Dec 12, 2009

fight & fish, pike I

like i mentioned earlier today, the weasel has been taking care of some of the waste management at the cottage. however, the weasel has a competitor, namely a jaybird (that my father would rather not see visiting the yard).

here the weasel is making sure the coast is clear to spring across the yard to go and snatch some fish parings

made it back safe. amazing, considering that the parings were twice the size of the weasel (head and backbone of large burbot). he even sort of tucked the parings under the branches...

then the bugger arrived! weasel had gone hiding for a minute, that was enough for the jaybird to try it's luck. but, as they do in cartoons #!"&%½%&#!!

there was a lot of very fast movement, too fast for my camera settings (not even a chance to try and adjust them) and the jaybird had to fly away defeated! little weasel proudly towed his parings to wherever his stash is.

mom and dad got these with nets. i have no idea how dad is able to clean them outside, my fingers were freezer just for taking the pictures!

here dad shows how a pike is fileed. mom and dad usually throw all pikes back to lake as dad thinks pikes are bate-fish...

whack on the head! sorry, but that's how it's done

the belly fins are cut off first

then a cut just behind the head and full force towards the tail. obviously, a very sharp knife is needed

this ain't easy, it's cold, fish is kinda slimy and hard to hold on

this is a bit easier, well, at least it looks easier

this was what i got, 6 nice big pike filees. took half of them to my brother's, the other half i took with me to the shack

i had to take a pic of the lake and deck. water level of the lake was 90 cm higher this summer, what happened no one knows. it's normal to have some fluctuation, but this much in such a short time is just weird

these became dinner last night

i have made this compound butter once before, then on salmon. thought it might be nice with pike as well. there is recipe from martha, but i just mixed a blob of butter, 2 tsp grainy dijon mustard and 1 tbsp minced capers into paste that i put to the freezer fow a while to harden

the filees took approx 10 mins to cook on medium high heat, divine no matter what dad thinks of pike as human food. but... you absolutely need to use real butter for frying. there is no way out, no ifs, no buts, just butter

since certain someone had taken the dog for a long walk earlier in the day and fed him, he didn't get anything. that's why he's playing martyr on the kitchen floor

pork medallions, garlic & a weasel

i took littlest niece back home on tuesday and went back to cottage to spend few more days with my parents. mom says dad waits for my visits to cottage because then he can have "decent" food. well, there are dishes i won't do at cottage because mom makes them better, like mashed potatoes. also, my father is a very well fed man nonetheless... you see, when mom cooks there is always plenty of it.

we had pork medallions and mashed potatoes with a leek twist for lunch on wednesday. mom made the mash, i was responsible for the leek twist. i used a 15 cm piece of leek (white & light green parts) that was chopped into quite fine pieces. i sauteed the leeks in 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil on medium heat until soft and wilted but not mushy soft. the leeks were then mixed into the mash.

for the pork here i quickly browned the medallions in batches in oil on a hot (wood burning) stove. when all were browned, i took the pan off heat, put 1 tbsp of dijon mustard and ½ dl of cream and mixed those well before adding 1½ dl more cream. then i returned the medallions to pan for a 10 min simmer. oh, i did add something else to the cream before the medallions went back... and it is totally optional, 2 tbsp of cognac (or brandy). after 10 mins of simmer i added some sugar ('cause i think a sauce always needs some sugar) and black pepper

plated with mashed potatoes, the sauce was quite nice (i think i soaked 3 pieces of bread in it...)

whilst shopping earlier in the week, i saw some garlic and decided that i needed to try them baked... the stove would be burning at the cottage most of the morning anyway so there'd be long gentle heat to bake them. i cut the tops off, placed 1 tsp (ok, 1 tbsp) on butter and pinch of salt on top

garlic at it's finest here

wednesday was also a baking day... here is a leek-chanterelle-salmon-cheese pie/tart. there was some left-over leek, frozen chantarelles, cold smoked salmon and castello white cheese that went in with sour cream and eggs mixture seasoned with white pepper

cranberry vanilla coffeecake that i've made earlier and that mom seems to like very much... there is something to this recipe that isn't always right, i'm beginning to think it's me and not the recipe, it's not the taste but rather the texture. but, i will get it right one of these days, i have plenty of cranberries is the freezer!

this little white and fast creature is a mustela nivalis also known as least weasel. it has been showing up at the cottage for a while now, maybe because dad always leaves the fish parings out for nature's waste management to take care off...

this little weasel is very brave, but i'll tell you about that later...

Dec 8, 2009

it's getting closer...

xmas i mean. every january i decide that i will do my xmas cards early and not wait for the last (hmm, actually past) the date postal service says they'll be able to deliver for xmas. somehow i always end up making my cards in the last minute, but before i go into details, some spaghetti & meatballs...

littlest niece was at the cottage for a sleep-over and i decided to make spaghetti for lunch today, all kids like spaghetti and meatballs, right? anyways, for a change i can give you recipe!

