Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fish Sticks Anyone?

This week has been a life-size marathon. During a Labor Day weekend visit to the mountains with my parents and other family, my dad become violently ill. After an ER run, it was found that he had contracted a viral strain of MRSA on one of his legs. I am writing this during the fifth day of his hospital stay while sitting in a recliner in his room. Thankful that the powerful antibiotics are seeming to deter the infection, we are looking at getting him closer to home (Wilmington) for further rehab.

Because I don't have the exact presence of mind to work on some of the posts I have in the hopper, I give you a post in retro. 

The following blog was originally written in January 2006
(We were missionaries for many years in West Africa and other countries. Most everything I cooked was from scratch, so when we returned to America, I never reacquired the "processed" food habit)

       I am always asking my family for suggestions for dinner. However, most of the time, they are just no help at all! None. Today, though, was different. My husband had a suggestion: fish sticks! 

       Fish sticks, like in school cafeteria fishsticks? With garden peas and french fries, a roll and a slice of cake? He looked a little sheepish; probably because of the bewildered look on my face. And then it hit me, I had not cooked nor eaten fishsticks in probably seven or eight years! 

       Did I even remember what kind to buy? How should I best cook them? Did I even really want to cook them? I could not imagine eating them, but fervent love for my hubby and a reminder of those vows I willingly and mushily chirped out almost 25 years ago took me straight to the frozen food aisle of the grocery store!

       I'm sure that I remember there being a clause in our vows that went like this: "For better or for worse, for aged ribeye or  crumbly fishstick, I take thee." Yeah, I'm almost certain that's the way it went!

       I bought the Gorton's popcorn fish and one small box of breaded white fillets. (Disclaimer: At no time am I blaming Gorton's for the way those little "pop-in-your-mouth" morsels of fish turned out. It would be nice to do so, but I do have a conscience.) 

       Looking for some gourmet twist to the french fry side dish, I decided upon frozen julienne sweet potato strips seasoned with sea salt. That sounded fish-accomodating enough, but yet had also a cosmepolitan feel enough to satisfy my gourmet side. I chose Leseur extra small garden peas to top off the cafeteria-like menu my hubby had asked for, deciding on making a mixed green salad instead of cake and rolls (even though my husband was disappointed about the cake part!)

       Because of a time constraint, I needed to get everything done by 6:00 p.m., but didn't remember that until 5:40. Never fear, it's just fish sticks and fries, I erringly mused. Wait a minute, I'm not really creating anything! Just heating up something. The gourmet, holistic-foods person that I had become almost jumped out of my skin with that knowledge! 

       However, after looking at the packaging on both the fries and the fish sticks, I realized that they both needed to be cooked at a different temperature. So, I used my faithful brown stones (instead of heeding the instructions and using metal pans for baking - strike one), met the temperature in the middle of the two foods (strike two), and popped it all in the oven. Everything was fine for the first 12 minutes, then I had to take the sweet potato strips out to stir them. The last 12 minutes did not go so fine because I had to run upstairs and hurriedly get dressed (strike three). 

       When I came back in the kitchen, following a trail of not-so-aromatic smoke coming from the oven, I knew that supper had taken a turn for the worse. When I opened the oven door, which, hours later, I am still regretting because the house smells like it was burned down and built back up again before the smoke settled...the fries and the popcorn fish were almost charred.

       Because my husband had asked for the fish sticks, he gingerly came into the kitchen, trying hard not to sniff obviously or rub his burning eyes from the smoke, and proceeded to eat my burnt offering. I had bought a good tartar sauce and a malt vinegar for him to enjoy with his nice browned fish sticks. What a trooper he was with the "blackened fish sticks" and dual-colored sweet potato sticks (one side black, the other orange)! Twenty-four years ago I would have run to my room in tears because of the burnt meal. Now a seasoned cook and wife, I just laughed, apologized, and went about cleaning up the ruins.

       I'm almost sure that I will not get another request for fish sticks for at least six more years! By then, maybe the smell will have left the house!

Update as of September 6, 2012: 
No further requests for fish sticks have been made.