Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fish Tacos

I love fish tacos. I've had some really good ones at restaurants, both fast food and full service places. (Sally Pierce got me hooked on Del Taco's fish tacos.) I thought I'd try to make some at home. This version is fast, easy, and really good.

Panko Breaded Cod, frozen, from Costco
shredded cabbage (a bag of coleslaw mix in the grocery produce department)
white corn tortillas

Cilantro Lime Sauce*:
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonaise
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons(scant)fresh lime juice
3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Select the smallest, narrowest pieces of fish from the box. Bake according to package directions. In the meantime, mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Heat corn tortillas in microwave for no longer than thirty seconds.

Diners assemble their own tacos on their plates: Double the tortillas, place a piece of fish in the middle, add cabbage and plenty of sauce, and fold.

*Naturally, I didn't measure anything when I made the sauce. The above amounts are my estimates. You might have to mess around with it a little.

Monday, September 21, 2009

All Tied Up

Yesterday I was attending a class with a group of women at church. The teacher asked for a volunteer. A friend of mine agreed and went up to the front of the room. The teacher, as an object lesson, produced a rope and began to wrap it around my friend’s wrists.

“Oh great,” said my friend, “after all that time spent teaching my kids never to let anyone tie them up…”

There was a brief pause in the room as women thought about this, and then laughter.

Whoops, many of us were thinking. Guess I forgot to warn my kids about the danger of letting someone tie them up! Don’t talk to strangers was a big one. And don’t get in anybody’s car, even if they offer you candy or need help finding their lost puppy was a given.

Who’d have thought to warn about strangers with ropes?

Or people you know who have access to rope.

Like siblings.

Our youngest child tells about a time when he was the victim of rope in the hands of his brothers.

They stripped his shirt off him, tied him to one of the benches at the kitchen table, and drew a face on his stomach. Then they carried the bench outside and left him there.

I wasn’t home to protect him. If only I’d thought to warn him about the dangers of getting tied up, he might have been able to escape by running as soon as he saw the rope.

Oh well. I may have blown it with my own kids, but I’ll definitely be teaching my grandchildren someday never to let anyone tie them up. Who knows what could happen to them? Especially if they have big brothers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September 11, 2001

Where were you when you first heard about John Lennon being shot? Or Richard Nixon resigning? Or Elvis dying? The Challenger exploding? Princess Diana’s fatal car crash? If you’re old enough, you probably remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news.

When I think of September 11, 2001, I always remember a houseful of flies.

Kent had left for work and I had seen the last child out the door to school. Just a few minutes later, the phone rang. It was my son, Jeff, calling from the Barretts’ house, just down the street, where he’d stopped to pick up his buddy.

“Mom,” he said, “Kathy said I should call you and tell you to turn on the TV. A plane just flew into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.”

I turned on the TV. It was right about then that I noticed the first small black fly. Then the next. And the next. The second tower went down, and they were all over my house. All day, as I watched the news, I swatted the flies. We learned about the Pentagon. Standing on the sofa, standing on a kitchen chair (they seemed to be up high); I fought off the assailants with a dish towel. We heard about United Flight 93. I kept up the fight, but couldn’t seem to make any headway. There were always more. I tried to find out where they were coming from, these invaders in my home, but without success. Small black flies. Small black flies. Confusion on the TV., so many casualties. All day long and into the evening, thousands of deaths later, I stood on my furniture, fighting the small, black flies.

I’ve never been able to explain them, there one day, completely gone the next.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Banana Milk Shake

I read somewhere a long time ago that the combination of bananas and milk induces sleep. When the kids were little and couldn't sleep, I'd try to get them to eat a banana and drink a glass of milk. Or if they were driving me crazy and I needed them to fall asleep early, I'd make them eat a banana and drink a glass of milk. I never could decide if it worked or not, but it was always worth a shot.

This is one of my new favorite bedtime treats. It tastes like you're indulging in an ice cream shake, but except for the little bit of sugar, it's good for you. If you split it with someone, it's only 147 calories each.

2 frozen banana halves *

1 cup skim milk

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Put all ingredients in blender and pulse until well-blended.

* I peel and freeze bananas in a ziplock freezer bag before they start to get overripe. I usually cut them in half first. Don't wait until they get soft to freeze them, or they'll only be good for banana bread.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Year of the Earwig

I had my first encounter with an earwig at about age two. I was climbing the concrete steps leading up to our front door. An earwig pinched my finger. There were two tiny dots of blood. I continued up the steps and through the front door to where my mother sat in the livingroom, surrounded by ancient women. I think they must have been one or both of my great-grandmothers and their sisters.

I've had an aversion ever since.

To earwigs, not old ladies.

I don't care what the Chinese say - 2009 has been The Year of the Earwig. There are tons of them and they are everywhere. In the laundry room, in the garage, in the family room, on my kitchen table when guests were over, in my flower beds and under every rock in the yard, and there's been one in the back of my mind all summer. It never leaves me. There's a myth about earwigs crawling into the ears of sleeping people, causing fever and insanity. No fever yet, but the insanity thing? Could be happening.

When I was about twelve I had a close encounter of the very disturbing kind. It was summer, and I was getting ready to go to the beach. I got my bathing suit off the clothesline in the backyard, took it up to my room, and put it on. There was an earwig in it. I'm still traumatized. I have not used the bathing suit clothesline since.

Earwigs are hideous creatures. I think that, like the horseshoe crab and the alligator, earwigs have probably changed very little since prehistoric times. I've done some research on Wikipedia. Did you know that most species have wings tucked away somewhere and are capable of flight? How disturbing is that? But they hardly ever use them. Instead, they use this tactic called the "defensive drop." They like to crawl up high on things like walls and ceilings and bathing suits on outdoor clotheslines. Once they know you've seen them, they let go and free fall to the ground. Then, while you're shrieking and flailing your arms, they scurry into the nearest crack or crevice. Makes me want to scream just thinking about it.

Two other upsetting facts I learned: they're nocturnal, and they're year-round.

One of our kids, when he was little, built a birdhouse out of a kit. We hung it in a tree in the backyard. One day I thought I'd look inside it for evidence of a resident bird family. I tipped it a little to get a good look into the hole. Hundreds of earwigs did the defensive drop. The birdhouse still hangs in the tree. I haven't touched it since that day. I'm uncomfortable even standing under that tree.

In the spring, I planted my vegetable garden. As soon as the green beans came up, something started eating them. My broccoli plants, too. Each morning, I'd go out to check for damage and find that huge amounts of plant material had been consumed. Someone at the nursery suggested that it might be quail. We'd had quail in the yard that month for the first time ever. Must be the quail. I spent half the summer replanting beans and bad-mouthing the quail. Now I'm pretty sure it was the earwigs; Wikipedia says they like to feed on seedling beans. It makes me crazy to think I've been feeding them all summer.

I recently put some peas in for a fall crop. Something's eating them.

Sometimes I get cold at night so I keep a polar fleece blanket under my side of the bed. But I haven't been able to use it. That earwig, the one in the back of my mind, whispers to me when I wake up cold in the night. It tells me that some of its brothers are burrowing in the folds of my blanket.

Almost every day for the last while I've seen one scramble across the basement floor and under the washer or dryer.

If I get up and come downstairs in the night and turn on a light, will I find them all over my walls and ceiling? Will they then perform the defensive drop?

So, is the earwig in the ear thing really just a myth or can it cause insanity? You tell me. I'm in no condition to decide.