1. Archive

Making 'Silver Linings Playbook' crabby snacks and homemades

Jacki Weaver, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and Robert De Niro play parents to Bradley Cooper in the movie. They love the Eagles — and crabby snacks and homemades.
Jacki Weaver, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and Robert De Niro play parents to Bradley Cooper in the movie. They love the Eagles — and crabby snacks and homemades.
Published Feb. 18, 2013

Jacki Weaver, who plays the long-suffering mother and even longer-suffering wife in Silver Linings Playbook, delivered the film's most memorable line in impeccable Philadelphian: "I'm making crabby snacks and homemades!"

I'm 100 percent behind Weaver's nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Even if the role of the peacemaking matriarch was criminally underwritten, Weaver imbued it with humanity.

(We'll find out what the voting members of the motion picture academies think at 7 p.m. Sunday during the Oscars on ABC, WFTS-Ch. 28.)

Crabby snacks and homemades should be at the top of discerning Oscar fans' party menus this year. But those of us who were not raised in Philly must first make a determination: What are crabby snacks and homemades?

Crabby snacks are, to quote the Matthew Quick novel from which Silver Linings Playbook was adapted, "buttered crab meat and orange cheese on English muffins." Homemades are homemade egg pasta. The juxtaposition of these two recipes in Silver Linings Playbook's script echoes the tonal confusion of the film: Where crabby snacks are lowbrow, convenient and highly processed, homemades are old-world, labor intensive and made from scratch. Serving them together makes no sense. And yet here we are.

Crabby snacks sometimes go by other names, like crab bites, crabby bites, or simply crabbies. When I was growing up, they were a staple at my aunt and uncle's annual holiday party, where they were known as crab canapes. The core ingredients of crabby snacks — softened butter, mayonnaise, canned crab meat, and (crucially) Kraft Old English cheese spread — are rather unappetizing when mixed together.

Some recipes for crabby snacks call for parsley or garnishes like tomato and scallions, but such intruders spoil the unnatural purity of the appetizer.

Making pasta from scratch requires another kind of perseverance. First, you must break eggs into a well of flour and beat them without letting them erupt over the sides of the flour like an elementary-school baking-soda volcano. Then you must knead the pasta dough, which is quite a bit stiffer and less pliable than bread dough. It takes a lot of kneading to bring it together into a smooth ball. Don't despair; it will get there eventually.

Crab-coated English muffins should be frozen for at least half an hour to make them more manageable before you cut them into canapes, but you can keep them in the freezer for even longer than that before you broil them. The dough also needs about half an hour resting time before you roll it out. After cutting the pasta, you can spread the strands on baking sheets and let them dry at room temperature for up to a few hours. The longer you let them dry, the longer they'll need to cook — but you're looking at 10 minutes, tops. The flexibility of both recipes leave plenty of time to plan and execute the rest of your Oscar menu, including sauce for the homemades — if you don't go the straight butter-and-Parmesan route, may I suggest vodka sauce or pesto?


  1. A Brinks security guard and a Good Samaritan who came to his aid were shot during a robbery attempt at GTE Financial credit union in Brandon on Friday. [Tony Marrero, Times Staff]
    The search continued into the evening Saturday for the shooter, who is believed to be a serial bank robber.
  2. Hillsborough County Commissioner Kimberly Overman is spearheading anti-human trafficking efforts. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
    The new commission is the latest in a string of initiatives aimed at snuffing out human trafficking ahead of upcoming events like WrestleMania in April and the Super Bowl in 2021.
  3. Hillsborough County Center, located at 601 E Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    The new year will bring a new cast of characters to Hillsborough County politics, from county administrator, tax collector and clerk of courts to a new school superintendent.
  4. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Tampa Bay Times]
    David Walter Engberg, 29, died from his injuries near the intersection of Daughtry Road, troopers said.
  5. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor (far right) and her dog Alcaldesa joined students from Rampello K-8 Magnet School on a Nov. 14 walk across the school's newly-painted crosswalk, located at the intersection of Jefferson and Washington streets in downtown Tampa. [CITY OF TAMPA  |  City of Tampa]
    Hundreds of transportation and public safety advocates from across the country brought their ideas to Tampa for the Safe Routes to School National Conference.
  6. Sally Carlson of Seminole talks to her newly adopted 5-year-old miniature poodle held by Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center volunteer Mary Claire Streator. Potential owners browsed some of the 300 puppies that were put up for adoption Sunday in the gymnasium at All People's Life Center in Tampa. The designer-breed dogs had been rescued from Trish's All Breeds Pet Grooming in Tampa, where they were found sick and malnourished. Prospective owners were chosen out of thousands who applied during a lottery-type system and were able pick out a dog. [LUIS SANTANA   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The animals were found in deplorable conditions at a grooming business in September. Their new owners had 15 minutes to make a selection.
  7. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Tampa Bay Times]
    The fire destroyed one business and damaged others inside a strip mall at the corner of 49th Street South and 1st Avenue South
  8. Chief Veterinarian Mallory Offner examines a female rescue puppy at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center in Tampa. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times]
    With 250 of the pooches ready for adoption, each potential puppy parent has a 1-in-4 shot at getting picked in today’s drawing.
  9. Hillsborough Community College solicited "non-binding letters of interest or intent” last month from developers interested in purchasing the Dr. Gwendolyn W. Stephenson District Administration Center on Davis Islands. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Developers have eyed the 3.7 acre waterfront parcel for years, but recent interest has prompted the college’s trustees to finally start the conversation.
  10. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Pasco firefighters said the blaze broke out at a home in the 3000 block of Thistledown Lane.