Cooking. Some people like to cook. I like people who like to cook. I like reading their blogs, watching their shows, and best of all, eating their meals. Living vicariously should satisfy me, but every once in a while, I’ll read a recipe and think, ‘Wow, that looks so good. Why don’t I try to make it.’ Usually these cooking moments hit at times when I am swamped with life and would be better off ordering a pizza. I might have a compulsive cooking disorder (CCD).
A few years back, I met a friend of a friend who was hosting a memorial for a dear friend. Does one host a memorial? If the word host means creating a beautiful, comfortable environment for people to come together to talk, eat, and in this case, grieve, than I say it does. But, and I know my friends will forgive me, one of the things I remember most about that day is the sandwich Terri made me. I was standing around the dining room table, marveling at all the good food but not really hungry. I was just sad. Terri came over to the table and asked me if she could make me a sandwich. A little surprised, I asked if she made a good sandwich. She said, “The best.” Well, who can turn down an offer like that? It was the best and, obviously, memorable.
Moving forward. . . Terri started writing about food and magical dinner parties on her blog, No Crumbs Left. She posted pictures of chocolate cakes and roasts. I hit like, like, like and started to follow her everywhere. Her humor (“cut up all your vegetables ahead of time, leave them on the cutting board, and walk away for an hour, and when you come back, everything will be cut up, and you can pretend you have a sous chef”) made me believe cooking might be fun.
The first No Crumbs Left recipe I tried was a Pork Shoulder Roast. Just a few ingredients and the roast. The first time I made it, I had to leave out the sumac because, well, I had no idea what it was or where you went to get it. But despite the fact that I was down one spice, it turned out great, and there were no leftovers. When I posted on Instagram about my success and plans for a do-over when I could find time to find the sumac, Terri immediately sent me a message saying that she would put some sumac in her mailbox for me and I should stop by and get it. WOW! I made the roast again, and it was even better. I’ve never learned to stop while I am ahead.
Business was barking loudly, company was due to arrive in just a week, and I had a million irons in the fire, but when a recipe for Salmon Cakes showed up on No Crumbs Left, there was no stopping me. I was ready to pat those cakes and take my spatula for a spin around the old frying pan.
My fish story began on a Friday. First, I needed to find a pound of salmon, skinned and boned. I am acquainted with a fine fish store. The issue was the time they opened and closed didn’t match with the times I was available to shop. Perhaps that should have been my first sign. You know—if you don’t have time to buy the fish, is this a good time to try out a new recipe? However, I was not daunted. I found a fish store closer to home and proudly walked out with one pound of fresh salmon wrapped in butcher paper. Buying something wrapped in butcher paper gave me that real cook feeling. I didn’t have time to shop for the rest of the ingredients, so I took the fish home and put it in the fridge.
The weekend was beyond crazy busy. As I raced from one task to the next, I wondered how many days my salmon could technically be called fresh. What constituted fresh? I mean, really, isn’t salmon old the moment the hook leaves its mouth?
It was Sunday night before I had time to shop for the rest of the ingredients. Most of them were familiar, but I’d never heard of Old Bay Seasoning. I finally bought what three customers swore was Old Bay Seasoning. I think all three lied. Really. I just don’t think what I bought was what the recipe called for, but since the packaging did have a fish (of sorts) on it, I decided to run with it.
My Sunday shopping was done at about 10:00 p.m. I came home and diced celery, onion, red pepper, and chives. Tossing everything into a glass bowl, I admired how pretty it looked. I told my teen that I’d be sleeping with visions of salmon cakes dancing in my head. He told me my salmon cakes would be dancing with canes. Don’t you just hate kids, sometimes?
Monday turned into a doozy. Just believe me on this, so I don’t have to bore you with the details. It was 9:00 p.m. when I remembered my colorful, fragrant bowl of chopped ingredients and aged salmon. It was too late to cook, and my teen and I were starved. I ordered a half-price Monday pizza and called it a night.
Tuesday night, I pulled out my old salmon and wilted bowl of ingredients, added the remaining ingredients, and patted it all into burgers. I made the mistake of deep frying the first batch. The recipe clearly called for sautéing. I sautéed the second batch. If we consider everything this recipe suffered, I’d say the final results were remarkable—they just were not pretty or eatable.
Hint: My crab cakes are not on top.
I only hope Teri doesn’t hold my assassination of her perfectly articulate Salmon Cake recipe against me. I have a hankering to try and make her Heroin Chicken. I’m not a quitter! And I try real, real hard!
Find more No Crumbs Left using the links below! And don’t forget to read the tips. They are rooted in real life – “let the butcher do it” are words that speak to my heart.
Care to share a humorous cooking story?
Odd Loves Company,