Monday, May 09, 2005

Buds, Bloomers and Butter

What a nice day I had yesterday. The house is full of fragrant flowers. I had already received red roses earlier in the week and I had picked an armful of gladiolas from the yard on Friday. The ligustrum is also blooming so I have a bouquet of red geraniums and dainty white blooms as well. Ligustrums smells almost as sweet as the Confederate jasmine, which is also blooming outside. I'll have to pick some as soon as I have surface space. Friday, W4D gave me the most fragrant, rich pink roses that you can smell from across the room.

DD (dear daughter) arrived Sunday bearing a huge, gorgeous bouquet of mixed yellow flowers. In the bouquet are yellow roses, white lilies, yellow tiger lilies, alstromeria, petite cushion mums, hollyhocks, eucalyptus, and baby's breath. I can't even describe how good they smell and it's almost three feet high!

Lilies have the most delicate, sweet fragrance. I do adore fresh flowers and always have some in the house. My own home-grown alstromeria are about to bloom, too. Ah, spring! I'll have to be careful about adding more arrangements or the house will look like a funeral parlor. [chortle]

Dinner tonight will be more crab and shrimp. We couldn't eat it all yesterday.

W4D made a nice dinner for us. He grilled the shrimp and even made a nice salad with tomato basil feta cheese. We ate on newspaper and had fun tossing shells right onto the table. Shellfish is much more fun to eat when you can crack it and dunk it in drawn butter and toss the carnage in a pile in the center of the table.

One should always serve drawn butter with lobster and crab or any food that requires dipping in butter. Never use margarine, Blecch! Don't use salted butter either. Buy sweet cream (that means it is unsalted) butter for use in cooking. You can always add salt to a recipe but you can't take it out. Besides, sweet cream butter has a much more delicate flavor.

Drawn butter seems to mystify new cooks. It's really nothing but melted butter which has the butter fats (solids) skimmed off so that the butter is clear and golden and has no white foam or fatty solids floating in it. If you coat or dress foods with drawn butter, there will never be that icky, white looking film. I usually draw or clarify butter by chunking up a stick and nuking it (covered!) in the microwave for about 20 seconds at a time until it is all melted. Then I let it sit for a few moments and skim off the butter solids after they rise. It's easy to use a small pot on the stove with low heat if you'd rather or can also clarify butter right in the oven. Use whichever heat source is the easiest at the moment. You can skim with a small, tight mesh strainer or even use a spoon. Throw away all the icky white stuff you skim.

You can season drawn butter, too. Try adding fresh minced garlic to the still warm butter or add garlic powder if you must. Never use garlic salt. Always buy garlic powder if you don't use fresh garlic. (Just trust me on this.) Another seasoning that is good in drawn butter is Old Bay Seasoning. I like about a half teaspoon per stick (1/4 pound) of sweet cream butter. You might like more or less to taste. I sometimes use other herbs or even a little hot sauce.

No comments: