A Hankering for Summer

*This is the first of what I hope will be many guest posts by my sister*

Anna, lovingly referred to as Gingersnap, is a self professed seed addict who loves the outdoors. While dividing her time between working, cooking, canning, crafting, gardening, 3 (mostly) broke horses and anything outdoorsy, she resides in a cabin on 160 acres of wild forest in the Great White North of British Columbia, Canada. Some may roll their eyes at living in a place with no phone or internet connection, but Anna and her fiance, Drillerman, not only make up for it, but thrive, by enjoying fishing, hunting and horseback riding. Anna traded her stilletto’s in for cowboy boots to live this life, and she doesn’t regret it one bit. While recovering from lack of ethnic and international foods available in her town, she has made the most of her freezer full of moose, home canned goat meat on the shelf, a plethora of garden treats captured via canning, and treats herself to the odd chicken breast.

I spent the weekend sorting through fishing tackle, packhorse gear, and summer clothes-turning our craft room/hunting room into a suitable spare bedroom for Sister visits. Sisters have babies, and although I don’t have kids, I’m relatively certain that a room filled with fishhooks and gunpowder isn’t a great room for an active baby to stay in.

But, to the point, spending all this time staring at all of our summer gear meant that I started to have a major hankering for ‘picnic food’. I reeeeeaaaalllly wanted potato salad. But it was snowing outside, and I just wasn’t ready to ‘go there’. Henceforth I created a warm potato salad that perfectly suited my desires.

Be warned: I didn’t write down any measurements. This salad is largely interpretive and should be altered to suit your own tastes.

Grilled Chicken & Truffled Potato Salad.

1) Quarter ~2 cups small nugget potatoes (don’t you dare peel!)

Boil in salted water until ‘fork tender’ but not mushy. Drain, set pot back on hot burner and briefly stir, to evaporate excess moisture from potatoes. Set aside.

2) In a small sauté pan, sear one boneless skinless chicken breast-cut into medium dice. I sautéed my chicken with just a hint of olive oil and enough dried sage and parsley to ‘soak up’ the moisture as it cooked. I did not want the chicken to be oily at the end, wanted it to be nicely seared and tender, but that the pan is ‘dry’ with little brown bits at the end. Throw in a spoonful of caramelized onions that you just happened to have on hand in the fridge last weekend’s canning. Remove from heat.

3) In a small mixing bowl, combine the cooked potatoes with ¼ C low-fat plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon good Dijon mustard w/horseradish, a squeeze of lemon, ½ an Avocado cut up into medium dice, a dash of Smoked Spanish Paprika and a scant tablespoon of White Truffle Butter. Toss Chicken and Caramilized onions in with potato mixture, season with White pepper & good Sea Salt. Serve warm, immediately!

4) Try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting. I failed miserably.

I LOVED this because the avocado mimics that texture of eggs, but without the work, AND a favorable taste in my opinion. Don’t worry if you don’t have white truffle butter, it’s completely optional. But if you haven’t tried white truffle butter (truffles can be intimidating) you owe it to yourself to try. YES, it is expensive, but just the smallest dab can turn a grilled steak, some roasted potatoes, etc, into a taste that is absolutely unique and addictive. The truffle butter in this recipe just gives that ‘note’ that sings throughout the whole meal.

So I ate this, staring out the windows at all the big fat snowflakes falling around me, and dreamt of fishing. Fishing with a special someone…..

Filleting a Tuna

We were gifted a whole tuna last summer. A beautiful beautiful tuna! It took months before we got around to dealing with it (beyond wrapping it whole and putting it in the freezer) and here’s a little tutorial of what we did!

Tuna are born with a built in diagram of how to fillet them, too neat eh!

It’s important to get the skin off right away, and the whole process is easier if the fish is still a little frozen.

Start by cutting along the back, then the belly line, and then by the neck.

See where he cut on the neck? There is a line where you’re supposed to cut on the neck too! Stabbing your knife into the head helps for better grib in the slippery slippery bathtub. (All people fillet tuna in the bathtub, right?) Pulling the skin takes a bit of muscle, but thats why we keep Cowboy around. That and I love him so darn much!

Be sure to have a trusty good helper there for moral support, of course.

You then cut down the middle of the belly, again, there is a line! Then slice them out and really I don’t remember the rest of what he did, he’s the fish cutter, not me!

With any luck, you might end up with fillets like these! This was the first time we had done a tuna, we being used very, very loosely. He trimmed them up more before they went in the smoker, making them look prettier.

We then smoked it in our Little Chief smoker. We love this baby for smoking fish! You can do two regular sized cookie sheets full in it. We do tuna, salmon and trout. Unfortunately, because we’ve done so much fish in it, when I try to do jerky, it ends up smelling like fish, no matter how much I scrub it! Cowboy thought that this smoked tuna was God’s gift to him and practically drools at the thought of taking a chunk out of the freezer to eat!

Oh, and I forgot to mention, I don’t even like eating fish!

How we eat.

Something that boggles peoples mind is how we eat and grocery shop. To me, it’s natural, but it’s how we’ve trained ourselves to be! I believe every family should have a few rules they stick to when eating. Here are ours:

-Only eat produce from our province, BC, or Organic if from elsewhere.

-Meat must be local or organic.

-Sweets and baking are homemade.

We are so blessed to have the land to raise our own animals, for that, I am so thankful! We hunt, fish and farm to our fullest extent including: Our own milking cow, cows, pigs and chickens for butcher and chickens for eggs. Farm fresh is way tastier!

This is one of our Sows before she was pregnant. We raised sows, had piglets and raised them to butcher this year, but most likely will only raise piglets to butcher for a long time. Sows are a lot of work!

Cowboy loves to fish,

and I adore canning! This is my Mom’s cool room, which I contribute much to. Where we live, our canning is in boxes in a closet and I have a small cupboard in the kitchen that I keep a few of everything in.

This makes for a full pantry and freezer that we can call upon when needed. I can’t imagine any other way, but it’s not the reality for everyone, and even many who wish they could.

I’m going to start sharing what we eat during the week, not a meal plan, but what we actually ended up eating! This won’t be for a few days, since I just started writing down.

Questions: Do you meal plan? Do you like to keep a full pantry and freezer for quick meals?