Dinner for One

This evening I planned on making okra and shrimp stew. I had to start it just after my lunch time because I had to let the ham hocks boil in water, onion, and bay leaf for about three hours. I’m not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. The odor permeated the house, making my mouth water while working this afternoon.

Ham hocks was a new ingredient for me. While shopping this last weekend, I had to ask the butcher at Kroger’s were I would even find some. Even then, since I’d never even seen a ham hock before, it took me a minute to find them. All I have to say though, after they were done this afternoon, and I had a chance to taste them is, “where have they been all my life?” The meat tasted so so good. It was hard to get off the bone since the meat kind of tucks itself away, but it was well worth the hassle. Now I don’t want to throw the bones and fat away; I think I’m going to attempt to make some broth to can and store for future use—the broth was quite tasty too.

The other ingredient I’ve used before, but not from fresh as I did this time, is okra. The interesting discovery about okra is it gets a little sticky and gooey while slicing it up. It acted almost like a milkweed when pulled. Wonder if they are somehow distantly related. I have enjoyed the taste of them in the couple of other dishes I’ve made, so I’m sure they will be delicious.

I just have to say right now, taking a pause, the patio door is open and I can smell my stew cooking as I sit and write. This is going to be a good meal!

As I was deshelling the shrimp, I remembered I had another task to do with the shrimp—taking the poop chute out. When I started working on that task, it hit me, and pardon my language, shrimp sure does want to hang on to their shit after they are dead, and morbidly I also thought how much humans want to hang onto their proverbial shit as they live, then literally release it all right away upon passing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same while alive?

Question for all the cooks and chefs out there, is there any easy way to clean the shrimp, specifically pull that particular part of their anatomy out quicker and easier? Chef Anne explained a way once during a Worst Cooks in America episode by using a toothpick. That technique doesn’t work for me, and today I just took a knife and cut each shrimp along the belly to pull it out. That was a tad bit easier, but definitely still time consuming as those little things keep themselves pretty well wound up.

The funny thing is, this is in many ways, a meal just for me. When I put the stew on simmer, I realized the hubby hadn’t said he was on his way yet—my timing was for the stew to be ready when he walked in the door. That’s when I remembered it was Thursday, he has Spanish class after work.

With him still at work, and my two children still living at home either asleep after working a double shift, or at band practice, it will be just me eating. After thinking about it though, it will actually be a nice little respite. In fact, I think I may just bring my bowl of stew, served over rice, followed by my peach pound cake, out onto the patio to eat there.

I can listen to the birds sing, feel the slight breeze, and cuddle up a little with the dog all at the same time.

Okra and shrimp stew, homemade peach pound cake, and a root beer.
Perfect dinner for today.

Yes, I’m going to eat outside tonight. It will be a nice way to ease into the evening.

I bid all of you adieu.

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