Possumhaw: Catch of the day, no ketchup


Shannon Bardwell



"The fishing is a great relief for me when I'm out there's no cell phone ringing ... I'm in the middle of God's country catching tons of fish. I absolutely love it."  


Rick Barry, retired professional basketball player. 




After about the fourth time a frozen baggie of crappie fillets fell out of the freezer and onto the floor, I figured we needed to find some different recipes to use up some crappie fillets. The crappie spawn has been good to Sam. Occasionally he gives away the crappie before he even gets it home. Another fisherman may be taking out his boat, or a "bank-walker" will be standing nearby and Sam will offer them his catch. Nobody has ever turned down fresh-caught crappie. A couple of times Sam's taken bags of frozen crappie fillets to church and handed them out like door prizes. Two people can only eat so much crappie, or can they?  


I figured we could eat more if I could find some different ways of cooking it. I'm not the best cook in the world. I'm not even a good cook, but we get by. I'd like to say that Sam's weight hasn't fallen off any since he retired, but actually it has. After he retired he realized we don't have lots of goodies stashed in the refrigerator or the cabinets. He says he's glad we eat healthy, but sometimes I wonder as he stands in front of the cabinets or the refrigerator with the door open, just staring.  


"Are you looking for something?" I ask. 


"No, just looking," he says as he closes the door. Something akin to browsing. 


I assured him once he got used to healthy snacks he'd find them plenty sweet and tasty. There's a stock of apples, tangerines, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cantaloupe, along with some healthy nuts. Sam's pretty used to healthy eating now but we'd both agree, it's not chocolate.  


Along with the healthy commitment, we don't fry crappie or anything else. Shirley, our neighbor, came up with a baked crappie recipe using ranch dressing and breadcrumbs. We added some almonds on top and Sam says he likes that better than fried. 


Then there was an artichoke with cream sauce pasta recipe my friend Evelyn shared years ago, using catfish "nuggets." I tried the same recipe with crappie and that was a go. Those two recipes worked out well, but after a while it was time to add some variety.  


I wondered about something like salmon croquettes but using crappie instead. Not being such a good cook, I ran it by Anne Freeze, a great cook, while we were working the library book sale. She thought it was a good idea and offered some pointers, so I tried it. I didn't want to cook them in oil, so I used the broiler. The first time they were a bit dry, but nothing a little ketchup wouldn't fix. 


The second time, I couldn't find the same recipe on the internet so I "winged" it with a little less time under the broiler. The croquettes were really good; no ketchup necessary.  



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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