Something To Tide You Over

Hello all.  There’s a pun there in the title.  See if you can find it by the end of the post.

I have been MIA, I know.  There have been some, er, events in my life over the last few weeks (some good, some terrible) that have kept me from posting.  I’m working on a post now about one of them which I hope to have for you next week.  Right now, I want to give you a recipe that comes from the other coast.  As the result of one event, I spent some time in Seattle last week.  Our first night there, my cousin and her husband made us the most delicious salmon I have ever had.  Ever.  It’s the right season, we were in the right place and they prepared it just the right way.  Even my picky eater daughter ate it.

Plus, it counts as a family recipe since it comes from my wonderful cousin and her wonderful husband.  They’re a nice blend of cultures- she’s Irish-Jewish and he’s Chinese-American.  Talk about yummy food.

Ingredients

Salmon, the best you can find!

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup or brown sugar

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Special Equipment:  cedar plank (but if you don’t have one, don’t worry)

Directions

If you have a cedar plank, use it.  Otherwise, layer some tin foil and crimp the edges to that there’s a lip.  Place it on a sheet pan and then place the fish on it.  Pour the oil over the fish and sort of smear it around with your fingers. Do the same with the syrup.  Sprinkle the garlic over and then salt and pepper.

Heat your grill on high.  I suppose you could do this in the oven as well.  Once it’s good and hot, place the fish on the foil on the grill.  Turn your heat down to medium or so.  Grill for about ten minutes.  Try not to scarf it all down at once.

What’s that?  What should you serve with it?  Oh, ok.

I was in a seafood mood so I served mine with shrimp.  The best, easiest way to make shrimp is from Ina Garten.  I used frozen shrimp (kind of a crime given how close to the ocean I am but so be it) which I defrosted by running them under cool water.

Once they were defrosted, I peeled off the shells and then put them on a sheet pan.  I tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper just to coat them.  Then I roasted them for 5-6 minutes at 400 degrees.

I’m sorry, say that again?  Oh, you want a vegetable, too?  Fine.  Be that way.  I sautéed some minced garlic in olive oil and then added some baby spinach I had washed and dried.  Or, rather, my kitchen sous chef had dried.


In the end, this was my dinner and it was so. good.  The salmon was sweet and savory.  The shrimp were seasoned just right so that their sweetness came through and the spinach was the right counterpoint to all the rich, fishy flavor.  In fact, I kind of want this very meal again. Right now.

This little guy wanted some too but he can’t have any yet.  He’s just starting cereal, though, and quite enjoys it.

So, did you catch the pun?  Something to tide you over???  Ocean, seafood, tides….

I know, I know.  Sorry.

End of the Year

This vacation week has just flown by and I have no idea where the time went. Part of it was sucked into napping with the toddler (both because I am entering my last few weeks of pregnancy and so am exhausted and HUGE, and because the poor babe came down with either pneumonia or bronchitis- they couldn’t tell which- and so has been needing extra mummy snuggles) and part of it was spending time with those I love and rarely see.  It’s been nice but I haven’t done a whole lot of cooking.  I had wanted to blog about the yummy caramel popcorn I hinted at here but when I made it again this morning, I forgot to photograph.  Sorry.  Another time.  I also meant to try this sweet potato spoonbread from Lady Gouda but while I have the sweet potatoes in my fridge, I just haven’t had time.

Instead, I will leave you with a few thoughts on New Year’s Foods, so that you can get ready for the next year.

Jewish Tradition is to eat something sweet at the New Year (Rosh Hashannah).  There’s a lot of honey involved.  Honey Cake is the most common use, along with dipping apples in honey.

Chinese Tradition is to eat foods that have symbolic shape or have names which sound like the words for fortune or luck.  For example, Sticky Rice Cakes have symbolic significance on many levels. Their sweetness symbolizes a rich, sweet life, while the layers symbolize rising abundance for the coming year. Finally, the round shape signifies family reunion.  Noodles represent a long life- they say it’s bad luck to cut them.  I’d say make the Asian Chicken Soup and add some looooong noodles.

Spanish (as in Spain and the former Spanish and Portuguese Colonies such as Venezuela) tradition asks that you consume 12 grapes at midnight, one at each stroke of the clock, each representing the coming months.  The goal is to swallow all the grapes by the last stroke of midnight.  I was only in 5th grade when we spent Christmas and New Year’s in Caracas but I distinctly remember this tradition and how hard it was- I’m pretty sure I didn’t swallow all of them.

Southern U.S. tradition says that you should eat black-eyed peas- dried beans which, when re-hydrated and cooked, swell to resemble coins- for good luck and fortune.  This year I’ll be making the Hippo’s Black Eyed Peas and Sausage.

Round cakes, sometimes with things hidden in them (such as a whole almond) are often used as well to bring good fortune to the new year.  The person who has the thing in their piece of cake is said to be blessed with an upcoming lucky year.  I would favor this chocolate cake from Epicurious.com and maybe add an almond or other large-ish whole nut for the lucky find.

Lots of people go swanky for new year’s eve.  If that’s your fancy, you could try the elegant and easy salad from Lady Gouda, beef wellington, roasted root veggies and an impressive looking but easy to make dessert like this one.  If you’d rather go comfort, you could always try  Chicken Stew With Biscuits,  Italian Wedding Soup, African Chicken Soup or some kind of fish like this one or this one– fish are also considered a lucky food to eat.  For comfort desserts you can’t beat chocolate in any form- cookies, cake, pudding…. maybe just have a chocolate meal?  (And suddenly, an idea for a blog post is born!  Perhaps in the new year, around my grandmother’s birthday as she loved chocolate even more than I do!)

