Saturday, February 16, 2013

Gone Goldfishing

Long after I polished off the last of these phenomenal Homemade Goldfish, I struggled to find exactly the words I wanted to introduce the post. 

The concept of fishing is so often used to symbolize a variety of actions. You could be fishing for men (plenty of fish in the sea, honey!) or compliments. You could be actively pursuing options. You could be searching for knowledge. 

The prerequisite for all of these potential acts (as symbolized by fishing) all come down to the same thing: lack of satisfaction with what you currently have. 

Used in these contexts, fishing suggests an attempt to acquire some new thing as stimulated by discontent. Particularly for romance, suggesting that there are plenty of fish in the sea is meant to encourage the recently heartbroken individual to get out there and find someone new. It says, “Take action! Take control of your love life. Find what you’re looking for.” 

However, the actual act of fishing as I typically envision it (and have carefully drawn out for you in crayon) is quite passive. The quintessential peaceful fisher perching a fishing rod over the edge of the boat and dozing off seems blissfully content. He just sits back and waits for something to bite. 

I’ve never been one to sit back and wait. I went deep sea fishing once and spent my time paddling my kayak around to test out new spots, sitting for just a moment and then moving on to the next spot… I didn’t catch anything. 

As it happens, what I seek most often and most actively these days is nothing material — I’m merely seeking answers to any and every question that nags at me day after day: What are you doing with your life? Where are you heading? Are you doing this the right way? 

I fish and pry and contemplate… and I just don’t have answers to any of these probing questions. More often, the closest I can ever come to a real answer is just a spinoff question of one of the first. Where am I going and how will I know when I get there? Will I like it there? Will anyone be there with me? What will I leave behind?

It’s tough to have nothing but questions. The proverbial answers (metaphorical fish) just don’t take the bait. And so I wonder… am I asking the right questions? Maybe it doesn’t matter where I’m heading in life. After all, the here and now has to take place. Perhaps the more important questions to ask are: What do I love doing? How can I bring more of this into my present? These are questions I can to answer. I love to bake and I can keep it up by setting time aside during the week to try new recipes and share my posts with you!

…and so the fish start to bite! 

To make these goldfish, I had to get very creative with my tools and cut out a fish shaped cookie-cutter from an empty soda can. This took some care and precaution as I am very clumsy and the edges of a sliced up can are quite sharp, but all in all it was incredibly simple. 

I cut half inch – 1-inch strips and bent the pieces first in half and then out at the edges and back again to create the shape of a standard goldfish. A little scotch tape held the pieces together perfectly. For kicks, I made a "whale" cutter as well!

Homemade Goldfish Crackers (recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen)
Makes about 7 dozen crackers
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 
  • 8 ounces grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • Pulse the flour, salt, pepper, and baking powder together using a food processor 
  • Add the butter and cheese, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal
  • Pulse in 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and only enough so that the dough forms a ball and rides the blade
  • Remove, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 20 minutes
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking pans with parchment paper
  • Roll the dough out to 1/8th-inch thickness, using flour if necessary to prevent stickiness
  • Cut out as many crackers as possible — HAVE FUN WITH IT!
  • Use a toothpick to add flourish in the form of fish eyes or a smile
  • Refrigerate for another 15 minutes or so to make sure they won’t spread in the oven
  • Bake until golden and crisp (13-15 minutes) and transfer to a wire rack to cool
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week (if they last that long)

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