This may sound strange, but the noteworthy culinary parts of the trip were definitely in Spokane. Specifically, at JR's parents' house: JR's dad is an avid hunter/fisher/gardener and many of our meals were centered around things he'd hunted, caught, or grown.
This particular recipe calls for some serious planning in advance - it takes 2 weeks. There's no question - food simply tastes better when there's that much planning and thought that goes into it. This was a serious crowd pleaser. To create it, Joe took bits and pieces from a couple of recipes he found online, and threw in some ideas of his own. It was fantastic (thanks, Joe, for sharing your recipe!). Here's how it goes:
Joe's Pickled Fish
Week 1: Brine the fish
about 1 pound of fish*, skinned, de-boned, and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
1/2 c. kosher salt
1 c. white vinegar
*Joe's version featured trout - you could also use salmon or herring
Mix the vinegar and salt together in a large container, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Add the fish pieces to the vinegar/salt brine. Make sure all of the pieces are covered by the liquid (add more salt and vinegar if needed). Cover the container and refrigerate for a week.
Week 2: Pickle the fish
1 1/2 c. white vinegar
1 1/2 c. white wine
1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. pickling spice
1 Tbsp. black pepper corns
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
3-4 bay leaves
1 red onion, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
sour cream to taste (if desired)
Drain the brine mixture from the fish. Fill the container with cold water. Let sit an hour, then drain and repeat several times. This is to flush the salt and vinegar from the fish. Once that's done, the fish is ready to pickle.
For pickling liquid: in a saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and spices. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Once cool, add the wine (and sour cream, if using).
In jars or containers, layer the fish and onions, leaving half and inch at the top. Pour the pickling liquid over the fish/onion until all of the fish is covered. Seal the jar and put it in the fridge. Let sit for a week to ten days.
Joe made one version of the pickled fish with sour cream and one without. Personally, I liked the version without the sour cream better, but I think everyone else favored the sour cream version. We ate the pickled fish on crackers - an hors d'ouevres that paired perfectly with great time with family and friends in the eastern Washington sunshine.