On Monday, I got to go up to the mountains to babysit two of my grandsons, Nate (age 6) and Titus (almost 4). Upon arrival, Nate informed they had a Secret Hide-Out, Only Club Members Allowed.
Nate was not inclined to share the whereabouts of the Hide Out with me, though Titus, Mr. Tender-Hearted, was in agony trying to hold back the secret., wanting to blurt it out and take me to it right away.
I knew what had to be done. I commenced with Nonny Charm: reading books, showing off a bag full of garage-sale-finds toys and crafty items, sharing funny stories about their Daddy and his siblings, playing with toys in a bucket of water on the porch, listening to their tales with animated interest, giving them each “critter punch balls” to bounce, and finally, digging for marbles in The Marble Hole.
Nate assured me he’d found three marbles in a dirt hole in the yard, which was about 1 foot deep and 2 feet wide, and that if I would only do the digging, he’d do the sifting and he was sure we’d find more. So I picked up the shovel and went to work. (The things grandmothers do for love.) Alas, we found a rock, a worm, and one beetle but no marbles. Later that day, I placed a text to my son saying, “Well played, Zeke. Well played. Great way to keep the boys busy, but a heads up: it is time to add a few more marbles to hole.”
At some point, Nate weakened and gave in. “Okay, Nonny. Because you are SOOO nice to us, you can be a Club Member and I will now show you our Secret Hide-Out.” Whew! I was IN!
The Club House was impressive. You had to climb up a ladder and hold on to a rope to get up inside the second story. The views of the mountains and deer in the distance were none too shabby. Super Power Rocks lined the inner sanctum’s walls. Nate offered me a seat a crate beside him, put his hands on knees and began to chat, Club Member to Club Member. “Nonny, I had a bunch of plastic swords, but Titus chewed on all of them. So my mom is going to get me a new one.
I looked at Titus and said, “Wow, Titus! I didn’t know you were a sword eater!” Titus responded with a shy head duck. His big blue eyes sparkled as he grinned and gave a little huff of a giggle, then turned his palms up confessing, “Yeah. I was really hungry.” Like, Whaddaya gonna do? I was hungry. There was a plastic sword. I ate it. End of story.
I don’t know what it is about babysitting my grandsons but at the end of the day, I always seem to take a long deep nap, and I am so hungry I could eat a bear. Or possibly, a plastic sword.
After I said my goodbyes to the boys, I arrived home and slept for two hours, then woke at 6:00, starving. Thankfully I had thought to stop by Whole Foods on the way home. Big juicy sea scallops were on sale. I pulled a dinner together in minutes that looked fit for a King and Queen, or a Club Member belonging to a very special Secret Hide Out.
A friend from the shores of Virginia taught me the easy trick to making incredible scallops, perfectly caramelized, buttery on the outside, and tender on the inside. This night I served them on some leftover Jasmine rice, with some freshly steamed broccoli and a side of watermelon-feta-mint salad. The perfect supper to revive a tired Nonny, with minimal effort on my part. Thankfully, Greg volunteered to wash the dishes and didn’t even make me dig for marbles to get him to do it.
Caramelized Garlic Butter Sea Scallops
Serves 2 Hungry People … 3 Not Too Hungry, Skinny People:)
8 to 10 Large Sea Scallops about 2 inches in diameter, and an inch thick
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
½ fresh lemon
Sea Salt to Taste (If you have any fancy gourmet sea salts on hand, this is the time to use them!)
Few pinches raw sugar
Rinse the scallops then pat dry. Sprinkle both sides of the scallops, very lightly, with a bit of your best sea salt. Sprinkle lightly again with little pinches of sugar – just a few grains on each scallop will do.
In to a “screaming hot skillet” put olive oil, butter and garlic cloves, then immediately turn down the heat to medium high. Add the scallops in the skillet and let simmer in the butter and oil until they are a gorgeous shade of golden brown caramel. Turn them and cook them on the other side until they are the same golden shade. The middle should be perfectly done at this point.
Squeeze half a fresh lemon over all and put on a big plate. (As you can see, I like to surround them with broccoli and lemon quarters.) Stir and scrape any pan juices and drizzle over the scallops.
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