Friday, March 29, 2013

The Only Salmon Recipe You'll Ever Need

I'm not Catholic, but for Lent I eat fish every Friday.  Why not?  It's on sale everywhere, and we're supposed to eat more fish.  Especially salmon.  The trouble is the only salmon I like is the salmon served at The Rusty Bucket.  Their salmon has kind of an Asian flare.  They used to serve it with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables.  Now they serve it with sticky rice, but I like it with mashed potatoes better.  Either way at $14.99 a serving, it's a costly way to get salmon into my diet.  I figured I could learn how to make it at home and save a bundle.  I googled Asian salmon and came up with several recipes.  Experimenting in the kitchen I tweaked the recipes and found exactly what I wanted:  the most delicious salmon I've ever eaten.  Easy to make, and I serve it with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables.  Last week I had it with carmelized cabbage.  Yum!

Pan-Seared Asian Salmon (Serves four, or two really hungry diners)

1 pound frozen wild-caught salmon (four fillets), thawed
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. peanut oil
black pepper

In a shallow dish combine vinegar or lemon juice, soy sauce, and 2 Tbsp. peanut oil.  Coat salmon fillets with marinade and let sit for 15 minutes.  Heat up 1 Tbsp. peanut oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Place salmon fillets in pan and sprinkle with black pepper to taste.  Cook 3-5 minutes per side.  Serve with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Beatles Songs: A Baker's Dozen

Yesterday was George Harrison's 70th birthday.  The youngest Beatle would have been seventy.  How is that possible!  And recently my son declared "Let It Be" the best Beatles song, which made me wonder....If I were on a deserted island (you know, that notorious deserted island we're all destined for), which Beatles songs would I take with me.  Following are a baker's dozen of my favorites, newest to oldest.  These aren't necessarily my favorites, although they would make any island stay more pleasant.  If you had to pick one Beatles song, which one would you choose?
  1. Let It Be (Let It Be, 1969, McCartney).
  2. For You Blue (Let It Be 1969, Harrison).
  3. Something (Abbey Road, 1969, Harrison).
  4. Here Comes the Sun (Abbey Road, 1969, Harrison).
  5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles, 1968, Harrison).
  6. Hey, Jude (Post Masters Volume 2, 1968, McCartney).
  7. All You Need Is Love (Magical Mystery Tour, 1967, Lennon).
  8. A Day in the Life (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967, Lennon and McCartney).
  9. In My Life (Rubber Soul, 1965, Lennon).
  10. Run For Your Life (Rubber Soul, 1965, Lennon).
  11. If I Fell (A Hard Day's Night, 1964, Lennon).
  12. All My Loving (With the Beatles, 1963, McCartney).
  13. I Want to Hold Your Hand (Post Masters Volume 1, 1963, Lennon and McCartney).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

All Things Must Pass

Here between Valentine's Day and President's Day, I find myself in a rather morbid frame of mind and feel the need to inventory the stars from the television shows of my formative years who have passed.  I'm not sure what prompted this macabre mood: perhaps simple nostalgia, maybe the passing of so many classic television stars last year, or possibly the St. Valentine's Day massacre paper my son wrote.  Whatever the reason, here's my tribute to my small screen idols.

I Love Lucy (1951-1957).  With the passing of Doris Singleton (Carolyn Appleby) only Shirley Mitchell (Marion Strong) and Richard Keith (Little Ricky) are still with us.  William Frawley (Fred Mertz) was the first to check out, collapsing of a heart attack at the age of 79 on March 3, 1966, while walking along Hollywood Boulevard after seeing a movie. Fitting end, given that Frawley acted in over 100 movies.  Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz) succumbed to breast and bone cancer in 1979 at the age of 70. Desi Arnaz (Ricky Ricardo) was 69 in 1986 when he died of lung cancer.  And three years later when she was 77 everybody's favorite red head died of an acute aorta aneurysm.

Bonanza (1959-1973).  None of the Cartwrights are living.  Dan Blocker (lovable Hoss) was only 43 in 1972 when he died of a pulmonary embolism following gall bladder surgery. Following his heart surgery in 1987 Lorne Greene (Ben) died at the age of 72.  Michael Landon (Little Joe) died of pancreatic cancer in 1991 when he was 54.  Also of pancreatic cancer, Pernell Roberts (Adam) died at the age of 81 just two years ago.

The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968).  Only Ron Howard (Opie), Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), Elinor Donahue (Ellie), and Jim Nabors (Gomer), who just last month married his life partner of 38 years, are still living.  Howard McNear (Floyd the barber) was only 63 in 1969 when he died of complications following a stroke.  Francis Bavier (Aunt Bea) died from a heart attack in 1989 when she was 86 years old.  In 1994 when he was 77 Hal Smith (Otis) also died of a heart attack.  Aneta Corsau (Helen) died of cancer in 1995 at the age of 62.  Don Knotts, at the age of 81 in 2006, died of pulmonary and respiratory complications. George Lindsey died at the age of 83 last year following a brief illness. Driving home how old some of us have become, Andy Griffith, a mere 86, died last year of a heart attack.  Fun bit of trivia: Andy Griffith and Marilyn Monroe were both born June 1, 1926.

