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Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

My friend Bitchy McSnarkster looked at me and started laughing.

“I cannot believe you came out with us”, he said, gesturing at the circle of gay men that surrounded us, “and wore that”, he said, as he pointed at the white vest I was wearing as a shirt.

I think I looked pretty damn cute. Seems some of the men did too; what is it with gay men and breasts? Can’t one imagine what they feel like?  More gay men have felt me up in this lifetime than the straight ones.

Now, this outfit should not have surprised him. This is how I dress. I have an agenda when I put my clothes on, a message to send.

Bitchy knows better. A few months back I called him in a tizzy as I tried to pull together an outfit for a day date. Oh, the dreaded day date. How does one construct an outfit that could perhaps carry you in to the evening but still manages to be appropriate for such wholesome fun as a museum or a movie? I should have worn a burlap sack to this particular date, but one does not know this going in to these scenarios.

He listed off possibilities… “V Neck sweater?” “Don’t own one.” “Flat shoes?” “Only flats I own are sneakers or flip flops.” “Casual black pants?” “NOPE….Bitchy, THIS IS NOT MY LOOK.”

No matter how you dress me up I think I do alright.  Hey, I’d rather have a look than be some cog in a machine.  It is not like I am wearing vests to work sans shirt; there is a time and a place for everything.  I just have a bit more of a liberal interpretation of what to don in most situations. I’m flexible, a chameleon.

Salmon is another one of those flexible creatures.  No matter what you do to it, it is going to turn out pretty great.  For instance, I wanted to add some ginger to this marinade but forgot it; the fish still turned out great.  The lemon juice could be swapped for some OJ or rice wine vinegar and the sesame oil can be completely omitted.  I have made this as simply as just using the soy saice, lemon, garlic and oil, while other times I have added red pepper flakes or mustard powder.  Seriously, do this up however you like; you cannot make a mess of this.

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Asian Salmon

3 TBSP low sodium soy sauce

juice from half a lemon

1 clove crushed garlic

1.5 TSBPS olive oil

1 TSBP sesame oil

1 TBSP honey

2 tsp olive oil

2– 3 oz salmon pieces

In a bowl, whisk together soy sauce through honey.  Add salmon pieces and marinate for 30 minutes, turning several times.  Preheat oven to 450.  In oven safe saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add salmon to pan and sear on each side for about 3 minutes. (Start by searing the non skin side first.)  Place in oven and cook for 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.

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Riptide

The other day I was chatting with a friend, lamenting the fact that though I am actually 6 lbs lighter than I was around Christmas, my pants seem to be getting tighter.

“It makes no sense. Nothing has really changed. The scale says I am actually doing better…”

“Oh, the same thing happened to me as I started getting closer to 30. Your body just kind of shifts around”, was her response.

This was not really what I wanted to hear. Closer to 30.

I have made no qualms about the fact that I struggle with the weight, badly. I am up, I am down, I am all around. Though my weight struggles are normal now–traversing the same 7 pounds–I still visualize me as 65 pounds heavier. You just get to a point where you see your self in a certain light and it is really hard to reimagine this blueprint.

I have good periods of time, don’t get me wrong. I looked at a few pictures from my trip this weekend and thought, “Damn, you look good”. There is one in particular where I look almost tiny. It shouldn’t validate me, but it does…just a little. But then there are all these photos where I am slouching or caught at a bad angle or whatever. Hey, I have a traffic jam booty…there is no hiding this ass, no matter what I do. I’m Polish.

It still bothers me more than it should. There are ebbs and flows, time when I feel confident and moments where I envelop myself in a barrage of criticism. I am that girl you know who will untag herself in photos on facebook if she thinks she looks fat. I worry about having hypothetical kids because I am afraid of what it will do to my body, let alone the prospect of blowing my vagina to bits. I stand in front of mirrors and poke at my soft belly. It is ugly and self punishing and wholly unhealthy.

I never did any of this when I was heavy. I just know what I have to lose now….it is worse.

What’s bothering me the most is now people are telling me it is out of my hands. I do not handle a lack of control well. You mean no matter what I do I may have to go up a pants size to accommodate a shift in weight to my midsection? I hate this. I hate that I am at an age, close to 30, where I should be past this but sometimes it feels more unbearable than ever. I felt invisible for so long and I don’t want to fade away. I know I am more than my body, my looks, but there are plenty of people out there to tell you that this isn’t the case, that no one cares that you are funny or smart or talented. You need shiny packaging to catch the eye of a buyer. I’ve lived it. I know how much it matters.

