Steal This: Broiled Sockeye Salmon with Citrus Glaze

Don’t let another night go by without trying this salmon recipe from Alton Brown.

Thanks Alton Brown! Your broiled and glazed salmon YUUUUUUMMMMMMM! It is the best way I’ve found to make salmon, especially those huge (expensive) slabs. It is so easy and it turns FISH into CANDY! Even my kids like it.

The Deets

1 side, skin-on, sockeye salmon, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, pin bones removed
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Position a rack in the oven 3 inches from the broiler. Line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil and place the salmon on the pan.

Place the sugar, zest, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a small food processor and process for 1 minute or until well combined. Evenly spread the mixture onto the salmon and allow to sit for 45 minutes, at room temperature.

Turn the oven on to the high broiler setting for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, place the salmon into the oven and broil for 6 to 8 minutes or until the thickest part of the fish reaches an internal temperature of 131 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the salmon from the oven and allow to rest, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes.

Tips

I don’t find it necessary to grind the citrus rub. Maybe I’m missing something crucial, but I don’t want to lug out (and then clean out) the food processor for this recipe, which is otherwise blissfully low maintenance. I simply mix the rub together and spread it out. The salmon is incredible, even without this step.

As the salmon sits, you might notice some juices running out the side. I worried about this at first, but it isn’t a big deal. Just keep going.

The only sad part (for me) is losing the skin. I love crispy salmon skin. However, the rub can be used on any salmon cut and the salmon can be cooked in a pan on the stove, skin side first. The results are a little different—you don’t get that candied effect, but the fish is still very delicious.

Nina Simone and virtue

Are you a Nina Simone fan? If not (or even if you are) I have to urge you to listen to her song, “The Other Woman.”

It is heartbreak, breath-take, and surprise all wrapped in a poem of piano and lyrical delivery. Here:

I started thinking about this song as I contemplated the idea of virtue. Note: if you didn’t just listen to the song in its entirety a few times, this won’t make much sense. (It might not make sense anyway.)

Here is how it started. I went food shopping the other day and filled my cart near to brim with green vegetables. I needed them, don’t get me wrong, but I also felt very “good” buying these things. I felt virtuous.

And I thought about how I might seem to others. Nowhere near perfect, I’m sure, as the woman “Who finds time to manicure her nails.” But certainly something of a virtuous ideal: e.g., that my recipes are full of veggies and I’m always totally prepared.

And then the week happened. And we’ve been taking a few shortcuts this week (eating out; going for pre-made meals), because the truth is, I have a lot on my mind and I haven’t felt like cooking. So now that virtue is turning into something else.

In fact, the only virtue I’d consistently give myself is a willingness to charge through, even when I’m unsure of my skill. And while I fully recognize my skill may be lacking, I’m confident of my creativity and I’m confident of ability to roll with an idea and see if I can make it better.

Something will happen. It might not be magic every time. It might never be Nina Simone. Then again, there isn’t enough Nina Simone in the world anyway.

Seriously, who else could possibly end a song with a lick of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” and have it feel like the only possible outcome?

It is official. I have an addiction to Dollar Tree

I’m not proud. I started to go to Dollar Tree becuase I got into acrylic pouring and needed some paints. I knew they had low cost acrylics there. But then I saw that they had small canvases, too. THEN, in the pictures aisle, I found a ton of pressboard shadow boxes that were larger than the canvases. So I got a bunch of those (little did I know they wouldn’t have more). Then I found two (just 2) plain wooden die cut flower boards.

That’s when I started to realize just how special and insidious Dollar Tree is. They will have really cute things. For a dollar. Then, those things will be gone. Some of them are much higher quality than you would normally find for a dollar, and unlike the 99C Store, everything IS ACTUALLY ONE DOLLAR.

I’ve always gone there for stickers and note pads. Now I go there first for everything. And I watch Dollar Tree DIYs on YouTube… and then I shame watch Dollar Tree Hauls on YouTube. I’m literally fighting the urge right now to go watch one.

