Monday, May 11, 2009

Dinner At Maxine's.

Mr. Hawthorne and I headed out Saturday morning to visit our respective Mommies for Mother's Day-
he to Bassett, Va., and I to Danville, Va.
First, a slight hold-up at Alligator River Bridge. Oh, and here's an interesting little snippet about one captain's experience at this drawbridge. The thing I like about the Lindsay Warren Bridge crossing the Alligator River is watching the compass on my truck. When I'm heading due west, the compass goes to E and SE. When I'm heading due east, the compass goes to W and NW. And to all points in-between.
It's weird. I like to believe the mother ship is at the bottom of the river, messing with everybody's compasses.
Anyways, back to the bridge. We were stopped at the red light
on the bridge for several minutes, even though the swingbridge was closed.
So I don't know what was going on with that.
Maybe they were changing shifts or something,
another job that would bore me to tears.
Thankfully there were no sailboats coming through
since it's been my experience that they usually
open the bridge while the boat is still about 1/2 - 1 mile away
and you're stuck on a bridge for 20-30 minutes.
I do NOT like bridges
and I especially don't like being stuck on one.
We were behind this truck of fish carcasses, so naturally, I had to document it.
Mr. Hawthorne dropped me off at Mama Hawthorne's.
I gave her some flowers from my garden,
and Evilshenanigans blogger, Kelly's wonderful brownies, and we had a nice visit. Then I went over to Maxine's where I stay when in town and prepared our dinner. It's always a challenge working in someone else's kitchen. Even though I know my way around Maxine's kitchen, there are still obstacles. And every occasion where I need to get a present for Maxine, I always buy her something I need in her kitchen. I'm crappy that way. But, Dammit, Maxine, I'm getting you a decent sharpener for the knife I bought you for me last Christmas. (Hell, I thought I bought you the sharpener, too.) Scraping a good knife across a cement curb or bricks
to sharpen it is NOT acceptable, Maxine. Another problem I have in other people's kitchens, besides their equipment or lack thereof, is the ingredients. What, apparently, I consider staples, others don't. So, Saturday night, I was feeling a bit of the Iron Chef angst, as I looked into Maxine's rather bare refrigerator/freezer (She cooks for only herself.) and tried to come up with side dishes to accompany the $8.50/pound ocean scallops I brought, which is a pretty good deal for scallops.
Uh oh.
Do I hear groans ?
Bitch is fixing scallops AGAIN?????
Yup, she is. Once more, I'll reiterate the difference
between wet and dry scallops. Never, ever, ever, ever buy "wet" scallops. If you live inland, always ask your fishmonger for "dry" scallops. If he doesn't know what you're talking about, turn around and walk away. Immediately. "Wet" scallops have been treated with a chemical to plump them up weight-wise, help them maintain their moisture, and keep a longer shelf life. You can spot them immediately by just looking. Wet scallops will be in a milky type liquid. And you'll be paying for extra water weight. The solution with which they have been treated is STPP, or sodium tripolyphosphate, a preservative. You will never be able to properly sear or brown these scallops, no matter how hot your pan is. Plus, they'll taste like crap. The STPP can also give the scallops a rubbery flavor and mask the delicate, sweet flavor of the mollusk. "Dry" scallops are natural scallops, harvested directly from the ocean. Dry scallops will caramelize naturally during cooking and present an attractive golden brown color. Enough about the scallop lesson. Let's see what's in Maxine's fridge.
Well, by golly, she had an avocado. And she had grape tomatoes (which I prefer to cherry tomatoes). She had parsley in her garden, which I chopped and added, along with some onion
and some lemon zest. I really wanted some fresh lime juice, but Maxine only had lime concentrate. I added about 2 teaspoons of the concentrate and ended up with a very nice, light, avocado salad.
. Next, I was looking for another side dish. I found corn in Maxine's freezer.
And some bacon in her fridge. That's a start. I scissored some bacon and browned that, then added in some chopped onions.
Then I poured in some of the frozen corn.
Normally, at home, I would add in some heavy cream. Maxine, ever watching her cholesterol count, had no cream. The closest thing she had was soy milk and I wasn't going there.
However, she did have sour cream,
so I added that to the corn/bacon mixture, and it was really good.
Now, on to the scallops.
I rinsed and dried my DRY scallops and seasoned them with freshly ground pepper, lemon zest, and hot Hungarian Paprika which a real Hungarian had personally prepared for Maxine.
The scallops went into a hot iron skillet to which I'd added butter and oil.
About three minutes on each side.
Fresh parsley on top.
In the meantime, Maxine had prepared a ginger/lemon grass rice. At the end of cooking time, she grated lemon zest over top.
Our dinner: seared scallops, ginger/lemon rice, bacon/corn/sour cream mixture, avocado/tomato salad.
I don't have to tell you how it tasted.
It was all good.
Maxine always sets a lovely table. The next morning:
Here's the sun filtering through the trees in Maxine's backyard garden.
Maxine's backyard is very inviting. "Come sit with me. Come sit IN me. Please. Please. Please?"
Overhead canopy of trees.
I'm taking my cup of coffee and sitting out here.
It's quite peaceful.


Anonymous said...

Several things:
Maxine, beautiful backyard!
Love the tablescape, especially the cocktail naps and pretty plates.
The alligator river bridge compass issue is an anomaly. After years of intense study, the only explanation is that there is a cable running along the south side of the bridge which causes magnetic interference.
I thought you were allergic to avocados.
Hope you had a nice visit.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Xmaskatie, I'm not exactly allergic to avocados, but I have an unfortunate sensitivity to them,
along with cantaloupes.

I can take a few bites and that's it. If I go beyond that changing line in the sand, then I will have a reaction to them. And it is unpleasant.

Everything in moderation.

Hairball T. Hairball said...

I thought of you the other night while at our local seafood restaurant. I noticed that one of the specials was a dish that included scallops. As soon as I finished reading the description, I wondered if the scallops were wet or dry. *grins*

Marilyn said...

Love Maxine's backyard. I felt my blood pressure drop just looking at the pictures.

Lovely food, also. Wet, dry. I'm just happy to get scallops here in Southern Indiana. Of course they are pre-frozen. They don't come any other way this far inland.

Mr. P said...

The Scallops look delectable. I wish I could have been there to have some.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Xmaskatie, that's a nice theory about the cable, but I prefer mine about the Mother Ship.