin by Allen Shaw, and  The Saskiad by Brian Hall. You guys? Any books you think we should all know about?

Furthermore, I am recommending two new games, not because Rio Grande sent them to me to review, but because Rio Grande sent them to me to review and they are awesome.

Dominion boasts "massive replay value" and this is more true than I know how to describe. We opened it two days before Christmas, and I'm not sure that a day has passed since during which we haven't played at least once. It takes around a half an hour, and there are many variations, and we all seem to win sometimes. When you read the description, it's all weird second-person dungeons-and-dragons "You are a monarch, a ruler of the peasants, an eater of the mutton, blah blah," and that's not at all what it's like to play. You're trying to amass resources, and it's more like an algorithm of logic and strategy than a narrative. I'm just saying. Gosh, I am really turning into a gamer. Do I smell like a gamer yet? Maybe.

Now, if you already have Carcassonne, any Carcassonne, you really don't need this one too. But if you don't, then I completely recommend it as it is our new favorite Carcassonne game. Wheel of Fortune is a tile-laying game that is quick, lovely, and wickedly competive, with an element of luck that adds to both the fun and frustration. Again, that distraught woman on the box? I have no idea what she's all about, and whether the featureless gingerbread-man-shaped wooden play pieces ("meeples" they're called, I don't know why) are intended in some way to represent her plight. We are not so much about the story as we are about fitting the tiles together and sneaking into each other's high-scoring situations. It is so much fun.

I am going to do another games give-away next week, but I haven't figured out the method yet. Stay tuned.

And thank you for your responses to the paint chip. I really enjoyed reading them, and, as you know, am always up for a little lively debate. Just for the record, we do, of course, force Ben to wear pink. And we make Birdy wear blue lederhosen and a strap-on.