Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gear Review: Brazos AUTOSEAL® Water Bottle

I won the chance to review the Brazos AUTOSEAL® Water Bottle through a contest on Outdoor Blogger Network.com. I got the package a few days after Christmas and have used it pretty much everyday since I got it. 

The Features as listed on the website:

One-handed, BPA-free plastic water bottle automatically seals between sips.
  • This BPA-free plastic water bottle has no cap to remove, no spout to open – making it perfect for one-handed use during activities.
  • This water bottle features patented AUTOSEAL® spill-proof & leak-proof technology - simply press the button to sip and release to automatically seal.  The AUTOSEAL® lid automatically seals between drinks to eliminate spills and leaks.
  • Easy transport with a convenient clip-on handle that attaches to gym bags, backpacks and gear.
  • Spout shield covers and protects the spout from dirt and germs.
  • No plastic odors or taste with FDA-approvedBPA-free Tritan™ materials.
  • Water bottle is top-rack dishwasher-safe.
  • 25 oz. capacity.

The bottle rocks, I have dropped it several times and nothing has happened to it yet. The Autoseal lid makes it easy to grab a drink of water with one hand on my fishing rod while I am in my kayak. If I need to put it down quickly I don't have to worry about spilling, because the closes its self. The spout shield keeps river water and dirt out of my mouth, but stows away when I am in the office and don't need it. My only complaint/issue with it is the clip on handle helps me when I have my hands full, but I wouldn't trust it clipped onto a backpack hiking. I have lost too many things that way.

For $15 dollars this is an awesome bottle, fits almost any situation, and has really helped me cut down on soda and drink more water. Check it out.
My Smoke Brazos AUTOSEAL® Water Bottle looking no worse for its wear.
Pros:
No cap to unscrew
Large capacity
Keeps dirt out of my mouth
Easy shape to hold
Durable

Cons:
Clip on handle works in most day to day cases, but I wouldn't rely on it.

If something happens to my bottle I wouldn't hesitate replacing it. It it my favorite bottle, I take it everywhere and am glad I had a chance to try it out, two thumbs up.

Thanks for reading,
Dan

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Beer Battered Puff Balls


   I don't know about you, but I am getting pretty sick of Winter. It is about time for spring to come around the corner. One thing that is great about the warmer weather is the chance at wild edibles. Puffballs are more of a late spring early summer thing, but a guy can dream can't he? They are great for a novice because they are so easy to identify. Puffballs are white through and through, they just seem to form p from a small root in the soil. If there appears to be any type of stem, don't chance it. They might be something else. If you don't know what you have, don't eat it. Puffballs grow in lots of different places, I found these in my front yard, the great thing is I know they will be there year after year. :D
Make sure when you slice them up you check for debris, grass clippings and pine needles can be embedded in the flesh. Some people prefer to cut off the outer layer before preparing the puffball, because it is a little chewy. The inside is much softer, like a stiff meringue, I left mine intact.
I made a quick beer batter using buttermilk pancake mix, add just enough beer coat a fork without it all running off. Season with Kosher salt, paprika and dried parsley. Coat the sliced mushrooms and place in 400 degree vegetable oil. I added some butter to add some flavor.

Once the top of batter starts forming large bubbles it it time to flip your mushroom slices.
They will be golden brown and delicious.
Serve them up with a little ranch dressing or a drizzle of malted vinegar and enjoy. Do your research before eating anything in from the wild, but remember if you choose to pass them up you might be missing out.

Thanks for reading,
Dan

Thursday, February 14, 2013

For You.

You can read the date, here is a nice picture of a swan I took a while ago. 


Enjoy,
Daniel

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How To Make Your Own Lox

It is sad how many people I have met in my travels who have never had the pleasure of cold smoked cured salmon on top a bagel. Around Chicago Lox are common bagel toppers, while out here in the west it is hard to come by. While it can be found a a lot of sores it is a lot cheaper and tastier to make your own, here is how.

