I remember when I was little, I told my dad and my Granny that I hated trout. My dad loved eating it, but I refused to have anything to do with it. I don't really know why, as I had never tried it, it just seemed like a strange thing to eat. Since my mom raised me and we ate primarily vegetables, I tended to shy away from most foods that had eyeballs in its heyday. I was scared of chicken because I had watched a news article once that warned against e-coli, and beef was definitely something to stay away from after I learned about mad cow disease. Ironically, I did eat a hamburger when I was visiting England.....perhaps I am not the most careful listener...

Today I am so proud to announce that I have gotten over my apprehension and LOVE trout! The other day Leah came over and we decided to try our hand at fishing. Well, she is quite adept at fishing, I was trying my hand if we are going to be specific. Anyway, Harper and I clambered into the car, Harper only a little more eager than I, and we headed off to the creek. I later learned that inviting a dog on our fishing trip might not have been the best idea in the world, but she sure had fun and I can't help but want to make her happy so Harper Lee joined us on our fishing expedition.

As we approached the fishing hole, tiptoeing over braches and small bunches of leaves that vaguely resembled poison ivy, Harper tore through the woods and splashed head first into the water. She then proceeded to run laps as fast as her legs could carry her, around and around, up the bank and back into the water, jumping over rocks and limbs and splashing into the creek and back out of it.

Crouched on the bank, Leah plucked a fat worm from the plastic cup she brought and wound him around the hook hanging from my fishing line. She then did the same to hers. I like to keep it humane so that is as graphic as I plan to get. Leah dug up the worms herself from a patch of moist dirt in her yard. I was impressed. I tossed my hook into the gurgling water flowing swiftly over a few boulders in its way. Suddenly (really, much sooner than I ever expected) there was a little yank on my line. !! I cranked and cranked and reeled in a trout that measured maybe 2 inches in length, having a diameter of maybe a quarter of an inch. Leah showed me how to remove the hook and very ambitious snack from its mouth and gently place him back in the river, making sure to let him re-acclimate himself to the temperature of the chilly water.

The fish Leah caught!
Thunder rumbled above us as we kept casting our lines into the river. I became a little anxious that wielding bits of metal over a body of water in the middle of a thunderstorm might not be the best idea and was hoping to pack it up pretty soon. As I was thinking that, Leah caught a fish almost large enough to keep. Amazingly enough Harper had not managed to scare off all of the fish from the hole with her lap running or snag herself on an errant hook lying on the bank. She stopped just long enough though to dump over the tub of worms and investigate the contents. Just as a huge crack of thunder sounded overhead Leah caught a fish that looked underwater to be maybe significant enough to take home. As it emerged from the creek we saw that it was perhaps a foot long, its brown spots gleaming in the light.

So proud :-)
I am skipping over the part where we killed the fish, though I will say that the ordeal left Leah and I both spotted with blood, scrubbing our hands in the creek to avoid looking like guilty murderers. The fish did not suffer though, which I think is important. We proudly took it home (slipped in an empty Salt and Cracked Pepper Kettle Chips bag) and filleted it as we had seen our dads and tv characters do. We might not have done it quite right, but it seems all of the parts that are not suitable for consuming were sufficiently removed.

The final product.
 I played Chopped and found a couple of ingredients in the fridge and cupboard that would accompany a fillet of trout. We baked the fish, stuffing it with cilantro and lime (because that is what we had) and packing it in a blanket of damp salt. It emerged from the oven beautifully, the salt brick flaking off effortlessly and the pink flesh was bright and moist. I piled the the fish on top of a heap of risotto with a hint of truffle oil and citrusy steamed spinach. It may not have been a perfect pairing, but we thought it was the best dinner ever. To be able to catch and totally make our own dinner felt empowering and exciting. I know it shouldn't be such a novelty to do such a thing as our ancestors always did that, and my grandparents even traded store bought items for eggs from their farm but I have always been afforded the novelty of a supermarket. During this process I thought of my Granny, growing her own vegetables, butchering chickens who lived on her farm, and frying the fish my dad and grandfather caught from the very same creek.

Stay tuned for part two, the story of my second fishing adventure, this time with my dad, and cooking a more traditional trout dinner.