Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gearing Up for the New Year

The office last week was tomb-like, a handful of us sprinkled through the big room, trading "sure is quiet" "yep, sure is" comments when we passed. I have been tidying up old projects and giving some thought to new ones. Home has been noisier, but with nothing much going on in terms of the holiday. It's been an exciting year, and we just weren't ready yet to go out and do anything major.

The Weekly Recipe Project is giving me trouble; when I look at it under that name, it seems impossibly limited. Only 52 recipes? I probably have that many online recipes bookmarked, never mind a hundred-odd cookbooks and binders of clippings. How to approach the task of selecting my pool? I browse through blogs, look at files I have saved for years, visualize my bookshelves. Perhaps I should restrict the project to soup recipes, or bread, or desserts? Take one recipe from a different cookbook every week?

I was up early New Years day--for creatures that sleep so damn much themselves, cats don't grasp the idea of sleeping in--and decided to get the grocery list/menu planning out of the way. I already had one new recipe lined up for later in the week, but in the spirit of starting the new year right, I grabbed my new copy of At Home with Madhur Jaffrey and started with the fish chapter.

I made this pretty much as written, except I don't have any asefetida and my fenugreek is ground, not whole. I added more cayenne than specified, but that was by mistake--the result was intensely hot, and made me wish I had some naan. I served this with rice alone, but it would make a nice component in a multi-course meal. It came together quickly and without much fussing, and made a nice change from my usual fish standbys.

Fish and Peas in a Fennel-Fenugreek Sauce

1 lb fillet of cod, hake, or halibut, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick
1 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp cayenne, divided
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
3 Tbsp mustard, olive, or canola oil
1/8 tsp ground asafetida
1/4 tsp whole mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/4 tsp whole fennel seeds
1/8 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
3 Tbsp plain yogurt
4 medium tomatoes, coarsely grated (I used a can of tomato sauce)
1 c fresh or frozen and defrosted peas
  1. Sprinkle the fish on both sides with 1/4 tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and the turmeric. Set aside 30 minutes or longer, refrigerating if necessary.
  2. Put the oil in a frying pan and set on medium-high. Put in the asafetida, then the mustard, cumin, fennel, and fenugreek seeds. 
  3. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, add the yogurt. Stir until it almost disappears.*
  4. Add the tomatoes, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and more pepper if desired. Stir and cook for five minutes, until tomatoes thicken slightly. 
  5. Add the peas, stir, and continue to cook another minute on medium heat.**
  6. Lay the fish down in the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the fish and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and poach fish on medium-low heat until just cooked through, 7-10 minutes. Add water if the pan dries out.
* Mine did not disappear, but left little spongy bits like tofu behind. I used Greek-style yogurt, so maybe it had more solids.
** I added the peas near the end. Why would you cook peas for 10 minutes?

No pictures because my five-year-old camera died last week. I am trying to decide between size and features with a new one.

I am in the middle of a four-day weekend, trying to get the place back to some semblance of normality. More tidying than cleaning, trying to find homes for new things and continue whittling down the old.

On other resolution-related fronts, I sent Empire off to Dragon Moon Press, which was having an open sub month, and have put together a list of agents to query. The first chapter of Fury's Flight went to the writing group for crit, though I haven't psyched myself up sufficiently to read the feedback yet.

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