“Katy Cooks” highlights one year of cooking every recipe from Fresh Seasonal Recipes, the updated cookbook from The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre™. This blog will feature cooking challenges and successes, meal and menu planning, and how to juggle kids, work and life and still serve a healthful, home cooked dinner. ________________________________________________________________________________
This was a great Sunday. This morning, just as the steel cut oats I was making were almost done, my son suggested we go to The Steeping Room for brunch. That idea got a rousing endorsement from the rest of the family, so I turned off the heat, put the lid on the pot of oats and off we went to enjoy scones with clotted cream and jam.
Then, this afternoon, we headed to Gruene Hall in Gruene, TX to listen to my cousin play Cajun music. My kids asked for soda and chips while we were watching the band. I occasionally say yes to such requests, sure that I will cause a lifetime of neuroses and eating disorders if I am too hard-lined with my nutrition rules. Then, of course, you can’t really walk through the tents of Gruene Market Days without enjoying an ice cream cone.
After this day of indulgence, we needed a serious injection of nutrition for dinner. We straggled in the door about 5:45 whereupon a brief glance in the fridge reminded me that there were slim pickin’s to choose from. I had half a bag of Johnson’s Backyard Garden carrots, a couple of cucumbers, a mostly rotted bag of parsley…it wasn’t pretty. These are the moments when a well-stocked pantry is your friend. I grabbed a couple of cans of salmon and got to work.
For those of you who haven’t used canned salmon before, let me just say that, right out of the can, it is one of the more repulsive looking of all foodstuffs. It took watching one of our facilitators use canned salmon in a THK class for me to get past my initial squeamishness. I’m glad I did. Before that I hadn’t realized that you can easily break up all the bones and skin with your fingers and go about your recipe. It’s a great source of calcium and healthy fats, tastes delicious, and can be used in a number of different dishes when you don’t have fresh salmon available.
One of my favorite things about the Lemon Mustard Salmon Salad is the notable absence of mayonnaise. Olive oil, lemon juice and Dijon mustard are the main binding agents while turmeric, parsley and cayenne add a depth of flavor that really complements the mustard and salmon.
Given the motley assortment of fresh produce available, I set about scrounging for some sides. Let me tell you, friends, when you don’t have much food on hand, what you lack in ingredients you can make up for in presentation. I sliced up a couple of cucumbers, washed a few carrots, opened a can of black olives and put together some plates with flair. Adding a few Triscuits finished out the plates and, voila, dinner was served.
My daughter commented that this was the healthiest dinner she’d had in a long time and proceeded to eat everything except the beets. Oh – did I mention the beets. I had some leftover marinated beets in the fridge that had been there a long time. I’m embarrassed to say how long. It’s quite possible we didn’t yet know who the Republican candidate for president would be when I made them. Come to think of it, you could probably scroll back and see when I made those beets. Please don’t.
But I digress. The dinner was a big hit. Both kids and my husband thought the salmon was great and ate it up. The kids loved the wonky shaped carrots that you find at the bottom of the bulk carrot bags at the farmers’ market. Nothing is more fun to a 10-year-old boy that eating a carrot that looks like a butt. This was one in a long line of dinners that reminds me that simpler is better when it comes to everyday meals.