Pepper crusted salmon cakes with horseradish sauce

February 7, 2013 § 18 Comments

pepper salmon cakes finished

Even when you’re a northerner through and through, and you cherish each of the four seasons, there are times when winter starts to wear on you.  Just a little bit.

There are times, when it’s been a while since the snow cover has been refreshed and a while since the temperature has been above single digits, and it starts to feel drab and dreary and repetitive.  It loses its luster the way snowbanks do as they get trampled over and sprayed with dirt.

salmon poaching dish

But then, in the midst of all that, you may have a morning where you wake up to hear the cheery whistle of a songbird, “twee-ooo,” letting you know that it may get up into the teens today, and suddenly the world feels a little more alive.  Then, the clouds may roll in and blanket everything with 4 or 5 inches of fresh powdery snow, and the world feels a little more clean.  And hopefully, on such a day, you’ll decide not to go cross-country skiing on the groomed trails, even though you have a 50 km race you were supposed to be busting your butt training for, and instead go tromping in the woods, playing tag with the dog, searching for animal tracks, and making snow angels, and then you’ll remember why winter is gorgeous and magical.

Even the most wonderful things need paying attention to, or you’ll forget how very wonderful they are. « Read the rest of this entry »

Roasted salmon with gravlax-style marinade

March 28, 2012 § 12 Comments

I am a coveter of ideas.  I’m not proud of this.  It may, in fact, be a death knell of sorts for creativity – how can you be original when you’re wishing you had someone else’s idea?  But it’s awfully hard not to covet it when someone has a really great idea.

It mostly happens when it feels like an idea I potentially could have had.  I hear it, and the idea just. makes. sense.  And my instant reaction is, “maaaaaan (in a kind of nasal, whiney internal voice), why didn’t I think of that?”

Or perhaps even more covetable is a realization of an idea that I actually have had, but mine simply hadn’t had enough time to gestate.  A little premie of an idea still in need of some incubation  and maybe a little knit cap.  It’s inspiring to see someone else’s version of the same idea, well nourished and fully fleshed out into practice.  Inspiring, and a wee bit annoying.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Lemon cream roasted salmon

May 12, 2010 § 3 Comments

Whenever it’s an election season and I’m rabidly following debates and interviews and throwing things at my television or radio when I get annoyed with someone (it’s a good thing for the sake of my blood pressure that it doesn’t happen multiple times a year!) I find myself getting so sick of the phrase “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” that I could just, I don’t know, throw another sock at the radio, I guess.  Talk about a phrase that gets overused by politicians.  So, imagine my feelings when I found myself describing my cooking and reflecting that while I love excellent food, I don’t want to “let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  Ooops.

The thing is, when it comes down to it, it’s often true.  If we set our expectations too high in the beginning, we wind up giving up before we’ve even started.  I used to think of myself as a perfectionist, but that is total bull, actually.  I like to dabble and keep it simple, rather than perfect.   So, quite good is good enough on most occasions.  Especially when it comes to cooking (and correcting typos, hehe), and I think that’s a good thing. Sure, I’ll never be a chef; I can just be a little too lazy to cook in ways that involve many intricate steps or any techniques much more challenging than chopping and whisking.  But, at least I do it.  I get home cooked meals on the table.  And they’re good.  Sometimes really, really good.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Maple salmon – Going local in Northern Minnesota – part 2

April 26, 2010 § 9 Comments

We have a funny tendency in our family – in a decent chunk of the population of Duluth, actually – to think of Alaskan salmon as local.  It’s not.  It’s from Alaska, actually (you guessed that?! How?!…).  Our wonderful Lake Superior will cough up shoals of herring and a lake trout or two.  But nary a native salmon swims in its waters.  However, we feel an intense sense of local pride about salmon because a huge portion of the salmon in the grocery store, much of the salmon in restaurants, all of the salmon at the Lutheran church’s lutefisk, meatball, and salmon supper, and certainly all the salmon my family and our neighbors eat comes from our dear friend Dave, who lives in Duluth but journeys each summer to Alaska to fish and brings back his bounty.  It’s wonderful!  My parents always purchase and freeze a couple of these massive bad boys to last them through until the next year, when Dave will bring back a new haul.

There’s a small café and deli right down by the Lake called Northern Waters Smokehaus.  Eric, the owner, is a gifted smoker (that sounds totally weird, doesn’t it), of meat that is, and makes a whole variety of smoked and cured sausages and meats.  But, his specialty is smoked fish.  He makes wonderful smoked white fish and trout, but the best of all is the smoked salmon made from Dave’s catch.  I really, truly believe it might be the best smoked salmon, maybe even the most delicious thing to eat in total, in the whole wide world.  It’s another worldly experience.  It’s like eating the world’s best candy, except that it’s salmon instead of candy.  Salty, sweet, smoky, flaky, succulent.  I know what I’m going to be dreaming about tonight.  Also, I discovered that you can order online and have it sent anywhere in the country.  There goes my food budget… « Read the rest of this entry »

Mustard-Baked Salmon with Cranberry Sauce

February 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

I hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend!  And now it’s Mardi Gras!  It’s like holidays on parade!  I was lucky enough to get to take the long weekend and head into the woods of New Hampshire to hike and camp with friends.  It was a weekend of wood fires, poetry, windy mountaintops, snowshoes, and the occasional glissade down an icy rock face with only ice axes to direct where we were sliding and keep us from careening over a cliff.  Wahoo!  It was pretty sweet.

Anyway, I adore being out in the woods.  But after I get back home from a string of days in the forest eating mostly trail mix, bread and cheese, and other highly packable foods, I find myself desperately wanting, well a shower first of all, but then some really fresh and healthy feeling food.  Which, in my world, most often translates as fish and vegetables. « Read the rest of this entry »

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