Posts Tagged ‘salmon’

I am currently pet sitting for a friend of mine. She has two senior felines who truly are the sweetest of beings. The furry mother and daughter are usually waiting for me at the door when I arrive and don’t leave my side until I again make my exit and go home. I believe I am going to sign up to be a kitty sitter once I get the part-time job situation tied up and have some idea what days I will be actually working. I have a second interview at one place today, and a first interview at another on Tuesday. The results seem to be positive from the people I’m interviewing with. I’m not sure whether this can be attributed to my undeniable charisma or the fact that there seem to be more jobs than applicants applying for them in the job market currently. I prefer to think it’s the former because my ego seems to be a bit in the tank over the past few weeks, and I need to add some air to my tires.

I mentioned quite a few blogs back, I had begun dating someone about three months ago. You can cross him off my list. Dating at this age is not an easy process. I believe I’d rather sign up for a daily root canal. Perhaps I should have gotten a puppy and called it good. Men of a certain age are pretty settled on their foundation. I’m sure if I polled the guys in that category, they might express the same opinion about the women they are encountering. The gentleman in question, I thought perhaps might have serious potential. The one big road block to us moving forward was we share different political ideologies. Now, twenty years ago I don’t think I would have looked at this as closely, if at all. Rick and I shared different points of view politically when we met in 2000, and it never interfered in our relationship. Now, however, there are so many “hot button” issues floating around people have dug in firmly joining one camp or the other and there isn’t much going on middle ground. When we realized we were polar opposites politically, we originally agreed to disagree, and decided not to discuss the subject when together. This might have been a solid plan, but our families and our friends all tend to lean into the same values and views as we espouse so, pretty soon that isn’t going to be a fit either. Sigh. Life, at times, feels to me like I’m trying to drag an elephant up a steep slope. The good news will be, and I’m holding on to this tightly, once I get the pachyderm to the top of the hill, I can hop on it’s back and ride easily down the other side.

I’ve talked often about discussing what you want in a relationship with a potential life partner earlier rather than later. Once the hormones have begun to work their magic on your brain, and wherever else they might be doing their magic, it is much harder to take a clear and objective look at the situation. I have asked myself why I want I am even considering bringing another relationship into my life. On that, if little else of late, I do feel clear. I like to have a partner. By nature, I enjoy sharing my life with another person. It’s not that I cannot live a fulfilling and satisfying life without someone else by my side, I certainly can. It is rather, I prefer to share the stage with someone. That being said, I feel as a codicil to that statement, I would rather have a puppy hands down and never share my life with another mate, then be involved in a relationship that was draining or demeaning in any way. I am also crystal clear about that.

So I reset my sail and rethink my destination, and begin my journey on my own once again. At times there is something incredibly freeing about only being in my own company. I find myself more contemplative and likely to to pick up my pens and begin a new piece of artwork when only dealing with me. Also, I begin to think of the things I haven’t done in a while because there was someone else in my life to consider. Thinking along these lines, I realized, one again, how very much I am missing the water. Being by the water, in any form, helps me to free my mind of any heavy or disturbing thoughts, and find joy in simply being. Having mentioned this desire to several friends, I am excited to report my dear friend Nancy, who has two kayaks leaning against her lovely little house in the tall trees, has suggested a day on the lake. The thought of kayaking has always made me a little squirmy. My first question to her after seeing the kayaks was, “how stable are they”? My fear has always been turning over in the water and becoming trapped inside. Nancy assured me her kayaks were not turning upside down any time soon. Though I know this to be probably true I still checked them out with a cautious eye. Fear and I go way back. People seem to think I am not afraid, because I try a lot of different things some people might find a bit edgy. It’s not I’m not afraid, admittedly I seriously am. It is more I feel I am in a tug of war with fear, and am not willing to let my hand hit the table and let it get the best of me. I will report back once the deed is done who won for this round.

Boating is definitely on my mind. It has been a hot, hot week here in northern California, and when the heat is on, I want to get in the water. Boating is one of my favorite activities. I’ve owned two speed boats, one during my second marriage, and one when Rick and I lived in the big house on the lake. Often, after a long and grueling week in the restaurant, he and I would go down to the marina, untie the boat, and motor out to a quiet cove for a swim and dinner. Floating along in the water on a warm summer night you could almost see the tensions of the day lifting up from your body and dissolving into the air above you. Unfortunately, at that time of day these tensions will most likely carried off by a marauding band of mosquitos, but it is peaceful nonetheless. I miss that, I really do, and Rick.

