Healthy Eating


I am a man of many passions when it comes to food. Over the course of my continuing education in learning about my likes and dislikes, I’ve had some polarizing statements come out of my mouth.

1) I could never date a vegetarian.  Okay, that one was asking to be broken. When I first said it, I think I meant that I could never date someone who so closely affiliated the biggest parts of who they were with vegetarianism. Yes, it shapes your eating habits, but to constantly talk about what you can and can’t, should and shouldn’t, will and won’t eat is too much of a grind if you’re in a relationship with someone whose profession and passion centers around food.

That being said, the woman who has accepted me as her own does not eat the barnyard meats. Nothing with legs, says she, and that’s fine.

We eat fish from time to time, not so much as we used to in Seattle, but it’s part of the menu. I’ve learned to extract flavors from vegetables, and I have an open relationship with my meat, knowing that if she’s out of town, it’s alright to cook a burger or two. Most of the choices I make, however, have evolved into cooking things that we’d normally eat together, anyway. I don’t have cravings for red meat, nor do I go out of my way to get a pork chop or two if I want one, although the option is there at the grill down the street.

Instead, It’s a pasta, some vegetables, a sauce, maybe some shrimp if it’s around. I do like risotto. I find myself looking for more things that are green, and get a bit frustrated if I don’t come up with something a little bit healthier if I’m going to cook a meal.

I can’t eat like I used to. Burgers make me feel gross and lethargic. I really like chicken wings, but if they’re fried, I just don’t care for how they make my stomach do flips when I’m least expecting it. In times of culinary crisis, a salad can be your best friend.

This brings me to point the second.

2) Veganism is a waste of time. I used to say that your body needs animal protein, and that to deny it what it needs causes conflict in your innards. A comfortable solution to fast food and diets high in saturated fats this is not. Anything your body needs that you take out of your diet needs to be replaced with something. Veganism just sounded like so much of a hassle.

Today, though, a friend was looking to drastically change her eating habits, and decided that veganism was the way to go. Admittedly, it’s a tricky road, and one that I probably won’t go down. Still, how does one achieve a good balance of nutrients in a plant-based diet to fully function on a daily basis? Where does the protein come from? What about the energy that you would lack?

What ensued was a conversation on Facebook back and forth between a few different voices, some vegan, some not. One woman had a gluten intolerance. I think it’s fascinating to find out how people deal with certain restrictions of food consumption to come up with a suitable solution to their own dietary needs.

First, the biggest culprit is red meat. I say this working from behind the counter in a meat department, and against my better judgment from the standpoint of wanting it to be a success: We eat too much red meat. Our case would not be as bounteous if we cut everything to portion sizes that the governing bodies recommended. We would lose our porterhouses and our ribeyes. A 20 lb. ham would take a family of four two weeks to polish off. It just wouldn’t be right. Still, we have options for healthy eating where the recipe dictates a ratio of meat to vegetables that allows us to be comfortable in recommending items to people who want to eat healthy.

I realize it’s not for everyone, and I want to let people who are considering veganism to know that if it isn’t for ethical reasons, it can be a soft veganism. So long as you are doing it for health reasons, there are many options out there for living a plant-based existence.

What has two thumbs and enjoys a plant-based diet? This guy.

Somewhere out in the ether is a nutritionist, John Pierre, who touts ‘going to the source’ as a method of finding optimum nutrition. For example, if you don’t want to eat fish, but you want the benefit of Omega-3 fatty acids, look at what the fish eat: Green sea vegetables. Who says you can’t skip eating the fish and go straight to the source? If you’re not vegan, who says you can’t fortify your eating choices by adding nutrient rich greens to your diet?

I do love nutrient rich greens of the variegated kind. There’s kale, chard, mustard greens, bitter searing greens, etc. These are all excellent choices from which you can derive a large part of your total nutrition, and in conjunction with other nutrient dense plants, seeds, or nuts, you can get a balanced meal. One that comes to mind is Black Beans and seared kale. Add brown rice, a serving of nuts, and you’re on your way. It doesn’t have to be complex, and you don’t have to be constantly substituting things in and out of recipes. A lot of different countries have recipes that are vegan or vegetarian based, from the afforementioned rice and beans with kale to dozens of Indian dishes.

