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Food from the Beach House: Pina Coladas!

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pina 1

The bambinos love pina coladas. Their pina-colada-loving has appeared many times on this blog. Click here for example. It is a special drink for vacations, or for special occasions, or for making occasions special. GREAT Drinks PoolReal pina coladas are so rich, you couldn’t drink more than one or two every once in a great while. But they are surprisingly easy to make. And time at the beach house is so special, that at least a couple times in July, an evening calls for coladas!

You can tweak these into lots of different flavors to suit your sweet tooth. Kyle is particularly fond of banana coladas (just replace the pineapple with a ripe fresh banana). Braydon and I love mango coladas (sub mango for the pineapple). Owen and Meera are purists and love the straight up pina coladas (“pina” = pineapple).

INREDIENTS (this makes 2 drinks):

  • 2/3 cup cream of coconut
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple (or whatever fruit you want to use: banana, mango, papaya, peach)
  • a dash or two of fresh lime juice
  • 3 cups crushed ice
  • and if you want to make it the real deal: 3 ounces rum


Blend it in a blender. That’s all folks! IMG_9787 pina 3

Food from the Beach House: Blackened Fish, Two Ways (Fillets & Sandwiches!)

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fish 2We eat a lot of fish while we’re in South Carolina. I buy fresh mahi mahi and grouper right from the dock here, and it is incredibly delicious blackened.

I started making blackened fish sandwiches to use up leftovers from blackened fish fillet dinners. But at this point I think it is safe to say that Braydon and Owen both actually would chose the sandwiches over the dinner fillets any night of the 5The recipes can be found here:


Food from the Beach House: A Lowcountry Feast

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IMG_9565This is not something we do often, and only something we could do while here in South Carolina, but at least a couple of times during our stay we like to put together a Lowcountry Feast. We did this last week for MorMor’s visit.

This is not really a recipe, per se, more like a pulling-together of some of the incredible bounties of the Lowcountry for one amazing supper. Every place mentioned here is within a 10-minute drive from the beach house. I hope that years from now the bambinos will remember meals like this. Here’s the HOW TO straight from Harbor Island:

1. Appetizer: Stop at “The Mainline,” the open-air bait and tackle market on the side of the road, right in the middle of Harbor Island, to buy a bag of boiled peanuts. Dump ’em in a bowl for snacking while everyone takes part in preparing the Lowcountry Feast. Watch out for Braydon and Meera — they’ll eat the whole bag themselves in one sitting.Boiled Peanuts2. Stop in at Gay Fish company for fresh shrimp and already-steamed stone crab claws. Get there early in the morning, to make sure they don’t sell out of the crab claws (they never sell out of shrimp!). They’ve come to know Owen (he’s become a regular during July), and they take special care of him — they let him pick out his own claws so that he can choose each of the dozen or two crab claws that he wants. Buy a pound of regular shrimp for the scampi, and a pound of large shrimp for peel-and-eat shrimp cocktail. To prepare the shrimp cocktail: these shrimp are too good and too fresh to do anything to them other than steam them. Throw them in a steamer tray over boiling water in a large pot. Let them steam with the top on the pot only for about 3 minutes. Pull them out, and they’re ready to go! Serve the shrimp and crab claws with fresh lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, and melted butter.Crabs and Shrimp3. See what you caught that day in the crab trap, and hope you have at least a few big blue crabs to bring home. To prepare the blue crabs: scrub them under cold running water to get them as clean as possible (but it will be tough, with them squirming snapping their claws at you and all). Using the same steamer that you just pulled the shrimp out from, drop the crabs in and douse them with a nice layer of Old Bay Seasoning. Cover and let steam for exactly 10 minutes. Pull them out, and they’re ready to eat!Crabs in the Bucket CrabsHowever… this is important: let Dash play with ’em a bit on the kitchen floor before cooking ’em.Dash Crabs 2Dash Crabs 3Dash Crabs4. Buy some tomatoes at Dempsey Farms. Some people claim that the Sea Island tomatoes are the best tomatoes in the world. I’m not sure about that, but they are so, so, so good. Pick them yourself (Dempsey Farms is a Pick Your Own Tomatoes place), or, if you don’t want to take the time, for a bit more per pound, buy the ones they picked for you. Cut them up, or slice them, and serve just as they are. I like some salad dressing on them, but the bambinos like ’em plain.Lowcountry Tomatoes5. Whip up a batch of Shrimp Scampi with that other pound of shrimp from Gay’s. Recipe is here.Scampi6. Dig in deliriously to this amazing Lowcountry treat-of-a-meal! (Peach Cobbler for dessert — if you’ve been good that day and Mama’s in a good mood — I’ll post about that recipe sometime soon!)Feast 3

Kyle, Football

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IMG_9759It has been about five years, maybe six, of constant, incessant, relentless begging, pleading, and “persuasive arguments” from both of them, but most of all from Kyle. It has been about a full decade of suspecting, somehow apprehensively knowing, that the time would come, but trying to hold it at bay nonetheless. It has been many conversations, with many people, from all sorts of perspectives on the matter. But it all comes down to two boys who — I’m fully sure — should not be held back any longer. The time has come. It has been a long time coming.

