Welcome to Week XXXVII of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access a boat a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.
This week I am going to start in the kitchen.
The plan is to make walnut fried pike with a bacon marmalade glaze.
But we'll get to that a bit later on.
First let's start with the side dish, BBQ Baked Beluga lentils.
I chose lentils for a couple of reasons. To start with if I'm going to make a dish, I like to do so with something just a bit different.
Lentils in general are a bit overlooked in terms of Saskatchewan diets, although I'm not sure why.
According to the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers website "Archeological investigation has shown that lentils have been grown since the early Stone Age. Lentils are classified by seed size – extra small, small, medium and large. The seeds are lens-shaped and seed coat colours can be green, red, brown, speckled green (French green type), and black (Beluga). The cotyledons (inside colour) can be yellow, red, or green."
Canada is the number one exporter of pulses to the world, and of those 97 per cent of the lentils come from Saskatchewan.
Given how well the province's farmers do at growing the crop you might expect us to eat more.
Not for the baked dish I have chosen beluga, or black lentils, which aren't grown here. But they are readily available at bulk food stores.
The jet black colour makes them a striking looking lentil once on the plate.
Remember when cooking a couple of cups of dried lentils goes a long way. So that should do for an average meal for three, or four.
Place the lentils in three cups of water, with a bit of salt. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes. Drain lentils in a colander over a bowl, reserving one cup cooking liquid.
Now you need a sauce. Most people likely have a favoured baked bean recipe they can borrow from, but again I wanted to experiment a bit.
The ingredients are pretty simple, a cup of diced onions, two-thirds cup of ketchup, an eighth cup of mustard, to which I added a couple of tablespoons of dark molasses, a must in my opinion for a baked dish like this, a third of a cup of maple syrup, a good shake of ground ginger, about a quarter combined cup of chipotle seasoning, smoked paprika, black pepper and a dash of allspice.
I also added a couple of bacon strips chopped up.
Combine lentils and diced onions and bacon in a baking dish. Combine a good dash of salt, reserved cooking liquid, and the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture over the lentil mixture, stirring to combine. Bake at 350° for one hour.
So while the beans bake you'll have a bit of time to kill before frying up your pike, so you can get back to reading a Macduff Brooks Mystery from author M.W. Gordon. The books are among those of the mystery sub genre of 'fly-fishing mysteries', and so far the series is very good.
Macduff Brooks is a man with a past which has him living under an assumed name, guiding fishermen in Montana, a long way from his past as a lawyer in Florida.
But trouble seems to follow Brooks, and in the first two books of the ongoing series; Deadly Drifts and Crosses to Bear.
Deadly Drifts is Gordon's first novel, and while he spends a bit more time setting up the overall story line, before getting to the actual mystery of the novel, he is strong enough as a writer to hold your interest.
While weaving the murder into the tale earlier and using a few 'flashbacks' to fill in the back story might have been more effective, Deadly Drifts is still an admirable first effort.
Much of the admiration for the story comes from Gordon's fine descriptive style. He captures people well.
He is even better detailing the natural splendour of the river and countryside when Brooks is actually guiding, and not dodging bullets.
The realism works and that clearly comes from Gordon's own experience.
"I think it best to write about what you know. I think I know a fair amount about both the law (seewww.law.ufl.edu/faculty/michael-w-gordon) and fly fishing (www.mwgordonnovels.com)," he related via email. "After 40 years teaching at UF and 50 years of marriage to an extraordinarily wonderful woman, I wondered what might have happened to me if my wife had been killed in an accident after I had taught 10-years. And if she were carrying our first child. That led to the character of Macduff, enhanced by some experiences abroad when traveling for the State Department.
"The part in Deadly Drifts about being given a lesson on using an Uzi in the back of an ambassador's car, and a floor reserved for me at a hotel are true, but one did not take place in Guatemala. It also got rid of a spouse, which is often recommended so the lead character can build a relationship with one or more others."
Of course as a fisherman I love the connection to a fly rod and moving water in the books.
So does Gordon.
"I like moving water, including very small creeks, moderate size rivers, and tidal flats in salt water," he related to me. "I do not fish lakes, or very large rivers. I like catching seven-eight inch trout in very small fast moving creeks. I have no desire to go to Patagonia or Kamkatchka (I logged a great number of miles lecturing, consulting and as a visiting professor over 42-years of teaching). A good guide is a teacher of botany, geology, entomology, history, politics (e.g., dam building), ethics, respect for nature, etc.."