I found a great blog specializing in Indian dishes that stand alone with flavors and health, and they’re vegetarian by design, not because they’re appealing to a niche. That is secondary. The composition and health are the primary driving factors behind these recipes. Check it out. 

From Currylicious- Chickpeas with Grated Coconut. Click the Picture for the Recipe

Nobody says vegetarian food has to be boring. Look at granola. That’s vegan without being called vegan. Put some fresh fruit in there, a splash of alternative milk (make sure there’s no added sugar and that it’s low in added oil-that negates the health benefits), and it’s breakfast.

It doesn’t have to be boring, this food, but it should be healthy. Here’s a helpful hint: If you can’t see the food, or if it’s hidden behind multiple layers of packaging, it’s probably not the best for you. Want to know what is? Vegetables. Fresh Vegetables. Even frozen vegetables are good. Clarence Birdseye patented a food technology long ago that harnesses the nutritive value of rapidly frozen vegetables so that from farm to table they retain almost all of their deliciousness and health. Canned beans are good for you, and I know from experience that they’re cooked equal or better than I can make them at home.

Veggie Burgers are delicious, so long as you don’t close your eyes and hope that it tastes like meat. You’ll be disappointed if you do. If you just want something that tastes like it’s not trying too hard, be satisfied with your patties, or for a more healthful alternative, make a big batch of your own using all the good things that you can think of.

Make a pot of brown rice. Fluff it up, eat some with dinner, and use the rest for burgers. Add some cooked lentils, some finely chopped kale, a bunch of spices like coriander, turmeric, cumin, some onions, maybe some garlic. Mix it by the hand squish method until it becomes something that will hold together as a blob. Patty them, separate them with waxed paper, throw them in the freezer, and pull one out when you need it. Shopping for all this  stuff once and making a big batch is a great way to make it easier on yourself to eat healthier.

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Even if eating vegan or even strictly vegetarian is not  for me, the conversation taught me a lot about how I think about my food. I don’t want to classify my eating habits as anything. Aside from eating takeout out of convenience once in a while, I know how to eat healthy. I need my greens, and if I choose to eat mostly vegetarian, I know where to get my proteins from: Barley, Quinoa, Rice, Nuts, and Beans. It’s not about ethics for me. It’s about health. I’m not going to shut out specific food groups unless it’s proven that I need to cut down. Moderation, as always, is key. A little cheese is not going to hurt as long as I eat some fruit and maybe some nuts.

There are so many great vegetarian dishes out there that I’ve been meaning to try, and not because they’re vegetarian, but just because they look like they taste good. Aside from eating what’s right for your body, isn’t that what matters most?

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Hey, you. Leave a comment. Let’s continue this discussion. 

Here is number two in the series of guest posts from friends of mine. Tonight’s fine read is from Katrina Schroeder of the website Eat, Drink, and be Active.
Katrina is a longtime friend who hails from my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. From growing up in the family business of specialty retailing (the jewel of Madison’s small businesses, Orange Tree Imports), Katrina and her family share a strong bond over both food and an active lifestyle. Since I’ve known her, she has gone from weekend bike rides around the lake to participating in marathons and triathlons as both a competitor and vocal supporters of her family’s goals, wherever the finish line may be.
Her blog documents her take as an active person and budding nutritionist to give the body what it needs to stay fit and healthy while making smart decisions about how we live our lives in relation to food and exercise. To be more concise- Eat, Drink, and Be Active.

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Seven Good Reasons You Should Eat, Drink, and Be Active

1. You get to eat more! Have you ever seen the t-shirt that says: “I run so I can eat?” How true. The science doesn’t lie: if you move more, you can consume more. So if you know that you’re heading to a cookout where you’d really like to sample each side in addition to that burger and brew, go for a run that morning or play a little Frisbee at the cookout. You should never feel guilty for what you eat, but you can take steps (literally) to make sure that what you eat doesn’t dominate your energy in versus energy out for the day.

