Tracy K. Lorenz / Outside Chance

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Second Bananas

If you’re on Facebook at all you’ll see items on your feed that make very definitive statements. “The Five Greatest Beatles Songs of All Time,” “The Twenty Greatest Bass Players in History,” “Twelve Actresses Who Have Aged Well,” etc. The thing is, these weren’t voted on by anyone, there’s no consensus, it’s just some dork sitting at his kitchen table putting together declarative sentences in an attempt to garner clicks on his website.
The one thing all these lists have in common is they’re always way wrong. Whether they’re doing it for argument’s sake or just to stir some emotion is unclear, what is clear is they don’t know what they’re talking about. “Tool” is not the greatest rock band of all time and Goldie Hawn hasn’t aged well at all.

So I’ve decided to enter the foray by giving you the rock solid list of TV show second (or fourth) bananas whose show would have been cancelled in the first season had they not been on.

Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory: I read where the cast gets paid a million dollars per episode. They should all take $750,000 of that and hand it straight to Sheldon. Is anyone else on the show even funny? If they are it’s because they’re playing off Sheldon. Penny and Leonard aren’t even forced-smile funny, Howard is annoying at best, Raj might as well not even be there and the other girls are worthless when it comes to comedic chops. Without Sheldon the show never sees season two.

Barney Fife, The Andy Griffith Show:  Without Barney the only reason to watch the show would be to see if Aunt Bea’s dentures would fly out or if Andy’s pant leg would get hung up on his half-boots.  When Barney left the show tanked, they tried a number of second fiddles (Goober, Gomer, Howard Sprague) and each one was worse than the one before. Barney was The Andy Griffith Show, even Otis knew that. 

Kramer, Seinfeld: Ya know

how ya know Seinfeld would never have made it to season two? Because they tried it for a season and the show got cancelled. The Seinfeld Chronicles was the original version of Seinfeld and Kramer had a very small part, he played a guy who hadn’t left the building in ten years. They redid the show with the exact same cast, gave Kramer a larger role, renamed the show Seinfeld, and the rest, as they say, was real and spectacular.

Jan, The Brady Bunch:  Just kidding.

Cliff Claven, Cheers:  Seriously, was anyone else funny on that show? “Norm” had his moments but most of those were when he was playing off Cliff.  Take Cliff away and the show isn’t even a footnote.

Fred Mertz’s Pants, I love Lucy: I used to watch reruns of that show just to see how high Fred’s pants could get and still be considered pants.  He’d hike those babies up to his armpits and I’d stare in awe. In my opinion Lucile Ball wasn’t funny, not even a little, not even once, so it was Fred’s pants that saved the day.

Frank Burns, M*A*S*H: Another no-doubter. When Frank left, the show had nothing to run on except the legacy of how good the show was when Frank was on (See: Saturday Night Live).  M*A*S*H caught magic in a bottle, Frank left and they had warm beer in a can.

Printed by permission of the author. Email him at Lorenzatlarge@aol.com. Get Tracy’s latest book at BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com, or  download it from www.fastpencil.com.
Only $3.99, cheap.

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Cooking fish caught on just a few lures

As much as I enjoy catching fish, I also enjoy eating fish. Bluegill and crappies are my favorite to eat, followed by walleye.

Dog days of summer can be an easy time to load up on panfish. Only a few lures are used this time of the season on panfish. The Whip R Snap mini plastic action tail, the Hot Leg rubber spiders from Stopper Lures and the Charlie Brewer 1 inch and 2 inch grubs are go-to baits. Walleye are caught on the walleye crawler spinner rigs. Search out bottom hugging fish at the level of the thermocline or look for suspended fish.

Now to the cooking of the tasty fish. Pan frying or sautéing fish are my favorites. To me, the difference between pan fry and deep fry is the amount of oil.
Lightly coat the bottom of the frying pan with oil. The secret is just enough oil to skim the bottom. Some use Crisco, others peanut oil or olive oil. Deep frying means submerging the fish.

Breading is a taste choice. You can pick from a very delicate batter such as a Drakes or a pancake mix to something with a real kick from it like the Skeeters Batter Up Cajon, Andy’s or Louisiana spicy mixes. If you want crunch add some bread crumbs. My favorite would be Italian bread crumbs or Panko Japanese bread crumbs.

Now if you want something real good, try crushing up some Nabisco cheese crackers. Take a rolling pin and flatten them into a very fine dusting. The same can be done with saltine crackers.

For a thin breading, mix the flour breading with an equal part of bread crumbs or cracker crumbs. Then roll the fish into the mixture. For a slightly heavier breading dip the fillets into the flour mix, then dip into an egg/milk wash and then into the crumb mixture. This gives a nice crunch to the fish and yet is very light. This is perhaps our favorite way.

If you like a heavy batter, then take your flour and crumb mixture, add water or beer until the thickness is similar to a pancake mix, dip fillets and drop into a deep frying.  This is perhaps my least favorite method but for some it’s their favorite.

Baking fish in the oven is another favorite method. Two advantages of baking fish are: no fish smell in the house and you can cook a larger number of fillets at one time. We often use the same two earlier batter methods and we lightly skim the cookie sheet with oil or a spray on so that the fish don’t stick. For a cheesier taste you can sprinkle on shredded cheese over the fillets.

Late summer and into fall I enjoy grilling fish. We use fresh veggies such as zucchini, green beans, asparagus, sliced tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, sliced sweet potatoes or red potatoes. We use tinfoil boats with the  potatoes on the bottom, then the fish fillets followed by veggies. Drizzle some water, lemon juice or olive oil.

Some type of liquid will keep the fillets moist and you are steaming/grilling at the same time. The tinfoil boats can be tailored to each person eating.
Fresh sweet corn can be sliced off of the cob and used in the tinfoil boats or cooked individually.

I love an ear of sweet corn with the fish. We peel back the husk carefully, lightly butter and season with Lawrys seasoned salt and pepper and then pull the husks back up. You can wrap up the corn husks with a string. Or you can wrap the husked corn inside a piece of tinfoil. Wrapped up in the husks will turn out a slightly crispy sweet ear of corn. A husked ear of corn wrapped up in tinfoil will have less grill marks.

Fresh fish is tough to beat - frozen fish a close second if handled properly. Two methods we use to freeze them provide great freezer fish. Either use a vac pac removing all of the air, or place the filets into a plastic container and cover with water. Either methods removes the air that can produce freezer burns.

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