Archive for July, 2011
Have you ever seen a recipe in a magazine and said, “Yes! I’m going to try that!” And then, you try it and say, “Did those people ever actually MAKE this because it doesn’t work/taste the way they said?!”
Well, this recipe started out that way, but let me assure you, I’ve made it twice and it DOES work and it is yummy. This is perfect recipe for a summer barbeque or any hot day. And since it’s made with seasonal fruit it makes the flavors extra special.
- 1 seedless watermelon
- Vodka (chilled)
The original recipe said to chunk the watermelon and then run it through a food processor. Don’t even bother! You get watermelon all over the kitchen. (Three weeks later and I’m STILL finding sticky pink spots on my counters and wall.) Don’t believe me? Try pouring watermelon pulp out of a food processor cylinder. There’s no lip for a spout (unlike a blender) so the pulp doesn’t pour; it plops. And splashes. And did I mention it gets EVERYWHERE?!
DO cut up the watermelon into tiny pieces and run through your blender. I used the “liquefy” setting. The watermelon bits need to be pretty tiny to get it to blend. If they’re too big, the blades just whirl with no liquefying action. If you cut the pieces too big (like I did) smash them deeper into the blender with a wooden spoon while the blender is off.
Strain the pulp through a colander to get just the juice. Now, here’s the trick: use a colander with HOLES as opposed to holes on the bottom and slits along the sides! You’ll need a pretty large bowl to catch all the juice. I ended up using two bowls the last time I made this.
You could also strain through a cheesecloth but you’ll be there all day! The trick is to pour a bit of the pulp into the colander and then stir with a wooden spoon. The juice trickles through and the pulp remains. Discard the pulp (or put it in your compost!).
When you’re done liquefying most of the watermelon, freeze the watermelon juice. You’ll want to reserve a few slices for a garnish. Now, I’ve done this three ways:
- Freeze until chilled and just a BIT frozen.
- Freeze until slushy — there’s mostly frozen and a bit of juice
- Freeze until firm.
I prefer the firm. Then you “shred” the frozen juice with a fork to make it fluffy. I think the technical term is “granita.” It’s a bit of work, but the texture is out of this world!
No matter which freezing technique I’m using at the moment, I serve this in BIG glasses. So for my big glass, I squeeze in a quarter of a lime. Then add chilled vodka to taste. Garnish with a watermelon wedge.
If you’re not interested in a martini, this is good with just the lime. I also recommend a bit of sparkling water or even ice tea.
PS: The original recipe called for LEMON juice (a lot of it) and tequila. Frankly, I didn’t like it at all. And after all the work I went through to juice the watermelon using the stupid food processor technique it was heartbreaking not to like the drink. Once I hit upon the LIME and VODKA mix, the taste was perfect.
Between the impossible to pour pulp from the food processor and the way watermelon and lemon DON’T go together, I’m thinking the original publishers of this recipe thought it up but never actually TRIED it. Or maybe they just like tequila more than I do. Either way, I’ll save my tequila for margaritas and serve my watermelon with vodka!
I got to thinking this week about what “else” can you do that is related to fishing, but isn’t fishing itself. With a little thinking (and some help from Google) I stumbled upon the hobby of collecting antique lures.
The first step is to decide what type of collection you’re interested in assembling. If you want nothing but very-rare, excellent condition lures, then my first advice:
Get to a library!
Find some books about lure collecting and then go buy the books that you like the best.
But, if you’re like me, collecting is more about the act of collecting than in the dollar value of the item. It’s the stories behind the lures and not the value when I’d sell them. (Can you tell I’m thinking about taking this up as a hobby?!)
Here is some of the general knowledge I discovered about collecting antique lures:
Most of the really excellent collector material falls in the 1900 to 1940 era. Lures made after 1940 are “old”, but they are not antiques relatively speaking. Just because your father used them doesn’t make them “antiques” or valuable. The real quality material was made in this country prior to 1940.
The really collectable lures are made of wood or metal. The golden era of tackle is that time frame when Heddon, Shakespeare, Pflueger and the smaller miscellaneous companies were competing to produce “quality” lures which were hand painted and produced with glass eyes and wood bodies.
Grading lures for quality and value is subjective. Visual values vary considerably from person to person. A collector should have a set of photos of new condition lures to reference when he finds a lure that might be added to the collection.
