Completed (Empyreal Demesne) Smokin'

Dess and Lynneah smoke some fish for the long winter.

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While Sylira is by far the most civilized region of Mizahar, countless surprises and encounters await the traveler in its rural wilderness. Called the Wildlands, Syliran's wilderness is comprised of gradual rolling hills in the south that become deep wilderness in the north. Ruins abound throughout the wildlands, and only the well-marked roads are safe.

(Empyreal Demesne) Smokin'

Postby Dessarian on November 25th, 2019, 8:10 pm

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Timestamp: 70th of Fall, 519 AV

The winds off of the bay had grown considerably colder off as the season passed. The leaves of the trees that made up much of the backdrop to the Demesne had turned their deep colors and fallen, leaving only the noble conifers clothed among the Wildlands. Dess knew what autumn meant deeper in the forests, where he was raised and lived until recently. Any structures that needed repairs or had significant gaps were tended to, so that they could protect against the weather. Food was horded, both that purchased and hauled in from seasonal family caravans to the cities, and that small amount which was gathered, grown, trapped or hunted in the forest around them.

It was no less a busy time at the Meraki manor. Even more so, in that the means to acquire and store food for the winter were tested for the first time. Zeltiva had a perpetual shortage of food, aside from fish, which added to the challenge of the Meraki as they planned for the colder season. They had some crops, of which Dawson was over seeing the harvest of with Djinn. Kelski was already learning out to can the apples to store.

Prepping winter stores was Lynneah's forte. She was out in the field and orchard, organizing the harvested food and finding room for it in the basement level of the tower. The Zreven had no problems giving orders when it came to securing their food supply for the threatening Winter, including the Damazar for who's family she once worked.

A hunter had been welcomed by the Meraki, a half-Symmenestra who found little hospitality in town. He provided meat for most days, the Wildlands rich with game, from rabbit and squirrel to turkey and deer. It was assumed he could continue to secure meat through the winter, though with less frequency.

Earlier in the season, Lynneah had proposed a second source of protein, from a method she practiced on a small scale at the K'etir and Damazar manors. Fish from local streams and ponds were preserved for winter. Her smoked fish had been a favorite of Dessarian's, providing a palatable source of protein when game became scarce in the dead of winter. Not everyone in the families felt the same about the strongly flavored filets. Fish was a favorite of Kelski's, but Dess wondered if the lightly salted, smoked fish would be tasty or offensive to the sea eagle's tongue. As it was the Meraki's first winter, Dess and Lynneah had decided to set up the means to smoke some fish, to supplement the food supply for the uncertain future.

The two had sat down at a table near the hearth in the tower one evening to discuss the plans. The Zreven woman explained the process and what would be needed. The goal was to keep the fish from spoiling in storage. When it came to the K'etir, the mages had means to create cold storage for some foods. The fish had been a back up if things failed, to make room for more perishable foods, and because Lynneah's smoked fish had become a favorite among the elders of the family.

She explained that lightly salting the fish to begin with adds to the preservation and flavor. Smoking consisted of hanging the filleted fish over a low, smoldering fire. A hot fire provided little smoke. It was the smoke of a smoldering fire that penetrated the meat and add the preservation qualities and unique taste. The nature of the wood could enhance the flavors, but they didn't have time to track down specific trees to tailor the taste that season. Regardless, the fish would hang over the smoke for several days. When the process was complete, they could be wrapped and stored, good for the winter.

Lynneah suggested a basic make-shift structure to help contain the smoke, to make the process more efficient. Also, when the time came, they would need to secure a supply of fish, either from the docks in Zeltiva or the Svefra pods with which the Meraki traded.

The time had finally come to execute those plans. And while Lynneah worked on securing the size and type of fish needed, Dess would work on a basic smokehouse. While the had the material to build the shack, Dess knew they were low on some of the tools and supplies needed. They would have to get what the needed from Zeltiva or Svefra.

purchases :
From Dess's ledger
nail hammers x 4 @5sm/ea. = 2gm
nails x 5lbs @5sm/lb = 2gm, 5sm
crowbar, 2gm
10' tarp, 12gm



Word count: 706
Last edited by Dessarian on November 27th, 2019, 3:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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(Empyreal Demesne) Smokin'

Postby Dessarian on November 27th, 2019, 2:23 pm

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The temporary smokehouse needed only to keep out rain and help contain the smoke for more effective saturation of the fish. If the attempt to smoke fish was successful, a more permanent building could be constructed. Dess found a space of ground near the lumber yard to set up the structure. He eyed out a roughly twelve foot square. The idea was to set up a frame work inside that could hold two levels of fish over two small fires, with a small aisle between them to access the fillets.

