Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 3, 2008

Foodie With Family: Absurdities of life

I have a serious appreciation for the absurd. With five kids under the age of 10 this is a big blessing. I keep an ever-growing file of ridiculous things the kids say and do on my computer. I started the file for three main reasons.

-- It helps me remember to laugh at the little things instead of being driven crazy by them. (Meaning both the kids themselves and what they do.)

-- Because I'm hopeless and useless at scrapbooking and photo albums, this gives me a record for reminiscing when I'm older and the kids are grown. (This will simultaneously make me very sad and very happy.)

-- My last reason is perhaps the most important. We believe in the Miranda rights around here and anything they say can and will be held against them in a court of Mom.

In a true food-geek moment, I named the file "Amuse Bouche." If you're a fellow foodie this needs no explanation. If you missed high school French or aren't interested in food trends, please allow me to translate. "Amuse Bouche" translates nearly directly as "amuse the mouth". It is, in food parlance, a small appetizer served to whet your appetite for the meal to come.

A couple of the recent entries in my amuse-bouche files were too good not to share minus any commentary:

This morning Liam asked what we were having for breakfast. I said, "Pancakes." He said, "Can I have as many as I had yesterday? Can I have twelve?"

I responded, "I was thinking of maybe a couple less. For you to have twelve I would have to make more pancake batter."

Liam responded sympathetically, "That's OK, Mom." Then he paused and followed in an encouraging tone, "You can make more pancake batter!"

The following amuse-bouche comes from my Mom's re-telling. I made the boys tacos for lunch and asked Ty what kind of taco shell he wanted. He asked, "What are my choices?" I told him he could have a hard or soft shell. He responded, "Hard shell, please." I asked Leif if he wanted a hard shell, too and he said, "No, Nana. I want an easy one."

Simple Blackened Fish

A word to the wise: If the pan you use is large enough, you can do this in one shot. If all you have is a small pan, cook your fish in as many batches as you have to in order to avoid crowding the pan.

2 lbs. boneless fish fillets (You can use any type of fish, but firm-fleshed ones work best.)

6 T. Blackened Fish Seasoning Mix (see recipe below)

1/4 c. plus 2 T. canola oil, divided

Lay fish out on a clean pan or dish that can easily hold all of them. If fish filets are wet, lightly dab with paper towels to remove most of the moisture. Sprinkle the top side of the fish with about half of the Blackened Fish Seasoning Mix and lightly pat to help the spices adhere.

Place a large cast iron skillet over a high flame either on your grill, stovetop or turkey fryer. Allow it to heat empty until you see wisps of smoke rising from the surface of the pan. Flip the fish filets over and sprinkle the other side with the remaining Blackened Fish Seasoning Mix. While wearing an oven mitt, add 1/4 c. of canola oil to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Immediately add the fish fillets to the pan. Do not move those fish filets around. The goal is to create a crusty spice coating. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on thickness of the fish. When the crust has formed the fish should release easily from the pan. Drizzle with the remaining 2 T. of canola oil, flip the fillets and cook for about 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately as is, or do what we do: Break into large pieces and serve in fish tacos or lettuce wraps with a whole grain salad. (See for a great summer whole grain salad recipe.)

Blackened Fish Seasoning Mix

This mix is so easy to prepare and keep on hand. You'll be glad you have it!

2 T. sweet or smoked paprika

2 T. garlic powder

2 T. onion powder

2 T. Kosher or sea salt

1 T. fresh ground black pepper

2 t. ground cayenne pepper (If you're heat-averse, cut back on this or omit it!)

2 t. crushed dried thyme

2 t. crushed dried oregano

1 t. ground cumin

Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss with a fork. Keep in an airtight container and shake or stir before using.

You can read more of Rebecca's recipes, kitchen tips and parenting adventures at