The letter’s return address read Melbourne, Australia and it’s stamps had the face of a Koala on them. I was excited, as I had received an email earlier from a cousin I did not know existed, who had spent a great deal of time and effort locating me.
This letter from Andrew ended with how great it would be if we could meet someday. And meet someday we did.
I am so fortunate to have made the hasty decision last May to travel to Australia and meet this new-found family of mine. Had I waited until this year the trip would never have happened.
Hasty (another word for impulsive) decisions have usually worked well for me, except for that one day in my kitchen.
Soon after losing my Hubby Norm I remember standing in the kitchen looking at the plethora of pots and pans hanging from a pot hanger, cupboards and drawers full of dishes, and cooking equipment, all put into play when I would cook for him. That day I hastily decided to rid myself of memories. Little did I realize memories are not easily erased simply by removing pots and pans, nor would buying unfamiliar ones clear my mind.
However, one thing this hasty decision did teach me is that I do love to cook and cannot go without cooking. I love to teach others to cook and I love to see my family and friends enjoy the fruits of my labor.
During this new way of life we are now leading, plus the alone time we now have, I have been cooking more complicated dishes and reinventing ones that are familiar, but time-consuming.
A few days prior to the Fourth of July I looked at my good friend Rosie Chalmers and hastily said, “Lets have lobsters for the Holiday,” and boiled lobsters for the Fourth of July we had.
My plan was to reserve the lobsters’ shells in my freezer along with their legs (lobsters have ten meat-filled legs), which would be cooked into a tomato-based lobster bisque, my hubby’s favorite soup.
Two days prior to July 4th, I ordered four 1 ¾ lb. lobsters on-line from Maine which would be shipped live, overnight. Two of these were to be gifted; one to neighbor Mike and the other to the Mountain Gardner, Jan. By ordering $100 worth, shipping was free. The entire order cost $138…$34 per person. The meat from the lobsters was too much for one meal, making the cost of each dinner at $17. Coupling that with the soup yet to be cooked, which uses only tomatoes and cream, plus a few minor ingredients, we are down to a mere $12 each for three meals of lobster. Not an expensive hasty choice after all.
Our big day arrived, and having brought a pot of water to a boil, Rosie stepped up to the task and with her bare hands picked up Larry lobster and popped him into the pot. A mere 14 minutes later, out came Larry and another lobster went in. I was grateful as this is the part of cooking I have trouble with, whether it be live clams, crabs, or especially lobsters, anything moving.
After a few hours and with a lovely Cosmopolitan cocktail in hand, Rosie and I sat down with our lobsters on a plate and tools ready… a lobster cracker, long thin forks, and kitchen shears. Well, the crackers didn’t work. This was to be a tougher and messier undertaking than anticipated. We moved our Larry lobsters to a large cookie sheet and had to resort to a hammer and a block of wood if we were to have lobster for dinner.
Well worth all of this effort? You bet, and maybe, for me at least, are the memories. Memories from the past as well as new memories stored for the future.
Dear Readers, use this unusual time we have found ourselves in to make memories with those you love. You never know when you will need them.
Lobster Bisque (Serves 2-3)
In a large soup pot add 2 Lobster carcasses (shells) and legs along with:
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
6 cloves of smashed garlic
3 carrots diced
2 celery ribs diced
1 cup red onions diced
1 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup tomato paste
½ tsp. fresh peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. Italian parsley
1 tsp. ground thyme
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp. cracked pepper
Bring to a boil, turn down to medium simmer and cook for one hour. Remove from heat and strain broth. Set aside.
While lobster broth is cooking, dice reserved lobster meat into 1 in. chunks and sauté for two minutes in 2 Tbsp. Butter. Remove meat and reserve butter for the roux.
For the roux, add additional 6 Tbsp. butter and ½ cup all-purpose flour to pan and whisk continually over medium heat until lightly browned and nutty smelling.
For the bisque: Slowly add reserved broth to the roux, whisking quickly. Turn down heat to medium low. Add ½ cup dry Sherry Wine and 1 cup heavy cream and ½ tsp. saffron.