If you're looking for a good recipe for, say, cashew chicken or an excellent sour cream coffee cake, the odds are you wouldn't think to pop down to your local lifeguard station.
Unless you happen to be in Laguna Beach, that is.
There, the head lifeguard is a Cordon Bleu graduate and the troops are so into cooking that someone has finally compiled their favorite dishes and published them.
It's called "Cookin' on the Coast, Recipes of the Laguna Beach Lifeguards," and it's available for $10 at the lifeguard headquarters and at any number of shops throughout the community. Proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Program, according to authors Pam Strayer and Stephanie Cunningham.
The 90-odd selections literally run from the ridiculous to the sublime, from "hand salad" and "manifold oysters" to an exquisite coquilles St. Jacques.
Hand salad ingredients are lettuce, tomato and dressing. Instructions are to "protrude left hand forward with palm facing upwards. Place one slice of tomato over lettuce. Pour dressing over the above." It is also suggested that you eat the salad "while standing over sink area."
Manifold oysters' ingredients are listed as "oysters, hot engine block, salt and butter" and the reader is told to "take as many oysters as you and your honey can manage. . . . Place them on a hot manifold. Ideally, drive 5 to 10 miles to the next fishing hole. Gather oysters from manifold. Salt and butter to taste."
The book profiles the lifeguard chief, Bruce Baird, and a number of the others who contributed recipes (they include three women), and provides some historical information on the department.
And while the authors obviously had a lot of fun with the book, its contents--like its goal of raising money for scholarships--are mostly quite serious.
BRUCE BAIRD'S MAIN BEACH CLAM CHOWDER
3 medium potatoes
3 stalks celery
3 medium onions
1 6 1/2-ounce can chopped clams
1 bottle clam juice
1/2 quart milk
Salt, pepper, thyme to taste
Dice potatoes, celery and 2 of the onions and place in pot just big enough to allow them to be covered by water. Open can of clams and drain off juice. Save both. Get out second pot large enough to hold 2 quarts of additional liquid. Now very finely mince remaining onion. Open bottle of clam juice and mix with juice saved from can of clams. Mix together 1 heaping tablespoon of flour and equal amount of butter or oil.
Now turn on two burners.
On burner No. 1, place small pot with potatoes, onion and celery. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer. On burner No. 2, place second pot. Add flour, butter and minced onions, stirring and heating until onions are translucent. Add clam juice and stir vigorously. As liquid thickens, add milk, a little at a time. Continue stirring until liquid will glaze spoon. Lower heat and simmer. Drain contents of first pot and add to milk-clam juice mixture. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Now add clams and remove pot from heat. Let sit a few minutes before serving.