Belated Birthday w/ Crab

18 Jul

Over last three decades, we hosted a summer solstice party to celebrate our June birthdays. We continued the tradition when we lived in the UK, and upon our return to Austin. However when Susie experienced complications from brain cancer recurrence treatment, our ability and interest to host this party waned. So over the last five years, our celebrations have gotten smaller, much smaller. With Susie seemingly stabilized and the COVID-19 pandemic becoming somewhat normalized, we thought about organizing something bigger. Unfortunately, I was unwell for most of May and part of June, so reawakening a bigger Summer Solstice Birthday celebration did not happen this year. Considering the 100 degree temperatures, June was less than hospitable.

Do to a variety of circumstances, our celebration of Susie’s birthday coincided with 4th of July weekend. We had great fun. Susie’s family who lives in town joined (brothers, in-laws, mother and many nieces, nephews and a grand nephew). I ordered whole Dungeness crab from Pacific Dream Seafoods, and defrosted the crab a day in advance and cracking/ cleaning the crab an hour before people arrived. I made a baby spinach salad with dates and almonds from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem Cookbook, a mac-n-cheese casserole, asparagus, green beans and a few different sourdough breads. We ended the evening with carrot cake from Swedish Hill Bakery. The conversation and laughter was perfect. Everyone left with a full belly and happy faces.

With the intent of making a seafood/ shellfish stock, I collected three gallon-sized bags of crab shells and stored them in the freezer. This last weekend, I decided to pull out two of the bags and see how much stock I could make. I basically followed a Shellfish Stock recipe from Simply Recipes by Elise Bauer, but doubling the ingredients due to the amount of shellfish. My intent was to use this stock to make Lohikeitto, a Finnish salmon soup. I made so much stock I started looking at other dishes that use seafood stocks, and came across a South Carolina low country crab bisque called She-Crab Soup.

The short story is I couldn’t wait and made the She-Crab Soup. We had a nephew and his partner over, and boy was the soup good. Certainly well worth the effort.