I knew when I had a baby two days before Mother’s Day that I’d have to forfeit that particular Hallmark holiday.

Which is what happened Sunday. While most mothers were sleeping in and enjoying breakfast in bed, our family got up at 4 a.m. and headed to the Chesapeake Bay.

The little boy wanted to go fishing for his 15th birthday. So we spent six hours on the bay, trolling for striped bass (“rockfish” in Maryland-ese).

We caught 10 gorgeous fish. Unfortunately, weight mandates meant we had to throw them back.

The original plan called for a dinner of freshly caught fish. Instead, we got home, showered and headed to our neighborhood Harris Teeter, where we bought …


Exhausted from the long day, the last thing I wanted to do was slave over a hot stove. Thankfully, rockfish fillets are thin enough to require the merest sear in a hot pan. After tossing a quick salad, steaming some rice and marinating the fish in herbs and lemon zest, dinner was on the table in about 30 minutes.

Which meant I had all evening to celebrate my son. (And open a few Mother’s Day cards before bed.)


Happy Mother’s/Birth Day Rockfish Fillets

  • 4 rockfish fillets
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Zest of 1 lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (again, I used Meyer lemons)

Pat the rockfish fillets dry, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Tear the thyme leaves off their stems and sprinkle the leaves on the fish, along with the lemon zest. Let the fillets sit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the butter in a large saute pan, set over high heat. When the butter has melted, add the rockfish fillets, skin-side down. Cook for 4 minutes.

Carefully turn the fillets over and cook 2 additional minutes.

Remove the fish to a plate, skin-side down.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the mixture with salt and pepper,then taste it. If it’s too lemony for you, add a bit more olive oil.

Spoon the sauce on top of the hot fish. Serve immediately. (Singing “Happy Birthday” is optional.)