Alphabet Shrimp


Ingredients –

1 beefsteak tomato, rough chopped, no seeds (you want just the “meat” of the tomato)

Half a bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves intact, no stems.

¼ of a fresh white onion, chopped into small pieces.

Half a pound of medium sized shrimp, peeled, deveined, no tails.

8 oz. of “Alphabet” pasta (Any small pasta will do, but “alphabet” shapes are fun.)

A handful of organic baby carrots, chopped into bite-sized bits.

A handful of organic green beans, chopped into bite-sized bits.

Half a glass of wine (I use white zinfandel.)

A knob of butter

Olive oil


Sea salt

Powdered Galingale (or galangal) (This is an Asian ginger)

Ground Sumac (a tart Persian spice made from dried berries.)

Serves four. Prep time, about half an hour. Cook time, about 15 minutes. It all cooks pretty fast, but it can be tricky to juggle all the different parts at once. You may want to do it in sections.

Some observations –
This involves three different pieces of cookware – a large stock pot, a steamer, and a sauté pan with a glass lid. They are all needed to ensure that everything has the right texture. It is important that the carrots are cooked enough to be tender, the green beans and onions are crisp, the shrimp is tender but not tough, and the tomato and cilantro are not mushy.

Look in an international market for the Galingale and Sumac. Their delicate flavors are worth it. Barring that, you can substitute regular powdered ginger and some fresh lemon juice.

Get organic whenever possible. It is worth it.

Instructions –
Steam the carrots and green beans, with the carrots on the bottom because they take longer. Take them off the heat when the carrots are fork tender. Set aside in the pot with the cover on to keep them warm.

Put a knob of butter in a large sauté pan that you have a glass lid for. Have the heat at medium-low (About at 4 if 10 is “high”.) When the butter has melted, add the onions. Let them cook just a little bit, but not enough to go translucent. You want them crisp, not caramelized. Add the shrimp, the wine, and the turmeric, galingale, salt, and sumac. Three shakes of each, maybe? You can be generous with these spices. Put the glass lid on and let it steam. Stir frequently. It is done when the shrimp go opaque. Lower the heat.

Cook the pasta per the package instructions (usually 5-6 minutes) in a large stock pot. Drain but do not rinse. Return to the pot and move it off the heat. Add the cooked carrots and green beans, and then add the only the shrimp from the sauté pan. Put a lid on it to keep it warm.

To what is left in the sauté pan, add the tomatoes and the cilantro. Stir them frequently until the cilantro has wilted. Then pour all of that into the stock pot with the pasta, carrots, green beans, and shrimp.

Pour in a few generous glugs of olive oil and some more sea salt into the mixture. Stir it all together and add more olive oil and salt to taste.

Serve immediately. Fresh crispy bread goes well with this.

Created by me on 2-7-14.

Links. On ESP and Christianity.

I once was doing wire work at a friend’s house. We were in a medieval reenactment group together and I was making decades. Decades are like short rosaries. Instead of having five groups of ten beads, it only has one set. These were used during the Reformation by Catholics. It was a way of being true to their faith but doing it secret, because openly being a Catholic then was a ticket to jail or the gallows. Decades were small enough to be held in the palm of the hand. They could pray the rosary while they walked and not be obvious about it.


I was Christian then, but not openly so. Now that I think about it, making decades was perfect for me. The symbolism is striking. I was practicing my faith but quietly. Being Christian wouldn’t mean a jail term or death, but it still wasn’t very popular.

It still isn’t. This is in part because of so many people who say they are Christian with their words but not with their actions.

My friend and I had not discussed our religious practices. We had discussed something else though – a sort of ESP that we shared.

She knew I was weird. I seem to remember she termed it being “eclectic” but I think “eccentric” is more fitting. I’ve always had an extra sense. I’ve always known and seen more than just what was on the surface. I’ve always heard the under-layer of meaning. It is why I tutor people who have learning disabilities. I can understand them when nobody else can.

She had this same sense. Hers was a little different, and she hadn’t acknowledged it as long as I had, but it was still there. Over time, we had shared many experiences about what we saw together, comparing notes.

She saw me making this decade, this symbol of faith. She saw how precise and exacting I was with the links. She knew from watching me that I’d done this a lot. My links are all equal. You don’t get that kind of precision unless you practice.

She looked at me and asked “How can you make something like this if you are eclectic?”

This was the moment. I could show her who I really am, or I could hide.

I took a breath in and prayed for the right words. I could alienate her forever, but I thought she might understand. I had helped them move recently and seen Bibles while I was packing. I knew I wasn’t going too far into enemy territory. But I also knew they weren’t practicing. If they had a bunch of pagan items around then I’d be even more worried about what I was going to say. I wasn’t going to preach to her, but I was certainly going to share with her some of my truth.

I looked up from my work and said “Nobody was weirder than Jesus. He walked on water, he made the blind see, and he brought the dead back to life.” I smiled and took another breath in, and waited for her reaction.

This opened her eyes. Shortly after that she and her family started going to church.

Loving Jesus and being weird are totally compatible. If you have an extra sense, an extra way of knowing, it is a gift from God. It doesn’t separate you from God. It is a way to know God. Using it in the service of others is a way to show love to God.