Diddakoi Walt Whitman
Take me home...St Emilion  kay@diddakoi.com

Updated: 02/12/06

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What's on the nightstand

by Neal Stephenson



Sunday, 12 February, 2006

All in all, I have to go with


Not the city-paralyzing storm of 1995, at least here in Philly, but much more than just a dusting. Down at the shore, it was mostly a rain event - a really nasty rain event with huge gusting winds - which then turned to sleet, freezing rain and ultimately snow. Not much, maybe a couple of inches by this morning.

By "morning", I mean the morning around 7:15 a.m., rather than the morning around 4:30 a.m. when the nasty rai-slee-freez-snow seriously pummelled Absecon, knocking out the electricity on the island. Given that our place has electric heat - which was rapidly fleeing the premises by the time we got up - we decided that we would head home. Just as I was about to begin hand-washing the dirty dishes from the weekend . . . and by the way, may I express "Ewww"? . . . the electricity came back on. *Huzzah*

Fast forward two hours. Actually, fast is not really the right term. There were a few of us out on the AC Expressway this morning, and the roads weren't terribly bad, but it was slow going. We did hit one area where the weather turned pretty nasty, but all in all, it was rather pretty. I can say that since I wasn't driving and I could actually look out the windows.

The city had about a foot of snow. Although the wind was pretty vicious, so it ranged from four inches in some places to two foot drifts in others. I understand that NYC and other points north got really whacked - almost 30 inches of snow in Central Park, so perhaps the forecasters weren't entirely exaggerating.

When we got home, we discovered a leak in the study above the window seat, apparently from the snow on the master bedroom deck. While Gary went upstairs to remove the deck snow - and the snow from the entire expanse of our roof, which is approximately the size of Wyoming, but with pigeons - I went out to shovel the sidewalks. Our next door neighbors were outside with their 18 month old son, Matthew. He was trying to decide if he really liked all this cold white stuff - although watching mommy and daddy throw snowballs seemed to be pretty amusing.

I also shoveled the garage driveway and alley. Our other neighbor and his dog, Chynna, were outside playing. Well, he was shoveling and Chynna (some kind of hunting dog, I think. Maybe a Visla?) was dancing up and down the alleyway between us begging for snowballs. She likes you to throw a snowball for her to catch in her mouth. And she will do that all day long if you let her. And bark at you if you stop. After a half dozen snowballs - and the subsequent bark-fest - I finally just resorted to flinging big shovelfuls of snow into the air for her.

This afternoon was equally inspiring - doing laundry, cleaning the floor, watching the Olympics, petting the kitty. Who is, as I type, conked out on the floor in the den, lying on her back next to the curve of the couch. Occasionally waking enough to bleat at us.

Oh, and dinner. I did actually cook tonight - for a change. The original recipe called for mahi-mahi, but since I had tilapia on hand I gave it a try. There isn't anything tremendously unusual about the fish itself, but the combination of the white meat fish and the beurre blanc was very tasty. We had it with stir fried zucchini and bok choy, finished with a bit of soy sauce and a little butter.


1/2 cup dry white wine
2 slices fresh ginger
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound tilapia fillets
1/8 cup white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon black sesame seeds

In a skillet, combine the white wine and the fresh slivers of ginger. Simmer on medium heat to reduce by half. Add the heavy cream and reduce again by half. Cut the butter into small cubes; then add them one at a time until each is incorporated into the reduction. Make sure to keep the sauce right under boiling temperature while you incorporate the butter. The sauce will separate if it boils too rapidly or becomes too cold.

Next, pass the reduction through cheesecloth or a chinois. (A chinois is a metal sieve with a very fine mesh used to strain soups and sauces.) Put the sauce in a blender and add the minced garlic and the lime juice. Process at medium speed until the ginger and the lime juice are incorporated into the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reserve to the side until fish is ready for serving.

Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Mix together the cornstarch and white sesame seeds. Next, press one side of the fish into the seed mixture. Place a heavy-bottomed skillet or a wok on high heat. After the skillet is really hot, place the fish in the pan with the sesame seed side down. Cook until crispy brown. Turn the fish over and cook an additional 4 to 6 minutes. (Mahi-mahi has a firm, white meat and a delicate flavor. It is sometimes called dorado or dolphin fish. [It has no relation to dolphins, which are mammals.])

Serve on a small bed of stir-fried vegetables. Drizzle the lime ginger butter sauce around the fish and garnish the dish with black sesame seeds.


[Only 8,090 more needed for our wine cellar wall.]

Quote du jour:

"There are some things you learn best in calm,
and some in storm."

Willa Cather (1876 - 1947) US novelist, short-story writer

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