The Vine

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Bass Attitude and Beet Wisdom

I caught a fish! Actually I caught two fishes, and set one loose because it was too small to eat.

LM caught a fish, too, about the same size as mine. AND you should have seen the one that got away!

I had my doubts about fishing. The last two times we went to LM's little cabin on the lake in East TX, I didn't catch anything, and neither did he. I started to call myself his "bad luck fishing charm" and wondered if my vegetarian-queasiness about killing, then cutting up those beautiful fishes made me a fit fisherman.

But for some reason I nudged us up from a nap that had gone on too long and we got our butts out for another try. He went straight to a spot on the lake where I'd never fished before. I had a top lure and a spinner, and he had a spinner and a rubber worm. Sometimes you want Tex Mex, sometimes you want Thai....

I think my top lure got the first bite, and it was easy to reel in, so we were not surprised that it was too small to keep. LM dealt with the unhooking - I was not quite there yet. Then, I saw him cast a short cast off to the side - not his usual M.O., but something BIG hit it immediately, and my great big lunky man was reeling for all he was worth! He struggled it to the side of the boat, and I was expecting it to be a big scary garr but no, it was a huge bass, at least five pounds if not seven. (Maybe y'all have seen the bumpersticker: VISUALIZE 5 POUND BASS.) LM said he was pretty sure he had never caught a bass that big, and as he tried to pull it out of the water I thought... and it did... the line broke and the big one got away. Carrying a spinner lure as a lip piercing ornament, now!

LM had seen it off to his side, swimming at the top of the water showing it's fin, like a whale breaching, so that's why he made the little side cast. We kept seeing this guy do that, which I had never witnessed before, so I nicknamed him "Brown Fin" and of course he was the the object of our sport from then on. Some kind of Ahab fever kicked in, I felt it myself! We even went back to the same spot the next day, and saw Brown Fin breach several times, but he wouldn't take a lure.

The consolation prizes were considerable. That evening we each pulled in nice pan-sized bass. LM again showed me how to fillet the fish the way his dad had taught him. His dad had learned it from his dad. True men's mysteries, which I am being taught. The first time he showed me, he prepared me for disapointment. "You'd think you'd get more meat from an animal this sized, but that's how it is. We feed the turtles the rest."

I am not ready to fillet my own fish. Again, the ex-vegetarian queasiness, mixed with, I'll fuck it up and waste the meat of this creature of God that I killed. So I let him do it for us, then asked if I could "mess around with" the fishes hacked up body. I was finding out what it felt like to cut through scales, and flesh, and try to avoid bones, and as a result, I added some sizeable extra chunks for us to fry! LM was very happy with my effort to get more from the fishes' sacrifice, and I may be up for trying to fillet next time, and sorry turtles, less for y'all this time.

This is no time for me to talk about vegetarian recipes, but the sides to this delicious, battered-and-fried fresh fish was dark green Laccinatto kale...and beets. Maybe you already know how to cooks greens, I will assume you do, but here is how I have converted about 85% of my friends who were beet-haters into beet lovers:

It must be Organically Grown beets of less than baseball size or don't even bother. I prefer them whole, but for the transitional beet lover, cube them into about centimeter chunks. Put them in a smallish pot and add water almost to the surface of the beets. Add about two or three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per beet, and a few shakes of good olive oil. Simmer covered til the beets are tender. I love to add fresh Texas Tarragon, about 4 leaves per beet, about half way through the cooking.

This recipe also works for beets with the greens. Just add the chopped stems partway through the cooking and the chopped leaves near the end. I usually add extra vinegar (yes, it MUST be apple cider vinegar, and Braggs is the best) because, since beets are in the spinach family, the green parts contain oxalic acid, which is what kids hate about spinach. It is not so good for your digestion, and it binds up iron in your meal so that you can't absorb it. Vinegar neutralizes the oxalic acid, which is one reason it appears in so many spinach recipes.

Beets are very high in antioxidants. That color is an active ingredient! The whole root moves through your liver and gently cleanes it. The moist bulky roughage gives you the equivalent of a colonic cleansing, without poking anything up your butt. Warning: it will make your poop bright red! Don't let it scare you the next morning! It might even make your pee pinkish, but don't worry, I bet those anthocyanins are sweeping out the free radicals that collect in your kidneys, too.

And to top off that beet, they are dumb-easy to grow, and they grow well here for two seasons in Central Texas and its easy to save the seeds and they make beautiful plants. A total post-petroleum age survival food crop to know. Sorry, but you can't beet that!


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