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Cooking With Myra: Life's little treasures

By By Myra Starkey
March 6, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 5, 2012 at 9:06 p.m.

Seared Scallops with Honey Citrus Glaze

Campari tomato: Campari is a variety of tomato noted for juiciness, high sugar level and lack of mealiness. Camparis are larger than a cherry tomato, but smaller than a plum tomato.

Seared Scallops with honey citrus glaze

Glaze

1/2 cup orange blossom honey 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 4 tsp. orange peel, finely grated 2 tsp. lime peel, finely grated 11/2 tsp. hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha) Spinach

4 cups spinach leaves, chopped 1 tsp. garlic, finely choppedSalt to taste Scallops

2 Tbsp. butter 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 12 large sea scallops, side muscle removed For Glaze:

Stir all ingredients in small saucepan over medium heat until heated through. Set aside. Do ahead: Can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before continuing.

For Scallops:

Preheat broiler. Melt butter with oil in heavy, large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Paper dry the scallops. Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper. Cook scallops until browned on 1 side, about 1 minute. Turn scallops over and cook 1 minute. Spoon 1 tsp. glaze atop each scallop. Place scallops in broiler until glaze browns, about 1 minute. The top of the scallop should brown and appear to be cracked.

Spinach:

After preparing the scallops, pour out any oil or butter, but do not clean pan. Place garlic in hot skillet along with spinach. Toss until wilted and sprinkle with salt.

Place spinach on plate and top with 3-4 scallops. Drizzle remaining glaze over the scallops. Garnish with sprig of herbs.

I started the beginning of last week with good intentions. I woke up last Monday in the usual way, that being that Taylor shook me awake about 30 minutes before I had to be ready to go. My brain has developed immunity to the noise of alarm clocks.

He arises early, gets ready for work and then makes coffee before he summons me from my slumber. He thinks the aroma will give me a serious reason to leave the warm cocoon of my bed. Anyway, on that morning, I was ready to begin my new healthy routine, so I put on a pair of exercise pants, a T-shirt and my running shoes, fully intending to hit the road early.

It was then that I recalled that I had to be at work earlier than expected. So much for my resolution for healthier living.

Later that evening, I decided to walk laps around the block. Did you realize that four times around a city block is a mile? Those plans were thwarted by my realization that it was time to cook supper. I prepared scallops over spinach with crisped bacon, and a salad of fresh greens and Campari tomatoes. Delicious and light.

I must admit that my calorie counting activity was successful so that even if I did not go burn off calories, at least I limited my intake of new ones.

I don't starve myself. I know that would only tend to slow down my metabolism even more. I try to pass up most of the carbohydrates available to me at the office and at home, especially the sugar and starches. I would like to think that avoiding calories counts in the battle of the bulge and if I really did that consistently, then I would look like Twiggy, the stick-thin, mini-skirt model from the 1970s.

On Tuesday, a pharmaceutical representative came by the clinic and brought us sausage rolls. I restrained myself from gobbling a mid-morning snack. But later in the week, one of our patients brought in homemade candy, chocolate-coated peanuts and two types of cookies, and I caved into my desires.

After eating several peanut clusters and dusting my lap of cookie crumbs, I realized that I would have to forfeit at least one meal that day. Supper was an easy choice since Taylor and I went to see "Act of Valor," so I munched on movie popcorn hoping that would tip the scale in my favor.

The great thing about movie popcorn bags is that they don't have any information about calorie content printed on the side. The movie was exciting, and I was awed by the skills and sacrifices of our military's special forces.

As the week progressed, I attempted several times to get to exercise class, but to no avail. I did happen to circle the block several times in my work clothes and tennis shoes. Beginning an exercise regimen was not as easy as I thought it would be.

On Saturday, I had the treat of getting my hair done. A cut and color always puts me in a good mood. I had saved a picture of a magazine model who I thought had the "perfect cut."

The perfect cut sometimes turns out to be just like the perfect swimsuit, both tend to disappoint and are elusive to most of us. In this case, my cut and color turned out wonderful even if it did not make me look like the fashion model.

For whatever reason, my jeans seemed to be fitting a little looser, so I was in an exceptionally good mood. In fact, I think the haircut had caused me to work up an appetite.

Taylor joined me for lunch at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants. He told me he had just read an article about an eccentric guy who had buried a million-dollar treasure somewhere in the mountains around Santa Fe, N.M., and had provided clues in some poetry he had published.

I became so excited that I wanted to go buy the book of poems to see if I could crack the code. Taylor sat across from me giving me a multitude of reasons why we could not find the treasure, the most obvious being that we are employed full-time and a lot of folks depend on us, so we cannot just leave on a whim for adventure.

I explained that I did not mean that we would leave immediately only that we would go look over a long weekend. He rolled his eyes. I was feeling totally confident that if we just put our minds to it, the treasure would be ours.

I then opened my fortune cookie, and it read, "Hope is the best treasure of all."

I think finding the actual treasure box would be the best treasure of all. Taylor told me he would be happy to go to Santa Fe and walk around in the mountains as long as I didn't make him read poetry.

I was trying to get some stuff done around the house on Sunday afternoon. There was a loud banging on the back door. I halfway tried to ignore it, but the person was persistent and banged again. I had been busy making note cards since I have picked up yet another hobby, paper crafts.

My table was filled with paper flowers, which I was gluing to cards. I opened the door to see 10-year-old Brittany.

"May I help you?" I queried as I gave her the once over across the top of my reading glasses. She told me that her mom was relaxing, so she thought she would come hang out at our house.

I told her that I was about to start doing some intense house cleaning, and she indicated that she would be happy to stay and watch me do that. So that trick didn't work. I saw her look at my creative cards on the table and asked her if she liked crafts, and her eyes lit up affirmatively.

She perused the tablets of paper used to make flowers and finally settled on polka dots and gingham prints in bright blue, purple and yellow. She chose her paper punches and began to punch out flowers. She had decided to make tags instead of note cards, rationalizing that a fourth-grader doesn't generally write a lot of notes, and the gift tags could be used on birthday presents to her friends.

I assisted when necessary, but she had a definite sense of color and style. She was deep in concentration when it finally came time for me to run an errand, so I helped her carefully box up her creations, and she contentedly skipped away. I could see how proud she was of her new treasures.

Some of life's best treasures are right under our noses. These include sharing unexpected moments with neighborhood children, helping out friends, holding newborn babies, cooking a meal for someone who is sick or just spending time with those who cross our path in life. These are the simple treasures of my life.

Since I am on the quest for good health and hoping to lose a few pounds along the way, I am preparing lighter dishes for our evening meals. Scallops are pure protein and easy to prepare. Simply purchase them frozen and thaw before cooking.

Adding a side of spinach or vegetables completes the meal. I have enjoyed eating spinach from my garden, and it seems to be more flavorful than the grocery store. This is probably only my imagination. An added treat is a salad of fresh greens with Campari tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt and a dollop of vinaigrette. I'm feeling more healthy already.

Scallops are a popular type of shellfish in Eastern and Western cooking. They have two types of meat in one shell: the adductor muscle, called the scallop, which is white and meaty and the roe, called "coral," which is red or white and soft.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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