Some grading scale pointers:
Excellent lure means there are no hook pointers in the paint, absolutely no hook scrapes, no paint off the belly weight, no paint chips and maybe only a very, very minor varnish flake. The paint is shiny, but there may be age related crazing or minor fracture cracks in the varnish or paint.
Excellent minus allows for some minor varnish defects, but no paint loss other than maybe very, very minor chips at the tail or belly weight, and no hook drags. Hooks should be consistent with the paint finish.
Excellent plus means almost perfect.
Mint means perfect and untouched. (In coins, this means un-circulated. In lures, it would mean that the lure had never been used for fishing.)
If a lure has been touched up in any way or manner, some collectors will feel that it is no longer collectible. You’ll need to decide on your own what you think about that.
In the end, there are no hard and fast rules on grading, so you have to set your standards and live with them. If the bait meets your standards, the collect it!
You’ll also need to decide on your own what type of collector you’ll be: in it for the value or in it for the “fish tale.”
Readers Weigh In:
- Do you collect anything?
- What do you think about collecting antique lures?
It seems like there are as many types of RVs on the road these days as types of vehicles. This is a quick run-down on types of RVS.
There are two basic types of rigs.
- Motorized RVs have the driving compartment within the vehicle. They are constructed on a motor vehicle chassis.
- Towable RVs rely on a separate vehicle with a driving compartment.
Class A motor home is often rectangular in appearance. The driver and passenger seats can swivel around and become living room furniture when the rig is parked. The amenities are self-contained bathroom, kitchen, dining area, living room, and bedroom.
Class B is built on a van chassis with a raised roof. Class B’s are smaller, compact, and very easy to drive. They contain the same lifestyle amenities as a Class A, but usually on a smaller scale.
Class C is a truck chassis with an RV unit built on it. The sleeping area is over the driver/passenger unit. Again, the rig contains all the lifestyle amenities but often on a more limited scale than the Class A. The Class C is often used to tow a boat or motorcycle, and can tow a car.
The advantage of the towable RV is that when you arrive at your site, you can unhitch the tow vehicle and use it as your mode of local transportation. That’s the primary reason we have one!
Fifth wheel is a trailer that hitches in the bed of the truck, and cannot be towed with a car or van. Because the hitch is in the bed of the truck, you are limited on the amount of gear you can put in the truck. This is hard-sided RV.
Travel trailer, more familiar to most people, hitches to the back of the tow vehicle, which can be a truck, van, or even a heavy car, depending on the weight and size of the trailer.
When closed, a tent trailer looks like a box. When opened, the front and back open and occasionally the sides. It is towed easily by a car or van. This is not an option in bear country because of the canvas sides. Also, tent trailers do not offer much security of valuables when you’re not home.
Hi-Lo looks like a tent trailer when closed, but the top of the trailer actually raises up (motorized, usually) to expand the living space vertically. They are easy to tow and offer the security of a travel trailer.
Toy-Hauler is a hard-sided trailer that has a “garage” for the storage of off-road vehicles.
Hybrids include a hard sided trailer with tent fold outs. (This is what we had for a long time!) Or a tent trailer with a spot to haul an ATV on the front. I’ve even seen a hybrid that was a hard sided trailer with tent beds folding out AND an area on the front for the ATV.
The slide-in camper is a camper shell that can be removed from the body of a flat bed pickup truck.
A-Frame trailers look like little a-frame houses. The best-known manufacturer is Chalet. These trailers fold into a compact box like a tent trailer but have 100% hard-sides. They’re small, easy to tow, and nearly impossible to find used since their owners LOVE them.
Readers Weigh In:
- What type of RV do you have?
- What do you love about it? What makes you crazy?
I’m so lucky to have such a great community of geocaching friends who read my blog and subscribe to my newsletter! Thank you so much for all you do.
But, speaking of the wonderful “tribe” I have, I hope you don’t get too frustrated or bored with me because I am working on a series of event-planning posts. I’ll be the first to admit that this is the first major geocaching event we’ve hosted so any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!
It will be a 3-day event celebrating the kick-off of Arizona’s Centennial Celebrations. Please remember that I’m in the planning stages and need your feedback. Very little is set in stone yet! Here are some of the details:
- Free event
- Free camping (tents and limited RVs)
- 30 or so new geocaches placed for the event
- Trackable centennial geocoins
- Ice breaker events
- Catered dinner on Saturday
- Flash mob
And no, before you ask, it’s NOT published on geocaching.com yet. There are two reasons for that:
- I’m working with the Yavapai County Centennial Committee so that just takes a while
- I want to get the details ironed out a bit with my geocaching friends (that’s YOU!) before I put it out there for the whole world
Here’s the schedule I’m kicking around right now.
