Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 106: Another Day, another Limit of Clams


This week ended on a high note, another 40 butter clams purging on the deck and a couple more horse clams weighing well over a pound each. The 2-day take yielded 80 butter clams, and 9 horse clams. The butters’ total weight equaled 19 lbs. A local grocery store has in-shell clams on sale at $2.99 per pound. It was a decent amount of labor for a little less than $60 of food, but I’m happy with the accomplishment.

Digging the 80 butter clams was the easy part, much easier than diggin the horse clams. Both efforts left my hands raw from feeling around in the substrate of course sand, rocks, and broken shell.  I even pulled up a few bits of rusted iron rebar. I know I need to wear gloves, but there is something addictive about the skin-to-muck exposure. I’m like that in the garden too. And now that spring is here, I won’t have clean fingernails until fall. It’s not actually dirt and grit left behind. It’s more of a stain, kind of like a mechanic’s hands.

Last night I slipped over into the neighbor’s back yard and snuck into their hot tub. I do this once in a while. I know it’s kind of naughty, but that’s probably why I enjoy it so much. I was thinking the chlorine and hot water would help the manicure. The soak eased sore muscles in my lower back and shoulders, and soothed the burn of triceps and biceps. Or maybe it was the wine. I stayed in until my fingers pruned, but the gunk under the nails didn’t budge. I know dirty fingernails are not all that attractive, but I see it as a small consequence for getting close to the earth and my food.  

The boys and I ate a few of the huge horse clams for dinner. After cleaning and dicing the clams up, I mixed them into a smoked paprika cornmeal batter and made waffles. I’d never heard of such a thing, but the experiment was a huge success. And the kitchen was left grease and mess free. I’m always trying to new find ways to eat horse clams. They are too big and too tough to simply steam or fry. Last time I dug them, I made amazing clam burgers with sweet potato, egg, and oats as patty binders. But I didn’t have the energy or the sweet potatoes to embark on anything that complex. The waffles were simple and delicious with just a drizzle of sweet cream butter.

I’ve never seen Horse clams for sale in the grocery stores. Folks just don’t know what to do with them or how to clean them. A similar but bigger clam, the infamous Geoduck may be found on display at Pike’s Place Market, but mostly for spectacle. There’s something about the phallic 18 inches of stretched out neck that pleases a crowd almost as much as the flying fish seafood stand where salesmen in orange, rubber chest waders heave 10lb Chinook salmon over the crowd to be wrapped and rang up by cashiers.

My horse clams created somewhat of a spectacle from their buckets on the deck last night, at least for me anyway. I couldn’t get the boys or Jim off the sofa to “check out the shlong on this guy,” but I giggled like a thirteen-year-old. Some things never grow old, kind of like my emotional maturity. Stretched out clam necks are never not funny to me.

There is a good clam tide again this morning, but I have plenty for now. Plus my back is killing me today. Jasper’s getting good at digging, but I really wish I could teach him to refill the holes. It’s tough enough to dig, especially four feet down for horse clams. Refilling is the law. I do it, but I’d love a lackey to handle such tasks.

Lazy Monday morning finds Jasper and I lounging in front of the bay window, absorbing the rare Northwest sunshine. I’ve finished my second cup of coffee, and I’m still in my bathrobe.  The house could use a cleaning. Flower beds need weeding. The greenhouse needs planting. And the laundry isn’t going to do itself. But I hear the sea calling. She promises oysters today and makes me an offer I can’t refuse.

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