This week has been one of mostly dreary days with a couple of days with weak sunshine to spice things up for us. Tuesday was my afternoon to work in the gift shop and before that, several of us met to work on tray favors for Easter. We are ahead of ourselves, as we already have March favors done with a St. Patrick’s Day theme and a big start on the beautifully decorated Easter eggs we have fashioned from craft foam and all sorts of décor, from rick-rack, bias tape, lace and anything else they could find. They are totally over the top beautiful and I wish I could see the patients’ faces when they receive them! My afternoon in the shop was boring as there were no customers and for a change, no one who was ‘just lookin’. Some days are like that, especially if it isn’t pay day week.
Wednesday dawned dreary and chilly with the weather forecasters telling us to “wear a coat when you leave the house”. I checked the temperature and it was almost 70ºF outside in my area, but they kept saying the same thing, so, when I went to church at 8:00 a.m., I dutifully took a jacket. And, yes, they were right, by the time church was over, not only was it raining lightly, but also the temperature had dropped below 50ºF and by the time I went to work at 1:00 p.m, it was down to below 40ºF! Thursday was not much different than Wednesday had been, with more dampness and a light fog that didn’t start coming in until after 9:00 a.m. and has stayed with us all day. My friend came over and we did some sewing, to fix an item for the hospital gift shop, and when we finished, we went out to lunch and checked out a little shop that has just opened on our main street. They have lots of cute things, including flip-flops that have a removable design that can be monogrammed. The design can be changed to various things, and you can have initials or the name of your team put on them. Different? Yes, very much so! She also has lots of baby things, many of which can be monogrammed. I hope she is able to stay in business as new things are always welcome.
For the last couple of weeks we’ve talked about meatless dishes and I gave you a couple to try. Most of us (not all) like fish, but we prefer to have it fried. Did you know fish can be really delicious if it is baked? Several years ago, when I was in Galveston, my daughter and I made stuffed flounder, combining the parts we wanted from two recipes we found in a Southern Living Magazine or Cook Book. Another delicious dish that my son-in-law made on another occasion when I was there was Fish Vera Cruz. Again, something simple made into something really tasty.
Sometimes when you order baked fish at a restaurant, they taste “fishy”, and that is something that I don’t like. Part of my problem is that I was raised eating fried fish and it is a habit that is very hard to change, even though I’m aware that it isn’t the best thing for me! After checking out various and sundry different cookbooks, I’ve finally located several recipes that have ingredients that are not too exotic for our area.
You can actually cook quite a variety of meals, while using one simple method: baking. Each time you bake, experiment with herbs, oils and seasonings. At the table, family members can try different salsas, dipping sauces, or gourmet mayonnaises to suit their tastes. 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 there 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 baking pan, drizzle lean fish with butter or brush with oil Add ¼ inch cooking liquid, herbs, salt and pepper. Bake in preheated 400ºF oven until ready.
The following recipe for Fish Francoise is from Del Monte’s Easy and Delicious Cookbook
1 can (14½ oz.) Del Monte® Original Recipe Stewed Tomatoes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon tarragon, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1½ lb. firm white fish (such as halibut or cod)
Preheat broiler; position rack 4 inches from heat. In saucepan, combine tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic, tarragon and pepper. Cook uncovered, over medium-high heat about 10 minutes until liquid is evaporated. Add cream. Cook over low heat 5 minutes until very thick; set aside.
Brush broiler pan with oil. Arrange fish on pan; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Broil fish 3 to 4 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily with fork. Spread tomato mixture over top of fish. Broil 1 minute. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.
The following recipe for Lemon Broiled Fish is from “Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook, Collector’s Edition”.
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.
Well, I can’t resist, here is how a friend taught me to fry shrimp and fish. Her mother had a restaurant, and my friend and her husband had a stand at the coast where she sold ready-to-cook shrimp, crab cakes, etc.
1 to 1½ lbs medium to large shrimp (thawed completely if frozen)
1½ sleeves crackers
1½ cups flour
1½ to 2 cups milk
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Crush one sleeve of the crackers in a blender or food processor, pour into a bowl, crush the other ½ sleeve with your hands into fairly small pieces, and stir into the finely crushed crackers; set aside. Season the flour with salt and pepper and set aside. Peel and devein the shrimp, or use the un-cooked peeled shrimp from the frozen food section at the store, being sure they are completely thawed. Butterfly the shrimp by using a paring knife and cutting down the curve of the shrimp and press flat on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. When they are all butterflied, dip them into the flour, flattening them as you go so that all surfaces are covered, place back on baking sheet, when they’re all floured, dip them individually into milk allow to drain slightly and then place in the cracker crumbs being sure they’re well covered. Fry in hot oil until golden brown and crisp, eat and enjoy. Yep, it’s a lot of work, but the result is so very worth it! My friend also taught me that after coating with the crackers, I could put the shrimp back on the lined pan and place in the freezer until frozen and then fry as needed. She does this frequently, and I have done it a couple of times.