Monday, March 1, 2010

A-Z Foods on Monday

Growing up in the south,in addition to fresh vegetables from the garden,Fish was a food staple at our house. Chicken was reserved for Sundays.Beef and pork were costly rarities for special occasions.
Going fishing was inexpensive family entertainment whether it be for a day or a weekend camping trip to the river swamp, as we called it.
The stationwagon was fully loaded with kids and only the barest of essentials.No fancy tents, or paraphenalia ..just quilts to roll up in for sleeping around the campfire.
Mom had a special wooden box which held cooking supplies..salt and pepper,oil, a flour and meal mixture, onions potatoes, eggs,grits, coffee and sugar..just the basics..and one exception..marshmallows for roasting after dinner.
A cast iron dutch oven was perched over the fire..another sat nearby for breakfast.
The coffee pot was bubbling away, filling the cool night air with wonderful aroma...
At first light,grabbing a cup of coffee, leaving we kids sleeping, Daddy would  ease his homemade boat into the dark waters..using the oar to push away from the bank, sculling easily and slowly to a favorite spot..
From his cricket cage, he would choose a specimen and bait his hook..
Using only a cane pole equipped with a bobber, with a lead weight slightly above the hook, he would softly lower the baited hook into the water. Most often he would be rewarded with a nibble noted by the bouncing bobber, Quickly setting  the hook, in he would pull his catch..a bream, maybe a crappie, a bass and even a catfish.
Once he had his limit, back to camp he came. Cleaning the fish quickly, they would  be panfried for breakfast to accompany the bubbling pot of grits and the hot coffee. Once fed, daddy would take the kids to the river bank,setting up our poles and keeping an eye on us. With the patience of Job, each child was taught HOW to bait the hook,how to set the hook, and how to keep the line tight  while bringing the fish to shore...
While Daddy was with the kids, Mom had her moment of peace to use the boat for her fishing excursion,equally adept with fishing and maneuvering the boat as was Daddy. In the meantime, Daddy was busy teaching us the elements of fishing, to only catch what you will eat, and to clean what you catch.
As I said, this was an inexpensive entertaining treat for the entire family. Fishbait..,
worms (both earthworms and wigglers) could be coaxed from the ground by vibration. We kids eagerly caught them and put them into the baitcan.In springtime, Catalpa worms (catapillars)
 were often found on trees either at home or along the river banks.Crickets also could be caught, but it was much easier to purchase them.Minnows also fell into the same category. There were no "fees" for camping,or fishing... just gas for the car to get there.And when done, our campsite was cleaned of debris, leaving it ready for the next time.
It was during these many trips that I learned about nature from my parents. Mom had a keen knowledge and love of flower,plants,trees and animals, teaching us which to avoid and why as well as the beneficial ones..Often she would quiz us to see how well we had been listening.. Animal tracking was another  favorite game as well as bird calls..
I think the greatest of all lessons learned during these outings was the importance of family, love,teaching respect for each other as well as nature, sharing knowledge through loving guidance, and the role we all play in the great scheme of things.
Whenever I eat fresh fried fish,
 I'm instantly transported back to those days of innocence, spent with family  sitting around the campfire..the smells of coffee and frying fish filling the air.,and being the wide eyed child of my matter how old I may be!
Daddy and me..canepole fishing..
Now please visit Jen's Unglazed for more worderful F foods on Ato Z Monday..


  1. The only way we ever fry fish is outdoors. There is just something about it tasting better. J is in Knights of Columbus. The Friday night Lenten Fish Fry, each week, has commenced. J helps with the frying, outdoors.

    We love fish for breakfast, too!

    When we have fried fish here, or at the lake, I make a batch of hush puppies. We have those, slices of fried potatoes and a sliced sweet onion, with our fish. Maybe a lemon, but no other condiment.

    Catalpa worms! I remember gathering Catalpa worms for fishing.

    Wonderful post!

  2. What a wonderful post! The only fishing I ever did was in the ocean, so I love the story about your fishing adventures.

  3. Your fishing stories bring me back to fishing off of my Grandma's dock on the Maryland eastern shore. I too had to clean what I caught. What a lesson that was. I was not a squeamish girl, so I did it without complaining.
    Thanks for a great post!

  4. Happy Monday Loui
    Fresh caught Fish! ahhh the best!
    Great post.
    I must make sure my husband goes on another Walleye trip this year.

  5. Loui this post is so picturesque I felt I was down in the deep south with you and the family! We had a lake at our summer place in PA and spent many lazy days fishing. Daddy only let my sister & I use the bamboo poles--never any of his good casting rods. And fly fishing was another thing girls didn't do. Our baby brother got to though. (olden days) Anyway, I learned to fly fish in my 40's and adore just being alone, silent on a river bank, fishing. Oh back to childhood: Anything big enough to eat we kept--the lake was stocked with catfish and bass, and even though Daddy caught most of the fish our Mom was the one who "got to" do all the cleaning. I remember being grossed out by the way a catfish was cleaned! Seemed barbaric. I'm a northerner, so we didn't have all the grits and hushpuppies you guys had. We would eat corn on the cob with catfish and usually mashed potatoes I think. I hated red meat, but even when I quit eating it completely at 14 I still ate certain fish. Yummy. I wonder if the Catholics here in Phoenix have Lenten fish dinners. Will have to check that out! Have a great week. X-C
    ps-I like your new St.Paddy-like masthead!

  6. Loui, What a beautiful story, I wish I could have been on one of those fishing trips. Thanks for transporting me to the banks of a river this morn, it was very quiet and peaceful.
    We eat a lot of fish, but with the health kick, we broil or bake it most of the time.

    BUT, come summer at the lake and it is a big fish fry several times, boy is that good.


  7. Have you ever gone to a fish boil? They are delicious! If you're ever in Door County Wisconsin, go to one!


welcome to my world of salty sunkissed breezes..
where time is not measured..
linger leisurely..
sift sugary white sand between your toes..
Make and take those wonderful memories..
leaving behind..only your footprints...