Thursday, June 25, 2009

Radish Pickles

We have had an abundance of sunshine this past month. Really, it's been unreal. Everyone feels really luck to live up here when the weather is so spectacular (everyone is the opposite with it rains for weeks straight). As a result of 14+ hours of sunshine per day, my garden exploded, bolted, flourished. Especially my teeny radish plot. I got home after a work trip and little red, white, and purple tops were peeking out from the soil. How exciting.
Since this gardening thing is relatively new to me, I want to use everything I pick but I don't really know how. I also really like the idea of putting food up for the winter. Radish greens are delicious and used as any other green. Done. After salads what do you do with the radishes themselves? Also, what if you have several pounds ripe all at once? My idea was pickles. I hope they are a little spicy-sweet topping for fish. Yet another condiment to line my already bursting refrigerator door.

I picked all the ripe radishes (my icicle variety wasn't quite ready yet), washed them, sliced them, and pickled away. As I scientist I am inherently a nerd, and since this is a grand experiment in pickling I chose two slicing methods and two pickling methods and crossed them.

Slicing: I quartered half of the radishes and sliced the other half really thinly. Pickling: I used a Japanese-style Kombu, sugar and rice vinegar and a traditional quick pickle style. At the end of this, I'll at least know what works or what doesn't. And if I even like pickled radishes.
The quartered radishes are packed in their jars. The kombu pickles are on the furthest left and the quick-pickled are the next.
This is the spice mix that is placed in the jar prior to packing in veggies and pouring acidic liquid over the mixture. This one has cumin, coriander, black mustard, garlic, allspice, and salt. I poured a 50-50 mix of white vinegar and water over these. The kombu pickles have a mix of rice vinegar, water and sugar over the radishes with a slice of kombu over the top.

They turned our a jewel-like pink. Pretty

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

smashy

Mom, don't read this post. I'm serious.

Southeast Alaska has a slug problem. We have our adorable native slugs that are big and yellow and spotty. I can take those slugs, they belong here. What I can't take are the incredibly vile invasive european vegetable eating monsters. I get irrational upset when something is after my food. Last friday, after working in the field for 10 days I went on a binge. I picked up the slugs that were after my rhubarb and smashed them with a rock. I had a flat rock all picked out, well away from any veggies. Everyone knows that dead, smashed slugs only attract more dead slugs. Behold:

Smashy! I felt very good after this.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fubar

This is me standing next to Fubar creek on Prince of Wales (POW). This stream reach was destabilized by logging the banks and riparian area in the 60s (I think). It was pretty Fubar'd. It was restored. I loved that there was talk of the Fubar restoration or the Fubar in stream work. Fubar Fubar Fubar.

They tried to name a soil Fubar back when they were heavy into mapping here. The big wigs in Lincoln thought it was too crass. Prudes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fish, crab and excavators

I went to Prince of Wales again. This time it was to watch excavators whack the holy moley out of old growth timber for stream restoration. It's pretty tough getting really upset over the incredible site disturbance when there is something as cool as an excavator knocking over a tree.

In my one day off, my friend Scott (hi, Scott) took me out fishing. We (he) caught a halibut and we caught 6 crabs, 3 of which were legal. It's been a few years since I've had fresh Dunginess Crab. They were simply boiled and consumed with lots of garlic butter. (sigh)
Look at those cranky li'l things!
Here's me with a crab. Scott was making some crack or another. We were goofy silly after having found a treasure trove of Milwaukee's Best Ice at a cabin. (No, we sobered up before boating--SAFETY but still had the giddiness of finding free beers somewhere even if those beers were Milwaukee's Best Ice.)
That's Scott. He's giving me the you-are-a-nutter look that everyone seems to give me.

