Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rainy Day Cookin', episode II

The weatherman finally got one right the other day.

We got a few inches of snow here at the compound, but the freezing level quickly shot up to 1500' and the fall rains began in earnest. Confronted with a morass of icy glop everywhere and no signs of good weather on the horizon, we did what anyone would do under the circumstances.

We made a big-ass pot of chili.

Now there are folks all over the world who, upon hearing you are fixin' to make a pot of the red, will gladly offer unsolicited advice and insights into family traditions passed down over the years to make the "best" chili, and frankly, most of them aren't worth the spoon used to stir it with.

Chili is chiles, meat, beer, salt, cumin, and masa. Anything else is purely window dressing. Yes, people...even beans.

The Wife and us have been going around that last point for nigh on 14 years now. Matter of fact, we thought we were going to have to break it off early in the relationship when she confessed she liked her red with beans. We eventually got around to accepting her for her other outstanding qualities and mutually elected to keep "bean-gate" a closed topic. She made and ate her chili, we made and ate ours, and the Neil Creek Estate was all the happier for it.

Recently, though, we have rediscovered the charms of the haba negra, the lowly black bean. Excellent in most any preparation, these somehow insidiously found their way into our latest creation...much to the delight of the Wife.

We didn't die, our heads didn't explode, and we didn't develop the overwhelming urge to vote straight ticket GOP, so apparently, beans in chili are ok.

So without further ado, we give you a sparsely narrated look into a bowl of chili.

Dried pasilla chiles or chiles negros, snipped up and marinatin' in hot water...you've heard the phrase, "Add water, makes it own sauce"? You're lookin' at it.

Roasting chiles is probably the best way to skin them, and also adds a twist to the taste of most chiles. Chiles poblanos are the pepper of choice for our chili, as they have a nice combination of heat and flavor. Red bells also go in, but they don't get ground into the paste, they get chopped and added later. Smitty...these next two photos are for you.

When the pasillas are rehydrated, toss 'em in the blender with the roasted poblanos, some cumin, a little salt, and a bit of the chile liquor. Still too thin? Add beer.

Ok, so onions and bacon also go in a decent pot of red. Not all the time, but when Pig is the meat of choice, bacon makes a wonderful smoky statement that you can't get unless you cook in a grubby dutch oven over an open wood fire...which ain't a bad thing, but it messes up the kitchen somethin' fierce.

Did we mention beer? Nothin' says cheap Mexican beer like la bala de plata.

Add the paste, stir in some...yeah, some black beans...dammit. Add some chopped cilantro stems and throw in the oven for 3 hours at 350°

Put the leftovers on the porch to marry up some more, then reheat and repeat until gone.

It may get us banned from Terlingua, but it makes the Wife happy...truth is, we don't mind it so much either.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Tricks

The first local snowfall is forecast for tonight.

Not necessarily a cause for depression, but then again, we ain't jumpin' for joy.

Winter is slinking around, trying to find a crack in the armor of fall. Soon enough the snow will begin flying in earnest, and those of us fortunate enough to enjoy seasonal retirement will have to start finding new ways of amusing ourselves for the winter. We're gettin' a jump on things this year, as bad weather prevented us from one last outing on the locals. Creativity, caffeine, and boredom can be linked to many a great notion, but for now we're thinkin' small.

First order of business...

Now, if we can only come up with a spousal remote control...

Monday, October 20, 2008


Leaving a flow always brings on the same thoughts, the same inner dialogue of rational vs. obsessed...

"Awesome. That was some fun fishin'."

"Call that fishin'? Lollygaggin' around, lookin' at bugs n birds n dog knows what else?"

"Well, yeah...that's all a part of the experience, y'know?"

"Well, while we were starin' at bugs, there were fish to be played with...Dammit, we should have stayed at that one rock for a few more casts. Why didn't we, huh?"

"What about that scenery, hey? Beautiful...nothin' like it."

"Scenery? We want scenery, we'll look at the peak out the back door. We didn't come 1800 miles to stare at some freakin' SCENERY."

"Well, at least we found some fish that wanted to play."

"Dummy. If we would have changed rigs and moved down two rocks, we woulda been knee-deep in fish. Next time, listen to me."

