Salmon with Dill Sauce (and Kitchen Phobias)

I am normally pretty brave in the kitchen.  After all, if it doesn’t work, it’s not like I have to eat it.  I still might try to choke some of it down, but I always have the option of a good ol’ PB&J if it is just that bad (like the Blueberry Chicken Casserole that I made before I started this blog…uggghhh).

One food that I have remained afraid of is fish.  Part of the problem is that I don’t like many different types of fish (salmon and white fish are it pretty much).  Then, even if it is a Lauren-approved fish, if it is prepared with something that I don’t think should go with fish (cheese, tomatoes, olives, other fish stuffing), I won’t eat that either.  As you can see, I am fussy enough when someone else is making me the fish.

When I am trying to prepare it, I have the third hurdle as well.  Where do I buy it?  What cut do I get?  Will there be all of those little bones?  Is it fresh?  Will my apartment smell like fish for days?

I finally decided (after 3 years of cooking for myself and not making any fish) to face my fear and just go for it.  I saw Claire Robinson make her recipe for Crispy Skin Salmon on the Food Network and thought I would go with that concept.  How can you really mess up broiled salmon?

HINT: When broiling salmon, make sure it doesn’t stick to your oven rack.  It can be messy afterward 😦

I bought a wild salmon filet at the grocery store and went to town!  I made a few changes (as you can see in my recipe).  I replaced tarragon with dill because I couldn’t find tarragon anywhere.  My salmon is also not really “Crispy Skin” because mine had no skin on it when I bought it.  Just think of it as crispy instead!  The sauce is creamy and spicy, a perfect accompaniment to all sorts of dishes.  I bet it would be fabulous with chicken or pork too.  Best of all, because that had such a strong flavor, it drowned out any semblance of a fish smell!

Overall, I feel pretty wonderful that I found a way to make fish.  What are your favorite ways to prepare fish?  What are your biggest kitchen fears?  The world wants to know.

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StoryThyme: On Top of Spaghetti (The Meatballs are the Best Part)

StoryThyme is a celebration of Mother Goose poems, fairy tales, and children’s stories.  In true Hungry Bookworm tradition, I create a foods inspired by these magical texts.

Today’s poem is “On Top of Spaghetti,” made famous by Tom Glazer, who recorded this song on an album in 1963.

On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball
When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table
And onto the floor,
And then my poor meatball
Rolled right out the door!

It rolled in a garden
And under a bush
Now my poor meatball
Was nothing but mush

The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be
Early next summer
It grew into a tree

The tree was all covered
With beautiful moss
It grew lovely meatballs
In a tomato sauce

So if you like spaghetti
All covered with cheese
Hold on to your meatballs
And DON’T EVER SNEEZE!

A-A-A-CHOO !!

Origin:  After doing some searching around on the internet, the main story that keeps coming up is that children at a camp in 1963 invented the lyrics, basing them off of the song, “On Top of Old Smokey.”

Thoughts:  I always thought that the concept of losing a meatball by sneezing was dangerous.  You see, I like my meatballs and I take them very seriously.  If sneezing would make a meatball roll away, well, gosh darn it, I was not going to sneeze at the dinner table.

At the same time, I was fascinated with the adventures of the meatball once it left it’s plate.  If Disney or Pixar wanted to come out with a movie about the adventures of a meatball, I would totally watch it.  In fact, I would wait in line with all of the 5-year-olds to see it in theaters.

Meatballs You Won’t Want to Lose

Now, these are not your traditional meatball, nor to I stick with this recipe every time I make meatballs.  At the same time, they are delicious.  Even the most beef-centric members of your household will like them. 

Ingredients:

  • A big pot of tomato sauce
  • 1.5 lbs of ground turkey meat (I used 99% lean)
  • .5 lbs of italian style turkey sausage
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh cut basil
  • 1 tbsp fresh cut thyme
  • 1/2 cup of chopped grilled vegetables (I had these on hand as leftovers and thought they would add more flavor and nutrition to the meatballs.  You do not have to add these in, but if you have leftovers, chop some up)

Procedure:

  • Get your sauce bubbling away on the stove.
  • Dump every other ingredient into a bowl.
  • Mix together (preferably with your hands).
  • Form in meatballs, however large you want them.
  • Place into sauce to cook.  Because the mixture is so lean, it does not release much fat into the sauce and the meat will practically melt in your mouth once cooked.
  • Place a cover on the pot and cook at medium-low heat for at least 1 hour.
  • Eat, on top of spaghetti, on a sandwich, or with your hands

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson (and Tiny’s Chicken Parmesan)

will grayson meets will grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their worlds will collide and lives intertwine.

-Back Cover

One of the most important ideas that I learned in teacher school is that every single teenager is “at risk.”  Sure, some teens are at more risk than others, but, overall, teens go through a time that I have named the “Self-destructive hormonal tornado” phase.

For some, this phase does not last very long.  They are inherently confident and self-aware.  Others are not so lucky.  Questions like, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and “Who are you taking to prom?” lead to code red lockdowns.

Only once you leave your little microcosym and look out at the world can you begin to see that your problems are not so bad.  Try comparing some of your high school issues with other world issues.

