Friday, June 12, 2009

Food for Invalids

Why did I bother? I just asked my husband which of the 10 or so photos he liked best of tonight's dinner of white fish and veggie puree. Alan: "You know what's the problem? The plate. You should have used a different one." But don't worry, he said, you can Photo shop it and make the rim blue instead of yellow." Me: "Yeah...okay...I'll get right on that." I must admit, he has a point about the veggie puree unintentionally ending up the same color as the rim on our bowls, but no mistake equals the punishment of monkeying around with Photo shop.

Since we're still recovering from this nasty cold virus that's hit our household, I made fish and veggies, the most nutritious and easy thing I could think of. The fish is local and is a relative of cod. I simply sprinkled it with a little salt and dried tarragon and baked it for 15 minutes. On the stove top I sauteed leeks and a little bit of butter in a large saucepan. After it cooked for a few minutes, I added chopped carrots, asparagus, and potatoes along with a little salt and a couple cups of water. It cooked for 25 minutes and then I passed the mix through a food mill to puree it. I added the finished puree back to the saucepan, incorporated a tablespoon of butter, and that was it. I wasn't sure how the fish would taste sitting right on the puree, but it was actually quite good. I squeezed fresh lemon over the whole thing and mixing a bit of fish with a bit of puree on the fork was a delicious combination. When he was eating it, Alan didn't even notice the yellow rimmed plate.

A quick note about my title: I have this incredible cookbook that I've had for many years called The American Woman's Cookbook, first published in 1938 and last published in 1943. I picked it up at a garage sale when I was in college, and I've referred to it at different times over the years. While it is full of wonderful and basic information on practically any food you can think of, it offers some very archaic advice. For example, an entire chapter is devoted to Food and Beverages for Invalids, intended to "help the housewife who, in addition to her other work, has the duty of ministering to the needs of the sick and convalescent." Thus the inspiration for today's blog title. Don't you love it?

White Fish and Veggie Puree
Four, card-deck size (or thereabouts) fillets of cod or other white fish
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t tarragon
olive oil for the baking dish

1. Place a piece of foil in your baking pan and drizzle with 1T of olive oil. You don't have to line the pan with foil, but I do this because I'm lazy and prefer washing a minimum number of dishes.
2. Place fillets in the pan, sprinkle with salt and and tarragon
3. Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes

Veggie Puree
1 large leek, chopped into rings and washed (I immerse my chopped rings into a bowl of cold water to get all the sand and dirt out)
2T butter
3 medium carrots, peeled (I leave the peel on if they're organic) and cut into 1/4" rounds
8 or 9 small potatoes (new potato size), 2 large, or 4 medium
1/2 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
2-3 cups of water
1t salt

1. In a large saucepan, saute leeks in 1T butter for 5-6 minutes until soft and translucent.
2. Add the rest of the veggies, water, and salt (the water should barely cover the veggies---if you want soup, add more water) and bring to a boil.
3. Once it boils, reduce heat to a strong simmer and cook 20-25 minutes until veggies will easily mash with a fork.
4. Remove from heat and either pass through a food mill or puree in a blender, in batches.
5. Add puree back to saucepan and incorporate remaining 1T butter and season to taste.
Serve with fish.

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