Friday, July 30, 2010

Just to clarify a little.
While The Goal is to seek out new things, some of my posts will just be my thoughts, reactions, & the story of new experiences that I may randomly happen to have, not ones that I necessarily choose to do with this blog in mind. I failed to mention it in my very first post, but another reason I wanted to do this blog is to sort of remain present & go back to really experiencing things, letting them sink in, realizing why they're so awesome (or horrible) & all that. For me, writing about them is a good way to do so.
Also, I fear that I may end up having a lot of new food posts, because that's where I tend to be most daring. Chubby girl ova heah!
Obviously, stepping out of my comfort zone is one of the points of this whole thing, so never fear. They won't all be food (thank God, I can't deal with more Chelada-type incidents), although they definitely won't be all bungee jumping, shark riding & moose dueling.

New Things #1 & #2: Adventures in Clamville

New Things #1 & #2: Adventures in Clamville (Coincidentally Keeping with the Clam Theme)

So, on Father’s Day we went to my parents’ to hang with my Dad for awhile. We knew we’d be staying for dinner & I also wanted to get Dad a bottle o’ wine, so we stopped by the liquor store. On the way there, Derrick mentioned that we should get my brother Marc a farewell forty, as he was leaving again for tour the next day.

We ran into the store just as a torrential downpour was starting, which is always fun, isn’t it? We chose some wine & wandered over to the fridge case to grab a beer for Marc. And that’s when I saw it--Chelada!

I had heard about the wonder that is prepared michelada awhile ago, yet had never seen it available to buy. For those not in the know (ha! as if my brief research makes me an expert on the subject), a michelada is beer mixed with tomato juice, lime juice…& clam juice. They’re popular in Mexico & Latin America. Now, one can imagine that perhaps a freshly mixed michelada might be ok, if you’re into that sorta thing. But these michelada specialties are canned, made with Clamato & come in two lovely varieties--Bud or Bud Lite. And they’re just called Chelada, ‘cuz it’s snappier. Or something. Like I said, clearly an expert.
Marc needed to have one (don’t worry, we actually got him something good, too).

When the time came & Marc’s initial horror waned a bit, I finally got him to try it with the understanding that I would also try it…after him. His expression of disgust, swearing & coughing was not a good review. Upon my first sip, my assumption was correct: Chelada is totally repulsive.

I’m not a fan of tomato juice (which is strange, considering my love for tomatoes & all products made of the fruit) & I am not a fan of Budweiser. The first taste of Chelada is gross on it’s own. Your taste buds are flooded with the overwhelming flavor of tinny, vaguely fishy tomato. The concoction is also a little bit spicy & citrusy, finishing with a splash of crappy beer “taste.” You swallow & think the worst is over & that you will never have to taste such horror again. But wait! About 4 seconds after you swallow the swill that is Chelada, your taste buds come back to life & hit you with another round of nast. I think I’ve blocked it out a bit, but it was somehow even worse than the first time. Spicier. Budweiserier. More tomatoey, limier, & WAY clammier. I think I may have thrown up in my mouth a little.

After bonding through our shared taste of the beverage served in hell, we locked eyes & shared a sibling moment--Dad needed to try this. But, as fate would have it, Mom got to it first! What’s funny is that she said exactly what I said above, as did Marc. It’s bad, it goes away, & then it comes back even worse! A few minutes later, the four (D wouldn’t budge & take even the tiniest of sips…probably a smart thing) of us got my Dad to try it.

His feeling on Chelada? After his sip & the accompanying exclamations & expressions of horror, he gently placed the can on a pile of flaming wood & returned the hellish drink from whence it came.

What did I learn from this taste test? Keep clam juice the heck away from beverages! Seriously, dudes, c'mon.


Before the whole Chelada incident we popped in to D’s grandparents’ for their Father’s Day shindig. Perhaps as a glimpse into the future, his Grammy made not only stuffies (made with mashed potato, how strange!) but also a giant pot of steamers. Upon the unveiling of the steamers, all women (& Derrick) evacuated the area, allowing the men-folk their time with clarified butter & the alien-like shellfish.
Steamers are clams that have been steamed open to reveal the fleshy nugget nestled inside, much like steamed mussels. Within the last few years I have developed a love for mussels. In fact, I could go for some now. But steamers? I don’t know…

I’ve had clams, obviously--I’m not that bad of a Rhode Islander. But most clams I’ve had have been in clam cake or chowder form, with the occasional fried clam thrown in for good measure. Usually the clams are cut fairly small in cakes or chowder (& fried clams are basically crispy batter with a hint of clam in the middle. no big deal) but on the occasion of getting a “big” piece of clam I’ve always found them to be chewy & sometimes gritty. Thus, despite not having much opportunity to eat a steamer without ordering an entire plate, I’ve just avoided them, assuming they’d be a big gummy turn off.

