I see food and I cook it

Seafood. Ah, my second love (next to BBQ).

Growing up in South Florida has always been a gift. Among many other things was the opportunity to sample so much seafood, much of it self-caught in my early days.

But, generally, I didn’t like to cook it myself. Not fish, not shellfish, naught. Apart from an occasional shrimp dish, I cooked not a bit of seafood. Given my love of the fare, it was quite perplexing.

When I started my Cooking Challenge this year, I knew, based on 12 different recipes over 12 months, I would likely have to hit a seafood dish somewhere along that path. Add in the nieceling-demanded requirement that each recipe be from a different country and this month’s recipe nearly wrote itself.

Seafood paella. Featuring three exciting shellfish I enjoy (clams, mussels and shrimp) in a tasty seasoned dish.

And, oh, I was so clever. After narrowly averting disaster with July’s recipe and causing a flood with my overestimation of last month’s recipe, I got all the ingredients except the seafood early this month. No pressure. Take my time. Get it right.

Curiously, I actually had to purchase a number of those ingredients using Amazon. Local Publix didn’t have the exact requested items in stock (and I always use the exact ingredients the first time I do a recipe…well, except for the peppers – see below).

Then came Irma. And then came trying to find the shellfish. First the mussels would be out. Then the little neck clams weren’t in. And the end of the month suddenly wasn’t so far away.

Finally, this morning, after an aggravating visit to my car dealer (long story), I stopped in at Publix on my way back. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for cooking, but, maybe, just maybe if they had the stuff I could work off my frustration over a saute pan.

I was so convinced they wouldn’t have the goods, I didn’t even get a little green basket. For shame. They had everything I needed. Oops. Now I juggled the three packages of seafood while I picked up an onion (the original which was long since used up) and some peppers.

A note about the peppers. The recipe calls for piquillo peppers. Nice, mild, low heat peppers. Being who I am and whose son I am, I instead opted for serrano and poblano. Maybe my seafood paella would now be diablo?

Of course, it wouldn’t be me and a recipe if I didn’t create a mess. Surprisingly, outside of a little spilled seafood base, I was amazingly clean. Fortunately, today is “clean kitchen” day (day one of cleaning week), so it’s all good.

And the verdict? Some clear changes for next time: more seafood…and maybe stick with piquillo peppers. Hoo boy. Thank goodness for classic Coke!

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