On Catching A Fish And Eating It

Until last weekend, in my 55 years on this planet, I had never eaten something that I caught or killed.  Last Friday, that all changed.

As I mentioned yesterday, thanks to the excellent guide work of Woody Becker, our little party found an area where the fish were biting.  I caught a plump small mouth bass that, according to my much more experienced companions, probably weighed between 3 and 4 pounds.  It fought like crazy as I reeled him in, bending my fishing rod almost to the breaking point, and after Woody netted it and we dropped it in the tub it continued to flop and thrash.  At the time, it was exciting.

When we later returned to our dock, and one of our party prepared to fillet the fish, I began to feel uneasy.  The fish stared at us, wide-eyed, and its gills continued to flutter.  My friend the Brown Bear loves to fish because he likes the challenge, but he’s a catch-and-release man.  Perhaps I should let the fish go?

The temptation to at least try eating something that I had caught and killed, however, overcame my reservations.  My friend expertly filleted the fish and tossed the remains into the harbor, where it would serve as sustenance for other aquatic parts of the food chain.  I felt guilty, but remembered that I had caught the bass only because it couldn’t resist gobbling up the live minnow that I was using as bait.  The fish clearly understood the circle of life and the notion of survival of the fittest — or so I rationalized.

We prepared the fish fillets in simple fashion, by dunking them in corn meal and then dropping them in a skillet where hot oil popped and snapped.  After a few minutes the fish fillets were ready, and they were astonishingly good — the flesh firm, light and mild, absolutely fresh, with no oily or fishy taste.  It was, quite simply, the best fish I’ve ever eaten.  I’d do it again.

Colors Of A Morning

 

As any patient reader of our blog knows, I like dawn photos — usually of the act of dawn itself.  The rising sun does not simply brighten the eastern horizon, however; the morning sunbeams also throw the surrounding countryside into sharp contrast and bring out every bit of color.  One of our Lake Temagami sunrises turned the spindly pines and dying grasses on our island into a beautiful study in different shades of green, rust, and orange.

Song Of The Percolators

Our kitchen on Lake Temagami had no electricity.  All cooking was done over propane-fueled flame.  That meant no toaster, no microwave, and no Mr. Coffee.  We made our morning coffee the old-fashioned way, in metal percolators.

The slow process set a good rhythm for the day.  First, remove the cold metal fittings — the stalk, the basket, and the lid — from the pot, then fill it most of the way with water.  Insert the basket onto the stalk.  Open the coffee can, smell those savory dark brown grounds, and feel the crunch as you spoon out the coffee until the basket is filled.  Put the lid on the basket and stalk, and place them upright in the pot.  Turn on the burner and hear the hiss of the gas.  Light it, and watch the little flames ignite until a tiny circle of blue dances in the kitchen darkness.  Put the pot on the burner.  Then, repeat the process for percolator #2.

Soon enough, the percolators will begin to sing their song.  Jets of steam will skreee from their spouts, and the pots will cluck and and rattle as the heated coffee circulates through the grounds in the basket and plops against the inside of their glass percolation bulbs.  When the pots are burbling furiously and the coffee seen through the bulb is black, you’re done.  Turn off the burner, pour out that piping hot liquid into your cup, and let it warm your hands as you inhale the dark aroma and let the coffee cool a bit.  Then, take a tentative first sip.  Ahhhh!

I’m back home, drinking coffee from our electric brewer.  It’s very good, but I miss the song of the percolator.  It’s a song that I haven’t heard in a long time — one of the sounds that I associate with childhood, like the whistle of a tea kettle or the comforting hum of static from the TV when programming ended for the day.