Gordon again writes what he knows in terms of fishing, weaving that into Macduff Brooks.
"I began fly fishing by first tying flies in the area where I grew up – Connecticut. I liked the art in a fly," said Gordon. "Then, having a lot of them in various boxes, my dad gave me a bamboo fly rod (I was about ten) and I went off to fish small streams. Seeing my first brook trout, no more than seven-inches, I felt compelled to put it back.
"I've never kept one since.
"I buy Chilean farmed trout to eat.
Gordon added, "one of my recent activities has been working with Project Healing Waters in Montana, taking disabled combat wounded vets fishing in my wooden drift boat after teaching them how to cast. I expect to continue this activity, one goal is to do it in the summer after I have turned 80 in two and a half years."
This too is a thread weaved into his second book Crosses to Bear.
Gordon picks up momentum with his second book, hitting the ground running with a mystery, and weaving a few threads which keep you guessing.
The ending here does seem a bit rushed, and a bit contrived. I have never been a big fan of 'well the villain was killed in a car crash'. But the ultimate villain isn't easily identified by the reader either, so that is a huge bonus.
Like any 'fishing mystery' it should appeal to fishermen and those who just like a good mystery, and Gordon said he sees the two pools as his combined audience.
"My audience is currently mostly people who fish and like mysteries," he stated via email. "I have marketed the book most extensively through fly shops in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Maine. I have not spent much time doing that here in north Florida, but I think of having this area (salt marshes of northeast coastal Florida) the principal setting for a future Macduff Brooks novel.
"I find that I have a good number of older women reading and passing on the books. I wanted the Macduff Brooks character to be a good guy, respectful of and enjoying the presence of women. He may drink a bit too much occasionally, but he does not use drugs, swear or womanize. I think that is true of a lot of guides, rather than the ones more typically the 'hero' such as an escapee from alcohol or drugs who is truly a fishing bum."
The good news is another novel starring Macduff Brooks is on the way.
"I thought it would take two, or perhaps a trilogy, to carry the story to the end of Juan Pablo Herzog and Abdul Khaliq Isfahani (sort of a Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes – one who keeps popping into the saga). I have the third well underway – called 'You're Next', (due Mid July this year), and the rough idea for a fourth about creating a spring creek. Thus, I may have a four volume trilogy! Or five or six. I am now 77, so how many are possible is unknown."
Gordon called the next book his favourite.
"In volume three I have a dramatic killing in the first 30 pages. I thought of that scene first as a visual image, wrote it, and then began to develop the rest of the book around it, including several possible killers," he said.
Certainly the first two Macduff Brooks books are worthy fishing mystery reads, so check them out.
And now back to the kitchen.
The pike was supposed to be easy.
I started by frying some bacon with the fat reserved to fry the fish in.
I took out the frozen fillets, let them thaw, and gave them a good wash. While still good and damp I dredged them in kamut® flour.
Again I went with kamut® flour to give the dish some uniqueness.
Kamut® is the product name for the wheat variety QK-77 of Khorasan wheat which itself is an ancient grain type. This grain is two times larger than modern-day wheat and is known for its rich nutty flavor.
Khorasan wheat is an ancient grain, and a close relative to durum wheat. It is growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional wheat sources because it is considered nutritionally superior to many other forms of wheat. Research suggests the grain may first have originated in either Egypt or Asia.
From the flour the fillets went into a beaten egg and water mix and then into ground walnut. You can use a food processor to grind walnuts, or buy it that way from a bulk food store.
Then I popped the fillets into the bacon grease.
Once the fillets were well-browned on one side they were flipped.
Now I had intended to just buy bacon marmalade and use it as a glaze, but it wasn't on the store shelf.
So I opted to buy a nice orange marmalade. I put some in a dish, which I then set in hot water, to more or less liquify the marmalade.
I then took the bacon I had fried crispy to get the fat for the pike, threw it in the food processor and then mixed it into the marmalade, which I then spooned over the pike once flipped so the cooked side gets the glaze, while still in the pan, covering it for the final couple of minutes of cooking.
Plate the walnut pike, add a side dish of the BBQ baked lentils, and dig in folks.