Yes You Can: Make Your Own Lobster Rolls

DROOL. So good I forgot to take a picture until I took a couple bites.

DROOL. So good I forgot to take a picture until I took a couple bites.

If you’ve never had the sweet-and-delicious, warm-and-buttery, cold-and-crunchy experience of biting into a succulent, decadent lobster roll, it may not be your fault. You could have grown up on the West Coast, like me, and the lobster roll is clearly a New England-type treat. However! If you do not attempt to make one of your own at least once after I’ve told you how, you clearly do not like nice things and I am judging you. Ahem. Just kidding.

I had my first lobster roll shortly after moving to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, and we fell deeply in love and have lived happily ever after ever since. I literally had one every day one summer for my shift meal when I waitressed at the (now defunct) Seasons Eatery and Pub.

So what is a lobster roll? At its best, a lobster roll is simply chunks of lobster, dressed with a little mayonnaise and accented with a little chopped celery, piled into a top-sliced hot dog bun that has had its sides buttered and toasted. Kiss it with salt, pepper, and lemon, and you’re on your way to heaven. Simple.

It’s actually my favorite way to eat lobster, even better than eating a whole steamed one dipped in butter (because bread, mayo, and toastiness), which is good, because it’s also a more economical way to eat lobster. Three two-pound lobsters, as is, will serve three people (or more if they share, but that’s awkward and can lead to “accidental” stabbing). But I took three two-pound lobsters this weekend, and made about 15 lobster rolls (yield from six pounds of live lobster: about two-and-a-half pounds of lobster salad).

Let’s get real: it’s still expensive to make lobster rolls. And it can be a pain to find live lobsters (and crack them). But I estimated that the per-roll price of the lobster I used (estimating 2.5-3 oz each) was about $5.30.

It’s also not for the faint of heart. To get fresh lobster, you have to purchase them live, and then kill them. Take a minute to absorb that. That’s because the meat will go bad if you keep it in the shell. The other way to get lobster meat is to buy shelled fresh meat (if you live on the East Coast), which is incredibly expensive, or bags of frozen lobster meat, which I imagine is expensive, and I’m not interested. Because if we’re doing this, we’re going whole-hog (whole lobster?). We . . . are . . . going . . . all . . . the . . . way!

Materials List

For Lobsters:
Large stockpot or canning pot
Steamer insert (I use one of those fold-y metal vegetable ones)
Seafood pick (or skewer or crochet needle, in a pinch)
Hammer
Kitchen towel that can get dirty
Oven mitts
Chef’s knife
Cutting board
Medium mixing bowl

For Buns:
KitchenAid mixer or large bowl and elbow grease
Pan for rising/baking

The Roll

So many delicious rolls!

So many delicious rolls!

With today’s increasingly globalized society, it’s cool to realize there are still regional foods. For example: the top-sliced hot dog bun. I had no idea these existed before I moved to the East Coast, and now I have no idea why they haven’t taken over the world. It’s a long bun, sliced straight down the middle, instead of sideways. Not only is this configuration neater to eat (you’re holding the filling together with bread on either side!) but it enables you to butter and toast the sides, which is awesome.

These days you can order pretty much anything from Amazon: voila! But since I only make lobster rolls once or twice a year, I make my own rolls using the Pioneer Woman’s Parker House Rolls recipe.

Technique:
After the dough has risen, I measure out 3 oz portions (I’m a little nuts), shape them into logs, place them in a buttered roasting pan or Pyrex dish, and let rise. Using the full recipe, I filled an 11″ x 17″ pan and a smaller Pyrex (about 7″ x 12″). I space them so the finished size is about 1.5″ wide and 6″ long, and they rose about 2″ high. I then baked them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

When I use them, I actually separate the rolls by slicing them with a serrated knife–the flat sides are much easier to toast evenly. I also shave off the long sides of the rolls at the edge!

The Lobster

Lobsters!