You don’t have the latest fashion v.  Sex trafficking

Crush rejects you v. Bombs destroying your village

Ahhh the beauty of perspective.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, co-written by John Green and David Levithan, delves into this teen angst and shows us two “versions” of Will Grayson.  One version is a straight, middle-class kid trying to coast through life.  The other is a terrified introvert who suddenly realizes that he is gay.  Told in alternating chapters, it is up to the reader to distinguish between these two characters.

Are the two versions of Will Grayson the result of a schitzopherenic episode in an attempt to balance his two personalities?  Are there actually two Will Graysons?  Only time, and the reading of this book, will tell all.

This is a book that has content which is at times difficult to read, yet it is worthwhile for teens (and adults trying to understand teens).  It shows teens that they are certainly not alone when it comes to identity confusion, and even offers up some helpful (but not preachy) solutions to some of the code red level problems.

With that said, it is definitely not my favorite YA book.  That would most likely be this or this.  While I could identify with what the characters were going through, I really did. not. like. any. of. the. characters.  Chances are, I would not be friends with them because they remind me of people who annoy the heck out of me.  Perhaps I don’t have a lot of patience for this since my job description should include listening to teenagers whine, but I got really sick of the amount of moping done in this book.

No, I’m not saying it is easy to be a teenager.  I do think that some tough love does wonders.  Will Grayson(s), stop the whining and do something productive with your time!  Ahhhh!

Tiny’s Chicken Parmesan

Will Grayson’s mother makes a special dinner when he introduces her to his boyfriend, an absolutely giant fellow named (ironically) Tiny.  She is aware that he is a big eater, so she makes the quintissential dish for big eatin’ and elegance- chicken parm.  Tiny LOVES it and his enjoyment of it made me crave some myself. 

There are many ways to make chicken parmesan and I certainly can’t claim that this is the “authentic” or “best” way, but this is the way that I enjoy it the most.  It isn’t health food, but it doesn’t clog your arteries or make your stomach hurt with an insane amount of cheese. 

An additional perk for the busy cook, I make this in less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  Take that Rachel Ray!

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut in half so that you have two thin, and flat pieces of chicken, 4 pieces total
  • 3/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs (I like Panko crumbs)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • Enough oil to fill a pan 1/2 inch (if you are pan frying the chicken)
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • pinch of salt

Procedure:

  • If you are going to bake the chicken breasts, preheat the oven to 450 F.
  • Get out 3 bowls.  In the first, put the flour.  In the second, beat the eggs together with the milk.  In the third, put the bread crumbs and cheese.
  • Set these bowls up as an assembly line, with an empty plate at the other end. Dip the piece of chicken in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumb/cheese mixture.  Shake off the excess and settle it on the plate.
  • Repeat this for all pieces of chicken
  • Once you have completed this, get all of the assembly line materials out of the way, preferably in the sink or dishwasher.
  • If baking, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, lay the chicken out flat and cook for 20 minutes, turning once.
  • If frying, heat the oil in the pan until it sizzles when you drip water into it.  Place the chicken in there and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes.   Once done, take the chicken out of the pan and place it on a paper-lined plate to drain any residual oil.  If you cook the chicken in hot enough oil, the end result will not be oily.
  • Meanwhile, dice up the tomato.  I don’t like the skin of a tomato so I skin it first and then chop it up.
  • When everything is ready, top your chicken with the tomato and serve with a yummy side dish (like the roasted asparagus seen here).

The Prince of Tides (AKA The King of Self-Absorbtion)

Rating: Pear

The Prince of Tides is a novel by Pat Conroy, first published in 1986. It revolves around traumatic events that affected former football player Tom Wingo’s relationship with his immediate family. Tom’s elder brother, Luke, met a tragic and premature death and his sister, Savannah, a published poet, has attempted suicide and is now in a deep depression.

After much thought, I have decided that March is my least favorite of the twelve months.  It doesn’t hold any sort of holiday, my birthday has already come and went, it tricks you into thinking that it might be warm and then it dumps snow on you, AND it just feels looooong. 

Last week, I looked at my calendar and concluded that we were almost out of this dreadful month.  I envisioned April showers and rainbows and the snow disappearing.

Well, guess what.  We are still in this month.  Worse, it seems to have turned April against us as well.  Tomorrow, my area is scheduled to get 8-12 inches of snow.  WHAT?!!! 

Just as I have had bad luck with certain aspects of my life this month, I also have had questionable luck with my book choices.  Continue reading

I’ve Got a (Winter’s) Bone to Pick

Rating: Orange

One activity that is particularly fun to do with students of all ages is something called a Six-word Memoir.  Basically, it is a compilation of six, well-chosen words that represent some sort of larger idea.  Most notably, Ernest Hemingway is said to have written the first one. 

“For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

When asking kids to attempt this assignment, focusing on their own lives, the results range from hilarious to disturbing. 

I have thought of many that would suit me as I teach the concept to students.  The one I fall back on most frequently is the following: I stand tall despite the obstacles.  

What is your six-word memoir?

Winter’s Bone

In Winter’s Bone, our heroine, Ree, manages to sum up her character, the conflict, and the film’s message in seven words.

“Never ask for what oughta be offered”

This film is very much one about pride and how to maintain it even in the worst of conditions.  Pride is one of those intangibles in life that people with die for because to take the easier way would be to disgrace oneself.  We can sit here and argue which way is really the “best,” but it comes back to the question, “What matters more, my opinion of myself or my situation in life?”

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