Late winter really dragged on in the Pacific Northwest last year, right into June, and I felt mired in its lightless wake. I tried writing poetry about the beauty of gray. I came up with a long list of pretty words to describe the shades of gray I could find in the sky: steel, coin, silver, gunmetal, obsidian, flint, shale. I pictured smooth gray streaks in the nacre that coats the inside of an oyster's shell where a pearl might be found. Still I struggled.
In June, just as the weather broke out with a burst of glorious summer we took a road trip that stopped off at a few of the Pacific Northwest's most notable destinations. We drove under blue skies in one perfectly clear shade that is like no other. We enjoyed the landscape of the Pacific Northwest, the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, the rustic history and natural pristine beauty of Crater Lake under the stars and the sunrise and even a full blown thunder storm. In a flood of gratitude I remembered that it is incredibly gorgeous here and I am blessed to have the opportunity to call the Pacific Northwest my home. Yet still I am homesick for another home, far away, that really doesn’t exist anymore.
It was quite a satifying realization that these distinctly regional ingredient, representing more than a decade each and telling the story of my life, could settle down together, each remaining true to it’s heritage and distinct in its flavor, and yet blend to complement each other so well. It gave me hope.
"Cooking is more than a skill or even an art. Cooking is about nurturing the future with roots that dig deeply into the past. Cooking is a channel for transmitting love, faith, understanding, pleasure, history, geography, culture, chemistry, art and adventure. The kitchen arts encompass metaphors for, and lessons that apply to, every aspect of life."
This recipe is one I am sure to repeat often as I keep reaching out to share the unique qualities of my life’s journey with the world I find myself a part of now.
Bourbon Pecan Salmon
from the December 21, 2004 issue of Family Circle Magazine
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup Kentucky bourbon
1/2 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 pounds salmon
1 cup chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Combine the brown sugar, bourbon, apple cider and black pepper in a large Ziplock bag. Place the salmon fillet in the mixture and seal the bag, distributing the bourbon mixture to cover the salmon. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours turning the bag every hour or so to redistribute the marinade.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for approximately 5 minutes, or until they start to brown. Remove from oven and toss the pecans with the melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.
Coat the top of a broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Gently remove the salmon from the Ziplock bag reserving the marinade. P lace the salmon on the broiler pan, skin-side down, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gently press the pecan mixture over the top of the salmon.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Meanwhile, bring the reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Continue to boil for 3 minutes. Spoon over salmon as desired.