You know how sometimes, when you are travelling, somewhere along the line you loose track of the day? That happened to me yesterday, as my incredibly long Friday bled into Saturday, and when I finally collapsed in a heap of fatigue, I had lost all ability to compose rational thought.
Now, following twelve full hours of sleep (yes, twelve! I’m very excited about it!), I am ready to attack vacation with unbridled enthusiasm. But first, I’ll set the scene.
As I may have mentioned, my family shares a love for a little something called “tradition.” For most of my life, we have journeyed to Hilton Head Island for a vacation of family time, sun, sand and surf. (And good eats, and boats, and golf, as well … but I’ll get there!).
Each year, my parents would load up the car, and we would make the drive down, stopping somewhere in North Carolina to break up the drive (we have lived in many places, so the drive has not always been the same). My brother and I would know we were getting close, because billboards for “South of Border” would begin, and once we passed that, it meant that we were in the home stretch.
Now, my parents never actually stopped at South of the Border. At this point in my life, I know why ~ it’s possibly the most kitschy, commercialized, ridiculous place I’ve ever been. It was as we got older, and Dave & I started driving down separately with various friends, that the tradition of stopping at South of the Border was born.
After departing Philadelphia following an epic monsoon and switching cars along the way (three people + two golf bags + four pieces of luggage + Mini Cooper = not comfy, so my dad generously allowed us to borrow his wheels, which are very comfy), we hit the road for twelve hours of driving.
I took the wheel at 5am, so I was the lucky girl who steered us into the parking lot of the Waffle House at South of the Border (another tradition that Dave maintains with unswerving, non-negotiable regularity) as the sun was rising in the sky. Unfortunately, many of the stores were not open by the time we were done noshing, but we did get some pics.
After several minutes of photo ops, we hit the road again for the final leg of the journey. We had instructions to swing by the house and check out the hot tub (the ‘rents wanted to make sure it was working!) which we duly did.
Then it was off to our favorite watering hole, The Salty Dog at South Beach Marina. I began my lunch by slurping a pina colada, having a bowl of She Crab Soup (my most favorite soup in the whole word, hands down) and nibbling on some fresh Grouper bites.
For din din later that night (post-checking in, grocery shopping and swimming in the pool!) there was a simple spread of steamers, shrimp, and twice-baked potatoes.
For the Steamers ~
Boil a large pot of water.
Drop in steamers. Cook til they start to pop open.
Only serve clams that open up!!! Very important! If they don’t open in the hot water, they shouldn’t be eaten.
Serve with melted butter.
For the Shrimp ~
1. Boil water with Old Bay seasoning (use generously).
2. Lower the temperature of the water and then put shrimp in. Cook until fully opaque and pink.
3. ** A trick for a lot of shrimp is to do a little at a time, so that they cook in the hot (but not quite boiling water) and stay tender.
4. Serve with cocktail sauce (or a dipping sauce of your choice!)
For the Twice Baked Poh-tay-toes (a la Zia Leni) ~
Preheat oven to 350.
1. Needed: 4 medium to large potatoes, butter, chives, 1 package Philadelphia Crean Cheese. Chop up chives, allow Philly Cream cheese to soften by leaving out of fridge.
2. Cook the potatoes in the microwave until soft (depending on the potatoes, about 10 minutes). Make sure that before you put them in the micro, you poke some holes in them with the tongs of a fork.
3. When they are soft, cut them in half longwise. Scoop out the middles, leaving a nice potato skin shell to re-fill. You should now have eight potato “bowls.” Put the scooped out middles into a mixing bowl. Combine with a tablespoon (or two, depending on your love of butter) of butter, and the 8 oz package of softened cream cheese. Once it has reached the consistency you like (nice, and thick and creamy for me!) fold in chives. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
4. Refill your potato bowls with your potato mixture. Line the potato bowls on a cookie sheet, and pop in the oven for about five minutes, or until the tops of the potatoes start to brown/crisp.
5. Serve. Yum.
** If you want a fluffier potato, try whipping in some Greek yogurt in addition to cream cheese.