Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Homestead Eating: Fish and Game

I got desperately ill when we got back from Hawai'i.  I'm pretty sure it was influenza.  This meant that I spent days in bed and on the couch, watching Downton Abbey and reading romance novels while going through mounds of tissues and gallons of tea.  I did manage to make a big pot of chicken stock and then chicken veggie soup in my occasional moments of energy.

And then just as I was getting better, I committed to filling in for a bunch of extra yoga classes (which has been lovely) and my Darlin'Man started rehearsals for Lear Khekwaii every night. (He's Gloucester, and his Gwich'in is sounding really good!!!)  Needless to say, the maple syrup glazed salmon with maple apple cider meal has yet to grace our table.  

This does not however, mean that we have not been eating local wild meats.  Because we have.  In quantity.  Partly this is due to the beauty that is a crockpot.  And partly this is due to the quick ease of cooking fish. Recently, we have eaten caribou, moose, salmon, and halibut.  

Caribou Barley Stew

The fridge was looking really low on fresh veggies.  I had cooked and krauted the last of the cabbage, and the only vegetables in the crisper bin were carrots.  So the carrots got chopped into the crockpot along with a lone sweet potato, some garlic and onions and herbs.  In went the last of the chicken stock, a cup full of barley and a wrapped up frozen brick of ground caribou courtesy of Maple and Me.  When we got home, I stirred the ground caribou to mix in with the rest of the stew, and had a warm hearty dinner.  I was impressed and surprised at the way that the stew became so very, well, stew-y.  The barley I think is responsible for the wonderful thickening, accomplished without any added fat or thickeners.  I will definitely be repeating this one, with caribou and also with moose.  And!  With the exception of the sweet potato and the spices, every thing could have been grown here in AK.  The Caribou and the carrots were.  The Barley could have been (homegrown was out when I went, so I resorted to freds) as could the chicken stock makings, the garlic, onions, and some of the herbs.

Salmon with broccoli and potatoes

We left the truck in town, so that I could drive home to the dogs after work, and the Darlin'Man could come home at 9 or 10 after his rehearsal.  Good food that was also easy was in order.   So I pulled out some frozen salmon and put it in a pan of water to thaw.  I put potatoes in the oven to bake.  Then I made a fire and rolled out my mat for a yoga practice.  An hour later, I took the potatoes out of the oven and put the salmon in a baking pan.  I sprinkled it with this lovely french vinaigrette herb mix from Penzey's (it was free sample the last time my mom ordered from them) - its a mix of herbs and garlic and mustard.  The salmon went into the oven, and I chopped broccoli and steamed it.  I ate alone, but the food was still warm when the Darlin'Man got home later.  Sometimes I forget the beauty of a simply cooked salmon with veggies in favor of a complex and gourmet preparation.  I'm grateful for the reminder.

Sesame Halibut

I picked up my then-still-on-crutches (she's mostly walking now!!!) sister from campus and we went to Mom's house to make dinner.  Halibut that Mom had caught in Kenai last summer was thawed in the fridge.  The pantry was pretty spare, but there was a part of a head of red cabbage and another of green.  We took the sweet and sour stir-fried cabbage of our childhood and ran with it.  I chopped up the halibut into big bite sized peices and put them in a bowl with lots of sesame oil, some hot pepper sesame oil, some rice vinegar, and some canola oil to marinate.  I toasted some sesame seeds.  My sister chopped cabbage and onion and garlic and began to saute them in the wok.  She used another Penzey's spice blend (I'm starting to fall in love with this idea of pre-blended spices; I should probably sit down and make my own so that I don't spend a bunch on the pre-mixed kind from nice mail order places!) Ancho 900 - a blend of peppers and cumin and cacoa and all sorts of goodness.  When the cabbage was nearly ready, I dumped the whole bowl of halibut and marinade into a cast iron skillet.  We ate it served over a mixture of wild rice and brown rice.  I was super happy with how the fish came out.  Halibut, while amazing can taste rather bland, and it totally soaked up the flavor of the sesame oil.  The 'marinade' became a beautifully thick sauce that looked and tasted like it was a whole lot more difficult than it was.  The heat of the Ancho 900 spice mix paired with the sesame flavor in a way that deepened both.  YUM!

Ground Moose Spaghetti
This meal was the second (and third!) day of a crock pot pasta sauce.  The first day, I left a tomato pasta sauce to simmer in the crock pot all day while we were at work.  And then coming home, I put (pre-marinated) sliced eggplant in the oven to roast and water on to boil.  We ladled sauce out over the pasta and eggplant onto our plates, and put the crockpot insert in the fridge over night.
The next morning, I pulled it out and added in a log of partially thawed - cause I'm lazy like that! - ground moose into the middle.  This moose was packaged in the local meat store's plastic wrap and was gifted to us when the Darlin'Man struck up a conversation with a hunter who was picking up his butchered moose.  I thank that anonymous man!  And the moose.  When I got home I stirred the ground meat more thoroughly into the sauce and added a frozen package of chopped spinach which thawed and cooked while the pasta boiled.  It was delightful!  And lasted a couple of days.  And, that was using the small crockpot, too!

And tonight, I head home to marinating chopped eggplant, cauliflower and carrots waiting to be oven roasted while a fillet o' salmon cooks with herbs.  The salmon probably on the stovetop since there's so many veggies they may need both cookie trays on both racks of the oven.  And then Maple and Me are coming over for dinner and conversation.  With me at least.  The Darlin'Man will be at rehearsal still.  They do have ulterior motives for coming over on a week night.  They are going camping all weekend in the White Mountains and are dropping of a certain angelic husky to stay for a few days.


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