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From a Long Line of Fishermen + Oven-Roasted Trout with Citrus Salsa Crudo #LitHappens #FoodieReads

Inspired by the Lit Happens September pick: Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J. Ryan Stradal. Okay, this first photos is of lake trout pan-fried at my favorite lake. Thoughts about the book and the real recipe I'm offering is below.


On the Page

Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J. Ryan Stradal is the pick for our online book group Lit Happen. Before I picked up a copy of the book, I did some reading about supper clubs. From what I can tell supper clubs popped up after the end of the Prohibition Era. They were the place for people to show up, eat a good meal, drink some good booze, and dance the night away or revel in live music. Supper Clubs weren't just about dinner; they were a destination.


"The next best place to heaven, in her experience, was a type of restaurant found in the upper Midwest called a supper club. When she walked into a good one, she felt both welcome and somewhere out of time. The decor would be old-fashioned, the drinks would be strong, and the dining experience would evoke beloved memories, all for a pretty decent price."

Okay, now that we know what they are, let's get into the book. Stradal sets this novel in the fictional Bear Jaw Lake, but from a life-long Minnesotan friend, the author nailed the setting. The book opens in the 1990s with Mariel and her husband, Ned, managing the Lakeside. Ned hails from the Jorby's restaurant dynasty, a chain of casual restaurants from the Mid-West that has pushed northward and left supper clubs devastated in its wake.


A second timeline lies in the years when Betty and Florence, Mariel's grandmother and mother respectively, land at the Lakeside. The supper club owner, Floyd, takes Betty under his wing, offering her a job and a place to live. Eventually Betty and Floyd get married, so it's where Florence grows up.


"On Florence’s watch, the relish tray was a lazy Susan of black olives, halved radishes, pickled herring, cheese curds, carrot slices, and gherkins, served with crackers. This, to her, was an exotic assortment of luxury cuisine. When she’d been in the grocery store with her mother over the years, most of these items were routinely ignored due to their expense or impracticality. Now she got to handle them every day."

Mariel and Florence clash in a way that is hilariously accurate for mother-daughter relationships. There is one situation when Mariel gets busy taking care of a deer she hit with her car. She was supposed to pick up her mom from a church event. Mariel forgets and Florence digs in her heels. Florence refuses to get a ride from anyone else and stays in the church for weeks. Friends bring her food and clothes. The minister offers her a place to sleep. Mariel loses the battle of stubbornness and finally relents after the story of the stand-off hits the news.


In the end we are introduced to Julia, Mariel and Ned's daughter. And the description of them dropping her off at college nearly gutted me in its relatability. Where the Mariel-Florence relationship had me chuckling, the Julia-Mariel interactions made me misty-eyed.


Strandal writes family drama well. Really well. This book is rife with sadness, humor and, as you can imagine, food!



"Floyd had long been picking the black cherries from the trees in their yard to make his own Maraschinos, and Betty added maple syrup and cognac to the syrup the brined cherries rested in, giving them a richer hue and flavor. Betty’s cherries became famous, and hundreds of customers every year would ask to buy them by the jar, but she only ever sold them one at a time, in the heart of a cocktail." And I had just shared my homemade Maraschino Cherries! Now I need to make a cocktail with them. Cheers.



When Julia comes back from college for Spring Break, Ned takes her to Three Sisters, the newest restaurant in Bear Jaw. "The food was all local, all fresh, all seasonal. Wild greens pesto. Braised rabbit. Ingredients like tamarack, sumac, and hopniss. Some of it Julia had known from her foraging trips with Madeline years ago, and some of it she’d learned from her mom’s cookbooks." I could totally see eating there and loving it! I have made pesto out of purslane, out of carrot tops, and just about any greens I have. And, when I can get my hands on rabbit, braising is my preferred way to prepare it.


But what inspired me into the kitchen this time is about family lineage and being lakeside.


From a Long Line of Fishermen


I love fish. I love cooking fish. I love eating fish. I do not love catching fish. And neither does Jake. Sitting on a boat, quietly, waiting for fish to bite. Ugh. Did I mention the silent part. Ugh. I'm just not that patient...or quiet.


Jake has fishermen on his Swedish and his Portuguese sides. My ancestors are from the Philippines; they ferment fish and sprinkle it on everything. So, even though the fishing gene obviously skipped us both, the boys have fishing in their blood...and they love it.



Each summer when we head to our favorite alpine lake with the Mann Clan, they fish, fish, and fish some more. What we don't cook at camp sometimes gets to come home with me. Here's one way I like to prepare lake trout...


Oven-Roasted Trout with Citrus Salsa Crudo


Ingredients

Fish

  • 3 whole trout

  • freshly ground salt

  • freshly ground pepper

  • organic mint leaves

  • organic lime leaves

  • organic lime wedges or slices

  • Makrut lime leaf-infused olive oil, or use plain olive oil with a squeeze of lime juice in it

  • Also needed: parchment paper-lined baking sheet


Citrus Salsa Crudo

  • 1/2 cup organic kumquats, quartered

  • 1/2 cup organic blood orange, diced with peel on

  • 1/4 cup organic fresh mint leaves

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled

  • juice from 1 lime

  • Makrut lime leaf-infused olive oil, or use plain olive oil with a squeeze of lime juice in it


Procedure


Fish

Lay your fish on a parchment paper and preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle the inside cavity of the fish with salt and pepper. Place the lime slices, lime leaves, and mint leaves along the inside. You can secure the fish with a toothpick or twine. I just folded it closed and placed it on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.


Place some lime slices on the top. Then sprinkle the outside of the fish with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes - until the flesh is opaque and the skin is browned and crisped. In the meantime, make your salsa crudo.


Citrus Salsa Crudo


Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well-chopped and combined. Add in more lime juice and olive oil if it's too dry.



Once the fish is done, serve it immediately with the salsa on the side. I also served this dinner with roasted potatoes and blanched asparagus with a blood orange vinaigrette.


I am also linking this post to the September round-up for #FoodieReads. Find that here.

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2 commentaires


Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik
13 sept. 2023

Mother/child relationships are so very complicated and the author did nail it, in it's many forms and adaptations. Thanks for sharing some of your lake side memories with us Cam.

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Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
13 sept. 2023
En réponse à

So true, right? I regret the years I didn't speak to my mom. We had a disagreement about who I chose to date and that I chose to skip law school. But, now, I can't imagine not speaking to my mom every single day!

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