Saturday, February 7, 2009

Life in a Maine Winter

Ok, so it's still cold. What else is new, right? It was -7 on the way to work and yes, my car temperature gauge registers the minus! We have to go out and start our cars in the morning to let the engine warm a little before starting off down the road. It is very hard on an engine to be put under load while cold before the oil has a chance to circulate and lubricate the cylinder walls. Some folks here have a remote start on their vehicles so they don't have to leave the comfort of the house to start the process. How much is that convenience worth in dollars? Just go out and pre-start your car every morning for 3 months, then let me know. When I mention remote-starters, Mainers reply "give me a break, we're Mainers and we're tough, just go out and scrape your windshield and start the damn car!" The auto-start system costs about $150 so I'll have to think about it some more since I'll hurt myself in order to save money.

After weeks and weeks of temps in the teens and zero or better (or worse) at night, we are slated to get our "January thaw" this week where it will warm to several degrees above freezing during the day. What a treat that will be. We may not even have to wear stocking caps and gloves!

I cooked the smelt last evening and boy, were they good. I expected a strong, fishy flavor, but they were mild and had nice firm white flesh. The three ways I tried them were breaded in cornmeal, panko, and almondine. The cornmeal was dry and not all that flavorful. Panko browns nicely and the fish had a nice crisp coating for a pleasant "mouth feel". The best by far was almond breading which let the fish flavor come through, but the added toasted almond was a sub layer of flavor creating more dimension than the other two coatings. Also on the menu was a pile of Maine shrimp, which are good sized and plump, sauteed in garlic butter... ummm. Michael brought a nice green salad with avocado, walnuts, Celery, and pear with his really good balsamic vinaigrette mixture. Rice pilaf and vinoh verde rounded out the meal and we were pleasantly full, but still cut into the fresh-baked golden apple pie he brought from Two Fat Cats bakery, a fine example of the baked goods available in a cold land.

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