Steelhead Trout Northwest style w/dill sauce

Decapitating the trout

Rog brought home two ginormous trout last month, just in time for me to cook it for a couple out of town executives he told me we were entertaining (with 1 hour notice).

In that kind of time, there is only one choice, which, all things considered, works perfectly well for a party of 8-10, and requires limited prep. I highly recommend this simple, amazing, Sarah-created, recipe, along with the simple sides for a super meal.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

You will need:

  • Tinfoil
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 medium to large onion
  • Coconut oil (natural, unrefined if you have it)
  • Lemon salt
  • The trout
Open the trout (I had to cut the head off myself. Ugh. Good thing I have a big butcher knife). My ovens are the largest one can buy outside a commercial kitchen. This bad boy was so long, I had to tuck the tail under.

  1. Fillet the trout (mine came filleted and gutted).
  2. Lay out the tinfoil on the baking sheet (I used one with curled edges to prevent run-off)
  3. Lay the trout inside
  4. Open it up and using a spoon, knife or spatula, spread a nice layer of the coconut oil on the inside. Follow this with a sprinkle of the lemon salt/pepper mix, followed by the sliced up onions and lemons.
  5. Close the trout, and repeat the process above. Even though you won’t eat the skin, I’m convinced the flavours seep in to the fish.
Cook for approximately 2.5 hours, until the fish is just flakey. This is important. If it’s truly flakey, like a croissant, it will in reality, be dry once the fish has a chance to rest.
Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes. This is also key, as the fish needs time to come back together (e.g. firm up) before you start slicing it apart.
Serve with your choice of rice, asparagus or other salad and you are ready to go!

Now for the Dill Sauce.

I must say, I was a bit offended. The discriminating fishers who attended this feast liked the dill sauce as much, or more, than the fish itself (and this is saying something. The two guests, both in their late 50’s, hovered by the oven, looking/poking, and have fished since they were boys. I was under pressure).

Dill Sauce

                  1/3 cup sour cream
                  1/3 cup mayonnaise
                  1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
                  1 teaspoon lemon juice
                  1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
                  3/4 teaspoon dill weed
                  1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
              Pepper to taste

Discarding food storage

A sunny day in Seattle is to be cherished. Adored like a bright, glimmering object that, like Cinderella in a bubble, will suddenly burst and leave us with a dirty floor and clouds. It is not a time to be squandered, indulgently spent indoors, downstairs, in the food storage room.

Yet today it was.

rotten tomatoes Old food: A fact of food storage life
Old food stinks in any form

There is a backstory. With me, there always is. I’ve recently been asked to visit a woman who has been through some trying times. She and her husband, both accountants, are preparing to send their only daughter off to college, live in a lovely home and in their late forties/early fifties. Over warm banana bread, she revealed that her husband recently landed a job after being unemployed for three years. Through savings and a lot of food storage, they had made it through the first year and a half, relatively unscathed. After that, they had no money for food.

“When you are choosing between the mortgage and food, you choose the mortgage.”

Their church welfare system helped out, making up the difference in food supplies. Her income afforded the basic necessities of utilities gas etc. Beyond the fact that I’d lived in complete oblivion of her situation (from the outside, I’d never have guessed, unless she’d confided in me), I was amazed she had stored away enough food for a solid year and a half. Enough for two adults, one child, two pets, and relatives that had come to stay at her home due to dire circumstances of their own.

Today after church, as Rog took the chitlens to the park, I passed on the gratiutous suntanning on the lawn an opted for the task of taking an accounting of my own food storage. I’d been preening to my mother about having a full six months of wet food (can soups and the like) and a year of dry goods (flour, oatmeal, dried eggs and milk etc).

“And what to my wondering eyes did appear, a whole lot of bad, near-exploding flood, instead of eight, shiny reindeer.”

I was mortified to learn that the majority of my cans had not been rotated in a VERY long time (some dated back to 2003). While lots of vegies, fruits and soups were in the last year, a couple of gems were near to exploding, the metal siding pushing out like Santa after a post-Christmas gorge-fest.