750 gr mixed pork/beef mince
1 onion, chopped
1 glove of garlic, minced
2½ dl sour cream
1½ dl bread crumbs
1 egg
parsley, chopped finely
white pepper and salt (if you use) to taste

i mushed all of the above together, made 18 meatballs out of it (quite big ones) and baked them in 200 C oven for 25 mins (until nicely browned)

while the meatballs were in the oven i chopped another onion and 2 gloves of garlic for the sauce and sauteed them in a pan on medium heat, added 500 gr of crushed tomatoes from can, 1 tsp of dried basil and let that simmer for 20 or so mins. then added the baked meatballs and simmered on very low heat for another 20 mins. after that i seasoned the sauce with black pepper, 2 tsp of sugar and chopped parsley.

i had bought whole wheat spaghetti but we decided to use the older white ones from pantry first. hint: it pays to chop the onion and garlic super fine if the kid you're feeding says she doesn't like them... finely chopped and she won't know she's eating them. littlest niece she doesn't like tomatoes and she said she won't eat any of the tomato sauce. fine, but then she drowned her pasta in ketchup, go figure!

i liked this dish a lot, but i might have to start planning a trip to italy to know if this compares to "real" spaghetti and meatballs

my card making mess... littlest niece happily provided her assistance

some styles i made

this is only a small part of "stuff" i have for making cards...

wonder who gets this?

i had bought these pipe-cleaners in merry colors thinking i'd find the cute card-making craft from martha's website that i know for sure is there... no luck in finding it. i came up with this, it's kinda cute but way too thick to be glued on a card, maybe i'll hang it on the xmas tree...

Dec 7, 2009

chicken soup & sour lemon cake

i can hear you... you're asking: can't she make anything but soups?! well, this isn't just any soup, it's the longer version where you start with a whole chicken, veggies, spices and water and make stock first. not interested? hmm, you could still make this with the same ingredients and use stock from a bottle or cube. but let me tell you, home made stock is something else...

i've been browsing martha's book cooking school now and again, and had decided to actually try to get a recipe done as it's written down. i had chosen a basic chicken soup and that was my intention when i got the chicken and some veggies from store. then i saw some lovely brown button mushrooms that i absolutely had to get, chicken and mushrooms go together well, right?

anyways, started by cutting the chicken to 8 pieces according to cooking school lesson. (little sidenote here: if i can't find any finnish chicken in the store, i won't buy any. how crazy is it to import chicken all the way from south america!!! same thing with any other meat, you should support your local farmers and economy. i feel so much better now that i got my little preaching done). back to soup...

i used 3 stalks of celery, 15 cm of leek (the greenest part, dried tops cut off), 2 carrots, 1 parsnip, ½ rutabaga, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, 2 small onions, some red chili (left whole), stems of button mushrooms and some parsley sprigs i dug out of freezer. all but chili here roughly chopped

3 small bay leaves, ½ tsp black peppercorns and 1 tsp of coarse salt, the only salt added to whole batch

chicken pieces on the bottom, veggies and spices on top

all in a merry medley in pot after i added approx 3 l of water

after about 30 mins i took out the chicken as it was cooked thru, let it chill for a while before tearing it to pieces

i added the bones back to pot and simmered them with veggies for another 50 mins

while the stock was simmering away, i browned the mushrooms in 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil and chopped quite finely 4 carrots, 2 parsnips, 2 stalks of celery and minced 3 cm piece of chili (seeds removed)

after the stock had been simmering for the 50 mins, i first strained all the solids out, the strained it once more thru cheese cloth to get a really clear stock. at this point i took out one liter of stock to freeze for later. i poured the stock into a slightly smaller clean pot, added chopped veggies and chili, browned mushrooms and cooked for 15 mins, turned off the heat and added the chicken that i had cut to bite size pieces, let the pot sit on the hot stove for 10 more mins until chicken was warmed thru, added some parsley on top... i ate a big bowl and had it not been so late in the evening i would gulped more, so good! alas, but i didn't manage to follow the recipe...had to go and fiddle about, maybe next time?

on the same cooking school day i had decided to bake something (it was getting close to certain someone's mom's birthday), but by the time it came to actually start the baking, i wasn't in the mood anymore. instead of backing out on the baking i tried to remember a simple and tasty cake i could do as not baking seemed not an option. fortunately i remembered donna hay's sour lemon cake. i'd love to give you the recipe but as it's not published on the web, i can only tell you what went in: melted butter, eggs, sugar, creme fraiche (full fat, sorry), finely grated peel of 2 lemons, lemon juice, flour and baking powder

this is super easy to make, just mix the wet ingredients and lemon peel, then add the dry, mix well and pour into floured cake pan (i used semolina)

what, no pic of the baked cake? no, the battery of my camera went dead in the evening and then i kinda forgot to take one in the morning... or i could blame the migraine i got in the very early morning, or the fact that i wasn't feeling too well, or that i had slight fever. fortunately i only had to spend one day horizontal and under covers. right now i'm at the cottage, have been crafting with littlest niece. will show you what we made tomorrow