Thursday, March 02, 2006

It's the small things that matter

It seems that all week, in the oddest places, I've had ideas for posts; especially when I've had no means of recording the ideas for later refinement.

Take last night for example, while standing in line in the so called "express" lane at the grocery store, I was thinking back to a story MBH and I had listened to on Morning Edition while lying in bed trying to convince each other that we absolutely had to get up. We were playfully calling each other and the cat names and proclaiming the virtues of early to bed, early to rise when a story came on that caused us both to fall silent and listen. It was a follow-up story about a couple, Danny and Annie Perasa, who had recorded for Story Corps their story of meeting, falling in love and their unconditional support for each other. I remembered hearing the first story and how, while driving to work, I had tears streaming down my face while they each told of the simple things they did for each other that meant more than all the grand gestures in the world. It seems that this episode of Story Corps had touched so many strangers that the couple had inspired thousands of people to write to NPR and this follow-up story was intended to be a tribute to how their simple but unshakable love influenced so many people. Unfortunately, this love story does not have a happy ending. Danny Perasa died on Friday, February 24th before he could hear the NPR story. He died telling his wife Annie to the very end how much she meant to him for all the little reasons and the small things she did for him. When the NPR announcer finished I realised that both MBH and I were holding our breaths and I had tears streaming down my temples and into my hair. All the sudden, the only thing that seemed to be important was telling each other how it was the really small things we did for each other that mattered most. This morning, while reading the obituary for Danny in the NYT, I once again found myself with tears in my eyes but a smile on my face thinking of how MBH's gentle teasings of me every morning are every bit as important to me as the other gestures of care he shows every day.

NPR was on a roll yesterday with fantastic stories. A bit later, after we had crawled out from the warm covers, we found ourselves in different parts of the house listening to Bill Littlefield who has a sports show on NPR called "Only a Game" comment on why he skipped watching the closing ceremonies of the Turin Olympics to watch the finale of the most excellent Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of Charles Dicken's Bleak House. Now why both MBH and I found this little gem of a commentary so fantastic is that neither of us particularly care for sports. Sure, I watch a little figure skating and the occasional inning of baseball but for the most part we live in a sports free household (unless you count politics). In fact, if the truth be known, we both have the opinion that most sports commentators are knuckleheads. But, we both were stunned by Mr. Littlefield's well thought out and frankly, delightful commentary and found ourselves standing, mouth agape, staring at each other in wonderment as we listened to "Sorry, Turin". As Mr Smallweed was fond of exclaiming, "Shake me up!"

Tonight, as I sat down to write this, I espied a small green piece of paper that had found it's way to hiding beneath the clock radio on my side of our bed. On it I found a recipe I had been meaning to post for a bit. MBH and I have been eating fish a lot lately. A few weeks ago, we had purchased some filets of fresh haddock and were in the mood for homemade fish and chips. I didn't want to deep fry the filets but rather lightly pan fry them. So I just threw together a few ingredients to make a nice crisp coating, choosing some items from the pantry I had been wanting to use up as they were at their end of shelf life.

MBH declared it quite a success and frankly, so did I.

Quick and Easy Pan Fried Fish and Chips

1lb Haddock or Cod fillets (1/2 inch thick)
1/3 cup yellow corn meal
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs or stale croutons crushed
(I use 4C Salt Free Seasoned Bread Crumbs)
1/8 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons canola oil

Wash and pat dry fish fillets. Set aside. In medium sized mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients. In soup bowl/cereal bowl, mix eggs and milk. Coat fillets with egg and milk mixture. Drag fillets through dry ingredients, coating both sides well. Repeat coating fillet with egg and milk mixture and dry ingredients. Set aside on plate. Do this with all fillets.

Heat oil in frying pan until oil is shimmery and passes the water drop test (drop a bit of water into the hot oil, if it spatters and pops, the oil is hot enough). Carefully place battered fish fillets into hot oil and fry on one side for 3-5 minutes until coating is set. Using tongs, turn over fillet and fry for 1-3 minutes until other side is golden brown. Remove fish from pan to clean plate lined with paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Serve with steak fries and cole slaw.