Friday, December 12, 2014

Back again. And I made caviar.

It has been so long since I have written, that I get stuck trying to write a new post, torn between the kind of thing I'd write if I was writing regularly (a detailed account of a small thing in my life at the moment, or a small thing I'm remembering and think is interesting), and some kind of grand feelings-filled catch-up. A few days ago, I tried to write some kind of hybrid. It was terrible, a failure, and unfinished. I didn't want it to take up any more of my life, to finish it and then edit it, and I wanted to do some things off of the computer. It was some kind of summary of feelings and things having to do with just finishing a very busy and stressful semester (fortunately one person warned me about the first half of 2L year, that it can be more work that 1L year and that's all I'll say on that topic for now) and with a very veiled reference to current events in America, what sort of little things are making me happy. I meant to say, "For example, turkey stock!" It became a long story, with multiple nested stories, about this particular turkey, why I'm talking about a Thanksgiving weekend tradition now (we froze the turkey), how we once brought a frozen turkey carcass home to Portland from Hawaii to make stock with it, and all of the details of what we did this Thanksgiving weekend.

It might not have been a bad post, but as the first post in months, and possibly the only post for another several month!? Who is going to come here to read about turkey stock!?

And it was all to make the point that I like waking up on the morning that the turkey is still in the crock pot, and the stock is ready, and filling a mug not with coffee or tea but with turkey stock, and drinking a mug of it, sometimes two, and before starting the work that's weighing on my mind; before contemplating current events that make me sad, I have a brief moment to enjoy something small and nice in my life.

My technique to preserve sanity right now is to focus on small things and moments like that, sort of like looking at a photograph for awhile, and not contemplating what is outside of the frame, except for a memory of something similar to what is in the photograph. What a lovely cup of coffee I am drinking! And this mug, it was given to me by a dear friend. Remember that time dear friend and I had coffee together? rather than, What a lovely cup of coffee! I'm so glad it's fair trade! I hope it's fair trade, anyway. Remember the story that professor told about every drop of coffee representing a drop of peasants' blood?! My, the world is so horrible! Unfair labor practices! Environmental destruction!

Well, I can't do it--the latter. I need to take breaks, breaks that are breaks. Thinking only about the happy things in my small world, ignoring for a moment the ways in which I benefit from some injustice elsewhere, doesn't mean I don't care, that I'm ignoring it, that I'm going to forget why I went to law school in the first place (and government school before that) (and botany school before that even). I just need some calm time and space.

This is why I get so darn mad about Facebook. I wouldn't be active on Facebook at all if I hadn't moved around so much in my twenties. It's the fastest way to stay in touch with people, to see the content they want to share. My study break is seeing the new pictures my friends posted of their families, and exchanging some words with them. But this is not easy to do! I've managed to screen out what was distracting me a year ago--all the clickbait, all the news and "news" and random poorly written blog post rants. I managed to filter a lot of the sources out of my feed and just get better at recognizing them so that I didn't click on them anymore and get annoyed and distracted and waste time that I could be (as I wrote a few posts ago) reading Little Dorrit or knitting a sweater. Or doing my homework.

The first thing I did was start using Instagram instead, to share picture updates with my friends and family. Pictures of the garden, pictures of the cats, pictures of food we made, pictures of sunsets in Scottdale. (and that's pretty much my whole Instagram feed.) I'd share to Facebook from Instagram. But even then, if I wanted to respond to comments, I still have to go on Facebook and I can't find a way to get rid of that awful "Trending" tab. It's always got some bad, violent news headline! I'm not going on Facebook to consider societal problems! I want fifteen minutes to NOT think about them. I really don't want to hear about recent grisly murders! There's nothing I can do about them! Maybe I'm not that good at compartmentalizing, because seeing a headline can ruin my mood for awhile; it stays on my mind.

So, now when I want to share a moment or story with my friends and family far away, I've started to think, "But is it really worth signing onto Facebook?"

It's not.

A few days ago, I posted the following picture to Instagram:

And here's a link to it on Instagram, should you wish to see it there.

Between various forms of social media and some Googling, I tried to figure out what I was going to do with these salmon eggs. I made caviar at 5am today, and I wanted to share this information!

But was it worth going on Facebook?


And so, My Caviar Adventure. It was after I got home from the supermarket that I discovered that I had not purchased a container of salmon eggs, but rather a "skein" of them, and that before I could do anything, I had to separate the eggs from the "skein."

Something woke me up at 3:00 this morning, and at 4:30 I decided to just start my day. I made my husband's lunch, and at 5:00 thought, "Why not try to make that caviar now?"

The technique I used to separate the eggs from the skein was to put a cooling rack over a bowl and run the skeins across the wide mesh of the cooling rack, so that the eggs would fall into the bowl. "You'll break a few eggs this way," said the Internet. "You should remove all the little bits of membrane," said the Internet. Well, Internet, I broke most of the eggs, and how do I remove all those tiny bits of membrane? I don't see how I can without breaking EVERY egg!

I rinsed them with cold water, and then brined them in heavily salted water for about half an hour. I rinsed them again, hoping that would get the membrane off, and put the resulting caviar in a jar. At one point, I did take a picture of the brined eggs in the mesh strainer, a beautiful pink color, reflecting the light of the range hood like little gems.

Perhaps you can already tell from the picture what I am about to say--after all that effort, a fish-egg covered cooling rack, and all but two of my mixing bowls used and dirty--I have made about a tablespoon of caviar.

A dollar well spent!