Dawn Kessinger: Share a meal — Holy mackerel, that’s good

I like cooking for family and I don’t mind packing up leftovers and enjoying the same meal the next day.

But because I’m frequently on my own, I also like to try quick, easy meals I can fix for myself that might be a little different. I’m a more adventurous cook than I used to be and I sometimes make meals my family wouldn’t touch if I paid them. A few years ago, I also wouldn’t have wanted to try some of the foods that I’m now eager to sample.

“Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?” my mother asked when I told her I tried and liked a meal at The Garden by Poco Piatti that included steak tips, spinach, vermicelli rice, baba ghanoush, garlic feta dip and cilantro vinaigrette. (The Garden is located at the Glass City Metropark; 1521 Front Street, Toledo. If you like Mediterranean food — or simply want to try it — I highly recommend it. The food, atmosphere and service are all excellent and the prices are reasonable.)

From the time I was small, my dad or grandpa loved putting a fishing pole in my hands. I accompanied them both on fishing excursions via boat, off a pier or from a rocky shore. I wasn’t freaked out by nightcrawlers, but more often baited my hook with wax worms. Unless the fish swallowed the hook or it was a catfish, I removed the fish from my hook unaided and tossed it in the waiting bucket of water.

My family always cleaned and cooked fish that were big enough to eat. Despite being a finicky eater and being nervous about swallowing and choking on a bone that might be missed during cleaning, I liked fish. Over the years, I know we caught, cooked and consumed more than just bluegill and catfish, but whether our catches included walleye, trout, crappie, or bass, I can’t remember.

My destiny to love seafood continued when as a teenager, I got a job at Captain D’s. I could always eat the fried fish but I was surprised to discover that I also liked the baked or broiled fish over rice. I didn’t know I’d also love shrimp and crab.

After that, I wasn’t as surprised when I tried orange roughie and salmon and found them both delicious. From the time I was a young adult, I knew that seafood easily topped my list of favorite foods.

But so many good foods exist that I haven’t tried yet! Walking the aisles of a local grocery, a package of tinned mackerel caught my eye.

“Have I tried mackerel?” I asked myself. “I can’t remember; if I’ve tasted it, it’s been too long ago and I’ve forgotten the flavor. I need to try it!”

This is how my “holy mackerel, that’s good” recipe came to be. The mackerel, which came packed in olive oil with a few tiny black olives in it, proved to be more flavorful than salmon or a baked whitefish, but it didn’t taste “fishy.” It’s meant for one person, and I found it to be a slightly unique and easy treat I’ll fix again.

Holy mackerel, that’s good


• 4.05 oz tin mackerel (skinless and boneless; I tried Mediterranean style)

• One 8 oz (two individual cups in a package) Minute Jasmine Rice

• 8 oz cut green beans


1 tomato, cut

1 4-oz can stems & pieces mushrooms

Take the lid off the rice cup and microwave it for 1 minute. When it’s done, set it aside and microwave the green beans, adding mushrooms if you like, on a large plate for 1 minute. Lightly salt and stir. Pour the rice from the cup onto the plate. Open the tin of mackerel and scoop it with the olive oil onto the rice. Stir the rice, mackerel and green beans together and enjoy.

Want to share a meal with The Lima News readers? Send your recipe with your name, city of residence, phone number (won’t be published) and a photo of your meal to [email protected].