Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kat: Getting Back to My Roots

I was raised in the midwest, but my entire family tree is planted in good 'ole Alabama. Up here in Yankeeville, USA, it's a rare occasion to meet someone else with a family history like mine. I can name two people. That is, TWO people out of the ZAMILLION that I've met since I moved to New York. Alan and Liz are near and dear to my heart. One of the reasons: because they get it. They really understand what it's like to spend time in a place that feels like another world; where the salads are made of mayonnaise, the iced tea is sweeter than the dessert, and everything that can fit in a pan will be fried.

I grew up eating southern home cooking and it wasn't until years later when my brother and I became vegetarians that my mom started experimenting with some new dishes. We began eating less meals from my grandmother's cookbook and more meals consisting of what my extended family calls "Yankee Food" i.e. anything that is not a giant slab of meat.

Fast forward 11 years. I have given up my strict vegetarian diet which included a ton of overly processed vegetarian "meats". Now, I am eating fish and organic chicken in order to replace those highly processed foods. When my mom heard that I was enjoying fish (after she stopped jumping for joy) she gave me one of my grandmother's favorite recipes; Salmon Croquettes. I was a little hesitant to try it because I was no longer used to heavy dishes, so I made a few minor changes to lighten it up. I swapped the corn meal for whole wheat flour, added a few choice spices, and instead of deep frying the patties, I browned both sides on a stove top grilling pan.

1 small can salmon
1 small onion minced
1 bell pepper minced
1 medium potato cooked
1 egg
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dill
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp evoo

1. Boil the potato then mash into a medium bowl
2. Mix in everything else except oil and flour.

(At the last minute, I realized that I only had frozen bell peppers. And since we do not own a microwave and I couldn't find my steamer, I had to improvise. Saucepan + 1/4 c. water + hand strainer = instant steamer! Note: I do NOT recommend doing this. I'm pretty sure that all the nutrients were completely drained out of the peppers by the time I was done.)

(Don't be scared of the canned salmon. It may look and smell like cat food...but it sure tastes like...canned salmon.)

3. Chill mixture for 30 minutes so it crumbles less
4. Shape into 8 patties & lightly coat each in flour

5. Brown with small amount of oil in a skillet (on med-high) until golden brown.

Delicious. They came out more potato-y than salmon-y, which is fine with me, since I'm still not quite 100% with heavy fish tastes/smells.

I served it with a cool quinou salad and some grilled asparagus:

The salad included:
1/2 cup cooked quinou (cool completely before using)
1 cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 small cucumber, chopped
handful fresh parsley, chopped
a dash of freshly grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

....mix and enjoy!

Remember the best thing about cooking dinner...

...someone else has to do the dishes!

Question for my readers: Does your family's heritage influence your eating habits? For better or worse? Have you made your own creative changes to your family's favorite recipes?


  1. What a lovely short bio combined with a recipe. I'm glad you yankeenized.

  2. I understand that feeling of "spending time in a place that feels like another world". The strange think is that the feeling is stronger now than when I was 7 years old and came to Spain for the first time. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was too young then.
    I not only miss the snow, the cold, the crowded streets or the underground of Moscow, but all the food I was used to eat. Red currants in sugar, Sauerkraut, kvas.... I was almost in a state of shock when my friends told that they NEVER have tried tea, when in Russia people drink it after every meal =S

    But if there is one thing I don't miss are the salads loaded with mayonnaise...I prefer the olive oil xD