2. Water equals life. You’ve probably heard that a certain amount of your body is made up of water. But think about it a little bit harder for a second: water makes up a little bit of just about everything. What do your eyes rest in? What is your blood made out of? What cushions your precious internal organs? You need to get enough liquids in you each day for the up-keep of your mostly-water filled body. It doesn’t have to be plain old water, either. Plenty of foods are made up of over 90% water like fruits and veggies. If you know you’re dehydrated a lot but just can’t stomach water on its own, try adding a splash of OJ to sparkling water or making a cucumber-basil infused pitcher of water to keep in your fridge.

3. Food is the new preventative medicine. There’s really no arguing anymore how much food can affect your health. Adapting a healthier diet and being more active can prevent most of the top fatal diseases in America. Studies continue to show that you should eat a mostly plant-based diet (this doesn’t mean you have to become a vegetarian, but if you’re deciding between brown rice that came from a plant and crackers that came from a box, pick the one that was more recently a plant). By doing this you can reduce your risk of some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes… the list goes on. Eat healthy for yourself and for future generations who might want you around for a while!

4. Exercise makes you happy. Getting your heart rate up releases endorphins, which triggers your brain into being happy. It will also help you sleep better and lower your stress levels. It’s a great way to blow off steam as well as make new friends. Why not join a local softball team or masters swimming group? Meetup.com has a group for just about every physical activity and if they don’t have what you’re looking for you can start your own!

5. It’s fun to cook. Eating out is easy and tasty, but when you think about how much butter those chefs are sneaking in there to get you to come back, it’s enough to make you want to cook for yourself more so you can control exactly what’s going into your body. If you’re not much of a cook yet, it’s not too late! Try going to the grocery store and buying several types of produce that are on sale. When you get home look up recipes, or just sauté or grill them and season with some salt and pepper or your favorite stir-fry sauce. Once you have a couple of easy recipes under your belt try to see if you can change them in a way that makes them healthier or more unique to your own tastes.

6. People will be really impressed. Being healthy and active are great conversation starters and ways to impress people! Chances are if you’re active it will come up in conversation. People are always asking me if I run and when I say ‘well yes, for my triathlon training’ they often look on with awe (to some degree). Does it matter that I’m far from being at the top of my age group and will never do an ironman distance tri? No! It’s also a great opportunity to encourage others to be active.

7. You can convince other people to do it with you. Ask anyone you know who plays a sport or does physical activity why or when they started. Chances are they’ll have either a specific person or people who influenced them to get moving. When people ask me I tell them that my dad and I biked a lot when I was young and I started running because of him as well. The swimming was all me though! Now when I sign up for a race I think to myself ‘who else might enjoy doing this with me?’ and send them a message. Sometimes it only takes a little bit of encouragement from outside sources to help a person meet their fitness goals.

If you work at a Grocery store, or if you shop at one, you know how difficult it can be to find healthy options for your family at affordable prices. All the time, you hear about how places like Whole Foods are referred to as “Whole Paycheck”, (a daily occurrence for me), but in reality, it’s not that way at all.
Yes, the prices may seem somewhat exorbitant on one scale, being that you can get some products, exactly the same, for much cheaper at the local Kroger or Safeway. However, it still pales to how much we spend when we eat our lunches out.
I’m guilty of it, too. During the lunch period, I’ll wander over to Panera, get myself a half sandwich and cup of soup, and usually something to drink. A regular lunch, if only because I don’t want to be taken by too many choices in the grocery store. I want something off a menu that I don’t have to think about, and that I can order, eat, relax with, and be back to work with a decent amount of nourishment in 30 minutes or less.
The total price of a lunch? About 10 to 11 dollars, depending on the size of drink I’d like and whether I want my sandwich toasted.
Breaking it down, though, there are certain questions that begin to mount. The cup of soup is 12 ounces. I have half a sandwich. And even with a small drink, soda, iced tea, whatever it may be, the price of that drink is $1.85. Why so expensive for so little food?
Now, flip it over to Whole Foods, where the prices are allegedly high and there’s allegedly an attitude that comes with the meal. I can get a big salad for $5. I can get a whole sandwich, roast beef, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, trimmings, etc. for $4. Either that, or a 16 ounce soup full of goodness for $4. I can get a soda for 69 cents. Total price of a meal? Under ten dollars. It’ll probably fill me up. When I have the patience, that’s what I do.
When I don’t, though, it’s off to Panera I go. It’s the American way.

