How to have an authentic “down east” lobster bake

17 09 2009

Growing up, we would have lobster bakes every once in a while on a major summer holiday.  My Uncles would get up early, dig a pit in an unused part of the yard, line it with rocks, and get the fire started.  Meanwhile, my brother and I would go with Grandma to get the lobsters.  We usually bought them right on the docks from local lobster-men.  We would then go to a rocky part of the shore (aren’t they all rocky in Maine?) and begin harvesting seaweed in large garbage bags.  We needed a lot of sea weed- the kind that has pods holding sea water on them- not the flat seaweed that you see on the West coast.  We loved scurrying around the rocks pulling up seaweed- and we always smelled like the ocean when we got back.  By the time we got back to the house, the rocks were getting good and hot.  We got busy cleaning the silk out of ears of corn and rinsing the clams (steamers) out in a bath of water.  When the time came, we layered seaweed on top of the hot rocks, then layered the following: potatoes, corn, clams, lobster and sometimes kielbasa. Then we put more seaweed on top and covered the whole thing with a tarp- to bake, well actually steam- the water from the seaweed steamed all of the food within.  When done we filled our plates and ate until we couldn’t eat anymore.

The lobster bake that Aunt A and Uncle J put on was very similar- except my uncles didn’t do all the heavy lifting, and we didn’t have to gather our own seaweed.  Paul and his wife had everything taken care of and the whole process down to a science.  The big pan that they had was cool- it had drain holes to let excess water out and it was easily move on and off the hot rocks.  Check out the process:

After the fire is built and sufficiently hot, start with a bed of seaweed and add corn, potatoes, and lobster!

After the fire is built and sufficiently hot, start with a bed of seaweed and add corn, potatoes, and lobster!

Keep adding lobster, kielbasa and bags of steamers

Keep adding lobster, kielbasa and bags of steamers

Look at all that goodness!

Look at all that goodness!

Cover it up with more seaweed... whew this is tiresome!

Cover it up with more seaweed... whew this is tiresome!

 Check out this great set up- all of the prep work is done with the pan off the direct heat- once done you move it over the heat to begin cooking- this avoids some layers cooking too fast.

Check out this great set up- all of the prep work is done with the pan off the direct heat- once done you move it over the heat to begin cooking- this avoids some layers cooking too fast.

Cover the pile with a canvas cloth that has been soaking in water.

Cover the pile with a canvas cloth that has been soaking in water.

Cover it all with a blanket to keep all the steam and goodness inside- tuck it in nice and tight!

Cover it all with a blanket to keep all the steam and goodness inside- tuck it in nice and tight!

Move the whole thing over the hot rocks and let her cook!

Move the whole thing over the hot rocks and let her cook!

Once done uncover and discover the perfectly cooked feast!

Once done uncover and discover the perfectly cooked feast!

Collect the food... look at those guys!

Collect the food... look at those guys!

Awesome!  We learned a lot!  My lesson of the day- Take the rubber bands off the claws before cooking- this avoids a slight rubber taste- but watch out for those claws!

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Day 5 Lobsta Bake with the fam!

17 09 2009

*Beep beep beep*   I interrupt this New England Trip recap to bring you breaking news… Cheese has left the house… I repeat Cheese- also known as the phantom cat- has left the house and… what’s this- she’s eating grass with her brother Cassanova.  Reports indicate that Cheese is getting increasingly brave and has been venturing out regularly.  I believe our photographer has captured this rare Cheese sighting.

Cheese is adventuresome!

Cheese is adventuresome!

Amazing! Ok, back to your regularly scheduled vacation update.

Sunday, Mom was anxious to show Matt the Portland Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.  We drove around downtown Portland a little and then went to the Cathedral.  Mom wanted to show Matt the beautiful stained glass which was made by a man who shared a last name with Matt’s Mother’s family- no relation, but a fun story none the less.  WOW are these stained glass beautiful!  I had seen them years ago, but they are amazing.  See for yourself!

After viewing the church, we headed back to get ready for a little relaxation before a traditional Lobsta Bake- hosted by my Uncle J and Aunt A.  Did I mention that at Aunt S and Uncle C house Matt made a new friend? Tiki the Cat/Dog. Seriously a dog that acts like a cat- my kind of dog.

2009 Sep 06_0642It was off to the Lobsta bake! I hadn’t seen much of my family in 2 years, and everyone was going to be there (with the exception of my cousin A who I had seen the night we arrived- he had gone back on the Appalachian Trail and my mom’s baby brother and his family- who live in Denver).  Despite being in the middle of major home remodeling, Aunt A and Uncle J put on the best party!  They rented a tent for the back yard and hired childhood friend Paul and his wife to organize and do the lobsta bake.  I’ll post the details of how an authentic lobsta bake happens in my next post.  But here are photos from the festivities.

