10 April 2015

Fried Fish Sandwiches

Kyle's mom and brother have been staying with us this week, and one of the highlights of their visit has been a fishing trip!  Captain Richard took us to all the hot spots for trout in the Charleston area, and there was hardly a dull moment aboard the boat.  Everyone hauled in at least a couple fish, and most of them were keepers.
I think it took us about fifteen minutes to haul in the first fish - a trout.  And with that, we were off.  Kim wins the "most entertaining" award.  I think this photo pretty much sums it up.
Kyle tried to take home the "biggest fish" award, a title he held for most of the morning, until I hauled in a lunker.  Of course, for all my competitive talk, I have no idea what size it is.  I think somewhere around 32" and 8-9 lbs - too big to keep, but it makes for a good story.  I suppose I could interpolate the dimensions in the photo if I really felt like it.
Our fresh catch has been on the dinner table in different forms this week, starting with fish tacos. 
 Kyle wanted to try fried fish sandwiches, and I remembered that Rachel had just posted a recipe for fish and chips - what great timing.
Kyle whipped up some batter - he made everything and took most of the photos, I'm just the scribe for this recipe.  I can't explain everything in this photo, but most of these are ingredients for beer battered fish.
Mix everything up indoors, then transfer to the grill because it's gorgeous outside and no one should be indoors any more than they have to.
Our grill has a side burner, where Kyle heated up bacon grease in a cast iron pan for shallow frying.  When the oil is hot, dredge the fillets in the beer batter (this was pretty thick - thin with more beer or water for less breading).  We opted to leave the skin on our trout.

Quick sidebar: there are two prevalent ideas about eating fish skin.  The first is that the skin contains health omega-3s, the second is that the skin contains more pollutants than the meat.  Since these are thin fillets it's much easier to leave the skin on, plus it didn't add any off flavors.  If I was frying up unbreaded fish it would be fairly easy to remove the skin after frying.  I probably wouldn't eat the skin regularly but I'm not going to worry about having a few fillets worth with these trout.
Look at how happy Kyle is!  This meal was a really nice treat.  It was such a beautiful night and cooking up fresh fish that we caught ourselves was pretty exciting.
The fish hits the oil.  For these thin fillets, 2 to 3 minutes per side was plenty.
Look at that crispy golden crust.
In the meantime, Kyle also made some grilled potatoes and toasted the whole wheat ciabatta buns to complete this fish and chips meal.
The moment of triumph: build up the sandwich with a little arugula, tomato, and tartar sauce.  Sit outdoors.  Enjoy with a beer.
Fried Fish Sandwiches (recipe found here)
Ingredients:
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1 bottle beer (we used Yuengling)
  • 4 fillets of a mild fish (trout, mahi, flounder, etc)
Instructions:
1.  Heat 4 tbs oil in a large pan over medium-high heat (we used bacon fat). 
2.  Mix up all batter ingredients.  Dredge fillets in batter and put in pan immediately.  Cook 2 to 4 minutes per side (depending on thickness of fillets).  Fillets should be golden brown.
3.  Put on sandwiches and serve.

Rachel also has a recipe for homemade tartar sauce, which you should definitely try.

03 April 2015

More Spring Everywhere

From eating lunch on the porch to taking walks around the neighborhood at night, I'm spending WAY more time outdoors these days, and it is the best.  There was a huge influx of pollen in March but I didn't have much trouble with allergies, which pleases me greatly.  In the past couple days alone, I've noticed that visibility is getting reduced because the leaves on the trees are getting bigger - soon there won't be any afternoon sunshine on the garden.
March goals were pretty straightforward:
  • We attended the French Quarter Art Walk the first week of March. It was great.  Such an awesome event, maybe I'll even get to go again tonight.
  • My parents were here visiting!  It was a short and sweet visit with my family, and they brought soooo many goodies from MI. 
  • Start eating greens from our garden.  I can hardly get anything to sprout, much less grow.  The soil we got does not seem to be a friendly environment to seeds.
  • Bottle the chardonnay.  Done.  I didn't start anything else because I had to empty the elderberry back into the carboy - after popping two corks and one bottle (!) it was pretty clear that the elderberry was refermenting.
  • Catch up on online classes.  I tried.  I failed.
  • Prep the bus for the interior build.  Well, the paint is stripped but that's about as far as we got.
And as far as April goals go, it's pretty much the same stuff - visitors for spring break (yay!), do garden, make wine, fix bus.  It's also festival season here so obviously, attend ALL THE FESTIVALS!

