July 26, 2012

Mr. Bear Wants to Move to Australia
(+ Peach-Bourbon BBQ Shrimp)

I’m a curious gal.  I love to travel.  And under the right conditions, it might even be possible to persuade me to move overseas.  Imagine the adventures.  Imagine the food.  But in my imagination, there’s always air conditioning.  In Mr. Bear’s imagination, on the other hand, there’s usually a rainforest, a horde of vampire bats, a stolen idol and an appalling lack of turn-down service.

He’s never been able to give a satisfactory explanation of this phenomenon, but I’m willing to bet that if we could plumb the depths of his brain, the phrase “real men” might be floating around there somewhere.  As in “Real men can protect their families from man-eating lions” and “Real Men punch sharks.”  Not a lot of opportunities for that kind of thing at Colonial Williamsburg.  Given the choice, I’d rather go with fewer real men and fewer wild animals trying to eat me on my vacation, but that’s where we agree to disagree.

Now, some of the places that Mr. Bear habitually suggests for vacations are probably very nice places.  But since the only information he’s ever given me about them are phrases like “Did you know that there are over 40 kinds of scorpions there that can kill a man?” I tend to reject them outright whenever the subject comes up.  But I can compromise.  Here, for example, are a number of foreign countries in which I’d be very content to live, and some compelling reasons why:

  Italy.  Mmmm risotto.  
France.  Mmmm crepes.
Germany.  Mmmm wurst. 

Are you seeing what these places have in common?  That’s right.  None of them are Australia.

Mr. Bear returned from a job fair today, made three or four general comments about the event, and then dropped in, with a sort of feigned casualness, this comment:   “There were a few representatives from Australian companies there.  Apparently they’re always really excited to get American recruits.”

You cannot fool me, Mr. Bear.  I know you’ve been planning that sentence for hours.  I noticed that furtive look you gave me as you said it.  And don’t think I didn’t notice that you brought home toilet paper and milk without me even asking.  I’m on to you.

Of course they’re always excited to get American recruits.  It must be fabulous to acquire an employee who hasn’t yet realized that his first priority should be getting out of Australia.  Who doesn’t realize the basically constant danger of death or mauling by sharks, scorpions, and koalas.

Stop laughing. 

You wouldn’t be laughing if you’d ever seen their claws up close.  It’s not okay.  Plus, when they mate, the male secretes a chemical that seals her hoo up so nobody else can get up in there.  I am not living in a country where this is happening, possibly outside my very kitchen window.  No sir.  No amount of vegemite is going to save that breakfast.

“Only one of them was a mining company,” he says reassuringly.  “The rest were from regular, safe industries.”

Regular, safe industries that require a constant influx of warm American bodies to replace the ones destroyed by sharks, snakes, scorpions, dingoes, tarantulas, bats and chupacabras.  Wait.  Chupacabras is Mexico.  But you get my point.  Who has time to worry about mines collapsing when you’re already on the lookout for ankle-gnawing rabid wombats?  And the platypi?  Poison leg spikes, my friend.

“But there’s surfing!”  he says.


“And you like kangaroos!”

From a distance, Mr. Bear.  Not when they’re eating my cat.

“I don’t think they’re carnivores…” he muses doubtfully.

I watch PBS, Mr. Bear.  How did you think I knew about the hoos?  Trust me.  Bloodthirsty sproingy bastards.

And then he throws down his A-Bomb.  Clearly, he thinks he’s got me.  “But foreign cuisine,” he says.  “Imagine being able to learn an entire new cuisine!”

But I am not so easily manipulated, Mr. Bear.  The library is full of foreign cookbooks.  In fact, dinner tonight?

Pow!  Shrimp on the Barbie.  Check and Mate, Mr. Bear.

Peach-Bourbon BBQ Shrimp
by Todd Wilbur 

Okay, this isn't really Australian.  It's my adaptation of Wilbur's copycat rendition of a Red Lobster recipe...well, at some point, it just gets too complicated to worry about. The shrimp are wrapped in bacon, grilled, and then brushed with a peach-bourbon glaze.  They're pretty darned fabulous.  And good enough to distract your husband into agreeing to exhaust your European vacation bucket list before heading further south.

Vegetable Oil  [ 1 teaspoon ]
Onion  [ diced,  ¼ cup ]
Peach Preserves   [ 1 ¼ cups ]
Dark Brown Sugar  [ ¼ cup ]
Ketchup  [ ¼ cup ]
Bourbon [ 1 tablespoon ]
Salt  [ ¼ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ]
Black Pepper  [ coarsely ground, ¼ teaspoon ]
Chipotle Chile Powder  [ ¼ teaspoon ]
Garlic Powder  [ 1/8 teaspoon ]

Bacon  [ 12 slices ]
Large Shrimp  [ 12 ]

1.   In a small pot over Medium-Low heat, warm Oil.  

2.   Add Onion to Oil and saute until onion begins to turn brown, about 2-3 minutes.

3.   Add Peach Preserves, Dark Brown Sugar, Ketchup, Bourbon, Salt, Black Pepper, Chipotle Powder, and Garlic Powder to pot.  Whisk and heat until mixture bubbles. 

4.   Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, until thick, about 10 minutes.

5.   Preheat indoor grill to High.

6.   In a pan over Medium-Low heat, cook Bacon partially.  The goal is to cook the strips as much as possible while having them remain pliant enough to wrap around the shrimp.
  Set aside on paper towels.

7.   Shell and de-vein Shrimp.

8.   Wrap 1 slice Bacon around each Shrimp, spiral-fashion.  This may or may not go smoothly.  Do the best you can.  Remember that it's shrimp and bacon.  Anyone who's coming for dinner is going to forgive you an uneven wrapping job.  Thread shrimp onto a skewer, piercing twice for stability.  Make sure skewer goes through both ends of the bacon, so that shrimp stays wrapped.  Repeat until all shrimp are wrapped and skewered.

9.   Place skewers on grill.  Cook, turning once, until bacon is cooked through and shrimp are just opaque.

10.  Remove from grill and brush with Peach-Bourbon Sauce.  Serve with lots of napkins.

[Notes:I own a nonstick countertop grill, so that's what I used.  If you have an 
actual grill, go for it - but I can't help you with the procedure.  If using wooden 
skewers instead of metal, soak them in cold water for 20 minutes or so before using.]


  1. OMG, I am hysterically...and I didn't know that about Koalas....really? Lordy, yeah forget that place! You can keep making your awesome shrimp here...where it's safe.

  2. Yeah, I need to stop watching nature shows. I always walk away traumatized.... :)

  3. I discovered cooking with bourbon this year and love it. This sounds very delicious... I know I would love it and eat the whole batch!

    1. Yeah, ours disappeared pretty much instantaneously. I was actually pretty grateful that the bacon-wrapping process is sort of time-consuming: it kept me from wrapping and then devouring all the shrimp in the house. :)

  4. lol! :D I get excited just by saying "Australia," never mind the pros. I say go for it!
    These peach-bourbon bbq shrimp look amazing...I can see you making this kind of stuff on a daily basis. ;)

    1. I have to be honest - if someone offered me an Australian vacation, I'd snap that right up. I'm sure it's an awesome place. The Mr.'s suggestion just came waaaay too soon after we watched an extremely freaky episode of "Nature." :)