With almost everything available online these days, Dollar Tree full fills that hunter/gatherer, get-it-before-its-gone psychological need we have. The fact that some of it might be crap, but a lot of it is pretty cool (in the way that anything a suburban mom does is “cool.”)

So let’s talk about what is in the picture. Because despite my self-deprecation, I’m completely un-ironically enjoying this stuff. The top left: come on…its all about coffee! And it has teal green accents (my favorite color). The companion to that sign is the coffee scented candle seen in the middle, with a coffee lid on it. It really smells like a delicious coffee. I put these by our coffee machine.

Doubling down on the teal, I have two shadow boxes. The small one, “Lead with Love” is currently on my desk. The Mermaid one accompanies some large shells my husband is displaying on our garden window.

In front, to the left is that beautiful aqua container… I wish I’d gotten more, but I didn’t really have a use for it when I bought it. I just loved the color. Right now, it is holding those craft jewel ribbons, plus some other rolls of ribbon I had. I hope to do something more with that soon.

In the middle, you have that textured glass jar. This is a candle holder that I sprayed with mirror finish on the inside to give it a mercury glass effect. It fit a random solar light I had nearly perfectly, so that has become a little shelf light. On the front it says “Home Made.” I need to pick up another one before they are gone.

The plain glass mason jar and the note pad are self explanatory—although I am super pleased that this note pad has not one but two magnet strips on the back for extra security. And finally, the purple vase is one I made myself with acrylic pouring. The glass vase is a staple at Dollar Tree, so I don’t have to worry about them running out.

Are you a Dollar Tree addict too?

Esprit de l’escalier.

This is why I like to write. I always think of the perfect thing to say, five minutes after it is valuable to do so.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I went on a job interview yesterday. After several years of freelance work, I’m looking to transition away from journalism and toward teaching. In many ways, this feels like it was always my path. Every part of my job that I have loved involved speaking to people and sharing their stories, with the goal of educating others. What I don’t get in freelancing is a social working environment. There is no one to share ideas or commiserate except the dogs, who love to interrupt my live interviews by barking.

And so, I decided to switch and find a way to do the things I love most more often, in a dynamic and rich environment. Of course, I do also love some of the solitary work. Reading, painting, cooking — I enjoy all these activities on my own. But I also love to perform and collaborate. So when I work, I like people around. I am the definition of an introverted extrovert…or an extroverted introvert.

Ok, before this turns into a LiveJournal entry, let me get to the point.

For those of you who might not know, L’esprit de l’escalier translates into “staircase wit.” It’s that sharp thing you think to say as you leave the party. My life is full of those moments. Of speechifying a take down to someone who was rude, or re-answering an interview question.

In this case, the question was: Is it more important that you respect the students or that the students respect you.

I’d love your responses. Your ideas. Here is approximately what I said:

“Oh that’s easy, it is must more important that I respect the students. You have to be authentic and trustworthy. At the end of the day, it is about their experiences, not mine.”

So that’s somewhat true…but I didn’t go far enough. I should have also said: Respect is mutual, but as the adult it is my responsibility to offer respect first, and lead by example.

Thank you for letting me get out my esprit de l’escalier. What would you have said?

Five things I needed with a new baby. And the one thing I didn’t.

There are a ton of advice articles online about baby stuff. Here’s what I found the most useful.

My little girl, one month old

If I’m being honest, the first 6 months of my daughter’s life are a blur. I have very little short term memory of the events of that time. I remember long days and interrupted nights in which I marveled at her while she slept, breastfed until I was raw, and endlessly negotiated whether to sleep, shower, eat, or spend time with my son or husband.

Through it all, I had support from spouse, parents, siblings, and friends. I’m really lucky. What I didn’t have was a ton of extra money. So this post is to help other moms by sharing the items of real value that made those first 6 months survivable.

A really perfect nursing pillow (2 of ’em).

A My Brest Friend nursing pillow was a hand-me-down from an experienced mom during my first pregnancy. Unlike other nursing pillows, it isn’t a multitasker. You really can’t use it to prop the baby up or work on tummy time. The cover, although removable, can be somewhat complex to take off and put back on again.

Despite appearances, this is not a tutu.

