“Mess o’ Golden Fish” in Buttery Lemon Sauce

Mess o’ Golden Fish in Buttery Lemon Sauce

(Becky, the Mama.)

Yesterday was one of those Sunday afternoons that Greg and I love.  I’d popped a roast in the oven before church and then Greg’s sons, a  daughter-in-law , one nephew and one grandson showed up to enjoy a meal on the back porch.  These are special days as we know summer is waning, the leaves are turning, but for now there are still flowers and green grass and perfect 70 degree weather.

Meals for our big gang of kids (even half our crew) means lots of food, mess, dishes. A virtual kitchen disaster, since I am a fast cook, but not a tidy one.   In addition to lunch, I decided to make a quick casserole for my stepson to take home to his family as well.  (Tortilla Flower Pie.) They adopted little six-year-old Anthony this year, and suddenly became foster parents to a toddler last week.  At minimum, I felt, they deserved a night off from cooking.  So more pots and pans were added to the sink creating a virtual mountain dirty dishes.

I took a deep breath and dove in to Dish Mountain, rinsing and washing with gusto, when I felt… not a few drops, not a trickle,  but a sudden wave of warm water flooding my feet.  A broken pipe. Several trips to the hardware store, lots of under-sink-laboring, not a few choice words, and many hours  later…the pipes still leaked like an artsy under-the-sink fountain.

I loaded the dirty dishes into a big ice chest on wheels and alerted my neighbor that I might be rolling up to her door,  the Bag Lady of Dirty Dishes, to borrow her sink. Thankfully a plumber showed up today and miraculously fixed the issue, to the tune of $200.00.

Welcome to reality. It is messy.  “Mama said there’d be days like this,” and all that.   I’ve found, however, that life’s “little aggravating interruptions” get a lot easier to deal with once you accept this truth: About 20 to 30 percent of life is handling hassles.

I’ve found I don’t lose my cool over life’s inconveniences when I…

1) Take care of it – or delegate….or hire someone to take care of it ASAP without wasting time stewing

2) Find something funny in the situation to write and laugh about

3) Remember that it is not a Greek tragedy, it is not cancer,  it is not permanent. (This post will appear on 9-11, a reminder of how petty almost all our so-called ‘problems’ really are.)

4) I am not being picked on by God, stuff happens to everybody.  Build “yucky interruptions” into weekly expectations

5) Try to think of myself as Molly Brown, and do my best to be that jolly, comforting, brave woman who makes the best of a sinking ship situation.

Or in my case, a sinking sink situation.

I had just a few minutes tonight to prepare dinner after the plumber left and the kitchen was put back in order. (Thank you to my husband and nephew for doing this for me. A gift!)  What I wanted to make for supper was four perfectly formed and nicely browned fish fillets.  What I got, instead, was a mess, as some of the fish stuck to the pan, and the meat was so fresh and flakey that it began falling apart.  Then I remembered something a pro photographer said at the Foodista Blogging convention, “Life is messy. Make some of your photos messy.” Well, then…O-KAY!

Though this “mess o’ fish” dish did not turn out perfectly formed fillets, it tasted amazing.  In fact, the broken pieces allowed the lemon-butter-wine sauce to better saturate the fresh white cod,  resulting in moistness and flavor in every bite.  The family served themselves whatever bits and pieces that looked most tempting to them.

The moral of today’s post is this: When life gives you lemons, slice them and use them to decorate your latest culinary mess.  You might find you’ve fouled up your way into a new recipe masterpiece.

“Mess o’  Golden Fish” in Buttery Lemon Sauce

Serves 4

2 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter for browning fish

2 smashed garlic cloves

1.5 lb. white flakey fish fillets (I used cod, but you could use halibut, tilapia, mahi-mahi, catfish or sea bass)

1 large lemon, cut in half

2/3 cup white wine

1 T. butter (for sauce)

1 T. brown sugar

Sea Salt to taste

Few basil leaves or parsley for garnish


Sprinkle fish fillets very lightly with sea salt on both sides.

Put 2 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter and 2 smashed garlic cloves into a large skillet over medium high heat.  As soon as it is nice and bubbly, stir to let garlic permeate the oil and butter, then add fish.  Turn fish when it is golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes or less.  Don’t worry if it comes apart when you turn it: messy is fineMessy is good.

