Peamouth Minnow Spawning in Kelsey Creek

 Posted by on April 30, 2012 at 10:45 pm  Outdoors  No Responses »
Apr 302012
 
Peamouth minnows spawning in Kelsey Creek

Peamouth minnows spawning in Kelsey Creek

As a volunteer for the “Stream Team” in Bellevue WA, I help monitor the annual peamouth minnow migration from Lake Washington to Kelsey Creek. They returned to Kelsey Creek today for their annual spawning ritual.

There are thousands of them stacked up in a creek about 10 feet across. There are so many that some of them spill over onto the rocks lining the banks. It is an amazing sight. They only hang around for 24-48 hours before returning to Lake Washington.

Peamouths are about a foot long and live an average of eight years. When they spawn, the stream is filled with many thousands of sticky little eggs that takes about a week to hatch.

 

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Apr 302012
 
Deluxe cheesesteak at Phillys in Seattle

Deluxe cheesesteak at Phillys in Seattle

I stopped by Philly’s on Rainier Ave. and Martin Luther King in Seattle recently to try out their cheesesteak sandwich. I ordered the deluxe steak cheesesteak which came piled high with beef, lettuce, tomato,onions, peppers, and sauce. The sandwich was big and a little greasy just like a good cheesesteak should be. The bread was nice and soft. It was a great tasting meal that filled me up. I have no idea of what the calorie count or fat content of this sandwich is but it’s probably better we don’t know. The sandwich could have been improved with a little more cheese and perhaps more tender meat but it definitely satisfies your carving for cheesesteak. Philly’s is small and the decor is nothing much to speak of but people come here for the food, not the ambiance.

Many people think this is the best cheesesteak in Seattle and it may well be since I have not tried many others. But I used to live in Philadelphia–the birthplace of the cheesesteak. We used to make special trips to South Philly just to have a cheesesteak at Pat’s and Geno’s. Now those were classic sandwiches!

 

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Apr 282012
 
Legoland California entrance

Legoland California entrance

The other week, I took my youngest daughter to Legoland California for a short spring break vacation. Located in Carlsbad about 35 miles north of San Diego Airport, Legoland is a tamer version of Disneyland for younger kids.

Upon entering the park, my 8-year-old daughter, an adventurer by heart, immediately gravitated to the “big kid” rides which ended up being her favorite attractions of the park. She didn’t have much interest in the indoor exhibits and attractions. When I asked her what her favorite Legoland ride was, she said it was a tie among the Technic Coaster, the Dragon, and Knights’ Tournament.

Technic Coaster ride

Technic Coaster ride

The Technic Coaster, a single car coaster, had a pretty wild drop at the beginning which was magnified because we sat in the front seats of the car. We looked straight down the track as we breached the apex and tilted downward. From that angle, the drop seemed much more severe than the officially listed 50 foot height.

The Dragon, a nine-car coaster, takes passengers through several displays of medieval Lego scenes before zipping them through a series of twists and turns. The twists and speed of the ride was just enough to keep it interesting for older kids but I am guessing this ride wouldn’t excite many die hard roller coaster fans.

Knights' Tournament ride

Knights' Tournament ride

The Knights’ Tournament is probably my favorite ride in the park. Seated riders are mounted on a robotic arm and held by over-the-shoulder bars. It quickly becomes clear why riders are asked to empty their pockets and take off their glasses and ear rings. You are spun around in various acute angles and sudden directions over a water moat. Depending on their height, riders can choose one of five ride levels with 5 being an extreme ride spent upside down much of the time. After seeing previous riders do a level 5, I was glad that we couldn’t ride higher than level 2 given my daughter’s height. Avoid any embarrassment, don’t do this ride right after lunch.

A tip for maximizing your time at Legoland. Go to your favorite ride during the last half hour before the park closes after most visitors have left for the day. Your wait times will be very short. After each ride, we ran from the ride exit around the building to the ride entrance and did not even wait in line!

One of the nice things about Legoland for younger kids is that the height requirements on most of the rides are minimal so they won’t be continually disappointed like they are at Disneyland. If you go, don’t pay full price. There are plenty of deals on discount tickets.

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Dim Sum Guide: Water Chestnut Cake

 Posted by on April 26, 2012 at 6:49 am  Food & Cooking  No Responses »
Apr 262012
 
Water chestnut cake

Water chestnut cake

Water chestnut cake (ma ti gao) is a dim sum dessert that is often eaten at festive occasions. But there’s no reason to wait for a special event before eating this interestingly sweet dish. Water chestnut cake is translucent yellow and looks like jello. Quickly pan-fried before serving, you’ll usually see pieces of crunchy shredded water chestnut swimming near the top of the cake. It’s an excellent choice for people who like to savor the flavor of their dessert.

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Spring Rainbow Trout at Beaver Lake

 Posted by on April 24, 2012 at 6:46 am  Outdoors  No Responses »
Apr 242012
 
Beaver Lake rainbow trout on a fly

Beaver Lake rainbow trout on a fly

One of the highlights of springtime in Western Washington is stillwater fishing for rainbow trout. My brother and I fished Beaver Lake near Issaquah a few days after they stocked it with 6,000+ rainbows in early April. Although Beaver Lake can be fished from a short stretch of public shoreline, it is best fished from a boat. If you are a fly fisherman, a boat or floating device is required since there is no room for a backcast from shore.

