Failure’s salty burn
You win some, you lose some. It’s been a while since I really wrecked a dinner. We all have those tales of burned casseroles, deflated cakes, tasteless roasts. These mishaps can happen to anyone — whether you’re going rogue (er, off-recipe) or following Betty Crocker to a T.
In my case, it was totally user error.
Now that I’m back in the swing of healthy eating and have swapped my chocolate-studded muffins for Greek yogurt, I’ve returned to hunching over low-calorie recipe books on the weekends. I’m always looking for a tasty meal to put in the rotation.
And quick ones, preferably. Though my 9-month-old is easily entertained by “The Muppets,” dancing robots and toy remotes, I still lack time to prep, chop and sauté for too long. Plus, c’mon: I’m hungry. My husband has been pretty relaxed about our return to a no-junk-allowed lifestyle. He has, after all, danced this jig with me before. After one last cookies the farewell they deserved (I stuffed them in my face), I sent the extra sweets — pounds of candy once meant for holiday goodie bags — to work with Spencer. Apparently he’s quite popular these days.
When I feel tempted to slip back into old habits (and dive headfirst into a bag of kettle chips), I think about how much Oliver already watches what we do. He wants to hold what I’m holding, eat what I’m eating, drink what I’m drinking. Choices do matter.
I mean, you should see this kid near a coffee mug. His curiosity is intense. Ollie practically swats the thing out of my hand every morning, requiring me to perfect the “Don’t Touch Mommy’s Life-Giving Elixir” evasive maneuver (patent pending) already.
As I sat down to make a meal plan for the week, I originally left off the fish. Fish is sort of . . . a necessary evil to me. I like it in small doses, but remain fearful of anyone showing up at our door after we’ve prepared it. I’m not against smelly meals — I mean, last week was pork and sauerkraut — but there’s something . . . off-putting about the lingering odor of tilapia, you know?
But fish is good for you. A versatile lean protein and blah, blah, blah. Plus, being a Marylander, I know I can always coat it in Old Bay.
And that’s where my troubles began.
You know those “all-purpose seasonings” that supposedly marry well with chicken, fish or pork? They come in a big shaker, taunting you with their promises to add flavor and distinction to an otherwise drab cut of meat purchased on clearance?
I fell prey to the siren call months ago, following another recipe I’ve since forgotten. Though I’m no stranger to blood pressure concerns (hello, preeclampsia!), I made the, um, interesting decision not to come home with a salt-free seasoning.
As I was simmering tilapia fillets last week, I tried to muster up some enthusiasm for my boring dinner. White fish and Brussels sprouts: a meal that would send our parents, all meat-and-potatoes sorts, scrambling for a pizza number.
For me, staying on a healthy track depends on variety. New recipes, new snacks, new beverage options: always different. So I grabbed the all-purpose seasoning and sprinkled it on both sides, thinking I was trying something zesty.
After one bite, Spencer began to cough. Ferociously.
I cringed, immediately sensing what had happened. Why I couldn’t have considered that, oh, 10 minutes earlier . . . “Is it . . . too salty?” He took a swig of water and cleared his throat. “Um, the sprouts are delicious!”
I powered through my dinner, but it was painful. And I was thirsty.
Let this be a lesson, my Marylanders: when in doubt, just Old Bay it.