Spinach-Artichoke Tilapia and the Rest of Last Week’s Menu


There’s really nothing like sharing good food with good friends, and we got the chance to do just that twice this week, plus celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary (8th dating anniversary). It was a pretty good week…

OTP 11-2-11-8

Monday: Apalachicola Oyster Stew
For our at-home anniversary dinner (we’ve got a trip planned for later) I decided to make something a little special, and this oyster stew from the newest Garden & Gun release, The Southerner’s Cookbook, sounded like a good option. It’s heartier than the oyster stew I grew up with (which was all of milk/cream, oysters, butter, and green onions) but just as tasty. Unfortunately, oysters were a little on the scarce side in the grocery store (I know the local oyster beds have been having issues) so I threw in some frozen seafood mix to fill things out a bit.

Pipers Pit Fired BBQ Pizza at Northside Pies

Pipers Pit-Fired Pulled Pork Pizza Pie at Northside Pies

Tuesday: Beer & Cheer at Northside Pies
Would you get a load of that pizza up there? Pulled pork, BBQ sauce, and coleslaw. It was delicious! I’ve made many a barbecue pizza in my day, but I never thought to top it with creamy coleslaw, and I’m a little ashamed of myself for that fact.

Wednesday: Rosemary Balsamic Chicken, Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
This was intended to be a super easy slow-cooker meal from Crockpot Gourmet, but I was not in the mood to set things up when we got home from Northside Pies (and I’m perpetually running late in the mornings, so it wasn’t happening then!) but I figured this was something I could do in the oven, too. I was right. Obviously you need to decrease the liquid quite a bit–I used 1 cup of water and it was still more than enough, I’d say go with 1/2 cup and then add more if necessary. Once everything was cooked through I moved the chicken onto a covered plate and mashed the potatoes in the baking dish, so the whole one-pot, low-less idea was upheld.

Thursday: Spinach-Artichoke Tilapia, Roasted Carrots, Coconut Rice
I like eating fish and I like the idea of putting it on the menu regularly, but I don’t always like cooking fish so much. If I commit to a simple preparation of broiling it, etc. then I can usually avoid making it a take-out night. So Thursday night’s supper was just going to be Parmesan-topped Tilapia but when I was retrieving the cheese from the fridge I saw the leftover artichoke hearts from the party. Artichoke + Parmesan cheese sounded like a good idea, and then I dug around and found an open bag of chopped greens in the freezer… this then became spinach-artichoke tilapia and was so very good. I even paid attention to what I was doing when I threw this together, and the recipe is below.

Friday: Corn Chowder with Beer Biscuits
This was First Friday and the annual meeting of the local Artist’s Collective, so I was going to be leaving work early and getting home late. It seemed like the perfect time to pull a container of Corn Chowder from the freezer and whip up a batch of drop biscuits once I got home. Gluten-free Bisquik comes in handy for things like this, and I like to use coconut oil for the butter or shortening in biscuits.

Duck Flatbread at Bacchus

Duck Flatbread at Bacchus

Saturday: Tapas at Bacchus
It wasn’t supposed to be dinner when we met up with friends at 3:30, but we noshed and nattered long enough that that’s what it ended up being. I neglected to get a picture of my fondue when it arrived, but Todd’s flatbread with duck, goat cheese, and caramelized onions made it into pixels and was very tasty! This was sorta-kinda a meeting to discuss plans for my 40th birthday party (it’s 6 months away, but L and Todd are collaborating and L likes to get a good head start on things), which we might be holding at Bacchus depending on how L’s call to their sales manager goes. If so, that flatbread might be a good contender!

Sunday: Beef Stew with Rice
It rained steadily all day on Sunday and I can’t say that I minded terribly. Not only did it bring the temperature down (this past week was back up in the 80s with the humidity to match, blech!) but it was perfect for the beef stew I had planned. Just your basic potatoes, carrots, celery, and green onions with beef, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Slow cook for 6 hours and wallow in the warmth.

And here’s the tilapia recipe I promised:

Spinach-Artichoke Tilapia

serves 4-6

6 tilapia fillets
olive oil
salt and pepper

For the topping:
1 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Arrange the tilapia fillets in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet (rack optional). Drizzle the fillets with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl, then divide the mixture between the fillets. Try to keep the topping in an even layer over the fish so it cooks evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked. If your fillets are frozen to start with, it might take another 10 minutes.


42 & 43 Animals | Our Furry, Feathered, and Finned Friends

64 Arts

And all the others that might be left out by those 3 Fs!

I’m going to go ahead and combine the next two Arts for reasons of time and, well, modernity.

42 Stockbreeding

Raising and training rams, cocks, fighting partridges, and organizing battles, as for an army.

43 Teaching parrots and mynah birds to talk

As most sorts of organized animal fighting are illegal–not to mention morally questionable–in this country, I’m not going down the road of building an animal army. But there is something to be said (a lot of somethings, perhaps) on the subject of caring for our animal companions and even the concept of humane treatment of those animals which are grown for food.

And sometimes the line gets blurred.

My ex-husband’s family lived out in the country with a fair amount of land. Each year they would purchase a cow to raise and then have it slaughtered locally to fill their freezer. One year my ex’s little brother got attached to that year’s cow, named it and everything, and you can imagine the tough times that caused at dinner for a while.

Unfortunately, their idea of steak was plate-sized and paper thin (okay, something like 1/2 inch or just under) and the only way they cooked it was well-done. Now that, my friends, is one cow that died in vain.