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Let’s look at some of the ways that supermarkets are designed to assist your shopping experience. First, in almost any store you visit, the eye catching display as you walk in the door is Produce. It sets the tone of freshness throughout the store. Stop and look at things that are on sale. You can usually find at least one fruit or vegetable staple that is of reasonable price, and when you do, you should put it in your cart. This may be because the store has a good supplier in Mexico, or it may also be that they’re running a sale on something fresh, local, and in season. We eat with our eyes, but we needn’t forget to smell certain foods.
Tomatoes should smell like tomatoes. Basil should smell fresh and green. You should be able to get a whiff of orange oil if you lightly zest it with your thumb.
If you’re on a budget, and you are able to afford the Roma tomatoes that are hard and bland, don’t worry. Take them home, toss them with a little oil, salt and pepper, and roast them at 300 degrees until they turn to mush and their flavors bloom.
Next, look for the private label brands. Many stores have private label brands that are contracted through well-reputed companies at a lower markup. What this means is that good economic practices can work, by giving a wider audience to a company such as a Stonyfield Organic, or simply just by promoting the private label brand itself, getting the store’s name out more. Every time you open your fridge, there’s Safeway Organic Milk. There’s President’s Choice pickles. If you slapped the regular label on them, you’d end up paying a buck more for Vlasic and Horizon products. Private Label isn’t bad.
Third, the bulk section. More stores have a bulk section, where you can scoop granola, get almonds and raisins, and even pick up some treats for the kids. Bulk items are less expensive because they have a much lower packaging cost, among other factors. You can stack a pallet 8 high with 50# bags of rice, and if you buy either a whole bag, or merely a few scoops, you’re only using a fraction of the materials it takes to pack a canister of Planters’ peanuts with the foil inside and the razor sharp rim of death.
Last, buy what you know, but check the labels. If you know a Campbell’s soup is good, but you see another one on sale for half the price, try it. Try it once. You might not like it, and if you don’t, you have that knowledge moving forward, but you also have equal sustenance in your belly from your one less than flavorful interim meal. It’s not so bad. Now you know. You saved a buck and you fed yourself for a meal. This checking the labels thing? Try to use it for good things. You can’t taste the difference between a $4 can of Organic free range garbanzo beans and a $.99 can of store brand. Not after you add your garlic, cheese, salt, herbs, or anything else people put with it. Don’t sit in the aisles, poring over the labels on two competing brands of pizza, looking for the one with higher fiber. That’s not what healthy eating is about.

Remember- the more packaging something has, the less incentive it has to stay fresh. Simple packaging generally equals better food. If you can see the food without picking it up, or if you know that the food doesn’t have five layers of protective packaging or an airpuffed bag surrounding it, it might be a little better for you than a Kraft Macaroni and cheese. Case in point- the Macaroni. It’s alright. It can touch the cardboard, and it’s fine. However, the ‘cheese’? It’s in the airtight, foil lined, childproof pouch. We can easily see or hear the macaroni as it shuffles around in the box when we shake it. What we can’t do is even imagine what is in the Neon pouch of doom. That’s why I stay away from the box macaroni dinners. Colors like that don’t occur in nature.
You know what color does occur in nature? Green. If you have something green with dinner, you’re already on your way to better health. You can get a whole bag of spring mix, herbs, bitter greens, spinach, etc. for 2 bucks at my store. You can’t even get an egg mcmuffin for that, can you?
Buy some apples. Buy some bananas. If they go brown, make banana bread. Freeze them. Make morning smoothies with frozen fruit and orange juice. Find ways to utilize all the fresh food you get. It’s your money. Make healthy and sound choices for your dollar.
As a side question, when did coupons become such a bad thing? Look for the coupons. Clip ’em if you got ’em. Stock up on nonperishables when they go on sale. We have such a love for things like Groupon and Livingsocial, always scouting out things that are marketed to look like they are a great deal (some of them are!), but why not take that approach with your food? It’s a great deal in Atlanta to get a Facial and salt scrubbed body peel for 50% off today, but it seems too much to want to get 20% off of your groceries by clipping coupons or simply figuring out what is the best value for your dollar. Get your Preferred rewards card. Pick up the coupon booklet when you first walk in the store. You won’t be taken by impulse buys, most of the time. As long as you keep your head on right, and shop with purpose, you’ll be able to shop smart.