As I pulled and dumped the offending items, I wondered what in the world to do with them. Local food banks? Nope. They won’t accept food past the expiration date. Save for the worst-case scenario. “If you have no food and you are starving, you’ll eat anything.” So said my mother, who returned my call while on her vacation to speak to me like a true Swedish mother.

I looked on line for a few resources, that reiterated what we know about old food storage (losing taste etc, inability to cook right etc), but not what to do with the pounds and pounds of out of date food.

“Chuck it,” said Rog.

I did the only thing a green-minded person can do. I forced myself to open each one, rinse and clean, then separate the cans and glass to be recycled. Let me tell you. Do NOT do this without either holding your breath or wearing a gas mask. Safety first. When I talk to mom next, I’ll tell her my thoughts. I’m not going to eat something I can’t stand the smell of, human food included. I’d rather starve.

Tennis Elbow or Carpel Tunnel? It may be your neck

For the last three months, Rog has been icing, rubbing, bending, turning and generally complaining about his ‘tennis elbow.’ With his fondness for self-diagnosis and the Internet, his favorite attitude is “I’m not a doctor, I just play one on TV.” Finally, when he can’t take it anymore, he asks me to call my Swami.

“Tell him to take Rhus Tox and Calendula 30c.” Both are for swelling and pain in the joints and muscles. He does, and reports it has helped, but not cured the symptoms. Fast forward another week.

“Can you get me the name of that Chinese acupuncturist?” You readers remember. The one who is from the family that served the Chinese Emperors?

Sure, I tell him, convinced that he will never see someone who will charge him $125 an hour. Nonetheless, I give him the information and go on my trip to see my sister in Nevada. After a few days of “have you seen the acupuncturist?” I call Rog all excited-like. (see this article on how acupuncture works for tennis elbow)

“Rog! My sister has the cure for your tennis elbow. It’s not tennis elbow at all. It’s a nerve!”

My sister, she of the multiple issues with joints, stemming from the fact that one leg is slightly longer than the other (which, after years of misdiagnosis, was actually determined to be a joint thing, not a length thing) told me that she had the exact same issue. (and none of the alternative remedies worked).

“It starts here, right?” she asked, pointing to the muscle above the elbow, extending down to the wrist. “It feels tight, like carpel tunnel?” She proceeded to tell me she had what was thought to be carpel tunnel so bad she couldn’t move her wrist up and down. When she went to a physical therapist (who also happened to be a chiropractor, specializing in athletes), she was told both diagnosis were wrong.

“It’s the main nerve that goes from the neck through the shoulder (rotator cuff), down the tricep and to the elbow and finally, the wrist.” When the nerve is pinched (although there is no physical symptom of a pinched nerve) the damaged nerve makes itself manifest in the muscle above the elbow and then through the wrist.

“Tell him to go to a chiropractor,” she advised. “It took one trip, he adjusted me and within a day or two, the entire symptoms went away. Haven’t had it since.” The chiropractor also gave her a couple follow-up movements.

Rog being Rog (e.g. cheap) he doesn’t want to visit the chiropractor. He asked me to record her description to see if he could do it himself.

Guess what? Whether it’s mind over matter, or the nerve finally healed itself, about 3 days ago, he reported it had all gone away. Just like that. He gloated, of course, happy  he hadn’t spent the money. That said, I for one, don’t believe in suffering for three months in pain, with limited mobility (he couldn’t even play golf–oh, the woes of the world). So the next time you think it’s carpel tunnel or tennis elbow, go get a second opinion.

Relationships: Sometimes you need to go fishing when you want to cut bait

About two months ago, I was sitting across the table from Rog, our girls battling over the last piece of pizza when I had a relationship epiphany. Well, that would be an understatement. It was more like the Second Coming. The clouds parted. The sun shone down.

“I’ll do it,” I announced, my mouth speaking well before my brain thought to add some helpful context.

Rog’s eyes bulged. He swallowed, a crooked, half-smile appearing on his face.

This isn’t me. But it could be. Soon.

“Right here?”

It took me a moment before I giggled.

