Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Got thread?

On Saturday, I drove down to Taunton for the 14th annual Bear's Den Flyfishing Expo.  Saw a few old friends and took a few pictures.

Next to having a hook on which to tie a fishing fly, thread is the second most necessary ingredient.  As you can imagine, flytiers can be pretty obsessive about the colors they prefer.  The thread rack below is pretty comprehensive, though it has threads from just a few of the many thread makers.

Monday, February 27, 2012

My friend made the mosquitos used in this advertisement.

Bob Mead, a realistic fly tier, made the flies for this advertisement. The only thing that he did differently for the three mosquitoes used in the advertisement was snip off the bend in the hook. (I don't know if he also snipped off the eye of the hook... I doubt it.)

He emailed me the small image of the ad. It would look fuzzy if I enlarged it.

Below the advertisement are two closeups I took at a flyfishing show in January, where he was a demonstrator.  This is one fly, shot from two angles.  It was impossible to get the entire fly in focus because of the magnification needed to focus close up.  The fly is tied to real life scale!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pete's Pizza (aka Casserole on a Crust)

When I am with my friend Paul, whose grandparents came over from Sicily, I have to be sure to call this "a casserole on a crust" because after I first described the crust (with whole wheat flour, recipe here) and the toppings (broccoli as a major component and shredding cheese which is often entirely Vermont made grated cheddar) he told me (with tongue-in-cheek) that this was in no way a pizza.

So I often think of it as a casserole using a whole wheat crust as a delivery system.  Of course everything tastes better with cheese on it, but one other function of the grated cheese is to melt into the top of the casserole so as to hold it all together.

Any number of toppings can be used.  I typically use four vegetables:

  • 1/2 to 1 sweet onion (sauteed in olive oil)
  • 1/2 to 1 box sliced mushrooms (sauteed in olive oil)
  • 1 red pepper (sauteed in olive oil)
  • 1 crown of broccoli (steam the florets) 
For meat, I mixed hamburger and bulk sausage.  Like the vegetables, I pre-cooked each of these.  I dumped the crumbled, cooked meat on paper towels which I placed on top of a paper grocery bag, to soak up any fat.  

I also like using link sausage cut into 1/4" pieces.  Strips of chicken are good, too.  Why not both chicken and sausage! We always have a bag of frozen chicken tenderloins around.  One idea is to let a few tenderloins thaw during the day in the refrigerator, covered with Italian salad dressing as a marinade.

Someday I will learn how to make my own tomato sauce.  In the meantime I will continue to use the little packets made by Boboli.  They come two to a box.  One packet is just perfect for one pizza (errr, sorry Paul, I mean casserole).

The pictures below were taken in order.  I described how I make the crust in yesterday's post, here.

One packet of Boboli sauce is just enough for one pizza.  Sauteed mushrooms go on next.

Add pre-cooked hamburg/sausage mix.

Add sauteed sweet onion.  For me, sweet onions mean no tears!  Your mileage may vary.

Add steamed broccoli florets and sauteed red pepper strips.

Add shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  I like Cabot brand.  How much?  I don't know... a bunch.  Actually, use whatever type of cheese you like.  If I'd had mozzarella around I would have thrown that on too.

400F for 15-20 minutes.   I like to broil the top during the last few minutes.

Yummy. All done.

There you have it.  Casserole on a crust. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's "flour" not "flower"

LOL.  Thanks, Dad!

(relates to the prior post, from last night)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pete's Pizza Crust

I admit that I (sort of) cheat when making my pizza crust.... I use a bread machine.  It would be impossible for me to attempt otherwise at this point, as  the dough is perfect every time. 

I've worked through  a number or recipes and have combined several to create the recipe given below.  It's a whole wheat flour/white flour combination with a touch of honey thrown in to sweeten the pot.  I think I've stopped my experimenting, as it seems I have been using this same recipe now for several years.

Any bread machine with a "dough" cycle will work.  A teflon coated pan is a real help.  This is the finished product. It takes 1.5 hours. 

