Green Fairy Salmon from the Grave

Whilst shopping for my New Year’s Day Open House, I found salmon on sale at the Uptown Lunds. They had sides of both Coho and, I think, King. Both were richly colored and dark, but the Coho was much, much, much cheaper. Back in the meat department, I asked if they had a good sized side, and I ended up with about a two-pound piece. I also purchased some coriander, just to ensure I already had some, and another hunk of dill.

2 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon allspice berries
4 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 2-pound salmon fillet, skin on
1 cup chopped fresh dill

Gravlax is essentially salt and sugar cured salmon. Dill is the standard herb, and pepper, that other essential Scandinavian spice, is the second. The outline of the recipe I used, DILLED GRAVLAX WITH MUSTARD SAUCE also added coriander, which is why I bought some. I’m going to guess that any of the bitter herbs and spices would work: fennel, caraway, tarragon, licorice, anise, etc. As usual, I opened up several online recipes and kinda winged it. I did not make the mustard sauce. Why ruin good salmon?

The main recipe said to toast the spice. I toasted two teaspoons black and white peppercorns, coriander, and some allspice berries. I put them in the mortar and had at them with the pestle. When they started getting toward crushed, I threw some of the salt on it and pounded away a bit longer.

I ended up using a wire nippers to pull the bones out of the salmon, and I gave up about a third of the way to the tail. (You want to leave the skin on the fish for cutting.)

I washed and coarsely chopped a mess o’ dill. The dill is traditional, and it’s good, but it can be used in almost any amount.

I mixed the salt and spice mixture with brown sugar (about equal to the salt). I’m sure there’s a level of salt and sugar that you don’t want to go below, but as long as you’re above that, the salt and the sugar amounts, kind, and type are up to you.

The recipe says to prick the skin of the salmon, which I did since the fish is firmly dead anyway, although I don’t think I have before. You simply rub the spice, sugar, and salt cure all over the salmon, and the dill on top. Most recipes will ask you to weigh down the salmon in a non-reactionary pan, but I find a good old plastic zip-lock bag is a lot simpler. After I got the fish in the bag, I tossed in a good glug of absinthe. If the salmon is too long for the bag, just fold the tail over. When the fish goes into the fridge, it’s dry, but the salt and sugar rapidly draw fluid from the fish, and turn to liquid. You’ll want to keep the salmon submerged in the liquid. You can submerge it in water to get the air out, or just fold it. The goal is to cure the salmon by keeping it in the liquid, and you can perform any ritual you want to ensure this.

After a couple of days, the color of the fish will have turned darker, and you’ll want to slice it against the skin. You can clean the salmon before slicing if you want, but we did not. The absinthe, which was quite strong if you sniffed the bag, was merged with the peppers, coriander, and allspice. It was a lot more peppery than the gravlax I’ve made before, but I really liked the flavor of the fish, and it was gone by the end of the night.

I’m back!

I spent most of July and the early part of August in Europe, about a week each in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Madrid, and Lisbon. I also spent some time in Azay-le-Rideau with friends in the Loire valley. I took a lot of pics, most of which seem to not show the things I think were memorable — climbing stairs in Lisbon (everywhere and all uphill, curse you Google Maps), the food and places in France, Madrid, and Lisbon. I spent a lot of time in museums and art galleries, and most let me take pictures. (And I did take pictures) The Prado, sadly, does not let you take pictures, and one of the highlights of the trip was the Prado, especially the Bosch exhibit at the Prado. Anyway, pictures coming. way too many pictures coming. The rambling security people in the Lisbon airport asked me which country/city I liked the most — I declined to answer it and he still let me on the plane.

It’s the One Week Anniversary!

My last day at work was Tuesday, March 15, 2016. I’m still in a bit of a holding pattern, spending a great deal of time getting quite little done. I still have not unpacked the things I brought home from my desk at work, although the lemon cookies seem to be vanishing, and I don’t think it’s mice getting into them.

1.0. Medical Insurance. The great wasteland of America where Republicans think you can so easily shop for on your own so they have created a maze that would do a Minotaur proud. You must choose A, you may choose, B, or C, and possible D, but if you choose B, you’re locked out of C, and if you didn’t do it yesterday, we’re gonna fine you.

