2014: Filling the First Page in a Blank Book

Shannon_DadChristmas Break or winter vacation? Whatever you call it, I haven’t had one that was this much fun since my best friend in college took me on her family’s trip to the Rose Bowl. Even though we were Iowa State students and the Iowa Hawkeyes were playing the Rose Bowl that year, it was the trip of a lifetime. The California sunshine felt especially nice to this ISU kid, whose eyelashes literally froze together while walking to Finals just a few days prior. Beauty was all around… I was awed by a behind-the-scenes tour of floats being built and thrilled to learn we had seats for the parade. That New Year’s Day goes down as “one perfect day” in my book.

Fast forward a couple decades and New Year’s Day 2014 found me making a 9-hour drive to Baudette, Minnesota, in Lake of the Woods County. When I pulled into the parking lot at Sportsman’s Lodge, my family and I were greeted with temperatures of 22 below zero. (I have no idea what the wind chill was, and I’m not sure I really want to know!)

My 12-year-old son was questioning my judgment. First of all, he was missing the first two days of the new school year. Secondly, he’s missing the chance to play with his friends in a basketball tournament this weekend. And now this: “Mom, do you realize I can only get 3G here? It’s taking forever for Snapchat to load. Someone sent me a message 15 minutes ago, and I’m just getting it now.”

BradPaisley_Quote“Be thankful you have any service at all,” I replied cheerfully. “It may not be as fast as you’d like, but you have service.” I started grabbing gear and unloading our vehicle in an effort to get settled into our room as quickly as possible. Seriously, who wants to dawdle when it’s -22°F?

You may be questioning my sanity, as well. 🙂 Why would a 40-something-year-old woman pack up the family vehicle and head to the frozen tundra for vacation? There are several reasons, actually. I’ve enjoyed fishing since I was knee high to a grasshopper. My dad used to take me trout fishing in Northeast Iowa in the spring practically weekly. My entire family would often spend a week in a fishing cabin somewhere in Minnesota. When I was attending Iowa State, I’d sometimes join my dad for a weekend of ice fishing around Creston in southern Iowa. Fishing is just something we enjoy doing together.

I’ve caught a lot of fish in my day, but I’ve not caught a wall hanger. And I want one! (I have the perfect place in mind to hang one in my house.) Why a Walleye? Why not? 🙂

My quest for a trophy Walleye brought me and my brother to Baudette nearly two years ago. While we never even got a big one on the line, we did catch a lot of walleye. More importantly, we created a lot of fish tales and enjoyed many belly laughs.  We’ve relived some of those moment since, and each time, we laugh about them again.

WildRice_SideDishAs country crooner Trace Adkins’ sings in his fit song, Just fishin’, it’s less about fishing and more about living. My personal motto is to live life to the fullest.  And this New Year’s fishing trip is all about living, creating lifelong family memories – and eating well.

Trying local foods is one thing I enjoy about traveling the country. I’ve enjoyed the lightly breaded walleye, which is on the menu here at Sportman’s Lodge with a side of Traditional Minnesota Wild Rice. I’ve heard from other fishermen that panko makes a nice, light breading.  That’s why today I’m sharing one recipe that I’m looking forward to trying soon with our fresh catch.

Parmesan and Herb-Crusted Walleye



  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 c. panko bread crumbs (see Note)
  • 1 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 11/8 tsp. salt, divided
  • 4 boneless, skinless walleye fillets (about 4 oz. each)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • Lemon wedges for garnish

Note: Panko breadcrumbs can be found in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores.



  1. Prepare the breading for the fish. First, put the flour in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, whisk together the egg, cream and water. On an elongated platter, combine the panko, Parmesan, thyme, rosemary and 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. Season the fish lightly with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and dust with freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Dip the fish into the flour and pat to remove all excess. Dip into the egg wash and shake to remove excess. Lay on the bread-crumb mixture and scoop bread crumbs on top. Press carefully so that they adhere, flip the fish and repeat on the other side; set breaded fish on a clean platter. Repeat this with the remaining filets.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When hot enough that a droplet of water sizzles, add the fillets and cook until dark golden brown. Flip the fillets and cook until dark golden brown on the other side. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges if desired.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 366 Fat 21 g Sodium 750 mg
Carbohydrates 13 g Saturated fat 5 g Calcium 208 mg
Protein 30 g Cholesterol 104 mg Dietary fiber 1 g