I like most types of boats, but sailing is a particularly lovely way to be on the water. To my mind, anyhow. Unless you are becalmed, when under full sail, the only sound you hear is the wind rushing past your ears and the hull of the boat groaning as it cuts through the waves. Growing up in Nova Scotia, on clear summer days I would sit with my arms around my knees on the high hill below my house and watch the sailboats cutting through the choppy water. From such a distance, they looked like tiny ants each carrying a bit of sugar cube back to the nest. Boating was a fact of life living surrounded by the Atlantic as we were. It was what you did in the maritime provinces, when you weren’t skiing, hunting, or fishing. My Uncle Gordon, my mother’s brother, served as Commodore of the Yacht Club in Halifax, and was a consummate sailor most of his life.

Gordon’s estate, Jollimore, sat on the northwest arm of the Halifax harbor. During the warmer months his yacht was moored there. I always enjoyed a visit to Jollimore when I made it to the east coast. Truly that was one gorgeous piece of property. I will never in my lifetime come to understand that high level of living, but from an observers point of view, I have to think it can’t be a bad way to spend your days. There were three houses on the property, as I remember it. The main house, further down the hill a guest house and lanai, both situated around the salt water pool, and finally the groundskeepers home, which I would happily have taken up residence in if invited. My uncle was a bachelor most of his life, and a urologist all of it. Jollimore was purchased as a joint occupancy situation with his best friend, Allen, and his wife, Kay. Gordon had his living quarters on one side, Kay and Allen on the other, then there were shared common rooms in the center of the house. The three roomies, friends since grade school, found it to be an equitable living situation for all three participants. Kay, the only female in the trio, was both a gifted cook and hostess providing that feminine influence for both men. When Allen passed away, after a respectable time had gone by, my uncle, unmarried until he was seventy, married his best friend’s widow. They remained happily together until Kay and then Gordon each went on as well. To my mind, that was a story that ended as it was supposed to be written.

When I visited Nova Scotia as an adult, my family usually was invited to a formal dinner at Jollimore with all the relatives still living in the province in attendance. Let me preface this story by saying, I am probably the only Canadian citizen who will go on record saying they loathe salmon. Sad to say in my case, it is true. Fish is one of my favorite meals, and I like most varieties I find on restaurant menus, …… except salmon. Euuuw. Perhaps this is because I was weaned on it. My grandmother could find a way to slip the orange fish into everything. She made salmon loaf, salmon cakes, poached salmon, stuffed whole salmon, salmon salad, salmon aspic. You name it, she could make a case for including salmon in the ingredients. Had there been such a thing as a salmon pancake, I’m sure that would have been incorporated into the meal plan somewhere as well. Every time it showed up on my plate as a kid, I longed for a dog, so I could hand it off to a waiting mouth under the table. Because it was considered such a “treat”, often it was the star of the formal dinner at my uncle’s home. A covered silver tray would be placed on the center of the table, and when the lid was removed everyone oooohed and aaaahhhhed over the fish as though greeting the royal family. Usually this was the whole fish, poached and topped with a delicate cream sauce, served with fiddleheads. Fiddleheads. For those of you going fiddle what, are the coiled tips of the ostrich fern, considered delicacy in some circles. My circle happens not to be one of them. Now, there isn’t much I won’t eat. I am definitely not what you might call a finicky feeder. However, the two food items topping my list of vomit inducing foods would be salmon and fiddleheads. Served together, they create a gastronomical nightmare for my internal digestive system. Ugh. As an aside, I also find nothing appealing about a meal such as a whole fish capable of making eye contact with me as I prepare to eat it, just saying.

So, I think of my roots this morning, orange fish, another relationship slipping to the side of the road, gliding across the cool clear water, and the confusing state of our country and feel a bit like I am standing in front of a road crossing with signs pointing in twenty different directions. This will smooth out and the right path will become clear, but for now I want to be sailing along without a thought in the world but the sun on my face and the salty spray in my hair.

Happy Saturday to you.

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Have you ever had a day that just seemed to go on forever and refused to move on to the next one? I had one yesterday. OMG.

Night before last was a weird night to begin with. Unable to sleep and up at 3:45 the night before, I was uncharacteristically tired. Lying on the couch around 9:00 p.m. nodding in and out of the last chapter of my newest book and trying to keep my upper lid from meeting my lower, I hit the bed. It had been a beautiful day, one of the first this season that the sun had fully appeared and not simply peeked from behind the clouds and the familiar sight of houseboats docked along the inlets of the lake could be seen. Welcoming a bit of warm weather and clear skies, I opened the windows to freshen the house.  I was feeling content with the world. Ahhhh. “Not so fast, little girl”, said the universe. In our family with our history of minor and major disasters, we don’t acknowledge too quickly that the world is looking rosy, but rather ease into the feeling slowly without looking it directly in the eye lest it disappear before we’ve even had a chance to celebrate its arrival. Sort of like people who carry a rabbit’s foot in their pocket or toss that bit of spilled salt over one shoulder just in case.

