Saturday, May 29, 2010

For A Good Time, Just Add Water.

I opened a bank account yesterday. Kinda.

It’s out in the middle of Lake Wylie. Sorta.

Yep. It’s one of those “liquid” bank accounts – a hole in the water into which you pour money without hopes of ever making a withdrawal. I bought a boat.

I’d been pondering it for some time now. There’s nothing like the freedom and fun you can have out on the water. I grew up on the water, on the beach, on the docks, in the creeks – boating, skiing, cruising, fishing. To me, it feels like an essential part of childhood, and at ages 15 and 13, Son and Darling Daughter won’t be “kids” much longer. As rising 8th and 10th graders, they won’t even be with me much longer. (Son’s clearly-stated college choice is “away.” Followed by, “Do they have colleges in Colorado?")

Plus, it’s that time of year when it seems as if every commencement speaker on the nightly news is urging new graduates to “pursue their dreams.” True, I haven’t matriculated in over 25 years. Still, my dream has always been to use “matriculate” in a sentence. And to have a boat. So now I have one.

This, despite the face that there are at least three good reasons I shouldn’t have done it. First, I didn’t “buy” a boat. I went into debt for one. Second, the boating season isn’t all that long. I know, because I tried to justify the expense by dividing it by the number of times we could get on the water each summer before Darling Daughter graduates from high school in 2015. That kind of math never adds up. And third, well, the truth is, I don’t know how to drive a boat.

As Son’s seventh grade teacher would say, it’s time for me to man up.

It's also time to get cooking, because I can’t think of boating without thinking of food.

When I was a kid, we’d eat a PBJ on the bike ride to the Yacht Club (which is not at all what you think it is), knock on the bar window, put a can of Coke on Daddy’s tab, and think we were gourmands.

That’s one dream that has changed. Nowadays, I think icy beers, hunks of juicy watermelon and French bread and cool, refreshing salads – something like this Shrimp and Cucumber Salad with Dilled Yogurt Dressing.

But first, can someone show me how to run this thing? And what happens if you push that red button?

Shrimp and Cucumber Salad
The salad is easy to assemble, but you have to begin a couple of hours in advance, to allow time for straining the yogurt.
8 ounces plain Greek yogurt, strained
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill

2-3 tablespoons fresh minced chives
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
generous grinding of fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 seedless cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise, sliced thickly
1 pound peeled, cooked shrimp, cut into bites and chilled
1 rib of celery, chopped fine and chilled
Leaves of Bibb or butter lettuce

To strain yogurt, line a sieve with a paper coffee filter. Spoon in yogurt and allow to stand for at least two hours, to drain off extra liquid. Remaining yogurt will be very thick and creamy. In large mixing bowl, stir yogurt, lemon juice, dill and peppers together and set aside. Put cucumber slices in sieve, sprinkle with kosher salt, and allow to drain about 30 minutes. (This keeps the salad from getting too watery.) Stir drained cucumber, shrimp and celery into yogurt dressing. Serve, chilled, over lettuce leaves.
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