Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recipes for Traveling......

usbackroads information-backcountry cooking
Woman complain that men that cannot cook.  Well, men can cook.  Here are some general rules for finding a man that can cook.

Find a profession or job where the man MUST cook in the course of his work.

For example, firemen are required to stay in a station 24/7 and therefore learn to cook to combat the boredom.  So most firemen I know are middle of the road cooks.  They generally cook decent food that requires some preparation time.  If your waiting for the fire bell to ring preparation time does not matter.  It does help to cook something to that you can easily reheat.

Now foresters and cowboys learn to cook in the great outdoors.  Usually, after a long tiring day in the field.  Time is important.  So they tend to gravitate to simple food cooked quickly and efficiently.  Kill it, cook it, eat it and go to bed.  Barbeque is good, particularly if your cooking over an open fire.   Just don't expect fancy dinners with lots of preparation time.  This group is famous for good food prepared in a simple manner.

Interior designers are fabulous cooks.   Fancy and daring dishes with great presentations.  If your a guy these are great friends to have in order meet women.  Yes, it seems that this particular breed of male is more interested in other males.  So very little competition for females at the dinner party.  San Francisco is heaven on earth for a straight young male.

So men can cook and they have different styles of cooking.  Enough of this talk.  Here are some simple recipes to get you started.

Coffee creamers.  I am addicted to sugar.  I am also addicted to cream in my coffee.  So for years I have been buying completely artificial coffee creamers with NO known food substances.  Recently, I decided to make my own creamer.  Healthier creamer.

French Vanilla Coffee Creamer.

16 oz.  Fat Free Half-and_Half
2 tablespoons Imitation Vanilla
1 cup of granulated Splenda

Mix in a measuring cup and wisk until the Splenda dissolves.  That's it.  You can use regular vanilla, but it comes in a heavy alcohol that adds a aftertaste.  You get rid of  palm oil, corn syrup and other stuff out of your diet.  If you do not have a sweet tooth cut back the Splenda by half.

You can also make other flavored coffee creamers just by looking at the spice rack options next to the Vanilla extract.  But Vanilla is perfect...why bother.

Flavored Ice-Tea Recipes.

I really like flavored ice tea recipes particularly during hunting and fishing season.  I carry them in the vest.  Unfortunately, all commercial ice teas are made with either sugar or aspartame.  Sugar is out for obvious reasons and aspartame does irritate the bladder and the older you get the less you need a irritated bladder!!  So here is a quick and simply recipe.  In blind tastings, this version has match the store brought version.

4 quarts water
3 orange pekoe tea bags
1.5 cups of Splenda
1/2 cup of lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar free Torani flavored syrup (raspberry)

I use Torani flavored syrup since they are easily available at the restaurant supply store at the bottom of the hill.  I believe they are easily found in other outlets as well.  I use raspberry as it is my favorite, but lemon and peach and many other flavors are also available.

Bring the 4 quarts of water to a boil.
Turn off the heat, and add the three orange pekoe tea bags and let steep for about an hour.
After an hour, pour the Splenda, lemon juice, and the Torani flavored syrup in stir to dissolve the Splenda.
Let cool and pour into a pitcher.

Easy, gets rid of aspartane and much, much cheaper than store bought tea.  Try it.

Cooking Garlic Base.

One huge supply of peeled and cleaned Garlic.
Large or Small tub of Smart Balance Spread to match Garlic.

This is probably my most important recipe.  I love garlic.  Sometimes I eat it raw when I do not want to deal with Susie for a couple of days.  However, cooking with garlic is a challenge.  Too high temperatures and long cooking times makes it bitter.  Also the preparation time for garlic cleaning and smashing is time consuming.  Remember that Forestry degree.  Long preparation times are not part of this mindset.

You can peel and clean the cloves of Garlic.  This is highly recommended if you are a fireman and are waiting for the bell to ring.  However, I just go to Costco and buy a LARGE container of peeled garlic.

The next step is to process the garlic.  This is a critical step.  I started with a garlic press and later went to a food processor.  The press was great but time consuming and I did not have a fireman friend.  The food processor does not result in the same quality of garlic.  So I finally went to the plastic bag and mallet routine.  Put the garlic in a HEAVY plastic bag.  Ziplocks are marginal.  I really like the heavy duty FoodSaver bags that come with the food vacuum appliances.  Here is a picture of this all important cooking step.  Don't forget to peel the garlic first!!

