Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Salmon from Racine Wisconsin

Once again, my friends Gayle, Jim and I went fishing at Racine Harbor in Racine Wisconsin.  Gayle got there before us around 3 AM and we got there around 3:45 AM.  Ken, a friend of my brother's arrived later, perhaps around 6 AM.

By the time we arrived, Gayle had just caught her first male King Salmon (Chinook Salmon) which weighed in at 9 lbs!  She said it took her by surprise...

Her King Salmon looks a little strange in the photo where she is holding the fish with the scale because it had been laying on the ground for several hours and blood had already pooled in certain areas causing the skin to look a bit different (lividity).

Jim and I both had a fish on our hooks, but we lost them.  Ken did not get anything today.  Later, I helped another angler out there net his 4 lb male King Salmon and he gave the fish to me to keep.  (We originally thought it was a Coho, but my cousin-in-law identified it as a small King Salmon.)  Jim and I brought it to my home and cooked it up on the barbecue for lunch using soy sauce with brown sugar, ginger and green onions.

We decided to keep the fish whole rather than fillet it like we usually do and then we put it in a pan on the barbecue.  The fish was great, just like my other fish last week!  By keeping the fish whole, we had less loss of meat due to filleting.

I also cooked up some fried rice using my new wok and 65,000 BTU burner.  That rice cooked up in less than 4 minutes!!  The wok is FAST with that much heat!

It was a colder day fishing out there today with some drizzling, but we survived.  Just before we left, we saw a double rainbow!  If you look closely, you faintly see another rainbow to the right of the larger one.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Niles West 40th Reunion - Class of 1976

It's hard to believe it's been 40 years since I graduated Niles West High School!

This weekend, a number of my classmates got together for our 40th reunion.  Ten years ago, I was not the official photographer, but rather just an attendee who took a bunch of photos during the reunion.  This time though, I was the "official" photographer of the event, so I attended the morning tour of Niles West and then later in the evening, I attended the actual reunion event.

It was good seeing everyone again.  With over 140 classmates in attendance, the huge group photo was a challenge to take.  Getting everyone to listen and look forward at the same time was not easy.  I set my Nikon D4 camera on a tripod and used a Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 lens to take the ultra-wide angle shot.  While I would have liked more space on the sides of the huge group shot, we were lucky just to get everyone in the shot!  I triggered the D4 with a radio controlled remote triggering device.  It's in my right hand while I was holding a microphone in the left hand to get everyone's attention.  The ultra-wide angle lens tends to stretch the outer edges, so that's why you see me and the others near the edge a bit wider than we really are.

Our most notable graduate in 1976 was Olympic Gold Medalist Bart Connor.  If you look close you can find him in the group photo and also in the Junior High group photo of graduates from Park View Junior High (look for me and that's the Park View shot and move 5 people to the right).

Another ten years and we'll be doing our 50th reunion.  Hard to believe the years go by so fast!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

6 Lb Coho Salmon Caught at 4:40 AM in Racine Wisconsin

I went fishing today at 3:15 AM at Racine Harbor.  That meant getting up around 1:30 AM and leaving the house before 2:00 AM!  When I arrived at Racine Harbor, the fog was so dense, you could barely see in front of you!  You can see the fog in the photo of me.

I caught a 24", 6 lb female Coho Salmon at 4:45 AM.  That's earlier than I've ever caught a fish!  My friend Gayle that you see in the photo above caught a 3 lb female Coho at 6:20 AM.  This was Gayle's first salmon out of Lake Michigan and also the first fish she has ever caught with an artificial lure!  Gayle was the one who first taught me how to fish many years ago!!

Both of our fish had roe.

The other guy you see is just someone on the pier fishing with everyone else.  That's a 9 lb Steelhead caught around 7:45 AM!  And finally, the last fish you see is a huge 18 lb King Salmon!!  That was caught around 6:00 AM.  That fish was so large that holding it upright, it probably went from the ground to just above waist level!

Fishing was good today.  It was really foggy when we first arrived.  Weather was warm too.  But later, it got a little cooler.  My friend Jim was going to join us, but he had car problems early in the morning and had to deal with that.  Too bad, he would have liked the action out there today!  Oh well, next week!!

Update:  I just had the fish for dinner.  It was excellent!  No fishy taste at all.  Must be because it's early in the salmon fishing season!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Eastman Outdoors 37212 - 22" Carbon Steel Wok and Burner

Long before going on a Cast Iron craze, I have been wanting to get a big burner and wok for a long time, so I purchased the Eastman Outdoors 37212 "Big Kahuna" from Amazon.  It works great!  Besides the burner and wok, you also get a stainless steel long handled spatula and laddle and a thermometer.  The only other thing you need is a propane tank (not included).

I've been wanting that "restaurant quality" taste to my Chinese food which is called "wok hei".  This literally translates to "the breath of the wok" and gives you the unique flavor that you can't get by cooking Chinese food over a conventional stove.  You need a LOT of heat to get that flavor as the oil on the wok smokes up while you cook your food.  Use either Peanut Oil or Vegetable oil when cooking on a wok... these have a higher smoke point than other oils.

The huge 22" carbon steel wok was seasoned for almost an hour.  I followed the technique that I saw on this YouTube video and it helped burn off the plastic-like coating that the wok comes with.  The coating is used to keep the wok from rusting before you receive it.  It really smelled bad while it was burning off, but there's no way you can cook with it on!!  Not safe!  But like the video, I did not scrub off the coating opting to burn it all off instead.  I then washed the wok and heated in some oil.

I had the flame a little too high and the oil in the wok caught on fire during the seasoning process!  Be careful not to do that because it leaves a black mess in the wok that can't be removed.  I worried a little about this at first but then accepted it because after lots of use, the bottom of the wok is going to look that same way anyway!

After spending nearly an hour to season the wok, I gave it a try by cooking rice noodles in it.  Wow!  Was it fast!  I cooked these in less than 4 minutes.  Next, I cooked up some chicken and bok choi.  Not as good as I hoped because I didn't season it well.  I'll do better next time.

After having our Chinese dinner, my family decided we should try some french fries to see how well it can fry!  So in about 3 minutes, frozen fries were cooked golden brown.  That's fast!  We also fried up some breaded zucchini's (I almost burned these... the oil was getting too hot!) and also some breaded green beans!  The beans were great at about 3 minutes as well.

This burner puts out 65,000 BTU's and the wok heats up super fast!  If you want quick food, this is it.

After dinner, I made sure the wok had a decent layer of oil on it before putting it away in the basement.  I'm bringing the wok and burner in the house after each use and storing it in our basement as I don't want the equipment to rust too quickly due to rain and dew, etc.

Well worthwhile if you want that restaurant quality taste (wok hei) to your Chinese food!

Tomorrow I am planning on cooking some fried rice in the wok and also will do some pan fried noodles with vegetables and char siu pork.

Follow-up:  Here's the fried rice from lunch the next day!  I find that the 22" wok is actually a good size!  At first, I thought it was too large, but after cooking fried rice, I don't think it is.  You move around a lot when stir frying and with a 22" wok, nothing goes flying out of the wok because it is so large!

To give you an idea of how large a 22" wok is, here it is on top of our stove for perspective: