Ice Fishing

A friend took me ice fishing today. He managed to catch a 14+ inch crappie. I've never seen one before. It's a lot like a sunfish, only this guy was huge:

We also caught several large mouth bass, which are unfortunately out of season right now so we had to throw them back. Here's the biggest one:

I tried my hand at making fish stock. I filleted all of the fish (sunfish, perch, and the crappie) and reserved the meat. I used the fish heads and bones (minus the gills and guts) and made some fish stock:

I plan to make a chowder with the meat and stock. The fish stock smelled fantastic while it was simmering. We used some for Matzo Ball soup. This time around, however, it seemed to make the whole house smell like fish when we re-boiled the stock.

Some of the perch that we brought home had large white internal organs. It made me nervous, because some of the fish had it and others didn't. I thought that it might be a parasite or some kind of malady in the fish. I emailed a picture of the gutted fish to someone at the NYS DEC, and they explained that it is the male fish's reproductive organs (testes), and that they become very large prior to spawning season, which is coming up for the perch as soon as the ice melts.

Trinidad Doubles Recipe

I came across a fantastic recipe for Doubles (a Trinidad street food consisting of curried chick peas, or "channa masala" on pieces of spicy fried dough, or "bara"). The channa and bara in this recipe came out much better than any of my previous attempts:

I found a store in Schenectady with this Trinny curry powder that is really good:

Don't forget some delicious Trinidad hot pepper sauce. Surprisingly, this stuff is available at our local Price Chopper in the international section:

6/23/2010 Update:
The above recipe was adapted from a Trinidad cookbook called, "The Naparima Girls' High School Cookbook".

Links

* Making bara video

Ice Sculpture

I'm not sure how this happened, but over the course of 2 weeks, our garbage can somehow completely filled up with water and then froze solid into a giant garbage-can-shaped ice sculpture:

Hogan's Alley

I was walking through Troy today and I found myself walking down a classic 8-bit video game alleyway like none other:

(Check it out in Google Street View). I thought that at any moment one of those second story doors would open up and some dude dressed like a bird would poke his head out and drop sticks of dynamite on me like in Trojan on the Nintendo (Which is a fitting title since the picture was taken in Troy, NY):

If anything happened I felt secure knowing that one of the garage doors would open and the Double Dragons would come and help me out:

Kitchen Microscope

I've been thinking about adding a microscope to my list of must-have kitchen appliances. I now have a basic one to play with. The idea is that maybe I can see something useful while making dough, cheese, meat, (etc.) under the microscope that I couldn't see otherwise. It has yet to be seen if I can view anything valuable under it, but I will keep trying. Here's a picture of milk under the microscope, taken with my cell phone camera through the microscope's eyepiece:

If nothing else, it looks like a cartoon dragon if you use your imagination:

Thanksgiving

We did Thanksgiving dinner here for the first time. Mmm! The turkey was delicious. The recipe came from here. One of the big tricks with this recipe is to cook the recipe breast-side down so that when the juices run down the turkey, they collect in the breast making for very juicy and delicious white meat.

The only panic moment was when I took the turkey's temperature an hour before it was supposed to be completed. The turkey was done already, and I hadn't started any of the other food yet. I just covered the turkey and let it sit for an hour while I prepared the rest of the food. The turkey was luckily still warm when it dinner was served.

Homemade Cheddar Cheese

This weekend, we ate the wheel of cheddar cheese that we made in April. It has been aging in the basement for 6 months or so. The wax had a small crack in it, and some mold appeared on the surface, but it was easily shaved off. I expected the cheese to taste either bad, or mediocre at best. However, much to our surprise, it was absolutely fantastic! It may have been the best cheddar I've ever tasted. It was very sharp. We made it from unpasteurized milk, which they say is the best way to make cheese. I have larger wheel of cheese aging in the basement right now that was made from ordinary milk from Stewart's. I'm curious to see how these cheeses will compare.

Frankentree

I came across a frankentree very close to my house:

This frankentree looks a lot more tree-like than other frankentrees I have seen, it's even normal tree size. That's my big story for the day.

Capital Hills Golf Course

I discovered a nice 6 mile hike loop from my house in Albany. There is a nature trail that I never knew about at the nearby Capital Hills Golf Course. It is called Albany's Normanskill Hiking Trail. Just follow the blue line:

It's a very hilly trail:

At the end of the trail, I could tell that there was more trail on the other side of the Norman's Kill Creek, but it was starting to rain, and I had walked far enough. Next time I need to check this out:

2011 Update

The golf course has been expanded as a Winter Use Facility. It is a great place for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, running, and hiking in the wintertime.

Click on the following cross-country ski map for a close-up view:

New Copper Bowl

I have been on the lookout for a copper bowl for the last couple of years. It started with our waffle recipe that says to "beat egg whiles until stiff peaks form". Years ago I would whisk the egg whites in a glass bowl for 20 minutes until I was ready to collapse, and still the egg whites would never form stiff peaks. Later, I started watching the old Julia Child show, "The French Chef", and reading her book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". She goes through an exhausting explanation of how to whisk your egg whites such that stiff peaks form:

1) The egg whites will fluff best if they are at room temperature. I usually put the egg whites in the bowl, and I put the bowl in tepid water for a few minutes to bring up the temperature of the eggs.

2) Any traces of oil will prevent the egg whites from fluffing properly, so be sure that the whisk and bowl are "impeccably clean". Traces of egg yolk in the egg white will have a similar effect, to be sure not to let any egg yolk (or shells) find their way into the egg whites.

3) The type of bowl is important. People that need to fluff egg whites know the mysterious secret. A copper bowl fluffs egg whites better than anything else. A copper bowl tends to be prohibitively expensive ($100 or more at Williams Sonoma), so a stainless steel bowl is the poor man's alternative. A glass bowl is particularly bad, because it is too slick and as you try to whisk the egg whites, the whisk pushes the eggs around the bowl instead of chopping through the egg whites.

For the last few years I have been making waffles using a stainless steel bowl to whisk the egg whites. Stiff peaks always form, but just barely. It has worked pretty well for me, and the resulting waffles are light and fluffy. Yesterday I found the copper bowl I've been looking for at T.J. Maxx. It's a little on the small side, but it works. I beat an egg white, and perfect stiff peaks formed, in fact it quickly went beyond stiff peaks so that the egg whites almost looked like Styrofoam. It quickly confirmed that copper bowls are, in fact, a critical factor in beating egg whites.