Favorite Friday fish hard to find

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: I read your column every day. It is very interesting. You have helped me in the past. I hope you can help me once more.

Growing up in a big Catholic family we did not eat meat on Friday during Lent, which is just around the corner. My mom always bought cusk fish, and it is the only fish I will eat.

No one carries this fish anymore. I figured if anyone could find out where I can purchase it, you could. I miss my cusk. — No Name, Greene

ANSWER: Sun Spots fears you may be out of luck. At www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/fish/cusk.htm it says that the cusk is a very unique species of fish and the only one in its taxonomic genus of Brosme. They can be up to 3 feet in length and weigh up to 20 pounds but are relatively slow-growing and late-maturing. 

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The cusk diet consists primarily of various species of crustaceans, fishes and echinoderms. Cusk live in deep water, solitary or in small groups, and have been found to be distributed primarily in deeper waters in the central portion of the Gulf of Maine.

A declining population trend has been evident since the late 1960s. The NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center biomass index for cusk was near zero in 1998 and is the record low.

Although their low numbers and threatened status mean fishermen are not actively harvesting them, websites say they are sometimes caught accidentally, so they appear in Canadian stores upon occasion, but that doesn’t do you any good.

The cusk is in the eel family, but instead of eel as a substitute, recipes online suggest cod or halibut. If you can’t tolerate those, how about lobster for Fridays during Lent?

DEAR SUN SPOTS: In response to the Jan. 27 request, here are two microwave recipes for fudge:

Place one can of vanilla frosting and an 8-ounce jar of peanut butter in microwavable dishes and heat until melted enough to stir. Pour into a lightly greased pan and refrigerate for about two hours. This takes less than 10 minutes to make. You can also make chocolate peanut butter fudge this way.

You can also use strawberry frosting and white chocolate chips (12 ounces). Put frosting in dish and set aside. Put chips in microwavable dish and heat for about 30 seconds at a time until chips are all melted. You need to check after each 30 seconds so as not to overcook. Once melted, pour in bowl with frosting and mix together. Pour into lightly greased pan and refrigerate for about two hours. You can use different flavors of frosting. — Dorothy, dgosselin@sunjournal.com

DEAR SUN SPOTS: The Jan. 27 column brought back happy memories. I haven’t made the mug cakes in quite a while, but when my granddaughter visited, we frequently did.

We thought they were extra yummy if we stuck a chocolate-covered peppermint or a Rollo down into the mixture before baking. I have been wanting to try a gluten-free version of the cakes and you provided the reminder to get to it. Thanks. I love your column! — Bethel Shields

DEAR SUN SPOTS: On Dec. 30 there was a letter in your column from Brady in Lewiston who said she is a disabled single mother of six who would like to know if she could have holiday meals delivered to her home.

Hope Haven Gospel Mission on Lincoln Street does that for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. They do ask that you call up to a week in advance, but some have even called that morning. She can call them at 783-6086.

Pastor John Robbins could also explain about other services that they offer to those in need. — Betty Prindall, Poland

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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