Sunday, October 18, 2009

Beer-Battered Fish Burrito

I made food tonight, and it turned out well enough to share.

1 tilapia fillet
1 can of beer
1 handful of flour
1 sprinkling of taco seasoning
taco toppings
3-4 tbsp olive oil

Soak the tilapia fillet in enough beer to cover it. While it's soaking, mix the flour and enough taco seasoning to make it flavorful. This will be the fried-ish crust, so use the taco seasoning with that in mind.

After the tilapia has soaked for long enough to be... properly soaked, drag it through the flour/seasoning mixture to coat it. Dip it once more in the beer, then drag it through the flour/seasoning mixture once again. It should be dry to the touch and fairly caked with the battering when you're done.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While it's warming up, coat the bottom of a glass baking dish with olive oil. Then, coat the fillet with olive oil in the baking dish. It's not necessary to coat the fish completely, but you'll want to get some on there to keep it moist. Also, olive oil is fat and fat is flavor. Bake for 20 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of your fillet.

While it's baking, cut up an onion and a tomato and whatever else you might want to put in a taco. Keep in mind you're essentially frying the fish, so perhaps sour cream and guacamole should be avoided because of their fat content, but it's up to you.

After the fish is thoroughly cooked, introduce it to your toppings in a tortilla. I used cheese and tomato and onion and Taco Bell's fire sauce, and it did make for some tasty.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


My parents never pressured, but they provided all the opportunity a child could want. They expected commitment, of course, but they certainly weren't the type to live vicariously through their kids. I had my music and my sis had softball, but we both dabbled in sports and music and art, the things parents do hope their kids will become involved in. There was no pressure to do any one thing, and for that, I owe my love of music to my parents. Even though it was their introduction, I feel like it was my own discovery, and I treasure it as such.

When I was in second grade, my mom told me she had a friend at school who taught piano lessons, and she asked if that's something I'd want to do. I'd had no exposure to the creation of music before then, save the recorders my parents got us as tots and the drumsticks my dad bought for us once that quickly disappeared after a few breakables were discovered not to be percussion instruments. She told me she expected me to stick with it for six months and that it was a serious thing (the sort of things one does need to tell an eight-year-old kid before signing them up for something that costs money), but that if I didn't like it, it wasn't a forever thing. I thought it sounded like fun, having heard her play the piano we had downstairs and staring in awe.

Learning the piano wasn't fun. I remember frustrated tears over a sticky keyboard (I was a kid, after all), terrible nerves and an awful mood before recitals, and agonizingly long waits for lessons with a piano teacher who was chronically behind schedule. That said, I also remember showing up late for a piano recital in a baseball uniform and the first song I played with the damper pedal. That one, the song with the pedal, was the first time I felt like I was really playing. It was just broken chords up and down the keyboard, but it was absolutely lovely. It made me feel like an artist. It was that song that hooked me. Learning the piano may have been a nightmare, but playing it was the best of dreams.

Six months turned into five years with a teacher and a here-and-there of self-study after that. Having recently bought a keyboard with eighty-eight weighted keys that plays as close to the real thing as I could hope, I'm back to a regular routine, practicing an hour or so a day. And it's still not fun. Human fingers don't, by default, perform gymnastics, and it seems an impossible feat to pay attention to both the music in front of me and the keys under my fingers. I get frustrated frequently and mash the keys all at once as though to flush a certain passage's difficulty right out of the instrument. When it doesn't work, I do it again. I don't cry anymore, but I sure feel like I could sometimes.

But I play. After the difficulties have been properly flushed and I don't have to look at the music anymore, the music comes out, and it's still a dream. After years of study, I can play more than broken triads with the damper pedal, and I take none of it for granted. Mozart's trite little romps through the park and Beethoven's gut-punching sforzandos and Chopin's ironic, twisting chord changes (alas, my ode to that particular Romantic is for another day) flow through me, not just from my brain, through my fingers, and into the air, but the other way around. The music comes back after the sound comes out, washing over me, seeping back into my soul, filling me with emotion and romance and peace, filling me right back up so I can pour myself back into the keys. I wouldn't give this up for anything, and I'd especially hate to part with the learning experience. It's miserable. It's intense. It's fuel.