Chatting with Aunt A and Aunt S

Chatting with Aunt A and Aunt S

Gathering around the bake!

Gathering around the bake!

Toasting big birthdays (Aunt S, Cousin K, Cousin M, Cousin R and Mom) and Engagements (yay!)

Toasting big birthdays (Aunt S, Cousin K, Cousin M, Cousin R and Mom) and Engagements (yay!)

Did I mention we toasted an engagement?

Did I mention we toasted an engagement?

Blowing out the candles

Blowing out the candles

Chowing down! Corn on the Cob, Steamers (clams), kielbasa, and of course lobsta!

Chowing down! Corn on the Cob, Steamers (clams), kielbasa, and of course lobsta!

Have I mentioned how much I love my Family? Uncle J, Aunt S, and Uncle C

Have I mentioned how much I love my Family? Uncle J, Aunt S, and Uncle C

Aunt J, and Cousin M- Gosh I miss my cousins!

Aunt J, and Cousin M- Gosh I miss my cousins!

Cousing MS and his girlfriend A- they are buying a house, how exciting!

Cousin MS and his girlfriend A- they are buying a house, how exciting!

Cousin K and her beau

Cousin K and her beau

One of my fav images; Cousin R captures a great photo of Cousin K and her boy- who is hiding a beer behind his back- priceless!

One of my fav images; Cousin R captures a great photo of Cousin K and her boy- who is hiding a beer behind his back- priceless!

Matt fit right in with my family, and got a good education on how to do a lobsta bake.

Matt fit right in with my family, and got a good education on how to do a lobsta bake.

The day wrapped up hanging by the fire and a fireside game of apples to apples by light of the fire!

The day wrapped up hanging by the fire and a fireside game of apples to apples by light of the fire!

I have to say thank you to the three people who made that wonderful day possible- my dear dear Aunt A and Uncle J and their dear friend Paul!

Thanks guys!

Thanks guys!

When we got home that night we realized, our trip was coming to a close- how sad!  Next up: A lobsta bake tutorial and Day 6 of the trip.





Day 4: Red Hook in NH and Maine

14 09 2009

On the fourth day of our vacation we visited with my Grandma for a second time (she has Alzheimer’s and is at a place near my Aunt in Massachusetts), before hitting the road up to Maine to visit with more family.

2009 Sep 02_0718

As a side note, as I see it, one of the blessings of Alzheimers is that you can share good news with your loved one and every time it’s like they are hearing it for the first time.  We told Grandma of our engagement three times during this trip and showed her the ring.  Every time she was so happy and it was so special to share that joy with her.

Matt and I knew that Red Hook had a brewery in Portsmouth NH on our way to Maine.  Red Hook’s original brewery was in Seattle, but has moved to nearby Woodinville, WA.  I’ve visited the Washington brewery so we thought it would be cool to visit the one in NH too. (these are the only 2 Red Hook Breweries in the country) Matt and I are always down to sample some craft beers.  My stomach was a little upset from a tuna sandwich that didn’t agree with me, but I sampled all four Beers that they offered us.  A nice little sidetrip on the way to Maine.  We got into Maine around 5 pm and spent a great evening chatting with my Aunt and Uncle.  Oh and did I mention that the weather was awesome?

yummm beer!

yummm beer!

Sorry Aunt S- I LOVE this photo- can't remember what you were describing but this captures the way we have animated conversations perfectly! Love you!





Day 3: Laconia, Weirs Beach Blvd and Visiting Friends

7 09 2009
MS Mount Washington coming into dock

MS Mount Washington coming into dock

So, I knew we needed to take a side trip north to my hometown, Gilford.  We had a great lunch with Kendra- who’s been my dear, dear friend since we were in the 5th grade.  She gave Matt her stamp of approval and Matt and I took off to tour the “sites” of the Laconia/Gilford Area: Belknap Mt- my old house, the Village Store, Gilford middle/high school- whoa they did some additions there!- downtown Laconia (lunch at the Soda Shoppe)- the Colonial is closed, how sad- and finally the highlight- the Weirs. lol… a little bit slow which surprised me. We had slush at Harts Slush and watched the MS mount Washington (my first job!) come into dock.  On our way back to my Aunts house, we stopped in Franklin to see my friend Chris.  All in all a great day.  Matt’s comment on the New England roads this far? “They are crazy as hell! You don’t believe in a 90 degree intersection”  This has solved the mystery for him as to why I say “go straight” when sometimes “straight” is really a right or left turn… straight is a relative term!





