jacktellslies: (this machine)
I eat fish constantly, but meat infrequently. This has much to do with availability, but also ethics. The industrial farming of livestock has been something I've been boycotting since I was fifteen, but more recently I've been wondering whether local farms that treat animals and the labourers who raise them humanely might be something I could support on occasion.

The Fair Food Farm Stand has been tempting me with red cabbages all season. (In general, I'm of the opinion that if food can be purple, it ought to be.) But they finally went too far: they offered me a tiny one, precisely enough cabbage for one or two people. Cruel bastards! How could I resist? And cabbage, for me, can only mean Irish food. I've apparently never recovered from my genetic predisposition to want to throw whatever edibles I can find in a cauldron and ignore it for five hours. Reading Terminal Market is filled with butcher's stalls, but I asked the volunteers at my farm stand if they could recommend something locally and fairly produced. I think the girl who sold me the cabbage was a vegetarian who really wanted to be helpful; she floundered for a moment before calling over a friend. She suggested Halteman's and cheerfully shoved me in the right direction. I ordered a cheap pork shoulder from a Pennsylvania Dutch girl. She was pretty in her bonnet, her slightly bloodied apron, and she seemed happy, unusually happy for someone who was at work. I feel good about the exchange.

It's all cooking now. I'm delighted to find that the cabbage and I may have accidentally turned the meat purple. And my house smells fantastic.
jacktellslies: (crow)
Bella Vista Beer Distributors are fantastic. Not only do they specialise in hard to find imports and phenomenal locally brewed beers, but they deliver for only five dollars. If, however, you should happen to find yourself enjoying an excellent conversation about beer, travel, and fishmongering with one of the resident experts, and if in the course of that conversation you find that he lives a mere three blocks away from your house, he may offer to drive your case of Harrisburg's Appalachian Brewing Company's mixed sampler to your house himself when he's through with work. Lovely!

I must also report that Whitney and I have a new and unwanted pet mouse. We've named him Syphilis and struck the traditional bargain: he may stay, but only if he and his friends form a tiny jazz band. It worked remarkably well last time.

I am, I think, proud to announce my involvement in The Zagat of Sex, a group Twitter account involving four of my dear friends, time travel, little virtue, excellent taste, and no discretion whatsoever. And you thought Twitter was useless!
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.


jacktellslies: (Default)

August 2009

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