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WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The domestic savvy of the Mountain Man

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The domestic savvy of the Mountain Man



How about cooking up some trout, Mountain Man style?

It sort of makes you envision a campfire with a bed of hot coals and a black cast iron frying pan with some trout sizzling in some hot oil, doesn’t it?

So I asked my buddy, the Mountain Man Paul Cichowski, how he did his trout, and he really floored me with his answer.

“I microwave them for three to four minutes in a microwave oven.”

I had to repeat my question. He came back with the same answer.

“I microwave them!”

Now he had my full attention. Here was this Mountain Man, who I believe could survive in the great outdoors under any conditions, telling me that he was using a microwave oven to cook his trout!

Of course, you won’t find a microwave oven at an outdoor campsite unless you’ve got generator to run it, but I found the idea fascinating enough to pass it on to you.

Paul went on to tell me how he does it.

“Put a paper towel on a microwave-proof dish, put the cleaned trout on the paper towel and put another paper towel over the trout. Put in the microwave on high for three to four minutes and your trout is cooked.”

He then said, “Take the plate with the trout out of the microwave and remove the top paper towel. The skin should peel off with the paper towel.

“I then use a fork to scrape the meat off of the top layer of trout and, after the bone is showing, lift the trout bone off of the remaining trout. The remaining trout meat will come away from the bottom skin and paper towel and you have a plate of juicy trout meat.”

I could hardly wait to give this method a try. Thanks to some of my buddies like Paul Cichowski, Kyle Cooney and Joe Tkacz III, I had some trout to try this “Mountain Man” cooking on.

I was a bit cautious on my first try at microwaving a trout, but it was not a problem. I cooked it for three minutes and then gave it another minute.

Edna liked the idea right away because there was no fish smell in the kitchen during the process.

I then took the trout out of the microwave and, lo and behold, the top layer of skin came off with the paper towel.

I then removed the top layer of flesh with a fork and then lifted the center bone ribs and all off of the bottom layer of flesh. The skin on the bottom layer of trout also came off with the paper towel.

Now I was left with nothing but pure, juicy trout meat with no bones. I then put a little melted butter and lemon juice on the trout.

To say it was fantastic would be an understatement! It was absolutely delicious and just penning this bit of the column, you will have excuse me because I am going to microwave another trout.

So far I have cooked six different trout using this Mountain Man magic and each and every one of them was excellent! Thanks to my trout providers and a special thanks to my Mountain Man, Paul Cichowski for sharing this with me.

While doing this column, it brought back a flood of memories from my younger days and meals cooked in the great outdoors. As kids, we depended on the great outdoors as a source of entertainment as well as a source of good things to eat.

We had none of the electronic do-dads that the younger generation now uses to pass the time. And, YES, I do know that things are a lot different now, especially with COVID-19 all around us.

Even the winter weather could not keep us out of the woods.

I still remember a gang of us from South Meriden spending a snowy day in the woods around the Village. We had an open fire and made coffee with water from a nearby water source and cooked hot dogs donated by our families, who had no qualms about us going into the woods unattended by an adult.

For a gang of kids eating hot dogs cooked over an open campfire and washing them down with coffee (just like the adults), life could not have been better.

Have you ever cooked fish over an open fire? As kids, we did many times, especially on the Quinnipiac River below Carpenter’s Dam.

The water below Carpenter’s Dam, which has since been removed, was teeming with yellow perch. We would catch them and cook them on the river bank over an open fire. We would put the fish on a stick like you would a hot dog and cook them until they were done. Try that today!

Down below the former Carpenter’s Dam was a small island known to us as “Boy Scout Island.” It had a log bridge going onto it and, as Boy Scouts, we would often camp out overnight, and this would include preparing our meals over an open fire.

We learned quite a lot about cooking over a campfire from our Scout Master, Floyd Spencer. He could turn out some eats in a cast iron frying pan over some wood coals that would make some of those fancy chefs on the tube jealous.

Now if you will excuse me, I think I will do another trout in the microwave. YUMMY!

Another cancellation

A note from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection regarding Discover Outdoor Connecticut Day.

“Dear Outdoor Enthusiasts, it is with sadness that we have to inform you that, due to the COVID-19 concerns, this year’s preparations for Discover Outdoor Connecticut have been postponed until 2021.

“We appreciate all the efforts made in making this great event in the past, especially last year’s event held at Hammonasset Beach State Park.

“Should anything change regarding the event over the next few months, we will be in touch.”

This was sent by William Cassidy and Andrew LaBonte, co-chairs of the event.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops and first responders wherever they may be helping those in need in our great country.


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