Firecrackers on the Beach

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Is there any better place to fantasize about food than at the beach? I got to skip town last week with a wonderful friend and spend a couple of days on the Gulf Coast. We went to Florida for fun, sun, and seafood, but also to visit a beautiful little art gallery in Seaside, Newbill’s By the Sea, that carries Strands® and my cookbooks and is a favorite of Nashville beachgoers. I was invited to be the guest artist and do a book signing! There was champagne! The gallery owner Annette and her husband made snacks from the cookbooks! I felt SO honored! Of course, it took about 10 seconds for us to get down to serious food talk. Annette has also spent time as a guest chef on a local TV station and it was a lot of fun to share experiences, comparing prep work and planning for the famous three to four minutes of airtime. We both agreed that we can now cook almost anything in three and a half minutes (with 24 hours of prep of course). 

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She reminisced about pickled shrimp and seafood crackers, and her famous fruit ice cream. I had to do a little arm twisting, but that ice cream recipe just came my way yesterday and it will be the next one to write about.

The thing is, I got home and could not stop thinking about those crackers. If hard pressed, many of my friends, and certainly my sister, would tell you that Firecrackers are the signature item they make from my book. When I discovered that the recipes for seafood crackers mostly involved Old Bay Seasoning, butter, and baking time, I thought why not just make the recipe for Firecrackers and substitute Old Bay for Ranch seasoning. Forget the butter and the baking and make it easy – just like Firecrackers. The experiment was a raging success. A few long-time devoted Firecracker fans already profess to like these better and that was with a first batch sampling! 

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I will remain on the fence but must add that because you are measuring your seasoning – not using a packet of dressing mix - you can make a smaller batch, for you and a friend to enjoy at a cocktail hour without using a whole box of crackers. In fact, a one sleeve recipe is easy to accomplish and keeps for a while getting better every day – that is if you have any leftover.  We have had these all alone – served with seafood, and also with shrimp butter (You’re Grown - Now You Can Cook, p 19). The flavor is the difference- still hot as a Firecracker – but with the spicy, herby flavor of Old Bay. You should definitely give Firecrackers on the Beach a try and celebrate a little bit of the summer vacation in your own backyard. Enjoy!

Firecrackers on the Beach

Ingredients (Easy to double or half)

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2 sleeves of saltine crackers

3-4 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning

1 tsp paprika (I like smoked paprika – smoky flavor and a bit more heat)

1 tsp (or to taste) red pepper flakes

½ cup canola oil


Put crackers in a container or large plastic bag.

Mix remaining ingredients and pour over crackers.

Shake gently for a minute or two, trying not to break crackers.

Repeat shaking every 10 minutes or so a couple of times for optimal spice distribution.

They are ready – but even better the next day and will last for several days tightly sealed.

© Deer One Publishing 2019