“No–no! I mean, I’ll do it. I’ll go on a fishing trip with you.”

At that, Rog really did start to choke on his food. I kicked him under the table. Before he projectile-vomited across the table, I explained.

“I got to thinking that I need to woman-up on this and just get in the water. You’ve asked me to go, and I keep saying no, for no reason other than I think it’s going to be boring and cold. But we can go when it’s sunny, right?”

Rog, by this time, has taken a drink of water, and is vigorously nodding his head. “Yes, of course!”

The backstory

In order to understand why this is so gravitous in our relationship, you need to liken it to a pacifist suddenly offering to go shooting an AK-47 at the river like some redneck. It’s like Nancy Pelosi and Bill O’Rielly. Me and river/fly fishing just don’t go together.

Yet, over the years, I’ve got to thinking. These guys (3 to be exact) fly down in one of the guys jets (he has 3), hit a stream or ocean, sometimes in the freezing hail or snow, or crashing waves, but also in the sunny, warm and gorgeous climates. Neither men (who, by the way, I adore, even if they are married, one as thick as a walking potato, the other as lean as a straight line), ever, ever offer (or want) to take their wives. My husband has constantly asked to take me, (and they say “he** yes!), yet I keep say no.

For no good reason. Well, unless being warm counts as a good reason.

Finally, after nearly 14 years of marriage, I realized I was being an idiot. Here’s a great chance to due my husband right, both by getting out of my comfort zone, but becoming a bigger part of his life. As I’ve aged, and watched couples split apart, the notion of ‘we don’t spend time together,’ plays a factor. My easy excuse of sleeping in (they get up at the ungodly hour of 4 am), getting in the water or on a boat when the bats are still flying, truly doesn’t sound fun. Yet, I’ll get the time there and back (it’s not always on a jet), at dinner or at lunch, and of course, let us not forget, I’ll get what Roger calls, “kick-a** cute clothing).

I explained my general reasoning, but he’d already moved on, talking about the upcoming trips we could go on, what I’d need by way of outfitting, rod and line (am I getting that right?) and babysitters. Not one month later, we were driving to Montana, and hit upon one of the “top 2 fly-fishing spots in the world.” That will be another blog of course, as I took pictures (let its suffice to say it’s home to Ernest Hemingway’s ranch).

As we near the start of our 15th year of marriage, I almost felt proud of myself. I’m not cutting bait on our relationship (and trust me, there have been times…). I’m doing the opposite. I’m going to go fish.

Flat cookie culprit

Embarrassment and shame comes in simple forms. Flat cookies being one of them.

When we went to the end of the year teacher celebration at a local family farm, I covered my plate of chocolate chip cookies with a towel, slipped them on table of desserts and skeddadled before I could be associated with the offending items that resembled wilted, flat potato chips with little black mounds. At the end of the event, after goat petting, kitten chasing, pig-humping extravaganza (yes, it’s true. It was a sign), I returned to the table, and, when I thought no one was looking, lifted my plate.

Click to enlarge babygoatnursing-600.jpg
I would have given you a pic
of the flat cookies, but all I
found was a pic of the feeing

“Were those yours?” comes a question from behind me. Ugh. The voice of a friend who happens to be a bonified chef. She is with her husband.

“I’m so sorry they turned out terrible,”  said, cutting off the eventual badness that was going to be next.

“They were great!” her husband said. “What’d you do?”

“I made them flat,” was my response.

“That was how I knew they were homemade,” said the chef.

It was true. The two plates I brought had a smattering of crumbs. The other store-purchased cupcakes, brownies and other items in boxes.

I bemowned the flatness.

“It’s the soda,” said the chef. “It’s probably old.”

Did you know that? Went home, bought some new soda, and walla! no more flat cookies.

**Update- the following morning, 3:42 AM.
I get this text.

‘Sarah. it could be butter. Cut the butter by half and replace with lard or shortening. makes all the difference’

So texts mom.

I was up, sleeping restlessly. I text back:

‘mom. thx. we are bats. go to bed.’

