Hint: Keep a fire extinguisher handy-- Time to clean out the recipe book after reviewing gems such as: 'Tea Smoked Shrimp'

For a long time I've kept a large three-ring binder with recipes that I've cut out of various places, kept in place on ruled three-hole paper with glue stick.

It's organized into 29 different categories, which themselves are broken down further, with names like, "Pates/Dips/Spreads/Fondues," "Sauces/Dressings," and "Spices/Additives/Non-Food Recipes."

Yes, I actually have one non-food recipe: Silly Putty - 2 parts liquid starch, 1 part Elmer's Glue.

Today that binder is bulging with recipes that I've never made, and never will make, and spilling out into the bookshelf. It's one of those projects you swear you'll do one day and never get to.

After I die, my children will be shaking their head wondering why I kept such gems as "SoyBeans Italiano" (spaghetti sauce, frozen spinach, and of course, soybeans), and Tofu "Cheesecake."

So what I've decided to do, rather than give them to my children, I'll give them to you.

How about "Tea Smoked Shrimp?" The directions say, "To smoke the shrimp, line a heavy Dutch oven with foil. Sprinkle the tea, sugar and cayenne pepper on the foil and set a rack over it. Cover the pot tightly; turn the heat to high. The sugar will melt and the pot will start smoking. Keep a kitchen exhaust fan going at all times to clear the smoke."

When I made that recipe, the bottom of the pot got so hot that when I picked it up off the stove, the bottom dropped off and started a little fire on the floor. The tile had a hole for a few years until we finally remodeled.

How about "Zesty Nibbles?" Combine a box of oyster crackers with "one package of dry buttermilk country-style salad dressing mix," 1/2 tsp lemon pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic poweder, and 1/2 tsp dried dill weed. "Makes one quart nibbles. Keeps for three weeks." After which time you will no doubt throw out exactly one quart nibbles.

I cut one out for "Nutritionally Correct Cuban Sandwiches," featuring "1/2 lb. low cholesterol, low-fat Swiss cheese." The directions conclude, "Enjoy guiltlessly." Sorry, those two words just don't belong in the same sentence.

Here're a few that need no further comment: "Merry Dieter's Dressing," "Peach Soup," "Green Roll," "Woodsy Fried Goulash," and my favorite, "Oven-Fried Gluten."

Our celebrity corner includes "Dick Cavett's Bread Pot Fondue" and "Mr. Rogers' Tofu Burgers."

Then there's the recipe for imitation White Castle hamburgers. The ingredient list starts with dry minced onions and hot tap water, and stretches the ground round with "3 1/2 oz. jar of either babyfood strained beef or veal." Yuck ... I can't pass a White Castle without thinking about that one.

I have lots of Julia Child recipes. In one there's a photo of her making sausage, looking like a mad scientist, with the caption, "Sausage casings are pig's or sheep's intestines. Don't say 'ugh!' - you've been eating them all your life if you're a sausage or hot dog buff."

I saved a couple of Bisquick recipes for when the girls were small. I believe they preferred "Mmm-Possible Cheeseburger Pie" to "Mmm-Possible Tuna-Cheese Pie."

When I run across one of my mother's handwritten recipes, I stop and smile. Her recipe for Shrimp Scorpio is a family favorite, scribbled onto notepaper, with an incomplete ingredient list written upside down on the back.

Koula Roomeliotis'

Shrimp Scorpio

(With sassy son's comments)

Ingredients

1 lb. shrimp

1 fresh tomato

1/4 tomato sauce (1/4 what, Mom?)

1 tsp mustard

Preparation

Saute in olive oil 1 onion, garlic. (Wait, those weren't in the ingredient list. How much garlic?)

Add fresh tomatoes (remove skin) (It was tomato, now it's tomatoes? OK, fine.)

Add salt and pepper and sauté 5 min. Add tomato sauce (1/4, of course), fresh dill & parsley and dry mustard. (Dill and parsley? Where'd they come from? How much?)

Cook a few min. to blend - add shrimp and cook only until it turns pink. Remove to casserole and add feta cheese. (Don't ask. Just wing it here.)

Bake 10 min 400°. Serve w/linguini.

Now that's what I call a recipe. Way better than Zesty Nibbles, and not a speck of baby food.

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard and Walker, P.C., a litigation firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation.

He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine.

He can be reached at: nroumel@nachtlaw.com

Published: Thu, Nov 10, 2011

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