Shop S-Mart.


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One last thing- Most people shop in terms of total dollar amounts. What many fail to realize is that packaging is perceived value. It may cost $4.99 for one container of shredded parmesan cheese, but it will cost $3.00 for a hunk of parmesan of equal or greater weight. It is increasingly popular (and I don’t know if it is mandated yet) to put unit cost on the shelf tags by the products. Next time you’re in the store, check out Unit prices, and see which items, not necessarily by sheer dollar amount alone, will give you the lowest price per ounce.

Yesterday was the second 12 hour opening of the Copper River Season, from 7 AM to 7 PM up in Alaska. We’re fortunate in Seattle to get the direct flights loaded up with the finest fish, and this morning’s batch was spectacular.

The second opening gave us a fair amount of fish, and the sockeyes look awesome. You’re not going to get a fresher fish anywhere in the country unless you go catch it yourself.  Moreover, the Alaskan Salmon Fishing Industry has been evaluated and certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, an independent Third Party who monitors catch limits, methods of fishing, and environmental concerns surrounding commercial operations. Read more about it on their website, with a link at the end of this post.

With that being said, the price is already starting to drop. Where it started off at a price of $29.99/lb for pretty much everyone in the market here, the price for the second opening has already seen a drop of Five dollars per pound. Start getting your grills ready, because it’s going to come in quick, and it’s going to be great.

Soy-Miso Marinated Salmon with Green Bean Salad

2 lbs. Copper River Sockeye Salmon Fillet

2 TBSP White Miso Paste

2 TBSP Soy Sauce

2 TBSP Rice Vinegar

1 TBSP Brown Sugar

1/4 c. Canola Oil

2 tsp. Sesame Seeds

1 Squirt Wasabi paste

Green Bean Salad

1 Handful green beans, trimmed.

1 box cherry tomatoes, halved

1 TBSP White Miso

1 TBSP Mayonnaise

Splash of soy sauce

Splash of rice vinegar

1 finger fresh grated ginger

2 cloves minced garlic

sesame seeds

1 green onion, sliced diagonally, thin

For the Salmon: Take all the ingredients for the marinade, aside from the sesame seeds, and whisk together. Put your salmon fillet, either whole or cut into four pieces, in the marinade, and let it sit for at least a half an hour. Before you put it in the oven, it should have a dark, caramel color on the surface, and the marinade should just be penetrating towards the center of the fish. As a note, pat the surface relatively dry before you put it in the oven, as excess marinade will burn.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

For the green beans, get a pot of salted water to a boil, and throw the beans in until they get nice and green, about two minutes. They should still be a little crunchy, but after you pull them out, run them under cool water until they stop steaming.

For the dressing, just whisk all the ingredients together. It’s simple, fast, and delicious. (It’s also very healthy, shhhhhh!)

Add the tomatoes. Toss it with the dressing. Instant Salad.

For the salmon, place it Skin side UP in a baking dish, and put it in your preheated oven for about six to eight minutes. The skin should be nice and crispy, and as a chef’s hint, if you take the back of a knife and wick away any excess moisture, that’ll help it along. For added technique and a nice presentation, make some light diagonal slashes in the skin with a knife, as if you were making slashes in a loaf of french bread before baking.

