Jun 30, 2012

Cod fit for God

Hold your horses, we'll get to the precious unicorn poems soon.  Atlantic cod's on the menu today.  

Fish is expensive in the Midwest, especially ocean-caught flesh that's flown in on ice.  I'd eat it daily if we lived in a cottage by the sea and could hook a fillet from the boardwalk.  Twice-a-month treat is how we do it.

Used to walk the frozen aisles of Hy-Vee, carting off plastic sealed bricks of any old farm-raised talapia.  Then I tried fresh wild fish and got spoiled/ruined.  If you're used to purchasing frozen swimmers, try fresh and see what you think.

Held my nose and slinked inside a frou-frou food boutique to fetch some fetching cod.  

Gateway Market has a solid selection of Iowa chops and Angus ribeyes.

Seafood made my stomach growl, craw and shellfish waiting to be steamed and anointed with boiling garlic butter. 

Fresh Nemo should be eaten same day, so I buy just enough to fit down my cakehole.  A medium 8 ouncer, please.

Wild rice is friggin' pricey and friggin' delicious paired with fish, $13 per lb.  But self-serve bulk allows metering a single serving.  I got away with a baggy of this yummy nut-flavored black grain for $1.50.  

Useless facts:  Wild rice is not directly related to rice, and its hefting tab is due to the laborious "beat it with a stick" technique needed to harvest with reed knockers along northern Minnesota and Wisconsin lakes and streams.

Grabbed a lemon and kiwi to round out dinner.

Total damage was under $7, not bad for a high quality, healthy plate.

Rice Cooking
Rice is needy and requires 50 minutes, so get it going early.  The secret to delivering a non-clumpy mess is rinsing the dickens out of it.  Excess starch molds into a stiff blob, so baptize with cold water.  Continuously shake the grain while rinsing, after 90 seconds the water drainin' will change from milky white to clear when clean. 

I like to zap with hot butter to crisp and crack her open a little.  A two minute butter blast will do.

Grind salt, drop the olive oil and add water.  The amount of water depends on the type of rice and how moist you like it.  A good start is amount of rice x 1.5 = amount of water.  One cup of rice wants a cup-and-a-half of drink.  I just wing it and add enough to cover the rice, plus another quarter inch for absorption.  Full throttle until it boils, then reduce to low heat and cover with a tight lid.


Fish Grilling
The rice is happy, let's get the fish going.  Trial and error has taught me:

  • Don't marinate.  Fish doesn't hold up and will dissolve to mush if you spank it early with oil and spice.  
  • Don't cook fish directly on the grill grate, it'll stick and rip.  Use a foil pouch instead.
  • Experiment with seasoning until you find a winner that beats down blandness.
  • I'll slap you if you overcook it, keep an eye when grilling since it finishes in a few minutes. 

Light the grill, rinse the fillet in water and dry with a paper towel.

Try different combos of seasonings, today we'll go with salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne and lemon juice.  Dill or curry powder also work well.

Drizzle with olive oil to keep the swimmer moist and help the spices stay put.  Squeeze a lemon if you want, then shake taste on both sides.

looking gross

Lightly spray a long sheet of foil with oil, lay the dead fish and fold to make a metal pouch.  I add in a wedge of butter for taste and cholesterol, leaving a gap in the aluminum to vent steam.


You want to flake the fillet hot and quick, the grill's ready at 400 degrees.  Keep the lid open, I only close the hatch on thick cuts of meat.

It's done in a handful of minutes, I checked at the 7 mark.

 Steam melts your face off when you nudge open the angry pouch.

Fork test, done when she flakes.

Pull the rice from the stove and turn it with a fork.  I then spent 5 minutes paring/peeling kiwi.  How in the heck do you do this more quickly?  Give me a tip.

Cod dishes 40 grams of protein and plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins.  Wild rice offers minerals and fiber, kiwifruit's good for potassium and vitamin C.  Eat up!


Still hungry, vanilla beneath berries we picked last weekend.

Still hungry, so I gassed a pair of potatoes for bedtime snack.

The end,

Jun 25, 2012

A Little of This...

I have primary custody of Pigtails, her mother has three weeks of summer break with the kid starting now.  She bawled last night when it was time to split, it's quiet in the house without her.  

I'll try and bang out a couple house projects during the stretch.  Maybe pick through daughter's room and weed out the high waters and junk toys she refuses to release due to her sentimental/hoarder tendencies.  The girl has an internal database of all her crap, she'll deliver a tongue bashing when she discovers her armless doll is MIA and the stuff animals have been depantsed.

