Distance cooking and–progress on the blue lace dress

While we were in Boston we spent time with a dear friend who met me when I was twelve. Our friend is really serious about Jewish stuff ( he is a rabbi)  and yet approaches it all with the most delightful sense of the absurd.  The result makes doing any Jewish ritual with him both profound and potentially outrageously funny.



When we visited, we brought  our friend an assortment of goodies from the Russian market across the street from my mother’s apartment. We brought “highly carbonated water with organic materials,  chocolate with the picture of a very surprised looking baby on the label, preserved cherries and a few other oddities we thought out friends would enjoy, perhaps for their  value as food but as much for the joy of reading the labels.

In the same spirit, our friend gave me this from his pantry.

Crawfish Shrimp and Crab Boil Bag

Our friend grew up in New Orleans. He likes having this taste of home in his pantry. I also think that he likes the sheer perversity of a rabbi owning  a box of crab boil. He gave me two bags of crab boil with the request that I write about what I made with it.

I thought that the mix of spices sounded enough like the classic Jewish pickled fish that it seemed to make sense to throw a bag into pickled fish.


This is what I did:


I added a bunch of vinegar to the bottom of my trusty paella pan.


I then added a big serving spoon full of sugar and turned the heat to high and covered the pot.  If I could tolerate salt better I would have added a tea spoon of salt. You cook the vinegar and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. It takes longer than you would think, but boiling for 30 minutes as old cook books so often suggest is a waste of time.


I added the bag of crab boil to the pan. I wanted the taste to be saturated with the spices.


If I had planned better I would have pulled fish out of the freezer after breakfast. I didn’t plan well so just put frozen right into the pan.


You see both salmon and tilapia in the pan.  In our house this  mixture of foods is known as pu-pu fish, from a menu from a kosher restaurant in Boston from my childhood. The mixed appetizer platter was called a “pu-pu platter”.  So now you know that I have the same sense of humor as an eight year old boy.


Here is the fish nearly cooked. The broth was really strongly flavored and needed tomato so I added a can of diced tomato and cooked the mixture a bit more.  I pulled the fish off onto a platter, and then began boiling off the fish juice.

I then changed my mind and added rice to the fish juice/broth and shredded a carrot into the mix. The rice absorbed the excess liquid.


And here is our dinner.


It was delicious but a bit intense tasting. I probably should have only used half a bag of spice. I see that the spice bag is meant to flavor 4 lbs. of crab. My friend boils potatoes in crab boil. maybe I will try that next time.

And now the dress. the last time I talked about the dress it looked like this.


Yup, it’s pretty dowdy.

With some strategic darting, it now looks like thisSAM_0566

Yesterday, the scalloped neckline (taken from one of the selvedges) was all rippled and floppy. I made several small darts in the neckline and it’s nearly perfect.


Well, perfect is stating things too strongly, but wearable is probably a better word.  I will probably add a cute trim to the less that beautiful seam line.


All that is left is figuring out how to finish off the sleeves.



I like the idea of a short cap sleeve but I may just bit the bullet and make it a sleeveless dress.  I look better in sleeveless.

I know this post is a jumble of cooking and sewing, but that’s my life.


  1. I am trying to work out the darting but it is quite a difference.
    Funny about the crab boil, glad you showed what it actually was, as I hadn't heard of it before.

  2. I did one neckline dart and one armscye dart on either side of the bodice. The lace hides the seams pretty well.

    I also turned the dress front to back and the princess/fish eye darts are on the back rather than the front. The long darts are less than even and the lopsidedness is less noticeable from the back. I figure out the placement of the neckline dartsdarts in a completely goofy way, but it seems to work for me.

    I seem to have been completely unable to figure out the directions for darts set out in most books so have had to resort to my own goofy methods. I figure that as long as the garment looks relatively symmetrical and fits without making my parts look stupid it's good enough for me,.


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