Here’s the big secret to finding out if your fish is done: Take a fork, stick the tines in the fish, and wiggle it around. If it flakes, it’s done. On the sides, you should see the fat starting to sweat out the sides. That means it’s perfect. The marinade will keep it moist, and you’ll end up with a great dinner.  Slice a little bit of green onion and garnish over top for a fresh finish.

Serve it with some steamed jasmine rice, or get a quick box of couscous at the store, and you have a healthy, well rounded meal that is excellent, filling, and a taste of where we call home.

Marine Stewardship Council: http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/certified/pacific/alaska-salmon/alaska-salmon-1

 

 

Today, we’ve got our first fresh Copper River Salmon of the season! It started out on Thursday with a 12 hour opening, and we’re going to have another one tomorrow for another run of gorgeous fish.

The Copper River, one of the steepest rivers in the world, dropping 3600 feet in vertical elevation over the course of 300 miles. It is located just three hours away from Anchorage, spilling into the ocean at Cordova. It is the first fresh Alaskan run of the year, and these exclusive opportunities mixed with the phenomenal physical stamina of the fish and the rich mineral deposits along the banks provide us every May with the most superior salmon in the world.

A shot of the Copper River

With that information at hand, what will you do with your new favorite fish? Here’s an easy and quick recipe to get your tastebuds all riled up:

Maple Grilled Copper River Sockeye with Stone Ground Mustard Glaze and Grilled Peaches

2 lbs. Copper River Sockeye Fillet, skin on

1/4 cup oil

3 TBSP Maple Syrup

1 TBSP Brown Mustard (dijon is fine, German mustard is better, but the best is the one with mustard seeds)

Salt/Pepper

Other ingredients for sides:

2 Peaches, sliced, skin on

Fresh Asparagus

1 Lemon

Mix oil, syrup, mustard, salt and pepper together.  Take your salmon fillets and coat them with the mixture, letting them rest for about 30 minutes or more. This recipe is one that you can use confidently, knowing that ingredients such as maple syrup go well with salmon because they’re both from the same place- among the trees in the frozen tundra.

Coat asparagus and peaches in oil, salt and pepper. Let them sit.

With your grill on medium high, brush the grate liberally with oil. Don’t use the nonstick cooking spray unless you use it away from a direct flame. Pat the excess salmon marinade off of the fish, and oil the skin.

Skin side down, put the fish on the grill. Put the peach slices and asparagus on the grill. After about three to four minutes, flip all of them. The asparagus should be charred and deep green, and the peaches can have grill marks on them. (Note: If your grill isn’t that clean, after you flip the peaches and asparagus, put the lid on and let the fish go without flipping. It might fall apart.)

Three more minutes, and your dish is ready to serve. Take the asparagus off, put the fish on top, and garnish the fish with peach slices. Let it rest for a couple minutes, and enjoy!

Serves 4-6

Side note: If you’re worried about the cleanliness of your grill, don’t fret. Take a cedar plank and soak it in water for about an hour before you grill. Then, put it on the grill and lightly char it, and let the smoke infuse your salmon. It’s excellent, simple, and it acts as a serving plate. Nothing says the Northwest like a Planked Salmon.

 

So if you’re like all of us here at City Fish, you work hard all day, and come home to a house where you just don’t want to have to deal with much of a meal. It’s a known fact that the majority of the meals that we prepare are one pot meals that typically take less than a half hour to prepare. You grab food where you can, and eat it when you have time available. With all the times people ask us for recipes, we tell them one of two things- something easy, or something that we eat.

The weekend was a great success. It was busy and beautiful down here with the addition of our Cruise ship crowds and Cheesefesters. At the end of the weekend, we were all beat.

Around lunch time today, we all looked in each other’s lunch pails. A sandwich in one, leftover chicken in the other, and something that looked awesome in the boss’s hands.

Vegetables, succulent chunks of halibut. It looked so filling and good.