We’re letting them play football this fall.

Kyle, in particular, is beside himself with elation, excitement, and anticipation. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so excited about anything. Every day he is overflowing with thoughts and a steady stream of football-related chatter. Our boy has been waiting for this for as long as he can remember, and now he’s counting down the days. It starts August 1.

For now, it is football on the beach. Every day. We’re settling in to it, wrapping our minds around it, and even I am actually beginning to enjoy the pre-season build-up.

It is hard to own up to letting them be entirely who they are. But they are who they are. And I’m not going to stand in the way of something that is intrinsic to their core. This is them. My job is to foster their flourishing, not constrain their capacities.

So, it has been a long journey to get here. But I’m here now, and I’m all in. I don’t jump in unless it is a full body splash into the deep end of the pool. I’ll be behind my football players 100%, even if I’d never have chosen it myself, and even as I’m cringing a teeny tiny bit, I will be screaming from the stands this fall, and making them power smoothies in the morning and doing stinky laundry at night and keeping ice packs in the freezer 24×7.

And I, for one, am very curious to see what these two will do in the football arena.


Food from the Beach House: Shrimp Scampi

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scampi 2One of my favorite things about the Lowcountry is the SHRIMP! The Lowcountry of South Carolina is famous for its shrimp, caught right off the coast here. It is different than any other shrimp, I swear! (It is sort of like how store-bought strawberries are nothing like picked-from-the-field-in-May-strawberries, or how store-bought tomatoes are nothing like height-of-summer-plucked-from-the-plant-heirloom-tomatoes). Lowcountry shrimp are so sweet and tender. They almost melt in your mouth.

We see shrimp boats shrimping right off the beaches every day. And within 10 minutes of the beach house there are at least three shrimp-selling vendors (and within 20 minutes at least half a dozen roadside stands selling shrimp from trucks). Kyle and Owen love to catch shrimp net-casting right from the beach or in the marshes all around us (we always throw those back; they are babies).

The Lowcountry is also famous for Lowcountry cuisine. Shrimp scampi is definitely not a traditional Lowcountry dish. But while we’re at the beach house I make shrimp scampi at least once a week. It is Braydon’s favorite dinner at the beach house.

You can make this with any shrimp (and I often do at home, using store-bought shrimp — it is just such a treat in South Carolina because of our proximity to be able to buy incredible shrimp here). At this point in time, I never use a recipe. I wouldn’t dare try to give precise measurements, but here’s what I do to make the most incredible shrimp scampi.


  • about 1 pound of fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 packages (9 oz each) fresh pasta — linguine or fettuccine — or 1 box dry, cooked according to package directions, then drained. [We really like the Buitoni brand fresh linguine for this.]
  • about 6 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 stick butter
  • about 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of about 1.5-2 lemons
  • big handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • fresh ground pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan cheese


  1. Melt butter, with the olive oil, in a pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add garlic to pan. Cook only for a minute or two, until garlic is a soft, but not browned.
  3. Add shrimp.
  4. Working quickly, squeeze lemon juice into the pan over shrimp (you can just toss the lemon into the pan after squeezing for another subtle layer of flavor), then toss in parsley, and ground pepper to taste.
  5. Allow shrimp to cook for just a minute or two, tossing them carefully, until they just barely start to curl. You don’t want them to curl tightly or get too white (that means they are overcooked). They should be just barely curling, and still slightly translucent in the center.
  6. Quickly toss the pasta with the shrimp.
  7. Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top.

Amazingly yummy!!!
Scampi 2 scampi

Sheldon Ruins

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Sheldon Ruins BOn Sunday we visited the site of the Old Sheldon Church Ruins. I’ve been wanting to go there for the past five summers of our family’s visits to the Lowcountry, but for one reason or another we’ve never made it. We finally did. I found it to be even more majestic and dreamy than I had imagined it would be. It was so quiet and so beautiful in some sort of deeply surreal way — it almost took my breath away. I can’t find my own words for it.

“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.” ~James AllenSheldon Ruins 8 Sheldon Ruins 9 Sheldon Ruins 11 Sheldon RuinsSheldon Ruins 7Sheldon Ruins 3Sheldon Ruins ASheldon Ruins 10Sheldon Ruins FamilySheldon Ruins 2