Mother’s Day & Grilled Striped Bass w/ Maitake Recipe

If you’ve ever read ‘The Giving Tree’, you know what it’s like to be a mom.  It wasn’t until this past Mother’s Day that the story of the selfless, sacrificing tree finally resonated with me.  I’m not a martyr or Mother of the Year, but I feel that I am doing my best.  I try to balance the fun activities with the discipline of keeping up with the homework.  Make dinner time a priority, try to nurture, be a friend, and a conscious parent.  No TV, no video games–at least during the week.  And for this I got a coaster and a card that read, ‘I love my mommy because she drives me places.’  Really?  

May 14, 2006: Happy Mother's Day 
photo via matt mcgee

I am not programmed to see a baby and start cooing.  And even after raising an almost 7-year old boy, I still hesitate when a friend hands me their baby.  Kids are very intuitive, so it occurred to me that my son just wasn’t buying the mom act I thought I was playing so well.  I worried about this for a minute, but had to get back to my job of driving Ethan to karate, then to brunch at dim sum (thats where he wanted to ‘take’ me), then to the art supply store and finally working with him for the rest of the day on a school project that was due the next day.  Of course, we had two weeks to work on the project, but because of the move, we just didn’t have the room to spread out and work on it, so it wound up being our Mother’s Day project.  And Ethan complained almost the entire time.  Why couldn’t I just do it for him?  Why did he have to do so much and try so hard?   Why couldn’t we go to our neighbor’s house and make cookies with them?  

And with Ethan’s seemingly benign Mother’s Day sentiment,  I was thrown into a tailspin of self-doubt.  Am I over indulgent?  Should he be more independent?  At what point does he need to fend for himself?  Was his take-away from our favorite book that I will always be around to do everything for him and for him to expect it?  

I was at a child rearing crossroads.  I knew I wasn’t going to figure out the answer any time soon, so I went back to trying to help Ethan with his school project.  His assignment was to create a game that included rules and a winner.  He decided to create a game that involved saving endangered animals.   So in order to save the animals, we had to learn why they are endangered.  We learned about fishing trawlers and how they endangered marine life, how pollution (mainly emissions from coal-powered plants) is a leading cause of mercury in the fish that we eat, that in turn is a cause of learning disabilities and memory loss in developing children.  The benefits of the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in fish that help promote brain development in children is counteracted by the mercury, found in the same fish!

By eating farmed fish, your chances of mercury are lessened (unless the fish is fed smaller wild fish, such as salmon–note to self, DO NOT PURCHASE FARMED SALMON).  Greenpeace  tracks supermarket chains and the sale of sustainable fish.  You can learn about the fish your supermarket sells at the  Greenpeace website.   

I usually purchase seafood at my farmer’s market or local fish market (Santa Monica Sea Food) and never without first consulting my iphone Seafood Watch app.   The Seafood Watch recommended both the wild and farmed striped bass/white bass hybrid as a BEST CHOICE.  Since wild striped bass is an Atlantic fish, I chose the California farmed hybrid striped/white bass.  But the farmed salmon is a big red AVOID.   

Why is that?  Both salmon and striped bass flourish in similar environments in the wild, but when farmed, salmon requires three pounds of wild fish to grow one pound of salmon (non-sustainable, and increases the likelihood of mercury); whereas, the hybrid striped bass can be trained to eat meal pellets made of insects.  Most salmon is farmed in open pens in coastal waters, with the waste released directly into the ocean.  The bass can be farmed in enclosed ponds and tanks, with waste disposal courtesy of nature (other fish).  Basically, how these fish are raised accounts for how healthy they are for people and the environment.

And an analogy when applied to children, actually.   Kids depend on us to unconditionally provide them with shelter, food and a healthy environment.  But they also can’t be confined.  They can grow only as much as their space allows.   And in order for them to grow, we need to let them make choices.  Even the bad ones.  I have to hold myself back from fixing things right away and let Ethan marinate in the consequences of his decisions.  After a lot of trial and error and re-do’s, we finally finished the project at 11pm on Mother’s Day.  But he did it himself–the research and the writing (including the typing, arranging and pasting).  Then, with his eyes nearly shut from being so tired, an unsolicited hug. “I love you so much mommy.  You help me make my dreams come true.”  Really.

Grilled Striped Bass w/Maitake

  • 2 pound whole striped bass (deboned)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 6 Scallions (chopped in 3 inch long strips)
  • 1 medium sized Maitake Mushroom ('petals' divided)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Juice of one Lemon


  • Drizzle the fish on both sides with olive oil and salt
  • Place garlic and rosemary inside the fish
  • Drizzle scallions and mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper) and place in a foil wrap.
  • Grill the fish over medium heat for 15 minutes on each side (I have a BBQ sheet I put over the grill that I use to keep fish pieces from falling into the grill).
  • Place the foil pack of maitakes and scallions on the grill after the first fish turn-over.
  • After the fish is cooked, juice the lemon on the fish.

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