This bread really will change your life. I LOVE it.

Use an extra-wide Fish Turner to move this loaf during the recipe and retrieving it from the oven after you have removed the pan mid-recipe

Use an extra-wide Fish Turner to handle this bread with ease. My son Andrew, ace woodworker, made the beautiful display board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I am an Integrative Health Coach, recipes and cooking are my total thing. I follow all kinds of food blogs, keep up with umpteen nutrition forums, read scads of individual cooks’ food blogs, and have tried several cleanses so I’m part of those groups, too.  All these sources post tons of recipes. I LOVE how these efforts serve as a tremendous well of information on the new directions food is taking, define the new food trends, help create and evolve current and new dietary theories. I LOVE it when, at their best, they show what cool and new, new visionary thing is being cooked, baked, or created. And I LOVE it when they showcase creative, inspired and highly-skilled people as they apply their skills to their food obsessions. I’m talking food-genius people, capable of INCORPORATING, and in all sorts of new directions. They utilize obscure ingredients, they fold in deliciousness and somehow blend elegant ease into their cooking ideas, and hence their recipes. These people are just not under every rock. They are the gold-medalist figure skaters of home cooking – brilliant artists who produce groundbreaking recipes, and they make it look easy.

So I try out tons of these sorts of new recipes, and on very happy days that occur very occasionally, a recipe surfaces that absolutely delivers. After making this recipe several times, and having people actually come into my house, sniffing and following their noses, OH-MYing and begging for a taste of what they smelled, let me cut to the chase and state that this unique and totally OH-SO-DELICIOUS loaf of bread, from this bread recipe http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2013/02/the-life-changing-loaf-of-bread/ (and it’s source, an amazing food blog called My New Roots, check it) is exactly what it proclaims itself to be.

It IS The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread, full stop.

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, to get ready. Enjoy collecting the ingredients for this loaf from Whole Foods or other similar market, and your biggest effort, plus the makings of many loaves, is in the bag. A little gathering, a little locating out from the pantry of the six grains, seeds, and nuts that comprise the batter is as tough as this one gets. Find a suitable baking pan, locate a cooling rack, and you are set. Take four minutes to stir this up (yep, I said four, and yep, I said stir) late in the evening well after dinner, let it sit covered by a tea towel overnight on the counter, turn the oven on when you make the coffee the next morning, and find out for yourself why your search for any other bread recipes may be over. This bread is so suprising and so breathtakingly simple that a second grader could make it (maybe turn this family job over to them after a couple goes?). And it’s so disproportionately delicious to the effort involved to produce it, it’s ridiculous. Sigh. To be honest, this recipe should win a prize – a nutritional prize, a peace prize, a time-found and worries-freed-up prize. Something in that area.

I will add only the following, which does take things further in a very good direction, if I do say so myself: big, lush and dark Monukka raisins. Or possibly apple-juice sweetened dried cranberries. Half a cup. And, go..

GUERRILLA Wholemeal Nutritional Cookies

I have a battered Guerrilla cookie ingredients label (circa ~1975) that begs tinkering with yet again. I stuck this label into my college recipe box along with the recipes I had for Guthrie Buns and Coriander Cake and other MadWis originals, some cadged from the bakers working at Ovens of Brittany who lived at Groves Women’s Co-op, too.

These cookies have a bit of a haunting quality. They are definitely not the most delicious cookie ever baked, but they are a Madeleine-like passkey to something essential to student life at UW – Madison in the 70′s. I’m sure the same is true for others, as I see a lot of chatter out there on the Interwebs about finding the recipe. So a couple of years ago, after somehow thinking about these cookies again, I made 7 test batches of Guerrillas and got close - but not quite fully there. Not that I have unlimited baking skills, but it does raise the question discussed in other posts about recreating this lost item and the difficulties thereof – that the ingredient list was made intentionally incomplete or is innacurate.