Last weekend when I was at Morro Bay I stopped into a fish store. They had lots of good cuts as well as cured and smoked product. I decided to buy  a half pound of beautiful King Salmon. I packed it in the cooler and drove home. I wish I would have taken a picture of it before the curing process. It changed a lot, to cure it all I did was coat it in kosher salt and Dark Brown sugar. The meat darkened and it lost some moisture. Over the course of three days I drained the fluid twice. The meat formed a slick hard shell and the color darkened. I rinced it well, dried it and let it come to room tempter prior to smoking.
I loaded my cold smoker with apple wood chips and let it get nice and smokey before I added the salmon. I filled a bowl full of ice to help keep the temperature down.
The smoke was intense, it really took off. I tried to take a picture after and hour, before taking the fish out.
The smoke flavor was a little too intense for me, so I covered the fish in brown sugar and kosher salt for a day and a half. The smoke flavor was still strong but not overwhelming after the rinse. I set the fillet in the freezer on a plate to firm up prior to slicing. Slicing it across the grain adds to the tenderness. I placed the slices on parchment paper and wrapped them up in tin foil for storage. IT tastes amazing on a everything bagel with cream cheese. 

It is easier and tastier than it looks, try it for your self. If you don't have a cold smoker or don't want to mess with it just curing the lox in salt and sugar gives you tasty lox all on its own. a dash of liquid smoke could give you that taste as well.

Thanks for reading,
Dan


To read how I made my cold smoker, click the link below.
http://theimpracticalfishermen.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-make-your-own-cold-smoked-cheese.html

Saturday, February 9, 2013

San Simeon and Morro Bay

Eating jerky, waiting for a bite
Nothing brings me more joy or satisfaction than then reaction I get when I tell my daughter I want to wake her up extremely early in the morning to go fishing, because she gets excited. There is no problem waking her early, making her get out of her warm bed on a cold night to drive a few hours to go fishing. Nearly hitting deer on steep, foggy and winding roads.

Sunday we were able to get out, but the bite just was not there. Here are some of the pictures from last week.
Might get in trouble for posting an "unflattering" photo of my daughter, but I think it has a certain charm
Just a beautiful day at San Simeon Pier
We hit it right as the tide was going out, only managed one small Jack Smelt. By 1030 we decided to pack it up. Seeing as it was slightly windy, Cayucos was out as it would be much windier, so we drove down to the public fishing pier at Morro Bay.  
It was beautiful, but the wind did eventually pick up. I managed another smelt, but my daughter still hadn't caught anything. We stuck around until around Noon. 



We decided to grab some fast food at a near by restaurant and ate out side, fending birds off our french fries.  
Pigeon waiting for a fry to drop

Thanks for reading,
Dan

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to Make Your Own Cold Smoked Cheese

I have wanted to make my own lox and smoked cheeses since I stated hot smoking. Seeing how expensive cold smokers can be, I gave up on cold smoking. I was on Facebook chatting with my buddy Brandon about smoking bacon. He told me he was going to cold smoke some bacon with a soldering iron and I knew I had to give it a try. I built my smoker from a cheap Harbor Freight Soldering iron and a empty pint paint can I bought at Home Depot. I used a piece of aluminum, some rivets and a few zip ties to hold the thing together
Costco had some nice looking Gouda and Vermont White Cheddar. I cut the wax off the Gouda and cut the Cheddar into manageable chunks. I set the cheese on a rack for my electric smoker. Next time I am going to use a wire or Guitar string to get cleaner cuts.
I filled the can with Hickory chips and let it run for about half an hour to get it nice and smokey.
Before adding the cheese I added two loaf pans full of ice to keep the temp down in the smoker. Then I slid the cheese on the top rack.
I left the smoker on for 20 minutes before I unplugged it, The temp never got above 80f.
After the hour was up, I plugged it in for another twenty minutes, followed by another hour to suck in all that lovely smoke.
The cheese took on a slightly darker appearance and smelled amazing. I took it out and patted it down with paper towel before bagging it for storage.
My wife tried a piece the first day and did not like it. By the the third day the taste had mellowed and everyone in the house was enjoying it.

Try it for yourself, it is so easy to do. You can use a large cooler, a Tupperware box, or a BBQ grill. The taste is bolder than smoked cheese from the stores, something that will really impress your family and dinner guests.

Next on my list is some nice smoky lox.

Thanks for reading,
Dan