I have drowned in a sea of self doubt before and time and maturity has healed some of it, buoyed me up. Sometimes, though? The undertow is strong.

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I am avoiding the ocean except when it comes to seafood.  This was a recipe I plucked from Cooking Light in an attempt to throw together a quick dinner for FreckledK and me.  I eyeballed everything, but provided the measurements below.  It was light and refreshing, a super easy week night dinner I will definitely make again.  I served it with some sauteed spinach and it was pretty damn good.

Scallops with Sesame Sauce
From Cooking Light

16 large sea scallops (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 sliced green onion (white and green sections reserved separately)
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Remove scallops from the refrigerator, and bring them to room temperature (about 10 minutes). In a small mixing bowl, add the white onion pieces and the next 7 ingredients (through crushed red pepper); stir with a whisk to combine, and set aside.

2. Warm the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the scallops; sprinkle scallops with the black pepper. Cook scallops about 3 minutes on 1 side until golden brown. Using tongs, flip the scallops and cook 2-3 more minutes or until browned. Transfer scallops to a plate, and cover with foil. Keep the skillet on the heat.

3. Whisk the sauce again, and add it to the pan. Cook until the sauce boils and thickens slightly (about 45 seconds); then remove the pan from heat. Divide scallops among 4 plates, drizzle some of the hot sesame sauce over each portion, and garnish with a sprinkle of green onion pieces.

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Call and Answer

Recently I was discussing my reading habits with a friend, namely that I don’t have many. I consider myself informed; I listen to NPR and hit on news websites, but a book? Magazines? I go through fits and starts. I will ravenously devour them for short periods and then abandon them completely. I have too many blogs to read, too much cooking to do and too much life to live. Oh, and yes, passing out in various gutters really eats away at the time as well. The books always get cut in my attempt to manage my overburdened schedule.

Of course, I had to find out through Twitter yesterday (Thanks Jessica!) that I had been named one of the top websites in DC by Washingtonian. The irony is not lost on me.

As a creature that lives her life online, I fervently searched online for the link. It was no where to be found, so I had to do it the old fashioned way: buy the print copy. There it was…a short paragraph on page 50. Sweet sassy molasses. Who knew? Oh, right. You people who read.

The power of blogging has already been celebrated this week and stated far more eloquently than I ever could say it. It shocks me that a girl comprised of equal parts raging narcissism and crippling self doubt could scream in to a well and get folks to yell back, but I’m humbled.

Also, I am pretty bemused. Culinary Couture was listed in the category of the area’s best drinking and dining blogs and below I have presented you with a recipe that uses quick grits. Washingtonian? Are you sure? This is a pretty egregious sin against Southern cuisine, but it works. This whole dish was some uncharted territory for this Northern girl, but I made it happen, my way. I am still trying to figure it all out, cobble together the pieces of my life as I stand over the stove and stare in to my navel. Thanks for coming along for the ride and yelling back at me when I scream in to the well.

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(I made these with bettyjoan during my trip to Atlanta and despite the use of quick grits, this turned awesome. The shrimp was simple and fresh and the grits were rib stickingly good. I used some smoked sausage for this, but yes, you bacon freaks, use it if you must. Even my beloved bettyjoan, a true Southern girl, gave this the thumbs up. Hop over to her place and check out what she made for desert.)

Shrimp and Grits

Loosely adapted from Cooking Light

Shrimp

1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp

Juice from one lemon

1 teaspoon Tabsasco sauce (or to taste)

Pinch kosher salt

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 smoked sausage or 3 slices bacon, chopped finely

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 green onions (I used 3 green onions and a leek)

Pinch salt

Pepper

In large bowl, mix shrimp, lemon juice, Tabsco and salt. Let sit while you heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. When oil is heated add sausage or bacon. Cook for about 4 minutes and then add onions and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes (just to soften onions). Add shrimp mixture and cook for about 6 minutes (shrimp should be pink). Salt and pepper and serve over cheese grits.

Cheese Grits

3 cups chicken stock (or water)

3/4 cup quick grits

3/4 cup grated sharp cheese

2 tablespoons butter

Pinch salt

Boil broth and add grits. Stir for about 3 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat. Add cheese, butter and salt. Serve immediately.



