Sometimes there comes one of those times when all of my neuroses and stressors and fears bubble up and boil over here, and I write a heavy post and I cover my eyes and hit “Publish” and wait for the scolding that I’m sure will ensue. And then all of you are so sweet and kind and supportive, leaving nice comments and sending encouraging emails, and then I feel so lucky and loved and—dare I say it?—NORMAL again.
It’s a beautiful thing. Truly.
Until the next day… when I realize that a post like that and the resultant outpouring of support is a very tough act to follow. Because really, what’s a reasonable follow-up to the laid-bare frustration of wondering if I have somehow completely ruined my children? The mood must be lightened, but is it somehow sacrilegious to do so?
It’s the closest I ever come to Writer’s Block, actually. (I don’t believe in Writer’s Block, in case you didn’t know. I think saying “I have Writer’s Block” is like saying “I am starving to death!” while standing in front of a buffet. That’s not a problem; that’s an indecision. Whatever. Make a choice and move on.)
Otto and I have a standard schtick about awkward conversational lulls. I think one of his friends started it. Basically, when all conversation halts and everyone is looking at their shoes trying to figure out how to recover from whatever uncomfortable thing just happened, you just jump on the old standby—talking about sports. Except that we’re really not big sports fans. So it kind of goes like this:
“Hey, how about that… game! That’s played by… that team! With a ball!”
Try it next time you need to recover from a conversation-stopping weirdness. It really does help, even if only because someone is bound to laugh.
Anyway, that’s sort of how I feel today. HOW ‘BOUT THAT GAME! WITH THE BALL! SEE THAT ONE? ME NEITHER!
So in the absence of a graceful transition I will share a couple of things I learned in the kitchen recently, because I like to be helpful and also because they are YUMMY and involve SUGAR. What I lack in smooth segues I shall make up in DELICIOUS CALORIES.
Okay, so the first thing is that a couple of weeks ago I looked up a new marinade recipe for salmon because I was tired of the same old thing, and I can’t find that recipe now but I do remember that it required cooking the marinade. And when I first found it, I was all “Are you JOKING? I have to COOK before I COOK? That’s stupid.” But the recipe looked good and so I went ahead and did it. It was no big deal, really—just throw the marinade ingredients on the stove top, briefly, let it cool, then pour it over the fish.
It was quite yummy. Then yesterday I decided to try YET ANOTHER marinade recipe (possibly because I’d forgotten to bookmark the first one?), and I decided on this one. But then I thought—I wonder if heating the marinade beforehand so all the flavors can meld is actually a good idea in general? I decided that it probably was. So I made that recipe, but warming the concoction on the stove before cooling and putting on the fish, and OH MY GOSH SO GOOD. So that’s my first piece of wisdom to share: If making a marinade with multiple ingredients, consider heating it all up together, first. I think it brings out the flavors a lot more.
(Digression: Our dinner guest last night made mention of usually doing the South Beach Diet, then complimented me on how delicious the fish was. I of course immediately opened up my mouth and inserted my foot up the kneecap: “Ah, yes, well that would be the MAPLE SYRUP you’re tasting, I’ll bet. You know, the SUGAR. I’m sure that’s totally South Beach approved! Oh, wait. Um. Hey! Brown rice! That’s allowed, right?”)
The second thing is that in my never-ending quest to use all of the basil I keep growing, I found a recipe for a basil-lime sorbet that I decided to make for dessert.
It goes like this: Heat a cup of water and a cup-and-a-quarter of sugar on the stove until the sugar dissolves. Pour the resultant simple syrup into your blender, add 3/4 cup of fresh-squeezed lime juice and 20 basil leaves, puree it within an inch of its life. Cool mixture and then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
After I made it I poked around online and realized that this concoction was most often being used as a palate-cleanser inbetween other courses, rather than as a dessert. This perplexed me, because I will happily eat anything lime-flavored as a dessert any time, anywhere, because I do love lime, Sam-I-Am. But okay. That clued me in that maybe I needed to think about this a bit more.
In the end, I served the sorbet for dessert as a single scoop in a bowl, surrounded by a ring of strawberry slices. The two tastes together were lovely, and it’s probably sort of impressive-looking, too, even though it’s a very easy thing to put together. Plus, it’s more interesting than just fruit, but less decadent than just sorbet or ice cream. I give it an A+ as a summer dessert.
So there you go. Apparently my version of THAT GAME with A BALL always comes back to sugar. It’s a little more socially acceptable than drinking heavily, at least.