I fully recall the taste and texture of these unique cookies, since they fueled many a
10-hour stretch as a student where I took off for the day or night with only a sleeve of these cookies and my books in my backpack. They had a chewy edge that was the result of definite spread, a more cakey and risen center flecked with a few large raisins, and a shiny dome that hadBatch #1 001 a sticky sheen. Substantial but not overly dense, these

3-inch cookies were one part tasty-delicious and one part healthy-sustaining on the palate. That “this is good for you” aspect of the taste, certainly due to the bitterness of the soy flour and nutritional yeast, was not delicious but more virtuous, and allowed eating a 12-pack of these in a day or two to be perfectly acceptable. That and the name, synonymous with the Mifflin Street Food Coop. Though I recall buying them later on from a cart on State Street and at the Union and Union South food service cantinas.

At work, again, and will let you know how it’s going soon.

Cooking, upon coming home from the market.

Bought = 2 lbs carrots with tops attached, 6 sweet potatoes, an organic turkey breast, purple and green curly kale, some beautiful grapes, fruit and some Bulgarian yogurt.

Made = 2 Minute Blanched greens (purple and green kale, purple cabbage, and green Napa cabbage – a big bowlful), Velvety Carrot Soup, Carrot Greens Pesto, Peanut Sauce (to go with the turkey breast), baked sweet potatoes with agave and chopped parsley, Chili-Lime Turkey Breast, and a lovely Colcannon with some white potatoes I had hanging around and the blanched greens.  Washed the fruit and set it out, too.

Goal = no need to cook for 2-3 days, easy lunches, and two dinners all ready to go.  The Carrot Top pesto is OK, but using half-basil with half-carrot top greens would have been better..as it was, a first!  Who knew you could do anything except throw those tops away or into the compost bin?!

 

Beautiful Carrots

If you planted carrots last October here in California, you now have golden treasure in your garden. Carrots are ready to harvest, and delicious compared to any other time of year. Last evening, I was given an absolutely gorgeous bunch, and I watched as they were forked out from their Ojai garden bed (thanks, Peter!) by the very hands that planted them. Astonishing, the vast difference between a freshly-dug versus a stored carrot. These beauties simply are too crisp, sweet, and delicate to even consider cooking. Other than savoring them practically straight from the ground, here is a versatile recipe that is the next best thing. Plus you can use this carpaccio technique and dressing with any spring vegetables with snap and firm texture you find, such as red radishes, WATERMELON radishes, and eventually small zucchini and baby yellow squashes.  Perfect for just-picked garden bounty!

 

However, if you have instead a five-pound bag of perfectly fine organic carrots, and cooking them doesn’t prick your conscience, and possibly you have a pack of teenagers due for the weekend who will eat you out of house and home, then make a double batch of the Spicy Carrot Salad or the Carrot Cake. Spicy Carrot Salad is versatile and tasty, with no limit as to it’s mealtime helpfulness. It’s a perfect fresh side, delicious stuffed into a pita sandwich, and great in a packed lunch. Jumping into the way-back machine for the Carrot Cake, this recipe is the real deal – the original ultra-delicious carrot cake of the 80’s, with must-have Cream Cheese Frosting. Depending on your age, you either loved this as a child, or your wedding cake was made out of it (guilty). Filled with walnuts, pineapple, raisins and a full pound of shredded carrots, this is the one that everybody craves. It’s barely harder than a box cake mix with a food processor to handle the carrot shredding, and it’s a make-ahead winner as it’s best chilled overnight before serving. So give these carrot recipes a try when you find some carrot beauty on your next trip to the market.

Spicy Carrot Salad

2 large carrots, peeled and shredded

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced fine

3 T chopped fresh parsley

3 T red wine vinegar

2 T raw sugar

2 T water

1 T organic tomato paste

½ tsp hot red pepper flakes

Place garlic, vinegar, sugar, tomato paste, water and pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Mix together with a small whisk so there are no lumps, and heat the mixture until simmering. Place the shredded carrots and the parsley into a medium bowl, and toss with the warm dressing mixture. Let stand for 15-20 minutes before serving, or chill. Will keep and improve for several days. 4 servings.

Raw Spring Carrot Carpaccio

5-6 fresh carrots, scrubbed and sliced very thinly on a mandoline, or diagonally by hand

I small fennel bulb, washed and sliced very thinly, as above

1 baby leek, trimmed and sliced as above

3 baby artichokes, trimmed down to the heart only, rubbed with lemon and sliced as above

For the dressing: To 2 T fresh lemon juice and 1 tsp dijon mustard, beat in 2 T best quality olive oil, 1 t honey and a small minced garlic clove.  Can omit garlic if you just want to taste the spring vegetables..

