Lent is here

The past weekend has been a truly memorable one, as my sister and I flew to Huntsville, Alabama on Friday, to attend the wedding of our great-niece that was Saturday afternoon. The rehersal dinner that evening was fun, with lots of visiting and meeting new people. The wedding itself was totally awesome and almost everything went according to plan. However, like most weddings, there were a few glitches, which were handled without most of us knowing about them. Since all of us family members were staying at the same hotel, we met in the lobby after the rehersal and visited and caught up with everything that had happened since the last time were together, which was in June of this past year! We all had a wonderful time, but it was great to get home again Sunday afternoon.
Everything was beautiful and fun, the weather, while a little cooler than we have locally was great the whole time. No rain, no sleet and no snow that stayed on the ground. One of the wedding party commented that snow had been falling earlier in the day at his home.
The date on this paper is February 22, and that was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of lent and the end of Madri Gras. Many of you will be wanting meals that are meatless, for this lenten season, so, here are a couple for you to try.
Parts of the following information appeared in one of my previous columns.
Each and every year, Americans eat more seafood. The country’s leading experts, for example, now recommend eating fish twice a week. However, most times when we decide to have seafood, our first thought is to go to a seafood restaurant rather than cook it at home. Why do we do this? Are we just unsure of how to cook seafood because we didn’t grow up cooking it, or do we simply think it’s too much trouble and don’t want to have the odor that sometimes remains? With the easy transportation and modern conveniences, fresh seafood is more available than it was when I moved from the Victoria area to the Devine area many years ago. Both the HEB and Wal-Mart in Victoria have large fresh seafood departments as well as a wide variety of frozen types. The shrimp I keep on hand in my freezer are the packages of e-z peel, headless shrimp, available at HEB, that are in the freezer section and are usually $5 (this past year, they have gone up a little, but mostly, they are on sale at $5!). The other packages I keep are the peeled and already cooked shrimp. I use these by thawing them and using them to make Shrimp Alfredo. To do this, I empty a jar of Alfredo sauce into a sauce pan or skillet and heat until the shrimp are heated through. While this is heating, I bring a pot of water to a boil and add either spaghetti, linguine, or other type of pasta. When the pasta is finished cooking, I drain it well and combine it with the Alfredo sauce and the shrimp. Quick and easy!
There are two simple suggestions for the home cook: Select a quality product and cook simply.
Quality tips for fresh fish: Color – color varies in fish, but it should be bright and uniform, never yellow at edges. Flesh – Moist, cleanly cut, firm. Aroma – Fresh sea breeze, never fishy (or like bait that is too old), or like ammonia. Store in original package in coldest part of refrigerator. Keep refrigerator at 34º-40º F. Cook in one or two days.
Quality Tips. Frozen fish: Color – Package should be undamaged. Fish should never be chalky looking or freezer burnt. Flesh – Never partially thawed or covered with ice. You can store frozen fish 2-4 months. Keep freezer set at 0ºF or colder. Thaw fish in refrigerator for a day or in a container of cold water.
Quality fish never tastes ‘fishy’.
Today, Grocers are required to label seafood according to country of origin. It’s always best to choose American, as the U.S. easily has the most rigorous quality standards. Be especially careful of fish labeled ‘packed in China’ or any other country. According to emails I’ve been getting, the conditions the fish are raised in are less than sanitary to say the least.
Cook Simply: You can actually cook quite a variety of meals, while using one simple method: baking. The standard rule is cook fish 10 minutes for each inch of thickness. Turn fish halfway through cooking, unless it’s ½ inch or less. To ensure that fillets cook evenly, tuck thin ends under.
Still, cooking times vary depending on density of the fish, so, here are backup tests: Fish is done when meat flakes easily with fork at thickest section; when it’s opaque all the way through; or when it’s 145ºF internally.
You can bake just about any type of fish. Allow 6 ounces per person. You’ll need butter or oil; a cooking liquid like white wine, water broth, or milk; herbs of your choice; salt and pepper to taste.
In a baking pan, drizzle lean fish with butter or brush with oil Add ¼ inch cooking liquid, herbs, salt and paper. Bake in preheated 400ºF oven until ready.
Lemon Broiled Fish
½ cup margarine or butter, melted
¼ cup REALEMON® Lemon Juice from Concentrate
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (4 slices)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ teaspoon paprika
1 pound fish fillets, fresh or frozen, thawed
In small bowl, combine margarine and ReaLemon® brand. In medium bowl, combine crumbs, parsley and ¼ cup margarine mixture; dip fish into mixture. Broil until fish flakes with fork; top with crumb mixture. Return to broiler; heat through. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 4 servings.
The following recipe for shrimp not only sounds delicious it is!
Good and Spicy Shrimp
3 to 4 pounds in shell (without heads)
2 lemons, thinly sliced
½ pound (2 sticks) butter
¾ teaspoon dried rosemary
¾ teaspoon dried basil
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco® hot sauce
3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
Place shrimp in a single layer, in large, shallow, glass baking dish. Cover with lemon slices. Mix remaining ingredients in saucepan, and heat to boiling. Pour over shrimp and lemons, cover and marinate overnight in refrigerator. Bring shrimp to room temperature before cooking. Bake in preheated 450ºF oven for 20 minutes.