As an aside, I remember going clamming a few times as a kid with my Dad, Grandpa & one of my aunt‘s husbands. The help I provided mainly involved getting “peed on” by clams, playing in the sand, splashing in the water & probably annoying my Dad. But I went, & afterwards we’d go back to my grandparents’ house where the dudes would cook up their bounty & sit around the tiny kitchen table, wiggling the steamers at me & Grandma. Enticing! We’d eventually get grossed out & go sit outside on the swing, wondering how the heck they can eat those icky things.
So, anyway. I had just recently come up with my plan to do this blog & the steamers were eyeballing me through the walls. “C’mon Niiickiiii, you know you want to trrry oooooneeee. Do it in the spirit of your new prooojeeecttttt. Trrry iiiit, you’ll liiiiike iiiiiit.”

Ugh. Fine.

I waited a little to let the dudes get their fill. I wandered over to the table & gave the steamers the fuzzy eyeball. I grabbed one, & with the instruction from Uncle Tim to “take off the sweater,” I dipped my steamer in TJ’s bowl of butter (wow! haha) & threw in in my mouth.
Wow. Actually, it wasn’t bad at all! Slightly sweet & surprisingly tender. Ooh, I wanted another one. What was going on?? This time, it was suggested that I “rinse” the clam off in the “juice” from the steaming process, which is funny because clam juice does not look like it is capable of cleaning anything in the slightest.

Mmm, gray, gritty, fishy juice.

But I took off the little guy’s sweater (this time retaining more of the clam), gave it a bath in the cleansing clam broth, dipped it in some butter & tada! Still totally delicious.
Now, if only I hadn’t waited so long. As I swallowed my second steamer, the last few were falling into the bowls of the others. There’s always next time, & now that I’m in the know, watch out, men! For I am Nicole, & I will take your clams!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oh, hello.

Welcome to Project OneThing: Grabbing Life By The Clam Handle! My hope is that this becomes a successful personal project that is maybe even entertaining, interesting or--gasp!--a schoche inspirational. But yeah, overall, this blog is a place for me to document & express my experiences with this project for myself, and if people want to read it, awesome.

First, a little background info is in order. Here we go.
My name is Nicki, & I am a 26 year old Rhode Islander who also happens to be recently married & newly home-ownered; a part-time student; a lover of all animals, cute things, various vintage things, food, drink, music & a slew of other random & enjoyable things.

I decided to start this blog for a few reasons. One reason is that I’m a little bored & in need of a project. Another is that I’m looking for some inspiration & if we’re gonna be all new-age-crunchy, maybe even a renewed sense of self. I’ve found myself in a bit of a rut as of late (for many reasons, that maybe I’ll get into someday) & my thinking is that this may help me get started in the right direction. Also, my husband plays a lot of D&D, so I can do this while he’s “slaying the dragon” & I’ve decided to stay home with my Lucy-bean, the fluffiest cat in New England.

Ok ok, so what will I be doing with this blog? God, I hate the word “blog.“ I should coin a new phrase. Anyway. The plan is to try to do or learn (& blog about) one new thing every…well, errr…One new thing every day seems like a bit much to me--I don’t want to be grabbing at straws or have this thing turn into a chore. So my goal as of now is one new thing every week, with extras thrown in there as they happen. I’m not really into rules & regulations. Ew, restrictions. The idea is that as I do these things I step outside of my comfort zone, learn something, meet new people, take more chances, discover that I really hate or love something, become even more confident, do something crazy, finally check something off my to-do list & hopefully have a bunch of fun along the way. Yay, living life!

Now for the “Grabbing Life By The Clam Handle” part of the title. What the crap does that even mean? Well, about a month ago my on-his-way-to-being-a-rock-star brother (who probably just groaned) came to hang with us for a day while he was home on a break from his tour. The day was fun & heavily-peppered with clam (the bivalve, not the lady part…though there might‘ve been a few of those) references. We wanted clam cakes, he wanted more clam cakes, there were jokes, & there was dehydration & the silly ha-has. At one point my brother demanded that we all hold our clam cakes by the “clam handle,” which was the little projection of crispy batter, so we could toast (clam?) & be all fancy-like. Funny, especially to the thirsty & sun-stroked! Later on in conversation he jokingly exclaimed that you have to “grab life by the clam handle!” I found this to be hilarious & oddly profound, if you wanna use an oogy word to describe it. It’s my new favorite saying, & I decided to use it in my blog title. Thaaaaanks Marc!

That pretty much sums it up. I have a few things in mind already, but I may need some help along the way. I’m open to ideas & things to try, so leave me a comment if you wish. Also, the look (& who am I kidding, the content) of this blog is still a work in progress…so stay tuned for a more finished look coming to a computer near you soon!

Hi! Here I am FINALLY eating (& falling in love with) the Belgian-style fries at Pommes Frites in NYC this past winter. *angelic choir*