Monday, November 8, 2010

Cornmeal and Jalapeno Bass with French Fries and Beans

I've loved growing things for quite a few years now...but I've discovered that growing a thing is only half of the challenge.  What do you do with that thing after its grown???  Well, you eat it obviously...but its the eating of things that I've always had problems with.  I never liked cooking...I avoided the kitchen like it was a torture chamber.  I suppose that's one of the reasons why I married a chef.  This past summer, I spent a lot of time at home with my 3 yr old son Owen, while my husband desperately worked 3 jobs to keep us paying those bills.  I had plenty of time (and not much money) to consider what was going to be on the table when dinner time came along.

So this is the introduction to the other portion of this blog...what do you do with these things once you've grown them!?!?! 

There will be future posts in which I will discuss my new found obsession with eating locally, the 100 ft challenge and other things of this nature, but mainly we were quite broke and I needed to discover a way to make delicious meals with everything we grew in our garden.  I guess on some level it was a way to become as self-sufficient as possible on the budget we were attempting to live on.

Last night we started the freezer eat-out....well that's what I like to call it....simply put...we freeze most of the things that come out of the garden...and at some point we have to start eating it before it gets freezer burnt!  The garden has been almost completely the thought of going to the grocery store now is actually painful for me to think about.  We have subsisted for several months now mainly on garden I dipped into the freezer for an outstanding meal! 

cornmeal jalapeno bass with french fries and green and yellow beans
Here is the dinner fare for last night...I'll break it down for you:

Cornmeal Jalapeno Bass
Bass caught on Holleford lake (less that 15 min from our house) which equals a very small carbon footprint!
cornmeal bought at the bulk barn
Jalapenos grown in our garden

standard flour/egg wash/cornmeal dip in that order
diced jalapenos (seeds removed because I'm a spicy wussy) added in the cornmeal dish

fried then baked for 10 min each

This is where I get to explain what I started this blog about.  We grow jalapenos every year.  This year we ended up with 15 jalapeno plants that seemed to yield about a basket EACH!  But here comes the problem I face.  No one in our family eats these things...but my husband.  So how do you prepare and serve something that no one eats?  Why do we grow these things?  These are questions I began to ask myself during this past summer's unemployment.  I rose to the challenge of finding something to do with these little fellas.  I scoured cook books and magazines.  I trolled the internet on sites like and  Eventually this fish recipe came from my huband wanting to make cornmeal jalapeno pancakes for the kids and I one weekend.  (i have no idea where he got that recipe...but he's a cook so it could have been from anywhere)

I love the crunch that cornmeal brings to the fish...which we normally fix up with breadcrumbs we make.  Evena  spicy wussy like myself was loving this recipe.  The peppers gave a hint of heat...but not too much.  The flavour of the pepper was able to be tasted without the taste buds getting burnt off.  I will definitely try this recipe again! 

French Fries
We didn't grown potatoes this year, but we do subscribe to a local "good food box" program.  You pay the month earlier and each month you get a blue bin sized box full of fresh, mostly local, often seasonal veggies all for $15.
I hand cut my taters for french fries as I feel like its a more nutritious solution to store bought freezer fries.  Hand cutting fries is a major time consuming endeavour...that's pretty much the only downside...but I'm unemployed with all kinds of time to cut fries...haha...
I toss them in sunflower or canola oil and kosher salt, then bake them at 425 degrees C on a stone.  about 25 min does the trick.

Green and Yellow Beans
We grew three colours of beans this, yellow wax and purple.  We discovered that when you cook the purple beans...they turn green again!  So purple is purely for fresh veggie platters...
When the beans are ready to pick, I usually pick them every few days.  Each day I bring them inside, wash and pat dry.  Then I get a pot of water boiling for the blanching process.  I'm very new to this the first year we froze beans, I didn't bother.  The result was awful tasting...and almost turned my step son off beans altogether (and he'll eat almost anything!)  I now blanche my beans as we pick them...if we aren't goingt to eat them right away.  They freeze wonderfully and I love seeing the bright summer colours on my plate when the weather turns cold.  Like an extra boost of vitamins!  When freezing beans, I fill the large freezer bag about 1/4 full...then press out the air and press the bag flat.  I freeze them flat, then after I have a couple of flat frozen bags, I'll empty them into one bag for storage.  It may seem like a bit of work...but its way easier than using a pick axe to separate the block of beans you'd have if you just filled a bag to the brim with fresh, unfrozen beans.  (we've had to do that too....learning from experience is fun!)

NOT SHOWN:  Home made quick n dirty tartar sauce...
-sweet relish
-dill from our garden
-lemon juice
-salt n pepper to taste
-optional:  capers diced

SIDE NOTE:  we served the kids the cornmeal bass...but added the jalapenos for the filets that my husband and I ate.  When my 3 yr old Owen decides he's had enough beans, we always remind him to eat them all up...saying the green ones give him Hulk power and the yellow ones are Wolverine power.  Don't ask me why, but if you give cool names to veggies, your kids will have no problem wolfing them down...

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