Sunday, March 28, 2010

Love is pickled fish

I do not like fish. I may force down some extra fresh hoisin salmon, eat fried halibut if it has soaked in milk and then dredged in some nice chickpea powder and has tons of tartar sauce, but otherwise I would happily eat a piece of chicken any day. My husband loves his seafood. When we visit our dear friends Dennis and Shirley, Dennis gets a twinkle in his eye and sets out the home pickled northern pike and Ben and he sit and chow down on a few pieces, grossing me out completely. Raw fish with bones in - "but it doesn't taste like fish" (right), "it isn't raw, it's pickled) (right), and "the bones dissolve so you don't feel them crunch". Ben talks about making his own pickled fish, but he doesn't fish himself and it isn't often he is offered fish from somebody else. Until a couple of months ago when dear friends sent us home with about 10 large ziplock bags full of walleye. It is mandatory to enjoy fish if you live in North Dakota because it is THE winter sport. Where I come from hockey is the winter sport, but here it is icefishing and come about the end of November, all of the check out boys at the grocery stores are talking about ice depth and why they wish it would get down to -30 because it will freeze ice about 3 new inches by the following weekend so they can go icefishing.
Back to the 10 bags of walleye. Well I wanted to unplug one of our 4 freezers (admittedly one is full of an older boar for dog food and the other is a clinic freezer), and the bags of fish seemed like the perfect thing to get rid of. So I thought, "I will make pickled fish for Ben and get it out of the freezer." It seemed like a gallon would keep him in pickled fish for a couple of months, so I got the ingredients, set the fish in salt and then went to visit Dennis and Shirley. When we got there, out came the quart jar of pickled fish and Dennis said to Shirley, "Mother, I think this is the same quart isn't it?" My eyebrows raised because the last time we got served pickled fish was about a year ago, and I was sure he would have eaten through a couple more quarts by then. I mentioned that I had done over a gallon and he burst out laughing and said, "That is a lot of pickled fish!" I made my second mistake and mentioned it was walleye and he said it was a shame to use such good fish in pickled fish. I consoled him by saying I had quite a few more bags left for him to eat. Then my third mistake was in telling him I'd left the fish in salt for 5 days, although I did put forth the argument that the internet told me I could leave fish in salt for months at a time if they were refrigerated. He gave me his recipe (I was waiting for that since we knew Ben liked it), and I went home to rinse the salt off the fish and get it into vinegar. When I rinsed the fish, they were rubbery and about as unappetizing as . . a piece of rubbery fish. I called Ben over because I didn't want to waste a gallon of vinegar and $4.00 worth of pickling spice if he thought they were no good. He said he was sure it would be okay, so I rinsed it some more and then covered it in vinegar for 24 hours. Ben cut the fish into small pieces and then I boiled the sugar (substituted sucanat), pickling spices (I was short 1/2 cup so made my own with bay, mustard seed, clove, cinnamon etc minus the anise which I did not have) and vinegar and covered the 1.5 gallons of rubbery white pieces with a pretty brownish substance (due to the sucanat) that actually smelled pretty good. I would definitely cut back on the sugar as it used an ungodly amount in my opinion. By the next evening, Ben was asking if it was done yet, and I reminded him that Dennis said it should sit for 7 days for best flavor. He made it three nights before cracking open it and gnawing on a rubbery piece of fish. I waited for the verdict (while he tried to convince me and Debra to eat some), and he said it was very good, even though it was not the same as Dennis' because of the cinnamon. But Emily ate a handful of it also and I have done my duty by the fish and the pickled fish loving husband. Definitely not high on my list of "good eats", but it prompted me to dig some of my chicken out and can some chicken for myself for salads.
Now I'm off to plant some glorious tomatoes since I have patiently waited for the end of March so they do not get root bound by the time I need to plant them outside.
If anybody would like to tell me how to post a picture, I would happily do so
Heather for the clan as well as the happy rooting pigs in their electric net

