I remember once when I was in my twenties, I called my grandpa to see how he was doing. He'd had a few too many, and began to tell me in minute and excruciating detail how they used to get rid of crabs in the Air Force.

Not much renders me mute, but this did. I stood with my back against the kitchen wall, head in hand, wishing I had a giant tub of brain bleach I could pour over my head in a constant stream for 45 minutes. I didn't have the heart to hang up. THIS is what dysfunctional families get you: No pleasant walks into the sunset with milk and cookies after. Just home remedies for STDs delivered in a prairie-accented slur. Such is life.

I know people who've had crabs, and that's rough sluggin'. All this crab-talk came to mind when I was at the grocery store checking out the crab selection to try my hand at Crab Imperial. Turns out, crab is wicked expensive. Being unemployed, I went for pollock, or imitation crab. Not as good, granted, but it'll do the job. Hey, beggars can't be choosers:

Crab Imperial

(from Saveur with my variations)

6 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups cream
1/2-1lb pollock or crab meat
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopping parsley
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/ 1/2 tsp worcestershire
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 green onions, chopped into scallions
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk in cream, and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in crab meat, half the bread crumbs, bell pepper, onion, parsley, juice, worcestershire, half the paprika, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish.

Mix remaining bread crumbs with paprika and pour on top of the crab mixture and top with scallions. Bake until lightly brown and bubbling in the centre, about 30-40 minutes. Serve hot.

Not only is this a terrific dish, it lasts and tastes better once it's sat for awhile. I re-roasted it and it was better the second day. Can also be served with toast alongside. Yum.

Avoid crabs!