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Testing My Limits

Step One: We Can Have Lots of Fun

Step One: We Can Have Lots of Fun

Oh, for the love of Christ, this is going to be a difficult post to get through. Largely because when one is discussing the process of peeling and deveining a shrimp it is hard not to talk about what the vein actually is. Suffice it to say the vein is the whole digestive track of the shrimp and it is black because…well, yanno. This is all I am really going to say about that. Now that we have that out of the way and I have reached the limit of my personal comfort when it comes to discussing such matters, here it is…a lesson in something you should know. How to peel and devein a shrimp in just a few simple steps.

Step Two: There's So Much We Can Do

Step Two: There's So Much We Can Do

1. Look! Here is a shrimp. This one isn’t so shrimpy; in fact it is jumbo. I prefer large or jumbo shrimp for obvious reasons. Call me a size queen if you must, but it is just easier and makes for a hell of a lot less shrimp to peel.

2. Ok, so start from the top of the shrimp and start ripping the shell and legs off. Pull the last little set of legs off but make sure you leave the tail intact.

Step Three: It's Just You and Me

Step Three: It's Just You and Me

3. If you look at the top of the shrimp, most of the time you can see a black line under the surface. Slit the top of the shrimp so the line aka the vein is exposed.  You don’t need to cut too much at all; just break through the surface.

4. With the tip of your knife pull the vein out. I sometimes find it easier to run the shrimp under water as I pull the vein out. Sometimes you can’t see the vein because, well maybe the shrimp got really scared in it’s last moments or something…GOOD GOD I HATE THIS.

Step Four: I Can Give You More

Step Four: I Can Give You More

5. And yay! Your shrimp is clean. All is right with the world. Start making something delicious.

Step Five: Don't You Know That The Time Has Arrived

Step Five: Don't You Know That The Time Has Arrived

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Baby’s Got a Secret

I have a little secret…and I think you may resent me because of it. Come closer; I will whisper it in your ear.

I don’t work Fridays. Ever. It is glorious.

I lunch with friends and tend to appointments. I take long walks and make marathon trips to the gym. Shopping is a breeze, with minimal crowds to fight. Long emails are written to friends. I see what it would be like to be a housewife, minus the minivan, khaki capri pants or a sex life limited to missionary with the lights off.

While you will never hear me complain about having every Friday off, I must admit that working 8-6.30 on Monday through Thursday can be a bit brutal. Both waking up and leaving the office when it is dark makes for some long days. I have been drinking a “red eye” every single afternoon, I am sure effectively stripping the lining of my stomach and slowly rendering myself impervious to caffeine.

After my evening trips to the gym, sometimes pulling dinner together is a struggle.  By the time I get home, it is almost 8 and I am famished.  This is why dishes like this tilapia in mustard cream sauce are perfect. It looks pretty plain, I admit, but it tastes pretty damn good and can be thrown together in about 8 minutes.  Also, it is a much healthier option than grabbing a burrito.  Tilapia is super lean and the amount of cream is negligible when spread across four servings. This one certainly won’t change your life or bring forth any culinary epiphanies, but it does the job it sets out to do: tastes very good and gets on the table fast.

Tilapia in Mustard Cream Sauce

Adapted from Cooking Light

4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/4 dry thyme)
Salt and pepper
Cooking spray
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

Sprinkle fish with thyme, pepper, and salt. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish; cook 1 minute on each side. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove fish from pan; keep warm.

Add cream and mustard to pan; stir with a whisk until well combined. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve sauce over fish.

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How the Other Half Lives

The summer between my sophomore and junior year of college I worked at a ranch in Colorado. That place was a gold mine of tales, and much like most things I have done, I am glad I did it if only for the story alone. If you have spent more than 3 minutes with me, the idea of me scrambling through the woods or working as a housekeeper is laughable. Aunt LifeSaver has referred to it as the summer I pushed my personality to its limits. I spend my whole time there convinced I was going to die, the unfortunate victim of a freak moose attack or bobcat mauling.

It was a 5 star ranch, a getaway for millionaires who wanted to spend obscene amount of money to muck stalls in an attempt to feel like working folk. I had never been around so many filthy rich people in my life; it was a world in which I was wholly unaccustomed. There where 5-year-olds were more traveled than me and trophy wives flaunted diamonds that cost more than the house in which I was raised.

Some of the guests were generous and friendly, but as a general rule, the staff was viewed as the help and treated as such. Fingers were snapped, outlandish demands were made, and a sense of entitlement permeated the air. Most torturous for me was when I would get trapped in a room with one of these people and was forced to engage in awkward conversation. It was the worst form of human interaction, where you know both sides are in agony and looking for the nearest exit. More than once I prayed for one of those bobcats to come pounce on me as I painfully slogged through one of those little chats.