Lobsters!

You Need:
Live lobsters, preferably the two-pound size (I find the shells of larger lobsters are really thick and difficult to deal with): I estimate about four to five lobster rolls per lobster
Best Foods or Hellman’s mayonnaise
Chopped celery to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon wedges

Check around to see where you can get live lobsters in your neighborhood. I go to ABC Seafood, an Asian fish market that always has a tank full of them. I’ve also spotted them at Costco and even my local supermarket (usually around major holidays like New Year’s or in the summer).

Keep your lobsters in the refrigerator–it will keep them sleepy and slow–and kill them within a day or two. Place your steamer insert in your pot, add water to the level of the steamer, cover, and bring to a boil. Put on an oven mitt and grab your first lobster by the body, above the tail (I tend to do them individually, because that’s fits best in my pot). While the claws should be fastened with rubber bands, you can still get pinched by that spiny tail–watch out! Place it in the pot, cover, and steam for 15 minutes. Feel a little guilty.

Remove the steamed lobster, again using your oven mitt, and set aside to cool (I keep mine in a clean sink). Repeat until all of your lobsters are cooked. Let cool (don’t burn yourself–hot water can get trapped in the shell).

To remove the meat: twist the tail off, rinse it, and flatten it on a cutting board. Using your chef’s knife, cut it lengthwise from the top, break it in half, and remove the meat. Chop it in 1/2″-3/4″ inch pieces, and place in a bowl. Note: if your lobster is a female, you will see a quantity of bright-red roe. This is a delicacy: scoop it out, chop it up, and add to your salad.

A bowlful of lobster.

A bowlful of lobster.

Next, remove the claws and “arms” by twisting them at the “shoulder.” This is the trickier part. The “arms” (referred to as knuckles) can usually be broken apart with your hands. (Use the tip of your knife to puncture the joints if needed. Use your seafood pick to draw out the meat. Chop, if needed, and add to your bowl.

The little legs also have a little meat if you want to suck it out. Cook’s treat!

For the claws, I’ve found the best and fastest way to do it (without hurting my hands) is to just use a hammer. First, break off the “thumbs” and use your pick to remove the meat. Then cover your claw with a kitchen towel (in case shards of shell shoot out) and hit it hard, in the center, until it cracks. Turn over the claw and repeat. Break off the shell, and remove the meat, using your hands and pick. Chop it all, and add to your bowl.

Add enough mayo to bind it together, but not so much that it overwhelms the meat–start slow! Then add celery to taste. Think about how you like your tuna salad. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Then taste it. Your lobster salad is awesome. Put it in the refrigerator to chill.

The finished lobster salad. Delightful!

The finished lobster salad. Delightful!

Putting Together the Lobster Roll

You’re going to want to work quickly and serve these as soon as they’re ready, so you can enjoy the contrast of the hot, buttery, toasted bun and the cool, creamy, briny lobster meat, so get all your materials together: buns, butter, lobster meat, lemon wedges, serrated blade, frying pan or electric grill, a spoon, and plates.

Heat your pan or electric grill over medium-high heat. Butter the sides of your rolls and use your serrated blade to slice them lengthwise, down the middle, about halfway down. Toast until nicely browned on both sides. Then stand it on your plate, gently (don’t break the roll!) open the roll, and add lobster meat by the spoonful (again, gently) until filled. Don’t go crazy–it’s like a burrito or sushi roll, you don’t want to overstuff it and have it fall apart.

Serve with a lemon wedge on the side. Then eat your lobster roll. You are very welcome. You can show your thanks by buying me lobsters.

Advertisements

Happy Wednesday! Links (and Videos) to Make Your Day Brighter

It . . . is Wednesday, right? The three-day weekend has thrown me off. Hello! How were your Memorial Day Weekends? We had a fantastic time in Dayville, Oregon with friends at the Fish House Inn and RV Park–I’ll be sure to tell you more about it this week.

