I think one of the more subtle joys to living in and visiting beautiful places is what happens every time you open your eyes. Beautiful, wild vistas are good for the soul. When I first moved to Wyoming, near the mountains, I remember expressing over the phone to my mother that I would have a hard time living there and being in a bad mood; the view just beyond the threshold of my door, of piercing peaks and blue, blue sky was just too stunning. My words turned out to be slightly premature and naive, but the sentiment remains – encountering natural beauty with every throw of the eye does wonders for me.
We’ve got a full house in Cape Cod this week, with Clover’s parents, sister, brother-in-law and niece and nephew all visiting from Georgia and Boston, respectively. As an only child, I’ve experienced summer stints with cousins, aunts and uncles, but it’s interesting to see the dynamics of how a larger-than-three family works. The children are still pretty young, and I imagine the Cape’s offerings are wonderful for them – beaches to play on, waves to charge and wild bits everywhere in which to seek out little adventures. The house itself is beautiful, full of light and windows overlooking the nearby bay and dunes, and the front yard is home to a thriving beach plum tree. Clover and I are staying summer camp-style, complete with bunk beds:
Being so close to the ocean, it’s appropriate that last night’s meal turned into a seafood fest. Clover’s mother seared scallops with shallots and bacon, and I played around with an old recipe for stuffed fish that quickly turned into this:
Reverse Sweet Potato-Stuffed Tilapia with a Pistachio Crust
2 lbs tilapia fillets, or fish of choice
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 cup shelled pistachios, crushed with a rolling pin or chopped into rough bits
1/4 cup panko or plain breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
1 tbs potato water
For the stuffing:
Bring a pot of water to boil, then add in the sweet potato cubes with a touch of salt. Boil until cooked, for 10-12 minutes. Drain, saving a little water and let cool. Start to mix, adding in the water and a splash of olive oil. Add 1 tsp or so of salt and pepper, the cinnamon and cumin and go to town, mashing until smooth and lump-less.
For the fish:
Preheat the oven to 350. Arrange fish on a shallow baking dish or pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon about 2 tbs of the sweet potato puree onto the top of the fillets, and spread to create and even layer.
In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs and pistachio bits. Sprinkle a hearty tablespoon or so of the mixture over the sweet potato, so that your fish goes into the oven looking like this:
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, and serve with a drizzle of fresh lemon.
I’m looking forward to today, which, after I finish my tea, is going to involve a dune hike, the beach, and a reading date with Dostoevsky. I’ve decided to reread some of the classic books I loved as a teenager, to see if my perspective on the trials and tribulations of the characters has changed at all over time. The ocean and the Brothers Karamazov will provide me with good company!
What are some of your favorite classics? I used to be borderline-obsessed with the Russians and Soviets – Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin, Gogol, Pasternak and Sholokhov (read And Quiet Flows the Don at some point in your life) but I also loved Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native and other pieces from that period.
I’m switching over to my own domain in the next few days, so I’ll update y’all as changes happen!