In between Halibut fishing and crabbing, we visited a new cabin on a nearby island. It was really beautiful there. The tide was out and so we saw a few little crabs and starfish. The purple ones are my very favorite.
That is such a casual pose. Like she's reclining on here sunnin' rock. After we looked at the marine life we sat on some driftwood and watched the world go by. The world here was a lone little bastard of a mink that made a play for the halibut that was cooling off the side of the boat. That little so and so. I wasn't having it so I took off after the little bugger, somewhat buzzed from Milwaukee's Best. Ole minkey was pretty persistent and I had to chase him more than once. Scott took a couple of pictures of me chasing a 2 pound critter.
That's me chasing a ferret-sized furry thing. I was lucky I didn't take my teeth out on one of the logs.

It was fun. I think we're going to start a blog about the restoration work that is going on up here. The new administration is really open to the social networking thing and twitter. It's an interesting move in bureaucrat-land.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Greek Gods Yogurt

This is the best yogurt in the world. Seriously fatty, thick and delicious--like 10% milk fat. Try the pomegranate flavor (also called Apollo). You will not be disappointed. It comes in low or nonfat varieties for those who don't need 230 calories of creamy perfection at 2:30 pm.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Claudes: Bad facial hair and sores edition

So My Brother noted that I haven't written about any crap movies lately. I've seen plenty of them, but they were just bad not hilariously bad. (Like junk-food heating zombie Chinese demons bad). I rented one from Seamart last night (sorry, Bro, Next of Kin wasn't there).

Instead we watched this:
My Defense:
  • It was about Quebec and I didn't know much about Quebec but thought I should see an overblown epic about the place. Also, it was called Nouvelle France and France is pretty cool.
  • I don't know much about my fair neighbors to the east (Canada). Figuring they have seen some American schlock epics like The Patriot and Pearl Harbor, I could do them a solid and watch this.
  • I hoped they would speak in French (or Quebecois) so I could activate my French synapses that have been ritualistically killed by Bureaucratspeak.
  • War!
I admit that this is a very, very poor defense. Also, this movie is terribly long and the credits roll through a Celine Dion earbleeder.

Well, lets get to it!

We open on the old man in bed confessing to young woman about a misspent life.

We cut to a bearded hairy guy pulling a sled full of fur (I am assuming fur since it wasn't ever discussed) along with a group of Quebec-area First Nations People. They arrive in town and conduct their business. Bearded fur guy, Francois, finds out his land-stealing, soulless slug of a father is dead and now he is in charge of a vast estate comprised entirely of poor people's possessions 'n land. Wandering out onto the street he watches the following scene:

A bunch of tricorned popinjays are chasing a young buckskinned First Nations lady. A fierce street peddler of herbs, love potions, and wisdom fight off the stockinged attackers in defense of the lady. This attracts the attention of this local powdered wig, Vigot (really le Bigot but didn't catch it...played by Vincent Perez he of the Indochine fame and the reason I watched that video at least 35 times per year in high school). Vigot decides he likes this herb merchant defender of the downtrodden and wants her. He puts his mistress on it. This also attracts Francois the virtuous and recently un-bearded, and his friend the treacherous Maya (really Maillard because my french is apparently terrible). Maya has the ultra sexy look of peachfuzz flavor saver and mutton chops.

Our fighting lady has a name, Mary Loup, and a daughter, France. The daughter is around to provide reaction shots and precocious wisdom. They talk about love, the fact that the priest is teaching young France to read because Mary Loup can't, and being poor. Mistress Strange conducts some business with Mary that makes Mary visit her at some chateau (ulterior motive foreshadowing!)

The priest is a patient/friend/letch played by none other than Gerard Depardieu. We meet him first through his West Indian slave who "Touches him to keep the impure thoughts at bay." Mary Loup is an herbalist and colonial naturopath who has been treating the priest for a bout of what I'll call face herpes. It's a super attractive affliction. A coven of black-shrouded rosary-shrews watch Mary Loup with disdain. They delight in being better than her.