Over the past few weeks I’ve begun packing up the house for our impending move. Boxes are lined up here and there some half-packed and others sealed, labeled, and ready to go. As I’ve said before, we’ve managed to accumulate our fair share of the usual unneccessary stuff over the past ten years along with definite keepers so I’ve been sorting for a garage sale in the process.  About three months ago I began to notice a slight bubbling underneath the wood flooring in our kitchen. Around the same time we discovered a leak in the seal under the toilet in our front bathroom and when it was fixed,the plumber attributed the bubbling to a little water leakage under the floor. Several weeks ago we hired a friend of the family to come in and do some handyman type jobs for us. Fortunately, he has plumbing experience so when I started to notice increased evidence of bubbling in the kitchen he checked the wax ring under the toilet and tightened it further to prevent any leaking. Following that episode, we placed fans over the area to dry it and determined that the problem was solved. As I said, “not so fast, little girl”. Sigh.

Several days ago  I noticed some dampness on our kitchen area rug. Really? Maybe it was residual we figured, so I moved the rug and hung it to dry and steam cleaned the floor. Hmmmm. Now, this is a good size house. The main living quarters, kitchen, laundry room, living room, dining room, and two bedrooms and bathrooms are on the upper floor with two bedrooms, office, one bathroom and the family room located on the second floor. There are times when I don’t get down to the second level for 4-5 days, and often not into the back bedroom which is located directly underneath the kitchen for longer than that.

I digress. I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed yesterday morning and enjoyed my first cup of coffee on the deck overlooking the lake. Again, an “ahhhhh” moment. My plans were laid out for the day, finish the packing downstairs, errands in town, a doctor’s appointment, and out to dinner at friends, as it was “cooks night off”. Yeah. Looking for Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, I went down to the second floor. Not locating her but hearing something in the back bedroom, I opened up the door. Now, if you’ve ever seen a dairy cow’s udder when it’s long overdue for milking, this would paint an accurate picture of what I saw looming over my head.  A huge swelling in the ceiling was producing a steady drip, drip, drip through one small hole in the stretched drywall.  Fortunately I had left a large bin out to use for files and it had captured some of the water. I rushed upstairs to inform my other half that things were not as they should be, and before he’d poured a cup of coffee and wiped the sleep out of his eyes a resounding crash came from downstairs.  The good news was we located the cat, or a furry blur resembling the cat, flying up the stairs following the boom as though being chased by Satan and his minions. I sensed this was not going to go well.

The two of us dressed in boxer shorts and t-shirts made our way down the stairs and with trepidation ventured into the back bedroom. Immediately a large blop of water saturated my shirt, and not knowing whether this was toilet water or just a broken pipe, I was hoping I wouldn’t get flesh-eating disease before I got back upstairs. The ceiling, which I was rather fond of in its previous configuration, was now half on the ceiling where it should be and the other half had peeled off like a grape and distributed in white blobs on the carpet as well as its heavy load of stored water. Help.

We called in our plumber and tried to determine from looking inside the now large hole what was going on.  He traced it to copper tubing. No kidding? All this time we thought it was the upstairs bathroom and it seems after investigation it was coming from somewhere around the refrigerator. We muscled the fridge out and lo and behold the filter was spewing water like a fountain in Rome. I threw in a couple of pennies but I have a gut feeling I wasn’t going to get my wish. While trying to assess the situation the fragile copper line broke completely and all three of us were now ducking gushing water and looking much like Larry, Moe, and Curly Joe slipping and sliding around the kitchen. Getting a grip, my other half went to turn off the water, I ran for buckets and towels, and the plumber was trying to get hold of the swirling fountain. Finally, we got everything in hand. Today, we’re airing out, drying, bleaching, retiling, and generally doing a bunch of projects that we’d rather not be doing. Sometimes, life just gets to a point where your only option is to laugh, so we did. What a mess. Last night we had dinner with our friends and they served up this absolutely yummy salmon and some much-needed humor. You’ll love it.

Javanese Roasted Salmon with Wilted Spinach

1/2 cup plus 4 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp. water
4 7-oz. salmon fillets
1 6-oz. bag baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste
White rice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large saucepan melt 1/2 cup butter over low heat. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar and whisk until melted and smooth, and mixture begins to bubble, about 4 mins. Whisk in lime juice and soy sauce. Increase heat to med. and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 2 mins. Whisk in cornstarch and continue cooking until mixture thickens. Cover and remove from heat.

Prepare rice according to package directions. Fluff and set aside.

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in large skillet. Cook salmon fillets until golden brown, about 2 mins. per side. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Transfer fillets to sheet. Spoon 1 Tbsp. of sauce over each and place in oven for 8 mins. Meanwhile place spinach in steamer or microwave safe dish with lid and 2 Tbsp. of water. Cook on high for 2-3 mins. or until wilted but still bright green in color. Season with remaining Tbsp. of butter and salt and pepper and set aside.

