Sunday, August 30, 2015

They Call Him Mister Pibb

Hum.  Well, I was reading a Nero Wolfe mystery, and Archie Goodwin mentioned that he and Wolfe were about to be served fried shrimps and clam cakes, prepared by the incomparable Fritz Brenner. Next thing I know, I'm switching gears from Kindle to Safari so I can search for clam cake recipes.  Did I mention that I've been feeling sick to my stomach this morning?  Yes, so I can't imagine how I found the idea of food attractive, but fried seafood sets my heart aflutter, and I was pretty sure one can make a decent clam cake from canned clams.

I always roar at the contestants on Guy's Grocery Games who, being restricted to canned foods or some other fillip thrown in to make their food preparation more challenging, sniff and turn up their noses, complaining, "I never use canned goods!"  Oh please, you snippy little yuppie larvae ... don't tell me you don't use canned tomatoes or canned pumpkin!  Real people use canned goods.  Bobby Flay uses canned pumpkin, for heaven's sake.  I keep a variety of canned fish in the house - tuna, salmon, sardines, clams, and even crabmeat.  I grew up eating tuna fish sandwiches and chances are so did you. There is nothing wrong with tuna fish in a can that can't be cured with a couple of tablespoons Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise.  Canned corn is better than frozen. Yes, fresh corn is best but I never got any complaints about my corn fritters and they are made with the canned stuff.

Canned clams happen to be a pretty good product, and a lot easier to find than 4 dozen cherrystone clams, especially in Central Florida.  A good white clam sauce - mine, for instance - calls for both canned and fresh little neck clams.  Guess what? In my opinion, you can't make a decent white clam sauce without canned clams. My research shows that clam cakes can go either way.  I have a feeling Fritz Brenner used fresh clams, but then I would expect him too.  So would Wolfe.

I have an idea for a recipe to make clam cakes, quite a bit different than what I am finding online which all sound like pancake batter with clams dumped into it. but my curiosity remains unabated, so I just ordered the Nero Wolfe Cookbook, which is way out of print, but isn't everything available through Amazon?

I do think that's one of my best run-on sentences of all time.

My idea is based on one of my oldest and least-utilized recipes, this one for tuna croquettes.  I think the last time I prepared them was before Cory was born, or maybe a year or so after.  He's twenty-eight.  I had every intention of trying out my idea using clams, but on our way to CVS my back and the back of my head and shoulders crashed.  No clam cakes or croquettes, and no cat today. I could have had me a kitten, but fibromyalgia won.  Today, at least, I have no energy to cook and no energy to introduce a new kitten to our pack.  Never thought that would ever happen.

First Ira

The cats were being BOGO'ed at Petco, where we had stopped to pick up Chelsea's eye wash.  Oy! Not one but three boy tabbies looking oh so adoptable! And of course I had to look. And pet. And otherwise interact. And ultimately walk away because a new kitten (or two) is a lot of work and I wasn't even up to making a couple of clam cakes.

Second Ira

First I met Leonardo and DaVinci, two gray and black mackerel tabby brothers.  Leonardo was a doppelgänger of the Second Ira, while DaVinci clearly resembled the First Ira with his milk paws and other white markings. Leonardo was the front man while DaVinci napped at the back of the cage.  Imagine having both of them!  But I had raised twins before, Dora and Deety, and it is more than double the work. So I moved on to another cage which contained Sprite and Mr. Pibb, also alleged to be related although Sprite was a smooth orange tabby, while Mr. Pibb was a First Ira - gray and black mackerel tabby with quite a lot of white on his chin and chest. I caught his eye, and I could see he was following my movements back and forth.  He really liked my hat. And Robert was amenable, if that was what I really wanted.

There comes a time in every pet lover's life when you realize you can't take it anymore.  Not necessarily the care and vet and all the responsibilities that go with being owned by a cat or dog, but the terrible toll the loss of the pet takes on you.  I have outlived 10 cats and 2 dogs, holding most of them in my arms as they died.  I still have 4 dogs and 1 cat in my care, and at this point it is becoming a crapshoot as to who is going to outlive who.  Even the Queen of England has announced that she will not be bringing any more corgis into Buckingham Palace.  My friend Terry, one of the world's greatest pet lovers has made the same decision regarding cats and dogs.  For the first time in the many years that I know her, there are no cats in her house, and a greatly reduced number of dogs.

But I have been known to act foolishly in the face of all these inner arguments; this time, however, fibromyalgia won. Standing there in Petco, all I wanted to do was go home and lie down in my own bed.  Goodbye and good luck, Mr. Pibb.

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