When it came to steaming crabs, nothing was left to chance. To say that we had a recipe would be a GREAT understatement. There was a specific set of steps and instructions that were followed to the letter of the law. You were not allowed to deviate from the prescribed procedures in the slightest way. There was no room for creativity or individuality. You did it “this way” and no other way.
First on the list was the “where.” Where were the (and I say this with all respect, honor, and admiration to my parents) cheapest crabs available? Price was more than a certain dollar amount per dozen, you had to know;
Where the crabs came from (Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana)?
What size were they (small, medium, large, jumbo, colossal)?
When did they come in (this morning, yesterday, the day before)?
Were they male, female, or mixed?
After all calls and inquiries were made, a decision about the "where" was locked in concrete. Once my dad and I left to pick up the raw, fresh crabs, mom started collecting, measuring, and mixing everything. There was the large blue-and-white speckled enamel pot with the handmade wooden platform that kept the crabs off the bottom, where the magical elixir of cheap stale beer and vinegar bubbled in exact proportions.
And then there was spice mix that started with Old Bay and Kosher salt. I’d like to go into greater detail, but a binding non-disclosure agreement with my parents is still in place, preventing me from even hinting at the other, special ingredients
The crabs were lightly rinsed with fresh water before being gently laid, top side up, in the pot and liberally covered with the special spice mix. Additional tablespoons of the spice mix were poured down the edge of the pot. The top was sealed with a handmade “gasket” cut from a paper grocery bag. Twine was used to secure the top and clothespins were placed all around to provide additional NASA-like sealing pressure. Sometimes, a brick or twso were also placed on top as an added measure. Once the crabs began to “kick” the kitchen timer was set for 27 minutes. No more. No less.
Perhaps my family was more than a little bit obsessive when it came to steamed crabs. But cooking and eating steamed crabs was so special that it justified the investment, time, and attention.
How do you feel about hope?
Is it special enough, precious enough, to treat it with care?
Do you nurture hope within your life? And that of your loved ones?
Are you willing to go the extra mile to find hope? Help it grow?
If you’re not sure, you need to start making your recipe for hope. You can find helpful tips by clicking here. It’s a page on this website(1).