To plate:

Place 1/4 of the rice on bottom, 1/4 of the spinach on top of the rice, and top with salmon fillet. Spoon 3 Tbsp. of sauce over all. Serve with additional warm sauce on the side. Just delicious. This sauce would also be excellent on pork. Serves 4.

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I’m lazy about doctor’s visits.  I go once a year because I enjoy sticking around taking up air and they won’t refill my few meds if I don’t show my face.  Coming from a doctor’s family, as a child if I so much as swiped at the end of my nose something disgusting on a spoon was stuck in my mouth and I ended up under the covers with adults hovering over me speaking in hushed tones.  I’m surprised they didn’t light candles and summon a priest.  I managed to cover the bases in childhood diseases so transitioned smoothly from measles to mumps to whooping-cough keeping them on their toes and the chocolates and stuffed animals flowing, both of which I got when I was sick.  It’s a wonder I didn’t grow up to be an overweight hypochondriac with a bad case of acne and a bed full of teddy bears.

Last week before we left on our trip to the Bay Area I had to stop by the lab and have them poke and prod at me to get their pint of blood.  In particular, I don’t like this because once they get all that information on what your body’s doing when you’re not looking can most likely lead to more medications being prescribed or God know’s what.  Blissful ignorance has its merits.  Yesterday, I reported to the Doctor’s office to get the results of their nosing about in my bloodstream, and find out what guilty pleasures they were going to deprive me of this time. 

After reading the medical journals and bass fishing magazines provided to pass the hour and a half in the waiting room, I was ushered into an examining room and left to memorize the delightful charts displayed on the wall laying out everything that could possibly go wrong with you from scurvy to mange.  The only other object in the room was a life size replica of female reproductive organs and a jar of cotton balls.  Life is good.  Snore.  A half an hour later my doctor entered the room all smiles and apologies and gave me the alloted fifteen minutes of his undivided attention.  It seems that I’m a rather healthy specimen for what they’ve left me to work with.  Over the years doctors have helped themselves to a part here and there during my life, so what’s left I’d like to hold onto so I at least show up in an exray.  The only slight malfunction at this juncture was that my bad cholesterol is slightly elevated.  Ach. 

It seems that the solution, or part of the solution, to this problem is an apple a day, no French fries (What, isn’t that illegal?), occasional potato chips, limited red meat, and tons of salmon.  Now I grew up in Nova Scotia and whether or not it was because I had salmon mixed in with my oatmeal, it’s the one fish I can hardly get down.  Apples are truly the only fruit that I don’t like raw, and French fries, well, are there words to describe the deprivation?  Just shoot me, please.  The good news is I just bought a lovely chub of filet mignon at Costco that is waiting for me in vacuum sealed bags in the downstairs freezer.  Now, I take all this as moderating not obliterating these behaviors.  The number is only  marginally high and Susie’s got to have some red meat, seriously.  A girl cannot live on apples alone, or at all in my case.  Eve should have gone for the wildebeest in my opinion.

I know I’m pretty fortunate. I’m just facing my sixties with the rest of my baby boomers, I take very little medication and I wake up moving in high gear.  However,  just once I’d like to leave a physician’s office with instructions to go home smoke a pack of cigarettes (I’ve given them up), pour myself a shot of Jack Daniels, eat a large filet with double blue cheese on top with a fully loaded baked potato on the side, wash it down with a chocolate eclair, and call him in the morning.  There’s a prescription a normal person can live by.  Salmon.  Really?  I’m cursed by the fish.  As a child we had salmon cakes, salmon loaf, salmon salad, whole salmon, poached salmon, smoked salmon, if they could have baked it into bread we would have had lovely pink loaves lined up in the pantry.

I heard a talk show this morning that was discussing that the generation behind us isn’t wholly embracing the fact that the group in this generation are probably going to hang around for a while.  I can understand that things are stretched a bit thin and the world is undergoing some serious and unsettling changes no doubt.  Sorry, I’m still going to eat the apple and consume the salmon, even if I have to create the first apple and salmon slushy. 

Hey, this is the beginning of my new art website.  Take a look if you have a moment. 


Have a great day!

Salmon Newburg

2 Tbsp. butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup hot heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
2 egg yolks, well beaten
1 Tbsp. brandy
1 Tbsp. sherry
1 1/2 cups cooked salmon, flaked
1/4 tsp. dry mustard

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and cook for 3 mins. Whisk in flour and cook roux for 2 mins. without browning. Gradually add hot cream to mixture and cook until sauce thickens and takes on a smooth texture. Add salt and cayenne. Adjust to taste. Add Parmesan cheese, paprika, dry mustard. Pour sauce very slowly over 2 well-beaten egg yolks stirring constantly. In double boiler cook sauce over boiling water stirring constantly for 3 mins. Add brandy and sherry and stir in salmon. Serve on toast points or over patty shells.

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