Sister Fran

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My brother, Nick Roumel, has a regular column in the Legal News called “May it Please the Palate,” where he shares his favorite recipes.  He loves to cook, but has little time to do so.  You see, he is an attorney carrying a very heavy caseload and is also a candidate for Circuit Court Judge, so I thought I’d give him a hand with this month’s article. 

As is the case with most of us this year, the social distancing imposed by the pandemic has interfered with family gatherings.  Sadly, this will be the second Christmas since my birth (he’s two years older than me) that we won’t be spending together.  The first was a horrific snowstorm three years ago (2017). 

The thing I’ll miss most about our family Christmas this year is our cooking together.  My brother, sister, and I all love to cook.  I love when we’re all in the kitchen cooking together.  Nick, on the other hand, likes the kitchen to himself.  We have a rather large family gathering each Christmas, anywhere from 15 to 30, each with their own food restrictions.  We’ve always had non-meat eaters in the family, so one of our stand-by Christmas meals is a dish called Shrimp Scorpio, a recipe I believe my mother made up.  I usually make that with a large, full salad. 

Shrimp Scorpio
(in my mother’s words)

1 tbl olive oil

2 cups minced onion & garlic

2 tsp parsley

2 tsp dill weed

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1 small can (2 cups) Dei Fratelli Prima Chopped

Italian Tomato w/ Herbs & Oilive Oil

1/2 can tomato sauce (small can)

Shrimp & feta cheese

Sauté onion & garlic – add can tomatoes & parsley & dry mustard.  Let cook about 5-10 min. – do not let sauce dry out.  Add shrimp & cook only until it turns pink.  Add dill (enough).  Put in pan & top w/ feta.  Bake until feta softens, about 5-10 min. 350 oven.  Make w/ any fettuccini or spaghetti. 

As I begin to make the Shrimp Scorpio, Elaine reminds me to also make some gluten free pasta because of her recent Celiac’s Disease diagnosis.  Luckily, I remembered that during my shopping trip.  I also have to put pasta on the side for my daughter, Alexa, who, since she was a toddler, hasn’t been able to tolerate tomato sauce.  “What is Thom eating/not eating these days?,” I ask Alexa.  Her husband goes through spurts of eliminating certain foods from his diet.  “He’s good with all of this today.”  Whew.

As everyone is milling around having cocktails, my daughter-in-law, Kelly, pops in to remind me of her lactose intolerance.  “Don’t worry, honey, I’ll serve the feta cheese on the side.”  Nick’s daughter and son-in-law, Kate and Ryan, don’t come in every year, so Nick leans over to ask if I remembered that Ryan is allergic to seafood.  “Oh, that’s right.  How about if I serve the shrimp on the side?”  “That works, as long as you don’t cook the shrimp in the sauce” said Nick.  Hmmm ... it looks like my Shrimp Scorpio will end up being two bowls of pasta, one gluten free, a bowl of sauce, and a bowl of plain shrimp. 

I begin to make the salad.  Again, I hear Kelly call in,“no cheese, please!”  “Don’t worry, I remembered.”  “How’s it going, Aunt Fran?” asks Olivia as she walks through the kitchen.  “Great, sweetheart; are you hungry?” I asked.  “I will make your salad separately, as I know you are still a Vegan.”  “Thank you!”, she said, as she gave me a kiss on the cheek.  “Can you serve the strawberries separately?” asks my son, Zach.  His daughter, Ava, is allergic.  “No problem!”  Anastasia yells from the living room, “And remember I’m allergic to tree nuts, so please don’t add walnuts to the salad.”  “Got it, Love,” I reply.  “Just pick them out!” says her sister, Melina, a bit miffed.  “And no tomatoes, mom,” yells Alexa.  Well, there goes my salad. 

“I think I’m going to put a small piece of salmon on the grill for Gail,” said Nick, “you know she won’t eat the pasta or the shrimp if it has sauce on it.”  “Okay, no problem.”  “Oooo, salmon,” says my niece, Fiona, knowing her husband, Will, would prefer that over shrimp.  “Can you add an extra piece for Will?”  “Yiayia, can I have a snack?” says my 3-yr. old granddaughter, Sophia.  “I’m making dinner, sweetheart.  Can you hold off a bit?” I say, as I see her walking into the living room with a bag of Goldfish crackers.  “Tom, can you grab those from her, please,” I call out to my husband.  “It will ruin her dinner.” 

We finally sit down at the extended table where I worry if everyone is going to get enough to eat.  Ten minutes later, there isn’t a morsel left and we’re cleaning up the dishes.  I’m feeling pretty good until I hear someone ask,“what’s for dessert?” 

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht & Roumel PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil rights litigation. He has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and wrote a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor. Follow him at Twitter or Facebook @nickroumel, or Instagram @nroumel. He is also a candidate for Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge (nickforjudge.com).


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