Andrea Chaffin: Checking off the summer bucket list

Andrea Chaffin: Checking off the summer bucket list

By Andrea Chaffin

The pot getting ready to go into its last broth bath. Cook the seafood last.

I’ve always wanted to make a Low Country boil. With seafood, sausage, potatoes and corn, it’s an all-in-one meal best served by dumping on a newspaper-lined table. I ate too much and have no regrets.

I recently read a quote that made me stop and think. And then it made me want to quit my job and travel the world: “Are you living your life, or simply existing?”

A life on the open road, meandering through hemispheres with no revenue structure isn’t realistic for everyone long-term. But, as someone who recently experienced a major life change, I feel reawakened. There were so many things I wanted to do in the past, but I made excuses.

Not anymore. I recently decided it’s time to start writing these things down. And checking them off.

I’ve created a summer bucket list.

There are many items that can be done locally. It’s just a matter of taking the time to plan the date and sticking to it: Visit the Air Force museum in Dayton, attend a country concert, make homemade mozzarella (and pair it with my homegrown tomatoes and basil for a Caprese salad from scratch), go to dinner at a fancy restaurant, try Jeni’s famous Columbus ice cream, watch a concert in the park, go to a baseball game, buy a swimsuit I actually love, feed ducks, take a yoga class, make a craft, go to the zoo, drink a root beer float and go canoeing.

Some of the items are more difficult to plan, simply because it can’t be done in Ohio: Eating a plate of seafood fresh from the ocean, sipping a Bloody Mary on the beach, walking through the sand as the sun rises or sets. But a vacation planned for later this summer in North Carolina should help with that. Truth is, I’ve only seen the ocean once, and it was in high school. I’ve never been on an airplane.

There are other things I want to do every summer: Pick strawberries and make jam, eat a tomato straight off the vine, go camping, ride a roller coaster and a water slide, swim in a river or pond, watch a fireworks display, ride a boat and unplug from my phone for an entire day.

Life is short. Happiness is when you stop waiting for it, and make the most of the moments you’re given.

One of things I want to do is a host a signature summer party. I’ve heard about doing a Low Country boil party. But before I invest a lot of money into a seafood dinner for a crowd, I thought it best to try on a smaller level. It was my first attempt, and I thought it turned out pretty good.

If you’re making a Low Country boil, for no other reason than it’s a Monday night and you have to eat something, why not make it adventurous and delicious? Check.

Here’s how I did it.

LOW COUNTRY BOIL

Famous in South Carolina and Georgia, this boil is done best on an outdoor cooker. I used an electric turkey fryer with a basket, and boiled everything outside. With seafood, sausage, potatoes and corn, it’s an all-in-one meal best served by dumping on a newspaper-lined table. This recipe made a very generous portion for two people, but could serve three or four for those who have more self-control. Serve with extra Old Bay, melted butter and cheddar garlic biscuits.

Ingredients:

1 pound raw, peel-on shrimp

1 pound small red potatoes

3 ears fresh corn

1 link andouille sausage (about 7 ounces)

1 package (3 ounces) shrimp and crab boil seasoning (in a bag)

3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

1 large lemon

1 large onion

1 pound snow crab clusters

Directions:

Prep your ingredients. If the shrimp are frozen, allow them to thaw but leave on the peel. If shrimp is not already deveined, you’ll need to do so. Slice the potatoes in half. Shuck the corn and cut in thirds. Slice the sausage in diagonal, half-inch pieces.

In the pot, combine 8 quarts of water, the seasoning bag, the Old Bay seasoning, and the lemon and onion, each cut in halves. Bring to a boil.

Add the potatoes. Safety note: Pull up the basket when dropping in ingredients to avoid hot broth splashing.

Five minutes later, add the corn and sausage.

Once corn and potatoes seem to be nearly cooked, add the shrimp and crab. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and plump.

Drain off the water. Pour the contents out on a table covered in multiple sheets of newspaper.

Salt Magazine