First of all I want to apologize to the state of Washington. I’m not sure how or why I’ve overlooked you year after year when celebrating each great state on their National State Day. All I know is that I did. It’s high time I embrace Washington and pay tribute to the 42nd State to join the Union. So here goes . . .
Thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, some 125 distinct Northwest tribes, with 50 different languages and dialects once called Washington home. The principal tribes of the coastal areas were the Chinook, Lummi and Snohomish among others. The Plateau tribes included Nez Perce, Spokana and Yakama. Today Washington contains more than 20 Indian Reservations, the largest of which is home to the Yakama people. These reservations are but a fraction of lands once held by the various tribes of the Pacific Northwest.
While New York has coined the nickname “The Big Apple”, when it comes to apple production Washington leads the nation. During apple season, fresh fruit stands are commonplace. Who doesn’t like a fresh baked Apple Pie?
It should come as no surprise that during World War II, Boeing was mass producing planes to support the war effort. One such assembly plant was located just south of Seattle. In an effort to keep the plant hidden from spying eyes, Boeing hired Hollywood Set Designers to build a fake All-American town around and over the plant. Everything from the housing to the grass and trees were camouflage to hide what was really going on – the development and assembly of airplanes. Even people were hired as “props”.
Did you know that the first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington? Sonora Smart Dodd is recognized as the creator of Father’s Day. Her father, a Civil War veteran, was a single parent who managed to raise six children. His wife had died during the birth of their sixth child. Sonora was the only girl in the bunch. She was inspired by a sermon about the newly recognized Mother’s Day celebration and wanted fathers to be honored as well. She chose her father’s birthday as the first Father’s Day celebration.
Washington is the second most populous state on the west coast (which isn’t saying much since there are only 3 west coast states). It’s also the second most populous state in the western United States after California. Okay, that’s better. Washington leads the country in lumber producer, has the highest percentage of non-religious citizens of any state and (logically) is among the lowest nationwide in church membership.
When it came time to create a menu to honor the State of Washington, my first reaction was Salmon – as in Chinook. However; since we just had an amazing Salmon Supper for Mother’s Day, I thought I’d go with another popular seafood in Washington – Dungeness Crabs. Two problems with Dungeness Crab. First, most recipes start with a live crab. Second, I don’t know of a single place where we live that sell live Dungeness Crabs. And then there’s that whole cooking something live aspect. I will eat just about anything. I’ve seen cows butchered on the family farm, so the life and death of foods we eat doesn’t bother me. I’ve never cooked live critters, and I’m not sure I could. So I skipped the live Dungeness Crab aspect and went for Snow Crab instead. Snow Crab Clusters are readily available in the frozen seafood section and hail from the Pacific Northwest.
Snow Crab Shrimp Boil
1 lb (20-25 count) Shrimp, deveined
1 loaf French Bread
4 small Red Potatoes
4 small White or Golden Potatoes
4 Ears of Corn
1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
3 lbs frozen Snow Crab Legs
1 cup Butter
1 cup Cocktail Sauce
1 Lemon, quartered
Cover table with newspaper. Have warm butter dishes at the ready along with crab crackers and seafood forks. If desired, have disposable bibs.
Rinse and devein shrimp without peeling. Keep on ice until ready to boil.
Warm bread in the oven. Keep warm until ready to serve. Scrub potatoes, set aside. Shuck corn, trim ends and cut ears in half, set aside.
Fill a large multi-use stockpot 3/4 full with cold water. Place large basket insert into the pot and bring to a boil. Sprinkle the water with Old Bay seasoning. Add the potatoes and allow them to cook for about 10 minutes before checking.
Gently lift basket to check potatoes. When they are just barely fork tender, add the corn to the pot and cook for 3 minutes.
Gently drop the crab clusters and shrimp in the boiling water. Cook for 3 more minutes until the shrimp are red and opaque.
Melt butter, divide butter in the ramekins. Light candles to keep butter liquid. Place small bowls with cocktail sauce on the table. Cut lemon into quarters and place on a dish. Place bread in a basket to pass at tableside.
Lift boil basket from the water and let drain. Dump Crab Boil on the newspapers. Dig in and enjoy.