I attended a local fundraiser at the town VFW the other day. It was a meat and lobster raffle. The procedure was to purchase a packet of tickets and with that packet, you had chances on three different tables of prizes. The cost was $20, and in my eye, the entertainment was worth the fee. Some of these locals are characters. Tattooed, bearded, well-worn cowboy hats were the norm. Many rode motorcycles.
But it was the table of meats and other groceries set on a bed of crushed ice that was the centerpiece. My eye was on that rib eye roast, but that was the first to go and not to me. Doesn’t it seem that one table always wins a glut of prizes? My friends and I watched as ticket after ticket was drawn. None were matching ours. We groaned as ‘that table’ racked up another score in the drawing.
The first two tables emptied of their goods, leaving the last and largest to raffle. In the front line were three five-pound lobsters – all lively and looking delicious. Behind them was another rib roast, a whole pork loin, ribs and a whole host of other goodies. There was even the joke gift that was always last to go. It was a chunk of cheddar and a stick of pepperoni. And believe me, when you get to the end of the raffle and there is no prize sitting in front of you, you’d welcome even that.
Well, it happened. The magic numbers were called and they were mine. I approached the table and there were few items left, but one was a lobster of gigantic proportion. I looked longingly at it but realized that I had no way of cooking up this behemoth. Recent downsizing had emptied my cupboards of the huge pots and pans associated with canning, freezing, and huge family meals. About to pass it by for the cheese and pepperoni, a member of the club offered to have their kitchen cook it up for me. It just took a little time to wait for it, so I took them up on their offer.
An hour later (there was another lobster to be cooked ahead of me) they loaded the box filled with a bright red lobster into the trunk of the car and off I went with my prize. At home, I looked it over and mentally processed the contents of the critter and how to use it to its best. Lobster pie, lobster bisque or just plain with butter… all good ideas and there was plenty to go around. I live alone. It was all mine!
Having grown up on the seacoast of New Hampshire, I knew how to properly take on this task. Or so I thought. I hadn’t taken into consideration that the age of the crustacean meant a thicker shell, and the age of the recipient with arthritic hands and a weakened grip could spell trouble.
I took out the tools of the trade. Nut crackers and snips designed to go through the tough shell of a lobster, a heavy wooden cutting board, a dish of melted butter and I was ready. I took off the first claw, yanked off the ‘thumb’, and had at it. My little seafood fork removed that morsel in the thumb and down that went with a dip in the melted butter. The claw was huge. My nut crackers could not even get a grip on the smooth shell. So, a traditional seafood muncher, I took the base of my hand and gave it a whack. YOW! It took only one whack to teach that lesson. Next up was a hammer. I took a swing, and it bounced off the shell! After several more attempts, the result was a hole in the shell in the perfect shape of the head of the hammer. Worse than that, with each whack, the open end of the claw shot out a blast of juice. I was so intent on cracking the shell that I missed the fact that the living room area was becoming showered with lobster drippings. I have a combination kitchen/living/dining room and never considered having problems of this kind.
Eventually, I got the meat out of that claw and had to move on to the knuckles, body and other claw. The tail was managed with the snips applied to the underside, so an easy end to the project. It took me all afternoon. By that time, the meat was cold and unappetizing, the butter congealed. It all went into the refrigerator for another day.
My next step was to clean the lobster detritus off the walls, pictures, recliner lamp and the rest of the showered area. It was a big job. I was pretty worn out by days end.
I won, all right. But just wait till tomorrow…
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