It’s a Fish Eat Fish World

Fish TankI’m so glad I bought the fish tank for Beloved’s birthday.  The fish are soothing to watch; I often sit on the sofa and just…stare at them.  It’s said that watching fish will lower your blood pressure, and I believe it.  I’m also learning a lot about them – Beloved knows a lot about fish tanks, since he’s had fish as pets before.

Me?  I’m lucky my kids are all still alive.  Thank gawd I don’t have to worry about their PH balance.

I’ve learned a lot about what kind of fish coexist well, and which kind of fish simply exist in our tank.  Right now, only two of the fish are from our initial purchase.  So. obviously Danios work well and Gourami don’t.  And hatchet fish don’t do well with “vacation feeder” disks that sink to the bottom of the tank. Ahem.

As of this writing we have 6 Danios – one gold lyretail, one zebra, and four DayGlo – one green catfish, one salt-and-pepper catfish, one albino rainbow shark, one absolutely lovely gold angel fish and one clown loach in a 30-gallon tank.  They all seem to coexist quite well and are a beautiful addition to our living room.

Until this last week we also had a Bala Shark in the tank.  He’s no longer a part of our little aquatic community, and frankly I’m not surprised – he wasn’t doing real well when we left for our vacation to southern Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.  So I wasn’t surprised that he was no more when we got home on Saturday.  I just didn’t expect him to be so completely…gone.

No, really – he’s gone.  From the tank.  Nowhere in sight.

The little “vacation feeder” disk we dropped in the bottom of the tank when we left?  Wasn’t touched.

I apparently have a tankful of cannibal fish.

Cool!

Spicy Ginger Citrus Salmon

Grilled SalmonWell, we’re back home.  At least, Beloved and I are – The Young One and Jacki will be winging their way down to Texas this afternoon.  Fortunately for me, Beloved is going to be in town for two whole weeks, so I won’t be immediately abandoned the way I was last year.

At any rate, I’ve found that getting back into the swing of things after more than a week off was surprisingly difficult, and I was faced with coming up with a recipe for my Monday morning post, when I hadn’t thought much about blogging at all for nearly 10 days.

The rich and decadent chocolate ice cream I made a couple of weeks ago?  Or perhaps the three cheese manicotti with sweet Italian sausage?  My renowned chicken and dumplings?  Cheese bread!  I have an absolutely incredible cheese bread recipe.  But, in the end, I decided to take pity on poor Jen, who has been begging asking for a healthy recipe.  And, believe it or not, I do have a few of those.

Beloved loved this recipe, and he’s not a big fan of salmon.  But it allowed him to fire up the grill and burn wood – and it tasted really, really good, so it was definitely a winner.  If you don’t have any cedar planks, I’m sure it would still be good simply grilled; if you don’t wish to grill (or don’t have one), I imagine it would do well broiled in the oven.

If you do use cedar planks, make sure to soak them in water for at least half an hour (several hours would be preferable) to prevent them catching fire.

Spicy Ginger Citrus Salmon

serves 2

2 skinless salmon fillets

2 cedar planks, soaked

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely chopped

2 teaspoons orange zest, finely chopped

olive oil

Cajun Spice Mix

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Preheat grill; if using charcoal, the briquettes are ready when they are ashy-grey on the outside, but glowing red on the inside.

Brush one side of the cedar planks with a little olive oil; sprinkle them with a little of the Cajun seasoning.  Place the salmon fillets on the planks and sprinkle with more of the Cajun seasoning, to taste (you can use all of it if you like spicy).  Top each fillet with a tablespoon of the chopped ginger and a teaspoon each of the orange and lemon zest.

Place each plank with the salmon on the grill directly over the heat source (the coals if using charcoal).  Close the lid, and leave for 15 minutes; some smoke will issue from the grill due to the wet cedar planks.  After the 15 minutes is up, check the salmon – if it flakes easily, it is ready.  If not, give it another 2 or 3 minutes.

The original recipe I adapted this from suggested scraping off the ginger and zest before serving because it might be overwhelming, but I didn’t find that it was at all – the ginger and zests complimented it well without overpowering the fish, which was very moist.

Say Hello to Our Little Friends

Gourami

One of the things I neglected to mention a couple of weeks ago is the fact that Beloved shares a birthday with The Young One.  And since Beloved was out of town on business, I wanted to post about The Young One’s early entry into the world and Beloved is stoutly maintaining he turned 38 (for the ninth consecutive year) I, well, neglected to mention it.

While I may have neglected to mention it, I was well aware that it was his birthday and wanted to surprise him with his gift when he got home at the end of the week.  However, since the man is notoriously hard to buy for, I was at a bit of a loss.  He’d asked for a new electric razor, but honestly – who wants to buy their husband an electric razor for his birthday?

That clearly has “Father’s Day” written all over it.  So until June he can just shave with a cheap, plastic disposable razor.

Because I’m just thoughtful that way.

And because I’m the wonderful wife that I am – YES, I AM – I’ve been listening to him talk about how he’d love a huge, salt water fish tank for the last ten years…and actually paying attention.  So, while he was out of town the week of his birthday and I was buying futons and cell phones for the kids, I went out and priced large, salt water aquariums.  I then had to weigh his desire for a salt water aquarium with his desire to kill his wonderful wife for spending that kind of money on fish you can’t even eat.  ‘Cause honestly?

Salt water aquariums are ridiculously expensive.

So, wanting to really surprise him and being the Queen of Compromise that I am, I bought a 30-gallon fresh water tank and tricked it out to look like a salt water tank.  That takes talent, folks.  (Humor me, okay?  It takes talent.  And a lot of fake coral.)

What I didn’t know at the time was that you can’t just buy a tank, fill it up with fake coral and plastic plants and throw fish in it.  Oh, no – you have to treat the water, let it run through a carbon filter and test it to death for a week before you just throw the damn fish in it – on a carefully planned schedule.  So on the day Beloved was due back in town (well, he was actually due in on 2 a.m. the following morning), The Young One and I found ourselves in the living room struggling to assemble a stand and fish tank, including 30 gallons of water, 2 pieces of neon-painted coral, 4 plastic plants, one filter, one heater, one thermometer, one fluorescent light and one wish that I’d just bought a damn Norelco razor.

Just no fish.

The fact that our house is still standing is a testament to our determination, because neither I nor The Young One are what you would call “mechanically inclined.”  But we got it done, turned on the light (which made it look way cool, even fishless) and set a large balloon arrangement next to it.  Then went to bed, because setting it up took all damn evening.

Needless to say, Beloved was very surprised and spent all week itching to get fish for it (we went to the pet store twice just to look at them).  Finally we bought six fish this Saturday – three long-finned danios (one of which has already been returned because he apparently had the first signs of something called “ich”), one hatchet fish and two beautiful gourami – one looks just like the fish pictured above.  Except for the one we’ve had to return, they all seem to be doing really well and adjusting to their new environment.

Then Sunday while I was making brunch, Beloved called me into the living room to take a look at this:

Scooter and Fishies

Say “Hello” to our little friends.

Just too darn cute.