Monday, December 15, 2008

a departure

Greetings! I'm calling this post "a departure" because I fear that it may be a departure from my usual lovely thoughts. Please know, however, that the original idea which I thought would lead to a delightful "something new" was deeply rooted in only the loveliest of intentions.

The other day, P and I were visiting our favorite local market and oohing and ahhing over their fish counter. In the past, their interesting selection has inspired me to cook new fish, and try out new techniques. On this particular day, I saw several silvery trout laid out on the ice among the various filets and shellfish. I decided that since I am really a true cook now, who respects and appreciates food and where it comes from, that cooking up a whole fish would yield a beautiful and satisfying meal. Something that looked like this or, better yet, this.

As scheduling would have it, P had to go out of town, so I was left to prepare my fish by myself this evening. What an opportunity! I thought. I can perfect my whole fish roasting technique and impress my husband when he returns from his trip! I decided to cook my fish en papillote stuff it with fresh herbs from the AeroGarden, splash it with some white wine, olive oil, and sprinkle S&P.

I gleefully picked my neat paper package of trout from the fridge, and prepared to rinse it and get cooking. I unrolled the paper and --

Good God. I couldn't for the life of me bring myself to touch the fish. It's eyes! Its tiny teeth! I steeled myself, reached over to pick it up, promptly dropped it. Squealed. Poked it with one finger. Closed my eyes. Called a friend who distracted me while I finally got it rinsed and back onto the parchment paper.

There! Hard part over. The fish was filleted and open so now was unable to gaze into its eyes as I laid out the various herbs, lemon, S&P, wine, olive oil. I realized I had a few more steps I needed to do so should probably stash the fish in the fridge while I finished up. Trouble was, the fridge was kind of full, and I precariously perched the pan with my fish on the bottom shelf, only to have it suddenly slide out the open door and land fish first on the floor. Gaaaah! The parchement paper covered the body, but his little fishy head was peeking out at me accusingly, and at an odd angle from under the refridgerator.

Quick text to Pete:
Call when you can. There has been an incident with the fish.

Well, that's it, I thought. End of fish fight. But, no. That would be a waste and counter to the whole impetus behind the idea of cooking a whole fish to appreciate where my food comes from yadda yadda yadda. If I simply threw out the fish, that would be a horrible waste. I decided to just give him another quick rinse and start again.

Unfortunately (unfortunately for the fish), when I went to shower him off, those accusing eyes were staring at me. I kept thinking I heard him making little gurgling noises. So, I did the only thing there was to do: I cut his head off. Ew ew ew. There is now a fish head in a plastic bag hanging from the doorknob of my front door (See? Not lovely).

Now, confronted with the more familiar looking headless version of trout, I reassembled my ingredients, drizzled with some wine (then poured a glass for myself), tied up the parchment and popped it in the oven.

I must say, this fish is delicious. It's so summery and Mediterranean from the rosemary/thyme/lemon. Most importantly, it is not looking at me. No, wait -- most importantly, I did not waste my fish and I now feel I have fufilled my need to demonstrate my accountability for what I eat. Sometimes a fillet is just fine.

Back to lovely next time.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

H.A.S.: feeling ornamental...

Deck the halls with heads of Lenin...
Guess who this ornament belongs to?
[Hint: the one with the Eastern Europe fetish]

Continuing in the holiday vein, P and I picked up our Christmas tree the other evening. With our new (still shiny) car, we were able to easily and quickly aquire a rather large tree (don't scratch it, don't scratch, don't get sap in it, needles don't fall off!). The car is still quite clean due to P's good thinking and massive plastic drop cloth.

The final process was a bit more extended than it has been in the past:

Day 1: put tree in stand.
Day 2: put lights on tree. Drink eggnog.
Day 3: put ornaments on tree. Drink 1/2 glass eggnog each due to prior night's eggnog consumption.

I remember always wanting the biggest tree possible as a kid, and was momentarily concerned that the tree we had chosen this year (P are you sure it's big enough?) would take up our entire tiny living room. However, with some smart furniture adjustments, all is right in the living room.

Decorating on Day 3 was a fun trip down memory lane. My mother has given each of the kids an ornament every year, and has meticulously recorded the year of giving on each one. It's been nice to have another collection started (although we have some bare spots). Here are some favorites (in addition to the Lenin ornament).

Sea turtle from honeymoon in HI...

VT pewter from P's parents...

Now historic Marshall Fields ornament
from Aunt Mar & Uncle Stu...

Ornament P & I picked up in Waitsfield, VT...

P's gift to me last year -- my power animal...

North country ornament for P from our last unmarried Xmas...

Today, we're visiting an "Indie Design Market" to look for some last minute holiday wares, then heading downtown to take advantage of 20% off cases of wine! It's beginning to finally feel like Christmas. Looking forward to 2 weeks up north with the family...


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Euro fix

Right now, I am experiencing two lingering side effects from my trip to London: some fatigue induced by a total lack of time zone for the past 4 days, and a terrible Euro-craving.

A friend just sent me a quick video that pretty much sums up my feelings right now:

It is gray and rainy here. Not charming, BUT it would be charming if we were in London. I want to wear a scarf everywhere. I want to "take away" my "to go," and I want to speak French. In a park. To P, who would be drinking wine and wearing slightly pointy shoes...


Monday, December 8, 2008

London by night...

I'm back! It was a whirlwind trip to London, but I tried to make the most of my free time. I made it to Fortnum and Mason for my hamper fix, had a pint, and squeezed in an early evening double-decker bus tour. Let me say that only the foolhardy will ride around London on the open air upper deck of a tour bus in December. I am one of those fools.

Actually, I didn't warm up for about 2 hours afterwards, but check out the fantastic photography that resulted from my birdseye view:

Um, yeah. A little psychedelic, no? At least I managed to make it to the general proximity of the Tower of London... Baby steps...

Very nice trip, but glad to be home.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

merry old...

Trafalgar Square by camera phone...

I'm off to England tonight! I'm hoping for a replay of last year's visit, but with more Tower of London (as in no Tower of London last time...). Not very Christmasy, I guess, but will also plan to hunt down the hampers, advent candles, and plum pudding.

See you soon...