- Sign-in and registration (all day)
- Geocachers arrive to set up their camping sites
- Ante-up for the poker run. I’m thinking a 50/50 pot so the winners would get cold hard cash. Maybe a $5 buy-in per team. Play for the poker run begins.
- Ice breaker games in the evening.
- Sign-in and registration (all day)
- Geocachers arrive to set up their camping sites
- Can still ante-up for poker run. Can also participate in poker run.
- Locations of new event-related caches are released to event attendees (early morning — depending on sunrise times and temperatures). Gotta be there to get them!
- Cache all day.
- Geocachers must return by “dinner time” for new caches to be counted towards awards. FTF, most caches, poker run, etc.
- Return for evening “awards ceremony” and catered BBQ dinner
- Games in the morning
- Be out of the park by 1
Some more notes about events:
We would be in Memory Park. There are no barbeque or picnic facilities at all. The event in co-sponsored by the Town of Chino Valley. It’s not feasible from a staging area to have a potluck or cookout. Plus, since we’re in the town limits we’d need food handler licenses, health inspectors, etc.
The event NEEDS to be in the Town limits because this is the Town’s contribution to the Yavapai County Centennial Celebration.
The catered dinner: according to the survey that I put out a few weeks ago, 83% of cachers would want to pay $16 for all-you-can-eat BBQ, sides & soft drinks. 6% would pay $11 for a hotdog or burger and not unlimited anything. And 1% wouldn’t eat at all.
Dinner would be OPTIONAL. You would need to pre-register and pre-pay so I could get that information and money to the caterer. But you could still participate in ALL events totally FREE. You’d just have to bring your PB&J while I snarf down ribs!
I think that covers all the concerns I got about having a caterer from the survey. Let me stress again: The event is FREE. Nobody will make any money off this event. Buying dinner is OPTIONAL.
Okay, now that I’ve tried to be as clear as possible, let me ask you my questions:
- Any issues with a poker run for real money? Winners would get cash and the other 50% would be used to pay for Porta-Potties and potable water and trash service.
- What would be a good ante for the poker run? I want it large enough that the 50% winner’s pot is large but not so large that geocachers don’t want to play!
- What events would you like to see on Sunday? I’ll admit I’m not sure what we should do?
- Do you want ice breakers?
- How much time would you want to spend in-camp versus out looking for the new caches?
- Would you want to camp or stay in a local hotel? (Or at home, if you’re local)
- We’re minting 48 Centennial Trackable Geocoins. (Arizona was the 48th state) Would you buy one for $10 or so? Or would you want them as prizes only?
- Do you want to play “other” games in camp? Suggestions have been toss-the-ammo can (horseshoes), Geocaching Clue, etc.
- Do you think I need a kids-only game?
- What else am I missing? What would you suggest?
Don’t you love it when you look around and find a
HUGE GLARING HOLE?
Well that’s what happened to me about two weeks ago.
I’m always so proud of EatStayPlay.com being a one-stop website for all your public land needs: National Forest Service, State Parks, National Parks, Campgrounds, Lakes, etc.
And then… There’s Utah.
For some reason unknown to me, poor Utah got loaded to the EatStayPlay.com database AND live to the website without a single, solitary, lonely state park. Oh dear. Well, I didn’t realize this until, like I said, about two weeks ago.
Now, Sandy & I are taking steps to fix it. So, in a few days, I’ll start adding state park information to poor lonely Utah.
Wish us luck!
Who’s Sandy? She’s working this summer at ESP Boss’ tax office doing some accounting work. But she’s in between projects at the moment so she’s helping me out with some EatStayPlay.com work. Yeah for Sandy!
Ah summer! I love LOVE cooking on my barbeque! I especially love it because even when I’m not camping, I’m still cooking outside.
This is one of EatStayPlay.com “Royal” Family’s favorite summer dinners.
- Cooked, whole shrimp. Thawed. (With or without tail, up to you; I prefer without)
- Dill weed
- Extra virgin olive oil
Mix olive oil and dill weed in a glass bowl. Toss the shrimp in the dill/oil mixture until well coated. The longer you can let it sit, the better!
(I don’t measure anything for this recipe, just dump it in. Dill weed is expensive in the stores but it is so good on shrimp don’t be shy about using it.)
