Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life's a beach

Growing up, summers always meant I could look forward to vacations in South Carolina.  Mornings at the beach, afternoons at the pool, shopping, or on the water, and evenings gathered around the table eating the sweetest shrimp. 

We went shrimping so many summers, hauling home bags of the buggy-looking sea creatures.  Then we'd gather round the sink, pulling off heads, legs, and shells before tossing them with olive oil and seasoning.  Or of Thatdad had been successful with his morning fishing endeavors, tossing them into his shark based bouillabaisse.  And if he hadn't been successful, but we'd gathered enough welks, maybe our own version of conch chowder.

Now that we don't travel to the South every summer I have to re-invent those days myself.  Which isn't too hard to do in Southern California.  We can still hit up the beach just as often.  And this weekend we made a playdate out of it.  Thatboy's boss was due the same week as I was, so our kids are literally days apart in age.

I'm always on the lookout for future wives for Thatboy since most of our friends have boys.  And Lashes is certainly a contender.  I've given her the nickname to emphasize just how gorgeous her eyes are.  Perhaps not sure about how his daycare girlfriend would feel about him stepping out with another woman, Thatbaby was reluctant to engage, hiding in my lap for most of the time.  Eventually he came out of his shell a bit.  He's a good sharer - if he can do it on his terms. 

 And although we don't catch our own shrimp out here, the sweet summer shrimp are plentiful.  And we eat a lot of them!  This is a quintessential Southern dish, with a Californian flair.  Shrimp and cheesy grits - which is already a favorite of mine.  But dust the shrimp with some chipotle chile powder and they've got a truly un-Southern kick.

Chipotle Shrimp and Grits (From Sam the Cooking Guy)
2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 cup grits or cornmeal
36 shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons chipotle chile powder
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
Olive oil – about 2 tablespoons
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
Chopped cilantro for garnish
  1. Combine milk, water & cornmeal – bring to a boil then lower heat and cook slowly, stirring often until thick – 15 to 20 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, toss the shrimp with the chile powder, salt and olive oil – set aside
  3. To the grits, add butter, salt, pepper and cheese – stir well and keep warm
  4. Heat a non-stick pan on high and cook shrimp until they are browned in spots and cooked through, 3-4 minutes
  5. Serve shrimp on top of grits with a little chopped cilantro


  1. Welcome to the dog days of summer...A great day at the beach with the little ones. You definitely do not have to travel south to enjoy the beach in southern California.

    I promise when those girls start coming around thatboy, you will be beating them away.


  2. Mmm. That sounds delicious! I love your beach stories too -- it sounds like you had some pretty amazing summers as a child.

  3. Aww they are so cute!! I had a "boyfriend" when I was little who I was destined to marry. Alas, it just didn't quite work out. But Lashes has promise, I think!

  4. I have never eaten grits. Nothing like a day at the beach with the kiddies. Love the name Lashes.... and the memories of our family days there for years and years and years... but no chipotle shrimp and grits! YUM!

  5. the kids are having fun! wow! i love shrimps.