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Boring blog

Hmmm, I just took a look at the blog, and I agree without pictures it is boring- I wouldn't read it if I wasn't me!
I will have to figure out how to post pictures,

anonymous comments

I had the oddest anonymous comment about adding more pictures for visual effect - anonymous, in every post I mention I have never learned how to post pictures and now my computer will not recognize my camera sd card, so I couldn't post pictures even if I wanted to. :( In fact, just separating my post with paragraphs would be an improvement and I can't even remember how to do that. Maybe there is an online blogger tutorial somewhere that I will never have time to read. :)
     The girls are in heaven playing with the marshmallow fondant I whipped up last night - whipped is very descriptive as I had to beat the melted marshmallows into the sifted Icing sugar, knead it forever (what a glorious feeling substance, all soft, pliable and shiney!), and then looked at the mess from sifting icing sugar with a huge sifter and went to bed. BUT my kitchen was dirty and the rest of my house was clean, so that was all right.  I have always enjoyed cake decorating but haven't done it in forever, since we don't need the sweet stuff around here. Emily has been making paper towel roses - she has an obsession with wedding bouquets- so I decided to let her have an outlet for her creativity. I got her 4 books on making sugar flowers (hmm, I'm thinking unedible clay might have been wiser as her younger sibling spends the majority of her time eating the fondant!), and she has been working on lovely fondant roses - when I can get the computer to recognize the camera, I will learn how to post a picture. Our vet tech and I made some carnations and . . . . poetic license roses (in other words, they looked like SOME type of flower, but not necessarily a rose). We tried some pulled techniques and daisies, but I was waiting for the books to come before I invested money in cutters as I don't want to spend too much. I was tickled to find the decorating books second hand for $3.00 and they are simple enough for a poor book keeper to understand (if they used Quick Books I would be doing great!). I read online reviews about a great many decorating books and often people said the decorating book was "over their head" and I wondered how could it be over MY head, but now I have one book that makes it sound so simple and yet he doesn't explain half of what he does because he assumes you have basic training in pastry techniques and therefore pretty much tells you to grab a blob of dough and pull it this way and that and he ends up with a gorgeous Iris worth about $40.  I can definitely tell the difference between the professional you tube roses and mine - plus the veiners make a huge difference in the realistic look of the sugar flowers. I also think I would like gum paste better because I am anal about things looking real and can't get my leaves and petals as thin as I feel they could be with fondant. I'm a copycat at heart so don't like fantasy flowers or things that look like wannabe flowers, but want them to look like perfect flowers. This also means when I learn a song, I sing or play it exactly the way the performer did it without any personal interpretation - which drives Ben nuts as I'm always saying, "That doesn't sound right." :) I was mentioning to our vet tech that the reason I enjoy making fake flowers, is that I don't have a creative bone in my body, and the fondant makes me feel like I am artsy without requiring me to be artsy.
It has been foggy for over a week now. The weather people say it is rare and unexplainable (how can fog be unexplainable??), but it does make for a depressing gray look like the west coast. Today the sun is out and it is glorious, although I did not mind the fog so much because with it came weather in the 30's and 40's. We spent yesterday afternoon grinding grain, hauling feed, cleaning pig feeders, riding the horse, checking eggs, feeding cows and doing all sorts of farmish things that make my farming heart sing. Eliana was napping the whole time, so Emily and Elise helped me out by stomping in the puddles and screeching when the cows got too close. I haven't figured out how to teach them to use caution around large animals (especially because cows have a tendency to charge kids), so instead have imparted a deathly fear of them in Elise, and not enough fear in Emily. She just zerbers (listen to an old Bill Cosby for the definition of that), and the cows back away, although I'm going to give her a whip to carry around in case Dottie the galloway doesn't back off.
Sweet little Emily was riding behind Elise on the horse and Elise kept falling to the side (is there anything Elise is natural at?). Thankful she fell towards me and then I would push her back up and every time she would shriek, Emily would say, "It's okay Elise, I'm holding onto you." Which translated into both of them sliding off every time, but at least Emily was hanging on. :) They are such treasures, and have such a love/hate relationship that they are either upset at each other and trying to tell their Mother their woes (who is not sympathetic to tattlers), or adoring each other and doing everything together. I was re-reading my once a year blog and when Elise was 1 year old I had said she loved Emily to pieces and was either laughing or screaming at what Emily was doing and that there was no in between. I have to smile because it is still that way and Elise is certainly a . . trying soul. I am not sympathetic to wussy natures, so she definitely gets pushed this way and that and should have learned by now that if you are scared and screaming unnecessarily, then you will have to do it and maybe twice over.