Briggs, the best hands-on labor at the Demesne, was helping Toni at the sawmill. Lumber had become one of the Meraki's main income goods, along with Kelski's jewelry. So it was important to keep the mill running as long as weather allowed. While Dess was no architect, precision didn't matter for the smoke shack, and he was confident that Ebon and he could build a sufficient structure on their own, with only a few items cut to length by the Dhani.

Dessarian's concept was to plant four main posts at the corners, then frame out a cross board along the top and bottom on all side to which they could affix vertical boards for the walls. They didn't have to be perfect, so they would use first boards from the mill that wouldn't sell, ones with knots, cracks or some warping. They would be enough to form the walls and roof. The framework for hanging the fish inside would be unfinished limbs from cleared trees nailed or lashed together.

They first marked the corners, using twine and a wooden square borrowed from Toni to make sure the angles would be correct. Then, shovels in hand, Dess and Ebon worked the hard earth to dig holes for the corner posts. The men talked as they worked. Dess had known Ebon as long as he had known Kelski. It was the two of them and Ember that tended to Dess after the Sunberth slave market. The men talked about how far they had come since then, less than a couple seasons ago. They discuss Kelski. Ebon, as a Kelvic, had a unique perspective on the Sea Eagle. Dess often sought Ebon to help him understand things about Kelski that confused or surprised him. The Night Lion could usually offer up an explanation, which in turn allowed Dess to better relate to his bond mate.

When the holes were finally deep enough, a couple feet, They set the posts. The building would be about eight feet high. The frame was built, simple planks nailed to the faces of the posts as the top and bottom around all four sides. Digging through the pile of rejected lumber, Dess and Ebon began to pull out planks to use for the walls. They would be nailed vertically to the frame. But when they saw the selection and lengths of boards available, which were all fairly long, it made sense to set them horizontally. So, they added a few more vertical planks to the frame to support the new design, and frame out a doorway.

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(Empyreal Demesne) Smokin'

Postby Dessarian on November 27th, 2019, 2:58 pm

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Ebon and Dess worked methodically to nail up the boards for the walls. With varied widths of planks from the discard pile, it took some finagling to get each wall to end evenly at the top of the corner posts. There were small gaps between the planks, inevitable with the misfit lumber they used, but none that would compromise the fish inside.

The last section was the roof. The same issue with gaps existed when the last of the roof boards was in place. There was more concern about that, given the threat of rain water dousing the fires and washing salt from the fish. That was where the tarp Dess had bought came in. While it was only ten foot square, it covered enough of the roof to prevent the concerns with rain. All in all, the gaps between the lumber and a small gap left intentionally between the walls and roof would allow for smoke to escape and not completely fill the interior.

Ebon took a shovel inside the shack and dug two shallow pits where the fires would be built. In the meantime, Dess nailed together a makeshift door from scraps. He had no hinges, so coarse twine was used to create a jury-rigged hinge at the top and bottom. A piece of wood leaned against the door would keep it shut. It was about that time that Lynneah arrived.

The dark-skinned Zreven stood and stared at the shack for a long moment. "That is one ugly building." She commented, shaking her head. "You should definitely stick to breaking bones, Dess." She added, finally letting her feigned frown break into a grin. "It will work for now." She offered in approval. "But I'm not lying, it is horse shyke ugly." She smacked Dessarian's arm with the back of her hand before stalking off. "Get it ready, we start cutting fillets tomorrow." The woman tossed back over her shoulder.

The last element to the smoke shack was the frame to hang the fish. Dess and Ebon gathered limbs about a inch thick, cut roughly to length with hand axes and lashed together with twine. Darcee stopped by to help with the lashings. The idea was to create two frames in the form of rectangles, about seven feet high, nine feet long and two feet wide. With the cross pieces at the top and second set about two feet lower. Fish could be hung over the top pieces and the lower pieces on all sides. The frames were set on either side of the small room over the fire pits, the feet dug into the earthen floor about six inches for stability. The smoke house was ready, as long as it didn't blow over.

