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2010 National Soup Swap Day and Salmon Tips and Techniques Questions Answered

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Salmon Tips and Techniques Questions AnsweredI’m closing in on one year in food blogging.  This time last year, I had my soup swap, and came to grips with my love of two things:  cooking and the Internet.  My husband was at his wits end with my permanent connection to my laptop, likely fearing my increasingly unhealthy addiction to CNN and TMZ.  He challenged me to use my Internet time in a more worthwhile basis, and heaven knows, I don’t like to be called out.  So, I decided to build the world’s best food blog.  No, not really, not even close.  I just decided, what the heck?  It’s a hobby, and it’s weird and techie and dorky enough to adapt into the “No really, I’m unique and different and amusing, please don’t put me in a box” persona to which I’ve adapted.  Plus I have to admit, it’s frighteningly convenient to have a recipe craving in a grocery store and be able to pull up my own website on my iPhone  and grab my ingredients list.

Recently I’ve been asked by a couple of long time readers, “So Lane, are you cooking less or just posting less?”  I’ll admit.  In the beginning it was easy, since I’d never written about anything I’d made before.  116 posts later, sometimes, I have to make things again.  And really, there’s only so much food we can eat around here.  So the answer is, I’m cooking more than ever, but some of it is repeats, and some of it frankly doesn’t feel (or look!) good enough to write about.  And after reviewing my analytics, I’m shocked and awed by the number of you dear readers that come back day after day.  The support is beyond my wildest dreams.  Thank you for joining me and welcome to my heart.  If you’re craving something, please send me a note!  I’m available at lane@dinnerandconversation.com and love to research, plan, and create an item on request.  Just don’t ask for fennel.  I’m anti-fennel.

This week I hosted my annual soup swap.  I invite a bunch of people, encourage them to whip out 6 quarts of homemade soup, then bribe them with wine and snacks, and ask them to swap soups with my friends.  I’ve had great participation over the years, and the experience fills our freezers with soup-love.  I made my tortilla soup [1] and my lemon chili chicken with rice soup [2].  My sister keeps telling me I need to get more creative in my naming schemes for menu items.  Perhaps she’s just more creative and that’s why I can adjust programming code to my liking and she can create a snappy name for a new product.  Or perhaps, it’s just something I should work on for 2010.

The head picture is the salmon we had for dinner.  Salmon remains on of my most Frequently Asked Questions.  How is it so crunchy, what type to buy, how should I cook it, what to serve with it, etc?  I don’t usually win accolades for easy recipes, but the absolute EASIEST way to cook salmon is on a Lean Mean Grilling Machine, yep the George Foreman variety.  Who would have guessed?  Over time I’ve frequently received questions about how I make my salmon crispy.  I used to attribute it to the Lean Mean, but I don’t have it anymore.  In retrospect, I think the benefit comes from the amount of salmon touching the pan surface and the weight of the top griddle.  So tonight for an experiment, I skipped the grill pan and used my non-stick oval fish skillet.  Everywhere the skin touched, I had crispy salmon.  (Cooked at about 2.5 or one half of the way between medium and medium high on my stove top.)  So here’s how I think it will be best.  If you have a bacon press, use that to weigh down your salmon when you’re cooking skin side up.  If not and you have a brick, you can wrap it in aluminum foil and weigh down your salmon that way.  Or just use a heavy skillet on top of the fish.  However you do it, just ensure the salmon is touching the skillet in the most area possible.  Also with fish, always buy fresh and cook same day of purchase if you can.  And with any fish with skin on one side, start skin side down, cook until fish is opaque 1/3 of the way through, then flip.  Cook until opaque 1/3 of the way through on opposite side, then flip back to skin side down.  Happy fishing!

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