“What’s that?”

“Halibut Pot Roast.”

Sounds simple enough. Fresh vegetables, sauteed, potatoes, little bit of vegetable broth, and some sauteed halibut cheeks. Little salt, little pepper, and some capers sprinkled on top, and we’ve got ourselves a meal.

Halibut is a deepwater fish most commonly found in Southeast Alaska. Fished from Ketchikan up past the Arctic Circle, these monsters can get up to over 500 pounds. As the fish gets heavier, it turns from a fish that swims upright to a fish that scuttles along the depths of the ocean floor. As a result, one eye moves from the bottom to the top side of the fish, making it an ugly, but deceptively delicious fish.

The texture is white and flaky, and has a reputation around the world for being one of the most delicious, prized fish from the icy cold waters of Alaska. It’s caught mostly by longline, a string of hooks individually baited and left along the ocean floor, enticing the fish with herring, pulled up 6 to 10 hours after the lines are set between two buoys that bob along the surface. According to former Halibut captain Joe Daniels, the brother of our owner Jon Daniels, the commercial lines are anchored 50 to 100 fathoms  (about 300-600 feet) deep. Due to recent quotas incurred by the Alaskan industry, it is no longer a free for all. We’re very lucky to have a large quota of halibut that captains can spread out over the course of an eight month stretch from March to November, ensuring top quality product for the better part of the year, and no break in the fresh supply. It’s one of our most consistent catches, and it works out great every time we cook it. It works in any manner of ways, and works well with almost any flavor combination.

Here’s something we tell people at the market that holds true in most every case: The weirder a fish looks, the better it tastes. Monkfish, halibut, their cousins the flounder and sole, sturgeon and skate wing are all prehistoric fish, but they’re some of the best tasting fish you can have. Looks like a circus act, but tastes like a dream.

Halibut is the most versatile fish in the case. I’ve prepared it every way, but I’ve never thought to do it Pot Roast style. That is, I never thought to do it until I saw what the boss was having for lunch. Without further ado, here is Jon’s lunch.

Halibut Pot Roast

2 lbs. Halibut Fillet

1 lb. baby red potatoes

1 yellow onion, thin sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

thyme

tarragon

bottle of Riesling, Chardonnay, or White Table Wine. (Is it good enough to drink?)

3 TBSP Butter

Olive Oil

Preparation:

Boil your baby reds until firm, not quiter tender. Drain them and reserve for later.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Swirl olive oil in an Ovenproof Saute Pan, and sweat your onion for 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat until it starts to brown or caramelize. Add the garlic and tomato, saute for two minutes.

Put your halibut on your bed of vegetables, and put your parboiled potatoes, fresh herbs, and add a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper in the pan. Cover it with about a half cup of white wine, and pour yourself a glass to sip and enjoy while the fish is baking.

Bake, covered, for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily. When it does, take it out of the oven, butter up the top of the halibut, and cover it to let the butter melt.

After five minutes, open it up, smell it, enjoy and revel in the smell, and then eat it.


 

In my own little world for the past few weeks, I’ve thought that I could just get to writing whenever I felt like it. Unfortunately, that has left most people who inquire about this blog wondering and (hopefully) wanting some more from my brain. Sadly, I just haven’t had it. I haven’t been on my critical thinking tack for a while now.

In the meantime, I’ve been working diligently at making high quality meats and recipes to share with harried customers in need of a quick meal at my meat shop. Sometimes, it’s a little tedious, but I had a nice discussion with a woman the other day about how her kids are quite adventurous with what they eat.

“They’ll eat anything. My husband and I took them down to Chinatown for dinner one night, and my eight year old was the one who ordered and finished a plate of jellyfish.”

Kids WILL eat these.

More power to you, mom. There’s a strange idea that kids won’t eat stuff, so many parents feed their kids boring, bland flavors that come out of a box until they’re ready to make their own decisions about their food and how they like it. Here’s my bit of information regarding that: If you feed them bland food, when the time comes to decide what they want to eat, whether it be from the first moment they can pick up a saute pan or when they head off to college, it’s going to be the same garbage.

