If it exists, fry it

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Whooee! We just got back from an exciting week with 13 family members in a beach house near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was beautiful – sunsets, palm trees, sand that feels like flour and lots and lots of good food. We cooked in and ate out and we never went to bed hungry (or sober).

Our first night, we ate at the Inlet Crab House, which specializes in fresh seafood caught off the Atlantic Coast and then fried. We ordered the oyster shooters to start, of course:

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Feeling festive, both Jesse and I ordered the softshell crab for our entrees:

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Mine came in a sandwich, with a side of coleslaw and Southern green beans (read: overcooked). It was tasty, but once I cut it open and saw all the yellow guts inside the crab, it didn’t have the same appeal that it used to. I think my Spider Roll ordering days are over.

IMG_4019A couple nights later, we dined at a fabulously upscale restaurant, where each plate had no less than one pound of seafood. I ordered the “grill plate,” which included grilled shrimp and scallops and a baked potato. The shrimp were seasoned well, smoky and sweet and spicy, and I loved the clarified butter for dipping. At that point, this was my favorite dish of the week. A-mazing.

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We had a cookout later in the week, which included a trip to the fish market for 3 pounds of fresh shrimp. We took them home and boiled them with “shrimp oil,” which is actually a seasoning packet, and lemon. Then, we had to hand-peel and de-vein them.

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These later turned into Jesse’s dad’s avocado stuffed with shrimp and mango-chili salsa, which is just as delicious as it sounds.

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With that, we had Merissa’s fabulous chicken and sausage gumbo, which took her like 30 hours to prepare. I’m not going to post the recipe yet, because I want to try it myself first. Good thing I don’t have a day job!

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She also made some perfect cornbread to go with it, and a honey butter to smear all over it.

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Colleen made a yummy Smitten Kitchen dish later that week: an ice-box “cake,” which tasted like a giant Oreo cookie. She baked these chocolate cookies (basically home-made Oreos), then layered them with hand-whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

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Then, you let it sit for a few hours, so the cookies can absorb the juices and become soft, like cake. Surprisingly good.

The last night, I was so overwhelmed with good food that I didn’t take any pictures – Blast! But here’s what we had: oyster shooters, She Crab Soup (a Carolina favorite), shrimp with grits cakes in a yummy bacon-gravy (this was my favorite thing of the night) and my entree was a pasta with fresh clams, white white and garlic. Yum! We drank a lot, laughed a lot and splurged. It was the perfect ending.

While on vacation, I read “Julie and Julia,” which I have a few opinions about. (As my co-worker said, “I’m just mad that I didn’t think of that first!”) The food stuff was good, but I could do without the rest of the whiny drama. It definitely inspired me to “cook dangerously.” So I picked up my new Bon Appetit magazine and turned down the pages of these recipes that would normally seem too gourmet for me. Like de-boning a chicken for an Italian roast chicken with fresh herbs and lemon. I’ll blog it as soon as I can make it!

Enjoy the week, friends!

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