CATCH AND EAT / by Micaela

The croft is, if nothing else, an exercise in subsistence living.  Yes, there is a store in the town of Tongue twenty minutes away, but it's goods are extremely limited (was astonished to find a melon there this summer) and, among it's other quirks, it's open for exactly 1 hour on Sundays after church. The best way to get your food is to catch, pick, or trap it yourself. Then clean it and cook it yourself.  And then eat it yourself.  

This pretty much takes up at least half of your waking hours every day but I swear food doesn't taste any better than when you do it this way. It's a group effort and everyone has their skill set. Neil and Cicely are aces at catching Mackerel and Pollock, Jos makes the world's best smoked mackerel pate, fish cakes, and mussels in garlic and white wine, and Roan can now gut fish. As usual, Sam is good at everything.  

This year we got especially ambitious about foraging. Into the usual mix of fish, crab, lobster, and mussels, we added winkles, which look like little sea snails, and seaweed.  Sam was SO excited about a book that was gifted to the croft on foraging in Scotland.  He harvested and dried several different kinds of seaweed.  He tried salting it, cooking with it, and eventually even grinding it into a powder and putting it on ice cream.

We didn't catch any lobster (we caught a conger eel, which was a giant slimy black snake-like looking thing that we quickly returned to the sea) so Neil had to buy those from Sinclair, the local lobster man.  The cost? £5 per lobster, about the same price as the melon.

Getting ready to fish aboard the Lady Anne

Mackerel fishing

I think this is a Pollock

A good size one

The slip in Skerray Harbour

Dinner is served!

Lobster pots

Harbour skat


Dissecting the lobster

Shells and guts

Off to catch winkles

Winkle hunting



With butter and garlic


It was a lot of work to scoop the winkles out of their shells

Seaweed before harvesting

Seaweed dried, ground,and sprinkled over vanilla ice cream (looks better than it tasted)

On the way to Slettle for mussels.  We were told to watch out for the bull that was loose in the field.

Rocks in Slettle

Very few mussels this year but we managed to find some

So delicious!

Off again to fish!

Um, we did not eat this guy.  We used him for bait.

Cicely had a great catch this day

Roan tried to re-catch the catch

That's a healthy Mackerel

Roan is not even remotely squeamish

Kedgerie made with smoked mackerel