The beauty of catching some of our Alaskan species with fins is the amount of meat harvested with each fish. Rod and reeling red salmon, or, my favorite, a big (or even not so big) halibut ensures you’ve got a few dinners taken care of even when feeding a bunch of people.
We had a blast hauling in halibut in Homer a few days ago, despite the cold rain and queasy waves for which Cook Inlet is notorious. Todd flew his Cessna 185 alongside the Inlet, then on to Pedro Bay, then the next day we drove the scenic Seward Highway to Anchor Point’s salt water, also part of Cook Inlet. The kids and their friends have gone back and forth between work schedules to different fishing grounds this summer, and they’re helping fill the freezer with organic protein for winter! It’s the best. I especially love the halibut, and for weaklings like me, it takes a few of us working together to hike the heavy white meat over the railing to gaff and club it. Then tradition calls for a whole group to sit around a bonfire once ashore to watch one pro (that wouldn’t be me) do all the filleting while we eat.
Even more fun than the catch is having the crowd in the kitchen try different ways to cook it. The goal on the water may be to catch the big one, like an 80 lb. king or a “barn door” halibut, but IMHO the best eating is a smaller halibut pulled fresh out of the water and dipped right into the beer batter.
It doesn’t really take a village to catch a fish. But it’s fun to have one to eat it up. Here’s how the girls and their friends cooked this weekend’s fish, and I invite you to try this perfect recipe for wild rhubarb pie as an accompaniment. We stayed in a cabin on the Inlet with an old abandoned garden out back, and even without any horticultural care the perennial bushels of rhubarb never seem to go away. So I hacked stalks of this tart leafy plant to feed our village… er, the crew… in Wasilla. I used my mother-in-law’s simple, delicious pie crust recipe (see below) and tried a rhubarb filling recipe I found on the internet. It was heavenly. Piper put together a collage to show you some before and after shots of the outings, along with a few randoms (see below).
Something different but still maybe par-for-the-course for us: Bristol took her paycheck from starring in a recent episode of “Celebrity Wife Swap” (She and Willow had a ball working with Joan and Melissa Rivers on the episode! Really!) and bought a pontoon. (You can spot it festooned with a big bright American flag in the background of one of Piper’s collages.) So we finally felt like tourists out on our lake putzing around – no gill nets, cork lines, lead lines, chaos – just floatin’ in slow motion. All we’re missing is the heat! I’m glad our girls are learning mechanical skills and a general knowledge of “how stuff works” with their acquiring of various pieces of equipment and large used toys for their Alaskan lifestyle. I respect the hardcore, real world skills needed to keep things running.
(Ed. Note: Celebrity Wife Swap)
Enough sport fishing for now though, or as Todd says,”Enough playing with our food,” because our commercial fishing season soon peaks. The guys have headed over to Bristol Bay to slay salmon at our sites while I stay back awhile to get Piper to basketball camps, do some work for FOX, finish my Christmas book, then travel Outside for various events.
Have a great pre-Independence Day week. Take time to appreciate the bounty we’re blessed with on God’s green earth. I encourage you to get outdoors, breathe it all in, and be thankful!
Enjoy these recipes. Eat dessert first:
Faye Palin’s Simple, Perfect Pie Crust
(Note: This amount makes extra so you can also bake some “Kids’ Crust” with drizzled butter and sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top. Plus, if you’re like me, when you indelicately roll out the dough and it falls apart you can use the extra to plug holes and cracks in the pie crust; it tastes just as delicious!)
Caution: if you’re annoyed by these detailed instructions, I don’t want to hear it. I often explain kitchenese in simple and exact terms because my kids followed in my footsteps and took Shop Class in school instead of Home Ec (Do they even teach Home Ec anymore?!). Thankfully, while growing up my mom cooked three squares a day in our small town without any big grocery stores or even a McDonalds, and she was a 4-H and Scout leader, so we all garnered good old-fashioned cooking and sewing skills in those groups and in Campfire Girls. It was through osmosis we learned to cook from mom! Nowadays, not so much. So forgive the elementary instructions – they’re written for my Taco Bell-addicted kids and their peers.
2 1/2 C. flour
2 Tsp. salt
1 C. vegetable oil
6 Tbsp. cold water (You may need a tiny bit more or less cold water to sprinkle in to moisten the dough as you mix it)
Mix flour and salt. Add oil; mix with fork until it looks like meal. Sprinkle with the water; mix with fork or curved pastry blender until it looks like pie dough you may have seen on a TV commercial.
Glob the dough together. Press into three balls, one larger than the others. Roll the larger ball of dough (this is your bottom crust) between two long strips of waxed or parchment paper (so there’s less mess!). Place paper-side-up in pie pan. Peel off the paper and then fill ‘er up with the rhubarb mixture (Click here for recipe); trim edges. Roll the top crust the same way. Trim it ½” beyond pie plate rim. Fold under. Seal and flute. Google “fluting” if you don’t get it. I like pinching the edges using left pointer finger between right finger and thumb. Cut decorative ventilating slits in middle of this top crust (when I bake this as a gift I carve the recipient’s initials in it, but whatever yanks your crank). The key to a golden shiny top crust is to brush on a small amount of milk and sprinkle sugar atop before placing it in the oven.The glaze is gorgeous.
Hint: Measure the flour by dip-level method (meaning level off the cup using a straight edged tool – like the back of a table knife) to guarantee an exact level cup.
Now, most of our family recipes are perfected by eyeballing and just getting a feel for ingredient amounts and baking techniques, but Faye has taught us that by always being exact in these crust measurements, the consistency is always good. When you roll the dough out between the paper sheets, you can roll it very thin. You just have to be patient when you peel back the paper as you place the crust atop the pie. (Maybe that’s my “indelicacy” problem and explains why Faye’s pies look prettier than anyone else’s – one has to exercise patience!) I promise you this is superb!
Final Note to Kids Baking: Do the dishes. Or the pie won’t turn out right.
Recipe for quick halibut preps that family and friends loved the other night, one fried and one grilled… so easy I can’t even mess ‘em up:
Use a store-bought box of beer batter mix and one flat beer (“don’t drink it if the mountains aren’t blue”). You can’t go wrong. (If you’re out camping with limited supplies, you can adapt and use your pancake mix.) Cut halibut into inch-and-a-half sized chunks. Follow instructions on the box of mix and dip fish into the batter to coat the little chunks. Heat cooking oil in a frying pan (I like to cook it outside or else my kitchen smells like fish for three days and no candle masks that), or use a deep fat fryer. Dip these white nuggets into hot oil for a couple of minutes and turn over for just a couple more minutes. Remove the meat and place on paper towels. You’ll know you cooked it long enough if the fish cuts easily with a fork and it’s quite white inside and golden brown crispy outside. Mom makes homemade tarter sauce; I buy it. Either way, serve it up with tarter and/or our newly discovered delight – jalapeno flavored Greek Yogurt Dip – and enjoy this scrumptious fare from the sea!
Another way: place a halibut fillet on Pam-sprayed tinfoil; drizzle with melted butter, lightly sprinkle with lemon pepper, add sliced onions on top, then glob on a mix of mayonnaise and sour cream, then generously pour grated cheeses and crumbled potato chips as the meat’s mountain pose. Cover with foil and place on pre-heated grill or over a campfire. Cook until the meat is white and flakey. Seriously, angels must eat this in the great by-and-by. It’s that good. I wish I could cook it for you.
Thank you for following us on social media, thank you for your support; thank you for loving the simple things in life that add to this great country’s exceptionalism.
- Sarah Palin