Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pickled Herring, Holiday Cheer and Broken Windows

It must be winter!

The temperatures are dropping (though still no snow) and car windows are frosty - leading to comical attempts at scraping (I am short, my car has a lot of glass, attempts to reach the middle of the windshield without leaning on the car in my work clothes.... amusing). Apparently it was so cold overnight yesterday that it broke auto glass:

This window was just replaced in August (trauma induced by a bass amp). The theory is that something was wrong with the installation and the cold (low yesterday morning 7 F) lead to the break. Sigh! Thankfully the damage is covered by the warranty as that car does not have glass coverage. And lucky for me - that is not my primary vehicle. Unbelievably, I did not notice the window was broken when I left for work - too focused on scraping windows and getting going on time. In my defense, I do not park on the same side of the street as this car ;->

Over the past week there has been a large container moving in and out of our refrigerator. I am not initiated into the mysteries of pickling fish, but that is what has been happening in the Wildknit's kitchen. Started with last Sundays catch of Lake Superior Herring Once they were cleaned and filleted (saw a lot of roe which can be sold for the caviar market in Sweden) the fish was cut into chunks and went into our crockpot insert with a brine solution. After an overnight stay in the refrigerator the fish is rinsed and then covered with white vinegar for another overnight stay in the fridge. One more rinsing, and then the fish goes into the pickling jars and is covered with pickling solution. After 5 days it will be ready for consumption. This recipe does not involve canning - just refrigeration. Now, I am NOT a fan of commercial pickled herring - 'shudder' - but do find this to be quite edible.

More to my liking is the Holiday Cheer that was also cooked up this weekend. Otherwise known as "Christmas Beer". Traditionally, we start talking about brewing this up for the holiday season in the fall and then procrastinate to the point that we are brewing on Christmas Eve and the beer will not really be ready for consumption until well into the new year. But this year we got the timing a little better. The recipe includes honey, ginger root, cinnamon, and grated orange peel in addition to the requisite malt extract, malts, hops and ale yeast. It is now sitting in a 5 gallon carboy. The first 24-72 hours involves a lot of noise! Active fermentation is taking place and there is a lot of gurgling as the excess gases escape through a hose and into a container of water. All is quiet now though - fermentation lock is in place and the carboy sits, wrapped in a sleeping bag, under the kitchen table. Rather than bottling 5 gallons of beer, we now move it into a soda keg when fermentation is complete.

Made it sound like I was busy this past weekend, huh?! I was only an assistant for all of this cooking. I do the shopping and help out with some prep, but am not the chief cook or brewer. Jon has been pretty busy of late - and I notice that the sourdough starter has moved from the fridge to the kitchen table so bread is also on the way. And we have not even started to assemble the Thanksgiving Day menu!

As non-traditional as we can be there are some stand-bys that are expected on the table. This year there will be turkey (fresh from our local CSA), herb puffs (Laurel's Kitchen - one child has already requested the recipe for her meal far away in Montana),cranberries from a local supplier and pies made from the pumpkin we got with our last summer Food Farm (CSA) share. There is talk of a brussel sprout salad (now, give it a chance! Shredded brussel sprouts, peccarino cheese, walnuts... quite tasty) and we just downloaded a recipe for a cranberry-walnut upside down cake from the Almanac ( website. As you can see we cook for a crowd and like variety.

Another Thanksgiving Day tradition is to head out for a walk in the woods. For a few years now that has included spotting a porcupine! Wonder if we will see one this year? Luckily Porter has never gotten ahold of one on a holiday.

From last weekend:

Playtime at wildknits - Porter and Hobbes (standard poodle)


SteveQ said...

I like pickled herring, but I LOVE Christmas beers, from Aass Jul Ol to Samichlaus (the latter, like yours, brewed now, ready next year). But don't get me started on Brussels sprouts - ewww.

Chris said...

Wow, broken glass from +7F?! Must've been something wrong with it indeed.

My big Thanksgiving specialty is cornbread dressing. Gotta back the cornbread this weekend and let it dry...

Anonymous said...

Bummer on the window, luck not running your way there. Turkey Day will be in Des Moines with Ma and Pa, think I can get by just having to contribute veggies n dip :-)

wildknits said...

Steve - hmmm sounds like a tasting may be in order for the Christmas beers not the brussel sprouts - though on is such a good cook that he has me eating beets - which I detest.

Chris - yeah - we think they overtightened something, not sure what happened. Cornbread stuffing huh?!? Not sure what Jon has planned for the bird...

Jim (aka anonymous) - my rule is if you are traveling more than an hour or so, you can get by with finger foods or breads - maybe dessert at a stretch. go for the veggies and dip!