Close Calls and Grits

You know those signs they hang in factories–“X days without an accident”? Well, I nearly needed to reset the one in the kitchen to 0.

I had defrosted some shrimp for dinner. “Are we going to have shrimp and grits?” she asked hopefully. I hadn’t gotten that far in my planning, but it sounded good to me.

I looked up the recipe (I know, right? I looked up a recipe!), I gathered the vegetables, I got the grits from the pantry, I started a skillet heating; I was ready. I got out a saucepan to make some quick stock from the shrimp shells–and then I realized that the beautiful shrimp had no shells. They had tails, but those really weren’t enough to flavor a stock.

Okay; I checked the freezer inventory. “Chicken stock, 1 qt jar.” Excellent. I’ll add the tails to the stock; that’ll do the trick. I diced and sautéed the vegetables while the stock defrosted in the microwave. I toasted the grits in a little butter.

Wow, that’s really thick stock, I thought. And it’s kinda lumpy. Was it gravy we’d mistaken for stock? Was there something wrong with it? I gave it a taste.

Mashed bananas.

Clearly the jar was mislabeled.

Good thing I didn’t just dump it into the pan with the toasted grits. I boiled some water for the grits, salted it liberally and laid the shrimp shells on top before lidding the saucepan. The cooked grits got a little more butter, and plenty of shredded cheese; if they weren’t quite as tasty as I’d hoped they were certainly fine. And the shrimp gravy had a little more tomato than usual to account for the stock I couldn’t add to it. Not perfect, but not bad.

I wrote a comic sketch for an industrial show some years ago–at the client’s request–making fun of the corporate language distinguishing between the words “incident” and “accident,” and how the phrase “near miss” seems to indicate that there was, in fact, a collision of some sort. That script was lost several moves ago, but the intention was to riff on the Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?” routine. I’m sure my sketch wan’t as funny as theirs, but it was certainly better than shrimp and grits and mashed bananas.

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