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RemegadeChef: The hunger rains

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It’s a rainy Sunday in the middle of July. I have the day off, so I really don’t care. If it wasn’t raining, I’d have to finish the mowing job I started three days ago. Mowing the lawn in random stages isn’t a very good idea, because one can inadvertently cut cryptic messages in the swaths—especially the way I mow. The other day I was wondering why all the helicopters were hovering above my house. Well, apparently I had accidentally mowed the words “Hoffa Here” on my lawn. Go figure.

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Because I work in the tourism industry, I feel sorry for the folks on vacation. They’ve got to be thinking, really? Is there such a thing as a Sunday in July when it’s supposed to rain all day?

Some of the lucky ones are staying at our famous resorts, where amenities are provided even during tornadoes and blizzards. But others are staying at affordable motels and low-budget cabins where the coffee-maker is the most technically advanced appliance in the room. Of course, don’t forget those happy campers who are stuck in tents. Do you really think they want to spend a day of their vacation playing Monopoly on the damp, canvas floor of a tent that comfortably sleeps four? The key word here is “sleep,” people.

I think we tend to eat more during these conditions—not because we’re burning energy water-skiing, but because we are bored. As I write, tent prisoners are opening a second bag of Doritos and cabin-dwellers are burning frozen pizzas in propane ovens. Thankfully the area is blessed with a variety of restaurants ranging in price from spendy to “Hey, what did you expect for that kind of money?”

My wife is out grocery shopping. She’s been gone for hours because the cupboards are bare. Like me, she works in the restaurant industry and that is why we never have food. My kids have resorted to eating dog treats.

Whatever she brings home I will enthusiastically prepare because I don’t have to mow the lawn—not because it’s raining, but because the FBI dug it all up.

The rain, on the other hand, just makes me hungry.

P.S. She brought home some very nice, fresh Steelhead salmon filets. They had a true color—not the pasty, Pepto-Bismal pink of the inferior farm-raised Chilean salmon. The best thing about quality products is that you don’t need to do much to make it taste good. I left the skin on the salmon and placed it flesh-side down in a simple Tuscan-style marinade and let it be for about 45-minutes.

Deb also brought home some fresh artichokes, which I steamed for about 20-minutes, all the while not sure what I was going to do with them. I found a bag of prepared, spinach-stuffed ravioli among the groceries which I decided to bread and pan-fry.

There’s really not much to an artichoke once it has been steamed and trimmed down to the heart. Of the 4 cooked artichoke hearts, I diced one for a dill cream sauce and quartered the others and added them to a bowl of fresh vegetables and olives I had marinating.

I put the salmon skin-side down on a double sheet of heavy aluminum foil and drizzled the remaining marinade onto the fish. The salmon went on a gas grill and cooked over low, indirect heat for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I made the sauce, boiled and cold-rinsed the prepared ravioli. Shortly before the salmon was done, I breaded and fried the ravioli.

When all was said and done, the plate looked nice with a few fried ravioli fanned out and topped with enough of the artichoke cream sauce to seep in and around a beautiful piece of fresh steelhead. A sprig of fresh dill on the salmon and some marinated artichoke and vegetable salad for color and voila!—I felt I had achieved a meal of simple elegance.

Deb thought the meal was good, but when she saw what the tornado had done to the kitchen and realized I had used every pan we owned—some twice—well, she let me know the word “simple” was a bit of an exaggeration.

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