Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Razor Clam Chowder and a Day at the Beach

And a great weekend was had by all.  This is another verbose entry so get a cup of tea and settle in because I have a treat for you; my cousin Teresa’s beach photos.

carlablog (3 of 13)

Razor clam digging can take a lot out of you so we started carbo loading first thing Saturday morning with my dad’s legendary cabin breakfast.

Dad’s pancakes are silky and rich and mouth melting thanks to the hefty swirl of bacon grease he adds to Krusteaz.  Served alongside steaming, grease slicked eggs  and crisp bacon … I need no other reason to get up in the morning.  My cousin Tim who felt a teensy bit left out of the Fred Meyer vs Safeway conversation swirling around the breakfast table offered his best money saving grocery tip:  buy beer at the store and drink it at home to save oodles in bar fees.  Love that guy.

Breakfast over and daddy daughter day commenced.  Ross took J and E kite shopping and dad took me to the hardware store where we got gutters and downspouts and this green accordion pipe thing to solve the soppy wet spot at the front of the cabin.  I love handing my dad tools as he does dad stuff high atop a ladder.

Soppy spot subdued and off for a walk on the beach where I froze but was nonetheless entranced by the thousands of tiny sandpipers racing the tide and the stark beachscape.

carlablog (1 of 13) 

Once home, fortified with creamy cocoa and ample refills of whip cream we baptized the new fondue pot I scored at the local thrift store for three bucks.

Hard to improve on bread swirled in kirsch spiked cheese washed down with fresh pressed cider.

Thus fortified, we hit the beach.

Clam tides happen only once a month, only in the winter.  You'd think the combination of cold, dark, rain and the occasional snowstorm would keep all but hearty he-man types off the beach.

But no, clam tides attract thousands of clam lovers from kids to grandparents:

 carlablog (4 of 13)

carlablog (11 of 13) carlablog (12 of 13)

But it’s no cakewalk.  First you must obtain highly specialized equipment and attire.  There seem to be two sartorial schools of thought.  One group goes stealth with camo hip waders and matching neoprene jackets; (I especially like the his and hers matching sets).  The opposite end is the barefoot tank topped gal with wild hair, flat on her belly probing a clam hole with her bare hands.  This is not me, I lie somewhere in between with blue daisy rain boots from Bay Hay;  and my dad’s fleece lined raincoat. 

Next, you’ve got to have the right equipment. We dig with clam guns; stainless steel tubes you press into the sand with a rocking motion.  They slice through the beach layers and if you’re lucky and skilled you come up with a clam on the first pull.

The thing you need to know is that razor clams don’t just lie there.  The second your clam gun hits the sand they start digging.  Take your time, worry about your manicure or get girly about sticking your hand into an eighteen inch hole filled with frigid sea water and your quarry high tails it.

The last one to limit gets a cheer squad and lots of help spotting the show; the dimple in the sand that indicates a clam.

It’s then, when the whole group has limited and we prepare to leave the beach that we realize the true reward;  the grandeur all around.  The Pacific ocean froths and swirls; windswept trees arch along the ridge; the sand shimmers with twilight.  Against the roar of the ocean; migrating birds soar, calling their locations to each other much the way families up and down the beach keep track of their youngsters, bantering about who has the largest clam, who limited first and how many bowls of dad’s clam chowder we’re going to eat.

carlablog (8 of 13) 

A great big thank you to my cousin Teresa Harpster, a very talented artist and photographer, for loaning me these wonderful photos.


Razor Clam Chowder

This is my dad’s recipe; one we all love.  You can make it with any clams you like.

3 strips bacon chopped into 1 inch pieces

½ cup onions, diced

1 cup potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup water

1 cup chopped clams with juice

1 quart half and half

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 cube)

Potato flakes or left over mashed potatoes

Cook bacon pieces add onions until they are slightly browned. Add water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add potatoes and cook until slightly done. Add chopped clams and juice. Cook 20 minutes. Add half and half and butter. DO NOT LET MIXTURE BOIL. Season to taste. Add potato flakes or mashed potatoes for desired consistency. Test to see if it is edible…enjoy!


sandraj said...

That is so great, We are so lucky not everyone has the time and family to clam with. The pictures are wonderful ( Thanks Terry )

El said...

I don't think I've ever seen such a highly organized clam team. Lovely photos. Makes me wish it were summer again!

Anonymous said...

Reading this makes me actually want to try digging clams!