Sunday, July 3, 2016

"Catch 'em and Cook 'em" by Bunny Day - Crabs Creole

Date I made this recipe:  June 26, 2016 – spotlighting the game show, To Tell  The Truth

Catch 'em and Cook 'em by Bunny Day
Gramercy Publishing Company
© 1961
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores
Recipe:  Crabs Creole – p. 46

In my May 8th blog, I cooked from actress and TV personality Arlene Francis' book, No Time For Cooking.  Arlene was a panelist on the (vintage) TV show, What's My Line, and in that blog, I did a good deal of "reporting" about that show and its sister shows, To Tell the Truth and I've Got a Secret

I also reported that cookbook author, Bunny Day, appeared on To Tell the Truth, prompting me to screech "Bunny Day? My Bunny Day?"  That very name – Bunny – is what prompted me to purchase two of her cookbooks in the first place and there she was, on TV and everything!  When I was growing up, I knew or knew of three people with the name or nickname, Bunny, and it just makes me giggle – still - because it's so cute (and so were they).

So I made a mental note to cook from her book sometime this summer and was actually gearing up to do so when I watched yet another episode of To Tell The Truth, and on that episode, three people claimed to be cookbook author, Eva Jean Schulz, who wrote the book, Shrimply Delicious!  So first I had Bunny talking about fishing (which I gather was an expertise of hers) and her cookbook (Catch 'em and Cook 'em) and now Eva was talking about her shrimp expertise and her cookbook and well, something was "fishy" here, right?  (Pun intended.)

Alas, I already cooked from Shrimply Delicious! (Collectible Cooking – December 15, 2007 – Shrimp and Mango Chutney Canapés that were delicious) as well as from Bunny Day's other cookbook, Crazy-Quilt Cookery (Collectible Cooking - September 24, 2014 - Beef Casserole/Meatloaf), and so that left me with one more from these game show participants:  Bunny Day's Catch 'em and Cook 'em.

But first, one more tidbit that just amused me to no end about Schulz's book, Shrimply Delicious! On the To Tell The Truth celebrity panel that night was the always elegant and witty, Kitty Carlisle who, before beginning her questioning of the panelists, said (dramatically, of course) "Well there's absolutely nothing I love more than shrimp!"   I do so love her.  Plus, she was wearing this totally kick-ass leopard skin stole (with pearls) and yes, I know, PETA will likely be all over me for that but let's remember folks, that back in the 60's, this was the biggest deal on the planet. 

At any rate, Kitty was all excited by the Shrimp Lady and she was all excited about Bunny Day and shrimp and seafood and you should be too! 

I must confess that when I first starting looked through this book for a recipe to make, I thought I might be overwhelmed with recipes for fish and I am not a fish fan.  But hooray, readers, the "Catch" in the title is misleading because the book is not about catching something with a fishing pole but rather "caught" as in with traps (crabs, lobster) or digging (oysters, scallops and mussels.)Except for the bouillabaisse recipe in the last chapter, there's not a mention of fish to be seen and to me, this was a good thing.  (And need I tell you that there is no way I am ever again gutting a fish?)

Had I grown up on the east coast like my father and his family, I might just have gone to a seafood store, gotten live crabs (or lobster or whatever) and just cooked them myself.  Alas reader, I did not grow up on the east coast (although I do visit a lot) and Lake Superior, my backyard, does not yield these incredible edibles so I chose the slacker route and went to Coastal Seafoods and bought a can of crab, already prepared.  As I often say, "Why do for yourself when you can pay others to do for you?"

Aside from the crab meat which pound for pound equaled a couple pounds of beef or a couple chicken breasts (depending where you shop), the rest of the ingredients were pretty inexpensive to buy and the entire thing was really easy to make.  My only complaint, and it is very minor, is that the dish was a little too sweet (i.e. sugary) for me.  The guy at Coastal Seafoods talked me into purchasing a can of sweeter crab meat and that, along with the teaspoon of sugar, and lack of other balancing savory spices, made for a more sweet than savory concoction.  Did we eat it anyway?  Well, of course we did.  But the next time around, I might add a bit of Old Bay or even a bay leaf to try to course correct the sweetness.

The recipe also calls for 4 tablespoons bacon fat and I tell you what, I was positively giddy to discover that Trader Joe's carried a one pound package of raw bacon ends and pieces (of mostly fat) which was PERFECT for this dish.  I used to buy and freeze bacon slices but that didn't work well because we never used them up in a timely manner, but this?  This I will use, especially if the recipe calls for only the fat and not the bacon itself.

So there you go.  "Bunny" and I had a lovely time in my kitchen making this dish and I think you will too.

Meanwhile, I am keeping an eagle eye on the guests on To Tell the Truth because you never know who will pop up. In fact, I was watching one episode (circa 1963) recently where three people claimed to be Australian-born folk singer, Shirley Abicair, who rocketed to stardom after appearing on the BBC.  And one of the panelists claiming to be her was actress Cecily Tyson.  (You should know that Shirley is Caucasian as was the other pretender but Cecily is not.  But this type of mixed panel happens quite often on "TTTT" to throw off the panel.  I've seen them mix men and women, for example, when the "real" person's name is something like Carol (f)/Carroll (m), or Jean (f)/Gene (m)("'Jean'"/Gene, the dancing machine..." from The Gong Show.)

At any rate, so I'm watching the show, right, and I kept thinking "I know that woman"   (Cicely Tyson) but could not come up with her name.  I remembered "Miss Jane Pittman," a character she played in a 1974 TV movie, and I correctly placed her as character Annalise Keaton's mother in the contemporary TV show, How to Get Away with Murder, but beyond that, I was stumped.  And then just as she was asked to give us her real name and what she really did, the light bulb came on and two seconds later she said " My name is Cicely Tyson and I am a student at "the New School" and I was born right here in New York City."  (By the by, the New School is a famous New York university, of which, the drama program tutored up and coming (and now famous actors, like Ms.  Tyson) in the craft. 

So get out there and Catch 'em and Cook 'em folks (ha—as if), and do some cooking and if you have time, perhaps a little walking down memory lane by viewing some vintage and current TV shows or movies.

Crabs Creole – serves 4
2 cups crab meat
1 large onion, chopped
1 crushed clove garlic
½ cup chopped green pepper
4 tablespoons bacon fat
1 16-ounce can tomatoes
½ cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Sauté the onion, garlic, and green pepper in bacon fat until tender.  (Ann's Note: I threw in the celery too because I wanted mine soft.) Add everything else and simmer for 20 minutes.  Serve on rice.

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