beach party

May 31, 2006


For the last couple of years I’ve been fortunate enough to spend Memorial Day weekend on a beach across Kachemak Bay from Homer, Alaska. Originally billed as a kayak trip, it’s evolved to become a four-day party with the option to kayak. Boats are chartered to drop us and enough gear to survive for months on a remote piece of coastline. There is one iron-clad rule: You will bring your own camp chair, or you will end up sitting on the ground. Some of these folks have been doing this trip as an annual “Welcome Summer, and-where-the-hell-have-you-been-trip” for nearly a decade, and have it down to a fine art. In addition to the camp chairs, kegs of Old Inlet Pale Ale from the Homer Brewing Company are de rigeur, and everyone tries to outdo the others with food. A system was developed to free up the most time for power lounging – groups and/or couples are assigned to one meal, and expected to cook and clean for the entire group. No small task, as the group includes 16-20 adults, various kids, and dogs of every color and persuasion. Breakfast and dinner are group meals and then you’re on your own for anything else. There seem to be two schools of thought about deciding which meal to sign up for. Breakfast can be less work as it’s generally an easier meal to cook. You get your work done early, and are free from any pressure. The drawbacks are inherent: This is breakfast, you will have to get up before everyone else to cook it, and quite frankly, drinking wine around a campfire till 4 am doesn’t often lead to an early “Let’s-Go-Greet-The-Day” kind of morning. On top of how you may feel, there are lots of other hungry people looking to eat, and drinking the coffee as fast as it gets made. For my money, that’s the toughest meal to handle. Thank jesus/allah/buddha for those that take it on.
Dinners are easier to deal with for the night owls, but then your plans have to factor in the dent this responsibility will put in your afternoon: obviously no more than 6 beers when playing horseshoes after lunch, for instance. It does help that right now sunset is around 11, and people that are drinking heavily are easily distracted by snacks and more drinks while dinner is prepped. Three nights on the beach gave us time for two big dinners, as Friday night we were still trickling in and setting up until late. Saturday night, Darcy and the rest of the A-Team cooked up a genuine Cajun shrimp boil. They served it up with hot crusty bread and butter, and the rest of us fell upon it like wolves.

1 largish container of old bay seasoning
5 heads of garlic, rough chopped
5 halved lemons
5 pounds new potatoes
1 pound onions, quartered
handful bay leaves
1/2 cup cayenne pepper
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup pepper
10 whole cloves
3 pounds sweet hot peppers
5 pounds sausage
15 ears of corn, halved
10 pounds peeled raw shrimp

Bring the first 10 ingredients to a boil in a huge kettle. Boil gently for 20 minutes, and then add the sausage and corn (shuck and cut the ears in half). Boil for 5 more minutes, add the peppers, boil a bit longer and add the shrimp. Remove from the heat after a minute or two, or when you think the shrimp are done – this only takes a minute. Drain it and serve (translation: dump it out onto spread newspapers or into a big pan) with lots of butter for the corn and potatoes. You could also mix a little Old Bay Seasoning in with some olive oil and drizzle it over the top.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 J June 1, 2006 at

hi jared, what a feast! btw, lovely blog you have here – i’m thrilled to be visiting for the first time!

2 jcockman June 2, 2006 at

Thanks for stopping by. Always glad to know there are folks reading, and I’m a fan of your site.

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