Showing posts from September, 2014

Gravy basics

In case someone who doesn't cook stumbles upon my blog... a word about gravy. 

Gravy doesn't come from a packet of powder or a can. To make gravy, brown your meat in a pan. A heavy pan, preferably cast iron works best. Browning is accomplished by washing, thoroughly drying and salting the meat, then searing/frying the surface of it in a little fat - that means, lay it in a hot pan, with the pieces not touching each other and leave it there, not moving it around, until it has visibly browned, then turn over and brown the other side. Once browned, remove the meat or push it of the sides of a very large pan. You can then brown some onions in the fat and meat drippings if you like. Push the onions to the sides of the pan. 

Once that is done, add a little more fat if necessary (and it will be with lean meat). Cook a tablespoon or two of flour (depending on how much gravy you want to make) in the fat until it smells cooked/nutty, not like raw flour and slightly brown. Then, add either…

The importance of a palate

About an hour ago, Hank Shaw (author of Hunt, Gather Cook) reminded me of something.  He Tweeted something about cooking with venison fat.  I not only grew up being told, but everything I've read up to his point, told me that venison fat had an undesirable flavor.  I'm an adventurous eater, but I never gave it a try - and, it seemed like a waste.  Hank said that some deer fat is really good (he didn't give many details, but did say pre-rut, fat and young).  This was a major head slapping moment for me.  I know how to render fat from other animals and I'm just slightly more of an animal fat fan than Bill Cosby. ("Praise the lard!")  So now, I have new fat with a familiar flavor....

Suddenly, hundreds of recipes came to mind.  I could use deer fat in recipes that include the foods a deer eats.  I could use deer fat to flavor other foods.  I could infuse deer flavor in whiskies.  Everything from  mushrooms and ramps to deep fried nuts to infused bourbon... even p…

Robert Toombs on Southern Hospitality

I'll be passing through one of my favorite towns later this week: Washington, Georgia.  I am reminded of this great quote by fellow UGA alum, the Confederate Secretary of State, Robert Toombs: "If a respectable man comes to town, he can stay at my house. If he isn't respectable, we don't want him here at all."

Stay "unreconstructed" y'all...

Surf Fishing tip: fish the tides

This is a very basic tip, but I've been really surprised how many folks have been out fishing at the wrong time and doing nothing more than wasting bait and getting sunburned.  At first, I thought that they just enjoyed fishing but, all week, I have been hearing complaints that "no one is catching anything."  I've caught fish and landed them every day but one and even on that day, I had fish bite but couldn't land them.  The reason is very simple: I fish the tides.

Each day, I go out two hours before high tide and fish until two hours after.  Sure, it is inconvenient, but that is when the fish are biting.  I have caught fish before, at other stages of the tide, but on a beach like Holden's, high tide is really the only consistent time when you know the fish will be feeding near shore.  At high tide, bigger fish come in to eat smaller fish, small crabs and shellfish whose shells get broken in the surf.

Beyond that, I've just been using the right bait and ta…

Surf Fishing Day 4: chopper blues and monsters in the surf

Day four at Holden Beach - my big, flat feet are sunburned, I'm tired but having a great time.  I've been fishing each high tide.  I go out about two hours before high tide and come in about two hours after.  The action has been moderate.  I've been landing small bluefish every day but yesterday.  The blues have been very fun to catch and to watch.  The come tearing along the shore, chasing finger mullet - toothy little torpedoes, jumping in the air, flipping and dancing on the waves.  All of them that I have caught have been in the 12 to 15 inch range - perfect for eating.  

Those who do not care for bluefish probably dislike it because it was handled improperly before they ate it.  Bluefish is no only an oily fish, but it spoils quickly after being caught.  All of this can be solved through proper handling and cooking.  Immediately after catching the fish, hold it firmly by the back, with a towel.  If it is a keeper, remove the hook (I use an old large pare of needle nos…

Day 2 - surf fishing at Holden Beach, NC

It is really too early in the season, by at least a month, but I did have a little luck yesterday.  I saw a lot of fish - spots, large blues and even a huge sailfish or marlin that jumped a couple of times about 200 yards out.  The pelicans and gulls were catching lots of fish. I spent two hours yesterday having my bait (shrimp) stolen by pinfish.  I finally caught one and cut it up for bait.  I caught two small blues on a double (spot) rig.

I'm trying to get used to two new rod and reel combinations, and am making an absolute fool of myself.   I mostly got the hang of the 9 foot surf rod yesterday - most casts 50-75 yards.  Starting out though, I was having trouble casting even 30 yards and had some major bird nests on the reel with the 30 lb braid  line I'm using.  It is a new rod, old reel and I'm far more used to mono filament line.  The braid feels very light.

Today, I'm going to try to use the 13 foot rod and big reel.  It is a ridiculously big, heavy, "Hatter…