Friday, May 5, 2017

Gone Fishin': Asian Style Panfish

"The first time we did it I was scared to death. She snuck out in that cotton dress. Jumped on in and we drove to the lake, put her hand on my knee and said 'I can't wait!' I had everything we needed in the bed of my truck... turns out my baby loves to... Fish! She wants to do it all the time, early in the mornin' and in the middle of the night! She's hooked and now she can't get enough! Man that girl sure loves to ...Fish!" - Craig Campbell

My girl had never landed a fish in her life, and that just didn't seem right to me. So, with my knee on the mend we loaded up Sweet Dee (my aluminum monster of a canoe) and headed to a secret secluded lake a couple of weeks back. 

I knew that we could go all day without necessarily hooking a trout or bass, but I wanted some good fun and plenty of action so we paddled across to the shallows, tossed in some hooks and line and had ourselves a great time!

Our targeted species of the day is quite possible the most ferocious freshwater species in California... the bluegill. Now bluegill are not known to be a trophy fish by any means, but they sure hit hard and frequently! And for Diane's first real fishing experience I figured we could have a lot of fun landing fish all day. And boy did we!

By the end of a few hours on the lake we must have brought in 30 fish (eight of which we kept).

The following evening I scaled the fish and we got to cooking using an Asian method of frying the fish whole until golden brown, followed by poaching with soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, green onion, etc. 

Diane also made some excellent bok choy and a traditional Chinese cucumber salad which paired perfectly with our fresh caught pan-fish! The subsequent meal was exquisite!

I am seven days away from beginning my Qualifying Exams for my Ph.D. so I will not have another story for you until the end of the month. I hear the striped bass are running in the Sacramento River now, so if you get a chance...try to get out there and greet them with a rod and reel!

Keep the old ways alive!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

More Clams, More Mushrooms, and Camping on the Coast

"One thing I know, no matter where I go, I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks!"- Little Big Town

Before I begin to tell the story of our coastal foray the other day, I have to say, I have bad news as far as my bipedal mobility is concerned. I went out for a quick ride on my skateboard the other night to get my blood pumping as I had been working on the final touches on my most recent draft of my dissertation proposal the whole day. Fifteen minutes later, my wheels locked up in a crack in the pavement and I went flying forward, striking my kneecap on the pavement. A CT scan and a few X-rays later revealed that I had sustained several fractures to the patella. That's right, my kneecap was in five pieces!

Painful is a massive understatement! But I have subsequently undergone knee surgery and am currently on the mend. 

It may be a while before I have a decent new foraging story for you as I cannot walk, but in the meantime, here's my recollection of a great weekend with my lady-friend Diane, our buddies Nick and Jeremy, and a few other good friends and family who stopped by for the day. 

Diane and I hit the coast on a Friday and set up the tent near sunset.

We could see that the tide was way out and that the evening clamming could be quite good the following day. *It is illegal to harvest clams any later than a half hour after sunset in the state of California so we would have to wait until the following afternoon to dig.
We made an excellent pasta the first night and relaxed around the fire after harvesting some local cypress wood to burn.
The next morning after pancakes, coffee, spam and eggs, we headed to a secret spot to meet up with our buddy Jeremy for a little mushroom hunting.

 It's quite easy to pass by a patch of cryptic black trumpets huh?

The forest floor was covered with edible fungi. Though at first we did have to hike a bit to find the right mix of shade, moisture, and mix of conifer and tan oak duff.

But soon after we were loading up on black trumpets, winter chantrelles, hedgehogs, and even a few oyster mushrooms!

 Jeremy found his first black trumpets!

Diane got her first trumpets, hedgehogs, and winter chantrelles!

After a massive bounty of excellent fungi, we made our way to the edge of the woods with just enough time for cooking up a little wild harvested lunch before heading back for the clam harvest.

We sauteed some of the mushrooms in oil and garlic and added them to bread with a spread of goat cheese and a dash of balsamic vinegar (a simple seasonal snack that is always well received). We also ate the last piece of king salmon that I caught on my dad's boat a few months back (and he subsequently smoked for me). We were all smiles!

