GINNA PARSONS: Fresh trout chases away bear blues

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Last week, my husband and I spent a few days in the Smoky Mountains to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. In 2010, we made the same trip and stayed in a tent for three nights. This year, we made reservations for the same camping spot, but when the weather forecast turned nasty, we opted for a cabin instead.
Let me just say we made the right decision. Wednesday and Saturday were gorgeous, but Thursday and Friday were cold and rainy.
On Thursday morning, before the rains set in, we took a drive through Cades Cove. When the traffic began to back up, we knew someone up ahead had spotted wildlife. Turns out it was a black bear cub up a tree.
Charlie snapped a couple of pictures, and we headed off to Elkmont for an easy five-mile hike on a trail he had wanted to try. Halfway into the trail, we met a couple on the path.
“Are y’all headed to Cucumber Gap?” she said. When we answered in the affirmative, she said, “Then you’ll get the chance to see a mama bear and her two cubs.”
Charlie was thrilled.
I was petrified.
I’m not scared of bears in general, but I’ve never once heard a story about a mama bear and her babies that had a happy ending.
We started up Cucumber Gap and my fear grew. My steps got slower and slower. My heartbeat got louder and louder. All I could think about were my children. I mean, the chances of us having a fatal encounter with a bear were minuscule, but what if?
Finally, Charlie stopped walking and asked me if I wanted to turn back. He didn’t have to ask twice.
I know he was disappointed that we didn’t get to see the bears. Heck, I was disappointed, too. But Charlie made me feel better when he likened my protective reaction to the same reaction a mother bear has when she fears her babies are in danger.
The whole day wasn’t a bust, though. That evening, back at our cozy cabin high in the Smoky Mountains, we prepared a delicious meal of fresh trout, wild rice and roasted asparagus.
And we lived happily ever after.

Lemon Trout Amandine
4 trout fillets (about 1 pound)
Salt and pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1⁄4 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sprinkle trout with salt and pepper. Dust the fish filets in the flour. Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter on medium high heat. Add fish filets and cook until light brown on both sides. Remove from pan and cover to keep warm. Return pan to heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the almonds and sauté, then add the fresh lemon juice. Heat through, then spoon over the fish filets. Serve with additional lemon wedges.
Serves 2.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

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