November 22, 2010

Mustard and Apricot Salmon

Aaaahhhh, beer!

There are lots of reasons to have a beer at 2 in the afternoon.....

1. You had a beer at 1 in the afternoon.
2. Football.
3. Your thesis has flatly refused to write itself.

4. It would go really great with the stick you're about to eat. 

5. You're incredibly adorable and you deserve one.
6. Wine is more of an evening beverage.
7. You're out of wine, anyway.

And then there's #8: You find yourself in a state of simultaneous celebration and lamentation.  Celamentation, so to speak.  That was me on Sunday.  I had just conquered the backyard- and was celebrating having raked 18 piles of leaves (easily the equivalent of around 200 bags of leaves) and was sitting back watching the leaves start fall down all over again and fill in the nice clean lawn I'd made for myself.  And so I began lamenting, mainly that I'd be doing this every weekend until mid-December.  That became the perfect reason for a beer. That, and the fact that I had some great entertainment in the form of gnashing teeth and gremlin-growling from the dogs. 

This little break I took before scooping the leaves onto a sheet and transferring them to the street out front (where a big hoover-truck will one day soon make them disappear) was the perfect opportunity to bask in a beautiful autumn day while the dogs romped around.  They were thrilled, as I had transformed their boring backyard into a fantastic playground.  Ellie was delighted that I uncovered new ground for her to roll on- no doubt there was rotting leaf and insect carcasses that she just had to smell like. Freya was excited because now the backyard had more Things to Go Potty On.  She proudly marked every pile of leaves as I finished raking it, then proceeded to turn 194 degrees and kick wildly to "cover up" what she'd just left.  At first I thought it was kind of cute that she wanted to make sure anybody who came into her backyard knew to whom those leaves belonged.  But then I realized that given her track record with rugs, shoes, comforters, and electronics, she probably just saw me spending two hours putting the piles together, and decided that since she couldn't shred them with her teeth, she should just pee on these things that clearly mattered to her owner. 

All that time spent trying not develop blisters (although the whiny voice in my head said maybe I should, maybe then I'd garner big sympathy for all this hard work...) gave me plenty of time to think about dinner, and work up the appetite for it.  We had this incredible salmon with roasted acorn squash (just simple with salt) and lentils cooked in white wine and homemade chicken stock.  It was a perfect conclusion to my day.  

Mustard and Apricot Salmon
3 tbsp coarse grain mustard
2.5 tbsp apricot preserves
1 huge clove garlic (or two smaller ones)
salt and pepper
2 salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 375.  Mince the garlic clove (I like to grate it with a microplane so it distributes more evenly), sprinkle it with salt, and mash into a paste using the back of your knife.  Add the garlic to a bowl and mix into the mustard and preserves.  Prepare your salmon packets by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper and spraying on some oil.  Then lay the salmon down (skin-side down).  Smear the mustard mixture over the top of the salmon, and pop it in the oven.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes, then check to see if the salmon is flaky and done.  If not, give it a few more minutes.

Ideas: Leftover salmon will go great the next day on a salad (and will save your coworkers from having their kitchen smell like fish) with a lemony vinaigrette, some goat cheese, red onion, and some cucumbers.

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