Lemon Garlic Beer Butter Cod
You have to jump, sometimes.
When I was in high school I was a lifeguard on a lake in Northern California for a summer doing a steady rotation of pool watch, lake watch, and zip-line duty. The last of which was my least favorite. I was there for the water, not to stand on a platform in the top of a Redwood tree, hooking pre-pubescent campers and their just-slightly-older-than-me counselors up to harnesses and watch them careen towards the lake below.
Occasionally there would be a kid, always a boy, always with a group of other kids who talked him into climbing up the rope ladder to get to the platform, who would freeze. He’d stand there in his harness, shivering in the shade with his still-wet swim trunks clinging to his body, his harness double bolted to the cable, unable to jump. I was always able to get him to let go, to trust, and to jump. Except once.
He wasn’t a camper, he was a tall, very attractive, early-20’s counselor with thick wavy black hair and an ego to match. He was showing off as he climbed to the small wooden space at the top of the tree to stand beside me as I clipped him safely to the cable that would bring him to the sun-warmed lake below. As I finished he turned towards to opening of the wooden tree-house like structure we stood in, and froze. He took a step back, his eyes wide, and muttered, “…I can’t….I can’t”
At first, I tried to calm his fears. Tell him how safe it was, how every kid had gone down safely and there has never been an injury in the history of the camp. It didn’t work. I tried to tease him, letting him know that the 70-pound 12-year-old girl in line behind him had been down three times. It didn’t work. I asked why he was hesitant, he wasn’t sure.
After 20 minutes or prodding, I told him he had to get down, one way or another. That he had to jump off the platform or go back down the rope ladder. He moved closer to the edge, slowly putting one foot over the 30-foot drop, then he slipped. In one motion he was free of the platform and then both of this long arms reaching backward grabbed the railing and pulled himself back towards me on the platform. He couldn’t do it. He scrambled back up next to me, begging me to unhook him. Shaking. He slowly, shamefully, made his way down the rope ladder, past the 12-year-old girl with pity in her eyes.
Sometimes, I think of him. When I’m too scared to move forward with something I feel ill-equipped to manage. How do I do this thing? Where do I start with the thing? What if I can’t do the thing?
Just jump, I think to myself. Don’t be that guy, don’t stay on the platform. I remember thinking, as he made his way down the ladder, that he would regret it. He would wish he’d have jumped and wonder what he was so afraid of. So I tell myself to jump because I have nothing to be afraid of and I’ll regret it if I don’t just do it.
I’m jumping into making videos for some of my recipes. It may sound benign, but it’s a learning process. I’ve spent the past year trying to talk myself into jumping into figuring it out, and it’s daunting. It’s a process. Learning a little at a time, something new for each one, something I hate and will change the next time. But, you can’t stay on the platform forever, you just have to jump. Learning a little each time.
- 4 cod fillets
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup beer (wheat beer, summer ale, lower hop pilsner)
- 2 cups (285g) cherry tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs (such as basil, rosemary, or oregano)
- Pasta, couscous, rice or other grain for serving (optional)
- Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet.
- Sprinkle the cod fillets with salt and pepper.
- Sear cod on each side, cooking until just cooked through (do not over cook, cod should still be slightly translucent in the center).
- Remove the cod from the pan. Add the tomatoes, cooking over high heat until blistered and soft.
- Add the garlic, stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the lemon juice and beer. Cook over medium high heat, breaking up and smashing the tomatoes. Cook until reduced and thickened.
- Stir in the herbs and additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Plate the cod with the tomato sauce.