...And on and on. Sometimes it consumes the entire trip home, often taking a day or so to work itself out. Eventually, the schizophrenic rabble fades away, and the experience seems all the more rounded for it. We have learned to accept both voices in stride, to let them get their dialogue out of the way, and to not interrupt them...sometimes the Rational picks up on amazing details, and we can always count on the Obsessed to develop some dirty technique to really catch 'em all.

Scenes from both.

Pa, hard at work.

The Last Sunset.

The Last Good Cast.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

On the Rebound

Back home, after a combined 1500 miles by plane and automobile.

Sorta tired, so we will inject a little brevity here. Consider this the Cliff Notes version of RoadTrip III, or if you were a science major, the abstract.

Driving 400 miles in one day still sucks, no matter how you slice it. A few good bluegrass CDs go a loooong way towards making any road-trip tolerable.

Rivers are fickle entities; Just because your buddies had great conditions 3 days ago doesn't mean the same sun will shine on you.

Speaking of conditions, fishing in 65° and sunny weather is great, even when the water is 43° and the fish don't wanna move.

Secretly, fish laugh at skated dries and just bite them to see what kind of fool would try to fish them in water less than 50°

According to Bob, all nymphers are going to hell.

...And that's about it for the moment.

As Jon Stewart says, "And now, your moment of Zen".

More later, baiters.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gone Fishin'

RoadTrip III commences in 12 minutes.

Remember to Feed the Fish, and we'll be back in a jiffy with some pics and a story...hopefully, it has a happy ending.

Later, Baiters.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Last call

Spent the afternoon on a local flow with Spanky, chasin' a few late fish in between storms. With last night's freeze, most of the locals are fishable, but tonight's rain might just put a capper on the season here in SE, whether we want it or not. The day proved to be a good end to a good season, with a dozen or so willing dance partners of the char variety to hand. As an added bonus, we also waltzed with a few coho...we snuck the jig-rod along with us and couldn't resist the temptation to get slow n dirty in some of their favorite backwaters. Spanky toted along the fly rod for the trip down, but we had vaccuumed most of the char out of the holes on the way up. Sorry, man, you will just have to be happy with your brightness in hand on the last good day.

As painful as it is to end the local year, it ain't the end of the world. We had a good thing goin' with our flows this year, and they treated us to some pretty damn good fishin'. Although hangin' up the gear for the year always sounds a melancholy note, this year we have a few road trips planned to assuage the grief.

Speakin' of road trips, the Neil Creek Beer Fountain and Rad Show is scheduled to depart in 4 days for a week-long steelhead hajj. We've been muckin' about at the bench for a week, tyin' up some dirty, dirty flies and gettin' all of the gear in order. Tomorrow is the start of the gear-selection process, and we have been leaning towards the longs sticks. We might bring a nymph or two along (for emergencies, you understand), but we're feelin' a little swingy these days and we're looking to flex the two-handed part of our brain a little more.

We just got off the blower with Zen, who rung us up from near our final destination, and he was pretty sure that stars were aligning for the next week on this particular flow. Word around the campfire is that Steelie Mike will be in the vicinity as well, so something's tellin' us that we got the timing right on this one.

4 more days will tell.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Burnin' it up

Fact: Nothing offsets a night of being overserved like a fiery bowl of curry.

We don't really know what it is about this dish, but it puts hangovers to rest with eerie quickness. Not that we had too much to drink last night, you understand...we just, aahhh...we went out on an empty stomach. For 7 hours.

At any rate, today was a perfect day for a bowl of the heat. Rainy, foggy, no chance of fishin'. A good day to putter around the grocery store in sunglasses, picking out exotics from the "Ethnic food" aisle.

Our favorite curry is a Pan-Asiatic sorta thing, with a lot of Thai influence, some middle Indian notes, Goan in the spicing and resembling the national dish of many small countries ending in "stan". Pork is the meat of choice, but we occasionally mix it up with some cow or bird. Ginger? Absolutely. A little vindaloo and vinegar, some fish sauce, a touch of sweet chili sauce, lots o' veggies, some garlic, lime leaves, and cilantro, served on a bed of Basmati rice and finely shredded raw cabbage...A bowl of beauty.

The lowly unassuming ingredients, lurking about on the cooktop.

The end result, about 17 minutes away from a date with some Basmati.

Now, if we can only keep it down during the VP debates...