Confession No. 141 — Dear New Owners (Recipe: Sous Vide Bay Scallop Scampi)

May 12, 2017

Dear New Owners,

As you read this, you’re probably surrounded by labeled boxes. A spring swarm of crane flies might also have blindly followed you inside. Perhaps you even have noticed a gecko or two near the front porch. They’ve always liked it there, and we enjoyed watching them through our years on Chestnut Lane.

We sat on that front porch many hours, winding down from our day as our children tossed a Frisbee, kicked soccer balls and laughed with other neighborhood children on our front lawn. We sat on the patio as well, as they jumped for hours on the trampoline … or kicked with all their might to swing higher.

You wouldn’t believe how many times we heard “Mom and Dad, watch this!” in that backyard. We also spent many hours chasing fireflies out there. And watching hot air balloons sail over.

In your new home, we celebrated many milestones, including two ‘Sweet Sixteens,’ a high school graduation and the birth of a child. On normal nights there, we listed to the sounds of young clarinet, flute and French horn players. Of course, we’ve also heard plenty of arguing between siblings … and complaints about homework or dinner.

The front (den) was known for many years as the ‘red room.’ Should you decide to knock out a wall, you’ll see why. It took six coats of paint. Notice it’s the only area with wood floors? Plug in a Wii, put on your socks and have a bowling match with the family, and you’ll understand why.

That room also hosted at least 30 Cub Scout den meetings and more than a dozen Christmas mornings. The ‘red room’ was our happy room.

You might be tempted to remove the pomegranate tree along the driveway. It’s yours to do with what you want, but just know that it produces the sweetest most beautiful fruit. Those old pecan trees in the backyard produce plenty too, but don’t get your hopes up. The neighborhood squirrels always managed to beat us to the crop. As for those clumps of Texas Spiderlily plants clustered here and there, they’ve been around the neighborhood for a long time. You’ll notice similar patches in neighboring lawns — evidence that people have shared bulbs through the years.

Our dreams led us to the Chestnut Lane home. We won’t forget the excitement of signing all of those many documents to make the place ours. We hope that you experienced similar joy, and that you are able to create memories there, just as we did.


Adam and Catherine Holland


I recall a few first meals in my new homes through the years. In 1977, after moving back to northeast Texas from Corpus Christi, we noshed at the now mostly-defunct Alfie’s Fish n’ Chips. One of my first meals as a new resident of the Jimmy Rockford was at a place where you pick your fresh fish and they cook it for you. There seems to be an ongoing theme, because my first real cooking at the yet-to-be named house we recently bought involved bay scallops and my sous vide contraption.

Bay scallops, in my experience, taste like their much larger sea scallop brethren but otherwise resemble ocean-flavored pencil erasers. Even restaurants tend to serve them tough. Enter the sous vide — a machine that gently cooks to the temperature of my choosing — and bay scallops go from the dirty floor-scrubbing biddy to the belle of the ball.

Flavorful. Buttery. Melting. And a perfect excuse to make scampi.

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Sous Vide Bay Scallop Scampi

Bay scallop scampi over pasta

Bay Scallop Scampi – Prepared with sous vide, these little jewels are like butter

Bay Scallop Scampi
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Seafood
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb – Bay scallops
  • 4 TB – Butter
  • 2 TB – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ cup – Dry white wine
  • 4 – Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TB – Parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp – Lemon zest, freshly grated
  • ¼ cup – Lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Cook the scallops
  1. Place scallops in freezer-grade zip-close bag, or alternatively a pressure seal bag.
  2. Seal the bags with a pressure sealer (if using), or by using the water displacement method, if you're using zip-close bags.**
  3. Cook at 125ºF (51.7C) for 40 minutes.
Make the sauce
  1. Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Add olive oil; raise heat to medium-high.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add white wine, lemon zest and juice; simmer for about 4-5 minutes, until sauce has reduced by half.
  5. Add parsley.
  6. Adjust seasoning with Kosher salt and freshly ground Black Pepper.
  7. Remove scallops from bag, dry slightly with a paper towel, then pour scampi sauce over them.
  8. Serve immediately over pasta (we prefer angel hair with this recipe).
**- Unless you own a pro-grade sealer, this dish is better suited for zip-close bags. To remove the air from the bag, close all but a small portion of it, then slowly lower it into the water bath until the air is displaced. Seal. (If the bag floats, you still have air in it. Try again.)



