graduation time is here

GRADUATION = FOOD + CELEBRATION + NOSTALGIA

Ummmmmmm, why are you in the pantry with the door shut,” I asked my son who is in Final exam study mode. “No reason,” he says and opens the door as I hear a wrapper crackling in his front pocket. Well, of course he is pillaging my secret and apparently poorly hidden candy stash.

Truth be told, I don’t mind him taking the candy. I find it amusing that at age 14, he is sneaking a treat just like when he was a little boy. My memories flow like a film reel. I remember holding his hand as we walked through the doors of preschool 11 years ago; his bright blue eyes big as saucers, his palms sweaty and a nervous sideways grin plastered across his face. Everyone says it and it’s so true, “Where did the time go???” Looking at his school photos in chronological order, I am amazed by the transformation that my eyes see and my heart denies.

He is upstairs studying for the last exams of middle school. I don’t even have to peek in to know that his Nikes are thrown off, at least one sock is missing from his feet, he is chewing on a pencil while memorizing facts under his breath, there is no lighting despite very functional desk lamps, and he is watching the clock for the next ESPN sports highlight segment which will be call a “needed” study break.

And I know bittersweet memories like mine are dancing through the minds of parents everywhere this time of year. We will celebrate our graduate next week. A small party with family and close friends is just the ticket. My son chose his Asian inspired Graduation dinner menu from a local caterer, What A Dish, based on his culinary favorites; meat, noodles and lots of sweet teriyaki sauce. For dessert, he chose a simple vanilla cake by Its All About the Cake  with the emblem of his new high school adorning the top. The meal and the day are all about him.

Enjoy your special graduation day. Maybe you are the host. Maybe you are a guest. And maybe you are remembering your own graduation. Savor and celebrate it all.

To see our favorite graduation party appetizers, scroll down to check out Cashmere Apron’s Ultimate Nachos, Coconut Shrimp and homemade Roasted Corn Guacamole!

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coconut shrimp

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Ingredients
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
2 cups dry breadcrumbs
kosher salt and ground pepper
2 cups all purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Dipping sauce
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1-2 Tb dark rum

vegetable oil, for frying

Directions
In a large bowl, combine coconut and breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper. Place flour, eggs, and breadcrumb mixture into 3 separate bowls. Dredge the shrimp in the flour and shake off excess. Dip the shrimp into the eggs then into the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure the shrimp are well coated with the breadcrumbs and coconut. Lay the shrimp out so that they do not touch on a parchment-lined baking sheet until ready to fry. In a fryer or a large Dutch oven, heat several inches of oil to 350 degrees. Fry shrimp in batches until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

For the dipping sauce: heat the marmalade in a small saucepan over low heat. Thin out the marmalade with the rum as desired. Serves 6 to 8.

Cooked to perfection