Dump the dough on a wood cutting board with about 1T of flower on it.  Then pat the dough out a little with your hands to get any yeast bubbles out.

Drop the dough onto a large cooking sheet and work it out toward the edges.  This crust measures about 14".

Here are the ingredients, which are placed into the bread pan in the following order:
  • 7 ounces water
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 t. olive oil
  • 2 t. honey (pour the honey into the same teaspoon you used for the oil. The honey will slide right out into the pan!)
  • 2 cups white flower
  • 1 cup whole wheat flower
  • 1 T. wheat germ (only if you have it. This step is optional)
  • 2 1/4 t. yeast
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes after pressing it out on the cooking sheet. Then add tomato sauce and toppings. Bake for 15 minutes at 400F and then broil for 3 minutes. Total cooking time is 15-20 minutes.

Next post: The toppings.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A visit to Peterborough, NH: Rick Wilcox talks about Mt. Everest

Rick Wilcox is a New Englander (grew up in Middleboro, MA, graduated from U. Mass in 1970, and since 1979 has owned and operated climbing equipment, climbing school and trekking businesses in North Conway, NH).  He climbed Everest in 1991, and was the 300th person to summit.

Three hundred seems like a lot of climbers reaching the peak during the period beginning with Sr. Edmund Hillary's climb in 1953. Well, that's a miniscule number compared with what is going on today.  Now, about 1000 are showing up each year of which perhaps 500 are summiting. 

I love "old fashioned" slides!

Getting to the top is now big business.  Much of the mountaineering has been removed.  Climbers pay big money for guides and just have to "show up" at the airport.  Everything else is taken care of.  A typical per climber fee is around $80,000.

Sherpas are preparing the ropes to the top, these days.  When Rick climbed it in 1991 it took many months of preparation as each team (there were 8 on his team, and 8 teams total for the year) went up and down, up and down, moving from camp to camp while they prepared the ropes themselves.  Then, for the final push to the top (leaving camp about midnight so as to reach the top before noon), they used no ropes. 

Rick told us that when his team flew out of Seattle they took with them 100 bags weighing over 100 pounds each.  They had to bring everything.  I think he said he had over 10 miles of rope.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A visit to Peterborough, NH: The Toadstool Bookstore

The Toadstool Bookstore is a really nice store.  I usually hit the art/photography and sports/fishing sections.  Laurie spent time on this trip in the Childrens' section.  The bookstore has a little coffee shop with great looking pastries.  If we hadn't gone to the Peterborough Diner for lunch, we could have ordered sandwiches here. 

There's also a very large Used Books area.  The used books were all high quality books, lots of hardbacks with original dust covers and paperbacks without bent edges.  I like the model airplanes hanging from the ceiling.  There is also a large music section.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A visit to Peterborough, NH: The Peterborough Diner

On Friday, Laurie and I spent the afternoon in Peterborough, NH.  Peterborough is only an hour's drive away, and we left home in time to get to the Peterborough Diner for lunch.  We'd been to Peterborough many times, but had never eaten at the diner. 

No one at the counter, but the booths were pretty much filled.

After sandwiches and clam chowder for both of us, we stopped in across the street at one of our favorite bookstores (with a really cool name), The Toadstool Bookstore.  Laurie purchased a couple of books from the children's section. 

Then, on to the "featured event" of our little afternoon outing: Mountain guide Rick Wilcox of North Conway was giving a slide presentation called "Preparing for Everest" at 2 p.m. at the River Mead, a retirement community in Peterborough.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our snowless winter

This is definitely a winter with less snow.  Weatherman Barry Burbank's information on Channel 4 this morning:  So far this year, Boston has received 7.8" of snow.  In an average year we would have had 27" by this date.  And last year, which was such a great ski year, Boston had received 71" of snow as of this date.

Barry said that the "hint" of a low snowfall year was the higher than average temperature for the month of November.  The snowfall average in years when this is the case is less than half of the historical annual average.

The record low snowfall is 9" in 1936-37.

LOL.  Good thing I got the 4' snow stakes in early!  And this is the first year, perhaps in my entire life, that I bought four snow tires.