On to March in photos.

The parental visit started with the Art Walk, where we explored our favorite galleries.
We also found a rooftop bar where we found a giant version of a pin point impression toy.  It's harder than it looks when the pins are this big!
We took the fam to the beach, of course, and also a festival on one of the islands.
I also cajoled them into helping me move a pile of dirt into the raised beds.  Yay dirt!  Thanks, parents.
We made some progress on bus work after that, finally got the odometer working but the gas gage is still being obstinate.  Of course, you know what they say about all work and no play...so we attended the St. Patty's Day block party and it was awesome.
After that, we worked on paint until Kyle got crazy eyes.  He's been a total champ, after the easy ceiling paint was off, he's been slaving away at the more difficult wall paint, using a combination of oven cleaner, razor blades, and sweat to remove the crappy latex paint in the bus (and a wee bit of the original paint underneath).
As far as the garden goes, here's the latest in $10 cat deterrents.  Works like a charm.  I'm still having a lot of trouble getting things to sprout, so maybe my seeds got too hot last summer or something happened in one of the moves or something.  But also the dirt is pretty bland - probably need to get some nutrients in there (compost, N/P/K, etc).
Okay, what else.  We went to the Flowertown Festival, but on our way there we got distracted by a special cask tapping / anniversary breakfast, and just like that I was drinking a beer at 10am on a Sunday (and it was delicious).
Flowertown was an okay time, but I'm not a big spender and there wasn't really anything that caught my eye there, except for the gorgeous azaleas!
I did manage to grow some greens this month, and we did eat them in a very delicious salad, but I'm pretty disappointed by the garden so far.
Last but not least, here's the wine we got bottled.  After I get that elderberry straightened out, I'll move on to a nice red.
It didn't seem like such a big month until I wrote it all out!  However, I think we kept a pretty good balance of work and play, so hopefully we can keep this pace up through April.  There's a lot going on!

27 March 2015

College Throwback Home Fries

Back in the day, this was my everymeal.  Fry up some potatoes, add whatever veggies sound good, spice it up, top with cheese.  Home fries.  Made to serve.
Now that Kyle disappears one night a week, I've found that I don't particularly feel like prepping a full dinner for one.  The past couple weeks - you guessed it - I've been throwing together some home fries and loving every bite.  They taste like nostalgia and cumin.

Start by frying up some cubed potatoes until a crunchy, golden crust develops.  Try a bite and make sure they're cooked through (cooking time depends on the size of the cubes).
Add in some meat and spices, toss until the meat is warmed through.  Home fries from my college days were usually vegetarian, but sometimes - spiked with cheap lunch meat.  I know.  These days I can opt for something a little more pricy, like real meat.
This is the step where I grabbed my camera, caught the strap on a cupboard door, and pretty much sling-shot it into the floor.  I can't vouch for the following photos, as something clearly happened to the internal mechanism.  Sigh.

Since I'm not in college anymore, these home fries are getting fancy with some lightly wilted spinach.
Just as the spinach begins to wilt, plate them up.
Grate a bit of cheddar on there - that's the stuff.
As I was eating these home fries, I thought back to my typical home fry add-ins, back in the day: mushrooms, green peppers, the occasional jalapeno, and almost always, ground cumin and cayenne pepper.  Perfect.  Then, of course, I remembered I have a plethora of mushrooms in the fridge that I could have added to these fries.  It just has not been my day.

Home Fries with Wilted Spinach
Ingredients:
  • 2 c. cubed potatoes (roughly 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1 tbs bacon fat or cooking oil of choice
  • 3/4 c. shredded or cubed meat of choice (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. baby spinach
  • 1/4 c. grated cheddar cheese
Instructions:
1.  Fry up the potatoes in the bacon grease in a large pan over medium heat.  They should develop a crispy golden crust in 5 - 7 minutes (test one to make sure they are cooked through - careful, they're hot!).
2.  Add in the meat and spices.  Continue frying until the meat is warmed through.  This is also when you can add in things like peppers or mushrooms.
3.  Toss the spinach on top and let wilt slightly.  Remove from stove - spinach will continue to wilt slightly.
4.  Top with cheese and serve.
Cheap, easy and delicious.  Just like any college meal should be.  Now, I've got to ask Google about camera repair...

20 March 2015

Happy Spring!