Toss the vegetables lightly with the dressing, and fan out or pile on a platter to serve. Can sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese, freshly ground black pepper, and light sprinkle of finishing salt like Maldon brand. 4 servings.

 Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

(adapted from the Ovens of Brittany Cookbook)

1 cup vegetable oil

1 ½ cups sugar

3 eggs

1 lb. carrots, cleaned and shredded

8 oz. crushed pineapple, drained

½ cup walnuts

1 ¾ cups flour

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

For the Frosting:

1 8 oz. package full-fat cream cheese, softened

2 1/2 T butter, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Cream oil, sugar and eggs. Add carrots, pineapple and walnuts. Sift together then fold into the batter the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour batter into pan and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

For the Frosting: Cream together the cream cheese and butter, then beat in the sifted powdered sugar. Frost cake only when it has comepletely cooled. Best when chilled overnight before serving. Serves 16-20.

 

Sick Food

At times, you simply need something to cure what ails you.  Perhaps you’ve been exposed to a co-worker’s hacking, or you just took two cross-country flights in 24 hours, or as they say in the south you feel a sinking spell coming on. I say HERE, make this! This soup is like natural echinacea in a bowl. You could pop some extra Vitamin C, and wash it down with a quart or two of lemon water..no harm in that. But before you take a bunch of over-the-counter medications or hit up the doctor, try this soup prior to a hot shower and some extra sleep.  This soup is just what you need to stop a cold or flu in it’s tracks.  It’s hot, reviving, curative, and restorative, however the key is to act FAST. You have to get this into your system at the first signs of the impending problem. 

Why does this soup work? Garlic has purported antibacterial properties, the fiber in the veggies helps your gut/immune system, and spicy hot liquid warms your insides and supports the detoxing and germ-fighting you need. This recipe is time-tested for beating colds and flu, and I’ve used it for over 25 years.  A caution here – feed it to your loved ones at the same time you have some. That way everyone will smell ever so mildly of garlic together! 

 

Quick Garlic Soup

6 – 12 large cloves fresh garlic (or up to the entire head of garlic, if desired)

1/2 white or yellow onion, diced

large handful of parsley, washed and dried, chopped fine

2 inner stalks celery, with leaves, chopped fine — use either parsley or celery or both, depending on what you have handy

2 T paprika

2 organic eggs, if desired

4 cups filtered water, split

Red chili flakes, grated fresh ginger, additional chopped garlic, sliced green onion, juice of a lemon or lime, and chopped parsley, all as desired

The vegetable trimmings stock with eggs poaching away..

In a medium saucepan, place all the papery garlic husks, celery leaves, parsley stems, and clean outside layers of the onion peelings you collect when getting the veggies ready with 2 cups filtered water and a couple good shakes of sea salt.  Simmer the vegetables over medium heat (while you take vitamin C and drink water).  In about five minutes when the stock is at the boil, turn down the heat and break one or two eggs gently into onion shells (see note below) and cover the pan.  Let the eggs poach for 5-6 minutes, and then set the covered pan aside, off the heat.  

Get a second pan (this is the hardest part of the recipe – the prospect of washing two pans at some later date) and pour 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil into the bottom. Add the chopped onion and celery and/or parsley and saute one minute, and then add the paprika over the softened and browning vegetables and saute for one more minute. Add the remaining 2 c. filtered water to the vegetables.  Setting aside the poached eggs, pour the vegetable broth from the first pot into the soup thru a strainer. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Stir in an amount of sea salt, varying from some to quite a lot, to your taste.    

Five minutes flat from ingredients to soup

Get out some wide bowls, peel the onion away from the poached egg and add it to the bowl, and pour the hot soup around it.  Now stir in red chili flakes, a tiny amount of grated raw ginger, the juice of a lime or lemon, some diced green onion and additional chopped garlic for the last minute of simmering all as you see fit.  There now – get to bed, and feel better.

