(Huhm-buhl) adjective, hum·bler,hum·blest, verb, hum·ble,hum·bling. adjective
1. not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful.
Humble is a great word. It rhymes with such conversational charmers as bumble, stumble and crumble. Perhaps it's definition is what makes it such a standout. In a world where elementary school children sport "bling" and carry expensive cell phones, Humble has been forgotten in the pile of elderly and obsolete phraseology. People seldom behave in a Humble manner these days. Shocking conduct is routinely splashed across gossip rags, and celebrated in cheaply produced "reality" T.V.
For many, Humble is without a doubt out of fashion.
Victorian cooks embraced Humble. Serving a magnificent roast for Sunday dinner, they continued to use the meat throughout the week, transforming the large cut into salad, hash and soup. The next Sunday, they'd start all over again. A wonderful television series was made by the BBC in the 1980's that walks modern folks through the daily life of a Victorian kitchen. This series is a wonderful experiment caught on film and will make anyone grateful for even the most annoying, antique or ragged 20th century kitchen. The Victorian Kitchen on DVD can be purchased through Amazon.com. It's spin-off, The Victorian Kitchen Gardens, is equally inspiring; available on YouTube, thankfully! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1xK3vvdh7g
This year the Lenten season comes early. Meaning "spring", Lent is a time for self-examination, modesty, and duty. Combined with the grey, cold, muddy and colorless state of nature in my northern region, Lent has a decisively Humble feeling. Even food in Lent has a self-effacing sensibility. Many people, for reasons that stretch back to Biblical times, choose to eat fish on certain days of the week. Near our mountain home, there is a tradition of Volunteer Fire Companies holding Fish Fries on Fridays during Lent; some achieving local fame with their long-standing, tasty plates. I certainly love a good fish fry, but now and then, I reach max capacity on oil-based cooking methods.
Still, dinner looms daily. It's rare that I don't look forward to creating meals, but today is one of those days. Stricken with the ubiquitous winter cold, it's all I can do to get off the couch to blow my nose. Racking my brain for nutritious options. The shrunken-head potatoes in the cellar taunt me, sure in their tuber wisdom that I won't be able to use them. I cock an eyebrow towards the cellar door and iron out my plan with resolute determination. It's then that I remember the 2 packs of frozen bass I put away before our fish sank to the bottom of the pond to begin their winter hibernation. Along with a couple of onions, which sit in a crate next to the potatoes, dirt still clinging to their roots, I gather the cellared produce and head to the freezer for beans.
We're having hash! Fish hash!
Hash is just a medley of ingredients thrown in a pan and stir-fried. It's a great choice when there is not enough of each separate item to serve them alone. The leftovers -if there are any- are even better thrown together with some scrambled eggs and dumped into a pastry shell. Humble pie, for certain. Made even more delicious, perhaps, for it's humility.
5-6 white potatoes, peeled, boiled and cubed
4-5 Bass fillets (or other fish of your choice)
2 onions, sliced.
A handful of green beans, blanched and chopped into 1" pieces
Evoo and butter
Salt and pepper
Heat a large skillet. Melt the butter and evoo. Today, I used 3 TBSP of butter and a 1/4 cup of evoo. The evoo helps the butter reach a hotter temperature without burning, and the butter is a key part of the final flavor.
Toss the potatoes in and brown them on medium/low. Remove. Add the fish and brown. Don't worry if it flakes and breaks. That's what you want. Add the onion and continue to cook. Add back the potatoes and toss. Sprinkle with the green tops of the onions and serve. Delicious.