|This photo of my daughter fishing reminds me of a Seurat painting!|
I was in my office around 9PM Friday, working on a Cissy trunk set I'm close to listing, when my mother called and announced she and my dad would be arriving in the morning to stay. Now, last week we had at least one event every single day or night between swim team and marching band. Add to that my own work in my store and the garden, and our house was certainly not guest-ready! I had just been thinking about how much cleaning I needed to do over the weekend when my mother called. So we got up and scrambled Saturday to clean the house. My mother said the house looks wonderful, though; rare praise indeed!
My parents, it turned out, seem to have scheduled this visit because I'd posted photos of the kids fishing on my Facebook page. My dad loves to fish, and they came right down. Upon noting the state of our rods, all hand-me-downs from my sister, he took himself to the store to provision us in a more proper fashion. I will say, we had a reel with a broken handle and I lost a fish last week because I couldn't get the line in fast enough. We usually fish with little strips of foil, because we go in the day and the foil flashes and looks like minnows, but Dad had a low opinion of that and bought us glow-in-the-dark nightcrawlers from the nuclear power plant. They do work well for night fishing!
|Smoked Bass and Steelhead Trout|
I think I need fish, too; the first two weeks of this vegetable and whey protein diet made me gain weight. That's usually a sign I've dieted myself into a vitamin deficiency, so I added fish and fortified yogurt (unsweetened) back in and now I'm losing weight again. Here's our recipe for smoking fish:
|Our barrel smoker, with the lid off.|
|Coals and soaked wood chips make the smoke.|
Add water to the water pan in the smoker. You may add herbs or citrus juice or peels to this as well. We added lime juice. Place your fish on the racks above the water pan. You can use foil to cover the racks and make them easier to clean later. Cover with the lid and close the little door. Smoke the fish until it flakes easily, about 2 hours for 2 pounds of fish fillets. Delish! The smoker is small enough that we've taken it camping before. One time we smoked pork ribs all day while we were out on Kerr Lake and they were fantastic. We had someone at the camp site to keep on eye on the smoker all day; we just took turns watching it while others went out in our friends' boat.
|Water and seasoning goes in the water pan and the fish goes on the racks above.|
Besides fish from the lake, we've been gathering other bounty and growing our own. It has been raining now every day since June 21st, so the garden has been challenged. The squash, peppers, and eggplant have been quite unhappy. Our potatoes did well, however. I dug up another big bucket of spuds last night. The plants died back so I went ahead and pulled them. I planted any tiny ones to grow new plants. Because we've had so many home-grown potatoes I had some store-bought ones that got old and started rooting in the cupboard. This is a great money-saver in the summer months. I just dig out any eyes that are rooting before I cook the potatoes and plant them as starts. You can also do this with sweet potatoes. I planted the sweet potato peels two or three weeks ago and they are growing into nice little plants now. The first crop of tomatoes is nearly as tall as I am now. I put in a second tomato crop last week so as to extend our harvest. We have a lot of tomatoes, though it's taking everything longer than usual to ripen.
|This potato has eyes ready to grow in the garden.|
|Sweet potato plants grown from eyes planted a few weeks ago.|
This is also the filling for my favorite Italian panini: Pomodoro e Mozzarella! Just spread butter, olive oil, or cream cheese inside an Italian roll or two pieces of Italian bread, fill with the salad, and brush olive oil on the outside of the slices. Cook in a panini press or George Foreman grill until the bread has grill marks. I ate this practically every day for lunch when I worked in Italy!
Foraging is such second nature to me, I guess I've passed it on to my children. If you've been reading this blog for a long time you might remember my secret blackberry-picking spot. We still have quarts and quarts of wild blackberries we put up in past years. I haven't found a good spot here yet. I can see some ripe berries on the roadside near here and I'm thinking of walking over to pick them, but the road is so busy it makes me nervous.
My daughter discovered berries on the juniper bushes near the pool and we have been harvesting them from the neighborhood landscape shrubs. No one else seems to be interested in those, but they are a key ingredient in many Scandinavian dishes. They are more than difficult to find in store here. I've never seen them even once, except in their fermented form: capers. Fresh berries impart a flavor as disparate from capers as cucumbers are to pickles. My daughter was thrilled to show me juniper berries and has been going to pick them daily. I plan to dry them so we can have authentic Norwegian foods all year.
|Fresh juniper berries|
I hope to continue my doll work this week so I can re-stock the eBay store, but now my sister messaged me to let me know her family will be coming to visit in a couple days, so I will need to get ready for that. At least the house still looks pretty good!
|Our tomato plants are nearly as tall as I am!|