Archive for the ‘Sunday Dinner’ Category

Sunday Dinner: Cedar Planked Salmon with Maple Glaze

After my foray into raw chicken, with bones, and innardy things (although not actual innards) I tucked tail and ran back to familiar territory.

Y’all, this recipe was so, so delicious. Best yet of the Jim Seger Sunday series.

Two things to know about my Dad in relation to food:

1. He did not care about the nutritional information associated with his food. He wasn’t junk food eater, but neither was he temperate in his consumption (of anything). One night he served me a shrimp scampi floating in a broth of butter and served with huge hunks of crusty, buttery garlic bread. He was honestly suprised when I pointed out that we would pay for that in poundage. I still cleaned my plate, and you would have too. But I thought about it, and he didn’t. That isn’t so relevant to the current recipe.
2. He did not care how much food cost. He wanted to eat what he wanted to eat. Period. This will come into play momentarily.

What I know about cooking meat could fill a thimble. What I know about cooking fish could fill… a big thimble? One of those thimbles you might see at a country fair. Something for your shadow box. Ceramic. Maybe painted with a duck.

I do know how to text (barely) “FISH kindoffish” to 30644 and get instant feedback from the Blue Ocean Institute on whether my choice is sustainable or if it’s loaded up with, say, fire retardants and other poisons. I am trying to cut back on my heavy metal consumption. It’s super cool. Try it!

There’s some nattering back and forth about wild salmon vs. farmed. For me, I’ll take the cost of wild with the reduced contaminent exposure. We may not eat it as often, but I feel better about putting it on the table.

So I hit Earth Fare to get some free-range dinner, and I wish I could tell how much I paid per pound but I blacked out a little bit.

I also picked up the cedar planks and some maple syrup. You know what else costs a lot of money? Pure maple syrup. When did it get so expensive to be a hippie?

I held my nose and bought a $10 small bottle of maple syrup, rationalizing that what was left would make our weekend pancakes extra delicious.

The recipe called for one cup of syrup. Guess how much is in a little bottle? Yup.

So, not even getting into the other ingredients, the wild salmon, pure maple syrup and cedar planks kicked this recipe up into the umpteen gabillion dollar range. Which is not something my Dad would have noticed, but it got my attention. We could have eaten a pretty decent restaurant meal for the same cash, and someone else would have delivered drink refills to my kids.

Still, so delicious. And I will say that my palate is not sophisticated enough to appreciate the cedar planks. If you skipped those, ditched the wild salmon (that you can’t even be sure you’re getting) for farmed and brought in Aunt Jemima and you’d be in business for a reasonable cost. I haven’t tried that, so I can’t speak to the taste attrition. I think it’s worth trying.

Recipe #3: Cedar Planked Salmon with Maple Glaze from, sourced from Gourmet (RIP) November 1997.

Sunday Dinner: Deviled Fried Chicken

There are a few reasons it doesn’t make sense for me to make fried chicken.

I don’t eat chicken.

Damon doesn’t like chicken.

Neither kid has ever had chicken.

I have never fried anything.

Raw chicken is gross.

Still, chicken is something my Dad used to make for me. It was actually his barbecued chicken, which he made on the grill every year for my birthday. At least until I stopped eating meat. That recipe was in his DNA, though, and I can find no written copy.

And if I’m going to jump into this Sunday dinner plan where I work through my Dad’s recipes, I’m not going to make it too far clinging to the produce aisle. I think Dad would have been pleased to be able to say he went his entire life without trying tofu.

I usually like to move in tiny increments. Pick pick pick at that Band Aid. Inch slowly into the pool. For this, though, I decided to go nuclear. No creeping in via grilled salmon or twice-baked potatoes. Chicken. A whole one. From a real chicken.

I went to the market and got an organic, free-range, happy-died-of-old-age chicken carcass (allow me my illusions tonight). I had the butcher cut it up for me and remove the innards. I did manage to take it from there, although I never touched the raw flesh. I am, it seems, quite handy with kitchen tongs.

The batter seemed great. Lots of powdered mustard, onion powder, coriander… interesting things. I learned in researching the recipe that “deviled” is a Southern term for anything highly spiced.

The frying was surpring. Everywhere I expected it to go wrong (batter clumping off, unstable oil temperature, a grease fire that burns down my house) it didn’t.

I didn’t eat the chicken. Neither kid did either, although I offered it. Damon, who doesn’t like chicken, at two pieces. The rest I took to a cookout and left there. Baby steps.

Recipe #2: Deviled Fried Chicken printed from, sourced from Bon Appetit, August 1998

Jim Seger Sundays: Avgolomono Soup

One of the things I took out of my Dad’s apartment was a battered manila folder overstuffed with web site print outs, pages ripped from newspapers, hand-written notecards… all recipes. He loved to cook. I’ve riffled through it a few times since I brought it home, and the memories rise up with every page. When I find a torn-out magazine page I like to guess which recipe made him save it. I run my fingers over the depressions in the paper from his heavy-handed way of taking notes. I may have even sniffed at them a little, to see if any of the splotches retain the scent of his kitchen.

I feel close to my Dad when I look at his recipes. I wondered if I might feel even closer if I’m making and eating the food. So Damon and I are instituting Jim Seger Sundays at our house. Every week I will pick one recipe and we will all have dinner together.

Last night I made avgolomono soup. It’s a recipe I sent to my Dad. The only one. He printed out my email and stuck it in the folder. I don’t know if he ever tried it. I kind of doubt it. He made notes on how to reduce the quantity, as I had wheedled it out of one of my favorite restaurants in my home town. I suspect he meant to make it for me, and just forgot it was in there.

The soup turned out beautifully. It’s salty and super-tart from all the lemon. Elliot practically turned his face inside out with the first bite. He bravely tried a few more bites, but mostly stuck with his clementines and milk after that. Alden didn’t try it. Because it was not plain bread, red noodles, or a hot dog. I made the full restaurant quantity, because I’m my mother’s child, too.

How this planwill turn out for me remains to be seen. An obvious conflict is coming up fast. Dad was a serious, T-Rex-style carnivore. I will run out of twice-baked potato recipes right quick. I don’t have to decide that right this minute, though.

This also fits well with my Life List ambition to try 1,000 recipes. I stopped recording them. Both because life intervened and because I wasn’t enjoying just making a list. So now I’m going to only count the food I actually write about. That moves the goal post back, but this is about the journey rather than the destination. So fine. It also gives me an excuse to write more about cooking.

Recipe #1: avgolomon soup from Myra’s Dionysus in Cincinnati, Ohio