I was a Daddy’s girl growing up. My father came of age in the 1950s and joined the Navy where he trained in the relatively new field of electronics. I have memories of him working on our big console television, hunched over the circuit boards applying solder to bolster the connections. He loved to play cards, especially cutthroat pinochle. My brother and sister and I were all taught how to play so he could always have a game. We all have a “take no prisoners” attitude when it comes to pinochle (and just about any card or board game) thanks to his influence.
When we lived near Washington, DC, he worked at Goddard Space Flight Center and was very proud of his contribution to the Apollo program. Later, we moved to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and he began to work rotating shifts at Wallop’s Island. Our household made adjustments to his shifts. We tip toed around the house or made ourselves scarce when he was sleeping during the day. When he worked second shift, my mother would make breakfast for supper and we were allowed to read books at the table (what a treat!), otherwise we had a standard meal with meat, potatoes and vegetable all served up in separate bowls or platters.
As we grew older and became active in team sports, my father came to every game he could. Unless he was working, he never missed a home game and he went to some of our important away games as well. It turns out he played basketball in high school and my grandfather was never able to see him play.
Dad loved basketball, especially University of Maryland basketball. (He had a love/hate relationship with Lefty Driesell the coach during the 70s and 80s). He loved the Orioles and the Redskins (not the old Colts, something that caused a friendly rivalry with my uncle). He also loved being outside and to go fishing and crabbing. There were many mornings when we got up early to drop a line with a chicken neck attached to the end…being able to scoop up the crab with a net was a rite of passage.
Today’s recipe, Low Country Pickled Shrimp, pays homage to my father’s love of seafood. He would have liked these tangy delights, so very different from the typical steamed shrimp with Old Bay we normally enjoy. The recipe itself comes from the stash I uploaded to “the Cloud” last summer. I’m not sure of the magazine, but it’s dated 1996 and features a couple colonial recipes to serve for Thanksgiving. This particular one supposedly originated in colonial South Carolina.
Large or jumbo uncooked shrimp are probably best for this. The recipe called for the shrimp to be peeled and deveined, but I bought the EZ Peel and supplied a bowl to hold the shells as we were eating. The recipe calls for two pounds. I cut the recipe in half as I wasn’t sure of the reception, and wished I’d made the whole thing once we started eating. It would be a nice addition to a pot luck dinner or as an appetizer before a more substantial meal. I know for a fact that they’re great to eat while sitting around with friends and enjoying a cold beer.
Low Country Pickled Shrimp are incredible easy to make. Heat the brine, throw the shrimp in, remove from heat and allow the shrimp to cook in the hot brine. You can make the dish ahead, but make sure to remove the shrimp after a couple hours as they will get rubbery. The onions will also become pickled and are delicious in and of themselves.
- 2 pounds uncooked large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used EZ Peels)
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- ½ inch piece of ginger, grated (I used a teaspoon of the stuff in the tube)
- 2 tablespoons pickling spice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon mace (or ground nutmeg)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 - 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Combine the ingredients for the brine in a large skillet or dutch oven.
- Heat to almost boiling over medium high heat.
- Add the shrimp, cover, and remove from the heat.
- Allow to stand for a couple minutes until the shrimp are cooked through. They will change color and turn opaque. Stir once or twice while standing to make sure the shrimp on top get submerged completely in the hot brine.
- Meanwhile combine the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Transfer the cooked shrimp and the remaining brine to the bowl and stir well to mix.
- Serve as soon as cool enough to eat, or chill for two hours, then remove the shrimp and reserve the marinade. Avoid leaving the shrimp in the marinade for longer than two hours as they will become rubbery.
- To serve, arrange the shrimp, onions and lemons on a platter and spoon some of the reserved marinade over top. Don't forget to provide a small plate or bowl for the shells.
The collage at the top of the page shows my dad at work, as a young man and father (that 68 Pontiac Catalina became my first car) and spending time with my brother, sister and I. The baby in the top right photo is me and that’s an old portable record player on the table.
My father died of cancer when he was 48 years old, shortly after I was married. He would have adored the grandchildren he never met. Now that I’m in my 50s, I realize just how much living he had left to do. His early death played a big role in our decision to retire as soon as we could.
If your father is still alive, make sure to let him know you love him. Regardless, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with happy memories.