Hush Puppies!

Hush Puppies!

It’s not yet Summertime, but the fish are biting, anyway!  Warmer temperatures and sunshine perk up those little lake (and river) swimmers, and if you’ve got the line and the pole and the hook and the worm and the sinker and the bobber and the net and . . . well, maybe we’d better stop right there.  It’s amazing what we can spend on a hobby that used to be so simple, isn’t it?

Bluegill and Crappie are two of my favorite fish.  I like ’em filleted, dipped in a mixture of egg & milk, rolled in a blend of flour and cornmeal with some salt & pepper and fried to a golden brown.  Catfish are pretty good too, and right now several of my cousins are snagging Spoonbill.  These guys really know how to fry the fish, too, let me tell you!  It’s a skill passed down through the family, and a mighty fine tradition.

Some folks like Hush Puppies (or is it Hushpuppies, all one word?) with their fish dinner.  I made an online search for hushpuppy recipes, and there are a lot of variations out there.  Which to choose?  My only trial with making this simple fare was during my junior high days, when a friend and I decided to mix up a batch in her mama’s kitchen.  The result was not quite hockey-puck tough, but they were fairly tasteless, and not at all what we’d had in mind.  When you add in the thundercloud expression on Mrs. L’s face upon seeing the mess we’d strewn across the counter and stovetop, it probably is little wonder that I’ve been in no hurry to repeat the experiment.

Anyway, I copied down the ingredients listed in three separate recipes, mixed up what seemed like a reasonable combination of the trio, then tweaked it a little more, half-way through.  Here’s what I’ve settled on for now:

preheat cooking oil (2-3″ deep) in a deep pot to 365 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, place:

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 shakes from the garlic powder can

Stir together the dry ingredients, then add:

1 small onion (or half, depending on your taste) chopped fine.

Then mix together:

1 egg, well beaten

1 cup buttermilk  (I used fresh milk, with a splash of white vinegar added)

Pour this into the dry mixture and stir just until moistened.

Drop (carefully!) by teaspoon into the hot oil.  You can use a second spoon to scrape the batter/dough off the first one, but I just used my finger.  Fry for about 3 minutes, turning occasionally with a heat-proof slotted spoon.  (Some of mine kept popping back over after I turned ’em).  Remove  from grease before they get too dark, drain on paper towels.  Best eaten fresh.

Next time, I’m thinking about adding a little fresh ground pepper to the mix.  What about you?  Got a recipe to share?

 

Eat Your Vegetables . . .

Eat Your Vegetables . . .

Didn’t we all hear that enough times while growing up to burn it into our memories forever?  Well, most of us, anyway.  Not my niece A., surely, since she became a  vegetarian at a very tender age.  After watching Disney’s The Little Mermaid she stopped eating fish, and then a few years later the movie Babe put the skids to hotdogs ever appearing on her plate again.  But I digress.

Recently, that very niece and her mom (my beloved sister) told me about Kale Chips.

“What?”

“Kale Chips” they said.  “They’re great!”

“OK . . . tell me about those.”

And so they did.  And I made a mental note, thinking maybe I’d try these.  This weekend, I finally did.  And believe it or not, I like ’em!  Traditionally, I’m more of a popcorn or pretzel or cookie kind of snacker, but these are better than edible, they’re actually good.  Crispy, yet slightly chewy, with a pleasant flavor.  And from what I read about Kale, it’s even good for us, so you can eat these chips and get one of your daily vegetable servings out of the way at the same time.

Here’s the recipe I used:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour about 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl.  Add a little salt, pepper, garlic powder.

Wash 3-4 curly kale leaves and blot them dry on a paper towel.

Place kale leaf upside down on a cutting board.  Cut out the center rib, or at least most of it. Cut or break up the leaf into chip-sized pieces.  Place pieces in the bowl.  Repeat with other leaves.

Use a rubber scraper or wooden spoon to gently stir and turn the kale pieces in the bowl to coat them with the seasoned oil.  Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake 8 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the oven door slightly ajar with the pan in place for 2 minutes more.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly before eating.

That’s it!  Yesterday I added just a hint of curry powder to the oil, and that was tasty.  Today I substituted a smidgen of nutmeg for the curry powder, and added a packet of leftover parmesan cheese from a carry-out pizza order.  Another method says to place the kale on the baking sheet, mist with the oil from a spray bottle, then sprinkle on the seasonings.  I don’t have an oil mister, but the bowl method was really simple and fast.

Now let’s hear your variations!