Lizards may not have lips, but fish have cheeks.  The former are imaginary; the latter, delicious.

I’d ordered fish cheeks at restaurants but had never found them available for purchase.  An Oregon coast fishmonger told me that the much-prized fish cheeks were sold mainly to restaurants and were rarely available in retail markets.  The first time I saw halibut cheeks on sale was over ten years ago, at the newly opened branch of a locally-owned organic market (a shout-out to our beloved New Seasons!).  I checked out fresh meats section of the store, passing by other patrons who stood in front of the beef, poultry, lamb and pork cases while the butchers took their orders. When I reached the seafood display case I nearly mashed my nose against the glass with excitement, and the fishmonger smiled in appreciation.

“Look what you have!”  I blustered.  “You have halibut cheeks!”

Butt cheeks?”  The woman to my right gasped and dropped a freshly wrapped package of New Season’s house-made chorizo in her shopping cart.  “They sell BUTT CHEEKS?”

I exchanged bemused glances with the fishmonger, who, I could see, was about to enlighten the aghast shopper.  Greedy moi launched a preemptive strike[1].  “Yes, they do.” I grinned at gasping sausage woman, and cheekily (sorry) patted my own behind.  “They are considered a delicacy in some Eastern European countries.”

I was able to buy ’em all: two pounds of halibut cheeks.

Sweet and tender, with a flavor and flaky texture that is often compared to with lobster,[2] halibut cheeks are so tasty on their own that IMHO, the KISS[3] doctrine applies to their preparation.  Here’s how we celebrated Little New Year’s Eve[4] at the Black Cat Café,[5] with dear friend and discerning dinner guest, LAH.

Yummers Halibut Cheeks (serves 4)
-1 pound Halibut cheeks (about 8 – 12 pieces)
-EVOO
-Sea salt
-2 ½ T unsalted butter, divided
-2T freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
-lemon wedges

Film two large cast iron pans with EVOO and heat the pans over medium-high heat until the oil is hot but not smoking.  Sprinkle both sides of the cheeks with salt; place cheeks in the pans (don’t overcrowd – give ’em plenty of gasping room). Sauté the cheeks for 2 minutes.  Flip them over, cook second side for 2 minutes.  Add the butter and lemon juice (dividing them among the two pans). After 30 seconds flip the fish again, so that both sides are coated with butter.  Cook for another 30 -60 seconds (do not overcook; depending on thickness, total cooking time for the cheeks should be a mere 5-6 minutes).  Plate and serve with lemon wedges to squeeze on top.

 Credit: Roy Henry Vickers artcountrycanada.com

Don’t ask don’t tell

During this lovely dinner, I sniffed a cat turd. There’s no graceful segue; it happened.[6]

I heard something scuttling on the floor by my chair,  and with all the holiday goodies we’ve been given (including a package of chocolate goober things called “Moose droppings”) I assumed the cats had once again gotten up on the counters and knocked down some treats down….  And I screamed at K when he said, “Yeah, I was going to say to you when you picked that up, ‘I think it’s a cat dingleberry.'”

Don’t ask.  Oh, but you didn’t, did you?  I told, without being asked. And if you’re a Facebook friend of my daughter’s, you already know.

*   *   *

♫ So this is Christmas/And what have you done
Another year over/A new one just begun ♫ 

As much as I have always loved the Tweenolidays[7] I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  I have been to and hosted my share of entertaining New Year’s celebrations; still, more often than not, it’s a couple of days to tolerate, not anticipate. This is methinks, a combination of three factors:

1)  The Ghost of The Younger Years ® rattling its memory-chain of the Are We Having Fun Yet?! pressure:  It seemed to me that I did not have the kind of festive/bacchanal/out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new adventures immortalized (and exaggerated, yeah, I know) in cinema and literature, and thought that I was supposed to do that, even if I didn’t want to, and that every other person on the planet was Having A Great Time save for moi;

2)  The gut-check of the Mature years:  I’ve passed a certain AARP- significant age, and that effin’ John Lennon song gets played over and over this time of year, the lyrics of which seem to taunt me with the reality of the insignificance of my accomplishments during the past 365 days  (“…and what have you done?…another year over….”)

3) There is no factor #3.

*   *   *

A new year.  Here we are, two thousand and thirteen. Fiscal cliff, schmiscal cliff.  We stared into the void.  Dutiful American © that I am, I am supposed to ponder…something. I believe it is my patriotic duty to declare, “No matter what else happens, at least my taxes might not go up.”

Not to be flippant, but the issue was so complex; I tried to find a study guide to help me understand it, but apparently they don’t make Fiscal Cliff Notes.

cliff

A New Year.  Here we are, two thousand and thirteen.  That bears repeating, because just like the intestinal gas bubbles caused by your uncle’s New Year’s Blowout Chili-dawg casserole, the boogeymen of yesteryear keep surfacing.

