Monday, April 17, 2023

Spring May Be A Little Late This Year . . .

Last week we had our first delightful taste of spring weather.  Lots of our winter's snow melted, my raised garden beds were free of their white covering and my daughter commented on the green weeds already poking up through the garden soil.
One afternoon when the temperature rose close to 60°, the sun was shining and we had no breeze.  Papa Pea and I stripped down to only the bare essentials and luxuriated on the deck soaking up some much needed rays of beautiful sunshine.

This is the scene that greeted me early this morning as I looked out our living room windows.  It was snowing and the wind was blowing with gusts up to 50 mph.

As I attempted to shovel the deck, it crossed my mind that perhaps we should not have hauled out the deck furniture this past weekend.
(Photo by our daughter)
We've never before had one single Junco at our peanut butter log feeder.  Today I filled it twice (unheard of in previous winters) and the Juncos never left it all day long.  (It's empty again.)
(Photo by our daughter)
Our (bewildered?) spring Robins spent their day in the dried asparagus ferns foraging what they could find.

Our daughter, standing in our living room looking out, took this picture of me trying to shovel the wooden walk by the well pump.
The snow has continued all day.  I have no idea how many inches we've accumulated because of the wind rearranging it as it falls.
Surely doesn't look like an early spring for us this year.  Nope.  Nuh-uh.  Sigh. 

Friday, April 7, 2023

Our Daughter Is A Ho

A Roe Ho, that is.  ;)

Our daughter was given some roe by a friend who had saved it for her from his annual netting of whitefish in one of our inland lakes.

Roe is another name for eggs harvested from a female fish.  And from roe, caviar is made.  She's done this several times in the past. Today we were the recipients of her efforts.  The following pictures are those she took of the process along with descriptions.

When the eggs come out of the female fish, they are enclosed in a casing holding them together (much like a hairnet).  From which they must be (carefully) extracted.  Oops, no pics of that.  Because, as DD said, it wasn't very photogenic.

After separating the eggs from the casing they are in, you manually pick out all the casing pieces and any stray fish scales (of which there are always a few). 

Above, L-R:  the discard pile, awaiting the delighted chickens; relatively clean roe, eggs in their casing soaking in brine.


 "Clean" roe awaiting the final cleaning.

After many repeated rinses of clean, ice cold water, you VERY gently spread the roe in a very thin layer to remove any further impurities.  The most crucial things is to not put any pressure on the eggs which would result in an oily, cream-colored smear rather than nice, clear, plump caviar.


Interesting aside here:  several years ago, our daughter worked in a local fishery for 2 or 3 seasons and, along with a really neat young woman from Russia, was assigned the task of salting the caviar (following the final cleaning).  (They called themselves Roe Hos.)  The final cleaning, before the salting and packing, is the time-consuming portion of making caviar and what makes it so expensive.  Because each fish egg is so very, very tender, they have to be "picked" by hand.  Meaning that, after washing and the removal of the "big stuff" (fish scales that slipped through and the membranes holding the eggs), the roe has to be thinly spread out (being careful not to burst a single eggy pillow) and inspected.  Any imperfections are then removed.  By hand.  (Imagine bending over tables doing that for 8 hours a day in a refrigerated room!)

Clockwise from bottom left:  final cleaning of roe, discards for chickens, fairly clean roe, caviar on ice.

Salt is what preserves the fish eggs and makes them into caviar.  Some people prefer to soak the roe in a specifically ratio-ed salt-to-water brine.  Others simply salt (with another closely guarded ratio) the fish eggs once they're completely clean.

Once that's all been done, you are left with . . . caviar! 

Whitefish caviar, being one of the least expensive caviars, is currently selling for $8.00/oz.  That makes this beautiful bowl full of locally-sourced omega-3s worth $168.56! 

Hmmm, now what kind of wine would be suitable for serving with caviar and crackers tonight?  (DD advises a dry white.)  You're all invited.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Working In A Freckle Cream Factory And How I Got There

When I was 16-17 years old, I worked in a three-story department store in the town where I grew up.  I worked there full-time during one summer and after school and all day Saturday during the following school year.  My pay was sixty cents an hours.  (Boy howdy, does that date me.)  In my department, we also got a discount on all clothes purchased which was a real incentive to me as a teenage girl.
Before the end of my first year there, a family friend of ours mentioned to my mom that the small factory in which she worked was looking for help and wondered if I might be interested in the job.
I went in for an interview with the owner of the company and was offered the job.  I told him I was eager to accept but would need to give a two-week notice to the department store.  I would then be ready to start in the factory when school let out for the summer.
On my next work shift, I went into Mr. Larkin's office, who was the manager of the department store, and gave him my notice of quitting.  He asked why I was leaving, so I told him of the job I had been offered and of the pay increase going up from sixty cents an hour to $1.00 an hour.  He told me that if I didn't mention it to other employees, he would offer me the dollar an hour to stay.  I thanked him but said I felt it was time to make the move.
So, dear reader, where is all this preamble leading?

To this magazine from 1925 that my daughter shared with me a few days ago.
What a blast looking through it, reading the articles and looking at the many ads the magazine contained.

Imagine my surprise when I came across this ad for Stillman's Freckle Cream.  The very same small company I started working for when I left the department store in 1960!
Stay tuned.  Next blog post . . . my job and adventures working at the freckle cream factory.