Thursday, May 08, 2008

Remembrance Day for Shelagh, 2008

at the partyToday is the fifth anniversary of my daughter’s death. Up until now, it has been a hard, gruelingly sorrowful day for me. But not this year.

The relationship between us has changed ever since I dreamed of her about 10 days ago. She looked amazingly well – serene, calm, and joyful. There was a kind of glow to her and to the younger woman who was with her.

In this dream, I was having some kind of get together and lots of people were moving about. It was reminiscent of family parties we had when Shelagh and her brothers were children: lots of kids running in and around the adults, chasing one another while the grown-ups tried to carry on adult conversations over the noise.

As I was making my way through the crowd, I came upon Shelagh. Suddenly she was just there, obviously with another woman who was shorter and younger than she was. They were both dressed in either white or pastel dresses, loose and comfortable. They both also seemed to have an inner light, a dimmed radiance surrounding the two of them as they faced me.

The sight of her was startling. “Shelagh, you can’t be here. You’re dead, remember?” She laughed, put her arm around me and assured me that all was well. “Oh, Mom, you’ll be okay. And I’m fine now.”

At that point the dream ended. The Baron had come in the front door, returning from church, and the rattle of the doorknob wakened me. The dream itself was so vivid that I was disoriented for a few minutes after I came back to the surface.

Since then, things have been the same, but different. I don’t grieve any more. Instead, I remember all the things I loved about my daughter and how fortunate I was to have been her mother – as rocky as that road was sometimes.

She has taught me to forego judgment; it’s very freeing. And knowing she’s all right brings its own unutterable peace.

Is the dream “real”? It depends on what one considers reality. I think of it as a gift, and I don’t inquire as to the source.

A fellow-blogger remembered what today was and sent me a long, comforting note. At the end of it, he said:

BTW my own view of the afterlife is that souls have work to do just as they did on Earth. They become a welcoming committee for new souls and also are guardian angels for those of
us who are left behind. I have a story from [his son]’s closest high school friend that definitely says they act as guardian angels.

Shelagh would have liked that idea. She’d have opted to be Ahnold’s guardian angel. Well, whoever gets her had better have a sense of humor. She enjoyed teasing people. After listening to the Baron and me sing while doing dishes, she remarked drily, “love isn’t blind, it’s deaf.”

She was right, but we’re still singing…no doubt, she’s singing too, wherever she is.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Salmon Cakes à la Cheap and Sneaky

I like fresh salmon, but I question the wisdom of eating much of it since the fish - like chickens, beef, etc. - are fed soy. In addition, a lot of farmed salmon has color added to the feed so they’ll look pinker.

Having had cancer, soy is on the verboten list. And the darn stuff is in nearly everything: low carb “breads”, salad dressings, cereals, etc. Even the sardines I’m supposed to eat often are packed in soybean oil.

So I’ve gone back to making salmon cakes from wild-caught canned salmon. The kind from Alaska, not China.

I used to make these years ago with cod in New England, back before you could easily get fresh salmon there. Recently I had some leftovers (unusual) and a friend liked them enough to ask for the recipe. Recently I got another request from someone on a diet.

Salmon CakesHere they are - this serves three people if one of them is a young man with a big appetite. Otherwise, a family of two adults and two kids would find this sufficient. For more people, just double the recipe.

Open the can (duh) and drain the broth into a separate bowl.

From here you have two ways to mash the salmon: put it through the blender or mix it with your hands. There are soft bones in the fish which have been pressure-cooked so that they will crumble between your fingers and finicky people will not know about this extra addition of calcium. The blender is easier and more thorough, however. Less messy, too.

Dump into a mixing bowl and add a Tablespoon or so of dried onion. Mix well to distribute. Set aside.

Now how to make the filler? Regular carb meals would permit some mashed potatoes, or finely crushed saltines, like you were making crab cakes. Medium carbs would allow for some mashed white beans, but if you want to make it low carb, use a large zucchini, grated and wrung out in a towel. Then sauté the zuke until it really lets go of the liquid (a little salt helps) and throw that into a colander. Squeeze out the liquid again.

Add the zucchini or the potatoes or crackers to the mixing bowl with the salmon.

On top of that put in about 1 Tablespoon of mayonnaise and one or two eggs. Some people prefer to avoid yolks, but they give you the same omega oils you’re getting from the fish (well, similar, anyway), so go whole hog. Or use two egg whites and give the yolks to the dog or cat.

On top of that put a large pinch of crab boil mix. It gives a good “seafood” flavor. If you don’t want to use that, then use dill. Fresh is best, though dried is tolerable.

Mix the whole thing with your hands until it is an even mooshy mess. If it seems too liquidy add a bit of cracker crumbs or flour or even oat bran. Anything which absorbs the liquid.

If too dry, use a bit of the salmon broth.

Use a cutting board of a piece of waxed paper on which to arrange the shaped salmon cakes. I sprinkle them with high protein flour on the top side and then let them sit in the fridge for a while. They seem to hold together better that way. But you don’t have to: you can simply heat some olive oil - enough to cover the bottom of the pan - and place some of the cakes, flour-side down (they won’t all fit in) - carefully into the pan once the oil is heated. Use medium heat, not high.

Turn oven on lowest setting and get out an ovenproof platter. Mine is 170 degrees so it won’t burn the paper towels on the platter.

Cover frying partially and cook until the bottoms are crisp. Takes only a few minutes, and you can flatten the cakes a bit when you check them.

Before turning over, sprinkle a bit of flour/salt or bread crumbs on the uncooked side. Press it in a bit before turning. Again, cook them for a few minutes partially covered…if you put the cover all the way on, I think it makes them steam a bit.

When bottoms are browned on both sides, put on platter and place in oven to keep warm while you finish the others. Depending on the size of the pan and the size of the salmon cakes, this will be one or two more batches.

These things absorb oil, so don’t put too much into the pan. Just enough to make them crisp. Add extra oil for each batch and let it heat before putting in the salmon cakes. If you don’t heat it sufficiently, they really will absorb the oil.

Again, remove and place on platter in oven.

Low carbing, serve with coleslaw and another vegetable, perhaps asparagus or green beans. If you need to gain weight, have some corn on the cob instead.

My family likes seafood sauce, so I use low carb ketchup, a squirt of lemon, a pinch of celery seed and a bracing amount of horseradish. The commercial kinds are way too sweet for our tastes.