Okay, I combined two titles into one that rhymes. Hey ... we resumed homeschooling in my neck of the woods today, so it’s back to rummy rhymes and amplified alliteration.
Today’s post is actually about my son’s camping trip (you'll notice that my blog title does actually mention "a little about life and family in the Pacific Northwest") as well as that succulent gift from the sea .. shrimp scampi.
Ah, shrimp scampi. How I love you. This, my blogging friends, is the dish that could quite possibly bring about world peace. It’s so wonderful, so fragrant, sooo utterly delicious that I think it ranks as one of the natural wonders of the world. Who could be grumpy eating scampi? It’s not possible, I tell you! I never get tired of eating scampi no matter where I am ...at home or when traveling.
Speaking of traveling, we just returned from our annual summer trip to Washington. (Mr. It’s All Gouda and the littlest Gouda Girl having fun on the pier. Uh, no, that's not our boat. We don't have one. I will, however, accept one as a gift. Anyone? Anyone? *sigh*)
Hmmm ... annual summer trip. Doesn’t that sound so, I don’t know, like I’m from some old, old established family that spends its summers abroad. Truth be told, this was only our second annual trip to Washington. My soon to be 14 year old son attends a summer camp for kids with seizures up there in our neighbor state, and the rest of us hang out in Washington while he has fun at camp.(My camper is the one right underneath the plaque, wearing a dark jacket and sporting the mop of hair. Little bit tall, isn't he? Can you believe he's the youngest of that group of boys standing there? He's even taller than the camp counselors!)
Did you attend camp as a kid? I was way toooo shy to even consider hauling out the ol sleeping bag. Luckily, my kid didn't inherit his mother's hermit disposition. This camp is utterly amazing. It is the brainchild of Epilepsy NW, which is part of the National Epilepsy Foundation.
Every summer, kids in the Pacific Northwest partake in an all inclusive summer camp. The camp is staffed by adults well versed with seizures, many of them former campers themselves, plus they have nurses at camp to administer daily medications and take care of any seizure related occurances. My son attended for the first time last year and has looked forward all year long to attending again. Last year, I was so paranoid letting him attend. First of all, it is held out of our home state, about 4 hours away to be exact, in a remote area of Washington. Next, while he’d only be gone for 4 days, I’d not be able to contact him unless it’s an emergency, and even then it would be difficult. Lastly, I didn’t know ANY of the counselors or anyone attending. Still, my son's desire to participate outweighed my fears.
If you recall, this is the boy who defied the odds surviving a horrible illness 2 years ago. Coming that close to real peril changes one's overall outlook on life as well as parenting. Some things you hold onto closer like time together as a family, and other things you are more willing to try and take on. We do not sweat the small stuff any longer. Letting him truly "carpe diem" is paramount in my priority outlook. He really wanted to go to camp, and so off he went. I’ll never forget leaving him there last year. He barely waved goodbye to his “paranoid yet acting happy because she didn’t want him to know she was trying not to freak out” mother as he was already having fun getting to know his fellow campers. That's just how it should be ... that is, him being comfortable, not me trying not to freak out!
The camp really fostered his independence, and drove home what his mother has told him ... he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to. Fast forward to this year, I was not as crazed saying goodbye because his health has dramatically improved (only one small seizure since attending camp last year), I loved the positive impact it had on him, and I knew what to expect. Sure enough, when we arrived, I got a quick hug goodbye and then he pretty much took off to hang out with the other kids, some of whom he had hung out with last year. The four days passed by very quickly, and when we picked him up at camp, he started talking about attending next year. I just about burst with pride when he told me that he’d like to pursue being a volunteer counselor there when he is 18. Ah, the boy matures. Plus, thank God, his health is terrific. For that alone, I'm a very happy camper. Hey ... clever pun!
He's always been a really good kid ... thoughtful, mature, smart. Being at camp reinforces his good qualities ... friendly, good attitude, and positive minded. Plus, where else does he get to go rock climbing, hiking, ride some giant swing thing (I can't think of what that's called), and partake in archery lessons?He didn’t mind the rustic cabins, Spartan bathroom set up, remote location, or the fact that his mother wasn’t there to cater to his culinary likes and dislikes. He ate what was served and cleaned up afterward. Hmm ... let’s keep that theme going at home, shall we!(My oldest Gouda Girl ... twin to the camper and soon to be 14)
In contrast to his accommodations, the girls and I, along with Mr. It’s All Gouda, stayed at a lovely hotel complete with cookies in the lobby and restaurants in town. Granted, it was a small town, but lovely nonetheless. It was right on the harbor, and so we feasted on fresh, local seafood. My littlest gal loves shrimp, and I promised her on the ride home yesterday that I’d make her shrimp scampi for dinner tonight. I always keep my promises.Without further ado, here’s the scampi (loosely based on Ina Garten’s recipe ... love her food!) Oh, and this is gluten-free, too!
3 tablespoons clarified butter (can use regular unsalted butter)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (I removed the tails, too)
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup minced fresh Italian parsley (save some for garnish)
½ lemon, zested plus the juice (save some zest for garnish)
½ cup white wine
buttered, cooked linguine
In a large, heavy bottomed pan (I used a dutch oven), heat the clarified butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, and sauté for about 1 minute. Be very careful to not let the garlic burn. Add the shrimp, salt, and black pepper. Saute until the shirpm just turn pink, stirring often. Add the wine and sauté for about 30 seconds longer. Remove from heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Serve over buttered linguine, polenta, cous cous, etc. Mine is served over gluten free linguine.Sprinkle with extra parsley and zest if you’d like. I like! Make yummy noises. Preparation this way produces shrimp that has that wonderful snappy like crunch when you bite into it. We need to come up with an adjective that adequately defines that feel in your mouth when shrimp is cooked to perfection. Whatever you call it, it's all gouda to me! :-)
One last thing before I leave ...
I barked out laughing when I saw this sign. We were driving along on our trip, enjoying the gorgeous scenery, when I see this sign. Look closely, now.Certainly nothing to laugh at. But wait ... what’s this next one say .... Oh Lord. You’ve got to be kidding ...And there you have it folks ... another reason NOT to pick up hitchhikers! Eat scampi instead! :-) Hmm ... I wonder who made the sign?