jacktellslies: (geroges barbier mermaid)

My family and some close friends came over for a potluck on Midwinter. For the occasion I stuffed a whole Arctic char, and some of the people in attendance asked for a recipe. As the vast majority of my cooking is done without measurements or concrete plans, this may not be a recipe as much as it is more of my usual ramblings. But I'll do what I can.

Arctic char is quite similar to salmon, a bit more mild and very juicy, verging on oily. It's smaller than even sockeye, the smallest of the salmon with which I am familiar, making purchasing a whole one a relatively reasonable thing to do. It is also more sustainable than salmon, usually being farm raised in clean inland lakes and pools. They're pretty, too, often having speckled sides.

I didn't work the day of the party, but my coworkers were kind enough to save one for me and let me sneak into our back room to use our cutting block and good knives. I left the head and tail on but cleaned and butterflied the fish, leaving it whole but removing the guts, gills, spine, ribs, and pin bones. You should be able to ask your fishmonger to do this for you, but be warned: not all fishmongers necessarily know how to do all of this. I'd recommend making inquiries ahead of time. Working illicitly, for my own benefit and in my good clothes, was magnificent. I'll have to do it more often. I dripped a bit of fish slime on my Italian boots, and was simultaneously horrified and delighted. My favourite coworker applauded, insisting that fish scales on good boots ought to be taken as a sure sign that one is living correctly.

Once home I put the fish in the refrigerator to wait for me while I sautéed a large diced red onion and a great many chopped carrots of various colours in local organic butter, a bit of raw honey, and some sea salt and spices. I believe I used mustard seeds, coriander, thyme, lavender, and red pepper flakes, but spices, to my mind, ought to be left to your whims at the moment that you're cooking. While the carrots and onions did what they were meant to be doing, I put some walnuts in the oven for a few minutes. Once all three were ready for me, I stirred in the walnuts as well as more of the spices, some dried cranberries, and about four slices of bread that I'd allowed to go a bit stale, seasoned, and sliced into cubes. I sautéed that for another minute or two before turning off the heat and ignoring it while I paid attention to my fish. I wanted to glaze it, so I painted the outside of the char, head and tail and all, with more of my raw honey. I'd never painted a fish before, and I enjoyed it, so I painted the inside as well on a whim. I'm glad that I did.

I then convinced as much of the fish as possible to fit inside of my pan and stuffed it with the stuffing I'd made. Sometimes I'll use cooking twine that I borrow from work to tie the belly closed, but in a roasting pan it just doesn't seem necessary. I knew that I had and that I'd want more stuffing than would fit inside of the fish, so I allowed it to spill out into the pan. I then put the pan in the refrigerator and ignored it until halfway through the party, at which point my oven was no longer busy with my mother's vegetable lasagne. I believe I baked it at four-hundred degrees Fahrenheit for forty minutes. When it was done we ate it, and I gave the blackened tail to Tappy, claiming that it was the last remnants of a baby mermaid that I'd burnt for her benefit.


Dec. 10th, 2008 11:17 pm
jacktellslies: (tea)
Flour, salt, butter, water, a red onion, a portobello mushroom, two purple potatoes, one parsnip, half of an acorn squash, and some spices were all combined in such a way that a vegetable pie was the result. Vegetable pies are better than messes and inedible lumps by a vast margin. And I barely bled at all! I'm most pleased.
jacktellslies: (crow)
Thus far I have two favourite markets in town that specialize in local foods. One is the new Pumpkin Market at 17th and South, and the other is a fantastic stand at the Reading Terminal Market. It was at that stall that I found something I'd been hoping to come across: sea salt. Coming from Maine it isn't local, but it is regional, and it's delicious. I prefer a dirtier sea salt; I want a bit of ocean still in the stuff. And this is perfect.

While searching for a pair of scissors so that I can patch a hole in the pocket of a favourite pair of trousers, I found my father's keys. They've always seemed such tender objects. My love of keys, which I consider a personal emblem of sorts, began with his. Few things are so mundane whilst being also so mysterious. Keys are riddles. They are useless without knowledge, without possessing the secret of the location of their matching lock. I always thought he had so many of them when I was young, and I only knew what two of them were for other than a vague impression that they likely had something to do with his job. I just counted: eleven, which is the same number of keys I carry now. Most of mine are antiques, decorative or charmed things. His are, and always had been, on a good leather strap. I momentarily considered using it, but it would kill me if it were somehow lost. I haven't yet found the scissors, and I'm beginning to doubt that I currently own a pair.