Let's sum some things up so far: Folks in town think dear old Mary Loup is a witch. A governor wants Francois to go to Paris to talk about the plight of the Canadians and how France should defend them from the British. There is currently a war between the French and British in Canada. (Tim Roth and Colm Meaney play talky-talky British be-wigged lords so we know that's going on). Maya and Francois wax philosophic about peasants and even if they're hot (like Mary Loup) they are lamers. The french army steals pigs from a peasant. Mary Loup's dad is kind of an asshole and she tells him off. Mistress Strange gave Mary a fancygown to wear to a ball so she can be wrapped like a present for Vincent Perez to rape. Francois (who is pure as the Canadian-driven snow) tries to warn Mary but she ignores him. Catholicism!

Mary Loup arrives at the ball all fancied up. Maya flavor fuzz stares at her and Francois says something about hawt peasants. Mistress Strange spells out what's in store for Mary and warns her, "not to fight with teeth or nails because then Vincent Perez will have them torn out." You guys? That guy is such a catch. Popinjay guards stop Mary from leaving. Francois performs a trick with a spoon and distracts everyone enough for Mary to hide in the Basement. Francois meets her there and they rub faces in that weird slo-mo way that = passion.

They are in luv. Francois brings young France a doll (this is important later). Something happens offscreen and suddenly Francois is not a favored son and he has to leave. He sends a letter to the illiterate Mary Loup, planning their escape. She has the lecher priest read it to her and he lies! Cookbook doublecross of the two lovers. Francois leaves. Mary is sad.

Now were in France! (now I don't need to see a guy on a boat to know he's traveling but it feels like oh, the next day Mr Francois has crossed the Atlantic. Jarring.) Francois is talking to Voltaire (I know) about Canada. He schools Voltaire with Voltaire's only words. Francois is a Parisian-educated Poly Sci major who could only find work in the plentiful furs of Canada.

Then there is a war thing that kills a friend of Mary Loup's. A cannon maybe?

Then Francois is talking to powdered french lady folks about how awesome Canada is and it beats the West Indies. He then realizes he needs to get home to his loved ones. France gave Canada up but the folks can still be Catholic, sez priest facial sore. Poverty abounds, except for where it is depicted in film.

Mary has forgotten Francois (yup) and is dancing in a circle around a table of rustic food to lute music. Maya, who is now a disgraced former french soldier serving for the British, wants to marry Mary. She says ok. Her dad says no but then Maya brings up some awfully convenient black mail about daddy-o's activities that were never even mentioned before this point. Continuity! The two are married by priest sad.

They don't actually consummate their marriage in one of the most ridiculous scenes ever. First, Maya and Mary meet in a barn in their colonial nightshirts. They try to swallow each other's faces for awhile before moving on to slo-mo face rubbing. Young France hauls out her doll and voodoos it in the heart with a pin. Francois wakes up and is transported to the scene of Mary and Maya. At some point Francois replaces Maya. Then Mary starts crying and pushes Maya away. Francois packs some clothes. Young France, satisfied, puts the little pin away.

Maya drinks too much and abuses Mary. He sells a pig at one point. (This movie avoids entire wars in order to save time for the all-important pig selling discussions.)

Francois and Mary Loup are reunited in a very painful 6-minute scene of walking toward each other. They rub faces and we fade out...to Mary storming into church to yell at the priest. She is mad because he used his book-larnin for evil. Poor Gerard, earning a paycheck. Francois and Mary plan to leave and take little France with them. A servant overhears Mary and France plan their escape and tattles. Maya and a unnamed friend, who takes it in the gut with knife, attack Francois. Francois gets trapped in a bear/wolf trap and Maya beats the holy hell out of him with a stick.

Mary and little France return home, sad. Maya returns as well washing his battered face in a barrel. Mary pulls an arrow on him and tries to shoo him off. Maya, with as much menace as his facial hair will allow, threatens to return. Next thing we know he's dead in the barn under mysterious circumstances. Daddy-o and Mary are hauled off to court, right after Mary ships France off to live with some nuns.

