My internal alarm woke me up at 5:30 this morning. I poured a cup of coffee and sat out on the deck enjoying the gray light of the encroaching dawn in the company of a plump squirrel who was busy scurrying around the base of our palm tree and a few buzzing no-see-um’s hovering about my ears. It was a Folger’s moment.
Our lake is packed this weekend with holiday water lovers so lights twinkle from houseboat windows here and there and at night it sounds like a tribe of warring Sioux have set up camp on our hillsides. It doesn’t bother me, the noise that is, I could sleep through the house sliding down the hill and into the water and still only turn over on my opposite side and catch another hour or so.
My enthusiasm for the early morning hours is not shared by my other half, and certainly not the inordinate amount of energy I seem to possess at that time of the day. For him, putting away dishes at 6:00 a.m. is, at the very least annoying, and although he can’t find it on the books he’s convinced there’s probably an ordinance prohibiting such a primitive practice. As his head often doesn’t hit the linen until after 2:00 in the morning we often share a cup of coffee in the wee hours and then he goes off to bed while I begin my day.
I walk two miles every other morning at the dam close to the house. This morning was no exception except that since I was up, I arrived just after 6:00 a.m. rather than my normal time of 7:00. There was a slight breeze coming off the water and the promise of a sunny day was evident in the orangey yellow glow just behind the ridge. Absolutely peaceful and great for getting your head on straight before the world and all it brings with it catches up with you.
Two options as far as view are available across the dam. On one side the lake and the foothills surrounding it, and on the other side the deep drop down to the valley floor below and the Feather River and beyond that a view of the valley that seems to stretch straight out to the Pacific Ocean.
Fisherman were obvious in the distance even this early with their running lights reflecting on the water. One boat, closer to shore than the others, sent a murmur of conversation through the air from time to time as I made my way along the path. At one point a flock of geese broke the silence in a V-formation then headed off noisily in a northerly direction. Other than that, there was no sound but that of my feet moving along the asphalt.
I miss fishing. Sadly I don’t even have a pole anymore. My first fish was hooked when I was thirty-eight. As a little girl in Nova Scotia literally surrounded by fishing villages with fishing boats everywhere you looked I never dropped a line. My people were not really the outdoorsy type, although my grandfather loved the beach and we would spend hours walking there. I mean the type of humans that would wake up at 5:00 a.m. and wade through cold water and reeds to go duck hunting.
In my early thirties my second husband and I owned a lovely A-frame cabin in Bass Lake, California which is about 25 mins. from the Yosemite basin. I cast a line from time to time off the deck there, but nothing beneath the water showed much interest in doing anything about it and I probably didn’t either, so we let it go as a draw and that was that.
In 1989 I found myself unexpectedly living in Longview, Washington which is just across the Oregon border on the southern end of the state. Silver Lake was an easy drive from Longview, and is touted as one of the best large mouth bass lakes in that part of Washington. The lake sits in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens. When we were there you could see the trees scattered like pick-up sticks all along the hillsides. It was an eerie feeling, giving you a real understanding for what those inhabitants who were close by had to deal with when the mountain decided to show its muscle.
My third husband (please refer to your scorecards) was from Texas and an expert fly and fresh water fisherman. No woman of his was going to be ignorant about casting a line or sharing the experience of floating quietly in a boggy marsh before the sun shows its face and, it seemed, I was to be no exception. Anything to do with the water has me signing up right away, so very early on a Saturday we packed a lunch, our fishing gear, two rods and our Shih Tzu, Sushi (no, she was not extra bait) and headed toward the lake.
Launching the metal boat with the small I/O was easy, and before long we were enjoying a hot cup of coffee in our thermos lids and floating silently among the rushes. He taught me much about fishing. In truth I’ve always been dreadful at impaling the poor worm, but I must say I love the lazy movement of the bobber on the surface of the water as a fish teases the bait and the feeling of setting the hook and bringing in your catch. It kind of makes you feel like you could survive if you needed to on what was provided for you to do so. We threw back what we didn’t need and kept the rest for the grill that evening.
That day we caught Crappie and bass and that night we fileted them and well seasoned they presented themselves on our plates with slices of lemon and sprigs of rosemary. Yum, truly.
This recipe I reserve for special occasions as saffron is an expensive ingredient. It’s worth it though believe me.
Special Occasion Scallops
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. curry powder
1 shallot, finely diced
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 oz. white wine
1/2 tsp. tarragon
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 1/4 tsp. lime juice
1 qt. sour cream
3 1/2 lbs. scallops, muscle removed
1/4 cup water
1 oz. chicken soup base
3 strands saffron
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Combine water, soup base and saffron and heat separately.
Melt butter in large saucepan. Add curry powder and shallot. Cook over low heat about 5 mins. Whisk in flour and cook an additional 5 mins. Add wine and blend well. Allow mixture to thicken. Stir in soup base/saffron/water mixture. Add tarragon, and both peppers. Add sour cream in 2 cup increments heating between each addition. Put through fine strainer, add parsley and cool.
Place scallops in casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Pour sauce on top and place in refrigerator to marinate for 24 hrs.
Remove from refrigerator. Sprinkle with cheese. Place in 500 degree oven for 10-12 mins.