When I was working at Pike Place Market, I gave a mother some creative ideas about how to hide vegetables in meals, so that her kids would eat it. Taking a trick from one of my aunts, I suggested that she should either puree or chop her vegetables, and tuck them safely away where her young kids could not process what they were eating as something they didn’t like.

“Oh, that’s not a problem for my kids,” she responded. “Two don’t eat vegetables, and the third, my oldest, loves them.”

How interesting. When pressed to figure out why the younger kids wouldn’t eat them, I was given a simple response:

“If it’s a pile of peas, carrots, or brussels sprouts, I tell the kids that they’re off-limits. Vegetables are for adults only. I still give them healthy, nutritious things, and they eat salads, but by the time they’re ready to make their own decisions regarding food, they’re practically begging to find out what they’re missing with the green mass on the adults’ plates.”

Good thinking. You can dress up the vegetables, hide them, or do whatever you want to them to make sure the kids will eat them, or you can simply say that your kids aren’t ready for them. In the meantime, they see you eat them, enjoy them, and they wait, patiently at first, but then more and more anxious as they yearn to find out what all the fuss is about.

Back to the mom the other day at the store. In our discussion, she revealed that she, unlike her husband, grew up with a less adventurous palate. Box dinners, burgers, potatoes, basically bland food. Now, as her kids are getting older and seeing her eating habits stacked up versus those of her more adventurous other half, they wonder as they make the decisions that will shape the way they approach eating for the rest of their lives- If mommy doesn’t eat this, why should I?”

Why should you, indeed? With friends out there who have newborns, I imagine that bad habits from years without children start to take a backseat to raising a young one properly. Drinking, smoking, swearing, and all the other things that peppered their pre-baby existence all start to fade away. One thing, however, and this is important, is that as kids internalize things like shouting as commonplace, so too do they interpret the eating habits of their parents. Even though I am not a parent myself, my advice from a culinary standpoint is to eat smart, eat healthy, and enjoy what you make and order at restaurants, because your kids are watching.

And if I have to hear one more person ask for the frozen corn on the cob or a box of croutons in the company of their seven year old, I’m going to be very put out.

There’s nothing wrong with either one of these things. I’m glad you’re eating vegetables, and I’m even more glad that you’re hopefully putting croutons on your salad, because hey, more vegetables, right?

Still, everyone has a heel of bread left in their fridge, and most of us throw it out. What to do, what to do?

I’ll tell you. Here’s a quick recipe for croutons that you can make in fifteen minutes, furthering your culinary expertise, making your dinners new and different, and utilizing bits of things in your fridge that you may think you have no use for.

 

Croutons

Ingredients:

Bread

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Garlic Salt

Rosemary or Thyme

I usually get a baguette at work if we’re having something with sauce, or something that necessitates the addition of a crust of something for mopping or dipping. However, most baguettes don’t last longer than two days. It’s hard to extend the shelf life of a bread whose only ingredients are flour, water, and salt.

We’ll usually go through half a baguette in a meal. Here’s where the fun begins:

Preheat your oven to 375. Slice the leftover bread into thin slices, about 1/2″. Toss in a bowl with olive oil. Lay slices flat on a baking pan, and sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Most everyone has garlic powder, but if you have leftover garlic cloves that are beginning to sprout, slice them in half and give each piece of bread a good rubdown.

When your croutons are seasoned up, throw them in the oven for about ten minutes. The underside will brown before the topside, so check them out and see if they need flipping. If they do, flip them, and let them go for a few minutes more.

When you pull them out of the oven, they should have a crisp outer layer with an inside that maintains a relatively chewy consistency. Put them in a ziploc bag and store them for a week or so in your cupboard.

Note: If you just have regular bread, cube it. Toss with the olive oil and all the herbs, as that will give the croutons a more even coating, and a more even degree of crisp.

Congratulations! You’ve just saved yourself at least three dollars. Don’t you feel French? Pour yourself a glass of wine to celebrate.

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