Insert the garlic and pound away with the food mallet.  You are looking for a texture similar to garlic from a press.  I personally prefer larger chunks.  If in doubt, just keep hammering away until bored.

Now find a large non-stick saucepan or frying pan.  Add the garlic and enough Smart Balance for a very thick Garlic spread.  Turn on the heat and watch the Smart Balance melt.  When it comes to a boil turn down to very low and simmer for 10 minutes. Keep constantly stirring.  Do not OVERCOOK!!  That's it.

You might want to cook the garlic OUTSIDE.  In fact, you might want to do the entire process outside.  If I do this in the kitchen Susie leaves for a two weeks and still complains about the odor when she gets back!!

Spoon into small plastic tubs.  Let cool and store in the fridge.  It keeps for months maybe even years.

Use whenever a recipe calls garlic.

Garlic Shrimp.

Remember the garlic is already pre-cooked so you are just warming the garlic up when using it.  For example, one of my favorite dishes is Garlic Shrimp.   Throw the shrimp into the skillet.  As the shrimp cooks pick the right moment to add the pre-cooked garlic.  The garlic needs only to be heated for a minute of so.  Time it so the garlic and shrimp are ready at the same time.

Serve over Basmati rice.  Pretty simple, quick recipe. 

Garlic Salmon.

Wait.  I am repeating myself.  But you get the drift.

Pre-cooked Garlic do NOT let your fridge be without it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fish Lake, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington

Fish Lake, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington

Before reading about Fish Lake you might first want to click on this link:  What's in a Name?Well, there is a reason this lake is called Fish Lake.  It has lots of fish.  It has been always a very productive lake and was always good fishing.  Then came along the Endangered Species Act and listed the steelhead and salmon in the rivers of north-central Washington as endangered species.   Well, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department was dumping all these trout into those rivers and with the listing it had to find a new home for all those trout.  You guessed it.  Fish Lake is the new home for all those trout.  So if you cannot catch fish at Fish Lake, well it is time to take up another hobby.

That is the good news.  The bad news is even though Fish Lake is in the middle of a National Forest access is limited.  Somewhere in the past, somebody in the Forest Service issued a special use permit to the Cove Resort.

Here is the link to their website:  Cove Lake Resort.   There are campsites, cabin, fishing boats for rent, boat launch, fishing dock and even a small store.  There is a fee for using any of these services.  If your looking for these services the Forest Service permit for the resort will let you enjoy them for a price.  If you just want access to National Forest public land you probably will not be pleased.  The Fish and Wildlife Department did call to complain about the lack of free public access to Fish Lake.  Well, those decisions made in the distant past sometimes do not look so good in 2011.  Oh well, the Resort does need to post in their web site, brochures, and entrance signs that they are under a special use permit to the Forest Service.  An oversight I am sure that will be corrected in the future.

Here are more pictures of the Cove Lake special use area under permit from the Forest Service.  Campsites do look a little cramp.

Well, if you have a small boat or camper here is my secret spot on Fish Lake.  Head up towards the Chiwawa River.  See the posting for information on the Chiwawa River Area.  As you are passing Fish Lake on the left (west side) there will be a small Forest Service road sign  Road 6402.   In dry weather, take this road and drive to the end.   Here is what you will find at the end of the road about a mile from the pavement.  This is the boat launch area.  Yes, those rocks were placed there by the Forest Service to limit to area to non-motorized boats.  So a canoe or float tube is perfect.

And here is the toilet and parking area.

There are some dispersed camping areas just before you reach to parking and launch area.  Very small sites best suited for truck campers and tents.

If you have a large rig or boat you are probably much better off at the Cove Resort.  Those with tents and canoe's will enjoy the camping on the north side of Fish Lake.  There is more to Fish Lake than just fishing.
There is a very interesting floating bog on the west side of Fish Lake.  If you have a boat head out and check out one of the largest floating bogs in the western United States.

Fish Lake is a great place to fish and camp.  And like any camp reading is one of the best activities.  We have the NookColor for reading.  However, the new Nook battery will run a couple of months and has wi-fi.  The big advantage to this book is that most public libraries have e-books that you can borrow by downloading to the Nook.  No need to return to the library, since the books will be automatically returned when the load period expires.

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