Day 2: Beantown

5 09 2009

We have been so blessed with great weather since arriving on the East Coast.  We’ve made my Aunt Jane and Uncle Jack’s Massachusetts lakeside house our home base.  It was the evening of our arrival where Matt proposed. YAY!  We’ve both been beaming ever since.  Thursday we visited my grandma. She’s in an Alzheimer’s care facility, I try to speak with her on the phone every couple weeks so I was prepared for our visit.  She was so happy to hear about our engagement, although I am not sure she processed it very well.  After a short visit Matt and I drove to Boston.  It was his first time in Beantown so we were sure to visit all the sites:

Fanneuil Hall

Fanneuil Hall

Fanneuil Hall

Fanneuil Hall

The Capital Building

The Capital Building

The make way for ducklings ducks!

The make way for ducklings ducks!

The Public Garden

The Public Garden

Cant stop kissing my FIANCE!

Can't stop kissing my FIANCE!

Bostons North End

Bostons North End

I love this ally shrine in the North End

I love this ally shrine in the North End

love it!

love it!

:-)

🙂

We ended our amazing day with Pizza at the North Ends World Famous Pizzaria Regina

We ended our amazing day with Pizza at the North End's World Famous Pizzaria Regina





Day 1: I said “yes”

3 09 2009
Perfection

Perfection

So, Matt and I have had a trip to New England planned since this spring.  This was our “meet the rest of the family trip”.  My mom made the trip with us- making it even more special.  My heart was set on being engaged for this trip so we could celebrate our engagement with my family.  As the days ticked by and our trip got closer- I got more and more stressed out.  Had he bought the ring? Was he going to propose?

Matt is very very good at keeping secrets and it drove me crazy! I was almost certain that he had bought the ring, but yesterday, as we arrived at the airport he said some things that made me doubt that he had bought the ring. I almost frisked him (ok I did frisk him) right there in the southwest check in line.  I tried really hard not to be too upset, but my emotions got the best of me.  In Chicago when I confided and told Matt that I was upset and a little mad at him, he couldn’t keep smiling- (which with an emotional woman isn’t the best reaction!) and finally he told me that if I knew what he knew I would smile too.

We had a great dinner with my Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and Mom.  They were giving me a hard time, trying to find out the wedding date (we agreed not to tell anyone until he had proposed).  Knowing that I was super emotional, Mr Knit decided to be nice and he took a “Tiffany Blue” pouch out of his shoe.  Yes- in order to hide it from me he put in the ipod compartment in his Nike running shoes- I thought it was strange that he was wearing these shoes which he usually only wears to the gym.  I bet the scanner guy at the airport smiled when he say my ring go through x-ray! Back to the story- so he holds up a Tiffany pouch and my hands flew up to my face! “Oh my God!”  I grabbed his face and pulled him towards me for a kiss- before he even got the words out.  “Amy Beth , will you marry me!”   YES! Yes!  Please note- I had not even looked at the ring yet.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of his face.  I kissed him again and finally took a peak at the ring!  It is perfect.  The classic Tiffany setting.  Just under a half caret- I made him promise to keep it under a half caret because anything bigger would look ridiculous on my size four finger!

My family felt so honored to be here for this momentous occasion.  I was thankful too- especially because as soon as the ring came out my Aunt said to my Uncle- get the camera!  We are so lucky to have these wonderful photos of the whole event.  Enjoy!  I am off to enjoy my fiance’s company!  Fiance! Yay!

I said Yes!

I said Yes!





Red things: TOMATOES and baby booties

31 08 2009
maters

'maters

thats Ta-maters :)

that's Ta-maters 🙂

OMG- we have a lot of tomatoes!  It doesn’t help that we are running around like crazy people the whole month of August, eating out a lot and not cooking at home as much.  Matt and I are taking a vacation (Mom too!) to New England to see the fam and we couldn’t bear the thought of these beauties rotting on the vine.  H is going to come take care of the kitties and help herself to our garden, but we’ve gotta find homes for the ones we’ve already picked. 🙂  So, tomorrow Matt and I are toting some gift bags of Garden goodness to work to give away. Don’t you wish you lived her (and if you do- call me and I’l save you some!)

I’ll try to blog a bit on our trip- as time allows.  I promise lots of photos- I just checked the forecast- highs in the high 70s and lows in the high 50s-  sweet- my kind of weather!

Hugs- and I can’t wait to see my NE Peeps!

Oh yeah- these Baby booties are for friends who don’t want their little girl to be a Pink pasaster like I was… (another story for another time).  I love the ruby red slippers!  I printed an apple on a little cotton cap and I am working on printing cherries and other fruit on the front of some plain onesies- perfect baby gifts… all handmade!

too cute!

too cute!