Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cleaning and Soft Shell Crabs

I hate to clean.

I mean really, really hate. it.

I don't mind making beds or doing laundry, although neither is on my favorite, can't wait to do list.

I don't mind gardening in the spring and summer or raking leaves in the fall.

I don't mind sweeping the porches.

I diligently load the dishwasher, morning, noon and night.

I can live with emptying the dishwasher.

Everyday I pooper scoop the dog's, um, stuff.

I pick up wet towels and clean up small spills and do all the little things that allow us to actually walk through the house without tripping over stuff.

But cleaning, that drudgery packed dusting, vacuuming, washing, scrubbing, polishing thing.. I despise.

Years ago I convinced TBHITW that anyone who worked full time outside of the home deserved, nay, NEEDED, a cleaning service. Reluctantly, he agreed. Well, he not so much agreed as also decided that he didn't like cleaning. Or like me so much, on cleaning days.

I was lucky enough to find the best, most reasonably priced woman in the world (perhaps I should call her TBMRPWITW?) to come to my house and lovingly, carefully and with the best eye for dirt, clean up our mess.

She is a doll and I love her. I mean really, really love her.

A few weeks ago TBHITW asked me what I was going to do when we move "up to the land" about cleaning.

After I stopped shaking I informed him we will need to add a wing onto the proposed new house. For the cleaning lady.

Here in the Northeast the first of the season's Soft Shell Crabs are hitting the markets. I have always loved these delicate crustaceans and I always cook them the same way, every year, week in and week out until the season is done. The fresh greens somehow make me feel less guilty about all that butter - and you only live once right?

Soft Shell Crabs over fresh spring greens: serves 2

Two soft shell crabs (make sure they are alive, you should see movement and they should be brightly colored with no missing claws) Have the fishmonger clean them by removing their lungs. You can do this yourself easily, but it's nicer if the FM does it)
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper

4 cups Fresh greens
1/4 cup grated carrots
hand full of fresh pea sprouts if you can get them
1/2 cucumber, sliced

Toss all the vegetables together and set aside.

Pea sprouts are popping up in local markets, try them, they are tender, sweet and add a nice light crunch to your salad.

Dry the crabs between paper towels.

Season flour and dredge crabs in the flour, shaking off excess.
Melt butter in a heavy saute pan over medium heat.
When butter is hot and foaming, add crabs, top side down.

Saute over medium high heat for about 4 minutes or until top is crisp.
Flip and continue to saute bottoms for another 4 minutes or until browned and crisp.

Plating: Divide salad among 2 plates. Top each salad with one soft shell. A simple oil and vinegar based dressing will do, or if you really want to be decadent, try this dressing, my favorite. Pass hot, crusty bread and a nice cold bottle of white wine.

2 anchovy fillets (don't be afraid of anchovies, they add a rich, not fishy, taste - you can also use anchovy paste)
2 egg yolks**
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the anchovies, egg yolks, garlic, and lemon juice into a blender and process until smooth. With the blender running on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until thick and emulsified. Stir in the parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
**if you are queasy about raw egg yolks, substitute 1/2 cup mayonnaise.

A Cook's Notes: Is there anything in your everyday life that you just absolutely can't stand to do? How do you get around it? Hire someone? Ignore it? Get the significant other to do it? Or do you just cook your favorite food and forget it even exists?


  1. I hate hate hate cleaning as well. It seems as if Josh leaves a trail of everything behind him... :)

    I guess I don't have an excuse not to clean because I don't work full time, but it would be nice to hire someone to mow the lawn.

  2. I guess my least favorite task as a campground owner is cleaning the restrooms. I usually try to do this task first thing in the morning before I am fully awake. I then shower and treat myself to a nice hot cup of coffee and pretend I just got up. Works for the most part, unless there is a surprise awaiting me. Then I make he who mows come look at the mess so that I can use it as leverage when I want something..... is that bad?

  3. I will gladly come live in that extra wing and clean for you! I actually don't mind cleaning which is handy since I'm the one here all day. I think it's the instant gratification that makes the job not horrific. I also made a deal with my husband before we married-I do the laundry and the grocery shopping and he does the floors and scrubs the tub. I may have to do a million loads of laundry each week, but I rarely ever plug in the vacuum cleaner.

  4. Can we do a deal? Can we? Can we?

    I hate cooking and you hate cleaning...

    You cook for me and I'll clean for you?? The logistics may be hard to arrange but I am sure we can get over all those oceans?!!

  5. Phoebe, my only excuse is that I hate it!

    Kathy - oh, that would not be a favorite of mine. Is it wrong to use that as a means to get what you want? I say, whatever works... and it sure sounds like a good reason to me.

    Whitney - deal! Although the vacuum isn't all that bad, it's all the other cleaning stuff that goes with it.

    Eternally - Any logistic can be overcome - you clean, I'll cook is a deal I would take any day.

  6. I don't like cleaning either. If I had enough money, I would love to have someone else do it. I see it as a win/win situation because you get a clean house and you help someone make a living.

  7. I'd love to try a soft shelled crab someday- never saw them for sale in Michigan- ever!

  8. Unknown - that's exactly what I'm talking about! A Win-Win. When the economy took a turn for the worse we tightened our belts and cut out a lot of extras - but we kept our cleaning lady. We knew that she had already lost a couple of home jobs due to the economy and she employs three people. We figured we could do without a few things and she could keep people employed AND we still got a clean house! People helping people.

    Buffalo - I doubt you ever will see a soft shell crab in Michigan. They have to be alive, they are quiet fragile and their season is only 4-5 weeks long. If you ever come NE, stop on by and I'll saute us up a bunch!

  9. I don't mind straightening up, but out and out cleaning does suck!

    I love the taste of crab meat!

  10. I don't enjoy cleaning at all. Can I just cook all day and ignore it...? Pretty please?


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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