While I was at work today Bill and the kids went digging for clams. Yep, in January. After about an hour and a half of digging they brought home fifteen pounds total. Mostly little necks, with about a dozen steamers, a razor clam, and two oysters.
Sometimes we think about leaving. Sometimes it’s a frustrating state to live in, our Little Rhody. The economy is still struggling, and my husband is a teacher, and what this state is doing (and has done) to his pension is appalling.
So sometimes we think of going somewhere else. Starting over. Doing something different. We’ve talked of farming. I would love a cow, some goats, a bunch of chickens. We’d both love more land so we could raise more of our own vegetables. And we think we’d make a good go of it.
Bill and the kids and I went to our favorite Asian market recently to stock up on a few things and get ingredients for a couple of meal ideas Bill had been kicking around. Part of the fun of shopping there (besides the fabulous butcher, “Tommy” who talks fishing with Bill) is finding and trying out new and different ingredients. Sometimes we’ll just see something and buy it, figuring we’ll find a use for it eventually.
This time around, while the kids were searching for chicken feet in the poultry section (yes, really), I noticed bags of these noodles on an aisle shelf nearby. I saw that these were made from potato starch, rather than bean starch, and they were kind of gray in color, and, well, they just looked cool.
We all have certain dishes that we gravitate toward when we're feeling a little less than 100%. Foods that wrap us up in a big culinary hug and tell us everything will be okay, and we'll feel better soon.
I've been trying to dig out forgotten food items from the depths of the freezer so we can utilize them before they get freezer burn and become inedible.
I found a large square plastic container with something brown in it, so I figured I should thaw that just to see what it was about. Turned out to be leftover beef stew.
And Bill had mentioned that we had one remaining frozen bag of soft-shell clams in their broth, plus another bag of clam broth.
So I thawed the bag with the clams in it and decided to make clam cakes to accompany the beef stew. Weird combination, I know, but, well, sometimes that happens.
The clamcake recipe was Bill's mom's - it's written on a little torn-out page from a notebook; the fringes along one edge where it ripped through the spiral binding are discolored and raggedy looking. The first part of the word "Clamcakes" is torn off - it's more like "lamcakes."
Clamcakes or lamcakes - they were pretty good. And pretty simple.
First, in one bowl, whisk together 2 1/4 cups of flour and 4 teaspoons of baking powder.
In another bowl, combine 1 1/3 cups clam broth with 2 eggs.
Chop up the clams. (Ours were already cooked. Normally you'd use quahogs anyway, but hey, any port in a storm. Or something like that. Steamers worked just fine.)
Fill a large pot about a third to half way with vegetable oil and heat to 360 degrees F - 375 degrees F.
As the oil is heating up, combine the clam broth and egg with the flour and baking powder. Whisk together to get rid of any lumps. Then stir in the chopped clams. Set aside until the oil has reached temperature.
Also, have a couple of plates ready with several layers of paper towels on them and some salt, and a large slotted metal spoon.
Here's how the batter will look after it has been sitting a few minutes:
When the oil is at the right temperature, get a large spoon (tablespoon or bigger), or, if you have it, a 2 tablespoon size measuring spoon. Scoop up some of the batter with your big spoon and lower it to just above the surface of the hot oil. Scrape the batter into the oil with another spoon. Scoop 4-6 clamcakes-to-be into the oil. You want them to have room to move around a bit, and you'll need move to turn them over so they brown evenly.
Here are some partway through the frying...
They're still too pale, but they're getting closer. All those little straggly bits of batter can be scooped out and discarded.
As they reach a dark golden color, take one out and cut it in half to make sure the batter has cooked all the way through. If it has, pull the other clamcakes out and set them on one of the plates with the paper towels to drain. Sprinkle right away with a little salt - it will stick better while they are still hot and a bit oily. You can keep them warm in a low oven or under a dish towel. You don't want to wrap them in foil - that will steam them and they'll lose their crispness.
Here's a tantalizing close-up of some of the finished ones from last night:
A couple of Saturdays ago, Bill and I took the kids and some clam rakes and metal baskets and gloves and the kids' plastic gardening tools and my camera down to Galilee to dig clams. Bill had bought about four pounds of soft shell clams, or steamers, earlier, but in order to do the clambake we needed rockweed (a type of seaweed) and since we had to get that, we might as well dig for more steamers while we were there.