It was a calm sunny afternoon in the 50s and, for the first hour, we got to enjoy the weather paddling our canoe since we didn’t get any bites! I finally landed a fish a few minutes later but my brother had no love from the fish. Since he was a rookie, I figured it would be best to start him on a light spinning rod and some Power Bait. Surprisingly that combo did not produce.

Determined to get my brother his first rainbow trout, I switched him to a Mack Wedding Ring trout lure after seeing some fish feeding just below the surface. Within a few minutes, he was catching them like a pro even though he didn’t cast more than 20 feet! At one point, he had another fish on the line before I could get the previous one onto the stringer! I think he got “hooked” on fishing that day.

I had equal success on my fly rod. Using a full sinking line and a size 10 red bead-head nymph, I caught a fish on almost every other cast. Although the rainbows were only small planters between 9 and 12 inches, they were a lot of fun to catch.

We kept some trout for dinner. After a “hard” day of fishing, I like to use my quick and simple fried trout recipe. The delicious trout dinner was a good footnote to the day.

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A Glorious Weekend for Biking

 Posted by on April 22, 2012 at 8:12 pm  Outdoors  No Responses »
Apr 222012
 
I-90 bridge looking east

I-90 bridge looking east

We’ve had glorious weather here in Seattle for the past two days. Sunny and in the 70s!  It was a perfect day to take a bike ride with my son on his new bike, a Fuji Roubaix. We did about 20 miles from Bellevue to Seattle and back at a decent pace. Seems like everyone was either riding a bike or running on the bike trail. The photo above was the view from the I-90 bridge looking east toward Mercer Island and the Cascade Mountains from the Seattle side. An awesome site.

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The Newest Cabela’s Store in Tulalip, WA

 Posted by on April 21, 2012 at 5:12 am  Outdoors  No Responses »
Apr 212012
 
Cabela's Tulalip WA store

 

Cabela's Tulalip WA store

Cabela's Tulalip WA store

On the way back from a meeting Thursday, I stopped by the newest Cabela’s store in Tulalip, WA on its opening day. For those who live in an outdoors-deprived shell, Cabela’s has everything a guy could want (except for the latest electronics of course).

Your first impression when you walk in is that this thing is BIG. It’s Wal-Mart size. Despite its size, the store was absolutely packed to the gills on Thursday, making parking almost impossible and walking around the store difficult. And the checkout lines were unbelievable so I didn’t even consider buying anything.

Stuffed game animals at Cabela's

Stuffed game animals at Cabela's

In the middle of the store stood Cabelas’ signature display of stuffed game animals including a grizzly and moose. I’m not a fan of stuffed game animals but many kids were certainly impressed. I did enjoy the huge fresh water tank full of rainbow trout including some that looked to be at least five pounds.

I cut my visit short as I am not a fan of packed stores. I’ll return another day after the crowds have thinned. The Tulalip store will do well since it’s closer to Seattle than their Lacey store.

 

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Apr 202012
 
Fried rainbow trout with lemon mayo
Fried rainbow trout with lemon mayo

Fried rainbow trout with lemon mayo

After a long day of trout fishing, you’re tired and hungry. The last thing you want to do is to spend a lot of time cooking your freshly caught trout. Here’s a quick and easy trout recipe that takes about 20 minutes to prepare and cook.

1) First, catch some fresh rainbow trout (as a rule, I only keep stocked hatchery trout, I never keep wild trout).

Fresh rainbow trout, cleaned and gutted

Fresh rainbow trout, cleaned and gutted

2) Clean out the guts (it’s OK to leave the head on), scrap off scales with a knife, rinse and drain in a colander.

3) In a plastic food bag, mix the following ingredients well:

  • about 1 cup flour (adjust according to the size of your fish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Trout being dusted with flour

Trout being dusted with flour

4) Place trout one at a time into the bag, blow in some air, and shake well, coating the fish well.

Flour-coated trout ready to be cooked

Flour-coated trout ready to be cooked

 

5) Heat about 1/4 cup canola oil in a large skillet, add 2 cloves of minced garlic, brown garlic slightly, and add fish. Sear each side of fish for a few minutes under high heat, then reduce heat and cover the skillet for a few more minutes to finish cooking (do not overcook).

Searing each side of fish

Searing each side of fish

 

6) Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over each fish, dash of salt to taste. Serve immediately with lemon mayonnaise sauce (mix equal portions of mayo and fresh lemon juice).

Fried trout, ready to eat

Fried trout, ready to eat

 

 

 

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Apr 172012
 
Chinese sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf
Chinese sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf

Chinese sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf

Chinese sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf (nor mai gai) is a glutinous rice ball filled with chicken, mushrooms, Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, scallions, and other ingredients. It is steamed after wrapping the filling in a lotus leaf or, more commonly, a banana leaf in the US.

Sticky rice in lotus leaf unwrapped

Sticky rice in lotus leaf unwrapped

Unique in its appearance on the dim sum table, it demands attention from diners who are eager to unwrap it and taste the intriguing present inside. I’ve had good nor mai gai and some mediocre ones (the rice sometimes gets packed too dense). This dish is best with a little soy sauce since the rice is sometimes bland. I like nor mai gai but sometimes prefer its more flavorful cousin, nor mai fan (sticky rice).

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