Monday, March 29, 2010

Fish Cakes of Perfection

Mom sent me a card noting that Peter said I should update my blog more often. I say I'll update my blog more often if SOMEONE SENDS ME BABY PICTURES....

I know you're all probably wondering how I feel about the healthcare reform bill. (Let's note, by the way, that THAT is what this bill is--not some socialist plot to ram a public-option single-payer healthcare plan down our throats, thankyouverymuchglenbeckyoutwerp. ) Basically I feel like it doesn't do enough. Yes,thirty million people may suddenly become eligible for some kind of health insurance, but that is not everyone in the United States. A woman I work with morosely noted last night: "I don't know how we can afford to have universal health insurance." I don't know how we can afford not to. Forget the cost for a second, okay, and remember that we live in the best, A-1 country in the world, and yet we are...well, pick your statistic, that isn't this kind of blog. Not only do we NEED some kind of universal coverage, we DESERVE IT. Having conquered those pesky wants that we take for granted like running water and literate girls, we should extend our awesomeness to ALL citizens of this nation. And I am writing this as someone who will be paying taxes on her Cadillac plan in eight years. Sure, when I realised that, I sort of swallowed and went "but but, I'm poor..." But but I'm working and if my appendix explodes tomorrow as I'm being gnawed on by a polar bear and when I arrive at the hospital they diagnose me with gout, I will be covered. We, as Americans, owe it to ourselves by setting the bar high and reaching for it. Some generations did it naturally, existing without as war and depressions ran rampant...we need to work a little harder. So I'm gonna keep fighting for universal heath care. And when it arrives, I'm going off the Cadillac plan and buying American.


Hee, that felt good.

But, in the meantime, I'm poor. I'm trying to eat cheaply. (To save my money for Japanese steak houses and nachos at eleven pm. What? It was Saturday!) I also try to keep nonperishables on hand, since I tend to forget about fresh veggies, unless I eat them right away, and then I end up throwing them out. A few weeks ago I tossed a Betty Crocker "Helper" meal in my grocery trolley...I was seduced by the picture on the front for Cheesy Beef Taco and the fact that this box was All Inclusive, so I wouldn't have to buy meat. I think it was on sale for $2.

Well, I made it the other night. The "beef" was actually a can with a few beef crumbles, but mostly water and fat. (I have to be honest, it had the consistency of vomit) The "seasoning packet" was mostly a thickener. Last and least, a cup of rice. Less than a cup. When I pulled the packet out I couldn't believe how little rice there was, so I measured it before adding it to the vomit and thickener mess. I put it in the oven and re-read the box. First I noted how the slogan above the directions said "For an easy and great-tasting meal!" with nothing about health content. There was nothing to brag about however: According to the box, a cup of rice and a can of beef-vomit should be enough for four people. Each serving had a 45% sodium content. Now, if I had pulled my usual trick and eaten half, saving half for lunch the next day, I would have eaten nearly my entire daily recommended allowance of sodium in one sitting.

I couldn't do it. I might not be the healthiest person in the world, but the idea of subjecting my heart and my body to a sodium content roughly equivalent to that of the Pacific ocean made my vascular system twitch. Luckily Jeff called and took me out on a date to the Tokyo Steakhouse...while this may not have been the most sodium-friendly place, at least it featured some actual vegetables and fresh chicken. The Cheesy Beef Taco went into the garbage.

I started doing some research about eating cheaply. Along the way I found this article about foodie hipsters using food stamps to buy salmon and lemongrass at Whole Foods. And then I found Clara. She's a ninety-four year old woman who shares Depression-Era cooking via YouTube. Some of the meals she talks about, like the Poorman's meal, sound eerily familiar. Potatoes, onions and hotdogs...sounds like me with my potatoes and eggs. I want to try this recipe for fresh bread. I'm still enjoying learning the finer points of baking bread. Now I can see how women in the eighteenth century would brag about their baking skills if they could.

Tonight I made fish cakes and had them with a spinach salad, tossed with a homemade vinaigrette. Except for the spinach, everything was stuff I had on hand. It never fails to amaze me how one night dinner will be a colossal cock up (last nights biscuits 'n ham) and the next night it will be Food Network-worthy (fish cakes of perfection.) I'm working for the next three evenings, so I took advantage of a night off to cook properly. Here's the recipes...I didn't put measurements because I know all you cooks out there can finagle things to perfection.

Can of tuna, mixed with bread crumbs, little dried parsley, Old Bay seasoning (present from foodie boyfriend), and egg. Mix together. Fry in veggie oil, flipping once or twice until both sides are nicely browned.

DRESSING: I frickin' love this dressing. I got it from a friend in Chicago and this recipe is the sole reason I keep balsamic vinaigrette in the house. Olive oil plus balsamic vinaigrette, a little mustard powder (use Colman's, it's British and it comes in an awesome little tin!) and dill. Fresh dill is best, of course. Toss over everything and enjoy the hell out of it.

I know I talk about food a lot, but it was either that tonight or a discussion about how I suddenly realised, as I was doing his laundry, that I have upheld gender-stereotypes with my dog. Both his blankets are blue, and the new leash and collar set I bought last week are blue. Granted, it's a lovely powder blue, but I wasn't thinking, as my coworker was, how feminine it looked..I was thinking how the little bees on it reminded me of Napoleon's imperial symbol. Yeah. I'm a geek. Now, if only I could get a collar that says "ENGLAND EXPECTS."

The next baking project I want to attempt is a green tea cake...I just need to figure out where to get matcha powder.


Jack Bunny said...

Okay, you win. If it will get you to post more often, I'll be happy to send you some baby pictures - I just gotta find 'em.

I had to laugh - I've done two posts now which includes health care reform - so have two other people I know. It pleases me that people I respect and I are in agreement.

Your recipe sounds good - think I'll give it a try.

Peter said...

FYI: I had gout and it sucks, and I had kidney stones and they suck too. So when your appendix bursts you better hope you don't have gout too because you will not be able to stand the pain and will pass out.

Now on the subject of babies, she was sick and so dad is now, but she's growing like a weed and eating us out of house and home.

Maybe I'll get pics to you, if only our mac would work better.