But wait! Let's show an eagle soaring as an intro to Francois being nursed back to health by some First Nations folks! (Ok, movie sound guy you win this because you had an actual Bald Eagle sound foley-d over a Bald Eagle good on you.)

The court trial is a total ripoff of the Crucible, complete with fake seizures and all. Mary = Guilty of killing Maya (or is she). Francois, fresh from the bush, tries to convince a lord (?) that he killed Maya, not Mary. He gets sent to prison, but he gets to spend 3 minutes with Mary.

They spend their 3 minutes staring longingly at one another from across the cell. I hate that about movies. Their 3 minutes should translate to 3 minutes on the display of my DVD. We next see Mary with "mental patient" hair. They stick her in some sort of cage and haul her through town to the gallows. They hang her. sob!

Back to old man and woman from the start. It's the priest and a now grown-up France. She confesses to killing Maya with an axe because he was totally going to rape her. Priest paul harveys about this.

We then see the grown up France with Francois. She says "papa" so we know they are family now? I don't know, this movie was really long. Then Celine began wailing. I find it strange that a movie that describes itself on the box as a story about the independence of Quebec, battles between Britain and France, and citizen uprising could not show any of it.

This pretty much sums it up.

Jealous

I am completely, totally jealous of all the lucky skunks who got to go out fishing this week. The later-than-usual King run is here and they are thick.

The motor for our skiff is old and unreliable. The 15 hp dinky doo Evinrude has been around since the mid-80's (it was tDF's grandfather's motor for a skiff they kept in Catalina). There's only so many times you can fix an engine with a hammer and carb cleaner before you have to Let It Go. Our bigger glassply (named S'crappy because it really is) needs some parts to get it going. We have a motor, trailer and hull. Now all we need are all the things that connect them all. Do you know where I can purchase a wiring harness for a 1998 Johnson/Evinrude 115 hp 2-stroke? Yeah. me neither.

In short we don't have fish because our boats are in parts in our tacky-ass yard. Also, we are really bad about going up to people and asking to go with them. I feel really ackward about that. (Is it polite to invite yourself along? If you offer to buy lunch/gas is is better? Thinking about this gurgles up all the Bad Memories from childhood/growing up where I was the third wheel. No likey.)

But I want some fish.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Peaches

This is Peaches. She is really cute but not very smart. Tho she isn't is a dumb as my Dad's dachshund who will chase a laser (like a cat. I can make him spin in circles until he is dizzy). Peaches likes to fetch rocks. We like to throw small pieces of wood down our driveway to get her to do endos. (Fetching rocks is bad for her teeth so I don't throw them for her). My Brother especially loves this.


Peaches, originally uploaded by Chez Foss.

This entire post is for you, Brother.

the Dirty Fisherman always calls her Peaches O'Houlihan.

Once she came into our house, crawled up on our bed and went to sleep. This was after a pretty long work trip for me, so I wondered what my husband had been up to.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Salmon in parchment

The last salmon in the freezer is bittersweet--no more salmon for easy cooking = sad. Getting ready to go get more and have the option for fresh salmon = terrific. The last two fillets of our trout-sized Necker Bay Sockeye became a delightful salmon in parchment, thanks to reading about other fish-in-parchment fun at Choosy Beggars.

Necker Bay is a long, well, Bay about 25 miles south of Town, in the South Baranof Wilderness. Our normal run for Sockeye, Redoubt, had low returns last year so we needed to go further south. We went for an overnight camping trip with our friends Jim and Fancy and their 3 dogs. I'm glad I don't have 3 dogs. We scooped about a dozen wriggling fish out of the stream before a bear pushed us off our spot. We picked the longline and went home, in a nasty windstorm.
Look at us, keeping the dogs away from the fried Chicken.

These particular salmon are kind of a gross pain-in-the-ass. They are really small and they are coated with slug-like goo. Dear Dirty Fisherman calls them slime eels, because he knows that imagery grosses me out. Really, it's accurate:

That is un-rinsed, goopy, glory right there. I must always have a beer while I do this because it turns my stomach. You actually have to scrape that snot off with a knife/fingernails.

