January 31, 2011
Ingredients Happened, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 5
Arthur Schwartz and Pablo Picasso have a lot in common. They both taught me to use what is at hand and not get caught up on rigid details. Of course, I’ve know Picasso longer – since the 10th grade when I came across a quote while researching for a paper. “"When I haven't any blue I use red."
Just a few years ago I was inspired by“What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat” by Arthur Schwartz. The following recipe experience isn't in the book, but it's all about what I had to work with last Saturday without taking my sneezy wheezy self out to the market.
I can never remember if I’m supposed to feed a cold or feed a fever. It didn’t really matter though because after two days of mind-blowing nose-blowing I had decided I was hungry. For some reason sickness sparks my inner gourmet. I want my food to taste good and soothing and special. At 11:30 am, pizza and wings sounded like a good plan until I recalled the elliptical. Hmmm….
Sockeye salmon in the freezer seemed like a good place to start; rice and peas would do nicely as a nice side dish. Dejected dawning reminded me I used the last of the rice on Wednesday, but was certain I was in possession of instant potatoes. My mind slipped into one of those vague recalls from a cooking show combining salmon and instant potatoes to make simple salmon patties! Peering into the pantry I easily located the secret ingredient. Then my wandering eye spied an interesting alternative. A beckoning box of instant sweet potatoes drew me into a fevered creative phase. Coming up: experimental - Sweet Potato Alaskan Salmon Patties with shallots and green pepper!
I launched myself onto the www in search of the simple recipe. There were lots of simple recipes out there… for canned salmon. I’m not fond of canned salmon, and didn’t have any. I did have a can of tuna, but that wasn’t sounding nearly as indulgent. That’s when I went a little colorful and completely marginally outside of the lines. It’s happened before….
Allrecipes.com: Salmon Patties
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can salmon, drained and flaked
1 c. cold mashed potatoes
1 med.-size onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 c.)
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. vegetable oil
Right off the bat I knew I would be wandering a bit. I wasn’t aiming for completely haywire (which I have admittedly aimed for in the past). I just figured by default I’d be adding some shadowy substitutive depths. Freshly frozen filets instead of canned, sweet instead of regular mashed potatoes, no egg because I didn’t have one, freeze dried shallots instead of onions, and a half cup of already diced frozen green peppers because veggies are always a good addition. I rarely have breadcrumbs, but theorized that if I used less liquid in the potatoes, it’d be all right.
After 30 minutes in the fridge – since the recipe called for cold mashed potatoes, the concoction was still a little wet. Pondering my only loaf of bread, I kind of quickly decided that cinnamon raisin salmon cakes wasn’t the vibe I was looking for. Somewhat practically-minded, I headed for the oyster crackers and glimpsed a half hidden, half-plumped sack of lime/salt tortilla chip remnants, and thought – why not? I often use tortilla chips as a substitute for bread crumbs, since I never seem to have any. I also thought the original recipe was lacking in lemon, which I didn’t have any of anyway. But, lime would work, no? A speedy round of crunching and mixing, and the attractive mess of orange and green and pink and yellow went back into the fridge, again - to chill.
Two hours deep into my gourmet experiment, I ran out of active boost ingredient in the day-time cold medicine, found myself low on self-propelled steam, and even lower on patience. I dosed myself up again, grabbed a handful of casava chips, a gatorade, and a cup of sugar-free hot cocoa. That’s what happens when I don’t eat on time. I completely lose focus and eating becomes a desperate must not a want.
So, I scarfed that quick semi-food fest, and promptly fell asleep. In retrospect, I could have done worse – I could have grabbed marshmallows, saltines and Hershey syrup. It’s happened before.
Finally, at 5:45 pm, I accomplished my fry pan goal, drizzled those crispy puppies with a little lowfat sour cream, and mmm mmm mmm. I could have easily eaten the whole batch. But I didn’t: saved some for Sunday and as it turned out Monday night dinner, as well.
I’m still not sure of which way this lesson should go. Recipes and rules are written for reasons: ease of duplication, clear boundaries and anticipated results. It’s really wonderful when everything goes as planned. Often times, though, it’s just a wonderful when things don’t. Sometimes it just takes changing a few ingredients to make something super special. Sometimes it just takes changing a few ingredients to make garbage. It’s happened before.
Posted by jaselin at January 31, 2011 09:39 PM