Before we get to our links, let’s pause and look at this picture of Chris Pratt, hmm?

Chris Pratt Entertainment Weekly

Chris Pratt showing off his . . . sense of humor.

I made a rather mean comment on Twitter about how Chris Pratt is the ultimate version of what execs wanted Seth Rogen to be when he shaped up for Green Hornet. But . . . isn’t he? I feel like Hollywood must be dancing in the streets that they found someone so funny who can . . . clean up so well. Hello. I still don’t care about Jurassic World though, sorry Chris. Call me with Guardians 2 is ready.

Speaking of nerdy-hot comics, SPOILER ALERT, DC Comics’ Convergence is undoing their 2011 New 52 reboot and bringing all the multiverses (multiversii?) back. This perfectly encapsulates why I don’t read DC Comics. They’ve made everything so complicated that I literally don’t understand most of this article.

Reaching into the Wayback Machine, here’s a video I did in 2011 with my co-worker Josh Christiansen back at TFAW when we were reviewing DC Comics’ New 52 #1 issues. My sweater, which you may recognize from my 10-Item Wardrobe, literally lasted longer than this last reboot.

And finally, someone made the ridiculous decision to remake Point Break. I’m not going to pretend that the original was an untouchable classic, but it was 1. lots of fun 2. had a sense of humor 3. had Patrick Swayze in mesmerizing spiritualist/macho action villain mode, and 4. Keanu Reeves at peak Keanu. The new version has none of these, and uses the term “extreme athlete” unironically. Plus I hate it when sequels or reboots of fun action movies try to make everything so big and serious. Just tell me a good story! I’ll still respect you!

So I refuse to share the new Point Break trailer, but I will share the original:

What do you think? Go anywhere fun this weekend? Post a comment below!

Flip Flops

Pregnancy Survival Guide: 7 Summer Essentials

Last summer, when I was eight months pregnant in August during a heat wave (90-plus degree temperatures for months, it seemed), I vowed to write this post. At the time I was too busy sweating to write, but with summer just around the corner, I’m ready to help!

I know several mamas who will be experiencing the joys of pregnancy during the summer months. And listen, I don’t want to be one of those smug ladies who seemingly live to go on–and on and on–about the potential pitfalls of pregnancy. But let’s get real. By the end of my pregnancy, it was hard enough to just find a comfortable position to sit in. Being hot, sweaty, and swollen just made me feel ridiculous on top of everything else.

But! I did find a few ways to make being pregnant during the summer easier, and I thought I’d write them down before Mother Nature makes me forget everything so I might want to have another baby in the future (the store is closed, Mother Nature–it’s called an IUD!).

  1. Surrender to my icy embrace! Image from Home Depot.

    An air conditioner for your bedroom, if you don’t have central air. Buy it now, before prices go up or stores sell out! You may think it’s a frivolous expense of money and energy when you could be saving up for, say, a college fund. But this is important! Sleep is essential for gestating mommies, and sweating in bed is no fun (except under the specific circumstances that got you pregnant in the first place). Measure your room and find the most efficient air conditioner for the square footage you have (Craigslist can also be your friend here). Then, an hour before you go to bed every night, turn it on and shut the door. When you’re ready to turn in, your room will be a blissful, icy-cold refuge of slumber.

  2. Glamorous.

    Comfortable maternity pajamas. Don’t be like me. I wore my regular, (originally) loose-fitting pajamas way too long, until they were tight and uncomfortable. Again, sleep is important. You’ll need something that fits and is suitable for the weather! One benefit to maternity pajamas and nightgowns is, many are also made for nursing, so you can wear them after delivery and get a lot of wear out of them (especially if you have a robe for when it gets cooler).

