This past week, as I often do during the warmer months, I stood by our kitchen window and practiced my all time favorite of the New York deadly sins: coveting thy neighbor's backyard. You see, we live on the second floor of our brownstone. Directly beneath our giant kitchen window is our downstairs neighbor's beautiful patio. There's enough space for a deck, a grill, a basketball hoop, even a tree! I stare longingly at their garden as I sip my coffee and imagine all of the outdoor meals I'd love to enjoy if we only had the same. Except, if we had a backyard, I'd refer to it exclusively as "dining al fresco". People would text and ask what we're up to and I'd say, "Oh! We're just dining al fresco in our garden." Or, "Oh! Sipping some wine before we break out the cheese plate, al fresco." I'd wear white linen round the clock and my baby would never spit up on it. Also, we'd have central AC and a dishwasher in this fantasy because why not throw that in while we're dreaming.
Unfortunately, and for the foreseeable future, having an outdoor space of our own is out of the question. The rent on an apartment with a backyard equals roughly Ben's daycare cost so I guess this is where I choose the kid over the patio, right? As much as I would love to host a BBQ, for the time being we're relegated to hosting indoors. Which, to be totally honest, is quite nice if you approach the whole endeavor with a bit of creativity and remind yourself that it's too damn hot to be outside and your Eastern European skin can't handle anything over 80ºF anyway.
So, in light of still wanting contact with the outside world while on maternity leave, but also not wanting shell out for a babysitter - we decided to host. To keep thing simple and not super labor intensive Ian made his recipe for a low country boil. Corn, potatoes, onions, shrimp. He's made it a few times now and it comes together beautifully every time. To switch things up a bit we moved the living room table and set it up for standing and picking. The entire meal took less than an hour to prepare and the clean up was blessedly simple. I topped everything off with banana pudding for dessert because it's not officially summer until there's banana pudding. Honestly, backyard or no backyard - lovely friends, cold beer, and delicious food are what make this season what it is. Ok, enough with the cheesy stuff - hope you make this and enjoy as much as we did!
Low Country Boil
(we doubled this recipe in two large pots and it was plenty for 7 people.)
- 2 lbs peeled shrimp
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 3 stalks corn, halved
- 1 large sweet onion, quartered
- 1 large link smoked turkey sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 4 red potatoes, quartered
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 stick butter
- Old Bay, 1/2 cup
- 3 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp pepper
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 lemon for drizzling
- Fill a large pot with cold water about 3/4 of the way.
- Put the old bay, lemon, salt, pepper, and bay leaves into the water. Let this "marinade" sit for 20-30 min before cooking.
- Bring mixture to a boil and put in potatoes. Keep the water boiling and 5-7 min later put in sausage and onions. 5 min after that put in the corn.
- Once the corn and potatoes seem firm but tender to the touch, put in the shrimp until it turns pink.
- Drain everything and toss on a tray. We chose aluminum for easy clean up.
- Melt the butter with the garlic in a small sauté pan and drizzle on the cooked food.
- Squeeze lemon on top.
- Serve immediately.