Pocket Granny

I didn’t grow up in a bustling kitchen with a plump mother and grandmother teaching me to cook to exacting family standards. In our house we inclined more to canned ham and Potato Buds. So my cooking imagination can be let’s say a bit on the arid side.

But so what! These days, we have “virtual grannies” of every ethnicity, region, and cuisine clamoring to teach us their kitchen secrets. Cookbooks! Cooking classes! TV shows! Sites! Blogs! Mobile apps! There’s a whole world of food knowledge out there to draw on.

In fact, just this weekend, I found myself pulling together what was probably my most “informated” meal so far.

I recently got Becky Selengut’s beautiful new cookbook, Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast, and decided to make her recipe for fried rainbow trout. (For each of 15 types of seafood, Becky offers five recipes ranging from easy to hard; the fried trout is the first in its section. No need to get ahead of ourselves here.)

So I headed off to buy my fish. But the whole point of Becky’s cookbook is that we should buy sustainable fish!–Very much in keeping with my commitment to mindful munching. And here I am at the fish counter, looking at the one choice of “farmed rainbow trout.” The cookbook is at home; so, where are we on farmed fish, again?

Then I remember that just last week I downloaded the Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app to my phone: “Trout, rainbow, US farmed. Best choice.” Excellent! I buy it. All of it–it comes with head and tail intact. (But mercifully, no scales.)

Back at home, I go to Becky’s book’s companion site, www.goodfishbook.com, to watch the how-to video on how to fillet a fish. Oops!–The videos aren’t up yet. (This cookbook is hot off the press.)

No problem!–I go to Videojug (“get good at life”) http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-fillet-a-fish-4, where I get a reasonable idea of how to proceed. I decide that it will be enough to get rid of the head and tail and get the fillets off the bone–I’ll cook it skin-on. (I should have taken some “process” pictures, but at this point no sane person would put these gunked-out hands on a camera.)

The recipe calls for a garnish of fried bacon (diced), mushrooms, and sage leaves. I bought some bacon when I got the fish. I already had a little package of dried chanterelles, so I reconstituted them to use, and I have a sage plant out in my garden plot where I got some leaves. To make it a meal, I got some nice fat asparagus (to me, much better than those skinny spears), which seemed like a perfect match for the bacon-y garnish.

(I see this morning in the New York Times that Mark Bittman also likes bacon with fat asparagus. He says this in his occasional column named “EAT.” Mark, you are so annoying.)

Add a little green salad with a simple vinaigrette. Satisfying! And prepared under the guiding hands of my pocket Granny! Do you have a similar knowledgeable online tribe that you consult for your cooking?–Share your favorites!

Update:  Becky’s videos are up!–and they’re excellent!:


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