New Friends for the Kids

Meg did a lot of research…

A few months ago, Meg asked to get some fish again.  We had some back in St. Louis and moved them here, though at the time, Calvin couldn’t open doors and we could keep Sam away from the fish bowl.  This time, however, Calvin’s older and isn’t know for following directions, so if we were going to get a fish tank again, we’d have to be a bit more careful about where it goes and whether it had a lid or not.

Brooke found a starter kit here in town that came with a 10 gallon tank, some peripheral fakery for the inside of the tank, and a nice lid that should keep small paws and hands out of the tank.  However, we had to get the fish from Sedalia, as our options were non-existent here in town.  Meg decided she wanted to go with tropical fish, which meant we needed to get a small heater for the tank.  We also got a filter system, but it didn’t actually come with tubing, so that had to come from Sedalia, too.

Calvin likes his new friends!

Anyway, we ended up with over 10 small fish of varying types and 2 snails for the tank.  So far, the fish have survived, and the kids feed them twice a day.  We’re hopeful that the filter system and snails will limit the amount of cleaning we need to do, as this system is quite a bit more sophisticated than the small bowl we had for years awhile back.  The filters can be picked up here in town and are supposed to be switched out around once a month, and the water should be exchanged at about 1/3 volume at the same time as the filter (or so we read).  The tank is in the kid’s bedroom, which is close to a bathroom but not really close to the kitchen at all, so if it really is just a water exchange every once and awhile, along with the filter, we should probably be alright.

The kids seem enamored with it so far!  All the fish have names, of course.  🙂

Fish Fry

The final product: fish, hushpuppies, corn fritters, potato salad, tomatoes, baked beans, and a side of chicken for grandma.

A new fish place recently opened off of Mark Twain Avenue in Hannibal that my father-in-law, Mark, has started to frequent. The proprietors go fishing on the Mississippi River daily, haul in their catch, clean it all for you, and open for business around 10:00 am.  So if you want fresh catfish in that general area, this is apparently the place to go.

Anyway, Mark decided he wanted to host a fish fry this past weekend, so many of us descended upon Hannibal, MO to have a mix of catfish and buffalo fish, among other things.

Edie is hoping Mark drops one of those fishes on the ground...

Mark borrowed the equipment, but basically, we were outside heating up canola oil in a dutch oven over an outdoor propane burner. This one is very similar to the one I just got for my birthday to use in beer brewing. It took a little while to heat the oil up to the desired temperature, but he had an issue with the candy thermometer we were using. As in, it wasn’t working properly, so the first few fish didn’t quite fry correctly.

Wish I could remember which seasoning packet he used. They were pretty perfect when they came out of that fryer...

After he turned the burner down a bit, things improved. It only took a few minutes for each fish fillet to be cooked through. I was kind of amazed how the smell of fried fish permeated the air surrounding the frying rig. I mean, you can smell fried fish in a restaurant easily, but that’s an enclosed space. This was very easy to smell from 30 feet away. Mmmmm…

Catfish, buffalo fish, and hushpuppies.

The buffalo fish isn’t one I’d ever had before: it’s the “wavy” one in the picture above. The catfish looked like your typical filet, so nothing too special there…except for the flavor, of course. Brooke also made hushpuppies, and those were pretty spectacular. The hushpuppies didn’t go in until after the fish was done, so as to not mix the flavors too much.

Brooke tried her hand at some corn fritters.

Brooke really wanted to try corn fritters, though. They’re similar to a hushpuppy, but not quite.  She made up the corn mix and took it out with a little scooper, dropped it into the fryer, and they turned a nice, golden brown.  I think they were a bit softer and less dry than a typical hushpuppy, but in the end, they’re pretty similar entities.  Is there a reason to have both?  Probably not.  But hey, they were both spectacular, so I didn’t complain.

They were done once they were floating. You can see the individual kernels of corn on the fritters.

In all, the food was excellent. I can’t say I get fresh catfish very often, especially fish that was caught on the same day. I think I preferred the catfish over the buffalo, personally, but they were both really good. I think the corn fritters went over best with people, but the hushpuppies were almost gone by the end, too.

I don’t think we’ll have to try too hard to get Mark to make this a yearly (monthly?) event. 🙂