Monday, November 22, 2010

Who Says Diet Food Can't Taste Good?

Another confession.  I have gained too much weight!  The high life has to stop.  I joined Weight Watchers at the worst possible time of the year.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are the biggest eating seasons on the calendar.  In an effort to stay "on program" as they say in "WWese", I have been searching for recipes that use ingredients that we love and are diet friendly, too.  I think I found a winner.  I have prepared this dish three different ways, but finally hit on the version that we like best.

Poisson en Popillote

4  (6 oz.) fillets of fish ( I have used catfish and drum)
4 Tablespoon olive oil
Sprinkles of : parsley flakes, dried basil, Italian Seasoning, black pepper, coarse salt
Paprika (enough to cover fish lightly)
4 onion slices
4 tomato slices or several halved cherry tomatoes
4 teaspoons butter
Juice of a lemon

1.  For each fillet, layer on your counter top, a piece of  foil, shiny side up, and a piece of parchment paper on top of the foil. Place one fish piece on each "packet"
2.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
3.  Whisk together the parsley flakes, etc. with the olive oil.
4.  Sprinkle each fillet generously with paprika.
5.  Brush each fillet with the olive oil mixture.
6.  Place tomato slices and onions on top of the fillets and top with a tiny pat of butter and lemon juice.
7.  Fold the packets to seal across the top and on the ends.  You don't want them to leak while cooking.
8.  Bake on a cookie sheet at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let the packets sit for about 5 minutes.
9.  Serve the fish in the packets and be careful opening them because of escaping steam.  Serves 4

Enjoy this dish and don't feel guilty about overeating.  It's  a treat that will make you feel that the meal is very special!  I have also tried it with artichokes and black olives.  Another version featured fresh lump crab meat.  You can prepare the packets early in the day and refrigerate them until baking time.  If you do this, you should increase the baking time because they will be cold when they go in the oven.  Let me know if you have other ideas on this French classic!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanks, Aunt Audrey!

When I was about 12 years old, I wanted to learn to sew.  My Mom, bless her heart, was not talented in this area.  We owned a sewing machine, but Mom's talents lay in the culinary arts and not the art of creating clothing from fabric and thread.  My Aunt Audrey was the expert with thread and needle.  Her specialty was not clothing.  She owned a business at home and made slipcovers and draperies for homes all over the Baton Rouge area.  Her clientele were referred to her by interior decorators.  Out of her converted garage, she created beautiful home furnishings for years.

I was persistent in wanting to sew.  I viewed the skill as a vehicle to an expanded wardrobe.  I was sent to Aunt Audrey to learn some basics.  She gifted me with scraps from slipcovers and draperies.  Most of the time her clients were not interested in keeping left over snippets of fabric.  Some of the pieces were large enough for me to make a skirt and that's where the instruction began.  She taught me to design, cut and sew  with those scraps that the wealthy ladies of Baton Rouge were casting away.  We decided on making box pleated skirts.  After all,  I was on the chubby side and gathers were not slend-ah-rizing!  (Thanks to cousin Mitzi, for this term!)  A lot of skills can be learned from making a skirt.  Measuring, pleating, sewing on a waist band, matching patterns, working with the grain of the fabric, etc....

To finish off my ensemble, she taught me to make simple blouses of solid colors.  That way I could mix and match my skirts.  I also constructed long ties to be worn around the neck to "pull" the outfit together.  I was so proud of myself.  In hindsight, I wonder how I really looked wearing those clothes from drapery fabric??

In high school I signed up for the Home Economics classes.  I excelled at sewing.  When I went to college I wanted to major in English and my professor told me in my freshman year that I had no talent for writing.  I had a roommate who was studying Home Economics and she persuaded me to do the same.  Luckily I also selected a second major, Science.  Those of you who know me are aware that I taught Science for 25 years.  The Home Economics training has served me well over the years.  People used to tease me and say that I had learned to bake huge cookies by majoring in Home Ec.   These days folks depend on the cooking channel and the home and garden channel on cable tv for their Home Ec training.  Same information, but different source of  instruction.  Here I am, rambling on again...

Back to the subject.  Over the years I sewed.  I made my wedding dress and the bridesmaid dresses.  I sewed ties, shirts and jackets for my husband and clothing for my children. At one point I earned extra money by doing alterations for a dress shop.  (That was an eye opening experience!)  I even made slipcovers and draperies.  Then I put my machine away for about 15 years.  I had grown tired of sewing.

Then the grandbaby arrived.  I have dusted off my machine and begun to create again.  I found this really cute idea to make dresses with onesies.  For those of you who don't have babies,  a onesie is a bodysuit for babies.  There is a neat website that gives detailed instructions on converting onesies to dresses for infants.  It's http://barefootinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2009/06/onesie-dress-tutorial.html.  I have never met this blogger, but have bookmarked the site and recommended it to others.  If you can't or don't want to sew a onesie dress, you can purchase them from my friend's Etsy shop, Squirrelly Girl Boutique .  She takes custom orders.

I have also found that sewing dresses for special occasions is exciting and even economical.  In addition to the onesie dresses I have made a Christmas dress for my granddaughter.  What pleasure this new obsession with sewing has brought me!  I am including some photos of my creations thus far.  I have become a sewing fool and can't stop!!!

I suppose this blog is turning into a confessional/brag/informational one.  Thanks for reading and thanks to my wonderful Aunt Audrey, who is no longer with us.  I hope she is smiling from heaven as she knows I am thinking of her each time I take a stitch!