  3. Ayyyy. You, too, can feel like the Fonz. Image from Dickies.

    A light jacket or cardigan that goes with almost everything you own. The double-edged sword of super-hot summer temperatures is, many office buildings and businesses keep the air conditioning on blast, which means if you’re dressed for the weather, you’ll need a little something to keep from freezing. The best part about this item is, you likely already have it in your closet (it doesn’t need to close!). I had a light (pre-pregnancy) Dickies jacket that I wore to the office almost every day. In the end it was more like a shrug than a jacket, but it worked!

  4. Maternity Dress

    Maternity dress + scarf = cute and comfortable

    Summer maternity dresses. Old Navy was my jam for maternity gear, and their dresses were awesome. They were comfortable, they were inexpensive, they lasted my entire pregnancy, they could be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, and (still very important) they were flattering! Protip: maxi dresses means you don’t have to worry about shaving your legs every day.

  5. A couple of light scarves. Let’s talk pregnancy boobs. As the months go by, your breasts will likely get bigger, which will in turn pull your neckline lower–which means you may start showing more cleavage than you feel comfortable with at, say, work. A light, colorful scarf will take care of that without making you overheat. Also: great as a shawl in a pinch in air conditioning.
  6. These are my exact pants! From Old Navy.

    Linen or otherwise light pants. I think my favorite piece of clothing during the tail end of my summer pregnancy was a pair of gray linen pants I got from (again) Old Navy. Again, shaving your legs will get more difficult as time goes on. If you feel uncomfortable showing that, a light pair of pants can keep you covered, but comfortable. Get them in a neutral color and you can basically wear them every day if you want! You have better things to think about than your clothes!

  7. Flip-flops. Cheap and plain or spendy and stylish–your choice. But for me, the end of pregnancy plus high summer temperatures resulted in extremely swollen feet and ankles, which meant the only shoes I could wear were flip-flops. Be prepared.
Flip Flops

Flip flops! Live them, learn them, love them. Old Navy.

Hopefully you won’t need these suggestions, but I think hoping for the best and preparing for the worst is a solid plan of action in almost every circumstance!

Do you have any tips for surviving a summer pregnancy? Post them below!

Lobster Rolls

Happy Monday! Links to Make Your Day Brighter

Lobster Rolls

Lobster rolls! Photo from Bon Appetit.

Hey everyone! How was your weekend? Mine felt like it raced by incredibly quickly. We spent time with Sid’s mother’s father’s side of the family, hosted couple of play dates with Sid’s friends, and finally finished clearing out our community garden plot and planted it up with tomatoes, zucchini, delicata squash, kale, and lettuce. I’ve got big plans for beets, carrots, green beans, and perhaps artichokes, but I think that will come next week. If you’re interested in gardening but don’t have the space, you can find a community garden here!

Links!

Our first bit of exciting news last weekend: the Twin Peaks revival is a go! With David Lynch directing the entire thing! And it will be more than nine episodes! Needless to say, our household was overjoyed–although we did have to caution Sid that he may not be able to watch the new series, since it’s on Showtime and might be scarier/more adult (sexier) than is appropriate for a 10-year old.

Feel like celebrating? I have some Twin Peaks party ideas, as well as recipes for Twin Peaks Cherry Pie and the Laura Palmer Cocktail. You can also check out this excellent piece of Twin Peaks art by Gabriel Hardman!

Next: I caught the (spoilers via the link) Mad Men series finale early this morning on iTunes, and I was really moved and really, really satisfied. Without giving away any spoilers, I was really happy about the endings for many of the characters, but especially Joan. As with any long-running series with a passionate following, a lot of people were not pleased with how things ended up–what did you think?

One site I just recently discovered–and wish I’d been reading all along–is Tom & Lorenzo, which has been doing amazing analyses of Mad Men by interpreting the colors and styles of their costumes. Janie Bryant is an amazing costume designer, and Matthew Weiner is famously obsessed with getting every little detail of the ’60s and ’70s right–which means if you’re paying attention, the clothes inform the story on a whole other level. It’s genius!