Enough about that. This recipe exploits one of the most amazing combination for salmon: lemon, capers, parsley, and butter. (I threw in garlic and shallots in because everything is better with garlic and shallots.)

You clean the salmon, coarsely chop the capers and parsley; mince the garlic; and slice the shallot and lemons.

The lemon wasn't as thin as I usually go, but it was serviceable.

You then tear off a really, really log piece of parchment. It should be long enough to hold the fish long ways. These fillets are really narrow so the width of parchment is more than enough to wrap around. Lay the parchment on a cookie sheet (I like a rimmed one to minimize burnt-on fish juice ick in the oven). Place the first fillet, skin side down on the parchment.

Dot the fillet with a generous 1 T butter. Sprinkle about half of the garlic, capers, and parsley over the fish.


That is probably more than 1T of butter. Oh well.
Add shallots.

Add lemons (yes, the slicing was uneven. I blame the beer.)

Sprinkle with the rest of the garlic, shallot, parsley, and capers

Finally place the second fillet over the top of this mess

You can spot the offending beer in the background.

Pack up the salmon in the parchment. Fold the end over long ways, begin folding around the edges at the base and work around until you have an ellipse.

Throw it in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes and...

Taa-da. Sockeye is such a fatty fish.

I'm pretty sure I wrote about salmon in parchment before. It was a pretty similar recipe, in fact. Since we have 5 species of salmon to dork around with, I wanted to try this out with Sockeye. I guess this is just my way of leaving winter, and last year's fish, behind as spring is for sure in the air. Just this morning I watched the 30-50 trollers out at the Edgecumbe grounds fishing for Kings.

I wish our boat was working because it's greasy calm and sunny.

Monday, June 1, 2009

My kitchen: a love story

I spent my first weekend with a totally kitted out kitchen. It's been nearly 4 years since I've seen all of my ("our") cooking-related junk. I have spent so much time cooking that I haven't even managed to clean it, hence the lack of fotos.

I also have foody type stuff to talk about. I cooked the last of last year's salmon (some lovely necker bay sockeye that tDF calls slime eel). We made a whole rack of ribs over an actual fire. I used our blender like 3 whole times. I also made my very favorite cherry galette (It's a Martha Stewart Magazine recipe that is too perfect to corrupt with my "improvements.")

But first the place that makes my world go-round. My kitchen.

Building a house is a series of compromises and make-dos. We refer to this as turd polishing. Most of the materials that finished out our apartment were something else entirely. Or just garbage. The fantastic trim around our windows came from a WWII era building that was demolished by a landslide. Our floor was salvaged out of a house that was being torn down to make way for another glorious Sitka Mansion. The list goes on.


There, you can see the fir trim, the salvaged floor. The door was constructed out of some Sitka Spruce slabs we bought off of some guy. That is one shiny turd.

Our kitchen cabinet doors were purchased at a yard sale for a song. (We tried to buy door from our local home store but the quote was $0.50 per square inch. After we stopped laughing we left because oh my holy pants was that too much money.) At a spending orgy in Juneau we found a really nice cabinet maker that was willing to sell us some cherry boards for cost. We picked up the plywood for the carcasses at the same spending trip. Our counters are also a home depot purchase. The sink is from a garage sale. It's used but nobody can notice (you better not if you ever come visit and see our sink). That faucet that I love cost almost as much as the cherry for all the cabinets. The hinges are from Ikea. The brass hardware is from a habitat for humanity restore.

Moral of the story is that there is a lot of stuff that goes into the kitchen. I won't even talk about all the speshul screws needed, or the half moon lazy susan slidey thing, or the drawer glides. The list goes on and on. I have to give all the props to my amazing husband who took a cluster of materials and made a custom kitchen to my specifications. This guy is one amazing human.

the "before" shot


after, with a stove way nicer than I have any business of having.


other side (forgive the blurriness, I was jittery with joy)


It only took a year.