Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to Pickle Just About Anything!

          It is easy to pickle just about any veggie you can think of. You can pickle cucumbers, carrots, beets, asparagus, squash, beans, peas, radishes, and okra using the same brine. Take advantage of seasonal veggies in the farmers market. These pickles can last a long time on your shelf while keeping flavor and nutrients locked in. Plus pickling adds flavor you do not get any other way. With a few simple ingredients using this ratio. 
My Basic Pickle Brine
1/2 Cup Pickling Salt. 
8 1/2 Cups Distilled Water
2 1/2 Cups White Vinegar

Dill Pickle Spears, and Pickled Beets with Red Onions
         Simple as that, for dill pickles I add black peppercorns, fresh dill, red peppers, fresh garlic, and whole cumin. For fire carrots I add black peppercorns, garlic, and red pepper. Seeing a pattern? Using fresh herbs and whole spices in moderation you can not go wrong, experiment with a jar here and there. If you mess one up you will have the rest of the batch. I mix the brine's ingredients in a pot, heat the mixture until the salt is diluted, cold pack the jars with whatever I am pickling, add the spices, pour the brine into the jar leaving the necessary head space, hand tighten the retaining rings, and boil the canned pickles in a water bath for a minimum of seven minutes. It is nothing to be afraid of, follow the basic rules of canning, keep the area and lips of the jars clean and you should not have a problem besides everyone eating all your pickles. 

Thanks for reading,

Dan

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Making a Hawg Trough Great with Great Stuff

Represent! 
Hawg Troughs have become standard tools for Catch Picture Release (CPR) Tournaments these days because they are fairly cheap, sturdy, and photograph well. They are also needed for the massive online tournament Kayak Wars. I knew I did not have enough time for Kayak Wars this year, but I did sign up for Central Coast Kayak Fisherman's Kayak Angler of the Year this year. Each species has a point value per inch and your top ten fish count for your total. So it is important not to loose the Hawg Trough. While they are durable they do not float straight from the box so I had to fix that.  

I had a can of great stuff laying around, even if you have to buy a can the four dollars is worth saving a twenty dollar Hawg Trough. 
I loaded it up and let it dry, once it was hardened I hacked the excess away with a hacksaw. You can get away with filling the edges and cutting it down with a utility knife. If you mess it up or don't want it anymore a flat head screwdriver would scrape it right off. 
I have a ton of this metal duct tape I have no use for so I used it to seal the foam. I figure it is shiny enough to act as a signaling devise if needed. But does it work? 

As you can see my pool needs to be cleaned and my Hawg trough is floating high and dry.  One less thing to worry about sinking into the abyss. 

Thanks for reading,

Dan

Water Cured Olives: Results.

I forgot to update you guys about the olives I cured a while ago using Hank Shaw's method. I switched the last brine with a slightly saltier brine that made an egg could float and added rosemary, citrus peel, garlic, and peppercorns...


They're awesome! The wife likes them in salads, with a nice anti-pasta, or just by themselves with cheese and crackers. Super easy, but it just takes time.

Thanks for reading,

Dan

How I cured these olives:
http://www.theimpracticalfishermen.com/2012/09/water-cured-olives-part-1.html

Check out Hanks site:
http://honest-food.net/

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dad, Thanks for the Love of Fishing.

My first fishing trip

         I am in a new place in my life, with my beautiful wife just over three months pregnant, I am at the dawn of becoming a father to a new person in this world. Being a foster parent taught me a lot of patience, or maybe it just taught me how to use the patience I had. It is a scary exciting time in my life right now. Between school, work, honey-dos, and the things that life throws my way fishing and writing has taken the backseat, but seeing as today is Father's day and I am about to become a father I thought I would take a minute to write about my father.

         A lot of people tell me they think I must be very patient to fish so much, and I do not agree. I believe I am more persistent than patient, and I think this is true of most fishermen. Patient would be sitting in one spot for hours on end content with the notion a bite was on its way. I am more likely to change lures or move to a "fishier" spot. I'll go hours plugging away at the bank making the tightest casts I can. Changing retrieve speed and depth in a frantic search for a fishes face. Even the small fish give me a sense of excitement I don't have in my everyday life otherwise. All of this I got that from my dad.

From left to right: My dad, me, my uncle Gene, and his brother in law
 

       I still think back to the trip to Eagle lake and wish I could wake up in cabin number three ready to hit the water with you and the Brotherhood of the Yellow Pants... for those of you not in the know. While we were on vacation a big storm rolled in and threatened to soak us. We had all brought raincoats, but no one brought rain pants. So the owner of The Big Eagle Lodge, John, gave us some over-sized yellow rain bibs. We looked and felt like the Johnson fishermen from the fish stick commercials; the brotherhood was born.



