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July 11, 1999
a year ago
two years ago

Crab Cakes

Woke up from really vivid dreams, and then went back to sleep only to dream some more. Making up for sleep loss from last week, I think, as I went to sleep around midnight, didn't get up until after 10:30 a.m.. One was a dream about a woman who could fugue through time, coming on this society after being hunted by others. I could see how awful, scary, terrible it looked through her eyes even as I knew that the freedom fighters in the compound were the last hope for human kind... but she was scared and angry. She eventually decided to just blip out, when the kindliest one asked her to just wait. Four of their fugue artists blipped out through time, including the kindly one... and he kept reassuring her between fugue states, until the last... where he muttered, "Where did she go? What mark did she use? Hash... mark. NOW."

And she changed... and one of the fugue warriors walked in asking how she was and the kindly one saying, "She's deuced ready, mon." and there she was, all armored out and ready for a fugue fight for them.

Near as I can figure out, they went back in time to set up an attack on her that they could rescue her from and then heal her in the compound so that she wouldn't be suspicious of them, could really see them in their true light rather than in her fear. It was both an intriguing and somewhat disturbing realization, afterwards. What right did they have to change her mind? But then she really was choosing what was best for her and them, after. If she'd just fugued out, she would have been alone again and as vulnerable as she believed she was.

Yeah.

Sometimes I wonder what my dreams mean, or if it really is as obvious as it might seem.

John was up pretty early and had a huge list of Things He Wanted to Do and Get. So I said that he should go do all that and that I'd be fine by myself and at home. He's still a little worried about me, but he gave me a hug and went. I made boiled eggs the way Pepin said, but I think I boiled them too long and they're hard boiled, but they don't have any sulfur around the yolk, at all, which is very yummy. I also ate some of the chibatta with olive oil and the aged basalmic Carl gave me.

John did note that I've been doing more involved cooking in the last year than I've done before. It's true. It's also a field that I don't expect to learn everything in in any short order. There's a lot out there to do and learn and see. Quills didn't last all that long because there is relatively little to really learn. I used a quill for my writing the night before and it was nice and lasted for five pages without any problem and I didn't, once, write about the quill in the pages. That's a new thing.

I spent most of the last of the morning making crab cakes. Saw three different recipes for crab cakes on The Cooking Channel and thought I'd do my own with a few pointers by Pepin as well in his cookbook. I had a one pound can of Indonesian crab from Costco. I figure with crab cakes you can only just taste the crab anyway... Dungeness is nearly a waste in crab cakes because it's taste is so completely overwhelmed. Blue crab is tastier, so it stands up better to the whole deal. So I thought I'd at least try it and I had to make the whole pound because there really wasn't a good way to preserve the rest. So I mixed everything up with some whim involved... onions, peppers, shallots, herbs (chives parsley) and lots of Old Bay seasoning and crumb from the chibatta and from some sourdough English muffins because it smelled nice with everything else. Whim cakes, I should call them, though when I added the crab, it really did dominate the bowl.

Shaped 'em into balls and stuck 'em in the refrigerator. Then went upstairs to write. They have to cool and solidify a bit, then I get to crumb them and then put 'em back into the fridge before frying 'em. All the cold time just helps them stay together.

John came home soon after that and I spent most of the day just watching TV. I probably should have been reading, probably should have been doing other things, but it felt really good to just let the TV take my brain away and not think, not really do much of anything.

Some of it was the Mark thing. Most of it was that it's really, truly summer here. In Seattle, we had the saying that there was only one week of true summer and one week of true winter, and it really was true. Even in August there were some chilly nights, and in December there were a few warm ones in Seattle. Here the summer has been completely unrelenting. So John was very cool and brought up two boxes for me, and I packed away a lot of my winter gear. Many sweaters, long underwear, and sweats all went into the two boxes and were put away until it actually gets cool here. Here it seems that it's all winter or all summer and very little spring or fall. It should be interesting to see if the other transition is as thorough.

So I watched the Cooking Channel, I really like the two Fat Ladies and their unabashed love of really yummy food. I watched the BBQ special and learned a lot. I watched baseball and soccer and then took a quick break as I heard lightning and thunder and ran out into the wind to feed all the pine trees before the rain actually fell. Just as I finished the last tree, big fat drops started to come down. It rained for just a few minutes, not really enough, but more rain threatened, so I just let it go. Since it really didn't rain much for the rest of the day, I probably should go out and water them tomorrow.

I also took some time to get the crab balls out of the fridge and pat them in bread crumbs. A third kind of bread, as I didn't really want more of the sourdough taste of the English muffin. I found some hazelnut bread that we had, which is actually a simple sandwich bread with some powdered hazelnuts in it, it wasn't sweet. I made two slices of that into a very fine crumb and I patted the fairly firm balls into the crumb and into patties. Coated them completely so that when they fried they'd have the crisp crust. After all the handling they started to get mushy again, so I put 'em back in the tray and back into the fridge to cool some more.

Around 6, I got out the frying pan, the Canola oil and found out that I was very short on oil. Oops. Luckily, it didn't take all *that* much oil. Fresh bread crumb is pretty good about not soaking up a lot of oil and still frying up crisp. The oil doesn't soak in like it does with dry crumb. So the crab cakes turned out beautifully crisp. I ran out of oil for the last side of the cakes, and so just substituted some virgin olive oil that did lend its taste to it, but the cakes were thick enough that it wasn't overwhelming. They turned out very nicely indeed. Fried 'em, then stuck them into the oven to cook through as I had raw onion and scallion in there.

They came out crisp and tender and flavorful. I finally got the balance between the Old Bay seasoning and the onions right, and I really love just a bit of pepper in the midst of it all and the solid crunch of the crumb crust. It isn't the purists' crab cake as there's a lot more than crab; but given that I was using canned crab meat, it was nearly necessary. We both loved them. John's noted that in the last few years I've gotten more and more into more elaborate foods, things that serve duty to the mind, heart, and soul as well as the body. Stuff that isn't just fuel, but something to be experienced. This is an interest that looks like it could well last me the rest of my life, not just a few years.

After dinner was Bull Durham mostly because it was playing. That was fun to see from beginning to end, and afterwards I wrote much more coherently and when I got to sleep, I dreamed of baseball. That was sweet.

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