To this day, I will never forget the following conversation:

Richy McMillionaire, middle aged woman hailing from Miami: “Oh, and where are you from?”

Me: Rhode Island.

Richy: Oh…do you know what a mango is?

Apparently, we do not know about such things as tropical fruit in Rhode Island. We are devoid of vitamin C, dying of scurvy, mixing our mimosas with apple juice and making tomato upside down cake. I considered asking her if she knew that clams were, but I thought the better of it. I needed my $550 monthly paycheck.

Luckily I do know what mango is and happen to quite enjoy it. This char with mango salsa is fresh, light and perfectly showcases the mango. Char is a cousin to salmon; any sort of hearty fish (or shrimp or chicken) could be subbed in. This mango salsa could not be easier to make and the results are fantastic. People often say to me “I can’t cook”. I dare any of you to tell me that you cannot make this. The steps are simple and the results impressive. This would be a perfect meal to serve to guests and look like you know what you are doing.

Thank God for mango.

Grilled Char with Mango Salsa

1 ripe mango, diced (Note: you can buy mango already pre-cut)

1/4 medium red onion, finely diced

1/2 small jalapeno pepper, finely diced

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1 lime, juiced

2 teaspoons honey

Salt and pepper

1/2 lb fresh char (or salmon, tuna, shrimp)

Combine all ingredients except char to make salsa. Chill for about an hour to let flavors meld.

Salt and pepper char. Cook for about 4 minutes on both sides, over medium heat. Finish in broiler if needed.

Serve with salad.

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Self Discovery

So, as I mentioned yesterday, the new (yet to be monikered) roommate moved in this weekend. During the process of packing/cleaning, I learned some things:

1. I own (gulp) 14 black dresses. Now, I knew I had a bit of a problem, but I was always able to ignore it. Well, while packing, I had to stare it right in the face. And black shirts? I stopped counting at 20…At least I am predictable and have a “look”.  Yes, that is what I will tell myself.

2. Apparently, I have a limit when it comes to clutter. I don’t think I have ever felt anxious about mess, ever, but living in chaos for the past two weeks has me on edge. I keep stubbing my toes, I cannot find anything, and if I have to break down one more box, I will scream. Fret not; this recent discovery of my clutter threshold has not spurred any real change in me. I have merely sat around lamenting the mess and trying to think of new ways to ignore it.

3. I am now officially frightened to share a bed with anyone whom I am not romantically involved. Annie Birdie and I dismembered her bed Friday night and dragged mine in to her old room/my new room. This meant we had to sleep together that night. I slept horribly. After spooning both Foxy Moron and KassyK within the course of one summer, I have developed a phobia. Annie repeatedly reassured me to relax and if it happened, it happened. Our friendship could survive this. Alas, there were no sneak attacks, so maybe there is hope for me yet.

Also, thanks to you lovelies and my desire to cook healthier for you and for me, I gave scallops one more shot. I have always been pretty ambivalent regarding scallops, finding them a touch slimy. Yet, I also know they are very filling and super healthy. I’ll try anything twice, so I gave the recipe below a spin…and boy am I glad I did. The recipe doesn’t have a ton of liquid so that helps with the whole slimy situation. As tomatoes are still in season, everything tasted super fresh and clean.  These were really quite good. Scallops don’t smell very fishy, so this is the perfect seafood to prepare at home. I slammed this down without and ounce of guilt, feeling very pleased I forced myself to try these one more time.

See how much you can learn on one weekend?

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Oh, and it is Wednesday, so do mosey on over to So Good and see what I am assaulting my palette with this week.

Sauteed Scallops with Cherry Tomatoes

Adapted from YumSugar

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

4 large sea scallops, rinsed and pat dry

Salt and pepper

2 green onions, chopped (white and green parts seperated)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cleaned

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, divided in half

Add oil to non stick pan that has preheated over medium heat. Salt and pepper cleaned scallops and place in pan. Cook about 3 minutes on each side, until browned. Remove scallops from heat and cover with foil.

Add white parts of green onions to pan and cook about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and green parts of onions and cook for abut 5 minutes, until tomatoes begin to blister. Add lemon juice, paprika, and 1 TBS parsley and stir. Add scallops back to pan, along with any juice on the plate and cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Salt as needed.

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