Gonna Be a Bear

At my parents house, rummaging through the cookbooks, looking for the best Creme Caramel (flan) recipe and what do I find? A little ditty about women and bears. It was stuck underneath mom’s handouts from church. One seriously has to appreciate a religious organization that provides its mama’s with this kind of love.

From her house to yours. Print and share at will (a’ course men will enjoy this as well).


Gonna be a bear
In this life I’m  a woman. In my next life, I’d like to come back as a bear. When you’re a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.
Before you hibernate, you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too.
Me in the morning
When you’re a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you’re sleeping and wake partially grown. Cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.
If you’re a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that.
If you’re a bera, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.
Yup. Gonna be a bear!

Getting that Maxim Body

On Father’s Day, we attending a bbq with some relatively new friends when the conversation turned to exercising. Roger did as a good husband does, he boasted about me.

“She’s been getting up at 5:20 to attend the 6 am hot power yoga classes.” I demurred, identifying it was practically killing me, all the while secretly pleased he was talking me up. It’s been years after all, and I am, in fact, happy to be back on the exercise train.
My glory was short-lived. Not to be outdone, the man says his wife gets up at 4:20 to hit the gym at 5, working out 3 hours, 6 days a week. 
Rog and I had a mutual look of shock and awe. That was crazy talk.
“What do you do for three hours?”
Before the woman could answer, the man jumps in. 
Get those MAXIM legs
“She does the MAXIM workout?” I’ve never heard of such a thing, and I consider myself relatively well-informed. I looked at her for more clarification. After all, she’s my age (on the cusp of 44), we both have at least one child in college and another in elementary school. Sure, she’s two sizes smaller than me, but I’d rather have my bubble butt than no butt. Still, like the monk on a hill in Tibet, I seek the knowledge.
“He’s not kidding. It really is the MAXIM workout.” She then proceeds to tell me that her good friend is a MAXIM model, and every week, the editorial team sends her an email that tells her exactly what she must do for 3 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sure, she gets paid for it (after seeing a photo, I wanted to ask if they’d popped for the D size boob jobs, but I refrained). Still, that’s a LOT of work.
“It’s all squats, lunges, jump up lunges,” she continues. “Hardly any upper body.” Apparently, the readers of MAXIM like lean, tone but not overdone arm muscles and lots of thigh and calves. (Sorry, I’ve actually never cracked open the mag, so I can’t attest to the truthfulness of this statement.
“I’ll give it to you if you want,” she offers. I wonder if this is black-market territory, but figure it’s not as bad as the Olympic judges selling off tickets, so I accept. Within an hour of leaving the event, I get the page. 
Now readers, by looking at this picture, your an accessory to inside knowledge that a rarified group of big-boossomed, tanned and trim models use to make loads of money. Enjoy.
PS. No. I have not yet done this workout. I’m afraid I won’t be able to walk the next day. Maybe that’s the point.

Shamans, Screenplays & Throwing Fear off the Balcony

No one in their right mind would necessarily put screenplays and shamans in the same sentence. But, to what do I live for, other than to surprise and delight (and sometimes mystify, but that’s another story).

Last Thur, if you recall, I submitted my first crack at a screenplay for Chambers. Upon receipt, the producer could only muster “wow. OK. I’ll see what evil you have wrought.” He was being kind, for, in my idiocy, I submitted Act 3 only, due to the fact that I’d printed that section, and so when I went to PDF the thing, it captured only my latest file. Cue the air in the balloon whizzing out, a long, drawn out sigh of deflation, ending with me on the ground, holding said wilted balloon. Cut to Monday, wherein I’ve passed way too much nervous gas, wondering about his thoughts on my baby, when I’m informed
“well, an Act 1 and 2 would be helpful.”

File:SB - Altay shaman with gong.jpg
Russian Shaman

So it was that I re-saved and sent the entire thing. Note to self (and all other wanna be screenwriters, double check your file). And on a side note, yes, I’ve gone through self-flagellation as I embarrassed the home team.

