Fishing season is here! How can we on the Kenai Peninsula tell? The parking lots are full of RVs, the streets and highways are full of trucks pulling boats. Walmart, Safeway and sporting good stores are full of men dressed in camouflage looking, discussing and handling various poles with their fishing buddies. Our peaceful little towns have been invaded!
Unfortunately, fishing in the “olden” days when families needed salmon or halibut to keep them through the long winter is gone! In the case of my family and lots of our friends, the guys worked all day and at two in the morning when it was cool, the guys went down to the nearest river, in our case, the Swanson River and Bishop Creek and caught just enough for each family to use and no more.
They proudly brought the gutted and headed salmon home and presented them to the wives to process. I learned to can, using my new big pressure canner. We also bought a new freezer. The fillets of salmon were cut and wrapped and laid in the freezer for cold winter nights. Some were in the frying pan for supper. We lived on salmon off and on all summer. I never tire of it, but some men do. Kids raised on it loved it.
Oh, how proud the mommas were to have the canned and frozen salmon stocked up for the winter. Our group of friends consisted of about six families. We all got together at the biggest house or trailer and canned for days! Bonfires going at night with the men and kids enjoying each others company while the women canned the prizes the men brought home. The word “poaching” never entered our minds; the word was “survival” — the key to getting our families through the winter. Not one piece of fish was wasted! The next go around of catching fish was for the men who took much pride in smoking strips of salmon in a homemade smoker — they looked just exactly like an outhouse! They were prized smokers, and if you moved to a more permanent place you moved the smoker first.
In the fall, moose hunting did not open until later in the year, like September and November. That way the days were cooler and there was no waist from moose not being cooled off properly.
The same thing repeated as we did for fishing, canning and freezing moose and getting together for grinding up the tough pieces and dividing up evenly between the five to six families.
We were all set for the long winter months as a meat supply.
Unfortunately, the abuse of fishing and hunting has caused the stricter regulations we have today. The abuse continues, but nothing makes me angrier than to have sports fishermen and moose hunters tell me they do not eat the fish they catch — and the moose they kill! They are in it for the sport — thus sports fishing and sports hunting! We have food stamps to cover the months of hunger now! Not to say the food stamps are not beneficial to lots of people — they are, but some of that can be avoided by looking ahead and filling your pantry shelf and freezer in the summer and fall for those long Alaska winters!
The new way of life for me when I moved to Alaska with three kids was to always talk to homesteaders who had survived the long winters on the supply of meats they had gathered ahead of time and stored for winter months. Most homesteaders had stored mounds of potatoes and other root vegetables from gardens that grow so well in the beautiful long summer months. Most were root vegetables that could be stored all winter in a cool place.
One year, Betty Coulter had an over abundance of potatoes and shared them with us. I had no place to store them so I blanched and froze them. They turned out great as long as you put them in your soup or oven about 30 minutes before you served your dinner. I also canned and had dozens of jars on the pantry shelf. They were so so good in soups or with good ole’ gravy!!
I have lots more fishing stories in my cookbook “Cookin’ Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters” available through my email firstname.lastname@example.org or at M&M Grocery Store in Nikiski.
Have fun on the Fourth and show your patriotism by including younger people and letting them know why they are here and how they can help keep America Free! Unfortunately, it is left to us adults to do that because it has not been taught in classrooms or colleges.
HAPPY FOURTH AND GOD BLESS OUR AMERICA!!
GRILLED MARINATED SOUTH OF THE BORDER SALMON OR HALIBUT
This is a pretty dish for cook outs.
In a bowl:
3 tablespoons lemon or lime or combined juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black coarse pepper
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 cup olive oil
Lay about 2 pounds of skinned fillets in a ziploc bag.
Pour over marinade. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
In a large bowl:
1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded, slice
1 1/2 red onion chopped fine
1/2 bell pepper chopped fine, any color
1 cup chopped fresh tomato or 1 cup diced canned
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh Cilantro or parsley or about 1/2 tablespoon dry
1 teaspoon dill weed
3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
3 teaspoons olive oil
Mix and blend and store in fridge.
Drain salmon fillets on a rack for 30 minutes. Heat grill to smoky hot. Lay fillets on hot grill but do not over cook, about 3 to 4 minutes each side. This does not take long so watch carefully, overcooking spoils the fish.
Serve on individual dinner plates with 1/2 cup of mixed cucumber tomatoes. Lay 1/4 fish on top and spoon 2 tablespoons of same cucumber tomatoes mixture on top and add a dollop of sour cream. Add hot garlic bread and you are all set for this summer night’s dream. Next time try halibut!
SALMON OR HALIBUT FAJITAS
Saute in large skillet:
1 1/2 sliced onion. Cut onion in half and turn and cut half down on slicing board.
3 cups green or any color combination, bell pepper, cut in strips
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Saute until transparent
Remove from skillet and add tablespoon vegetable oil, then saute:
1 pound of small bite-sized pieces of salmon or halibut — leftover fish does well with this also
Stir-fry until just cooked. Do not over cook. Add the sauteed onions, pepper and mushrooms back to pan with fish. Add 1 can diced tomato or 2 cups of thick chunky salsa. (I like the salsa.)
Add 2 tablespoons canned, sliced and diced jalapenos.
Fold fish into the vegetables. Simmer just 3 minutes until heated through. Heat 8 flour tortillas your favorite way.
Make the fajita:
1 tablespoon guacamole on heated tortilla.
1/2 cup fajita mix
Add 2 tablespoons sour cream over top. (Our family likes ranch dressing in place of sour cream or combination.)
Sprinkle with shredded cheese of choice.
Fold over. Serve to the doubting Thomas’s who reply “fish fajita?” One bite and they will be back for more. Chicken and beef work as will with this recipe.
1 pound halibut, cut in small pieces
12 cups shredded cheese of choice
1 cup lettuce
1 diced tomato
1/2 diced red onion
Mix into the small pieces of fish 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning.
Stir fry quickly with 1 tablespoon hot vegetable oil — about 1 minute.
Fill the soft taco shells (corn or flour) with fish.
Top with the cheese and shredded lettuce, onion, tomato.
Serve with sour cream and salsa.
ENJOY ON THE FOURTH OF JULY!
All recipes are in my cookbooks.
• By ANN “GRANNIE ANNIE” BERG