Poached Egg in Onion Shells

Poaching an egg decently isn’t really all that simple, what with the swirling eggwhite separating from the yellow all over the place right before your eyes.  Very disconcerting and untidy, and a real problem to fish out of the water once cooked.  I’ve tried the vinegar trick and the swirling water trick, but I like this easy approach I discovered best, because it works - poach the egg in a little shell of onion.  I use the outermost layer of the half onion I am about to dice, which you simply pull away whole from the rest of the onion. Place this outermost onion layer, like a perfect little boat, into the simmering water or other liquid. Break the egg gently into it, and it will hold the egg together beautifully while it poaches and probably flavor it a little bit, too.  Here are some pictures of the finished poached egg in it’s onion shell just before going into the Garlic Soup.

Poached egg, resting on an onion boat

 

Peeling away the onion layer - easy and doesn't stick

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ready to go

Home Grown Salsa

The Inspiration

I think I nailed it, or pretty close to it. So I have been told, and by those who know. Those who, like me, have been paying $8 bucks a quart for this little obsession with limited availability and a rather simple list of ingredients. With a fetching tiny container of finely minced Jalapeno pepper on top, separate, so you can spice it up as you like it.  Nice.

I LOVE Grow (a very spiffy local market)! I spend large sections of my food budget there.  It’s fresher, easier, cleaner, quicker, nicer, and friendlier than any other market in town. Plus they have Cara Cara oranges, those unbelievable cherries, great meat, a really well-edited selection of bakery and packaged goods, and organic greens that are so beautiful they remind me of my own homegrown stuff straight out of my garden.  Which, sadly, is located nowhere near Manhattan Beach.  My advice – go there often, and support a local purveyor of food excellence.  They will even deliver to your door!

However, as mentioned in my previous post, I have people here in my home who get bent out of shape when there is NO Grow salsa.  So referring to the original for inspiration, I set to work.  It’s pretty ridiculous to spend an afternoon dissecting salsa with a spatula, tongs, and a small tweezers, but that’s what happened.  After adjusting and messing with the acid-salt-sweet balance, I created several batches, tinkering with each one to improve and note what was happening.   For those like me who thought there must be quite a lot of brown sugar in the recipe, you can really rest easy as the notable sweetness of the salsa comes from but a single tablespoon of brown sugar per quart!

I can say with confidence this recipe delivers the taste, texture, and consistency we crave.  It actually has a little bit brighter taste, and IMHO it wins in terms of fresh taste.  You will no more mix it together than you’ll begin to scarf it down. 

 

Since a quart batch is pretty small, and this product should keep in the back (i.e. coldest) part of your fridge for 3-5 days (use your own judgement, please don’t eat it if it seems not to have held up after five days) I have planned the ratios for this recipe off the quantity of drained black beans in a standard 14 oz can, to yield a 3 qt batch.  I actually suspect the original product doesn’t even use a canned bean, but a house-cooked bean (which would make sense as it’s lower cost).  Admittedly, this batch IS a big one, so make it for Taco Tuesday and save the rest for the game, or give it to your neighbors in exchange for bringing in your trash cans from the curb, or whatever.  I think you will find this salsa is excellent barter currency!

Home Grown Salsa

1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 28-ounce can whole peeled italian tomatoes, with all the juice

1 large clove fresh garlic, peeled and quartered

3-4 Tbs fresh cilantro, clean and dry

2 medium to large white onions, diced fine

1 1/2 fresh and slightly underripe avocados, peeled, quartered and cut into 1/2″ cubes

2 Tbs distilled white vinegar

2 large scallions, trimmed to 8″ in length, sliced 1/8″

3 medium Roma tomatoes, cubed fine (less than 1/4″ cubes)

3 T brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

garlic salt, approximately 3/4 tsp.

1 cup tomato juice or canned tomatoes with juice, pureed

juice of 1/2 meyer lemon

Jalapeno pepper, minced finely and added to taste

Open the black beans, rinse them thoroughly, and drain them well in a mesh colander.  Place into large mixing bowl, and gently toss the beans with 3-4 good shakes of garlic salt.  Set aside.

Open the 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes.  Place all the tomatoes and their juice into the workbowl of a large food processor, and pulse the tomatoes three or four times in short bursts.  Leave the tomatoes with some texture, being careful not to overprocess them to a sauce.  The consistency should be a little lumpy and very juicy.  Place the pulsed tomatoes in the mixing bowl with the beans.  Rinse then dry the workbowl of the food processor.