Jeremy headed back to Sacramento to dry his massive harvest of coastal fungi!

In the meantime, Diane and I made our way to the coastal mud flats to meet up with Nick, my brother, Jeff, his son, Robert, and his sons for a little clamming. My older brother Justin, of course, showed us all how it was done ;) He had a limit of 50 littleneck clams in half the time the rest of us were able to dig 30 a piece!

We used modified water jugs for buckets to hold our quarry, and though we didn't get as many clams this time as Diane and I did the time before, we still cleaned up and went back to camp with plenty for an incredible wild mushroom-little neck clam chowder (with enough clams for a subsequent clam sauce spaghetti with Diane's roommate Cindy). 

It was Nick's first time clamming and he got a nice harvest! He enjoyed it so much he took his girl back out last weekend and did it all over again!

Wish me luck healing up so I can meet you out in the woods soon. In the meantime, get out there soon on your own, with friends, family and loved ones, and have yourself a lot of laughs while pursuing the delicious harvests that only wintertime brings!

Keep the old ways alive!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hillbilly Hunting and Clamming with Class

"I'm like a little troll who lives on nothing but river water and squirrel meats!" - Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

My brother and I headed deep into the woods for a little squirrel hunt the other day. We encountered hears of elk, huge flocks of doves, and a pair of golden eagles! It was pretty amazing!

Late in the day my brother had two squirrels in the bag and we both had wide grins!

My brother cooked up a nice batch of squirrel with dumplings and he said it was incredible!


Next, my ladyfriend heard about how much fun clamming was the other day. She had never been clamming before, so the two of us hit the coast for the low tide and had a great sunset foray! The night before, Diane kept threatening to bring her classy gold rain boots with heals. The idea of her tromping around the mud in those boots had me cracking up!

In no time she had her first legal sized littleneck clam!

We had to race the sun as you can only legally take clams until a half hour after sunset. However, by that time we had plenty of mussels and ninety clams (just ten short of our limit) as we repaired the portions of the beach we had excavated and reburied juvenile clams to let them grow for next season.

By early evening we patiently waited as our clam appetizer steamed in sea water and onions. The subsequent beach-feast and clam chowder with our wild harvested black trumpet mushrooms were absolutely superb!

Well, the tides will be low again soon and we hope to greet them with shovels, buckets, and big smiles!

Keep the old ways alive!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Clams, Fungi, and Other Wintertime Forays

"The two of you are walking around in the sewer, naked, looking for rings and coins?"- Dennis. "You feel em with your feet! It's almost like clamming!"- Frank, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

My good old buddy Matt and I reconnected after some years over marine mud flats and hidden gems...I am of course speaking of winter's bountiful bivalves...clams!!!!

But before we get into that, check out the hefty harvest my buddy Alex and I gathered in the coastal woodlands the day before! Black trumpets, angel wings, hedgehogs, jelly teeth, and even a few candy caps and a golden chanterelle! So many good meals!

Alright, now back to the nitty gritty we call clamming!

After careful excavation with a shovel (and not so careful excavation on hands and knees with black muck-covered bare hands, stained shirts and black and blue jeans), we came up with our first haul of horseneck clams. Next we made our way to the rocky and gravely edge of the low tide mark and scraped up my limit (50) of little neck clams, aka steamers, in approximately fifteen minutes!

We were all smiles! The subsequent clam calamari and chowder were so good I forgot to get pics!

A few days later I hit the inland riparian forest with my buddy Eric for his first mushroom hunt and we cleaned up! He had a full bag of oyster mushrooms in a few hours!

Next, I took my lady friend Diane into "the wild" for some fungi fun. We located a beautiful cluster of velvet foots and a few bear's Heads in no time flat!

So much wild food, so little time! And yeah, we used the last Dungeness crab I caught to make crab ravioli with sage-butter-mushroom sauce for dinner...not too bad at all!

Well, duck season is in full swing, and I will be headed out to meet it just as soon as I bail all the rainwater out of my canoe!

Hope to see you out there enjoying all the fun and adventure the wet winter weather has to offer!

Keep the old ways alive!