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A New Year’s Food Resolution: More Dinner Parties

I’ve been a part of the Canadian Food Experience Project for the better part of a year, an initiative wherein participants share stories about regional food experiences in an attempt to bring clarity to our Canadian culinary identity. We’re now on challenge 8: A Canadian Resolution.

The vast majority of food-related resolutions are of the diet/weight-loss kind; I’ll admit, most years I vow to eat more fruits and veggies and less cake, but every year I resolve to have more people around the table in the coming year. More dinner parties, more casual gatherings, more Sunday suppers and sharing of meals. I love resolutions that require more instead of less. This is the year of the gathering for me. (And in fact the year my new cookbook, Gatherings, co-authored by my friend Jan Scott, will come out. The manuscript is due later this month, and the book will be released this fall!)

Although we just finished a month of gatherings – parties and epic dinners and brunches and casual visits – I’m ready for more. We’ve had a couple dinners with extra friends around the table – last night was an enormous shepherd’s pie for ten, and earlier we had people over to help eat our holiday leftovers (upcycled, of course). There will be more, and in fact my sister jotted several down on her calendar – a couple Sundays per month – to ensure we make it so.

These photos are from summer, but I wanted to share them anyway – and I know for many of you living on the coast, not under several feet of snow, catching crab is a year-round thing. While I live in landlocked Calgary, we spend plenty of time every year out in Tofino with our family, so I’ll share a quick tutorial on how to cook it, since crab is a popular west coast food, and big bowls of steamed crab legs set out with steamed local veggies and butter is one of my favourite meals when there are plenty of people around the table. (How to catch it is another post… our bait secret – hot dogs!)

If you’re still firmly frozen in winter where you are, let this be something to look forward to.

Whether you catch your own or buy fresh crab, you’ll need to clean it; there’s a great tutorial here. While you can steam your crab whole, it takes up far more space in the pot; I like just steaming the legs, either in salted tap water or in seawater. The rule of thumb is 7-8 minutes per pound; I find a large-ish pot full of legs takes about 8 minutes, with the lid on. Just enough time to melt some butter and toss a salad, or steam whatever fresh veggies you happen to have on hand.

It’s real, fresh, fast food. And perfect for sharing. Here’s to a delicious 2014!

a man carrying two children

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