Put Some Pants On
Speaking of projects and no pants, it's probably time to go ahead and cover those kitchen windows that have been naked for 12 moons.  I'll measure and order from Blinds.com, installation is easy and something a blind monkey could do.  Looking at four types but open to anything, help me decide.

1 - Bamboo or woven seagrass roller:

2 - Cellular top-down/bottom-up:

3 - Cotton roller:

4 - Wood plantation shutters:

Pick one, recommend me something different or simply leave the windows naked and let thy BVDs shine forth?

The garden's beginning to produce.  Chopped a head of lettuce, arugula and cilantro last night into salad.  

cilantro = Chinese parsley

Mom and dad visited to celebrate their 41st anniversary and our b-days.  We did the Farmers' Market, picked another 5 lbs of blueberries from the Berry Patch and got wet at the Art Festival

Mom brought a booty of garden-grown potatoes, snap beans, scallions, yellow squash and cuc's.  The plants are putting out a few weeks early with summer temps settling ahead of schedule.  I roughed up a heap of veggies tonight with 15 pounds of Dutch iron:  hot butter, Cajun heat and a heavy shake of cumin seeds.

The foot's feeling swell, so I've been easing into a little running while keeping the bike mileage up.  Pigtails is good for 40 miles on the tag-along, we'll continue upping the distance and hope to ride a day or two of RAGBRAI next month.

The Disney furlough is solidifying.  Thank you to those that left helpful comments recommending places to see on our southern expedition.  Looks like Debby the Storm is delivering a rain lashing right now, 15 inches on the Big Bend.  Pigtails doesn't know about the trip yet, I've given her frustratingly vague clues like "water" and "swim" and "air".  Did tell her she's taking a plane, she jumped around all crazy and asked if there will be pretzels en route.  

India is a go.  I plan to take a couple free days outside of work there to burrow into the countryside with camera and pen.  Let me know if there's something you'd like to see or have me try.  Eager to taste it, I'll take you there with me.

Up to Bat
Help me drive out the next post.  Would you like to:

  • Smell fishy grill action, I'll do cod and garden greens on the BBQ.  Or maybe just crack open a Lunchables and call it good.
  • Sleep through a multi-parter on my faith walk:  growing up Lutheran, going Baptist when married and my swim across the Tiber into the Catholic Church.

If no feedback, then I'm writing unicorn poems.


Jun 20, 2012

My Worldview - 3, Phở Fed

Lest the corn fed dish smells of narrow worldview, I'll loop the big blue outer ring today to spread the gap. 

I shop local when possible, but a person would be a punk not to try a sloppy vat of Vietnamese rare-beef Phở.   

Uncompassionate to be indifferent to the genocide going down in North Sudan.   

Evaluation incomplete if not test driving cars assembled in Japan when picking a ride.
Head in the sand if you shout "Chinese products are garbage!"  The iPhone is born in Shenzhen factories that are a world standard for manufacturing prowess and responsiveness:

"A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day."  "The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

My preferred place to grab goods is a local farmers' market.  Teleporting layers on the Rings of Influence, my second favorite stop is World Market.  WM imports wine, coffee, tea, candy, toys, tables, paintings, adirondacks and jewelry from Malaysia, India, China, Singapore, Italy, France, Germany, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Canada (not sure that last one counts).  

Sheesham consoles steel-chiseled by hand in India.
Recycled glass tumblers mouth-blown in Mexico.
Chinese paper dragon kites and Australian windup tin toys.
Japanese tea and Belgian dark chocolates
Euro wine, yes please.

I source most birthday and wedding gifts from WM.  Recipients smile when opening something they've never seen before and not available on Blue Light Special at Kmart.

The kitchen reboot ate IKEA cabinets from Sweden and a table pieced together of local timber from a felled barn.  Slate floor tiles cut from India and Rada knives cast in Waverly, Iowa. Windows made in America and a fridge bolted together in New Zealand.  The combo pack of mixing local with world results in a complex 'n tasty dish.

Pork Phở and Iowa sweet corn, pot of hot China jasmine green with a sweet Czech koláč finish.

There's a good chance I'll be taking a bird to Pune, India on business.  We're also doing Disney soon.  Guess which one I yearn for most.

Jun 19, 2012

Dance, Dance Butterflies

We burned BBQ fumes at Reiman Gardens on the Iowa State campus.  All that brisket and berries had us jacked up on the garden's dance dance revolution brass chimes:

the Rube Goldberg ball maze was sweet

even the butterflies were taking pictures of butterflies