" There is no love sincerer than the love of food."
- George Bernard Shaw

Fresh-Caught Lemonpepper Bass

Or catfish! Any fish, really. Even store-bought!

How often do you go fishing? Me, never. Well, hardly ever. I used to go all the time with my dad. Since moving out and getting married, however, I haven't had the money or the time - and, well, my husband hasn't fished since he was a boy, and he really has no desire to be out sitting by the lake doing nothing. I miss it. It can be relaxing and quiet and therapeutic. Also, you get to squish things and get dirty and smell like mud and guts and fish and no one really cares!

Whether you use worms, minnows, grasshoppers, or any form of non-live bait, a good haul can feed the family for weeks. Clean the fish, freeze with a touch of salted water in a vacuum sealed bag, and that same haul can feed you for months, even. When my dad's not teaching, fiddling with things in his garage, or relaxing in his pool, he's out fishing. His freezer is typically packed with frozen things that once lived until they had the misfortune of finding the hook at the end of one of his many poles. He eats what he wants and still has plenty to give away or leave stashed away for a cold winter's day.

This recipe started on the grill. It is one of the easiest and quickest fish recipes that my dad taught me, but since I can't light charcoal every time I want fish, I adapted it for the oven. If you want to keep this on the grill, follow all of the steps, except substitute a nice hot grill for the oven. Remember: single serve foil packs are wonderful grilling - and camping - necessities!

NOTE: This recipe is per fish where each fish represents one serving. Adjust accordingly.

Edible Ingredients
Whole (cleaned) Fish
Lemonpepper Seasoning
Unsalted Sweet Cream Butter
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Necessary Tools
Aluminum Foil
Cookie Sheet

Preheat oven to 400oF

Roll out a piece of aluminum foil at least twice as long as the fish.

Rinse the fish and pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning inside and out. Place one square of butter [I use a slice of unsalted sweet butter about as thick as the handle of my table knife...1/8"?] inside the cavity of the fish.

Put the fish in the center of the foil, lengthwise. Fold like a hotdog bun, crimp the top, and roll down to the fish. At each end, crimp and roll inwards. You should now have a fish in a packaged envelope!

Place the fish on a cookie sheet [This catches any leaks and keeps your oven clean.] and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn over and bake another 15 minutes. [If you choose to place this inside a hot grill, forget the cookie sheet and just leave the lid shut while the fish cooks. Turn after 15 minutes].

Carefully remove from the oven [or grill] and either unfold one side or cut one end [Beware any trapped steam! It can burn your hand!] and let fish and juices slide out onto your plate. Be careful of any and all fish bones as you enjoy your delicious fish!

One single serving.

I usually serve mine with homemade herbed rice and steamed veggies. My dad would tell me I'm being "too fancy" and harp on about the lack of potatoes on the plate. Oh, and his tip: take a bite of bread with or after each bite of fish just in case you miss a bone and accidentally swallow one. This fish is cooked perfectly and falls apart with the touch of a fork, so finding those bones shouldn't be too hard.

If you do make this, feel free to play with some spices, come up with your own meal, and share with me! And don't be shy about using "exotic" spices or blends - if I don't have it (and, trust me, I have a lot), I will find it just to try it!

Half-Homemade Chicken Soup Rice

So it's no secret that my husband and I love good food and go out of our way to try new things. Sometimes, though, it's the simple stuff that makes it to the plate; there's a time crunch, someone's sick, or no one really feels much like cooking. It happens. Nights like these usually end with some boxed meal that happens to be hiding in the pantry, but sometimes there isn't anything there.

A very simple solution is something that Campbell's Chunky Soups have recently taken to a television commercial near you: pour soup over mashed potatoes or rice. People have been doing this since before that ad first appeared, including us, but I'm sure there are those few that never had the idea. This recipe expands on this concept by first creating a very traditional soup base called a mirepoix ("meer-pwah"), which is French for "perfectly delicious" (not really, but that's the first thought that hits my mind when I hear that word). A mirepoix is sometimes considered "the holy trinity" of food bases because it consists of three ingredients: celery, onion, and carrot. These three foods are the French staple, but there are regional variations across the globe.

This recipe started one night as a rice experiment to add flavor, other than my normal herb mix, to a rice side dish. Then, when a night hit that my husband was too exhausted to cook and I really wasn't sure what I wanted to make, the decision was made to make soup-over-rice. All we had was a few small cans of condensed chicken noodle - and not the good stuff, either. I did a quick glance through the fridge and found half an onion, a stalk of celery, and a ton of baby carrots. I smiled and pulled out the cutting board.

Half-Homemade Chicken Soup Rice1/2 Medium Onion, chopped
2 Stalks Celery, chopped
2 Large Carrots, chopped
3 Tablespoons Butter
Salt & Pepper
1 Cup Chicken Broth
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3 Cups Chicken Broth
1 1/2 Cups Rice
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2 Cans (10.75 oz) Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Sprinkle with a pinch (about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) of salt and a dash of pepper. [The salt will draw out the flavor in the vegetables as they cook.] Stir often to keep things from sticking and burning. When the onions are clear, pour in 1 cup of chicken broth. Stir well to mix and let this reduce down until it is nearly cooked away. [I may be wrong, but this reduction helps give it more oomph in the flavor department.] Add the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth and bring back to a boil. When boiling, add the rice, cover, and simmer on low for 20 minutes. DO NOT TOUCH. DO NOT STIR. LEAVE IT ALONE. [I don't know how many times my husband tried to drill this into my mind: rice needs to be left alone!]

Once the rice is done cooking, dump in the two cans of soup (per can directions, which usually means 1 can of water for each can of soup). Stir to completely combine and return to medium heat just until the soup is hot. [The only additional suggestion I would like to add here: If you have any leftover chicken in the fridge, chop it fine or shred it and add it with the soup!] Ladle into a bowl and enjoy!

About 6-8 servings, depending on how hungry or in need of comfort food the eater is.

This definitely comes out with a creamy butter flavor, which makes it the perfect comfort food. When sautéing the vegetables, the kitchen smells absolutely divine and pulls you into that zone of "I just want to live in this smell forever"; which is to be expected since a mirepoix is most assuredly a very aromatic aphrodisiac to food lovers!

With the multitude of canned soups available, there are many variations on the soup-over-rice/mashed potatoes/grains/etc out there. This is my own mix that gets pulled out once in awhile - what are some of your favorites?