Bicycles, Honeysuckle and Catfish for Supper

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Do you remember Honeysuckle? I do, but until yesterday I had not thought about it in years. Roger, Ryan, Nicholas and I were enjoying a late-evening bicycle ride down the “main” (they are all country roads where we live) road beside the house. It was a warm, but not too hot, 70 degrees with a light wind – perfect for a bicycle ride.

As man of the house, Roger was out in front and yelled back with “can you smell that?” Just as I was about to ask “what,” I caught the scent, too. That aroma of honeysuckle growing beside the road brought back many, many memories at once.

I can remember being just about my youngest son’s age (Nicholas is 8) and riding my bicycle down the gravel roads around my house. I was always barefoot wearing shorts and a t-shirt and more often than not at least one of my many first cousins was riding along with me. We’d take frequent breaks to sit along the side of the road in the shade of the big trees, and, of course, taste the honeysuckle. I don’t think I’ve had a single gourmet meal in my adulthood that tasted as good as that honeysuckle did when I was eight years old.

Back in the present, Roger and Ryan had ridden ahead in a competition to see who could ride fastest. Nicholas and I were riding slow and easy, enjoying the weather, and talking about our day. Nic suddenly pulled off, dropped his bicycle in the grass, and asked, “Have you ever tried these, Momma?” as he reaches a honeysuckle bush beside the road.

It makes me happy to know that a new generation is enjoying the small pleasure of honeysuckle. So, we sat, Mother and son, in the shade of the big trees beside the road and tasted honeysuckle. I noticed that Nicholas would pick the delicate flower, break off the bottom, and suck the nectar as through a straw. This is, of course, a legitimate way to taste honeysuckle.

However, I earned a few “mommy points” by showing him the way I learned as a child. You pick the flower and gently break off the bottom keeping the little stem in the center intact. You then gently pull that stem out the bottom and the “ball” at the top brings the nectar through. When you gently touch this to your tongue, it’s honeysuckle heaven.

If you don’t know the pure and simple pleasure of honeysuckle, it’s not too late. Take your kids or grandkids (or a neighbor’s kid if you have to) on a bicycle ride (or a walk or even a car ride), locate some honeysuckle, and take time to sit beside the road and taste the sweet nectar. You won’t regret it.

We spent so much time on our bicycle ride, that I had to do a quick supper when we returned to the house. I had some catfish fillets in the freezer, so I thawed them quickly and made this Hot and Sweet Baked Catfish. We enjoyed it over rice, with corn nuggets (most of which the kids, mine and three or four neighbor boys, ate right out of the bowl while everything else was cooking), and Okra & Tomatoes (frozen, sliced okra with a can of petite-dice tomatoes, a touch of sugar, and a little thyme… and a little time). It was delightful follow-up to an enjoyable evening.

Hot and Sweet Baked Catfish

The combination of sweet pineapple and hot tomatoes makes a unique and tasty dish.

8 catfish fillets

Lemon pepper

1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, lightly-drained

1 (10-ounce) can Rotel tomatoes, well-drained

Prepared rice for 6 to 8 people

Place fillets in a 9×13-inch glass baking dish; sprinkle with lemon pepper to taste. Combine pineapple and tomatoes in a separate bowl; spoon onto fillets. Bake 40 to 50 minutes at 400 degrees or until fish is done. Serve over rice.

Note: If you want to make only 4 fillets, I recommend using the same amount of pineapple and tomatoes. Spoon 1/2 over the fillets and put the remaining in a small saucepan with a little water and cornstarch. Cook until thickened and serve over rice – delicious.

write by lopez

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