While visiting family earlier in the month, I told my grandfather about my short visit to Germany. I spent a day in a town near a small airport outside of Frankfurt. On my brief explorations I was struck by how much the place looked like the town in which my grandparents lived until quite recently, the town from which all branches of my mother's family hail. He agreed that it was likely that so many Germans settled there because the land seemed familiar. And he told me of one of my oldest remembered ancestors: he was the only Jew for miles, my grandfather explained with a hint of sympathetic laughter, and a rag and bone man. He was literate in both German and English, and this was rare enough that he got extra work translating letters and other documents that were sent between the continents.
jacktellslies: (corsetry and robotics)
It is getting colder, darker. This means a few things. I'm not in the mood for work. I'm tired of my job, and tired of the way that they treat my friends. I'm fixing up my resume. I am in the mood for cooking and for reading. I made fake beef stew with seitan (I'm quite proud of it, and, better than that, I'll know how to make an absolutely perfect fake beef stew with seitan next time.) and finished two books, and also watched Peter Pan, the one with Jason Isaacs and the beautiful American baby. The oncoming winter may also mean that my back is, once again, thoroughly fucked. Rather, my spine is certainly a mess, and, as none of us can come up with any other reasonable cause, and it broke the first time this time last year exactly, the change in weather may, unfortunately, have a lot to do with it. I tried to work yesterday, and had to leave after an hour. I called out again today. I've been to the doctor. I have strong pain medication, not a thing I usually allow myself, and it is working, and not making me too stupid. I'm sad about all of it, but not too sad, not like last time. I fear I'll eventually have to move to the continent like the Brownings. For now I'm drinking quite a lot of tea, and lying down, and trying to convince my friends to cuddle with me. There is a Dresden Dolls show tonight. That will heal me, yes?
jacktellslies: (corsetry and robotics)
It has happened, and I'm pierced again, four little nail heads in my hips on the place where my boylines would be, if I had them. I think that eventually they may grow into little chevrons. The NoKaOi people are growing on me, although I am still uncomfortable with the fact that I had to fall into the Cool Kids' Club in order for this to happen. I dislike social groups that operate like this, but I regularly seem to be a part of them. I still blame the fact that none of my friends had friends as children.

I helped Debbie move and I have broken my back, although not badly. I sat in the back of a truck in Kensington. I laughed at a cat.

I walked past the art museum and back. In between I ate sushi, including eel for the first time, and met a boy and began to enact various scenarios that mostly involved assortments of things on trays and the suggestion that I should be beaten. I met a lightning bug on the way home. In the summer I always think that I am seeing them, but they are always bits of streetlamp stuck in broken glass, or the end of someone's cigarette. This one was real, though, and I caught her, and she bumped into my shirt. What were you doing in my neighborhood, little bug?

I am getting to be so good at cutting fish. My lines are smooth as one could want them, and no meat is lost. I cut an Alaskan king salmon today, a thing that is valued exactly as much as it should be. They are big: its gills were out before I got to it, but had they remained, they'd each have been the size of your hand, or bigger. I spoke with a customer who felt that, because of its rarity and everything else, it was a holy food. Yes, yes, I said, it is. As I scaled it, I thought of Antony and Eros, of the removal of armour, of moments of reverence and tenderness. I took the knife to it, as it asked of me, and I did my part well. I ate the scraps. One should waste nothing, especially of something that once lived.

I poked through Parker's glass today. She used to make it. I'm wearing a little green and almost blue thing now on a silver chain around my neck, and we have a gift for my sister's birthday: a fat hobbit's bowl with a delicate pipe. Thin bits of gold are pulled through it. These are the worst things she's made, the dregs that didn't sell, and they are perfect.

Debbie and I spoke of evolution today, and of hope. There was art, and autism, and maybe the interconnectedness of everything, and perhaps the nobility of self-destruction. I made dinner for the three of us: pompano! and apples and cranberries and spices, and broccoli with tangerine and garlic and dried peppers and white wine. I keep meaning to tell her that she is my girlfriend, the one I don't touch, but I forget and it does not matter. When she is rich she'll steal me away and I'll cook for her. I like this game.

There are terrible things in my closet.

jacktellslies: (Default)
Adventure! Or something like it, at least.

The plan had been to walk home from school and immediately fall asleep. On the way home, I serendipitously ran into more than one of my friends, as well as passing a rather cute tranny punk kid who was hanging about in front of a convenience store. All of these encounters were quite neat. I got a call from Meredith (Meredith the First, or Meredith of Pittsburgh, not the Meredith about whom I've been writing more recently) and, as a result, an invitation to her bachelorette party and slightly more concrete plans for my next trip to Pittsburgh, which will happen at some time between March the forth and the twelfth. The bachelorette party will be my very first party of the sort, just as she and Alex will be my first friends to get married. I am pleased and excited on both counts. I found Parker and Brandon in the living room when I got home, and we spent some time together before deciding that it was far too beautiful and warm a day to spend inside. We went for a walk, deciding to visit our friend Henry at the Continental in Old City, really quite a nice restaurant. When we got close, though, whole blocks were barricaded with police cars. Not one or two cars, either: huge clusters of police cars blocking the streets and shooing pedestrians away. I was nervous, obviously, and suspected the truth. We spent about five minutes in the restaurant before Henry, in whose section we were sitting, warned us that they were evacuating. Not a second later, a police officer informed us that there was a bomb threat, and that we should leave and walk quickly to the right. We did so. I've not heard much yet, and Google tells me nothing, although I do know that Henry is alright, and that the restaurant was able to reopen a few hours later. I feel terrible for the servers. I'm happy enough for people who got free meals, but I do hope at least some of them left something in the way of a tip. We wandered, checking in restaurants at which our friends work, but they were all booked or our friends were not working or they were working private parties, although we did run into Billy, the stilt-walker and clown and general delight, on the way home. His hair is blue now, and he is organizing the entertainment for some big important Philly queer event. Eventually we just went to the store and bought things for me to cook for various people. I made couscous and salmon with a sauce made from reduced red wine and an orange and blackberries. I'd maybe mix the blackberries and orange in the blender next time rather than mushing them up myself to make it thicker, but I think it turned out rather well. I'm getting much more comfortable with experimenting, at least where fish are concerned. (Hush, JJ.)

All of this was better than sleeping, but I think that I will go do that now.


jacktellslies: (Default)

August 2009

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