This has been one of the easiest winters I've ever had, weather-wise, but I'm still looking forward to the first day of spring!  With sun shining and plants sprouting, I can't wait for fresh fruits and colorful veggies.  What better way to acknowledge the changing of seasons than to make a list of my favorite spring/summer recipes?

Fresh fruits:

Rustic Blueberry-Plum Galette
I love love LOVED this galette.  It was so tempting to eat the whole thing in one sitting.  Blueberry season just feels like the pinnacle of summer, and there's no better way to eat them than in a pie.
Blackcap Cheesecake Pie
If you prefer cheesecake over pie, then maybe you can find some middle ground with a cheesecake pie!  Blackcaps or black raspberries were my urban foraging adventure in Michigan.  Who knows what I'll find this year down in South Carolina!
Black Raspberry Gin Fizz
There's nothing like getting your serving of fruit in cold, refreshing beverage form while sitting out on the porch enjoying the last rays of sunlight.  This gin fizz tasted like a gourmet soda with a touch of gin - fancy and satisfying, all in one.

Colorful Veggies:

Veggie Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
I had to put spring rolls on the list, for obvious reasons. But just look at that rainbow of colors!  Spring rolls are a great appetizer - and they're easy to put together!  I made them for Easter last year and they were a total hit.
Paleo Taco Boats
These taco boats are a lighter, gluten-free / Paleo version of their tortilla counterparts.  All the deliciousness of a taco, delivered in an endive wrap.  Because tacos.  But also bikini season.
Crunchy Black Bean Chicken Salad
This dish is as delicious as it is gorgeous, combining grilled chicken and a cilantro-lime dressing with a veggie-rich black bean salad.  Grilled chicken, people!  Dig that grill out and remind yourself how great it is to be able to grill outside.
Lime Basil Juice + Margarita
As long as we're on the subject of colorful, delicious things, let's pretend for a second that basil is a vegetable and add lime-basil juice to the list!  With or without the margarita, this juice was one of the most interesting things I've made.  Highly recommended!
And if we're still chatting about tropical-flavors-that-don't-really-meet-the-designated-category, I'm going to go ahead and throw this one in too, because fresh ginger and tuna steaks just sound like a something that should be a spring tradition (especially after watching everyone on my entire Facebook take a Caribbean vacation this winter).
Spicy Grilled Caribbean Tuna
If it makes you feel better, you can grill up some kabob veggies to go with it.
There it is.  All the season's joy in eight recipes.  Time to get cooking!

13 March 2015

Garden 2015

I'm sure you saw this one coming.  I have mentioned the raised beds for several months now (here, here and here), and suddenly, spring is upon us!  Planting season may or may not be in full swing.  I don't actually know the seasons here, so I'm just going with my gut.
These beds are made from cheap fencing from the 70% off cart at our local home improvement store, so they are treated.  Therefore, we needed to line them to avoid the chemicals.
Also, a key component: dirt.
Some hard labor was required to move the pile from the driveway to the beds.  Major thanks to my parents, who helped me move a mountain despite the fact that they were supposed to be on vacation!
When it was all said and done, we discovered we'd made some very large, fancy litter boxes.  I imagine that at night, it looks a lot like a kitty version of the Roman bath houses.  Blech.  So here's the latest in free cat deterrent solutions.
In the meantime, the sprouty buddies I started in February are coming along nicely.
Lastly, here's my current square foot garden plan.  I seem to have left my copy of Square Foot Gardening in Michigan, so I'm guessing.  Mostly what I'm trying to figure out is how to succession plant to make the most of SC growing seasons.  Also how to take advantage of big plants (zucchini, etc) while they're small - for instance, putting some fast-growing radishes in those squares before the squash plant takes over.
If anyone has any advice, hit me up, I'm a total rookie!

I guess I should amend this to talk about the time I declared it Gardening Month (all the way back in 2012!) and wrote a bunch of posts like Soil Amendments, Double Digging, Companion Planting and the somewhat sketchy post about Moon Planting.  Still, I'm a rookie.

06 March 2015

Bus-stagram

I forgot to write a blog post today, so I'm using this 
opportunity to introduce the sixerbus Instagram!
Keep track of our travels...
See what work we're getting done...
Occasional random bus things...
And lots of photos of a very pretty bus!
Happy weekend!

If you see us on the road, let us know with #sixerbus
Or check out the latest info at instagram.com/sixer.bus/