Friday, April 27, 2007

a couple of things

First off, a bit of a brag or at least some self-congratulation being shared.

I hit a couple of used bookstores last night after work in hopes of finding a copy of Kim Stanley Robinson's "Escape from Katmandu" for a friend who is contemplating a trip to Nepal this coming fall. A bit of light reading to help her get excited for the trip, not that such is really necessary. Unfortunately, that title was not in stock at either store. I used to see it all the time and I've given my most recent copy away. The paperback is getting old enough that it may not be so easy to find. Off to Amazon, perhaps. My current karma must be somewhat good, though, because in the course of a little beyond-the-purpose browsing I found an apparently unread, or at least very well cared for, copy of Prosek's "Trout of the World" complete with the poster in the back. That is nice enough, but was priced at all of $12! I doubt I'll ever come across a deal on that pre-64 Model 70 in 358 Winchester or hit the Powerball, but these little things do quite nicely, thank you. What a lovely book of interesting fishes. The wide variation in the markings of various races of brown trout illustrated therein are truly wonderful.

On to the meat of the post. Which subject is, meat! Specifically, camp cooking. Sometimes when I talk to people about hunting and such the subject comes around to camping I do and the meals which go along with it. Folks are generally surprised at just what I end up cooking or bringing along on the trip. While not the most gear heavy of hunters, quite a few comforts are frequently involved. These include things like a wall tent with a wood stove, a chainsaw for wood gathering on longer trips, folding chairs and tables, and cots when in the wall tent.

Just as importantly, we eat well. What better time to celebrate with good food than when you are out in beautiful country, doing what you most like to do, on occasions when you are most likely to have worked up an appetite? The best bottle of wine I had last year was uncorked on a grouse hunt (it was a Casa Rodena 1998 Cabernet Franc, if you were wondering). On this last trip, dinner the first night centered around grilled redfish and asparagus. For my money, one of the best eating fish is redfish when prepared "on the half shell". That is, you fillet the fish, leaving the skin on, and then grill it with the skin and scale side down. The heavy scales char and protect the meat, which sort of poaches in its own fat and juices. Prior to grilling, sprinkle the meat side with some salt and fresh ground pepper, along with some herbs that go with fish (I like thyme, a little oregano, and parsley along with a bit of dried chive if I have it) and perhaps a little smoked paprika. Some cooks will brush the flesh with melted butter first, but I don't consider that step necessary. Grill the fish over a fairly hot fire to keep from drying it out too much. Bonny Doon Vineyard's Vin Gris de Cigare went along quite nicely. The second night we had to scratch by with elk cutlets grilled very rare and a green salad, along with another favorite, Sandia Shadows' Cabernet Sauvignon (2000), which is a nice cab for those of us who like them a bit tannic and big, but not jammy.

While nice, these meals aren't even trying very hard. For a few years when we gathered in larger elk-hunting camps we would try to do something a bit more fancy on the night before the season opened. Perhaps the most spectacular example of those meals featured large trout, kept whole and stuffed with a dressing of rice and water chestnuts and then grilled. Bacon wrapped nilgai fillets, black bean and shrimp chili, and grilled prawns in mojo de ajo also deserve recollection. I contend that for every backpack meal of freeze-dried or salami and cheese, a hunter or fisher should fire up his Dutch oven or spend some time grilling up something a bit special. For that matter, some of the best times of the hunt or fishing consist of reviewing the day around the campfire, waiting for coals to develop while enjoying a glass of wine and munching on pate or some good cheese.


davette said...

Tasty blog.

Matt Mullenix said...

Well written and well cooked!