Despite the number of professional male athletes who spoke out in support of LGBT on rights in 2012, a recent Los Angeles Times article detailed how gay athletes still feel unwelcome in pro sports.  To come out as gay (which no active NFL, NBA, major leagues or NHL players have done) is considered a “career-ending” truth-telling, largely – gee, I’m just guessing here – due to attitudes like those of Detroit Tigers right fielder Torri Hunter.

The über-masculine named Torri told the Times that he believes an out gay teammate would make him “uncomfortable.”

“For me, as a Christian…I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it’s not right,” Hunter said. “It will be difficult and uncomfortable.”

All his learning.  Okey dokey.  Has Hunter done any learning about how someone with his skin color[8] playing baseball alongside white teammates once made the majority of white Americans “uncomfortable,” because in all their teachings and learning, biblically, the “mixing of the races” was not right?

BTW, this isn’t the first time Hunter’s insight-free jaw flapping statements have gotten him attention.  In a 2010 interview with USA Today about the changing demographics in baseball, Hunter referred to dark-skinned Latino baseball players as “impostors.”

I look forward to Torri Hunter’s Detroit Tigers teammates addressing the question if being on a team with an ignorant religious bigot makes them uncomfortable.  In the meantime, without further ado-doo, Imposter of the Weekgoes to Torri Hunter, for his up-until-now successful imitation of a sentient human being.

catimposter

The TMI Files

I subscribe to salon.com. I usually find their articles an equal mix of cogent, timely and provocative, seasoned with more than the occasional dash of WTF thinks this crap is news? But on Little New Year’s Eve, the article with the story line: “My Sexual Resolutions,” oh, really, salon?  I am so not going there (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz).

I hoped in vain the article would have a subtitle, something along with lines of “…which I vow to keep to myself.”  Alas, no.

*   *   *

This stupid day in history.

On January 4:

– 1649 – English Civil War: The Rump Parliament votes to put Charles I on trial.[9]
– 1885  The first (successful) appendectomy is performed by Dr. W. W. Grant, on Mary Gartside.
– 1974 – President Richard Nixon refused to hand over tape recordings and documents subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee.

Notable births on January 4 included
– 1809 – Louis Braille, French developer of the touch reading system for the blind
– 1960 Michael Stipe, R.E.M. singer/songwriter

Two significant January 4 bucket-kickers
-1903 – Topsy the Elephant (died in America, born in India, ca. 1875) was electrocuted.[10] Yet another reason to hate Thomas Edison.
– 1999 – Iron Eyes Cody, Italian American actor (nee Espera Oscar de Corti) best known for portraying Native Americans (he was the “crying Indian” in the Keep America Beautiful PSAs).

*   *   *

2013.  I’m going to have to start those…how do you say #@!%& French tapes, en francais? There it sits on my desk, mocking me: Rosetta Stone Francais Level 1. I promised Belle that if she sticks with French for all four years of high school, she and I will travel to France after her graduation. It seems as though I may have to keep that promise, and my two quarters of college French seems like a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  Although I’ll have my own translator in the family, I’d like to reacquire some survival basics, other than being able to complain about the lack of TP in the WC (Il n’y a pas de papier dans la salle de bains).

*   *   *

My KenKen books are full, and this is not to be tolerated in a new year.  I’ve become quite fond of the math puzzles[11] and consider doing at least one of them, along with the NY Times Crossword puzzle, a daily, sanity-break necessity. My New Year’s present to moi was a shopping spree on Amazon, where you can (and I did) waste far too much time perusing their puzzles offerings.  I limited myself to three: Puzzle-a-day Kenken; Ferocious KenKen, and Crazy for KenKen. It was a tough call to settle for the third book, the full title of which is Crazy for KenKen: 100 Logic Puzzles That Make You Smarter.  I kept searching for its companion: Batshit Crazy for KenKen: 100 Irrational Puzzles That Blow Your Higher Reasoning Skills Right Outta Your Nostrils.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The New Year is here; hilarity ensues.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] There weren’t many halibut cheeks in the display. I wanted them all.
[2] Not by me, but by people who like comparing things to lobster.
[3] Keep It Simple, Sweetie.
[4] The eve before New Year’s Eve.
[5] Aka our dining room.  So named for the painting, titled, “The Black Cat Café,” that hangs on one of its walls.
[6] Or, shit happened, as the saying goes.
[7] the days of between Christmas And New Year’s day, briefly mentioned in last week’s post.
[8] Jackie Robinson couldn’t help but be “out” about that.
[9] Some historians believe Charles got a bum deal.
[10] Topsy, a circus/amusement park elephant, had killed three men, including a trainer who tried to feed her a lit cigarette. Although the sadistic trainer was not considered a threat to elephants, Topsy was deemed a threat to humans by her owners and killed by electrocution after the cyanide-laced carrots she was fed failed to do the job.
[11] KenKen is way better than Sudoku, which, IMHO is like watching grass grow while the paint dries.