At 9:15 pm on the evening of my birthday yesterday, Alex and I finally wrapped up the long list of domestic to-do's I had scrawled on a wish list and handed to him in hopes of receiving a freshly rototilled garden in place of the traditional glinting jewel or Italian cashmere sweater. He seemed to think the trade was an easy one, but by two hours past sundown with orders still barking, I had undoubtably disabused him of that notion. We had turned over the soil, entrenched the fence posts, scrubbed the fridge, vacuumed the house, organized the shed, and painted and hung the new kitchen shelves when we turned rather wearily to each other to face the thought of putting together a meal worthy of celebration.
Luckily, Alex had possessed the good sense earlier in the day to pick up a bag of steamers. They were supposed to have been the primer to a great feast, but we were beyond such fussing at that point; instead we decided to make them the focus. He rinsed them thoroughly, cracked open a growler of Cape Cod Red, poured us each a glass, dumped the rest over the steamers, and left them to soak while we collapsed on the couch for a toast. Several presents (cookbooks, all!), lovely notes, and a half glass of beer later, we were ready to eat. I headed out to the porch to cut a handful of chive batons, and we steamed the sandy clams until just done. Alex lit a pair of beeswax candles, I poured us each a cup of rich salty broth, and we sat down to eat.
The perfectly underdone steamers pulled out of their shells in pieces (as raw clams tend to do) in a delicious array. We dunked the full bellies and rubbery necks into our green-flecked broth, tossed the shells, and within half an hour had packed away the harvest of the day from a Pleasant Bay flat.
BEER-BATHED STEAMERS WITH CHIVE BATONS
Thoroughly rinse 1 lb. steamers. Put in a large soup pot and cover with a dark beer (Cape Cod Red makes an excellent choice). Let soak 1/2 hour. Sprinkle with 8-12 chive shoots, cut into 2-3 inch batons. Steam for 5-10 minutes, or until clams open slightly. Serve hot with a side of broth; dip and enjoy!