We’re headed off this Friday on our annual Memorial Day Weekend trip to lovely Dayville, Oregon to celebrate Scott’s birthday! What’s in Dayville? Not much–and that’s part of the fun. We discovered the–ahem–rustic but gorgeously landscaped Fish House Inn & RV Park four years ago. Over the years more and more friends have joined us to relax, break into haunted houses, grill delicious meats, and go to the nearby Spray Rodeo.

As part of our yearly tradition, I pick up some live lobsters and transform them into delectable lobster salad to bring with us for lobster rolls for Friday night’s dinner. As lobster rolls are traditionally made with top-sliced buns (which you can’t find on the West Coast), I usually make my own. My favorite recipe is the Pioneer Woman’s Parker House Rolls recipe. I shape the dough into 3 oz logs (yes, I weigh all the dough) and make my own hot dog buns! I’ll post my lobster roll recipe later this week.

That’s all for now!

Gardening

Happy Friday! Links (and Videos) to Make Your Day Brighter

Gardening

Future BLTs, pasta sauce, caprese salad, salsa . . . drool.

Happy Friday, bitches!!! Ahem. Excuse me. In a fit of early ’00s nostalgia, I’ve created and been listening to my Ja Rule station on Pandora this week. The crazy thing is, I wasn’t a particular fan of this music when it first played, but I worked at a restaurant/club that played it constantly, so it brings back a lot of good (and ridiculous) memories now.

As you can see by the picture above, I’m getting ready to plant! I finally got a community garden plot through the City of Portland this year: a 10′ x 20′ area that I’ll be filling with tomatoes, zucchini, kale, beets, etc. I’m going to keep track of all of my expenses and then estimate the market value of my yield to see if it’s actually worth it. However, the six tomato plants, three basil starts, and two squash seedlings pictured above came to a grand total of $19.60. Unless they all die, I should come out ahead.

If you’re thinking about creating your own garden (there’s still time, especially if you use starts instead of growing from seed), my Mom recommends the Garden Planner at Mother Earth News. It’s free for the first 30 days, and then $25 per year. I’m going to be playing with it and will review it in a future post!

I’ve still been chugging along in my Zero Waste efforts, but I’ve kind of come to a standstill. My stumbling blocks? Meat, cheese, and snacks. One of my husband’s favorite snacks is York Peppermint Patties, which I keep in the freezer for him. Of course, they’re individually packaged in plastic! So I’m checking out this Homemade Peppermint Patties Recipe and this Peppermint Patties Recipe from Epicurious. I like the roll-and-slice method in the first recipe, but I want to use real chocolate, like in the second recipe. I’ve never been particularly successful at tempering chocolate (bringing it to the proper temperature so it stays smooth and dark), so wish me luck!

In other Zero Waste news, Zero Waste Chef continues to knock it out of the park. Here, her Clear-Out-the-Fridge Frittata offers a delicious way to use up leftover vegetables, cheese, meat, etc. It’s the same principle behind my “Free” French Vegetable Soup. Recipes are a wonderful way to learn how to cook and make delicious dishes, but it’s even better to learn how to cook without recipes (or have loose ones as a guide), to use up all your scraps, and eat even more awesome food! Reduce waste, save money, eat well!

Have you seen the six-minute trailer for CBS’s upcoming Supergirl television show? Here:

While it is pretty funny that there are some parallels to Saturday Night Live‘s Black Widow trailer parody, I’m hopeful. The bumbling-hero-with-glasses is a Superfamily tradition, and by showing Kara’s journey from fumbling and vulnerable to superheroic, the audience can relate to and experience her transformation as well. Plus! I’m kind of tickled to see Calista Flockhart. So we’ll see.

