A while back, I wrote a post where I talked about pedestrian tastes. In that post, I mentioned Chex Mix as one of my, shall we say, less than gourmet tastes. We did a fair amount of driving on our little family vacation to the Delaware shore and each gas fill-up/bathroom break, those little bags of Chex Mix beckoned to me from the gas station store. I don’t ever buy those bags because they are full of chemicals and artificial everything and also because if I bought a bag I would eat a bag. Simple formula.
In the “appetizers” section of my recipe notebooks, I have several recipes for homemade mix. We are heading to Lopez Island with some dear friends and, seeing as I know there will be lots of snacking with four kids around, I figured it was time to try one of them out. I picked this recipe because it stars Old Bay Seasoning – something that Randy loves with all of his heart. Truthfully, it is not the Old Bay that he loves, but the Maryland crabs that come coated with the stuff – the ones he gets to eat every other July when we visit his extended family on the Delaware shore. This meal – “going out for crabs” – is one he looks forward to for 730 days. It is the same meal that I dread for 730 days. Imagine being a vegetarian at a long table covered with newspapers and mallets everywhere which are used to smash crabs into edible bits, claw sucking, meat flying… It’s not pretty. My dinner on that night is an iceberg lettuce salad followed by french fries and overcooked corn on the cob. This year they actually had “steamed rosemary potatoes” on the menu which I ordered, but I ended up eating french fries anyway.
Anyway, Old Bay. I used to have a tin of Old Bay Seasoning hidden amongst all my spices. It was battered and a bit dusty and my hunch is that it was among the few possessions that were saved from Randy’s kitchen when our households merged. I certainly didn’t buy it – I’m not even sure you can buy it in Seattle. When I went to reach for it yesterday, it was not there. Where does a box of never-used seasoning go? It might be that I brought it to London when we moved there and if I did, it is in the possession of our downstairs neighbor’s housekeeper to whom I donated all of our spices and leftover food because you cannot bring any food item at all back into the U.S. when you move back from abroad. Not even canned goods. Not even dusty tins of spice mixes.
So, thankfully the internet is useful for things like online banking and spice recipes. I looked around a bit and found that most of the Old Bay knock-offs feature a lot of celery salt, a moderate amount of paprika, and a pinch of just about everything else in your spice cabinet. I riffed on this one mostly. As this was baking in the oven and the smell of salty goodness started to spread around my kitchen, I started to get nervous. Why am I making something I know I cannot resist? And guess what? I cannot resist this mix. At least I know I am eating mostly goodness and no chemicals.
One for the Weekend, Part One: Spiced Cocktail Nuts
One Year Ago: Tortilla with Potatoes and Grilled Zucchini
Two Years Ago: Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce
Chesapeake Bay Snack Mix
Adapted from Everyday Food (I think)
Makes about 12 cups
In an effort to make myself feel less guilty about eating handfuls of this at a time, I used an all natural Chex-like cereal and Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies rather than the oyster crackers called for in the recipe. Oh, who am I kidding. I shopped at Whole Foods for the stuff and those were my only choices. Also, I have a giant container of pre-shelled pistachios in m pantry, so I threw some of those in and cut back slightly on the peanuts.
6 cups crisp corn or rice cereal, such as Crispix or Chex
3 cups thin pretzel sticks
3 cups oyster crackers (or Cheddar bunnies)
2 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Preheat oven to 250ºF. In a large bowl, combine cereal, pretzels, crackers, and peanuts. In a small bowl, mix together melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture and stir until ingredients are completely coated. Turn out onto a very large rimmed baking sheet. (You might want to use two sheets.) Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool, stirring a few times in the process. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.