At the dock at the back of the bay, I met another troller who lived on an island near Craig. He’d helped replace my brother in law’s engine in Craig, and replaced an alternator for Paul once in Port Protection. That’s Southeast Alaska commercial fishing for you. I didn’t realize I missed it that much til I came back to it.
Andrew started his new job after working two jobs, supporting two families, and getting his masters degree. His new job leaves more time to fish and overnight out of town, and he was ready to go to the cabin for fishing and berry picking. My boat is in the shop so we borrowed Jeff and Kurt’s skiff. I always feel like a 20 something again on the tiller handle of a skiff. We fished in the rain all day and not a strike.
We headed to the cabin. Andrew was soon down for a nap and I steamed the crab from the pots. I’d noticed some big red huckleberries on the hike in, and told him I was off to berry pick. He perked up and grabbed the other berry rake and away we went. I had him pick blueberries and blue huckleberries and I soloed on the red huckleberries. We picked for about an hour and got a quart or two each.
I used the blueberries in the pancakes this morning and Andrew was impressed. They don’t really have berries in Sierra Leone that I remember- just the bigger fruits like oranges, pineapple, guava and mango. He was also impressed at the volume of berries in the woods. It’s really incredible this time of year. He asked how else he could eat them, and when he mentioned smoothies, I said yes, that’s a common use. Samuel loves smoothies he said, and they’d try them. I told him berries are like salmon – you can pretty much fill your freezer with them. So maybe I’ll get a berry picking partner now.
We pulled the pots in the morning and had more crab. Andrew was getting the idea. I rarely leave the cabin without some food stuff going to the freezer.
We headed north to try a spot nephew John and I fished daily years ago. We put our gear down and in less than 5 minutes, Andrew had a nice chrome coho on. We got it to the net and into the boat. I put it on a stringer, broke a gill, and put it over the side to bleed. We fished the rest of the morning in dry weather and not another strike.
We pulled our gear a few hours later and headed to the dock, just as more rain hit. It was pouring down now, but the dock was not far and we had our rain gear on so we just grinned and bared it.
I cleaned the crab and salmon at the dock. I cut off the tail section for Sara and I for dinner, and gave Andrew the rest of the salmon and the crab we caught this morning. The other crab and some king salmon we caught in Craig in June are going to a friend who recently lost her husband to sudden sickness a few months ago and her son before that a few years back when the crabber he was on went down in the Bering Sea. I know she will appreciate it.
I took an old friend and her friend fishing. We were headed out to Hand Trollers Cove after coho salmon. On the way through North Pass, I saw a whale blow. And then another. A mom and baby. We stopped to watch. My two passengers had moved to Anchorage from Juneau and Kodiak, so didn’t see whales like they used to.
We were the only boat there, unlike the summer, when there could be 20 whale watch boats lining the short of the pass. The water was flat calm. Then the calf breached. Again and again. It was just us. Watching. When I was a whale watch captain, I could see the whales, but aside from hearing them blow, I could hear nothing else over the engines. Now we could hear the splash of every leap. Mother was nearby, and humped her back to dive. We could even hear the tail come up and out of the water as she dove. The calf breached for about 15 minutes, and we continued watching for another 15 minutes and then motored down to the cove.
We caught a nice coho for the day, but just the one. The whale show made the day, and with the tourist economy all but shut down, I felt like we were stealing from someone, having all this to ourselves.
Along with my own patch, I have a trapline of people in town who let me pick their rhubarb. I think most inherited their plants with their homes and just don’t use it.
After I harvest, I dice it up and vacuum pack in about 4 cup bags. The freezer is filling up with rhubarb. I’ve made jam with rhubarb alone, rhubarb and cherries, pies, and chutney. But after canning cases of all of these, the rhubarb still continues to grow in the freezer.
I started making bagels when the pandemic started. I’ve tried making bread many times in the past. I can do all of the mixing and kneading and rising with the bread, but bake time was always a wild card. The recipe might call for 50 minutes, and I’d pull the bread out then. When we’d go to eat it, it was soft in the middle. Probably needed 5 or 10 minutes more.
Bagels are different. You make the dough, let it rise a couple times, shape bagels, and let it rise again. The cooking part is alot more fool proof: First you boil, them you bake. The bagels are supposed to be chewy. And chewy is a big range. They always come out okay.
So, how to use the rhubarb. I’ve tried adding some to batches, and have gradually increased the amount of rhubarb. The last batch, I used 4.5 cups of flour with teaspoon of salt. 1 cup of sourdough starter with a 1.5 teaspoons of yeast, and 2 cups of rhubarb puree. The rhubarb puree is 2 cups of diced rhubarb with sugar sprinkled on top, baked in the toaster oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, and then pureed in the Vitamix.
I put the puree in the bottom of the kitchen aid bowl, then poured in the dry flour and salt, and then the sourdough starter with yeast, and mixed with the kitchen aid bread hook. I added a little water as the hook worked the dough as needed until it was just moist enough to form a mass of dough that looked right, then let it knead with the bread hook for 10 minutes or so.
I did two, ~ 2 hour rises of the dough, and it had a slight reddish hue from the rhubarb.
After the second rise, I made rings of dough, and put them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and let them rise a bit longer.
On the stove, I put on about a gallon of water with a 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of baking soda to boil.
When the water was boiling, I boiled the bagels for a minute on each side, then put them on a rack drip dry.
I brushed the tops of them with egg white wash, put them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, and baked them for 20 minutes at 425 degrees.
The bagels came out nice and chewy, and you can’t tell or really taste the rhubarb.
I’m going to try to increase the rhubarb volume to 3 cups for the next batch and see how that goes.