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.
Okay, frankly, basil-lime sorbet sounds impossibly weird (and frankly kind of gross), but I once thought that about carrot and apple soup and it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted, so obviously I should just be quiet and try things before I go being all judgemental about them. Hey, kind of like what I tell my kids to do ALL THE TIME.
Good recipes are definitely the blog equivalent of something shiny – completely distracting and entirely entertaining.
Also – try salmon with orange juice. V good. Live in Alaska for 3 years – does wonders for your salmon recipes! (Ask me about pickled salmon, go on…)
oooh, I like the sound of that marinade. I’m going to use it.
I’ve been making pesto like a madwoman. Also basil ice cream, which isn’t as weird as you’d think! Let me know if you’d like the recipe and I’ll dig it out.
Hmm. Maybe I should have read this one /before/ Cornered Office. I had the strangest feeling of already having read the “last page” here… ;)
PS, pesto freezes beautifully.
Well, sugah, you are in the south now, and those of use from the south do love our sugah. (as in sweet tea) I am in Arizona now, and there is no such thing as sweet tea, but a restaurant near me does have the best basil-orange vinaigrette salad dressing. Oh, and thank yu Ruthwells for letting me know I can freeze pesto. I think I am a pesto-aholic.
You are wonderful! I was looking for a way to cook salmon and this is perfect. Thank you!
Talking about food always works wonders, because really, who does not like food?
That salmon marinade sounds so good. I need to try it.
Also, I made the cucumber gazpacho you talked about last week, and oh my good God it was divine. Thanks for the recipes!
Apparently I generally say “So…” when there’s a conversation lull, and I did it enough that a college roommate of mine started to sing “A needle pulling thread…” ala The Sound of Music, so that is now our conversation lull filler! Try it!
I am totally going to try that marinade. On some tofu. :) Will report back!
Where’s the recipe for the sorbet!? I think that might be a good substitution for Key-Lime pie (okay, at least a less heart-attack inducing, cholesterol, fat laden substitute…)
You can actually make Pesto Salmon and it is delicious! Just spread the pesto on top of the salmon top with some parmesean or romano and broil or put on the BBq for about 25-30 min depending on how thick. I serve this with what we call in our house weed salad (field greens) and then make a basil tomato vinagarette. YUM!
Long time lurker
sorry, i just realized the whole recipe is there. I figured there had to be more, it sounds so easy…
We’ve a similar line for those awkward situations – though we’re now using the line from Sense and Sensibility about “The roads have been very nice, lately, haven’t they?” Whatever works at times, yes?
Karen, not only does basil freeze beautifully, but you can freeze it in ice cube trays, pop ’em out and store them in freezer bags, and then pull out whatever amount you want. (At the farmers market last weekend, my produce guy referred to me as the Pesto Queen. Aw, shucks!)
I know exactly what you mean about the follow up…but sugar covers it nicely!
“What I lack in smooth segues I shall make up in DELICIOUS CALORIES.”
I am in lust with this sentence. Seriously.
I didn’t comment on yesterday’s post (sometimes I feel like an inferior commenter after reading everyone else’s) but I’d like to say kudos to you for standing your ground. Being a good parent isn’t easy. And Monkey deserves a pony and ice cream.
Follow-ups are never easy. My issues at the moment is I didn’t go to BlogHer and I feel silly posting a fluffy stuff as a mommy blogger when the rest of the blogosphere is all “grrrl power!”
Your blog, your rules. You can post whatever you like and we’ll STILL come back for more.
I have had basil sorbet before, it’s yummy but super sweet.
Yesterday the Today show did a promo for an upcoming segment about reaping what you’ve sowed – using up all the items in your garden.
I immediately thought of you.
I knew I liked you. Anyone who would rather talk food than sports is a-ok by me. Plus you’ve now succeeded in corrupting two friends by serving sugar to a SB dieter and dairy to a Vegan. That’s gotta be some kind of record.
Hmm. Will definitely try heating my marinade the next time I make salmon, which could be in a few days.
Segues are best served with sugar, I’m convinced.
Sugar! Sugar is almost as good as something shiny when it comes to distracting someone. As for your less-than-socially–acceptable proclivities, my tongue-in-cheek New Year’s resolution this year was to Drink More. Most of my friends knew how to take it, but there are some who just sort of look at me funny…
I love basil mint sorbet, so basil lime definitely sounds like a Dessert To Try!
Mmm, the marinade sounds wonderful! I’m a boring cook; I think I’ll look for a marinade for tonight’s pork chops. It’ll shock my family: Mom? Cooked something tasty? She didn’t just through herbs on the potatoes and call it done?
Excellent follow on! And not only have I never cooked a marinade, all mine come out of a bottle. But that salmon recipe sounds mighty good. I may have to try it. (We call it pink chicken here though.)
You were expecting scolding? For one of the most stellar moments in parenting (I’m not kidding – way to follow through) I’ve ever heard of? Huh. Go figure.
Reading the recipes you post on here makes me want to try to branch out and be a better cook. It’s tough in my house because it’s just my boyfriend and I and we have different tastes. I LOVE veggies and my boyfriend thinks mashed potatoes are a vegetable and will only touch that and corn. We also don’t eat seafood. We do a lot of chicken-and-rice, pork chops-and-rice, etc. Maybe I should start looking for recipes for yummy marinades… at least I could liven up my chicken a bit!
Ok, my random thoughts while reading this post and the comments:
1. Re: our reaction to your post, pretty Mir with the prettier shoes (you thought we forgot your pretty, pretty shoes? Never!), ain’t love grand? :)
2. I have the same problem with segues, I have a dickens of a time thinking of a followup to deep and meaningful posts. Usually I just write something really, really weird and ridiculous, and that does it (kind of like spilling dip on yourself when you’re nervous at a party).
3. To all who want to freeze their pesto, make sure you do not add the grated parm to the pesto before freezing. Then just make it as usual and freeze, then add the cheese when serving.
4. Hey D – I love your idea for a conversation filler. I think I shall use that line too. Because I love that book, and I love to pretend I am civilized. :)
5. Sue @ My Party of Six…Umm…Pink chicken? I’m sorry, I just – it’s – I – I just can’t (“hey honey, the chicken’s pink! Is it ready?” “Sure, pull it off the grill and let’s eat!”). Pink chicken…
Not sure but I’m thinking drinking heavily IS becoming more acceptable. You know, in light of hard times and all. Maybe?
I mentioned to my 7 year old that I might make the basil-lime sorbet and he backed away from me with his hands up in a warding off gesture. Did your kids eat it?
Your recipes sound yummy, but what do you do if you don’t have things like a blender or an icecream maker? Or a barbecue (no garden, just a tiny balcony)? Or a homegrown herb garden (the cat would eat it and then vomit everywhere)? Or a microwave?
I guess you’re wondering what I do actually have in my kitchen…!
Well, here in France gadgets don’t seem to be so popular, so I just have 4 gas rings, a small oven and… errmmm… that’s it, really. Oh, yeah, a fridge with a dodgy seal and a tiny freezer.
Oh, to be a good cook!
By the way, I think you handled Chickadee’s freak out perfectly – I’ve done similar things with my younger daughter (4 last April), but there hasn’t been much long term effect – just very contrite “I’m sorry, Maman, I love you Maman” at the time, then back to the brattish behaviour later on…
This parenting thing sure is tough!
If you keep this up you’re going to have your own section on http://www.HalfAssedKitchen.com.
There, that’s twice now I’ve sneaked this url into your comments. Clever, huh?
I think you handle the follow up very nicely, I generally feel the same way, and unlike disney I follow the Pixar plan and just change the subject to something equally cute, but totally unrelated, that makes me feel bad about taking the planet for granted and surfing the internet laying down.
Food is always a fine distraction in our household. Gghlglghl (Homer Simpson drooling sound-effect).
That sorbet sounds wonderful, and RIGHT up my alley, dessert-wise. I’m a big fan of unexpected ice cream flavors. If I could only have one dish of ice cream that had to last me for all eternity, I would have the saffron ice cream from Lala Rokh in Boston.
The salmon sounds incredible, too. I’ll be trying that one!
Oh MAN! Now I want salmon! If it wasn’t trying to kill my Hunny every time I serve it, I’d be making it tonight. Can I come to your house for dinner?
Oh that sounds kewl, and it made me think of my grandfather. He always would eat his salad last…to cleanse his palate.
You’re terrible – I’ve been inexplicably craving fish all week. Unfortunately for me I don’t know how to cook, and I especially don’t know how to cook fish. Well at least I can have a go at that sorbet – dessert is not cooking.
Hmm. I was expecting bacon.