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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easy fish cooking for sewers: effort proof and fool proof

I am the kind of sewer who is often frustrated by all the things that get in the way of sewing. Cooking is one of those things. Unfortunately I love to eat and have the appetite of a long haul truck driver so this is a problem. DH does a lot of the cooking, but sometimes he is busy and it's up to me.

Which brings me to fish.

Well, I am amazed by the number of people who tell me they don't eat fish. It's sort of like the folks who say they can't sew. I mean try it, you might like it.

However I realize why so many people think they don't like fish. So often it's not cooked in a way that anyone would like it. I know what this feels like.

I grew up in the Canadian prairies in a small town and I didn't see the ocean until I was 18.

So in my childhood fish was:
a) sardines in a can that were only interesting because you were told you could eat the bones which was not true of anything else they put on your plate 
b) frozen fish and chips in a cardboard box which in my house meant Dad was cooking because Mom was out at Brownie night (do they have Brownies in other places? Junior Girl Scouts where everyone was a fairy or pixie or something - I dropped out) 
c) something some neighbour brought back from a fishing trip that was full of bones you weren't supposed to eat and had to pick out which meant the meal took seven hours and essentially was still like eating a toothbrush- to the background noise of my mother telling stories of all the people she knew who had died "right there at the table" after choking on a fish bone. That is distinct from the ones in the family she knew whose "throat swoll right up closed" after they had eaten fish at some dinner party and were saved only by medical intervention by a doctor we knew cutting their throat open with a knife so they could breathe. (My dear mother nursed from 1950-1952 and has been discussing medicinal emergencies ever since).

So I wasn't much of a fish eater.

Then I married my husband who did not grow up on the Canadian prairies. He grew up in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in fact in a family of superb cooks. I think his dinners were different.

So he actually knows how to cook fish. So it is succulent actually. Something that you would eat even if it wasn't one of those things you were supposed to be eating because of "10 healthy habits that could change your life right now" to quote Woman's Day at the grocery line up.

The trouble is that the way he cooks fish require thought and timing.

I will eat this but really, I have an invisible zipper that needs to be put in downstairs.

But I have found a way to cook fish that is fool proof and effort proof.

I put it all in a paper bag. 

Here's how it goes:

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Open bag.

3. Put bag on cookie sheet.

4. Take fish fillet (in my case this was salmon from a huge monster my spouse brought home and cleaned up for me - I would just buy fillets at the store of course)

5. Put fish fillet on a plate and sprinkle with salt, pepper and onion powder and whatever else you are trying to get rid of. That 1/2" of Hoisin sauce in the fridge door, that end of ginger that is getting wrinkly at the back of the vegetable drawer. Whatever, people will think you are smart of you add anything.

6. Put fish in bag.

7. To minimalize cooking dinner even more throw whatever fairly quick cooking vegetables you have on hand on top of the fish. Mushrooms, asparagus, stuff like that but not, say, carrots.

8. Cut up lemons or limes and add that too.

9. Fold under the open end of the bag and put the whole thing in the oven for 20 minutes.

Your fish will be perfect. Not dry and it will be very tasty.

It will look like this when you tear open the bag:

It will look like this when you put it on the plate:

Less time than it takes to put in an invisible zipper.


Lauren said...

I loved reading this. This is exactly how I cook too! My cooking also involves pots boiling over from lack of attention.
The fish looks good!

Sharon said...

Now I just need to see if I can find these Parchment Bags "Down Under" as this is my type of cooking.

Barbara said...

Sharon you don't really need the bags, You can do it yourself with baking parchment paper just fold it up. Australians are such great cooks (lived in Melbourne for 5 years) I am sure you can find something great.

Beth H said...

"Less time than it takes to put in an invisible zipper." LOL! But putting in a zipper is fun!!

Anonymous said...


Nancy W. said...

This looks delicious. I have never seen the parchment bags here in my part of California, but I do a similar thing with foil and then either throw it in the oven or on top of the BBQ. It comes out perfectly and quickly. Your dinner is making me hungry!

Barbara said...

Thanks Nancy, you reminded me too of the virtues of being able to throw out the "pot" rather than wash it.