Thread shrimp onto skewers. Metal works best since it will heat the shrimp from the inside.
Heat the barbeque. Make sure that it is completely hot before placing the shrimp onto the barbeque. Heat until hot all the way through, turning once. I always like to brush them with any leftover dill/oil mixture.
The trick to barbequing shrimp is to just heat them up — not to COOK them! If you over cook them they get dry, tough and tasteless. Warmed shrimp get the lovely grill marks and are hot, juicy and tender.
Don’t worry if they don’t come out perfectly the first time! It takes practice!
I was thinking of a fishing tip for this week’s post when I remembered a GREAT casting illustration I had saved to my computer from http://www.creativeon-line.com/
As a recovering member of the I-can’t-cast-to-save-my-life club I loved the illustration for how to cast.
For beginning anglers, I recommend using a push button spin-cast reel. Learn about types of freshwater reels. So, assuming this is the type of reel you have, let’s get started.
- Place your thumb on the push-button and hold it in.
- Still holding in the button, bend your elbow and point the rod tip behind you. Keep your elbow near your side.
- Release the button as you whip or cast the rod forward.
If only it were that easy! When I was learning how to cast, ESP Boss got the idea of putting a bobber on the end for weight and having me cast in camp. After “catching” one ponderosa pine tree – somewhere around 25 feet up the trunk – we decided that it was best for me to practice casting on the lake where there were fewer things for me to wrap my line around!
The problem with reading how-to-cast instructions is that you don’t get to DO it! When I was teaching CodeWolf how to cast, I walked him through the above 3 steps but he kept shooting the tackle into the lake and breaking the line.
I finally figured it out: he’s a big strong guy; we were using 4 lbs test!
So when you’re “whipping” the rod forward, do it gently. It’s better to cast too close and try again than to have the line break and the tackle end up at the bottom the lake!
Readers Weigh In:
- How do you teach casting?
- Any sure-fire tips to teach somebody how to cast?
Ah! Summer rains.
The monsoon season is nearly upon us here in Northern Arizona so I wanted to share this tip with you before the rain starts so you can be prepared. This is great rain gear for kids because it’s easy to make and cheap to replace.
Just remember: plastic bags are not toys so don’t use this tip with small children or if you think your child will put the bag over his or her face.
A heavy-duty black trash sack makes a great raincoat, in about a minute. There are two ways of doing this:
Trash-Bag Rain Coat #1
Make a hole in one side of the bag, near the bottom. This is where your face will come out. Pull bag over your head and wear it like a hood. Then, cut slit on each side of the bag for your arms.
Trash-Bag Rain Coat #2
Cut a slit in the bottom of the bag and slide the bag over your head. Mark where your arms should go through and cut slits in the sides for your arms. This version is great for messy camp projects (mud pies, anyone?) or for a double layer of water protection.
Even though geocaching is a great game in and of itself, there are other “games” that can be played alongside. I’m really interested in this right now since ESP Boss & I are in charge of planning a geocaching event for Arizona’s Centennial Celebration in September.
We’re hosting a 3-day event and will be placing 25-30 new caches. Of course, there will be FTF prizes, prizes for finding the MOST new geocaches, and maybe the most miles logged in a single day of caches.
This will be a sanctioned event by the Yavapai County Centennial committee as part of the centennial celebration. And part of what the committee has been charged with (and by extension US) is to get people out exploring Yavapai County.
Personally, I’m looking for a mix of socializing and caching!
Another idea that we’ve been kicking around is to have a secondary game or games that could be played for prizes as well.
I was originally thinking of having a Poker Run but in my research, I’ve come across some other games like:
A bingo card is created and you check off each square based off different types of caches.
My concern for geocaching bingo is that it seems really involved. Maybe it’s too involved for a 3-day event.
Geocaching Skills Test
Where you would test all the great geoskills you’ve picked up over the years. I attended an event that had a skills test, but I didn’t actually participate. Ideas?
A get-to-know-you type of game where you try to find geocachers who meet XYZ criteria.
Examples might be:
- Don’t live in Arizona
- Traveled over 200 miles to attend
- Have more than 30 hides
- Have more than 700 finds
Readers Weigh In:
- In addition to finding caches, what games would you like to play?
- Has anybody hosted a multi-day event? What types of activities did you offer?
- What is geo-golf? I’ve seen the term but I don’t know what it is!