Outdoor Links: Huge Rivers and Mythical Beasts

 Posted by on March 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm  Outdoors  No Responses »
Mar 212012
 

The elusive Pacific Blackberry  blackberries

Salmon fishing in the Yemen  yemen

March is the month for migrating Sandhill Cranes in Washington –  cranes

The Snow Peak Tulip Lantern LED lamp –  lanternp

Advice for a Seven Day Trip to Oregon and Washington –  7-days

Huge Rivers and Mythical Beasts –  huge-rivers-and-mythical-beasts

Backpacking Bike Trip  backpacking-bike

Are Rainbow Trout native to Idaho?  trout

Oregon Public Broadcasting TV special on Climbing Mount Hood  -mt-hood/

A Wild, Solitary Journey on the Pacific Crest Trail  a-wild-solitary-journey-on-the-pacific-crest-trail

San Juan Islands:

 

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Matt Flynn, the Next Seahawks Franchise QB?

 Posted by on March 21, 2012 at 7:18 am  Sports  1 Response »
Mar 212012
 
Seattle Seahawks game

Seattle Seahawks game

I am totally stoked that the Seahawks finally got a QB who looks like a franchise QB. That hasn’t happened since Matt Hasselbeck became a starter almost 10 years ago!

For a while there, I thought the Dolphins would sign him over the weekend but apparently Miami didn’t think Flynn was worth the money. I don’t know if he is worth a three-year, $26 million contract but Flynn is  already my kind of guy because he apparently went fishing to celebrate this signing with the Seahawks!

True, Flynn is still an untested signal caller with only two starts under his belt. But his two games against the Patriots and Lions were better performances than we saw from any Seahawks QB in recent memory. Flynn threw 9 TDs in his two games whereas Tarvaris Jackson threw only 14 TDs for the entire 2011 season!

The signing of Flynn takes a lot of pressure off of the upcoming draft. Now they can focus on beefing up their pass rush, maybe a big RB, and some insurance WRs in case Rice doesn’t heal completely. I’m looking forward to see what happens in the April draft.

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Mar 212012
 
Steamed stuffed bean curd rolls
Steamed stuffed bean curd rolls

Steamed stuffed bean curd rolls

If you are hungry for something delicious that will fill you up quickly, then go for some steamed stuffed bean curd rolls (sin juk guen). Dried bean curd skins are stuffed with a generous amount of minced pork, shrimp, bamboo shoots, and other ingredients then deep fried and steamed in a savory light sauce. I especially like the thin and pleasantly chewy nature of the bean curd skin in this dish.

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Mar 202012
 
Rice congee

Rice congee

Congee or rice porridge (juk) is a breakfast mainstay for many millions of Chinese people.  Congee is made by boiling rice until it disintegrates into a thick porridge or rice soup.  You’ll often see the server sprinkle a garnish of green scallions and crispy thin noodles just before serving this dish.

Congee has been a staple of Chinese cuisine for thousands of years. It was apparently created as a way to extend rice supplies in times of famine and shortages.  Varieties of congee abound in different regions of China and many other Asian countries also have their own version of this time-tested food.

Congee with preserved duck eggs and pork

Congee with preserved duck eggs and pork

Common additions to congee include pork, beef, and fish and other seafood. One of my favorite varieties of congee is a version with preserved duck eggs and pork. Preserved duck eggs are admittedly an acquired taste and not that many non-Chinese people I know have acquired the somewhat bitter taste of these black-green eggs. So this type of congee may not be the best introduction to this food if you’re a congee rookie.

To take congee to a whole new level, you’ll want to try eating it with fried bread sticks (you tiao). Sometimes you’ll need to special order these delectable bread sticks from the kitchen but they are worth the wait.

Dunking bread sticks in congee

Dunking bread sticks in congee

Take a small section of the bread stick and soak it in your bowl of congee for several seconds until the bread stick has absorbed some of the congee but it is still somewhat crispy. The bread sticks are great just by themselves as well.

Depending on what ingredients are added, congee is usually low-fat and easily digestible so it may be a good choice when you’ll recovering from a gastrointestinal illness.

