Tuesday, June 22, 2010
It's almost a relief that my computer is dying. Because this computer, along with the search engine that found me my dog, my Husband and my apartment, has also enabled me to circumvent the normal channels most people take when they have a health concern. You know, like going to see their doctor.
What I do is I make appointments to go see my doctor. Then I Google my symptoms, find conditions that match these symptoms, alarm myself with the usually terminal prognosis and decide that if I'm going to die, I don't want to know about it. So I cancel the appointment.
The flip side to this rather silly practice is that I allow myself to live like a hedonist for a day or two; after all, a health scare reminds you how fragile life really is, and how you're supposed to live each day like it's your last. Although if I'm honest, that's a bit too 'Bucket List' a life philosophy for me. A bit too "Oprah called, she said to dance like nobody's watching." Am I right?
Instead, I prefer to drink and enjoy the drama in other people's lives. This weekend, after cancelling my doctor's appointment, I treated myself to Bon Appetit and some face time with Liz Taylor and Richard Burton's stormy, fromage-filled romance. ( Hahaha, I just realized their celebrity couple name would be LizArd.)
To go along with my magazines, I decided to make myself a cocktail. I wanted to give it a pithy name, like The Bland Blond, channeling an imaginary socialite famous for Daddy's money, who fears calories, black people and clothes from Smart Set. However, I'm not a mixologist, and the drink actually was really bland. The more stuff I kept adding to it to 'improve' it, the worse it tasted. It ended up a sickly-sweet pink mess.
So I switched to beer.
Bolstered by liquid courage, I decided to use our new barbeque to cook the lovely piece of rainbow trout I'd bought to go along with the latest incarnation of potato salad I'd made the night before. This was a big deal for me, as I've always been afraid to light barbeques. In my head, I push a button and the whole thing explodes. Blame stories like this. Or this. Anyways, Husband had given me a tutorial, so I felt sort of confident enough. I got my fish ready in it's foil packet.
I used limes, onions and scallions and bathed it in olive oil and lime juice, with a hearty dose of fresh ground pepper and salt. The barbeque ignition went off without explosion. And while the fish cooked away, I sat in the kitchen and read, listening to the birds chirp and looking up every now and then to marvel at the magic hour of dusk creeping in on tiptoe.
The fish came out perfectly. How is it that fish looks as lovely cooked as it does raw?
I ate the whole thing, along with a huge pile of potato salad. I wondered if this was technically a meal sized for two people. It tasted so fresh, so good, I didn't much care.
The next day, one of my dear friends was coming over for dinner. I had planned on making a large vat of sangria, fish tacos and berry custard tarts. I Googled a recipe for buttermilk custard for the tart filling, found one that sounded simple enough and made it. Oh dear. Moni, you really must learn to read and follow recipes. The 'custard' was more like a pudding and once topped with berries and baked, it turned into a hard, mean ball of rubber. As I struggled to pry the tart failures out of the baking pan, a couple of blueberries jumped out, suicidally, onto the floor. I guess they knew the tarts were awful too.
I stuffed them back in for the photo. We must all suffer for our arts.
I'd mentioned to Husband that I was planning on making fish tacos. And what I got as a response was decidedly...adolescent.
Him: "Tee hee! Say it again!"
Me: "Fish Tacos?"
Him, barely able to contain glee: "Do you know what "fish tacos" mean?"
Me, suspicious, bracing myself: "Nooooo...what does it mean?"
And he told me. For my sophisticated readers, I'll spare you the verbatim answer. Suffice it to say, it was something rather crude, and I will hereafter refer to this dish as Tacos Du Poisson to avoid the now-permanent disturbing word association.
I got the recipe from Martha's 'Great Food Fast' cookbook, and made a few changes, as per usual. I assembled the ingredients and oohed and aahed over my little army of green...
I cooked up the fish, but I must stress here that if you can, use fresh fish. I used frozen, and it just doesn't cook up the same; too watery. We ate our dinner outside and talked and got tipsy on the boozy fruit in the sangria. And when she went home, I tidied up and got into bed with a book, waiting up for Husband to get home from working a late shift. After a pretty awful week, a weekend of sun, good food and friends was just what the doctor would have ordered.
Had I kept my appointment.
Tacos Du Poisson, from Martha Stewart's 'Great Food Fast' Cookbook:
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 tbsp lime juice
zest of 1 lime, finely chopped (my addition)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 small red cabbage, thinly shredded (I used iceberg lettuce instead)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno chili, halved lengthwise, seeded and one half minced
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon (my addition)
1/2 - 1 tsp chili flakes, or to your liking (my addition)
1 pound tilapia fillets, or other firm white fish, cut into strips
6 inch flour tortillas
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, torn or chopped coarsely
1. In large bowl, combine the sour cream/yogurt, lime juice and zest, salt and pepper. Set aside half of the mixture and toss the scallions, minced jalapeno and lettuce, or cabbage if using, with the rest. Season again with salt and pepper.
2. In large non-stick skillet, heat the oil, lemon juice and remaining jalapeno half over medium-high heat. Season the fish on both sides with salt, pepper and chili flakes, and cook the fish until golden brown on both sides; about 5-8 minutes. Discard the jalapeno.
3. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in the oven. To make the tacos, fill with tortillas with the slaw, fish and fresh cilantro. Set under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the tortillas. Drizzle with the reserved sour cream/yogurt mixture and eat!