Place the garlic and the cilantro into the workbowl of the food processor, and pulse until both ingredients are chopped very finely, less than 30 seconds. Scrape the cilantro and garlic into the mixing bowl with the beans and tomatoes.

Score and quarter the avocados, and open the halves.  Remove the pit with a quick rap of a sharp knife into the pit sideways, twisting out then discarding the pit.  Peel the quarters and dice the avocado into a small bowl.  Toss the cubes with the white vinegar very gently, being careful not to break up the avocados.  Set aside.

Dice the onions, a little finer than 1/4″ dice.  If they are very strong, cover them with water and let them soak a few minutes, then drain and add to the mixture in the bowl.  Dice the tomatoes and slice the scallions, adding these to the mixing bowl mixture. 

Add the avocados and vinegar mixture to the mixing bowl. 

Measure 1 cup either tomato juice or a juicy, fine puree of additional whole tomatoes, and add the brown sugar, salt, and meyer lemon juice to the tomato juice.  Mix very well until the sugar and salt is dissolved.  Add this to the mixing bowl, then gently fold all the salsa ingredients with a spatula to fully blend them together.

Add finely minced jalapeno peppers if you wish.  This salsa is suprisingly fresh, mild, and tasty without the addition of a lot of heat.  But it’s up to you in that department!

Makes 3 quarts.  Serves, um, well….it depends!   

Side by side comparison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the trail of an elusive, delicious, and very expensive salsa…

LOVE NOTE TO GROW SALSA – I am on your trail.  I will track you down.  I will find all the right ingredients and their proper amounts, and even improve on the stuff you have in your precious little tub.  I know from being similar to a lawyer with a degree conferred by the Internet that creating a recipe from a food label list of ingredients is to make a recipe of your very own (because the methods of preparation, as opposed to the list of ingredients, are the only copyright-able aspects of a recipe but that is a separate discussion) so I believe I am up for the challenge to reverse-engineer a scrumptious and winning recipe for this mild, chock-full-o-veggies salsa/dinner substitute/new food group.  Actually, I am not sure anybody wants or needs to eat salsa with “ferrous gluconate” and “calcium chloride” in it.  Things can always be improved upon, and you have no idea how satisfying it will be to belt this one out of the park, to cause the judges to stop chewing their pencils and beg for more, to state for my back stage interview I am “in it to win it” in this competition.  Sorry, I have a tape of Simon Cowl playing in my head right now..

Anyway, Grow salsaphiles, stick around!  I hope to present very soon the formula for a delicious salsa based on the one that currently can only be bought at Grow on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays before it SELLS OUT at $7.99/quart.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but that is $32.00 a gallon.  For SALSA.  So there’s that.  Plus I live with people who get pretty bent out of shape when there is none of this stuff in our refrigerator; people who eat it with a spoon like soup over the container.  I can’t always even acquire it!  I am really not liking that.  And then, sometimes, I need some for a party.  VAST QUANTITIES, like for a Super Bowl party, for instance.  I would probably need to pony up in the neighborhood of $200 for the amount we would need.  Ahhhm, no.

Home Grow Salsa

Fresh Tomotoes, Onions, Green Onions, Jalapeno Peppers, Cilantro, Garlic, Avocados, Canned Prepared Tomatoes, Prepared Black Beans, Brown Sugar, Vinegar, Citric Acid, Salt, Granulated Garlic, Ferrous Gluconate, Calcium Chloride. 

Assemble your ingredients, folks (well, except for the Ferrous Gluconate and the Calcium Chloride).. it’s gonna happen, and not a minute too soon.  Having this recipe will save you from having to choose between picking up your dry cleaning or buying your salsa this week.

I’m dreaming of a White (sugar and flour) Christmas..

