September 26, 2008

Fresh Caught Blue Crabs

The truth of the matter is, I don't really like shellfish. I know it's pretty much sacrilegious especially growing up near the Chesapeake Bay. But I do love to shell the shellfish (guess that's what happens when you are sitting around watching everyone take forever to eat and your flounder is done) and I love to prepare it for others. This year, we went to the beach and caught our own crabs. It's amazingly easy. You just needs some stinky, slimy, nasty chicken necks, string, a stick and a net. So apparently crabs are not very smart because all you do is tie a piece of the gross chicken neck on the string and tie the other end on a stick. Once the chicken part is on the bottom, the crabs go crazy and climb on board to feast. All you have to do is pull up the string slowly and drop the whole thing, neck and crabs into a net. That's where I came in. I was "running nets" for the catchers and dumping the crabs into an empty 5 gallon bucket.

Preparing them was just as simple. Follow the directions on the back of an Old Bay container. Course I do deviate or else I wouldn't be me. After I drain the water out, I load up with more Old Bay on the drying crabs so it gets all over your fingers and flavors it all (yeah, funny statement from the gal who doesn't eat them!) Then it's just matter of teaching all the kids how you shell the crab and what parts you can eat.

September 6, 2008

Food at Last!

Just imagine, you are a baby and you finally hit that 6 month mark and you get to eat FOOD! How exciting, the world of taste opens up and baby foodies are created right before our very eyes! In this photo, you see my little Sausage enjoying his first "mush". I love this time, no matter how messy it is because it's exciting.

I have made baby food for each of my three munchkins and I'm proud of it. (Photo tutorial here to make your own step-by-step) 

No matter what anyone thinks, it's easy and it's way cheaper than the store bought jars. In fact, it's so easy I'll tell you how in three steps: buy the food, cook it and mash it. Really, it's not harder than that. Course, some food like bananas and avocados you don't even cook, you just mash. I like to stock up and do some of the work before baby's arrival. So late in my pregnancy I buy a huge bunch of sweet potatoes, squash, peas, leeks, apples, pears, beets, mango, green beans, broccoli, carrots, etc and then microwave them until they are soft and cooked. I usually do this with some water in the pyrex dish. Then you can use the cooking water to "thin" the consistency of the puree when you whirl it in a food processor. Once you have a good pourable consistency, you pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. After they are frozen, I pop the cubes out and use my Vac Seal to seal up the frozen cubes. With each of my babies, I have done this while still pregnant and stored in our deep freezer. Then around the 5 month mark, I start pulling goodies from the freezer into our regular fridge. When you want to feed junior, you just thaw a few cubes in the fridge (or if you are desperate, in the microwave, course you have to stir well and test it out with your finger to make sure there aren't any hot spots).  
The book, Super Baby Food, is helpful especially for the chart that lets you know when to introduce certain foods and if you are really ambitious, making your own baby cereal.


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