Another stuffie recipe

The problem with recipes gets down to the problem with any written language—feigned immortality. If the goal is to get the exact same flavor, then you need the exact same ingredients grown at the exact same time after a season of the exact same weather.

Even then you will fail.

Consistent flavor easy to attain with processed foods. Your industrial producers have mastered consistency, but at a cost. (I am not about to knock processed foods—there is an undeniable comfort in consistency and salt.)

From my 2 year old grandchild’s garden,resting on our Adirondack chair.

My wheat berries grown on a family farm came with an apology for their small size—it was the driest year in decades and well, plants need water. A tomato grown in my garden may taste slightly different than the one from yours. The clams I raked up yesterday are sweeter than the ones I hope to harvest in March.

Recipes are incredibly useful for proportions, for temperatures, for time in the oven—but not so much for ingredients. This one happened mostly by accident—I liked it so I wrote it down, but who am I fooling?

14 top neck quahogs

1 stick butter

1 celery stick chopped fine

1 medium onion chopped fine

1 tsp rosemary chopped fine

Few sprigs of rosemary to flavor the butter

¾ cup panko, though could use a little more (it’s all I had)

Red pepper flakes

Some chopped garlic, not too much

Some dry basil (my parsley patch seems to be gone)

Gobs of Parmesan cheese, to make up for the missing panko

Tiny splash of rosé wine for when your sauté goes south—it’s what was in the fridge, but it worked.

Cook the clams the usual way—simmer until open, chop the innards, save the broth.

Start the stuffing by melting a stick of butter. I like to add a few sprigs of rosemary while the butter melts. I take out the rosemary once it wilts.

Sauté the onions until they’re where you like them, then cool things down with splash of rosé.

Add the celery and chopped rosemary and let simmer a bit. Normally I would add the garlic here, but I forgot, and I think holding off the garlic until the end worked better.

Add pepper flakes to taste.

Dump and stir the panko, and when you realize that you do not have enough, add enough Parmesan cheese to let the whole thing clump together.

Scoop stuffing into half shells, bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Serve with some roasted Brussels sprouts and homemade rosemary/garlic bread.

Clamming in late autumn

They’re alive, just an hour or two after leaving the bay, and will be until they are cooked an hour or two later.

I am alive when I take this picture, and will be even after these particular clams are eaten.

Quahogs raked from the back bay in late November

The air is chilly in the shadows, but the water is still warm enough for sandals.

In a generation or two, different clams will fill the same basket, different hands will hold the same rake.

The shells of the clams above now sit under a maple tree outside, resting among the shards of so many other shells, all raked up alive, all eaten, all dead.

If you’re a high school teacher, here’s a macabre exercise that I think is worth doing once or twice a year. Wander out into the hallways in between the periods, when the kids are being kids, in varied kid positions, using kid slang.–walking/strutting/slouching/skipping/dancing/sliding with in your face vivaciousness .

Now imagine those same bodies a years after they are dead, their skeletal remains as lifeless as the ghostly white clam shells sitting under my maple tree.

Clam shells under the maple tree.

And then ask yourself, what are you doing today with these children whose lives are as mortal as the clams.

(Mortality should influence your curriculum at least as much as capitalism does….)

Staying ahead of the curve

#SatChat question today–too often we ask ourselves questions without challenging the premises.

“Staying ahead of the curve” is adspeak used by an industry that needs you to keep turning over tools. The ed-tech industry runs on perceived obsolescence.

There is no need to get ahead of the curve (whatever that means) if one has the tools to do what is needed doing here and now.

Every tool has a learning curve. Every tool has limitations. Every tool used by humans is crafted by human imagination.

In anatomy, a few pieces of colored chalk are better than markers when using subtle shades to show specific structures. I no longer use chalk because I no longer have a chalk board–our administrators removed them years ago, perhaps to save themselves the embarrassment of falling behind the curve.

Anatomy art found in Honfleur, summer 2018.

I miss using chalk. This is not some romantic notion getting maudlin over days when I had more energy (and more hair). I can get by with more expensive Expo markers using a more expensive white board. (I could get by with a stick and a patch of beach.)

The tools most teachers use are tools thrust upon us by folks who have left the classroom, for whatever reasons.

Clams from the back bay, March 2019.

I clam with a fairly new (about 10 years old) rake with a wooden handle that replaced one about 50 years older. The style hasn’t changed much, but to be fair, neither have clams. There are bigger rakes, there are rakes with baskets, there are rakes with Fiberglas handles, and for all I know there may be rakes with built-in GPS systems.

I could pluck clams from the mud by hand, I suppose, and some days I do just that. There is joy in clamming by hand, even if it lacks the efficiency of a commercial clam dredge.

I traded that curve years ago for the arc of the sun settling on the edge of the bay and the feeling of the arched back of a quahog in my hand.

If you’re ahead of the curve, drop a comment and let me know what I am missing.