January 1, 2009

New Year's Eve Dinner 2008

Frozen lobster tails. Eh. I've never eaten them before and wasn't crazy about the idea. I was afraid they wouldn't be as sweet as the live Maine lobster we've had in the past for our traditional New Year's Eve dinner. Actually, I was somewhat intimidated by them -- these frozen tails (from the Bahamas yet)! I researched cooking instructions and found that after they've thawed, they can be baked, grilled, boiled, or steamed. I was all for boiling them as that's what I've done in the past with live lobsters, but...

I called my sister in CA, who also has lobster on New Year's Eve. She told me that she couldn't find live lobsters either. The stores have stopped carrying them, so she was doing frozen tails, too. The butcher told her that the best way to cook them was to split the tails, put some butter on them, wrap in foil and bake for 1 minute per inch (or was that per ounce?). Okay, I'll bake them. It sounded good - wrapping them in foil would prevent them from drying out and turning into a big chunk of rubber, which was my biggest fear.

So here we go with frozen lobster tails.
First, I put my bottle of bubbly in the snow where it was 9 degrees. This saves on refrigerator space and it chilled in no time!
Next I made the corn casserole to have with the lobster. We've made this before and you can find the instructions and recipe here.
I baked my bread earlier in the day using my wonderful new book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I love this dough! You mix up a batch of dough and keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you want fresh bread, just grab some dough, form it, and bake! You can read about how great this is here. This was so good for sopping up the melted butter I'd prepared for the lobster!
I took the fins (or whatever they're called) from underneath the lobster tail because, frankly, they grossed me out. (No, live lobsters don't gross me out.) I split the underside of the tail down the middle and put a big pat of butter on each tail.
Each tail got double-wrapped in foil and into a 350 oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the butter hadn't even melted.

Back into the oven for another 10 minutes. Still not cooked.

Another 10 minutes.

Back in for 5 minutes.

I should have just boiled the dang things.
While the lobster finishes baking (or not), let me tell you about the plates I use for our lobster dinner. The Barbara Worth Country Club (or as it is known now, The Barbara Worth Golf Resort) is located in the sunny desert two hours east of San Diego in California's Imperial Valley.

I lived in the Imperial Valley from 1975 until six months ago when we moved to Montana. The Barbara Worth Country Club was about the only place in the Valley where large groups could gather for company Christmas parties, wedding receptions, and the like, so I've spent many hours there eating their food. The food was mediocre and I swear they never changed their menu in 30+ years. In 2008 they served a buffet with the same entrees, salads, potato casseroles and desserts that they served in 1975. (Get a new menu!)

Back to the plates...

In the much dreaded and feared Y2K (known now simply as the year 2000), the Barbara Worth had these chargers made and used them in their dining rooms. As the years went by they may have thought them inappropriate, or out of fashion, or behind the times to use them (who knows) so began selling them to the public. My gardener and I met in the year 2000, so I bought two plates to serve our traditional lobster dinners and to have as a memento of the year we met. It seems to me that the original price for the plates were $20-$25. I intended to buy a few each year until I got a set of 8, but around 2005 I was eating lunch there and inquired about them. Turns out they were selling them for $15 each, so I bought another six plates.

Who is Barbara Worth and why is the Country Club named after her?

Novelist Harold Bell Wright lived at his Tecolote Rancho in the Imperial Valley from 1907 until 1914. In 1911 he wrote the novel The Winning of Barbara Worth. Barbara Worth was a ficticious character in this novel, which is the story of the reclamation of the lower California desert and the 1905 Colorado River flood, which gave the arid desert its much needed water for the growth of this agricultural community.

So, because The Winning of Barbara Worth was one of Wright's most popular novels, and because it was set in the Imperial Valley, you can find many businesses and streets named after her to this day.
Here's a picture of my copy of The Winning of Barbara Worth. My Mom gave it to me for my birthday one year.
Here's a picture of the inside cover. Seems like Blossom Gaskill received this book as a Christmas gift in 1911. Blossom is a pretty name. If I ever have another baby girl, I'll name her Blossom.
The lobster finally did cook. Sort of. The meatiest part wasn't cooked through, so we just put it aside and I'll finish cooking it today. These were huge tails and neither of us finished ours, so we have 2 whole tails left and some leftover meat.

These lobster tails from the Bahamas weren't as sweet and tender as Maine lobster. They had a tough "skin" on them that either had to be peeled off, or chewed up and spit out. I was a little disappointed and next year if we can't find live lobster, I may have to change our New Year's Eve menu to something else.

Having said that, there is so much meat leftover so I'm thinking about dinner tonite: lobster roll, lobster corn chowder, lobster fritters, lobster bisque, lobster scampi, lobster alfredo, lobster fra diavolo... decisions, decisions!


  1. Love the plates. What a great way to celebrate NYE.

    I vote for lobster ravioli--yum.

  2. Hi Karen, I stumbled onto your blog for the first time today and I've enjoyed catching up on your past posts. Sorry the lobster didn't work out exactly perfectly, but the presentation looks amazing.

    And nothing beats have some unexpected leftovers for another meal. I vote for lobster fritters!

    Casual Kitchen

  3. Karen, I'm sorry the lobster tails weren't excellent. But could make a meal of your corn casserole and homemade bread (I remember you saying you got the book. I'm so happy :) -- I think you'll have lots of fun with it.)

    I love the plates. So neat to have the history behind them, too. I recognized the name Barbara Worth, but never knew the full story so thanks for filling me in. Very interesting.

    I didn't know you moved so recently from Imperial Valley. I left (my life-long home state), CA. 10 years ago next month. I miss some of it, but not other parts.

    I'm sure you know what I mean.

    I love the name Blossom, too. My father (late) had a terrific secretary/associate that we all loved, her name was Blossom. And many years before I was born my Grandfather had a small chain of florist shops in San Francisco named Blossom, too. That name really has special meaning to me.

    I love coming to visit your blog and I look forward to enjoying more as the year unfolds.

    All the best to you and your family in 2009 and beyond. xo~m.

  4. Wow cool history lesson there, I have never heard of that book or that author and might just have to look into reading it if I can get my hands on it all the way across the country here.

    After 30+ years in SoCal it must have been quite a shock to move to MT...may I ask what prompted your move? Seems as if you were near my in-laws who are in LaQuinta. San Diego is my favorite city on the entire planet, I fully intend to retire there but will move there sooner if I can scrape up the moola to do it right.

    So now I must say it is a bummer to hear the tails were sub par at best! Regardless of the 17 hours you spent cooking them (lol) or the lack of sweetness I seriously hope that you & your Gardener had a marvelous dinner anyway simply because you spent it together :)

  5. love your blog karen ! love the plates...how sentimental..
    i'd do the same thing :)
    I'd love to try lobster tails... yum

  6. Too bad about the lobster. I loved the story about the plates and Barbara. I too like the name Blossom, so pretty and innocent sounding. Happy New Year!!

  7. Great post; next time skip the plain lobsters and go straight to the leftovers recipes - they all sound great!! Interesting about the plates.

  8. Karen, did you save me a lobster tail? It looks soooo good. Happy New Year my friend. May all your wishes come true in 2009. :)

  9. I thought you were going to make Paella if B bought frozen tails?? ::hmph:: ;) Have you tried it yet? I hope it's yummy enough to make it on your blog! ;)

  10. I stumbled upon your blog tonite and read this post... sorry your tails didn't turn out as well as you were hoping.. they surely present well (gorgeous pic), but nope can't compare em' to a fresh Maine lobstah :o) Next NY eve let us know.. we'll ship them on out to you!


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