As Lynneah promised, within a day or two, the fish started to come in. She had gone with asking some of the Svefra they traded with often to stay a few days and fish in the bay for them. That saved the travel to and from Zeltiva and the Svefra could be paid in goods instead of coin.

With the fish coming in and the smoke shack ready, they were almost ready. But it wasn't as simple as taking a fish and draping it over fire. While they could be smoked whole, Lynneah had suggested cutting them into fillets. They smoked quicker and were easier to prepare when pulled from storage. And they had a lot of fish.

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(Empyreal Demesne) Smokin'

Postby Dessarian on November 27th, 2019, 3:23 pm

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Hattie and Mosa firmly refused to have a fish filleting assembly line set up in the tower. So, a number of stumps were used as stations for cutting fish. With Dess and Lynneah, several others joined in the 'fun', including Keesha, Ebon and Mercy, while Ember watched Caitlyn. A number of buckets of water were secured, as well as a few to hold refuse. Then, Lynneah offered instruction on how to cut the fish.

She started with laying a fish out in front of her. She then explained that the first thing to do was gut the fish. "Make a cut along the bottom of the fish, tail to head." She demonstrated. "And pull out the innards." Then she set the knife aside and pulled out the fish's guts, dropping them into the bucket. Dess knew Kelski was out flying a patrol over the territory. What a surprise the sea eagle would find when she returned.

"Then, take off the head." Lynn's fish's head was cut off behind the gills. "Cutt off any fins as well." There were a few species of fish brought in by the Svefra, so what needed trimmed varied. Lynneah then explained it was time to cut the fillet. Again offering a demonstration, she set her blade at the tail of the fish, flat, edge towards the front of the fish. "Cut smoothly. Don't be rough or hack at it, use a steady movement. Then she began to cut her fish. Dess and the others followed her example. Quickly, Lynn had to offer stop and offer more detail.

"Use the spine as a guide, keep above the spine. Feel for the ribs, you want to stay over them, not cut through them." She offered in guidance. Her students continued their own efforts. "When you get it separated from the body, set it aside, turn the fish over and do the other side. Wash them in the water and stack them." She made it look so simple.

The process continued. The first few batches of fillets were a little rough, but Lynneah assured them they would smoke, cook and taste just the same, even if they had a few more bones. After things were started, Dess and Ebon were sent to start the fires in the smoke shack.

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(Empyreal Demesne) Smokin'

Postby Dessarian on November 27th, 2019, 3:43 pm

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Dess and Ebon gathered tinder, kindling and wood for the smoke fires. In each small fire pit, the material was prepared. A log was set in each pit against which the fire would be stared. Dried leaves, tiny twigs and horse hair served as tinder at the core of each fire. larger twigs were laid over those, and then the kindling made from branches. A few thicker pieces of wood were leaned over those.

kneeling by the first fire pit, Dess gathered his res, allowing a small amount to form above his palm. It was ignited and the small flame sent into the tinder. The light, dry material caught fire. With a mist of res, Dess coaxed the tiny fire to carefully expand, until it licked at the kindling and was well on its own.

Placing his hand near the center of the fire, another small amount of res appeared in a pinkish vapor over his palm. As he held it close to the fire, flames hissed and danced towards his palm, until a flame flew to the res and lingered. Ebon had readied the wood for the second fire, and Dess moved with his dancing flame to the second pit. But the writhing little fire faded and disappeared. So, with a bit more res, Dess created his own flame again and started the second fire.

Lingering to guide the fires to a good, even heat, the two men kept the fires going, letting them get hot and grow to fill the pits before letting them wane. It wasn't until they burned down that they really began to produce a good smoke. Just a piece of wood now and then kept the smoldering fires active.

Lynneah and Keesha arrived with the first load of fillets in baskets. She had explained that, after the fish were washed, they used some of the Guild's generous salt supply to lightly rub the fillets down. They were ready to be smoked.

There wasn't much room in the shack, so Dess and Ebon stepped out and let the Zreven mother and daughter drape the fish fillets over the rough framework. When the first batch of fish was all hung, Lynneah offered further instruction. "Just keep a little would on the fires. The coals are good and hot and will keep things going. In a few days, the fish will be ready to pack and store.

Word count: 400
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