Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Cave Declared Disaster Area!

Over the past several weeks I've been tying what came out to be 66 different atlantic salmon hairwing wet flies, spring streamers and shrimp for a friend's next book, to be published by Stackpole in 2016 (if memory serves, which it often does not).   Materials junkie that I am, I think I only had to buy one or two tinsels and a couple of flosses I didn't already have on hand to complete the collection.  It was great fun pouring over the books I have, and scouring the internet for appropriate patterns.  I even got the chance to email back and forth a couple times with Charlie Krom (always a treat) about questions I had on a couple of his flies.

Never known as much of a neat freak, the cave really took a beating...materials and books everywhere...not to mention flies!

Thought you might get a giggle out of the carnage:

Finally got around to organizing the flies in alpha order.  Caught several mistakes in numbering and found that I either lost or didn't tie #28 - a Grizzly King.  Back to the vise.  Sigh.

A few pics of the finished collection (click on the pic to see larger version):

A few close-ups:

John Olin

Logie converted to hairwing:

Dick's Demon:

Night Hawk converted to hairwing:

Golden Eagle:

Royal Smelt:

For the purposes of the book, I had to compile a list of the dressings for all 66 flies.  That was a task.    I started with flies I knew and had proven themselves to me.  Then I went on to flies my friends like, finally filling out the collection with flies that had heavy history or just plain ol' were pretty.  Here's a key to the flies, just by name, in case you see one that piques your interest:

1. Arthur Taylor Special    2. Atherton Squirrel Tail    3. Big Intervale Blue   4. Black Bear Green Butt   5. Black Bomber   6. Black Coltrin   7. Black Dose conversion   8. Black Ghost.
9. Blue Charm   10. Bondatti's Killer   11. Bonnie Belle   12. Cains Copper   13. Celtic Beauty
14. Claret Killer   15. Colburn Special   16. Copper Killer   17 Cosseboom (Miramichi)
18. Cosseboom Special   19. Crosfield   20. Deere Fly   21. Deer Lake Special   22. Dick's Demon
23. Emerald Queen   24. Fulkro   25. Garry Dog   26. Glitter Bear   27. Green Picasse
28. Grizzly King   29. Icy Blue   30. John Olin   31. Jones' Special   32. Laxa Blue
33. Little Red Wing   34. Logie conversion   35. Miramichi Special   36. Munroe Killer
37. Night Hawk conversion   38. Picture Province   39. Pompier   40. Rat (Blue)
41. Rat (Green)   42. Rat (Rusty)   43. Rat (Silver)   44. Red Abbey   45. Roger's Fancy
46.  Rutledge   47. Same Thing Murray   48. Silver Down East   49. Undertaker   50. Warden Watcher

51.  Ally's Shrimp   52. Cascade   53. CB Shrimp   54. Flamethrower   55. Life on Mars
56.  Sneaky

57.  Blue Smelt   58.  Deep Green Beauty hairwing   59. Golden Eagle   60.  Ice Runner
61. Magog Smelt  62. Miramichi Special   63. Renous Special   64. Rose of New England
65.  Royal Smelt   66. Tanner's Blue Smelt

Well, it was a lot of work but, in the end, very rewarding.  I suppose the next thing on the agenda is to clean the Cave...sometime soon.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rich's Jerked Chicken

Every so often, a bunch of friends and I get together at Mike Valla's camp, Vallahalla, handy to the Battenkill, over in New York.  I've made Low Country Boil for us a couple of times (http://theriverscourse.blogspot.com/2015/02/low-country-boil.html); for our last get together, it was Rich Norman's turn to cook.  And he cooked up a real treat, which I'll call Rich's Jerked Chicken.  I'm happy to share the recipe here, using Rich's exact words from an email he sent me regarding same:

For ten of us:
5 chicken breasts marinated overnight in Lawry's Caribbean Jerk 30 Minute Marinade (much more flavorful after 10 hours than just 30 minutes)
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
One each large red, yellow and orange pepper sliced
2 yellow onions, halved and sliced
8oz package sliced mushrooms
Small can black olives
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (only the best for you guys, I use first press EVOO imported from California, but I digress)

The ingredients (lacking the green pepper...she who must be obeyed doesn't like it):

Marinating chicken:

Ready to start:

To continue with Rich's instructions:

A cup and a half of brown rice (you could use cous cous or orzo, too), and about 3 cups of chicken broth to cook it in.  Make the rice however you like, if you are doing it simultaneously with the chicken, start the rice first; it will take 40 or 45 minutes.  I pre-cooked it and left a little liquid in it so I could warm it on the stove at our get-together.