But– for nursing, it is the only pillow I found that really helped me with baby positioning, prevented back pain, didn’t slip, and made me feel comfortable while I nursed. I’m not too proud to admit I wore it around the house like a tutu on some days, throwing it on, then pouring myself a coffee and grabbing a snack before settling in for a feeding session.

I also found the pocket perfect for holding a container of nipple balm, a water bottle, and even better for sneaking candy.

We have a two-story house, and it was helpful to have one for upstairs and one for downstairs. I also made sure to have at lease one extra clean cover, for quick changes during spit ups.

Although I got one as a hand-me-down for my first born, that one did not last. The foam tore. However, once I asked for it, a few friends were able to pass their old ones (still in good condition) to me.

Cooling soothing breast pads

My daughter was not a gentle nurser. She pulled, still suckling as she pulled away, she dug her claws into my skin, and sometimes refused to detach. I tried a few different types of gel breast pads. They kept me going when all I wanted to do was quit.

Sweet relief.

The ones that I liked best were the ones first given to me by the hospital staff. I preferred the Ameda ComfortGel Pads because they weren’t sticky (some of the pads on the market stick like glue) and because I could wear one pair for a few days. Rinsing them out in icy water actually made them better.

Now when I hear a friend is pregnant, I add a set of these to the care package.

Nipple butter

Good for lots of stuff.

You might start to notice a theme. My boobs really hurt. But Earth Mama Nipple Butter was for more than just the nips. It smells like coco butter, so it’s really nice to put on. I used it as lip balm for me and my son (he gets bad chapped lips in the winter) as well as elbow and hand lotion. It even worked as a diaper cream one day when the regular stuff had fallen behind the changing table and I couldn’t find it.

A “place” to put the baby in every room.

This one isn’t a product per se, but is more a philosophy of living with an infant. Every room, including the bathroom (or right outside the bathroom) can be improved if there is a designated space to put the baby down. Napping pillows, bouncer seats, rockers— all these make life a little easier for a new mom. They can be on the floor, but bonus points if they don’t require mom to bend down. Of course, always consider safety first.

We kept some of these items from when my son was little, but a few extra donations from other moms eager to clean out their garages came in handy.

Sleep and play jumpers

Rainbows are a must for any baby.

Easy on, easy off—sleep and play jumpers are the best. Choose the ones that close with a zipper and cover the baby’s feet. These are still the main clothing choice everyday and into the night. My son also insisted we buy some in his size. I sorta wish they had them for me too.

What I didn’t need.

Anything new–except a car seat. That’s right folks, beg, borrow, or steal. OK, I did have to order the breast pads and the nipple cream… and diapers and diaper cream. And a few really adorable bows. Ok, yeah, you still have to buy a lot.

Which is why you should take advantage anything that you don’t have to buy. Borrow or reuse a crib and plastic mattresses, accept sturdy strollers, and as many receiving and swaddling blankets you can get.

Hope you are able to find everything you need. And here’s hoping your newbies sleep through the night as soon as possible.

Sausage and blue cheese stuffed mushrooms.

or “What to do when you have a lot of little leftovers.”

This is just a little post because we’ve been overwhelmed with holiday BBQs. When we got home from a weekend full of meat-heavy meals, hubby said he just wanted something light. I took the opportunity to unload some leftovers. Here is what I used:

10 Mushroom caps
1 cup sweet Italian sausage crumbles
3/4 cup pizza sauce
1 pkg blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup leftover wilted spinach
Fresh grated parmesan
Plain breadcrumbs

To make the mushrooms, I arranged the caps in a container and sprinkled them with salt. Then I mixed together the sausage, cheese, and spinach. I put heaping spoonfuls of the mixture into the mushrooms and topped them with parmesan and breadcrumbs. Into the oven they went at 350F for 25 minutes.

Super simple and a decent Sunday evening meal.

Stuffed mushrooms are great for getting rid of fridge ingredients. In this case, we had had a make-your-own pizza night earlier in the week. I had planned to make stuffed mushrooms for a party, but it turned out we didn’t need another side dish.