2.0. 401k. Move the old company 401k account over to the regular accounts. Even my index fund strategy has not been doing great against the vicissitudes o’ the market this year.

3.0. House projects. I have two started and one more I hope to add.

3.1. Gas fireplace liner goes in on Friday, or so it’s scheduled. Someone hates the wood fire, and, in truth, the damned wood fireplace smokes like the chimney was bricked up or partially obstructed. While before the winter storm warning for the southern part of the state would have been nice, I won’t cry too hard if it does not get much use this spring.

3.2. I’m having the stair handrail extended down to the first step. It’s not going to match the upper run of balusters or the handrail for that matter, and the staining is going to be up to me, but it should be close enough. It’s switching to over-the-post at the bottom and the newel post will be considerable different than the other two. (They have told me they can’t use the elaborate volute I’d dreamed of with it’s circled wagon of balusters at the bottom that I’ve been jonesing for.) The 1907 red oak balusters taper from the middle to each end, and I could not find them, although they could be custom made — in three sizes of course and four sets of three sizes for the short run of the steps. So, the balusters I asked them to get only taper to the top.

3.3. When the weather improves a wee bit, pick up something to run a new handrail up to the upstairs upstairs. There’s a piece hiding in the upstairs upstairs that ustta be there, just a plain pine handrail, but I didn’t like it, and if I remember right, it was poorly attached to the wall. Anyway, it has been up there since shortly after I moved into the house. I’m so used to using the narrow stairs, that they don’t bother me, although other people seem not to have the same feeling about them. I’d looked at some fancy handrail brackets, but would like to do something just with wood. Pigs ear would be nice, but seems unheard of this side o’ the pond. I think I’d like to do something more rectangular and boardy, if that makes any sense.

3.4. I have long dreamed about replacing the upstairs upstairs door with a set of double doors. When the current door is open, it partially obstructs my office door. I’ve gone out several times on the internet to price two double doors, and generally come close to fainting when I looked at the estimated price. Of course, I’ve always had five panel doors quoted, which would match the plethora of other doors on the second floor. Before I left for the Caribbean, I checked at Menards, who used not to be able to get doors as small as I needed, and asked them to price a single panel doors with the goal of using wood to divide the single panel up into five panels on each side of each door, which is something that I think I can do. (Ain’t no way I’m going to make two five panel doors.) Menards called me when I was on the island, and, while I swear I wrote down the quote, I can’t find it, and neither can they, but it was much more, err, reasonable than the other quotes. (Just lacking four panels on each door.) So, that may be worth attempting. I’ve a friend who’s a handyman and can help cutting the hinges and the mortise work.

Little lights, little lights, who made thee?

I bought a set of small LED lights from Amazon, the tiny kind on clear-coated copper wire. They come in a small round container rolled around a large toilet paper roll, which holds the transformer and cord. I took them out of the box once or twice, looked at them, and then set them in one of the geological epochs on my desk. Come Halloween, I rescued them and went downstairs with some vague thought about wrapping them around the stair spindles, whereupon somebody was quite dismissive, until thoughts of a season which shall not be named until after Thanksgiving occurred. Then somebody took over, unrolled the lights and headed up to the top of the stair with the end of the string of lights. Now the only outlet anywhere along the main stairway is at the bottom, so I didn’t think starting at the top with the other end of the lights was really a great idea.

After a rather overlong discussion of what might work, and we started wrapping the spindles (from the bottom) which ended up with us re-wrapping the wire on an actual toilet paper roll to facilitate passing it through the spindles. After a few spindles were wrapped, it became obvious that there was more spindles than wire to wrap them in, and the process was reversed and a weaving process was started that brought the lights up and down the stair way about four times. A couple of rubber bands have been added to provide stability to the end-points (the spindles are smooth symmetrically turned wood, fatter in the middle than the ends).

I added a timer to the transformer for the coming months of darkness.

Ittsa chip and a credit card!

I see that my home town credit union is using the Euro-style chip cards to replace my Visa card. My last card had a bill from an unfamiliar merchant in China. Now it is entirely possible that I ordered something on eBay or Amazon from a merchant in China, but probably not at a woman’s specialty store in Shanghai, especially since the bill was not enuff for a boi-toy.