Six pack of beer or box of Pinot Grigio.

First, open a bottle of beer or pour a glass of wine...or both, and throughout the process, make sure you always remain hydrated.

Warm up the grill.  They are all different; I usually get them real hot and clean them.  Here at home I would then turn it down to medium and let it cool a bit before I put the chicken on.  Mike's grill is hotter than mine, so I set it between medium and low.  Next time I might just turn on two of the four burners.  At any rate, put the chicken on, and plan to turn it only once.  Should be about 10 minutes per side.

Have a sip or gulp of your beer or wine or both.

At the same time in a large pan, heat the EVOO and add the chopped garlic.  Don't get the pan too hot or burn the garlic.  Saute' the garlic for a minute, then add the onions and peppers and keep mixing the veggies around.

Beer, wine or both, and go check the chicken just in case.

B, W or B, and back to saute' the veggies.

Keep going back and forth (constantly hydrating) until the peppers and onions begin to soften (this is usually about the time the chicken needs turning).  Add the mushrooms to the mix.  Stir.


When the mushrooms soften, add the olives and some salt and pepper.  Stir.  Hydrate.

Go check the chicken; it's probably done, so you will need to move it to an upper shelf to keep warm for a minute or two.  You could probably turn the grill off or at least turn it down.

Hydrate.  Check veggies.  Done!  Hydrate.

Get the chicken and bring it to the cutting board and let it sit a bit.

Dump the rice on a serving platter.  Hydrate.

Slice the chicken, and if you feel you may have over-hydrated (not possible in my experience) you should count your fingers at this point (or have someone else do it) just to make sure none of your guests get a disgusting surprise.

Place the sliced chicken and any flowing juices on top of the veggies, find some serving spoons and serve.

While consuming, remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

This is a great meal, and an easy one, for home or camp.  Thanks for sharing it with me, Rich, and Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Low Country Boil

Low Country Boil (AKA Beaufort Stew) is perfect and a quick meal for a cold winter lunch or dinner.  I first enjoyed it during my time in South Carolina working for the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The Ingredients:

For 5 or 6 folks, here are the amounts:

2 to 2.5 pounds of red potatoes
2 thingies of Polish Sausage
2 pounds of 16-20 Count Shrimp (uncooked; I leave the shells on)
6 or so 2" to 3" chunks of corn on the cob (WAY better with fresh in the summer; pretty hard to find  in Vermont in February!)
Old Bay Seasoning (I use half the large can for this size batch)

Cut the sausage and potatoes thusly:

Bring water with Old Bay in it to rolling boil, hopefully in something with a strainer like this set-up:
(BTW, that's the Batten Kill way down in the background; we're at my friend Wally's house for some cigars, beer and fly tying)

   Add the potatoes.  Count 5 minutes from when the broth boils again.  Add sausage...count 5 more minutes.   Add the corn...go 5 more minutes.   Add the shrimp, and continue boiling 'til they're done (usually 2-3 minutes)

Pull out the strainer full of goodies, lay on a platter for everyone to pick away at...maybe have some broth that can be poured on as well.    Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cool Old Stuff

