Sunday, November 24, 2013

Maude, A Working Pet

Great-Grandpa Fred with Maude
Great-Grandpa Fred Fineour had a white horse named Maude, who was as much a pet as a work animal. Maude pulled the buggy when the family needed to go out and about, and she was a regular fixture around the Lock Grocery where Grandma Minnie spent her early childhood.

I can still hear Minnie's voice in my head telling us grandchildren about how tame the horse was. In the store were various barrels of foodstuffs such as flour, sugar, and oyster crackers. Minnie told us how her father would say, "Maude, would you like some sugar?" and the horse would daintily step up on the porch to the open doorway and stick her head inside to get as close as she could to the sugar barrel.

When the Fineours gave up the grocery store and moved into town, Fred eventually bought a house with a barn behind it, where Maude had her own stall. Around 1900, when Fred got a job as the first rural mailman, RFD #1, out of Fort Plain, it was Maude who pulled his buggy in summer and cutter in winter up hill and down dale along the steep country roads.

She certainly earned a bit of a sugary treat by getting Fred safely back home. Even in 1900, "the mail must go through," in spite of inclement weather. And so it did, at least partly thanks to snow-white Maude, a working pet.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"The Way of All Fish"

Grandma VandenBergh's old Dutch cookbook includes a chapter with a variety of recipes for preparing various species of fish. That's not surprising, considering the fact that the Netherlands is crisscrossed by a network of both natural and man-made waterways, where freshwater fish are plentiful. In fact, Grandma's hometown of Loosdrecht is now a popular tourist destination for those who love sailing and fishing; the Loosdrechte plassen, or Loosdrecht lakes are dotted with sailboats during the warm weather and skaters in the winter. Being on the seacoast, Netherlanders also have access to many varieties of saltwater fish.

The chapter on fish in Grandma's book is divided into two parts: fried fish and poached fish. For frying fish, the author suggests using smaller types of fish, or cutting larger fish into smaller pieces or filets. You can poach the larger types of fish. Nowadays, we can easily find fish filets or steaks in our local fish market or supermarket. Of course, if using whole fish, you must clean it inside and out, and scrape off the scales.

I chose a recipe for fried fish. The author notes that coating the fish with flour will lessen the chance that the fish will stick to the pan. Use enough oil to cover the bottom of the frying pan.

Fried fish: (Gebakken vis)

4 fish filets (cod, sole, etc.; I used tilapia)
50 grams (1/3 cup) whole wheat flour
10 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
about 1  1/2 dL. (2/3 cup) cooking oil

Frying the fish
- Mix the flour and salt. Since tilapia is quite a bland fish, I also added a teaspoon of herbes de Provence to the flour mixture to add a bit more flavor.

- Rinse the fish filets and dry with paper towels. Coat on both sides with the flour mixture.

- Heat the oil, making sure that it is hot enough, but not so hot that it changes color.

- Lay the fish in the pan with the underside first, fry at medium heat on both sides until light brown and crispy.

- Drain on paper towels and serve on a platter with the pan-seared side (underside) up.

- Serve with salad and baked or boiled potatoes with melted butter.

Fried fish

Eet smakelijk! Enjoy your meal.

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Dutch vocabulary:

bot  =  flounder
elft  =  shad
heilbot  =  halibut
horsmakreel  =  mackerel
kabeljauw  =  cod
snoek  =  perch
tarbot  =  turbot
tong  =  sole
zeewolf  =  catfish
zalm  =  salmon

For additional information about fish and fishing in the Netherlands, you may like to consult the following Web sites:

Fishing Guides Holland (This site is in English):

Sports Fishing in the Netherlands (in Dutch): This site has charts of the various species of freshwater and saltwater fish, with pictures to help identify them.