  1. Kath the Cook says:

    This sounds delicious! Must try.
    From the reader that nagged about the St. Joseph’s statue at your recently sold!! house, I offer congratulations and best wishes for happy times at the new place. Hope the move out of the camper happens soon!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Kath. St. Joseph happens to be buried just beyond the back patio. It would be interesting to know whether they ever find it while pulling weeds, planting a garden, etc. The Jimmy Rockford sits in the driveway of a home we just bought. It’s an interesting home indeed. More to come.

  2. What a sweet letter you wrote the new homeowners! I’m glad to see you bought a sous vide, too! And why didn’t I think of cooking bay scallops with it?? That’s going on my list quite soon.

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Kathryn. In fact, your pot roast experiment helped me with my own, and also inspired the bay scallops. I mean, $6 for a pound of bay scallops isn’t so cheap when they’re tough like rubber. But now? Oh, my!

  3. Such a sweet letter for the new family to receive! Incredibly thoughtful of you to do it.

    I swear – you are making me want one of those sous vide contraptions more and more!

    • adamjholland says:

      First, thank you for your kind words. I wanted one of those sous vide things when they were sold as a big counter top unit at $600-900. I held back, then moved into an RV (no room for such a machine anyway). The sous vide wands started flooding the market and I watched … and watched. I actually placed my unit in my Amazon cart and just left it there … World’s Best Wife/Mom saw it and ordered it, and it showed up under the Christmas tree. I know you are always looking for a bargain. When you consider that such a machine will turn a $2.99 per lb. (bottom round) roast into something that melts in your mouth like the much more expensive top sirloin or even rib roast, or buttery soft (cheap) bay scallops, or even white meat chicken that stays juicy and tender (I usually hate white meat) — this machine pays for itself. Plus, it’s easy and doesn’t heat up the house. Oh! It also does a dandy job on prime grade beef too. Tastes better than the stuff at Ruth’s Chris.

  4. It’s obviously been a while since I’ve dropped by and looks like I missed a lot! Congrats on selling. (What a bittersweet letter….)

  5. What a lovely letter, Adam! I wish we all had letters like this to welcome us to our new homes… It means a lot (to some of us) to know the history of the place where we lay our heads at night. Here’s wishing you all the best in your yet-to-be named house, and many opportunities to enjoy wonderful dishes like this delicious bay scallop scampi! Yum!

    • adamjholland says:

      I appreciate your kind words, Michele. We learned about our current digs through the wayback machine. The neighbors must think we are insane, because we’ve had tree people, pool installers and carpenters here for the past week. And we only plan to live here for two years. (Someone, once again, will get a fine deal on a house.) — The bay scallops are reason enough to buy a sous vide wand. But medium-rare sirloin that cooked for 8 hours (last night’s dinner) also isn’t a bad reason. Nine dollars a pound vs. the 17 dollars for my favorite cut.

  6. I have to tell you that I love this letter. So often I find myself reflecting on our house as if it was a person. Through good times and bad, it has remained the place we hang our hat. What a gift this letter must have been. Now it’s on to new memories and it sounds like you already have quite a few!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Abbe. I believe Catherine was more attached to the physical structure than me. My attachment is more along the lines of what took place there. And yes, we have some new — very interesting — memories. I’m writing about them as we speak.

  7. Adam,

    What a beautiful thoughtful letter. It moved me to tears and hit me smack dab in the feels. We’ve facing the inevitability of leaving the home we’ve occupied since 1996 to move closer to our daughter and grandchildren. This house is one big ol’ memory factory for me. When that time comes, I pray I handle it as gracefully and graciously as you.

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Jackie. You will always have those memories, and perhaps you should write them down while they are fresh and occupying your mind. Meanwhile, I’m sure you are excited for the memories you’re about to create in your next home. Godspeed.

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