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The final two nights at Cottage 4

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Dennis L. Clay

This is the last of a two-part series about a four-night stay at Cottage 4.

The first light of the new day was showing in the east, turning the sky whitish, then bluish and next pink and red. A sunrise can be just as beautiful as a sunset at times.

I was seated at the dining table in Cottage 4 at Mar Don Resort on Potholes Reservoir. The changing colors of the sunrise had me mesmerized and the scene captivated my attention for several minutes. Garnet and I had one night left of a four-night stay in Cottage 4.

Our stay began on Easter Sunday. We asked friends Jim Hergert, Dani Nugent and her mother, Lori, to join us for a potluck-style Easter dinner. We discussed the idea of a repeat visit on Tuesday and all agreed the idea was possible and practicable. Plus this would give me a chance to try some of the wild game and fish recipes on people other than Garnet.

The menu consisted of appetizers of walleye wings, deer summer sausage and half a quail breast wrapped in bacon and fried.

The main course consisted of a small elk and deer roast, two wild turkey thighs, quail breast, chinook salmon fillet, walleye fillets and a deboned trout.

The afternoon found me preparing the meal. The turkey thighs were deboned and quail breasts were whole with the breast bone in place. These were placed in a slow cooker and covered with cream of mushroom soup and left to cook on high for three hours.

The half quail breasts were wrapped in bacon and secured with a toothpick. A third of a strip of bacon covered the breast with a little overlap.

Next my experimenting spirit grabbed me. An onion was sliced thin and then pieces of onion were cut the width of a bacon strip. The final five breasts contained slices of onion. A half pound of bacon remained after all of the quail were prepared.

The experimenting continued as first a piece of walleye was wrapped with onion and bacon, then salmon. This continued until no bacon remained.

Some of the walleye and salmon were cut into bite-sized pieces anddredged in flour, dipped in egg and dredged in Louisiana Fish Fry, the seasoned-and-crispy style, which is a breading mix.

The rest of the walleye and salmon were prepared differently, but separately. An appropriate size piece of aluminum foil was placed on the counter. The salmon fillet was positioned on the foil, skin down. It was seasoned with garlic powder, salt, pepper and the juice from an entire lemon.

Four walleye fillets were prepared the same way. Several pieces of butter could have been added to each foil packet. This was not forgotten, just left out of the recipe this time. These packets, the breaded fish and appetizers were placed in the refrigerator, as it was too early to cook.

Jim asked me before the trip to show him how to debone a trout, a trick I learned from Bill Witt. A fish from the freezer was defrosted and on hand two days earlier.

Jim and Dani watched as the tail was removed and a slice was made behind the rib bones on each side. Next a slice was made on both sides of the backbone, making sure not to cut through the skin, and it was easily removed along with the rib bones.

The small pin bones remained. These were located by feel on the right side and a slice was made on both sides of the bones. The bones and flesh containing them were then easily removed. The left side pin bones were removed using the same procedure.

All of the bones from the trout had been removed, with the flesh and skin remaining. At this point the cook can stuff the trout, placing the stuffing on one half of the fish and folding the other half over the stuffing.

The elk and deer roasts were placed in the digital pressure cooker, with two cans of diced tomatoes added. A pressure of around 11 pounds was set, the timer was adjusted to 40 minutes and the cook button was pushed.

Jim, Dani and Lori arrived at 6 p.m., with Brenda and Kirk Wilson showing up shortly thereafter.

Everything was cooked outside on a barbecue, except for the slow cooker and pressure cooker. Lori spent an hour or so as cook, frying the fish and appetizers, as well as keeping an eye on the foil packets.

The visit was great, with stories told and friendships deepened. The food turned out good, with the experiments satisfactory in my eyes.

The following night Garnet and I enjoyed an outdoor fire; it was the first night without a stiff wind. Leftovers were our evening meal.

There are nine cottages at the resort and all have a great view. There are various configurations, with some sleeping seven and two sleeping four. One is handicapped accessible. Go to: http://mardonresort.com/ and click on lodging and then cottages.

The final morning in Cottage 4 was spent as the morning before, up before sunrise to watch a colorful sunrise and witness a mirror finish on Potholes Reservoir.

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