With homesteading and other self-sufficiency ideals returning, rabbits and chickens are more commonly kept for meat and eggs, respectively, as they take up much less space than, say, cows or hogs might, and require less grazing room than even a goat or two, so better suited to urban or suburban set-ups. And if aquaculture is more your thing, I remember seeing in an episode of Doomsday Preppers where one family had turned their in-ground pool into a greenhouse and small lake and bred tilapia–they apparently multiply quicker than rabbits!

On the other side of the coin, of course, are pets.

Our home is currently sans members of the 4-legged variety, though I know Todd would really like to have a dog again if (when!) his schedule permits. I’m all for it, too–I may have had to re-home my rat terrier, Abigail, several years ago when my health and travel schedule did not permit me to spend as much time with her as she deserved, but I think a home with more people than pets is a good ratio for success when I’m one of the people involved. Being able to tag-team pet parenting is vital for me.

A few months ago I even reviewed a cookbook for dogs, if you’ve ever thought of decreasing or even eliminating the kibble and processed dog foods from your canine’s diet.

Lots of our friends are cat people and, as much as I appreciate their self-sufficiency in many ways, the slight allergy I developed to them after not having one around (grew up with cats when I lived at home with Mom) prevents me from considering them as an option (even if I was willing to have a litter box in the house, which I’m really not keen on).

Fish never did much for me–maybe it was all those carnival-won goldfish that didn’t live very long that soured me on them–but I know many people take great pride in their aquariums and find them very comforting. And while the same could be said for rodents and snakes, I think I’ll pass on those, too.

Making a friend in Roatan

Making a friend in Roatan while on a cruise excursion (2009)–sure, he was more interested in eating my headband than smiling for the picture, but what can you do?!

Now, birds on the other hand, they are really amazing. Sure, they can be messy pets–throwing seeds about and all that–but I can see where the attraction lies. Coincidental to the art at hand, I’ve had a few encounters with the talking varieties and they really are something else.

My high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Walper, had a parrot named Bogey. (He was an African Grey, I think, I can’t be absolutely certain but the pictures I’ve found look like what I remember.) Anyway, Bogey was quite the prankster as my teacher also had an elderly Schnauzer named Sheba and Bogey would call Sheba’s name and confuse that poor dog like you would believe! He also liked to sing ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ as I recall. Bogey had a large cage with lots of rungs to play on in Mrs. W’s office and also had a perch in the Florida room where we’d get to visit with him during some of our Sunday study sessions leading up to state competition. (If you hadn’t yet figured out I was more than a bit of a nerd in school, that should tip you off!) Bogey also got sent to “jail” when he was especially naughty (jail being the guest room shower stall–it was not a tough life he led).

Later on I learned that parrots, in general, often out-live their first owners and a reputable breeder can and often does insist upon knowing who will care for the feathered one after it’s companion’s demise! This is smart since they can live 70 to 100+ years when properly cared for. It’s tough enough, sometimes, for cats and dogs to find good homes when their human has passed away, I would imagine the care of a parrot would be a lot to take on for many!

Still, it’s an important consideration–not just for parrots. Being responsible for any creature–human or otherwise–is a big commitment! And unlike children who (for the most part) grow up and can eventually take care of themselves, our pets will always depend on us for their well-being. In fact, when I see pan-handlers on the street with dogs tethered to them, I usually feel more sorry for the animals than the people–they had even less choice in their situation than their humans, that’s for sure!

What are your feelings on pets? Are they a part of your livelihood, companions, or not part of it at all?

March Hare Digital Stamp Duo by Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

Introducing… Fishie Gallore!


If you get the Gauche Alchemy newsletter, The Dirt, then you may have already had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Fishie, but if not, why don’t y’all get acquainted.

Catch Me If You Can, mixed media canvas, Copyright 2013 Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

Catch Me If You Can canvas for Gauche Alchemy

This canvas started out as a way to use some postcard images shared by fellow Alchemist Marilyn, but then took a turn towards art therapy when I suffered a creative disappointment (no worries, I’m over it now) and was feeling a little down. I needed a fish image that was basically “giving the fin” to the others, and there was nothing else to do but draw her myself.

Closeup of Fishie Gallore by Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

“Suck it, Fishes!” She’s one sassy piece of tailfin!

I could have stopped there, but I’ve been having fun with the concept of digital stamps, so decided to go through the scanning and cleaning-up she’d require to make her usable by me and others. You can now find Ms. Fish in my etsy store, along with some other digital stamp designs just in time for Easter.


Easter Lily has a bit of an Alice in Wonderland vibe to it.

Easter Lily Digital Stamp by Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

While March Hare and Bottoms Up are much more playful (I can never resist a good pun!).

March Hare Digital Stamp Duo by Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

Bottoms Up Digital Stamp Duo by Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

If you’ve never played with digital stamps before, they’re a bit of a cross between clip art and rubber stamps. They work the same as a rubber stamp in that you can print them out, color them, and use them on cards, scrapbook layouts, tags, and for other personal, decorative items; but since they’re digital you can resize them and flip them around–things I’ve always wished you could easily do with rubber stamps. The files you’ll receive are all hi-res jpeg and png files made from my original drawings that I’ve scanned, that you can open in any word processing or photo software (like Open Office Writer, Word, Photoshop Elements, even Paint).

(Clicking any of the stamp images above should take you right to my etsy page.)

Any questions, just ask!