What else? DUDE. Everyone is talking about the new Mad Max movie. I admit, this wasn’t really on my radar–seeing movies is difficult with the baby, and I, er, never really saw the originals (bad geek!), but the trailer does look awesome:

And for my final gift to you this Friday: as you probably already know, this Sunday is the final episode of Mad Men. My husband is quietly devastated and rewatching Season 7 before the big day. However, if you’re a fan of the show, you must check out the Mad Men With Things Drawn on Them Tumblr because it will blow your mind (check out Peggy below)!

Peggy Mad Men

You’ve come a long way, baby! Wait, is that sexist?!?

That’s what I’ve got–what do you got? Post your goodies below (no Mad Max spoilers)!

Reasons Why This Blog Sucks

Why do you suck so much, Mom?!?

Why do you suck so much, Mom?!?

Don’t get me wrong–I love this little blog, I’ve really been enjoying writing it. But it does suck, from a marketing perspective. If someone else asked me to look at this blog from an SEO (a type of witchcraft)/marketing perspective, here are all the problems that jump out at me:

  1. The name of the blog doesn’t give any indication of its purpose. “Jeepers”? What does that even mean? I’ve just said “jeepers” for years because I love Archie Comics and being kooky and weird.
  2. The URL doesn’t contain any relevant keywords. My URL doesn’t even match my useless, flabby blog name! “Lizzbert” is a nickname my best friend’s ex-boyfriend gave me. When I got locked out of my old Hotmail account for going too long without logging in (oh, 2001!) and had to create a new one, “lizzbert” was the first option that wasn’t already in use.
  3. No clear focus. Let’s get real: it’s nearly impossible to build a “readership” without a clear focus. I ping pong from cooking, to Zero Waste, to comics, to Twin Peaks, to freakin’ fashion–there are very few people, besides me, who want to read about all that on a regular basis. I could at least pick a consistent day per topic (Friday Fashion?).
  4. No regular schedule. I’ve been attempting to do a Happy Monday links post every Monday before noon to have some semblance of a schedule, but . . . I had my Twin Peaks post this week and my dog ate my homework and I . . . am lazy sometimes.

So for those of you who have subscribed to this blog or read my ramblings regularly: thank you! It’s truly been a shaggy dog experiment while I try to figure out what I like writing about, what people like to read about, etc. I’d been meaning to start some sort of blog for years, but when it became clear that I was going to quit my job after the baby was born to be a stay-at-home mom, I knew I’d need something to keep my writing skills sharp(ish) and give me an outlet and some sort of purpose beyond doing laundry and snuggling Sarah.

Moving forward, I pledge to ramble about whatever comes to mind. But I will take suggestions. 🙂

Twin Peaks Gabriel Hardman

Gabriel Hardman Twin Peaks Art

Since we’ve been on a Twin Peaks tear (both on the blog and at home), I wanted to share our newest piece of Twin Peaks art by the fantastic Gabriel Hardman (storyboard artist for movies like Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception, and comic book creator behind Invisible Republic, Planet of the Apes, Agents of Atlas, and much more).

My husband Scott was recently at C2E2, a Chicago comic book convention, when he mentioned to Gabriel that he couldn’t find any Twin Peaks art for our son Sid. Gabriel told him to come back before he left the convention and gave him this incredible piece, featuring Agent Dale Cooper and a very menacing owl:

Twin Peaks Gabriel Hardman

Fantastic Twin Peaks piece by the phenomenally talented (and very gracious) Gabriel Hardman!

Scott quickly got it framed as a surprise for Sid–here’s the finished piece:

Twin Peaks Gabriel Hardman Framed

Portland business Luke’s Frame Shop did nice work!

Sid was excited to see his art, with one condition: he doesn’t want it hung in his room, because he doesn’t want to wake up to that owl every morning. Ha!

Big thanks to Gabriel Hardman: we’re going to hang this in a place of honor in our house!

Want more Twin Peaks action? Check out our Twin Peaks Dinner Party, and get instructions on how to make a Twin Peaks cherry pie and a Laura Palmer cocktail.