The Brotherhood of the Yellow Pants with the last five keepers to fill our limit 
       That trip is something I will never forget, not because the largest fish were caught, or the most fish were caught, but because I got to spend some good time getting to know my dad. Plus there were Amy's desserts... While marveling at the beauty of a north-woods walleye I glance over and see him doing the same thing. Or watching in excitement as an eagle snatch up a perch we pulled up from the bottom too fast. The apple does not fall far from the tree and that is a damn good thing.


Dad's first lingcod and vermilion
   

       When I moved to California from Illinois the hardest part was leaving my family. My niece was getting to the age I could take her out into nature and I can not go fishing enough with my dad. Once I got to the coast and started rockfishing I knew he would love it. Just the thought of the open ocean and pulling fish from two hundred feet down with my dad was enough to wreak my healthy sleeping patterns for a week. Seeing him catch his first vermilion and first ling cod was the exciting and rewarding experience I thought it would be, to see  him look at fish he had never seen before.



       Happy Father's Day Dad. I hope your work ethic, dedication, and kindness rubbed off on me, and I can only hope it rubs off on my child. Thanks for everything, I can't wait to see you in July at Hailey's wedding.

Thanks for reading, and happy Father's Day to all the baby daddys out there.

Dan

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tough Day on the River.

San Joaquin Bluegill

       Hit the San Joaquin river on Saturday morning with a new friend I met through my blog. Waking up at four in the morning is a common fishing practice, but here in the central valley if you do not get out early the heat will drive you back in until dusk. It was a eventful day that started out with my kayak cart breaking. I cursed the guy who told me it would break for a few minutes, and reminded myself I seem to like learning the hard way, and that is why I named my blog what I did...

San Joaquin Bass fry 
     

      It was a beautiful spot, and the day started out mild enough. We fished for a few hours with no takers. The water was cool and clear with a good amount of current flowing. Then the sun came out and the mercury rose above one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. We fished a few old quarry lakes that were dug out close to the main channel and fed by the river. I only have a few hits, but no big takers. I did manage to catch one of about a thousand tiny bass I saw in the shallows and a small bluegill. By noon I was dehydrated, craving a Slushee, and had some good sunburn on my legs--it was time to go.


          I wish I would have taken some pictures in the morning when the light was awesome. It was just too good looking and I had to try the water. Caleb, thank you for the drink, being so awesome, and helping me lug my heavy kayak up that hill--we need to do it again.

Thanks for reading,

Dan

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cook Fish and Eggs for Breakfast

     One of the most abundant fish off California's central coast is the lowly gopher rockfish.  They can be found as far north as Oregon, and as far south as Baja California. They hit like a freight-train but due to their size are often thrown back. While they may be runty, bait greedy, and a little ugly; they have the same tasty firm white meat as their larger cousins.  
 
     Often fish is seen as a lunch or dinner food, and is completely forgotten about for breakfast. My original goal was to make a fritatta, but when I went to flip it it turned into a scramble. You can avoid this by sliding the fritatta onto a diner plate to help you flip it in one piece. Like a fritatta its flavor really shines after it has cooled down to room temperature. The textures and tastes are something you have to try to believe. As with most recipes, any firm white fish would work.

The Gopher Rockfish, Sebastes carnatus
Ingredients:
-2 Small fillets
-2 Tablespoons Flour
-2 Eggs
-2 Hand-fulls of Baby Spinach
-Butter/Oil to coat pan
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-Cheese (optional)

Directions:
-Cut the fillets into small cubes and coat with flour.
-Cut spinach into thin strips and set aside.
-Heat pan and add oil/butter, cook coated fish.
-Crack eggs into a small bowl, whisk with a fork and add a few tablespoons of water.
-Once the fish becomes opaque, add spinach.
-Once spinach cooks down add eggs, salt, and pepper to taste.
-Add shredded cheese (optional) I added some shredded smoked Gouda I smoked myself.

Once the bottom is set, use the plate trick for a crispy fritatta. If you don't want a fritatta, go ahead and mix the scramble up for even cooking.
Rockfish Spinach Scramble
Try it and you will not be disappointed.

Thanks for reading,

Dan

http://www.theimpracticalfishermen.com/2013/02/how-to-make-your-own-cold-smoked-cheese.html