The little dollies were having fun playing at the window the other day. I had opened it to yell a goodbye to Hunsky, and then they hung their heads over the sill and waved at nobody in particular, teaching their little sister how to wave. This is the window that has no screen because we hoist Emily through it every time we accidentally lock the doors and don't take keys. Anyway, Emily dropped her flower ring out the window into the 3 foot deep snow drift. It landed on a piece of siding that was lying on  top of the snow, which was miraculous because I never would have found it otherwise. Emily toddled along outside through the puddles to try to get it, but kept sinking up to her hips in the snow and yelled at me to see if I couldn't get it. I peeked out the window and thought I really didn't want to drag on bunny boots and get soaked retrieving an ugly little ring. So I looked at the distance to the snow and asked Elise if she could reach it if I lowered her through the window. Elise nodded very sincerely and I smiled inwardly, because I knew she had no idea I meant I was going to hang onto her ankles and lower her that way - she has little dexterity in her fingers let alone her toes, so would need to be upside down to grab the ring. I grabbed her and hung her upside down while she screamed at the top of her lungs that she was going to die and I told her, "Grab the ring while you are crying." She easily grabbed it, I pulled a shrieking child inside and when I put her down, she instantly stopped, popped her head out the window, held the ring up victoriously and said, "Emily, I got it." as though it was the easiest thing in the world to do. :)
Doris Day and Gordon Macrae - is there any couple so lighthearted? Amazon had a fantastic deal on a Doris Day set with some of the old ones we watched when we were young, so we got it and Emily watched "By the Light of the Silvery Moon". I kept cracking up at the end where they are out skating and the spinster cook is trying to find somebody to skate with her. (sorry, I won't go into it here - watch the  movie).  They are trying to pick which one they want to watch now while we think about what to make for supper - Ben is off on his hmmm 5th emergency of today I think.
I can not type and brush my teeth at the same time so I'll have to quit before the toothpaste burns a permanent hole in my mouth! Emily just shoved a toothbrush in my mouth and now there is a quartet of tooth brushing gals sitting by the computer - I told Emily she has to brush her teeth lots so she doesn't loose her teeth to sugar and she is taking her job seriously! Even the little baby has a toothbrush and is jerking her arm back and forth as though it will take the fondant off her two little teeth up front. Elise is stubbornly keeping her mouth closed and Emily keeps asking, "Do you want the dentist to pull your teeth out?" and Elise says, "Yes, he will pull every tooth out!" Contrary little girl! I can only imagine how a dentist trip would go with her extreme sensitivity to life and perceived pain.
Izzy is back with us and making the cow's lives unbearable by guarding the water. Why she thinks they need to keep away from it I do not know and all day long I yell at her to leave the cows alone. Otherwise she is a splendid guard dog who is impressively scary although gentle as a lion with us. She is either patrolling or exhausted and flat out on the trailer she sleeps on, so I am reminded that I may lose chickens during the day when she is too tired to keep on guard. The last year on the farm, our Great Pyrenees was tiring herself out at night keeping the coyotes away and during the day she would sleep by the barn. I kept losing chickens to a fox living at the far edge of our property and the one day I looked out and there was a fox yanking chickens out of their pen and Rachel (the Pyrenees) lay only 20 feet away sleeping. I yelled to wake her up and she took off after the fox who left 6 dead chickens around the pen. That was aggravating! The fox had a den and 3 babies in the far pasture, and I suppose she figured it was cheap plump eating.
It is getting late, so I must put the baby down and get some work done.
Heather for Benski, Lisey (who is not Dewey!), Emskers, Mochachino, Franklet and a pen of muddy pigs, muddy cows and muddy chickens (not to mention muddy dogs!)