Seven years ago was the last time I wrote about my camp at Lazy Point. At that time, I quoted my neighbor Carl Safina on the natural wild beauty of the area. I compared it to Walter de Maria's art installation "The Lightning Field," in that it had to be experienced over a significant period of time to be truly understood and appreciated. Good Lord, what a bunch of pompous hooey!
Could there be a better place for social distancing than Lazy Point? Unfortunately, everybody else seems to have the same idea. Driveways on Shore Road have more cars than usual, there is more litter by the side of the road (gloves and masks, natch), and more boats speed in and out of the channel across from Hick's Island. It was like freakin' Lake of the Ozarks out there with all the hootin' 'n' hollerin', lager, and shouting.
Nonetheless, it was the place to be, without budging. I loosely planned a few meals, prepped a few items, made a peach strawberry crisp, a peanut sauce for fresh spring/summer rolls, picked lettuce and herbs and zucchini blossoms from my community garden plot, and packed a cotton rope and clothespins. A clothesline was to be one of my MacGyver projects. Fun!
Let me bring you up to date on camp since last time. Two years ago, I bought a 1962 Yellowstone "canned ham" camper from Colin Ambrose, who had kept in back of Estia's Little Kitchen. It has a little fold-out bed, and I have equipped it with a few battery-operated lanterns and a deck of cards. Kids love it.
When I first got camp, I had layers of rugs to hide the linoleum, colorful pillows and a love seat on the porch, Indian bedspreads galore; it was like a Stevie Nicks-gypsy-caravan-Ayahuasca freak-out of colors and patterns, feathers and shells. I have since learned that less is easier to clean, and pale neutral colors allow the surrounding scenery to take center stage. It's also easier to spot the ticks when everything is light or white.
This spring I had to get a new refrigerator so I got the same cheap, small model as before from P.C. Richard. The old one hummed and rattled. This one makes gurgling sounds like somebody's intestinal tract right before something unfortunate happens. Did I mention that the "bed" (mattress on floor) is about six feet away from the refrigerator?
In the midst of our Covid-19 pandemic, I knew camp would be the most restorative, safe, and quiet place to be. Quite a few people asked if I'd be willing to rent it out. Not. But what I did end up doing was loaning it to a friend and her family as a graduation and birthday celebration vacation for their daughters. It was to be a family of four for eight days. It ended up being six people, to which my septic system replied "no way, no how, uh-uh, I'm sending this stuff back up." Regardless, I am very happy that they had a chance to enjoy nature and fishing and kayaking and swimming.
Besides swimming, walking, kayaking, reading, crosswording, and day drinking, cooking and planning meals is great fun. I definitely cheat a bit with occasional salad kits and Amy's frozen enchiladas and tamales, but mastering the art of preparing food in a small space with limited supplies and equipment is a challenge I enjoy, like cooking in a boat galley.
To make fresh spring rolls I prepared the peanut sauce at home in advance. I forgot vermicelli rice noodles so I used the noodles from an instant Thai soup kit. MacGyver! I fried zucchini blossoms in the wrong kind of oil (grapeseed) which made my stomach sound like the refrigerator. Do not fry with grapeseed oil.
With the leftover shrimp, vegetables, and peanut sauce I made pad Thai the next day. This was excellent. I grilled clams and made a pretty good tomato salad with supermarket tomatoes. Hint: With enough garlic, herbs, and salt, you, too, can make hothouse tomatoes taste pretty darned good.
Lazy Point is, and should be, what its name says. It is for loafing, puttering, pottering, lolling, lounging around. Idleness and indolence are allowed. Go ahead and goldbrick, tarry, estivate, dillydally!
Isn't it interesting that the antonyms for these words imply that hacking around, drowsing, and kicking back are wrong? Those antonyms are: enterprise, hustle, initiative, diligence, robustness, and vivacity.
It is summertime. We have all been -- and continue to be -- challenged, hurt, and scared by what is going on in the world. I say have a margarita at 2 in the afternoon, take a shortcut with your cooking, and jump into some saltwater. Be lazy. That is the point.
Peanut Dipping Sauce
Making fresh spring/summer rolls is very easy, so I'm only giving you a recipe for a peanut sauce. The fillings for the rolls is up to you. Just remember to have cucumbers, carrots, vermicelli noodles, cilantro, mint, and maybe Thai basil, and slivers of jalapeno. Shrimp sliced in half is a traditional addition. You may also want to make a lighter, more vinegary sauce to go with the rolls.
Makes about half a cup. Double the recipe to have extra for making pad Thai.
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup (I used a little bit of hoisin instead, about 1 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil (I used less, about 1 tsp.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
2-3 Tbsp. water, as needed
Whisk all ingredients together and taste for seasoning. You might want it more tart (add some lime juice or more rice vinegar) or perhaps spicy (add some sriracha if you like).
Streusel Topping for Summer Crisps
I have shared this recipe before but it bears repeating because it is so versatile for quick summer crisps. In wintertime, make the same streusel base and add cinnamon instead of ginger. Keeps in freezer for months. This is based on Richard Sax's recipe from his book "Classic Home Desserts."
Makes enough for two small crisps
10 Tbsp. cold butter
1 cup flour
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds or chopped Marcona almonds
Combine first five ingredients in a mixer and mix with paddle until crumbly and some butter bits are still visible. You can also do this by hand, quickly, keeping butter cold. Add chopped/sliced almonds and toss. Chill until ready to use. Top any summer fruits that have been seasoned with whatever amount of sugar and flour needed, approximately 2/3 cup sugar and three tablespoons flour for a pie-sized crisp.