And, according to Epicurious.com:

In addition to the aforementioned lucky foods, there are also a few to avoid. Lobster, for instance, is a bad idea because they move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks. Chicken is also discouraged because the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Another theory warns against eating any winged fowl because good luck could fly away.

This year, like last, I’ll be celebrating the new year with my daughter while my husband works.  This year, unlike last, my husband will be home before midnight so he’ll continue the tradition passed on by his family of having a male be the first person to enter the house for the new year.  He’ll throw on some shoes at midnight, walk out to the sidewalk, look around, and come back into the house.  Exciting, no?
I won’t be making any resolutions this year and my hope for the coming year is to have a healthy, happy baby boy (who, please, oh please, comes on or after his due date so that I can be as ready as possible) and to continue working together with my husband to be the best parents we can, the best partners we can and the best people we can.
I would like to post more in the new year but am not sure how realistic that might be, given the new baby.  We shall see.  I love the comments I get here, both from those I know and those I know through the internet. I always feel lucky when others read here, so thank you!  My goal is to post more Grandma recipes along with stories celebrating her life and our family.
Regardless of what you eat, how you celebrate or what resolutions you make, I wish you all a coming year filled with laughter, love, peace, joy and delicious food.

Bits and Pieces

So, what to do when food is the enemy, your time is limited and your father is in town visiting for a week?

Actually, food is no longer the enemy for me, I seem to have figured out what/how much/when to eat so that my blood sugar is under control and the nausea seems to have subsided for now.  I can’t do much about the heartburn, thank you third trimester.  My time also isn’t as limited as it could be- I am finally, somewhat caught up at work so that I don’t have a mountain of testing reports to write.  Instead, I have a number of kids to test and an equal number of reports to write.  But my father is here visiting for the week and so the free time I have, I want to spend with him.

Playing with her Choo-Choos and Grandpa.

So, I did meal plan for the week and will give you the run down.  I also did a bunch of prep for the week.  And I’m thinking about holiday baking already.  It’s a big day.

Tonight we’re having Asian Chicken Soup.  I’ve baked off the chicken for it, using some salt and some Chinese Five Spice Powder.

Monday we’re havingFalafel and salad.  Tuesday we’ll be eating fish and veggies (or chicken and veggies if you’re my dad).  Wednesday is squash mac and cheese, for which I roasted the squash today.

Thursday is quiche and Friday is african chicken soup.  What can I say?  I’m on a soup kick.

I also made cookie dough today which I will roll into logs and freeze so that a few days before December vacation I can slice them, bake them off and come into school a hero.  I made chocolate peanut butter chip* and an experiment of chocolate peppermint.  Same chocolate dough, but with peppermint extract and crushed peppermint candies.

So there you have it, my week in food.  I promise more exciting posts to come but for now, this will have to do.  I have toddlers with whom I need to play and fathers with whom I need to visit.

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*As I went looking for the link to the recipe, I realized I’ve never posted it, which is shocking!  I’ll post it here but 1) I have no photos and 2) credit goes to the back of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chip bag.  Every time I make it, I think, “That’s a lot of sugar, I should cut back, I bet it doesn’t need that much.” and every time I make it, I never do.  So, you decide how you want to roll.

Chocolate Cookie

Ingredients

2 cups white flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups butter (about 2 1/2 sticks), soft but not melted

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or peppermint if you’re doing what I did)

1 bag peanut butter chips  (or about 1 bag crushed peppermint candies)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment or silpat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until combined and fluffy.  Add eggs and the extract you’re using and mix again.  Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture- it will be messy.  Reese’s bag says to do it in several parts, I always dump it in, as my approach to baking really is pretty loose.  Stir in the chips or peppermints.

Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake 8-9 minutes.  Leave some space between them as the will spread and puff up while baking. They will then also fall a bit when you take them out, which is ok.

 

Fresh Fish Fast

As I’ve stated before, my grandmother often made fish.  Surprisingly, I don’t think she ever made it the way I’m about to explain.  I’m not sure why- this was possibly the fastest recipe I’ve ever used and it was totally delicious!  Also, quite healthy.  It’s a technique I’ve read about and I think it can be used with chicken as well.  I got this one from the Legal’s Seafood Cookbook but it does seem like a flexible recipe.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Oven-Steamed Cod with Vegetables

Based on a recipe from the New Legal Sea foods Cookbook

Ingredients

1 1/2- 2 lbs cod fillets (but will work with just about any mild white fish)

6 ounces broccoli

4 ounces mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced sweet marjoram, basil or parsley

salt

pepper

1 tablespoon butter

aluminum foil

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Tear off a large sheet of aluminum foil, large enough to hold the fish and veggies in a packet.

Place the fish in the middle of the foil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Chop up your veggies and cover the fish with them.  Really pile them on.  I started with the broccoli.

I added a few halved cherry tomatoes as well as some garlic. I really just threw them all on top, sort of willy-nilly.

Season this with salt and pepper as well as the spices you’re using.  I’ll be honest, I forgot the marjoram and it was still good!  Fold the foil over to start creating a packet for the fish. Fold the left side over and then the right.

Continue by folding the bottom up and over the two sides. I did it sort of like wrapping a gift.

Pull it up and sort of seal it.

Repeat with the top so that you end up with a fully wrapped package of fish and vegetables.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.  I had a bit more fish than the recipe called for so it took longer for mine to cook.  The veggies will be crisp-tender and the fish will be succulent and, well, just plain yummy.

Be careful when you unwrap your fishy present, the steam will be very hot (duh) and will come rushing out.  I served mine over rice but it would be equally good over couscous or maybe small pasta.