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Mar 192012
 
Pan-fried stuffed green peppers
Pan-fried stuffed green peppers

Pan-fried stuffed green peppers

The mixture of shrimp paste and green peppers in pan-fried stuffed green peppers (ha yu yeung lot jiu ) is a marriage made in heaven. The stuffing is a paste made with minced shrimp and sometimes with fish meat. Restaurants vary widely in other ingredients added to their pepper paste. The stuffed peppers are pan-fried until the paste becomes slightly brown and crispy. This dish is best when accompanied by a mild black bean sauce. The firm and slightly crunchy texture of the pepper contrasts well with the salty seafood flavor of the paste.

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Mar 192012
 
Crab legs and shrimp at supermarket

Crab legs and shrimp at supermarket

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last week that foodborne disease outbreaks associated with imported foods rose in 2009 and 2010. Ok, not surprising at all. The CDC also found that fish and spices were the most common sources of foodbone outbreaks linked to imported foods. OK, that’s a little surprising. On top of that, most of the seafood and fresh produce we eat in the US is imported! Now that is shocking.

According to a report by the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS), U.S. food imports grew from $41 billion in 1998 to $78 billion in 2007. Much of that growth has occurred in fruit and vegetables, seafood and processed food products. The report estimated that as much as 85 percent of the seafood eaten in the United States is imported, and depending on the time of the year, up to 60 percent of fresh produce is imported. ERS also estimated that about 16 percent of all food eaten in the United States is imported.

Fresh peppers

Fresh peppers

Reports like this one by the CDC have made me a more cautious shopper in the past several years. I always check the label to see where the food was packaged or processed. Whenever possible, I avoid buying imported foods from emerging countries that probably have poor food safety standards. I am particularly cautious about foods from China given their recent track record of food safety disasters. Imported foods are cheaper but the health risks are not worth the money savings.

Here in the Northwest, we have ready access to fresh local fish and shellfish. When I shop for seafood in the Seattle area, I ask the fishmongers where the food came from. So, next time you buy seafood, ask about its home waters. And when I want to be absolutely sure my seafood is fresh and handled properly, I go to Puget Sound and catch it myself.

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Dim Sum Guide: Fried Turnip Cake

 Posted by on March 18, 2012 at 7:46 am  Food & Cooking  No Responses »
Mar 182012
 
Chinese fried turnip cake

Chinese fried turnip cake

Chinese fried turnip cake (law bok gow) is made from a paste of shredded Chinese turnips and rice flour.  Typically bits of dried shrimp, Chinese sausage, and sometimes mushroom are added to the paste. After steaming, the cake paste is fried until the surface turns a crispy golden brown.  Some restaurants may sprinkle diced scallions and/or oyster sauce on top as a final garnish.

I really like the subtle turnip flavor of this dish as it provides a good contrast to the other dim sum dishes.  Turnip cake is also less fatty than many other dim sum dishes. Chinese turnip, however, may be somewhat of an acquired taste for people who are not used to eating root vegetables.

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Mar 172012
 

The northwest weather can be grim at times from, optimistically, November through February.  An escape to a warmer climate can be a delight during this period.  Among the many convenient destinations easily reached from the Northwest are Southern California (Palm Springs, San Diego, etc.), Arizona, and Hawaii.

Traveling to these locations in the winter can be a real delight.  The contrast in climate definitely heightens one’s appreciation.  Going from 40 degree rain and wind to this type of scene (of Marriott Ko Olina Beach Resort on Oahu) is a shock:

 

A beach on the leeward side of Oahu:

On the trail to Manoa Falls outside of Honolulu:

Fort DeRussy Park in Honolulu:

An annual wintertime visit to a warm, sunny destination would be a very nice, therapeutic habit for any Northwest resident.

 

 

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Dim Sum Guide: Salt Water Dumplings

 Posted by on March 17, 2012 at 7:53 am  Food & Cooking  No Responses »
Mar 172012
 
Salt water dumplings
Salt water dumplings

Salt water dumplings

Salt water dumplings (hom sui gok) are a great combination of several memorable flavors. Being deep-fried, you’ll first encounter a crispy outer crust around an inner sticky and somewhat sweet rice flour dough. After you bite through the doughy shell, you’ll reach a savory, salty filling of minced pork and Chinese vegetables. A great combination of flavors!

Minced pork inside salt water dumpling

Minced pork inside salt water dumpling

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