Apr 122012
 
View from Carkeek Park beach

View of Olympics from Carkeek Park beach

If you have a yearning for some mountain and water views on one of those rare sunny days in Seattle, head over to Carkeek Park. You will be treated to a expansive beach with amazing views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. And the kids will love exploring its tidepools and seeing the mile long freight trains go by. Less than ten miles from downtown Seattle, you will feel a world away while gazing at the ferry ships on Puget Sound.

One of those mile long trains going by. After seeing one, you realize why it takes them a long time to stop.

Freight trains along Carkeek Park beach

Freight trains along Carkeek Park beach

 

A great place to explore tidepools with the kids.

Exploring tidepools ar Carkeek Park beach

Exploring tidepools at Carkeek Park beach

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Dim Sum Guide: Steamed Pork Dumplings

 Posted by on April 10, 2012 at 6:01 am  Food & Cooking  No Responses »
Apr 102012
 
Steamed pork dumplings (sui mai)
Steamed pork dumplings (sui mai)

Steamed pork dumplings (sui mai)

Steamed pork dumplings (siu mai) are a mainstay of dim sum brunches. The dumpling is made of pork, shrimp, black mushrooms, scallions, and seasonings. The filling is wrapped with wonton skins or other thin dough. In many cases, you’ll see a small orange dot on top. This is usually done with crab roe or minced carrots. A good siu mai dumpling will have rather large, firm chunks of pork and shrimp that separate as you eat it. They are great dipped in a little chili oil and soy sauce.

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Trout Fishing on Lake Alice

 Posted by on April 8, 2012 at 9:52 am  Outdoors  No Responses »
Apr 082012
 
Alice Lake near Fall City

Alice Lake near Fall City

Not having been fishing for a couple of months, I went to Lake Alice near Fall City, WA twice since they stocked the lake with rainbows in mid-March. The first time, a few days after the fish plant, I fished for half a day and had only one bite to show for it! I did not see any other fishermen catch anything that day. No one had a plausible explanation why the fish were not biting. It’s extremely rare to be skunked within a week of a fish plant!

Fishing in the rain

Fishing in the rain

Not wanting to admit defeat, I went back to Lake Alice several days ago. When I arrived, I was the only fisherman on the lake. And for good reason. During the first hour, it was in the low 40s but calm and pleasant. Then the weather turned dramatically in the next hour–the skies quickly darken and I was pelted with driving rain and winds gusting to about 20 mph. The wind whipped up waves that made my float tube almost impossible to control. However, it was all worth it.

I quickly caught my limit of five trout. Yes, they were all small planter trout but they were fish. Having not fished in a couple of months, I was a little rusty handling the first couple of trout before the rhythm came back. I was trolling a #10 olive wooly bugger and a red bead head nymph on a full sinking line. My 5 weight fly rod was a little heavy for this job.

Rainbow trout on a wooly bugger fly

Rainbow trout on a wooly bugger fly

By the time I got back to shore to pack up, I realized that my hands were almost frozen and  unbuckling my fin flippers was painful. Despite the chilly weather, it was a great fishing outing and my family enjoyed the rainbow trout we invited to dinner that evening. I’ll tell you how I cooked them in a later post.

 

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Mariners Resume MLB Season in Oakland Today

 Posted by on April 6, 2012 at 10:30 am  Sports  No Responses »
Apr 062012
 
Mariners playing baseball

Mariners playing baseball

Spring is finally here even though you can’t tell from the colder than normal Seattle weather. And spring means baseball as the Mariners and Oakland As resume their four game set in the United States. They split the first two games in at the Tokyo Dome in Japan last week. Today’s first US game in Oakland features Jason Vargas for the Mariners. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well he has pitched in the past few years.

It may take a few weeks before we know if the Mariners will contend for the division this year but most analysts are not optimistic. In fact, at 100/1, Vegas thinks that the odds of the Mariners winning the World Series this year are slim at best. Until the Mariners start losing games, let’s hope this will be a turnaround season.

