Monday, March 3, 2014

Glazed Salmon with Vodka infused Citrus Sauce...and slices of Mixed Berry Coffee Cake for our weekend family gathering

Coming in from a weary wintry journey south

From enjoying the quiet islands to facing bitter ice storms, it may be the way my in-laws are going to end their winter hibernation.  They are trying to climb their way from the warming winds of coastal Texas up to the frozen tundra that right now is describing their homeland of Missouri.

Luckily we live here in Houston and family is spread between here and Missouri so they can hop their way home in between bouts of ice and sleet.  What a bittersweet return journey...they still are not home yet as more sleet is pounding northern Texas and Oklahoma.


Those moody wild Texas skies:
Chester..."He's home!!"



As I was lazily driving home from Austin the other day, windows rolled down, not caring how wild my hair looked  there was a decided  hint of spring out there.  Little did I know that we would all swing weather-wise back to wintry conditions before the week was out.  I don't mind.  I love it.  But, it's not exactly what cross country drivers want to be experiencing on the roadways.






The fields are still straw-colored as they blend right into the trees that are dusty pale brown as well...bare, scraggily, and gnarly.  I was enjoying these very spring-like breezes, before one final cold snap was readying to descend upon this unsuspecting Texan landscape.






But my in-laws were carefully watching the changing moods of late winter.  They decided to stop in and hunker down with us for awhile so they could survey how bad the ice and sleet would pummel the midwestern states.




It's a long straight drive from the coastal towns to the hubbub of metro Houston.  They were tired when they rolled in and in need of rest and good nourishment.

I scribbled out an easy menu list for the week that was doable for all of us with Riley and I still deep into spring semester of high school most of the day.





We are fortunate, living this far south, in that we typically have fresh fruits coming in from Mexico and South America throughout the year.  Citrus is certainly in season and playing a front and center role in the markets.






Something with citrus fruit sounded good for this gloomy grey week.  Putting something on the table with fresh colors and vibrant tastes sounded like a good pick me up for everyone.  I bought a pound of fresh salmon and decided on a recipe filled with citrus juice, vodka, soy sauce, and fresh sprigs of dill.




We live a very quiet life during the week.  Riley and I move from one subject to the next in a regular pattern similar to the same blue jays that visit us at the window sill throughout the day, the same hawks that fly overhead in regular rounds to see if there might be something tasty below, and Polly and Chester who are either curled up around us or chasing each other around the house.  Often, when I worry that my life is too quiet for those teen years, my college daughter tells me she cannot wait to turn the "noise" of college static off and burrow herself in the quiet that is our house for a life break.



The beauty in Weekly Snacks;
Prepping for the first BBQ of the season and trying to look all fancy!



So it was a great diversion to have my in-laws nestle in with us and give us a welcome distraction from our regular routine.  They always have wonderful stories to share.  My mother-in-law grew up on a farm in Missouri as a little girl.  She was born during the later years of WWII and can remember the day that it was announced the war in Europe was over.  She was a little girl of eight years old.  What a day to capture in one's memory!






She has stories about her mother's huge garden and how much work went into racing against the summer time clock to can and jar vegetables to put up for the winter.  They weren't trying to live "sustainably".  They were just trying to live the only way they knew how...by growing their own food and recycling and composting anything they could because that was just the way things were done then.









Her stories are always lively and she tells them with such vivid animation that the pages of scenes from stories reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie come to life through her words.  

She has an older sister who lives in St. Louis.  They love to swap letters sometimes about their childhood days living on a country farm.  The world sure has changed tremendously since the days post WWII.  Joanne and her sister write colorful letters to each other that capture their amusement of all of the spiffy consumer products available for house keeping in this decade.





Their stories really capture the reactions of a generation that was on the cusp of emerging consumerism and the boom in mass produced goods that made life become easier and easier for that generation...and probably taken for granted by our generation...and now posing threats to future generations.

Her sister, Patti, wrote a hilarious letter lauding the achievements of the Swiffer dusters.  Whereas we take products like this for granted and cleaning our homes isn't quite the back-bending effort it used to be, her generation practically pays homage and exalts such products with rave reviews that are rib-tickling for us to hear being described.






I made a tea time cake for us to enjoy mid-afternoon on one day.  Riley and I took a break from schooling to seek out something either sweet or salty in the kitchen.  How wonderful it was to close the computers down for a bit, sit down at the kitchen table with my in-laws, pour a hot cup of coffee and enjoy a warm cake filled with blackberries and raspberries.






While George & Joanne amuse us with stories of life during the 1950's and 60's, Riley describes a paper he is writing for his Contemporary History course.

He is writing a research paper about the Impact of Consumerism in Developed Countries and their Impact on Global Warming.  As we are eating our berries (trucked in from Mexico) and recycling our many papers, boxes, and plastics during the week...Joanne describes how life was physically harder a few decades ago but people were leaner and the amount of fossil fuels, feed for cattle, and electricity we use today just wasn't available or necessary back then.






It was fascinating to hear and see the world through the eyes of one generation and then sit and edit through and discuss the topic of a research paper with another generation...topics that wouldn't have been understood nor possibly foreseen only several decades ago.








So to really mix things up even more with all of our cross-generational sharing over the week, we decided to all treat ourselves at the end of the week to a Saturday night outing on the town...at an Indian/Italian fusion pizza place.

