March 2008April 2008 May 2008

04/25 - Triliums

Each time we have visited the Spruce Railroad Trail at Lake Crescent we have kept our eyes open for signs of spring. Spring has been late in coming. The skunk cabbage didn't even appear until April, but then we saw the first Indian paintbrush and the first few salamanders. This time the trilliums were out. There aren't many leaves on the alders, but we are finally seeing some signs of spring.

Keywords: lake crescent, salamander, spring, spruce railroad, trillium

04/20 - Russian Easter 2008

We held our Russian Easter this last weekend. Yes, we know that Russian Easter was back in March this year, but we figure that if they can have Russian Easter for Old Calendrists and Russian Easter for New Calendrists, why can't we have Russian Easter for Kaleberg Kalendrists?

In any event, we rounded up the usual suspects, including a particularly deadly version of Trotsky's Bane with a ton of wasabi and serious tequila. If Trotsky had been drinking this, they wouldn't have needed to waste the people's time and money on assassins. We also made some perushki with our own home made sauerkraut and some shitake mushrooms and nettles. For more recipes, check out our Russian Easter page.

The domes of Moscow were particularly lurid this year, with lots of dragee and extra dark red and green food dyes. Those supermarket food dyes are really too pastel for a serious holiday like Russian Easter. In any event, Moscow was once again saved from the monster Napoleon thanks to a liberal dousing of French brandy. As the flames rose, and the Frenchies retreated, we celebrated the irony with, of all things, champagne.

This year, we had even more realism. We had real snow in mid-April, just like they did in Moscow before global warming. It didn't stick, but the white flakes added to the festive mood.

Moscow for the defense

Blini and pelmeni

Trotsky's Bane - death by tequila

The usual suspects, and then some

Yes, it was snowing

Keywords: russian easter, kale

Glowing eerily

04/18 - Sauerkraut

This spring has been late in coming, so there has been a dearth of the usual spring vegetables. On the plus side, the local farmers still have a fair bit of cabbage. Cabbage is an old winter staple, so we at Kaleberg Laboratories decided that when life gives one cabbages, it is time to make sauerkraut.

A bit over two weeks ago we took two heads of cabbage and ran them through the slicing blade of our trusty Cuisinart. Then, we tossed in about six garlic cloves for extra flavor. We packed the cabbage into a 3 liter storage jar and made up a pickling mixture of about a quart of water, two tablespoons of kosher salt, a teaspoon of peppercorns, a tablespoon of coriander seeds, and a half cup of apple cider vinegar. We brought this to a boil, let it cool and poured it into the jar with the cabbage. We had to add a bit of tap water to cover all the cabbage, but then, all we did was let it brew out in the garage. It has been mighty cool out in the garage lately.

Now, we have a delicious glowing green mass of preserved cabbage, and it is delicious. The cabbage has gotten that sauerkraut crunch, and the coriander seeds are wonderful in it.

OK, maybe it isn't actually glowing.

Keywords: spring, winter, kale

04/14 - Signs Of Spring - Hope (For Spring) Springs Eternal

We have been rather desperate for signs of spring. Even in mid-April the temperature still drops into the 30s nightly, and there is fresh snow on the mountains. The landscape at Lake Crescent was barren, but we did see two local salamanders, undersized, but healthy as they basked on the muddy trail. To our surprise, there was some Indian paintbrush blooming on the descent just east of the bridge at the Devil's Punchbowl.

This is rather pathetic for this time of year, but we will take what we can get. Two salamanders and a few feeble flowers aren't much. The thaw has barely started, and the lake water is low. Still, there are some signs of progress.

Keywords: flowers, lake crescent, salamander, spring

04/06 - Smoked Steelhead

Tuna Dan has been coming to the Port Angeles Farmers' Market every Saturday for a while now. We even noticed that another fish guy has joined him selling halibut. Tuna Dan sells halibut, and he sells steelhead. We love smoked steelhead, so we at Kaleberg Labs have been experimenting with some of Tuna Dan's best.

We started with a half a fish, filleted. That weighed about five or six pounds before we removed the skin. We marinated it overnight in a pyrex dish with one cup of light brown sugar, a tablespoon of peppercorns, two tablespoons of kosher salt and three tablespoons of whole coriander seeds. We rubbed the fish with the mixture and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, the pyrex dish was full of a thick brown liquid, a mixture of the rub and the water drawn from the fish by the salt. We set up a fire in our trusty Weber grill. We use hardwood charcoal from Hasty Bake. It has a cleaner flavor than briquets. We also throw in a chunk of apple wood from an old stump to give it a little fruit wood flavor.

When the fire is hot with perhaps half the coals turning white, we toss in the apple wood and set up for smoking. That means putting the fish on the grill, but not over the hot coals, and closing the bucket with the vents wide open. In a few minutes, the steelhead is smoking with a white cloud pouring out of the little vent on the grill lid.

We have learned, from a sadly overcooked batch of fish, that we need to keep an eye on the grill. If the fire is too hot, we close the vent a bit more. If the fire has gotten too cool, we have to open the grill for a bit, and sometimes add a bit more charcoal. It isn't like cooking on a stove or in an oven.

Sometimes, the fish is ready in as little as half an hour. That is, if it is thinly cut. Usually, it takes about 45 minutes, or even an hour. Done, of course, is a matter of taste. Once the fish is cooked through, you can smoke it down to leather. We like it a bit more tender, and we find that the flavor ripens after the fish is removed from the grill and let sit.

That's the Kaleberg Labs recipe, and that's some of the fish on the right. We used a real fast shutter to take that snap. You know how long food lasts here Chez Kaleberg.

Good enough to eat

Keywords: food, recipe, farmers' market, kale

No scent yet

04/01 - The Skunk Cabbage Cometh, Finally

As part of The Kaleberg Signs of Spring, Finally, series, we offer our picture of the first skunk cabbage in the bogs at the eastern end of the Spruce Railroad trail at Lake Crescent. This is definitely skunk cabbage, so something is brewing, but spring is definitely behind schedule.

Keywords: lake crescent, spring, spruce railroad, kale

March 2008April 2008 May 2008