I traveled to Emerald Isle Beach in North Carolina to spend Labor Day with friends saying goodbye to summer in the fashion of years gone by—lazy days with beach reads, gathering together at cocktail hour to watch the sun as it set, busying ourselves in the kitchen to stir up the freshest of vegetables, and mainly seafood from the markets for dinner, then maybe a game or two before an early to bed.
After a couple of days, it became evident that a storm was “a-brewing” and way more attention was being given to slow-moving Dorian than the slow movements of a beach bum. Oh, and I remember on the way up from Charleston, there were sandbags for sale at a Myrtle Beach gas station. Oh, somebody is paying advance notice and I need to pay attention because my home could be in its path.
Residents in the community started to buzz about making plans to prepare, other neighbors started arriving to get ahead of the game—called “Watch The Hurricane”!
The time came when a collective decision was made to leave our summer’s ending early—
First in order of operations—use up the perishables (I have learned they are sometimes called “Musgo” because they “Must Go”). I put on my apron, called upon my creative powers, and assumed the mantel of Executive Chef.
The head count for dinner went form 5, to 7, and then to 11. Neighbors brought their half-bottles of open wine, assortment of leftover crackers and cheeses, and a smorgasbord of hors d’oeuvres. I did roast some fresh okra, halved and bathed in olive oil, at 450° until thoroughly browned and crispy like a chip, then liberally sprinkled with sea salt when hot out of the oven.
A salad with donations of various lettuces became a medley of greens topped with slices of SC peaches that had perfectly ripened throughout the week—then sprinkled with crumbled blue cheese and toasted nuts.
But, the piece de resistance became a pasta—sometimes you just have to go with what you got. And, what we had in the way of leftovers were some baked chicken tenders, NY Times Baked Greek Shrimp With Tomatoes and Feta (if you have not tried this recipe, now is a perfect time with the last of the summer tomatoes). I had extra fresh tomatoes and vidalia onions to make more sauce, mushrooms, ham to be cubed, bits of cooked bacon, capers. The larder provided several opened and unopened boxes pasta, we could have actually stretched this dish to have included the “multitudes”; plus there were the necessary spices (red pepper flakes, thyme, and oregano. Plus we had fresh basil from the garden next door and mint. We toasted the remainder of a baguette and dinner was served!
Maybe it was the comaraderie, or the group effort to support one another in bracing against the hurricane—maybe aided by the libations, but the evening was a success. We said our goodbyes and I vamoosed the next day in search of gas to head for Charleston and start my own “battening down the hatches”. Luckily after mainly just high winds and no flooding for me I can thankfully say “Not only did I dodge Dorian, but I dodged a bullet”. But sadly,