Brown the other side of the fish.  With a wide spatula, remove fish from pan to a large serving platter with about 1 inch high sides, and loosely cover with foil to keep warm. (I used a round Corning Ware tart pan.)  In the same skillet, add 2/3 cup white wine, another tablespoon of butter, 1 T. brown sugar and juice from ½ the lemon.  Let this mixture simmer and bubble until the sauce is reduced by about a third.  Season with salt to taste at this point.  Pour the sauce over the “mess o’ golden fish” and garnish with lemon slices (from the other ½ lemon) and a few sprigs of fresh parsley or basil.  Serve family style with a spoon for dipping sauce.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Mess o’ Golden Fish in Buttery Lemon Sauce
The URL:http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Gp
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Chili Lime Southern-Style Catfish

Chili Lime Southern Style Catfish

(Becky, the Mama)

As the story in our family goes, one day my father took my little brother David and my little sister Rachel out to the bank of a lake to cast a line and do a little fishing.  If you’ve ever taken children out fishing, you know you do very little ACTUAL fishing.  It’s mostly about putting on lost bait and untangling lines.   David was probably about eight at the time, and Rachel about age five.  To this day, my sister is an “observer” and “information gatherer.”  If you saw Friday’s post you know my sister also grew up to write humor, but where I tell stories (often about the messes I seem to get in with uncanny regularity),  Rachel is more Seinfield-like, finding humor in everyday quirky observations.

Anyway, she keenly observed my brother cast line after line with a ball of catfish bait attached to the hook.  We called this horrid, sticky black concoction, “stink bait,” and to this day I don’t think I’ve smelled anything worse in my life,  including my teenage sons’ gym socks.   Apparently, however,  catfish adore it.   My father and brother would each cast their  lines, and when they reeled them in, it would come back empty — the bait gone, but no fish — over and over and over again.   Rachel took all this in, and about the fifth time the bait disappeared she shook her head slowly back and forth, and dryly concluded,  “I know a catfish who’s gonna be sick.”   To this day we chuckle knowing she assumed one fish and one fish only consuming all that bait. From then on when anyone in our family declared they were eating too much and feeling “stuffed,”  someone would pipe up with, “I know a catfish who’s gonna be sick.”

If, however, you are lucky enough to be better at catching catfish than feeding them,  then…boy,  do I have a recipe for you!  And if you don’t have access to a pond or lake, no worries.  It is easy to find good fresh farm-fed catfish in larger supermarkets and most of it has never been frozen.  This easy recipe turns out a fish that is crunchy, slightly spicy with a great lime tang on the outside,  moist and flakey on the inside.  This is a slight twist on a southern favorite that is wonderful with a side of coleslaw and some oven-broiled sliced potatoes. (Recipe for these potatoes coming up this week!)

NOTE: Rachel and I are staring at the final months before a book deadline, and in order to have time to write it, we’re going to begin posting this food blog three days a week instead of five.  Typically this will be Monday, Wed, and Saturday.

CONGRATULATIONS to Erin MacPherson AND Megan DiMaria!  Both of you will be receiving a free copy of my sister’s new book, The Well-Lived Laugh.  Thanks so much for participating on Friday.

Chili Lime Southern-Style Catfish (with Oven Baked Potato Rounds)

Chili Lime Southern-Style Catfish


4 medium sized catfish fillets

1 c. cornmeal

1 t. grill seasoning (or 1/2 t. salt 1/4 t. pepper and 1/4 t. garlic powder)

1 t. Tajins chili-lime spice (If you don’t have this, substitute 1/2 t. ground red pepper and zest of one lime)

Tajin chili lime spice — usually near Mexican food aisle of grocery. You can also order it from Amazon. Delicious, too, on fresh mangos and pineapples.

1 fresh lime, cut in half

sea salt

1/2 cup healthy oil — I like a combination of coconut and olive oil (to equal about 1/4 inch in your pan of choice)


Heat oil in iron skillet until it is sizzling hot, on medium high.  Gently rinse fish fillets with fresh water and pat dry.  Squeeze a little fresh lime juice over all the fillets, both sides. Then sprinkle both sides of fillets with some good sea salt.   Pour cornmeal on a plate or shallow wide bowl and mix in the grill seasoning and chili lime spice.  Place fillets, one at a time, in cornmeal mixture pressing the fish into it until it is lightly coated all over.

Using tongs, lay each fillet into the sizzling oil.  Let cook until the bottom is golden brown and crisp,  then turn over and cook the other side.  Don’t crowd the pan too much, cook in batches.

When done,  remove to a paper towel and let any of the extra oil drain off.   Test a bite to see if it needs more seasoning and if so sprinkle with additional Tejon or sea salt while it is still hot.   Serve with tarter sauce or fresh lemon or lime, or cocktail sauce.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Chili Lime Southern-Style Catfish
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Ck
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved