Tag Archives: Low Country Boil

On again, off again

I’m sitting here on my patio on a very nice Sunday afternoon, looking back on a hectic week, but a pleasant weekend.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, we had been planning to host a visit by the state senate higher education committee this week. Since the institute where I work is a unit of the state university system, this was a pretty big deal. Things started to unravel Monday morning, when the committee chair’s legislative assistant started calling around to make sure everyone who said they were going to come was still planning to do so. One senator backed out for medical reasons, and another, local senator started to get wishy-washy about how much of the activities he would be able to attend. This left us with just two confirmed senators, and one of those was local. We consulted with the committee chair, who wouldn’t come right out and say that we should cancel (or at least postpone) the visit, but strongly inferred it. So we spent two days calling and emailing around to make sure everyone got the word.

One concern was a low-country-boil dinner we had planned for Wednesday evening. We had invited a fairly good number of local people. We called and emailed all of those who responded to the RSVP on the invitation. I had a little concern (but not too much) for the roughly half of the invitees who couldn’t be bothered to mark a check on the pre-printed RSVP card and place it in the pre-addressed and pre-stamped return envelope to let us know if they were going to attend or not. (Sorry. That’s still a sore point with me.) We got in touch with many of them, but not all. I half-hoped someone who had not responded showed up for the dinner anyway.

“Oh, gee. Sorry, but we cancelled the dinner. We didn’t know you were coming or we would have called you. Have a nice evening.”

Snark!

An island weekend

I had to work this Saturday, but at least it was fun work.

I took a trip to Wassaw Island, a barrier island near Savannah.  The purpose was this — each year, we offer some “trips” as prizes for the silent auction that is part of the university system’s big fundraising gala. Today one of the winners of last year’s prizes came for his trip. We put them up in one of our cottages on our campus and took them to Wassaw Island for a beach and nature tour. My boss, his wife (who was our guide) and I hosted the day.

Wassaw is only reachable by boat.

The Fish and Wildlife Service dock.

It is entirely a nature preserve. When we were leaving the island, we saw a few boaters “beaching it” on the very south end. Aside from them,  I believe we were the only humans on the seven-mile long island. Our own private pardise for a few hours.

The family involved was very nice – the parents and two children. They seemed to enjoy the day. We docked at the Fish and Wildlife dock on the land-side of the island and hiked across the island to the beach.

Wassaw has a different look to it than some of the other barrier islands I’ve visited. It is newer and doesn’t have the same expanse of maritime oak forest. There is a 35 foot high sand dune (hill) running down the middle of the island.

Hiking up the "dune" on the way back to the boat.

On the beach side of the dune, the terrain is low-lying but the vegetation is mostly pine and palmetto – not many oaks at all.

Burned pines on the beach side of the big dune.

So we hiked across the island and spent a couple of hours just hanging around the beautiful beach.

Arriving at our "private beach."

Not very crowded today.

When we returned, we got cleaned up and I started cooking dinner. We provided a low country boil, and that was my responsibility. It went well. I managed to cook the shrimp just right. (It’s very easy to overcook the shrimp. Then they are soggy and tough to peal.)

Mrs. Poolman originally planned to join me on the day’s activities, but her boss asked her to work Saturday as an overtime day. She would earn some significant $$$ for the shift, so she jumped on it.

Today (Sunday) is our only off-day of the weekend. We spent it cleaning house (Mrs. Poolman) and yard work in the backyard (me). I’m grilling some chicken for dinner and Mrs. P is doing the green beans and new potatoes. We’ll be to bed early tonight. The work week awaits.

The waning weekends of summer

We’ve had a nice weekend, even if the best of goals were not achieved.

I started out on Friday afternoon by accompanying one of our faculty scientists to a talk at a nearby retirement community. The talk went well, but only about 8 of the residents turned out. I need to talk with their activities organizer. If they want us to come back, we need a few more bodies to make it worth the effort. Our break-even target is an audience of at least 20.

