Alanis, Tears, Seared Salmon + Romaine. Yum.
There are many reasons I cook, health is an absolute. The others have more to do with tradition and what’s come to truly be a plain old dirty love for cooking. I love getting dirty, wiping my hands on my pants, cutting all crooked because I have zero knife skills. I love plating food and when I’m not feeling beautiful it helps me to see that I can put something beautiful into my body and my mind for that matter. Then, when I add music into the equation, shit gets next level. I fall in love with the process, I dance like a lunatic, I think I’m Shakira, I believe I’m Shakira and I cook with every part of me. My hips don’t lie. They can’t.
But today’s cooking didn’t go the Shakira route, it was more Alanis Morisette and tears … Doesn’t every woman in her late 30’s have a story from her teens about Alanis? She gave us that dammit.
Today I stood in my kitchen, black leggings and flannel staring at fresh salmon, feta, olives, romaine, cucumber and lemons. Maybe it was the cold NYC weather that got me stopping at a little Greek place to pick up all of the freshness above along with grape leaves and my favorite massive sweet as candy (and better than candy) dried figs - all in an effort to help me conjure up a summer lunch. Or maybe I need a vacation to sun, tan and lube up with olive oil. I digress.
I left the butcher block where I stood gazing, picking on olives and cutting off the edges of the feta with a butter knife, to turn on the radio. I was instantly transported back to the summer of 1996. In the summer of 1996 my brother Louie was working at our local C-Town in Canarsie, I spent most days reading, going to the Rockaways, eating the filling out of calzones (thank you, Atkins Diet) and taking cabs to my best friends house. But those hot, Brooklyn, summer nights were spent on my stoop with Lou and his new friend Mike G.
Mike G. was 5’10” bald, had pierced ears and wore a lot of black t-shirts. Through him and my brother I found Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Sound Garden, Garbage and The Cranberries. I’d sit on the stoop and Mike would play music from his car while he and my brother would ignore me but never address the fact that I creepily hung around. Sometimes I’d say goodnight and they wouldn’t even acknowledge I said anything. I was invisible. How could someone so big be so invisible? I’d go up to my room and play Jagged Little Pill until I fell asleep. Alanis soothed me to slumber along with thoughts that maybe Mike G. would be my first kiss.
But one night after he left, Mike G. called the house and I picked up the phone at the same time as Louie. I said nothing. I remained silent hoping to hear some top secret evening information when after my brother’s hello, Mike G. said “oh, hello, is this Louie. The Louie with the really fat sister.”
And, scene. My first kiss dreams died that night.
So, today, as I stood in my kitchen, black leggings and flannel, staring at fresh salmon, feta, olives, romaine, cucumbers and olives - I cried. I cried with my whole body, that was my dancing. This wild, tear filled, body jerking, unpretty, sobbing moment as memories surged my whole body.
Now, listen, this sounds way more dramatic - I’m totally smiling right now - but that shit was raw back in ‘96. Ok, maybe it’s still a little raw right now but it didn’t cause any emotional eating like it did that night. I’m happy I had a Jagged Little Pill moment with cooking today, it kicked my ass to where I needed to be as I haven’t been feeling much heart in my mealtime of late. Today’s lunch sure may have come with a side of tears, but that pan seared romaine and salmon was prepared in victory. I’m in a different place today.
Cook to give yourself a gift. Cook to make a new story. Take the time to do it, you deserve it.
Dare to grill or pan sear romaine.
Romaine is packed with Vitamin A (nourish those peepers, people), has fiber cred and can also be used in a smoothie. Stop thinking salad only, let your flavors burst outside of that box and up taste and nutrition at the same time.
Take this green and give it the royal treatment, don’t be a romaine hater - elevate that leafy green goodness. She’s more adaptable than you think. Salads don't have to be a bore.
- 1 T. olive oil + 2 tsp.
- 1 6 oz. wild salmon filet, pat dry and put aside
- 1/2 head of romaine, cut whole head length wise and keep in tact
- 6-8 olives
- 1-2 oz Bulgarian feta
- 10-12 pieces of thinly sliced cucumber
- Diced red onion
- Fresh lemon juice + zest
- Salt + Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Heat 1 T. of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium flame and place salmon skin side down, sear for 4 minutes and turn - cooking for and additional 4 minutes and remove from heat
- Heat 1 tsp. of olive oil in a clean skillet and place romaine, searing for 2 minutes on each side, remove from heat
- Plate romaine and place seared salmon on top
- Add olives, cucumber, diced red onion, salt, pepper, zest and juice of lemon
- Sit + plate pretty