When they read the title, the wisecrackers among my close friends will probably immediately think this post is about myself.  Sometimes I feel like Rodney Dangerfield around them (I don't get no respect).  Having said that, this post is not about me, it's about my old stuff.  More than that, really...it's about the memories that this stuff evokes.   And, fortunately for me, the memories that the items in this post bring to me are all good.  The best, really.
My father was not much of an outdoorsman.  He was a cost accountant, what can I say?  But he tried, knowing my early interest in the outdoors, to get me "out there".  I don't have much in the way of stuff representing those times, though.  His father, my grandpa, was a different story.  It seemed to me that he lived to bird hunt and fish.  When we visited his home in Syracuse, NY, I would spend hours in his basement handling the boxes of shotgun shells on his shelves, admiring his worn hunting clothes, checking out his fishing tackle.  The stuff mesmerized me.
His two best bird dogs, English Setters Prince and Jimmy, were gone by the time I arrived on the scene.  But I do have the original photo that my grandmother took of them on point. Guys didn't worry about high-tailed points in those days and there's now a Holiday Inn where the pheasants that the dogs are locked up on huddled.  Her photo won the Syracuse newspaper's Photo of the Week competition.  Can you possibly imagine a photo of pointing bird dogs winning that sort of competition anywhere but in the hook and bullet press today?   The photo has to be pre-1950 (the year I was born):
I mentioned his boxes of shotgun shells.  I have a few of his, and have gathered a few more that have neat graphics on them.  The paper shells take me back to his basement.  Pardon the dust.  Our housekeeper (well, Bridget's housekeeper, lol) knows that she would be taking her life in her hands if she started playing around with this stuff.  I do vacuum it every couple years, whether it needs it or not.
Besides interests in bird hunting and fishing early on, I also liked to be around, and use, tools.  Again, my poor Dad didn't know which end of a hammer was up, but we had neighbors, in the 1950's and early '60's, in a suburb of Buffalo, that took me under their wing.  I helped build garages, pour concrete and was generally allowed to participate in many different home improvement projects in the neighborhood.  And they gave me tools.  Mr. Lyman lived two doors down from us.  He was a master plumber.  I don't remember the exact circumstances, but he gave me this 12-inch level (Stanley, made in the USA):
I can't fathom being able to buy, new, a level of this quality today.  Sliding brass covers for the glass, such substantial construction.  If you could buy it, imagine the cost.
After my grandfather passed away, I received a few of his tools.  He built the house he and my grandmother lived in for more than fifty years; it was a good house.   I've never used this spoke shave.
I use this little square and the mallet often, wondering how many projects they squared up or knocked into place for him.
Of the little projects I made as a kid, two survive, thanks to my mother and her incredible inclination to save all things family.  I made this pump-handle lamp in 8th grade woodshop.  So I would have 12 or 13, I suppose.  It shows the stains of her watering the plants she kept in it.  I like them.
The other survivor of my youthful woodworking endeavors is this wall-mount key hanger.  And again, thanks to my mom, I know exactly what year I made it.  That's her handwriting.  I was 10, and my parents had just given me a jig-saw for Christmas.  A real one.  Not from Toys R Us.   I have a hard time imagining many parents of a 10-year-old giving that kind of gift today.   Surely there's a virtual cabinetry app available so we don't make a mess or hurt ourselves, eh?
Looking at the key-holder, I'm reminded of the time, somewhere between the ages of ten and sixteen (when the hormones really started to kick in - forgot all about woodworking for awhile) that I decided I needed some sort of table saw thingy.  Out in the garage, I clamped an electric motor that I found somewhere to a bench, figured out a way to attach a seven a quarter circular saw blade to it, and let 'er rip (all puns intended).  No table that would expose just a portion of the blade, no guards, no nothing.  Just a blade whirling away at 1,750 rpms.   I don't really think I ever tried to cut anything with it (that's a good thing, is it not?).  My hands are pretty beat up after 50 or so years of working with them, but at least I still have them.  Guess I just wanted to see if I could do it.
But I digress.  The key-holder hangs in our kitchen, where lots of other cool old stuff hangs out, mostly thanks to my mother and her mother (and to Bridget, because she likes - and uses it - too.)
We like waffles.  Not a fan of Teflon or other space-age coating where cooking is concerned.  And no new stuff could ever make waffles like my mom's waffle iron.  It gets used a couple times per month, and makes the best waffles ever.  Well, I mean to say that it does again after a certain someone decided it needed to be cleaned differently than it, well, than it should be cleaned.  It is now off-limits to any operator other than myself.  Which seems to be OK with everybody.
And made in the USA.
