the art of surrender
It’s not as I expected…but just as I expected.
I expected hordes of people passing through our house. I knew the messes were inevitable. I knew that clouds of dust would find their way into small hidden spaces and loud noises would ring throughout the day. I knew that keeping our dogs smiling would require extra love. I knew too that without a kitchen, life would be interesting. I was ready for all that, and even my husband would attest that I’ve been quite the good sport through
all most of it. But I imagined that I could cook and I could then post what we ate for dinner. How hard could that be?
As you’ve noticed, I’ve gone silent.
It’s not from lack of intention or interest. Life – moving throughout the day – just takes far more of me during this remodel than I ever imagined. It’s been good, but it’s been complicated. It’s been fun, but it’s been challenging. It’s been exhilarating and occasionally it’s been exhausting.
I used to read in the mornings, but reading has stopped. I exercised often. That was then. I corresponded with friends and family. Now it’s howdy waves in passing or texts with lots of code talk. Leaving all rhythms behind can be frustrating, and all the more so the tighter we hold.
I knew that no matter what I expected, I would be surprised. Expecting to be surprised makes surrendering to the inevitable far easier though, don’t you think?
We’re about half way through…or so we imagine. But of course we don’t know. We humans think we know a great deal and frequently we’re mistaken about that. There will be more surprises for us. (And for you.) May we find our way to be graceful through them.
Our kitchen is nearly done. Dribs and drabs remain. But we have water now, and heat to cook with. Our food is now within reach, and pots are bubbling on the stove. Spree is stirring. And though it’s Wednesday, and you might have expected vegetables (because I did lead you to that belief didn’t I?) ~ here is the smallest of offerings.
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Halibut Fillets & Ribbons of Vegetables
in little paper packages
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(And already another surprise…I just this very moment, we’re talking real time here, went to locate the images I’d shot of this sweet little dinner. It appears that I’ve erased them from my card …before uploading them to my computer. So – I’ll be back to fill in the images as it looks like our house may be enjoying this dish again on Saturday. 🙂 What are you gonna do? So in the meantime, would you be so kind as to imagine a light and very tender piece of halibut nestled in a parchment package, overlaid with colorful ribbons of zucchini & carrot & fennel & red pepper & peas, all brightened by wheels of lemon, bits of ginger & sprigs of cilantro? You’re a dear!)
Days later – OK friends – even though you’ve gone to all the trouble to conjure this dish, we’ve enjoyed the dinner again and I’ve now got the photos for you.
You might like this with a loaf of crusty bread, wrapped in aluminum foil and put in the same oven for about 10 minutes. Or maybe boiled or roasted new potatoes, or maybe basmati rice (or that delicious Forbidden Rice, as we did.)
Halibut & Ribbons of Vegetables in Papillote
for 4 servings
- 1 zucchini, sliced into ribbons or shoestrings
- 1 carrot, again, as with your zucchini
- 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
- 1 handful fresh snow peas or sugar peas in their pods, thinly sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb (tough outer layer removed) sliced thinly
- fresh ginger root – the thickness of your thumb x 1-inch, cut into very thin matchsticks
- 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 Tablespoon chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt & freshly-ground pepper to taste
- 2 Meyer lemons, 1 grated & juiced, the other cut into thin wheels
- 4 halibut fillets, about 6 to 8 ounces each (170 – 225 g) (or another mild fish of your choice)
- Olive oil for drizzling
Preheat the oven (or toaster oven if you’re camping out indoors or feeding only 2) to 420°F (215°C). Cut parchment paper into 14 to 16-inch square pieces.
Rinse the halibut quickly in cold water then pat dry with paper towels. Place one of the parchment paper squares on your work surface and brush with olive oil. Make a bed of approximately one-eighth of the vegetables in the center of the paper, then place the fish skin-side up into the middle of the nest of vegetables. Drizzle with lemon juice & sprinkle with zest. Lay another layer of vegetables on top, add 2 or 3 rounds of lemon, salt & pepper, a sprig each of parsley and cilantro if you like, and then drizzle with olive oil. Create a little package – draw 2 sides up to meet each other, fold them down several times being sure allow enough room in the papillote for fish and vegetables to “breathe” and for steam to puff up the package. Tie the ends with kitchen string or create a tight couple folds to seal the ends. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and repeat with the other papillotes. Place in preheated oven.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the fish is firm to the touch. When done, place the packages as they are on a plate (or, if you prefer, unpack them.)
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