Houston is certainly the land of cultural influences and fusion cooking that is one step ahead of this generation's new global marketplace.  This city mixes it up and shakes it up and brings the world together on the dinner plate.







There is nothing like Houston restaurants to display that intriguing blend of global experiences and interpret it directly onto our dinner menus.

We took them to a new place called "Bombay Pizza".  Bombay pizza fuses Indian flavors with traditional Italian influences.  For example, one pizza can be described as "Tandoori chicken, Artichoke Hearts, Provolone and mozzarella on Cilantro-Mint Chutney...topped with fresh Cilantro"

Fortunately, this is global consumerism at its most interesting.  We all really enjoyed the flavor combinations but chuckled at the span of conversation from the days of activities like jarring and canning, that was truly natural sustainability... to today's fusion cooking and high school student research papers debating  the doom and gloom of overconsumption in this fast moving generation.  

By morning, on the road my in-laws went...to brave further looming ice storms that threaten to take a bite with their icy teeth over the midwestern plain states.

And another collection of beautiful stories are left behind as we realize that one generation is showing another generation the beautiful but hard life that was once America before the "gotta haves" and "wanna haves" became coined into new words added to our vocabulary...like consumerism, overconsumption, global impact, and sustainability.









Recipe from:  The View from Great Island blog









**Adapted from the blog:  Bakers Royale blog



25 comments:

  1. What a feast .. the meal but for the eyes with all these lovely images. Sarah you know how to capture the soft beauty and I love visiting your blog in the mornings to get a tranquil piece of your world. Gorgeous!

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    1. Thank Meeta, and the sentiment is mutual. I can't wait for the photos from the workshop in Italy!

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  2. Beautiful and mouthwatering, as always!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Sweet Rosa...your words are always appreciated.

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  3. What wonderful insights into a very different world you have given us today. I think I would like to try the coffee cake. I have an insatiable sweet tooth :)

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    1. This one is easy and quite nice for that afternoon break. The first time I left out the nuts but it really does need that crunch so I would make it with pecans or walnuts, etc.

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  4. Hi Sarah, just found your blog on Foodgawker and I'm so glad I did. Your photography is absolutely mesmerizing and I've spent about 30 minutes looking around. I so love everything about this salmon recipe. Looking forward to coming back to see what you're cooking (and photographing)!

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    1. Thank you Bill, you have a fabulous site. I'm so glad you left a comment because I discovered your corner of the world too!

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  5. Now I wish I had not spent the time I and others had today on reposting before I opened yours - this will simply have to be reblogged a few days down the track - somehow your moody photography of light and dark just seems to be better each time I click on the blog - what wonderful photos to give me goosebumps: shall be back after work!! And I shall copy your salmon recipe [and visit the link] soonest: so few ingredients but different from any other salmon recipe I have.

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    1. If you need a dish that is easy but tastes and look really delicious, this would be a good one. I would definitely make it again...perhaps with little slices of kumquats all over it. Eha, your comments always make me smile!

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  6. Your use of vodka reminds me of how clear white rice wine ("mie jou" or "michiu") is used in Taiwan. It is similar to sake but only used for cooking. The alcohol is cooked out but it imparts an important and unique flavor to the dish that is subtle and important. Friends would even add a swig to the water for cooking rice. I use a domestically-produced version (http://lincheninc.com/).

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    1. Yes, the vodka has no taste but does something in there to bring the entire dish together. I love salmon with that bit of sticky sauce the way it is served in Japan. This one was close to what you describe with the addition of citrus to round it off.

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  7. Your use of vodka reminds me of how my Taiwanese friends use their rice cooking wine ("mie jou" or "michiu") to add flavor to a dish. I use a domestically-produced version that is very good. http://lincheninc.com/ That and a few drops of fish sauce add some interesting complexity to western dishes as well.

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  8. My eyes are visually feasting my friend, it looks so delicious!
    The salmon is flavoursome and I love the vodka infusion for a little kick!
    This cake is also gorgeous, it is bursting with berries :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Thank you! The entire meal from salmon to coffee cake is really quick and simple. It was a mid-week dinner so I knew I wouldn't have too much time to do anything laborious...

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  9. I'm so glad you made the salmon, Sarah! Of course you make it look so incredibly elegant. That tandoori pizza is haunting me, I really want to make it to Houston one of these days <3

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    1. Sue, it was delicious. I knew we would love it. Definitely a keeper and a big THANK YOU to you.

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  10. The meal looks delicious and all your talk of visiting with family is making me homesick!

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    1. Homesick! Get your family to Ireland soon so they can relish in the beauty that will be Ireland in the springtime.

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  11. Sarah, Gorgeous post! Sounds like a fun visit with your in-laws. Your meal looks mouthwatering and so wonderfully lovely! Stunning photos!

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    1. My mother-in-law is a fabulous story teller. She always has some interesting anecdote about her fascinating childhood in the midwest.

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  12. Your images are always incredible, but the bird over pink water stunned me.

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  13. You continue to WOW me!! Thank you!

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  14. Amy Porche' ForemanMarch 25, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    You continue to WOW me!!!

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  15. Your photos are absolutely stunning, and the recipes so appetizing. Thanks for the inspiration!

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