Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Of Martha & Mary, and Perfect Lemon Rosemary Salmon

A sure-fire sign of fall at our home is the urge to create and enjoy heartier, delicious dinners again. The days are shorter, the weather is cooler (well, it's supposed to be) and our lives are busier again. The seductive slughood of summer is gone.

For the last three evenings, we've savored simple, fragrant dishes that caused us to deliberately eat more slowly, and focus on taste and conversation.

We had lemon rosemary salmon and stir-fried sesame green beans on Saturday evening. The salmon was poached, skin-side up, quickly (about 12 minutes) in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees, in a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, fresh rosemary, garlic salt and lemon pepper. I mixed the marinade in a bowl, and poured it into a glass baking dish. The salmon was placed on the marinade, then marinade was spooned over it. Top the salmon with generous sprinkles of garlic salt and lemon pepper, and relish this refreshing, delicate dish. (Warning...overdone salmon has the texture and taste of soft shoe leather. And underdone salmon is...well, sashimi. Salmon is just right when it's a soft pink, moistly flaky, and a much darker pink in the middle.) I also stir-fried fresh green beans in canola oil in a hot, quick pan, and tossed with soy sauce and sesame seeds just before serving.

Sunday evening, Kevin (my 21 year old stepson) joined us for a homemade tomato-garlic-oregano sauce with sweet Italian sausage over organic whole wheat spaghetti and Caesar salad on the side. And last night, I baked 3 turkey legs, then simmered the bones and meat with 2 chopped onions, a can of diced Italian herb tomatoes and a heap of tarragon for luscious turkey soup. (Add 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 2 tspns black pepper and 1 tspn garlic salt for depth.)

My family loved our early fall back-to-reality dinners, and I loved making them.

However.....on Saturday, I became so involved in the perfection of my planned dinner that I became more Martha than Mary. (I'm referring to the New Testament story of two sisters, who hosted Jesus for dinner one evening. Martha got so involved in perfect preparations that she became irritable and distracted, and neglected to sit with her guest. Mary sat at Jesus feet and listened with joy to him. Jesus said that Mary had chosen the proper course. See Luke 10:38-42 for a story all women can relate to.)

Friends unexpectedly came to our front door just as the salmon was halfway through its 12-minute poach to culinary perfection, and as green beans were sizzling in the wok pan. Too long cooking, and both dishes would be ruined. Larry and Ariel came to deliver a party invitation, and to chat.

When the meal was at its peak, I announced that it was dinner time. They continued to hurriedly chat with Ron and Andrea, trying to fit in all the words in their hearts and minds...so I again emphatically said that it was dinner time. (After all, we'd just seen them last night...they hadn't callled beforehand....etc etc etc. My perfect dinner was ready. I 'd slaved over my work of edible art.)

They left, and we sat down for our meal............... I should have invited them to join us. We had plenty.

I was Martha. I was wrong. I have offered my apologies.

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