I’m not sure why I am so completely taken with holiday baking this year.  It’s really not my usual thing to react to December with a compulsion to stir, sift, and fire up the oven.  Apart from a family Pannetone recipe that I am required to produce for Christmas morning, nobody is much interested in cookie consumption around my ranch right now.  I can’t eat them at all, as I’m counting points in a do-or-diet competition with a friend; my husband is literally carb-phobic, my kids shouldn’t eat the extra sugar, and the dog couldn’t care less.  Despite this, I am mentally stranded in baking-land.  I want to play Christmas music and just… BAKE.  Dozens and dozens of different varieties of cookies are what I want to make, and there’s simply no choosing – I think I need to make them all.  Surely I’m pining for the past, when a simple plate of Christmas cookies represented everything wonderful, and nothing much at all.  It was Christmas, cookies were baked, the smell of homemade cookies mingled with the fragrance of pine boughs and branches to fill the house, and the cookies were delicious. Though I’m sure there were others, the only cookie I remember my mother making is Bourbon Balls.  A quick recipe check today reveals the Bourbon Ball isn’t really a baked cookie at all – it’s vanilla wafer crumbs mixed with melted butter, walnuts and spiked with bourbon then rolled in powdered sugar.  I remeber spritz cookies too, and sprinkling those mulit-colored little nonpariels over each one.  That must have been where the baking smells came from.

As to real Christmas baking, I have been nostalgically recollecting the legendary December back in high school when a girlfriend and her older sister asked everybody they knew for their #1 Holiday Cookie recipe, coordinated ingredients and timing, cleared the decks, and baked a different cookie every single night starting December 1st.  By the 20th of the month, they emerged from their baking vortex with the most spectacular Holiday Cookies assortment you’d ever seen.  They boxed them beautifully, and had either a large, medium, or small cookie box for everyone they knew.  This baking was a real act of art and kindness and planning, skill and care and thoughtfulness, dedication and deliciousness and culinary creativity all rolled together in one project.  And this was at least a decade before Martha Stewart had ever edged her first toe into the pool of commercialized perfection.  Those two sisters broke some new ground back then, and  today their effort would be considered insane and those cookie boxes coveted.  One of the great things about dredging up wonderful Holiday memories from the past is bringing that idea or spark of Christmas celebration and joy forward to the present.  I think I may try a version of this, starting late, but starting at least, and starting tonight.

Unexpected Feast of Crab

 

IIn no particular order - a rocket scientist, a doctor, a random person, and a wine thief.

My friend (and St. Helena Citizen of the Year, 2011) Anne Cotrell invited me to The Crab Feed last night, a fundraiser for the local Catholic grade school.  The scene – 300 people in the school gym with drinks tables, a formidable oyster station, and Silent Auction items set up around the periphery.  We bought our raffle and drinks tickets, and after a convivial 45 minutes of really delicious fresh oysters and wine and chat and introductions to friends of friends of friends, we received the alert to take our spots at our tables.  Sleeves were rolled up and coats stowed, the grace said, and huge steaming pots arrived from the parking lot kitchen to the door.  Breastplating our folding chairs, the scalding dinner was literally poured out in heaps onto the papered tables.  Of course everybody had on those giant white bibs, we had water bottles and plastic cups, and many, many bottles of local wine punctuated the feast – always a charming Napa event sight.  These bottles had been brought along by the vintners who’d made them, or picked out that afternoon from the cellar of our table host..an interesting prospect, as there are some really great cellars around these parts.

Drinking a 2010 Far Niente (unreleased) Chardonnay is Bruce Maroglio, actor in Francis Ford Coppola’s latest movie and local lawyer. 

There is lobster roulette involved in The Crab Feed – some years the seafood selection includes whole lobsters.  Not this year, but they had plenty of everything else including fresh crabs, giant head-on shrimp, clams, mussels, red potatoes, fresh corn, whole artichokes and heads of garlic, and the ocassional sausage link.  The mood was festive - talk was of who would arm-wrestle whom for more crab, who’s kid was adjusting OK to college on the east coast, and who was willing to share their sausages (ahem) since they were scarce.  It was delightful, really messy, somewhat healthy (go easy on that melted butter) and very delicious.  As an event, this format was a great way to get everybody relaxed and in high spirits.  I think you could try this at home (in the back yard, unless you have a big gym) with great results.  Everyone made new friends, and there was much laughter and discussion on a wide variety of topics from the state of our world to the state of our table (where a couple bottles of really good wine were poached with great entitlement by persons seated well south of our group).  I will get myself to The Crab Feed again, and you should too, if one comes your way.  Just be ready to share your wine.