As I said, I'm no fan of Teflon.  There's nothing like cooking with cast iron.  It's all we use.  These were from mom's kitchen.  And, of course, made in the USA (Seeing a theme here?  Quality stuff, years and  years old, still perfectly functional....and made in the USA. 
We have some cool old stuff in the cutlery department, too.  Again, thanks to my mom and her mother (who worked as a cook).   I can't tell where this antler-handled carving set was made, but I'm guessing it wasn't Taiwan.  That sharpening steel puts an incredible edge, quickly, on the knife.  Try that with stainless.
These spatulas and fork get daily use.  They are years and years old.  The paint is gone from the handles on the spatulas, but that's probably a good thing.  They are definitely from before the days of lead-free paint!  Oh, guess where they're all made.  right.
This is simply the most-used knife in our kitchen.  By the looks of the curve on the blade, it was likely the most-used in my mother's and grandmother's kitchens.  I think the close-up shows where it was made.
The last cool old bit of stuff from the kitchen area is a thermos jug.  Although it rarely gets used these days, I'm just happy to have it.  Of all the old stuff on this post, it probably evokes the most, and most pleasant, memories of all.  I can almost taste the homemade lemonade my mother filled it with, especially for our journeys from Buffalo to Haliburton, Ontario for a week's vacation.  All puns intended, that jug, made in American, is just full of memories.
Books make great old stuff.  I don't have a kindle and don't read books online.  Old-fashioned? Sure. Resistant to change?  Highly likely.  I just like looking at books, in my hands or on the shelf.  A bunch of stored electrons or bytes or whatever just don't get it for me.   A real book does.  Like this first edition Hemingway with my mother's book plate in it.
And I love old salmon fishing books.  A few from my small collection.  Great stuff.
The inside covers can be a wonderland of discovery.  Guys writing, in their own hand, comments and dates...you can see where the book has traveled and who has enjoyed it.  I'd love see how it was passed around.   Internet "signatures" pale in comparison.  Yikes, what a curmudgeon I've become!
I have some other cool old stuff that wasn't passed down to me.  Rather, because it was "new when I acquired it" but that was a long time ago or it was already old when I got it, it takes on cool old stuff status.
In 1968 (I was 18), a buddy and I made a camping trip to the Haliburton, Ontario area I went to as a kid.  I had always wanted a real Hudson Bay blanket - don't ask me why, I just think they're cool - and I wanted to obtain one on this trip.  I found a store in the village of Haliburton that sold them; they even had the green one that I wanted.  Problem was, though, that it was twice as big as I wanted (or could afford).  No problem.  The nice saleslady got a pair of shears, folded the blanket in half, and made one small cut at the fold.  She then ripped the blanket in half!!  I got the half with the label (ever the status seeker).   It cost me twenty-eight dollars.  And it has never unraveled in the slightest bit along that ripped edge.  Now that's weaving.  Oh, and by the by, a 4-point Hudson Bay blanket will set you back $399 at LL Bean these days.
I look at this blanket (I sleep under every night in the winter), and I remember back to the most incredible lightning storm I've ever been in...it was part of the same trip to Haliburton.  Some other pleasant memories associated with sleeping under it, too, but that's another story.
 Just as cool as an old Hudson Bay blanket is original Orvis Battenkill luggage that was made in the USA - NOT the new off-shore stuff, which has no soul.  I think I have had every piece of it that they made over the years, and still make my trips to Salmon Camp with it.  Wouldn't leave home without it!  This suit bag carried a lot of suits over the years.  Now it carries fishing shirts.  Just the way it should.
Someone once asked me why I leave the remnants of so many flights attached to the handle.  Why wouldn't I?
My brief case was as much a million-miler as I was...and shows it, I suppose, just like I do.
Now it carries stuff back and forth to Miramichi Salmon Association board meetings.  Much better use of its time.  I even found an old business card in it when I went to take its photo.  That job was fun for several years.  Then, not so much.
If you look inside an old Orvis rod bag, you'll find this tag.  Today, I don't think so. Pity, really.
The rod bag thought brings me to fishing's cool old stuff.   I fish mainly for atlantic salmon these days with two-hand rods.  I used to use disc drag reels when I was fishing single handers, but when I moved on to the long rods, it seemed only appropriate to switch to one of the great salmon reels, The Hardy Marquis Salmon.   The sale of no longer needed gear has allowed me to obtain two Salmon 1's and two Salmon 2's.   Each size balances a different rod for me, and love the way they scream when a good fish is taking line.  Definitely hold a place in salmon fishing's cool old stuff category!
And I love my old line winder!

Old stuff.  Well-made, lasting products that evoke the memories of a life, hopefully, well-spent.  The items in this post were made in either the U.S, Great Britain or Canada, proudly, I'll bet. My old stuff is of a pretty modest nature; I know there are collections of far grander stuff than mine.  I hope that stuff brings as much satisfaction to its owners as mine does to me.  Good old stuff.