Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Attack of the Monster Mussels

It was only fitting to watch Ang Lee's "HULK" last night since we started the evening with a meal of monster sized food. It started out so innocently...

After a crazy afternoon, I decided to treat myself to a wander down to Departure Bay. I still have not quite accepted that it’s fall and went wandering about in a tank top and a knee-high cotton skirt. The sharp, autumn breeze sanded away any stress I had left from my day and left me smiling, though a bit chilly.

On my way back home, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some local barlett pears and then swung by the fish store, Sea Drift at Terminal Mall to see what local seabeasts I could pick up for dinner. There I found some gorgeous Saltspring Island mussels. They also have local oysters and clams in along with local fishes like salmon and halibut. I picked up a couple pounds of mussels and headed home with my edible treasures.

The mussels were huge. I mean obscenely huge. Look, they’re as big as my palm!!!

For mussels, I like to keep it simple. So I heated up a glug of oil over med-high heat, dropped in some chopped garlic, red onion and 1 small red thai chili (you can use some sambal oelek or 1/8 tsp of dried chili flakes). Then I deglazed with a half a bottle of white wine (Cherry Point Coastal White). Once that came back up to a boil, I dropped in the cleaned mussels and covered the pot with a tight lid. A few shakes and 4-5 mins later, they were done. Along with some monster-sized peas from Dirk, a local organic farmer, and some homemade bread, we had ourselves a monstrously yummy meal.

Look at the beans. They're bigger than a chopstick!!!

Here's the final meal, all put together. The monster sized ingredients were fighting for space in my huge soup bowl. The piece of bread looks so measly but it was a fair sized chunk.

Yes it's as yummy as it looks. I saved the mussels to use as mulch and as a source of calcium for the garden.

I also made a pumpkin pie. Or ‘Bum-skin’ pie as it is known in this house. Yes, we’re one of those annoying couples that butchers and bastardizes the English language to form cutesly little inside jokes.

For less than the cost of 3 cans pumpkin puree, I picked up 4 pie pumpkins that provided me with enough pumpkin pulp to make 12 pies. The pulp is also great as the base for lovely squash soup. Make sure you use the smaller pumpkins marked ‘Pie Pumpkins’. The large jack o’lantern pumpkins have too much water in the flesh to make a good pie with. They’re ok for soups though.

I chop open the pumpkins into quarters. I save the seeds for snacking (more on that later). With a spoon, scoop out the rest of the slimy guts. Cut size down, place them onto a roasting pan with enough water to cover the bottom a half an inch or so. Pop it all into a 325F oven for 30-40 minutes or until it’s soft. Once done, toss them into a large stock pot and let them rest overnight. In this process, a lot of excess water exudes out. The next day, remove the pumpkins out of the pot and save the pumpkin water to use as a liquid for pumpkin soup. With fingers and a large soup spoon, I scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. A few whirls of a hand blender and you have a huge batch of pumpkin mush.

I dump a recipe’s worth of pumpkin puree into a Ziploc baggie and store that in the freezer. Now whenever I want to make a pumpkin pie (or cookies, or ice-cream or ravioli or soup…you get the picture), I simply have to pull a ziploc baggie of pumpkin and let it defrost. A few minutes in the nukebox will do the trick if you’re impatient. Then again, if you’re impatient, you’ve probably already picked up an factory pumpkin pie and a tub of that whipped chemical jizz.

(photo of my homemade pumpkin pie with graham cracker crust. Whipped chemical jizz-free zone.)

For spicy roasted pumpkin seeds, wash the seeds and dry them as best as you can. Toss then in bowl with a glug or two of olive oil, a healthy pinch of salt and a couple pinch of hot red pepper flakes. Mix them well and dump them in a single layer onto a baking sheet and bake at 300F for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally. I eat them with the shell on and be warned, these are addictive especially fresh out of the oven. Better to make these when the DH has already gone to bed so you don’t get him hooked and have him come home one day with a dozen pumpkins just so he can get his spicy roasted pumpkin seed fix.

Have a great day!


Nanaimo's 100 Mile Diet Challenge

1 comment:

Favorite Apron said...

Maybe it's good I live inland. That mussel looks like a taste I haven't acquired yet!