But, as I am wont to do, I pick myself up, dust off the speckles of shame and sally forth, this time, right in to the proverbial Shaman’s den. Book 2 in the series, you see, has the Native American world as the backdrop. As such, I’ve got all kinds of cool Earth, nature and life spirits that are with us, guiding us (aiding or abetting) as I see fit. Since I’m neither NA or Shaman, I have been writing what I imagine to be the nature of things (pun intended) but have no factual data. (You would not believe the dearth of resources on the NA view of things. History yes. Oral traditions and deeply-held spiritual beliefs, no. Don’t get me wrong. My action adventure book is still just that. It’s the overlay on top of a cool world where things do go bump in the night.

“I just had a vision of you from my Shaman,” said the woman I was with. Her spirit has a name, but I won’t reveal it here. It’s special, and I respect that. But trust me, I love it. I’ve got to come up with something as cool. Now, I know you want to know the vision she had, but I’m not comfortable sharing it, since it has to do with me (sorry, you People-reading-Enquiring-minds-want-to-know). BUT, the good news, is that there were several communicating with her at the same time, and they had other almost-as-cool things to say.

File:Chaman amazonie 5 06.jpg
My Shaman was blond,
and wore cute leggings

I’m now back at the library, classical music playing on my iphone so I can take the themes and parlay then in to something that’s readable.

I won’t leave you empty-handed however (I’d hate that myself). The Spirits had two worlds of wisdom.

1. Stay in your feet.
Translation. Be present. The Shaman liked that I was present, open, vulnerable. I was willing to be completely honest, holding nothing back. She could tell, and evidently, so could the Spirit.

2. Let go of your fear.
The Shaman told me the story of having a fear. Hold out your hands, place the fear inside, walk to the door (or balcony, or window) and let it go. Once you let go of your fear, you are free to explore, embrace and move forward (I actually didn’t know I had any fear that I needed to throw off the balcony, but I’ll save my further enlightenment for another blog).

I was then introduced to another Shaman, which I am incredibly excited to meet in person. I spoke with her on the phone, ever so briefly, and when I got off, Shaman 1 said, “you don’t need to say anything. She probably already knows all about you.” Huh. If only marriage were so easy.

Fun Staircase Idea

This came across the wires as a suggestion for  a tree house we are contemplating. Since my dear friend one development over, knows we have a fondness for all things wood”ie” and slightly eccentric, she offered up the following idea.

I loved it, and cursed her name at the same time. If I spend the money to build this thing, you my write on my headstone “she lost her way.”

Chasing the dream

As a I careen, sometimes rather uncoordinated-like, along a dirt path known as my personal dream, I wonder if I’m chasing it, like a setting sun on the horizon I can’t quite catch, or if the dream is chasing me, and I haven’t stopped to turn around and grab it.

This comes of course, after nearly ten days of silence in this blog, because I am bent on yet one more aspect of ‘the dream.’ In this case, it’s been writing a screenplay. The producer doesn’t know I’m doing it though, so don’t tell. I’m going to submit it on Friday.

I figured this: I wrote the book. I’ve only been visualizing the scenes for several years, and I’m not a complete idiot. So a month ago, I bought a book on screenplay writing (How to write a screenplay in 21 days), read it, but before I pulled out my pen, I also reviewed a few screenplays from the studio itself (Law Abiding Citizen and some ones that haven’t yet been produced).

Product Details

On vacation (what better time than to have creative juices flowing), I started writing. You want to know the worst part? Those minutes and hours before I started. Once I got going, it was a snap. How crazy is that?

Regular Sassality readers know my simple mantra– just start and make a little progress every day. Eventually, you will get ‘it’ (whatever it is), done. You also get “there,’ wherever there is. Bit by bit, you are getting one step closer to making the dream a reality.

Besides, when the screenplay gets accepted, or rejected, I want to be able to follow-up and talk about it.  I see no downside, btw. Worst case is I can at least say ‘I’ve done it,’ and join the legions of rejected first-time screenwriters, which is a stripe worth earning. In the meantime, I’ve been touring potential filming sites on behalf of the studio, which is extremely cool, but not for this blog.

Stop reading this (for I must stop writing). Go chase that dream.

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