Saturday was spent doing household chores and running errands. I did get excited about one purchase. (It doesn’t take much. As Mrs. Poolman says, I’m easily amused.) We have a Goodwill Store nearby.Chair It is in the same strip shopping center as the local Ace Hardware Store. Since I am in Ace at least once every weekend, I usually pop into Goodwill to see what they have. I have purchased books (50 cents for paperbacks), a golf club and putter ($5 each) and other miscellaneous stuff. Well I have been shopping around for a desk-chair to go in my “home office” (work in progress.) Even the less expensive ones of the style I want are $50-100 at Office Max or Staples. But “lo and behold”, there in Goodwill Saturday morning was an almost-new desk-chair for the exorbitant price of $19.99. Sold!

Goodwill rocks!!!

Saturday evening Mrs. Poolman and I went to a fundraiser event at Ft Jackson, a local historic site. One of Writer Princess’s best friend’s husband (who we know) is the site manager and organized the event. We went to show support. It was a nice time. Silent auction, music, beer, wine, barbecue and low country boil. Ft Jackson eventThe evening was capped with a cannon firing (I thought Mrs.Poolman was going to be knocked over by the shock wave.) and fireworks. I was outbid for a James MacPherson Civil War history book. I told the folks who put in the winning big that the book stunk and they wouldn’t like it. They didn’t listen and outbid me anyway. In any case, it was a good time had by all.

The fort overlooks the Savannah River and I did get a couple of shots of sunset. Nothing spectacular, but it was colorful.

Sunset blog

Back to work tomorrow.

Another summer weekend

What started as a quiet Sunday afternoon picked up a bit. Mrs. Poolman and I were planning on just hanging around our pool, catching up on reading, blogging, etc. Then a handful of the neighborhood kids rang the doorbell and asked if they could swim. They have been asking all summer and my answer has been the same each time. “You need to have a parent here with you. Go ask your Mom or Dad.” In the past couple of summers, we let the kids swim on occasion. An attorney friend told us that we were absolutely crazy to do that without at least one parent from each family there to assume responsibility. Well today, for the first time all summer, one of the Moms called to confirm the invitation and to say she would be down with her kids and a couple of the others that she was looking after this afternoon.

What's going on here?

What's going on here?

So we spent a couple of hours watching a group of 9-12 year olds trying to drown each other. Loads of fun.

Yesterday, we did our neighborly good-deed and had a small dinner party for a couple of friends and two couples who have just moved to the area. The wife-half of one of the couples is our new business officer. The other couple I met through work, and then discovered they had moved ito a house about 100 feet from our front door. Small world.

We did a “low country boil.” It’s also known as Frogmore Stew, after a town on St. Helena Island, SC, in the heart of Gullah country.  For those of you now familiar with the term, this is a popular regional “party meal,” similar conceptually to a clam bake in  Maine, a full-steer barbecue in Texas, etc. It usually involves a social gathering.

You start with a set-up like this.

The 'rig"

The 'rig"

Into the pot of water you add some “crab boil” seasoning,  red potatoes, short-ears of corn (I don’ t know why you use short ears, you just do.) and a sausage,  like kielbasa.

Everything except the shrimp

Everything except the shrimp

Cook that until it is good and done. I usually remove the sausage and vegetables before adding the final, most important ingredient – shrimp. (If you are feeling elaborate, you can also add some crab legs. That gets away from the traditional “low country” part of the recipe, however. The only Kind Crabs or Snow Crabe you will find in this part of the country are in the frozen food section of Publix. We stuck with the traditional recipe this time.)  It is amazing how quickly the shrimp cooks. It usually turns pink and plump in about a minute or so.

You take the whole mess and dump it onto a newspaper-covered table or large platter. This arrangement is much neater than a typical presentation, courtesy of Mrs. Poolman.

The end product

The end product

Throw in some garlic bread and maybe some cole slaw and you have an excellent party-meal.

Back to work tomorrow. Later this week, we will be the overnight hosts for several homeless families who will be staying at our church this week. We’ve never done anything like that before, so it should be interesting.