Friday, September 20, 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Our fish...

Julian: Do you think I should {insert something that would make us more prepared}?
Amanda : No, we won't need it!
Julian: Ok, if you're sure...


That is how most of our adventures have started these days. Catching this fish was no exception. We took the kayaks out last Sunday as a way to get out since we were having a "rest day" from our regular 5k training. Julian's been reading a great book about sea fishing, and he said, "Nick says to never go fishing without your 'priest'." {'Priest' is the tool of choice for whacking your fish on the head to accomplish a speedy and humane dispatch.} "Should I take one?" I replied that he shouldn't worry about it because he probably won't catch anything and if he does, we will release it. Then I'm pretty sure he asked if I was sure and I said yes, and he said oooooohkaaay. It's clear to see where this is going.

Julian didn't take the priest but he did every other thing Nick - cause we're apparently on first-name-basis with awesome British sea fishermen now - said to do, from watching the current to picking his bait. Lo and behold, in less than 30 minutes, he landed a hybrid striped bass.


The only problem was that, just like all the reading said, the striped bass is an "aggressive feeder" and it swallowed the whole thing, hook, line and sinker. There was no catch and release for this bad boy. So we made an executive decision to dispatch him and take him home so as not to leave him to die in the river from a terrible fate. But we didn't bring the priest.... or any ice/cooler/anything helpful for dealing with a caught fish.

We dealt with him by using a 21-in-1 type fisherman gadget tool which I'm pretty sure was a hand-me-down from his dad. Then we went home as fast as we could manage, and we decided this whole experience would serve as a great practice round, should we decide to actually fish for food someday. I made a homemade de-scaler and we consulted the fish book again to disassemble the fish as best as possible. The long and short of it - we had NO plans to spend our Sunday evening this way but it was super fun to do together, and even though it sounds cheesy, a big confidence boost. Waste not, want not, and even though this was just "practice," we DID eat it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Peach Leather

For the first time since we've been in Morgantown, we were able to get WVU Farm peaches. Apparently, Peach Day is a big deal for both locavores and the farm staff, mainly because it only takes a day [or two half days in this case] to sell the entire crop. The WVU farm is on a side of town we rarely visit but if he wants, Julian can make it "on the way" to and from his weekly meetings.

So what do you do with 11lbs of peaches? An assortment of things, I am learning. This peck of peaches comes right on the heels of some angst I had as a result of throwing away about a pint of strawberries that perished in the fridge from neglect. You see, I have this habit of buying produce at really outstanding prices but then not taking the time to prepare it to eat. It shrivels, or worse, in the fridge and then I pitch it. Sadly, this has happened with cherries, strawberries, and kumquats, in the not so distant past. I said to myself, "Self, you've got to get this under control!" Enter: the dehydrator.

If you Pin-search "peach leather" the results are delightful ... but off topic, so I just stuck to the books on this one and wished I had a reason/bank account to buy these. I consulted the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and The River Cottage Preserves Handbook. I also consulted Pam via Twitter - ah, the impressive these days.

Recipe for Peach Leather
Adapted from The River Cottage Preserves Handbook

2 lbs washed peaches, peeled or not
7 tbsp good honey
1 lemon,  juice from

{Depending on what you have and what you had to pay to get it, this recipe can be modified by substituting cored apples for up to one pound of the fruit. And feel free to add spices like ginger and cinnamon.}

Preheat the oven to 140F. You can also use a food dehydrator if you have one. {Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions because it will take much less time than in an oven.}We tried to do it in the oven. Our oven's lowest setting was 170F and that produced a product much more like leather and less like peaches. We promptly bought a dehydrator. I love it.

Pit and pare your fruit, put into a large pot with lemon juice. Bring to low simmer, adding only a small amount of water if necessary to keep fruit from sticking. Simmer about 20 minutes or until soft and pulpy.  Add the honey and buzz it all until it is smooth in a blender or food processor.  Pour out in thin layer on non-stick sheets or on cookie sheets covered with parchment. Make sure depth of the fruit puree is consistent throughout. Don't be tempted to make it all fit on one sheet. It will be able to fit but it will take twice the time to dry. Bake in cool over 12-18 hours or until leather peels easily from sheet. Or just buy the darn dehydrator and its done in 6 hours or less.

Confession - this all happened two weeks ago now but I was holding off to come up with a picture of the finished product. Trouble is, we ate it all, and didn't slow down for snaps. Oh well - make some of your own and you'll know what it looks like.