Monday, March 31, 2014

Peasant Bread

Yesterday I made a loaf of peasant bread in Dutch oven mode of the new cast iron cooker I picked up this week. It was pretty darn good. This morning, it's nearly gone. My family and I devoured it.

peasant bread

Since Wednesday, I've made pancakes, French toast, bacon and eggs in a basket and this loaf of bread, using the cast iron. I am greatly pleased with the purchase. Tonight will likely be a chili or ham and beans recipe. I'm also planning to pick up a dedicated 5-quart Dutch oven in the next day or so.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cast Iron

After kicking 'round the idea of fazing-out my non-stick cookware for a couple of years, I've finally gotten off my arse about it and punted the ball into motion. I picked up a combo cooker by Lodge, it combines a couple of 10.25" skillets, one deep (3"), one shallow, into a 3-quart Dutch oven. I like that the two pieces pull double-duty.

New Lodge cast iron combo cooker. It works as two individual skillets or as a 3-quart Dutch oven.

Even though the skillets are pre-seasoned, I lightly washed them in water, then baked on another coat of oil last night. This morning I test-drove the shallow skillet. It makes absolutely perfect pancakes. The kind I've been complaining about my non-stick stuff not making for years. I was honestly surprised by the difference.

How to make a perfect pancake, test driving the cast iron skillet.

I'll be picking up more pieces, soon. I'd like an eight-inch skillet for cornbread and a 5-quart Dutch oven for large batch soups, chili, stews, roasts, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, you name it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bryant Creek

gear/kit

Friday, after work, Brian D. and I took out of town, vehicles laden with floating and fishing gear and headed an hour and half southeast of Springfield for Rippee Conservation Area, our night's stay. We hit up a little mom 'n' pop BBQ joint in Ave, Missouri on the way. The food was good. Could have done with a dry bun on the sammy, instead of a buttered one, but otherwise pretty good stuff. Lots of taxidermy lined the walls. Everything from fish to foxes to deer and elk. No matter how civilized people get through the ages, we still like to decorate our stuff with dead things. Peculiar…

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

With the cloud cover it was very dark and since it's still pretty cold out and there's no real hunting being done, we had the place nearly to ourselves. Owls hooting and small critters rustling in the leaves outside the range of the firelight were our only company.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek

Bryant Creek

Up early Saturday morning, messed around in camp a bit and fished below our campsite. Bacon and biscuits for breakfast. With Hank Sr. in the CD player, it was off to Hwy 181 bridge to drop off our shuttle vehicle and check out Hodgson Mill.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

We walked around the mill a while, dropped off the shuttle truck and headed across the hills and hallers to the put-in at Hwy 95 bridge. We lost GPS signal down in the sticks and as we were driving through a creek bed and low water crossing, we stopped and asked a wiry-looking local boy for directions. You never know how you're going to be received by hill folk, but more often than not, they're honest and helpful. He gave us a rundown of how to get out of where we were and where we wanted to be, also asking if we were fishing for "trout" since it was still March. He said trout like it meant more than that, since some other fish in Ozarks streams can't actually be kept till May. He also told us that the creek that ran past his cattle and donkey, which we were sitting in while talking to him, could've floated us to Bryant Creek a few weeks earlier, having been well flooded.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek was swift moving and full of downed trees. We frequently had to navigate through and around root balls and deadfalls. Sometimes portaging completely or tying on a couple of lines, walking the banks and kiting the canoe through danger.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

We did manage to catch a bunch of smallmouth and I caught a couple of lunker common shiners. Too bad it wasn't smallmouth season or we'd have had a fish fry in camp Saturday and would have taken some home on Sunday.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

The creek had more springs flowing into it than we could count. We explored the mouth of a couple of them.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Where we decided to camp, there were tons of small animal tracks. We'd seen a river otter earlier in the day and we were awoken by them calling just outside our camp multiple times throughout the night. Also, we found a spot on the ground where a twig or grass had been blown over and in a circle, gouging a perfect little sphere into the sand around it. Like a tiny alien crop circle.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Brian brought his tent, I went the more open and paranoia inducing camping route under a tarp. I wimped out last summer camping like this, due to molestation by ticks and spiders, but since it was colder this time of year, I tried sleeping out again. Still had a few large spiders and the otters in camp had me awake much of the night, but I managed to get some rest in the near freezing temps. Before turning in, we hung around the caveman TV, dined on gourmet hotdogs from Horrmann Meat Company, drank a couple of Smithwick's (Smit'k's) Pale Ales and played a game of checkers on my homemade checker board. We also had some barred owls asking "Who cooks for you?" from the darkness.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

This is what little sleep on a gravel bar looks like at 7am in 32 degrees. A gust took out half my tarp shelter at 6am, it had me cussing and scrambling to fix things in the dark. Luckily Brian made bacon for breakfast (also from Horrmann Meat Co.) and after some coffee and oatmeal, things were quickly remedied and spirits were lifted.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Camp was packed and we were back on the creek fishing by late morning.

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

Bryant Creek - Hwy 95 to Hodgeson Mill

It was a more strenuous float than either of us are used to making. The cold air, swift moving water and downed trees made for some hairy situations. We found ourselves in the water a lot more than we wanted to be in order to save our gear from going over and under. Bryant Creek is a beautiful and rugged stream. We had it nearly to ourselves, there were a couple of local bank fishermen, but no one on the water with us.

Noteworthy items seen or heard on the trip: owls, blue herons in a rookery of a dozen nests or more, kingfishers, otters, red fox squirrels, deer, pileated woodpeckers and more tracks along the banks then we could possibly identify or list.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

A little over a week ago, The Mrs. and I went to Eureka Springs for an early birthday trip. I am 42, tomorrow. We stayed at the Basin Park Hotel, took in the St. Patrick's Day parade and did a lot of walking and eating. This'll be a mostly photos sort of post.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - March 2014

Yeah, those are turkey vultures circling a "haunted hotel".