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Apr 052012
 
Chinese roast duck noodle soup

Chinese roast duck noodle soup

After coming in from the rain on a cold Seattle morning, there is nothing better than some hot noodle soup (Cantonese style) to fill your tummy and warm your soul. I love “hole-in-the-wall” places where the prices are reasonable and the food is authentic.

Ton Kiang BBQ Noodle House in Seattle

Ton Kiang BBQ Noodle House in Seattle

Few restaurants in Seattle fit the bill better than Ton Kiang BBQ Noodle House in Seattle’s International District. Their awesome roast duck noodle soup comes to your table piping hot. The aroma of the steam from the soup gets your immediate attention. The noodles are firm like they should be and the broth is just right. The quarter of a roast duck that comes with your noodles is simply outstanding. The skin is a crispy golden brown and the meat is perfect with a little duck sauce.

At first, when you see the size of the generous serving, you think “I can’t possibly eat all of this!” But, after the first few bites, you quickly realize “Hey, I’m not sharing this!” Then, it’s gone before you know it.

And the best part of your lunch? It’s less than five dollars! I haven’t found a better roast duck noodle soup at any place let alone for five dollars.

 

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Rattlesnake Lake Walk Near North Bend

 Posted by on April 4, 2012 at 6:03 am  Family, Outdoors  No Responses »
Apr 042012
 
Rattlesnake Lake with Rattlesnake Ledge in background

Rattlesnake Lake with Rattlesnake Ledge in background

If you are looking for a nice easy walk on a peaceful lake close to Seattle, I highly recommend Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend.

There are several short trails along the east side of the lake that are great for walking your dog or a quick picnic stop. On my walk there a few days ago, I only saw one other party walking around the east side of the lake. When I first saw the lake years ago, I was quite taken aback by the deep turquoise-colored water and the jutting tree stumps especially along the northern shore of the lake. Amazing to see such natural beauty just a half hour from Seattle. The old growth tree stumps and old foundations from Cedar Falls can be seen when the lake is  low.

You can also catch the start (or end depending on your direction) of the Iron Horse Trail (the John Wayne Pioneer Trail) at the lake.

The trail to Rattlesnake Ledge, the prominent rock outcropping overseeing the Lake, is two miles to the top with an elevation gain of 1,160 feet. If you hike up Rattlesnake Ledge, be careful as a hiker had a fatal fall a couple of weeks ago. Make sure your kids are close by on this hike.

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Dim Sum Guide: Egg Custard Tarts

 Posted by on April 3, 2012 at 6:24 am  Food & Cooking  No Responses »
Apr 032012
 
Chinese egg custard tarts

Chinese egg custard tarts

Chinese egg custard tarts (dan tat) are a classic desert dim sum dish with a flaky puff pastry crust holding a warm, mildly sweet custard filling. The sweet filling is typically made from eggs, milk, and sugar but you may see variations in custard ingredients.

The best egg custard tarts will still be warm from the oven with a crust so flaky that the layers will sometimes separate as you eat it. The flakier the crust, the better and fresher the egg tart. Look for the custard filling to be firm but not dense. A runny texture is not good. And the custard should be mildly sweet so that the flavors of the eggs and milk are not overpowered.

Egg custard tart with flaky crust"

Egg custard tart with flaky crust

Egg custard tarts come in two sizes, small and large. Both are excellent. The smaller tarts will expose more of the flavors of the flaky crust. With the larger tarts, you’ll get more custard filling in each bite.  As a kid, I recall eating egg custard tarts with a spoon so I could savor each bite.

Egg custard tarts are amazing when they are fresh from the oven. But when they get cold, the pastry crust tends to get dense, losing its flaky texture. They don’t keep well in the refrigerator so eat them when they are fresh!

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Muscle Noodle Soup on the Menu

 Posted by on April 2, 2012 at 6:15 am  Food & Cooking  No Responses »
Apr 022012
 
Seafood noodle soup with "muscles"

Seafood noodle soup with "muscles"

If you go to Asian restaurants often enough, you’ll inevitably run into some funny English miscues on their menus. A few weeks ago, I was tempted to order the seafood noodle soup at a Vietnamese restaurant in Seattle when I decided that shrimp, squid, and “muscles” probably wouldn’t go well together…

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