The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966).  Most of the main characters of this show are still with us: Dick Van Dyke (Rob), Mary Tyler Moore (Laura), Carl Reiner (Alan), Rose Marie (Sally), Larry Mathews (Richie), and Ann Morgan Guilbert (Millie). We have lost Morey Amsterdam (Buddy), Richard Deacon (Mel), and Jerry Paris (Jerry).  Buddy died in 1996, age 87, of a heart attack; Mel in 1984, age 63, of hypertensive heart disease; and Jerry in 1986, age 60, of a brain tumor.

That Girl (1966-1971). Marlo Thomas (Ann Marie) is still alive; she writes a blog for The Huffington Post and looks much younger than her 75 years.  Dabney Coleman and Bonnie Scott (Leon and Judy) are still with us, as is Bernie Koppell (Jerry), who also played Sigfried on Get Smart, but gone are Lew Parker (Lou, Ann's father) from lung cancer in 1972 at the age of 64, Ted Bessell (Donald Hollinger) from a heart attack at the tender age of 61 in 1996 (just four days before the birth of my son), and Rosemary DeCamp (Helen, Ann's mother) at 90 in 2001--not a bad innings.

R.I.P. and thanks for the memories!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pork Fried Rice

I make a lot of Chinese dishes at home.  I still eat out occasionally, too.  Christmas, for instance.  We always order Chinese take-out for Christmas.  Have done for three Christmases now.  Next Christmas I'm getting Peking Duck.  I can't believe I've never eaten Peking Duck. I might not like it either, but, like cooking a live lobster, it's on my bucket list.  This past year, I added three more Chinese dishes to my repertoire:  pork chow mein (lovely throwback recipe from Woman's Day), pork lo mein (from America's Test Kitchen), and pork fried rice.  I'd found several recipes online for fried rice (chicken, pork, shrimp) and took something from each of them.  The resulting recipe is is really easy and tasty.  You don't need a wok; just a really big skillet will do the trick.

Pork Fried Rice (Four Servings)
I use pearl rice (sushi rice) which is in the Asian section of my local supermarket.  One cup of raw rice makes 3 cups of cooked rice.

8 oz. pork tenderloin
1 Tbsp peeled grated fresh ginger
3/4 tsp. Penzey's Chinese five-spice powder
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. peanut oil

2 eggs, beaten
1 head of baby bok choy1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp. Penzey's minced garlic
3 cups cooked cold rice
salt and pepper

In medium bowl combine pork, ginger, five-spice powder, vinegar, and soy sauce.  Marinade at least 10 minutes.

In large skillet heat 1 Tbsp. peanut oil over medium heat.  Pour in eggs and add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until set, about one to three minutes.  Remove; let cool.  Roll up and slice crosswise into thin strips.  Set aside.

In skillet heat 1 Tbsp. peanut oil over medium-high heat.  Add pork and, tossing frequently, cook until browned, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

Heat another 1 Tbsp. peanut oil.  Add bok choy, onion, and garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook stirring often 2-4 minutes, until bok choy is crisp tender.

Add rice and, tossing frequently, cook until heated through, about 2-4 minutes.

Add pork and egg, and, tossing frequently, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Serve

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why Teach Literature

One of the duties of my day job is to write a blog.  Today I posted an entry entitled Why Teach Literature, a subject near and dear to me.  The new Common Core Standards of English call for public schools to increase nonfiction reading, so that by senior year 70% of reading material be nonfiction.  In effect literature is being driven from the high school curriculum.  Read Why Teach Literature for my reasons why this is unacceptable, and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cowboy Cookies

Everybody from Laura Bush to Martha Stewart has a recipe for cowboy cookies, though no one seems sure of the origin of the name.  My guess is their gigantic size and heartiness invokes a strapping cowboy.  I first made these cookies this past Christmas, and they are already a staple of my baking.  The batch I made yesterday is gone already.  Many recipes contain pecans and coconut, which I can't include as my son has a tree nut allergy.  Not to worry, my cookies are still packed with delicious cookie goodness:  butter, sugar, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pretzels.  They also contain a hefty dose of oats, so you can tell yourself you're eating a healthy snack.  And for teenagers this is a great snack: pack a few in their lunches, and they'll stay full through weight lifting and other strenuous after-school athletic endeavors.

Cowboy Cookies (3dozen)

13/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups oats
1 tsp. coffee powder
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
l large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup thin pretzel sticks, broken into small pieces

Whisk together the flout, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oats.

Dissolve coffee in the hot water.

Beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended.  Add coffee and vanilla.

Add half of dry ingredients.  Mix 15 seconds. Mix in remaining dry ingredients until just blended.  Mix in chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pretzels.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie, roll into balls.  Arrange 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with hand.

Bake until edges are golden brown, about 11 to 13 minutes.  Cool slightly on sheets; then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lum and Abner Christmas Special

One of my favorite Christmas specials is a radio drama.  Lum and Abner's traditional Christmas story, which aired every year from 1933 to 1954, is set in Pine Ridge, Arkansas, but reflects Bethlehem's nativity story.  After paying their taxes in the county seat, a young couple is forced to take up lodging in an old abandoned barn, where the wife has gone into labor.  Lum, Abner, and Grandpappy Spears, armed with blankets, an oil heater, and a box of groceries, are trudging through the snow on Christmas night to provide comfort and sustenance to the couple.  On their Christmas journey, the three old men contemplate the joy of helping others, the passage of time, and the bittersweet circle of life.