Unless someone on the Selway trip has a shellfish allergy, this is definitely going to be on the menu. It was good. Really good. We will possibly serve it with tortillas so people can make it into a burrito if they want (I'm a big fan of food you eat with your hands).
This was a "crab-bake:" basically, one giant crab-cake. So far, it has been the best received dish we've served on our Dutch Oven Friday feasts, but unfortunately also one of the most expensive. Since we used real Snow-crab (as opposed to K-rab), this one giant crab-cake cost about $40 to make. It was plenty of food for 7-8 people, so it certainly could have been worse.
We served it with an avocado/jalapeno mayo, and it was great, though Sparky found it to be too spicy. She didn't realize the mayo itself was spicy, so she kept putting more on her crab-cake to try to cool it down. I found this amusing, though I ended up trading her portions since I'm more spice-tolerant.
In addition, we served a simple "Lipton Onion Soup" over roasted potatoes (easy and good in a D.O.) and green beans roasted with a sweet chili sauce.
We just had strawberry short cakes for dessert: nothing special, but my personal favorite dessert.
Next time: Shrimp Fritter-bake!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Steamin' Fiesta Chicken:
Sparky and I have been invited on a 4 day Selway trip this summer, and have been put in charge of meals. So to prepare a good menu, we're doing a dutch oven meal every Friday evening we're in town.
We've gotten some good recipes from several different places, and this week we're going to highlight one we found on Byron's Dutch oven pages that we'll probably use on the trip.
Our criteria for trip inclusion are three:
- It's got to taste really good.
- It's got to be really easy to make.
- It has to appear as if we've done more work to make it than we have.
So if we have garlic bread with our Lasagna (a possible menu item), we won't be making the bread from scratch, we'll be probably be using something like this.
Which tastes fine I might add. But will appear to the others (if we're careful) that we've done more work than we have.
From Byron's recipes, we decided to try his Fiesta Chicken with Black Beans. It fit well with our criteria: though it has a lot of ingredients, it's relatively simple in that you pretty much just combine all the ingredients in the dutch oven (other than the chicken seasoning) and cook it. Another appeal is the number of canned ingredients: on river trips, that just makes one less thing to keep refrigerated (always a difficult issue to balance with the beer).
We served it with baked brown rice and flour tortillas, and most folk made it into a burrito. The only things we would change about the recipe would be to leave out the can of whole tomatoes (it has enough tomato flavor with the paste, and the extra chopping means it's the can to be left behind), and we would cube the chicken instead of cutting it into strips: the strips cooked themselves into funny shapes (one came out shaped like Elvis, but Sparky ate it before I could even get a picture: probably could have sold it on E-bay). The funny shapes were of course funny, but for the people who wanted to make burritos, they made strange lumps.
Everyone very much liked the recipe, it's actually strangely similar to the chicken enchiladas we made last year on the Middle Fork of the Salmon trip, except of course with this you make your own wrap: we'll have to decide which way we want to go. The enchiladas require a little more prep work, but with that recipe, the rice is cooked inside the enchiladas, so one less dutch oven is used.
On the other hand, we've been experimenting with lining the dutch ovens with aluminum foil which can then be recycled or thrown away. CB brought the idea to my attention last year on the Middle Fork, but I thought the foil would create too much of a thermal barrier to work effectively. I was wrong. It works great. They're even selling pre-formed aluminum dutch oven liners at Sportsman's Warehouse, though they're amazingly expensive.
When stuff gets cooked (or burned) onto the foil, it can be easily thrown away. This of course is wasteful, so I'm working on alternatives, but for now I can't justify not using it, since it saves much time and water on the river, both of which come at a premium.
My improvised cooking surface:
The giant cookie for dessert:
The baked rice:The Fiesta Chicken with melted cheese:
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
It's been a while, but I'm starting to get the itch again. Both to write, and to boat. Not necessarily in that order.
Once again, I paid my six bucks to the Forest Service for the "four rivers" lottery, and once again, I got shut out. That makes me 0-14. Fortunately, a friend, probably in his first or second try, pulled a Selway permit, and invited Sparky and me. I've never been on the Selway, so it should be an adventure.
A day or two ago, through a mutual friend, I was asked about oar length and boat size, and since my opinion on such things should be of great value to everyone, I'll reprint my answer here so as to enlighten the hoi polloi.
I don't think I know more about it than Chris, but in my opinion, the two most important variables to consider are the pivot width (frame width) and oar stand height (which includes tube diameter). In my opinion, if you really want to power your raft, you need to have close to a 2 to 1 ratio of oar outside the pivot to inside. This means the oars will feel relatively heavy when they're out of the water, but if too much of the oar is inside the pivot point, it will feel light, but you lose leverage, and won't be able to make the raft move well.But on the other hand, I am a rowing snob.
If you're concerned about how heavy they feel, you can get counterweights from Cataract that will make them feel really light. Given my preference and a frame that will handle them, I run 9-9.5' oars on my 14' boat, 10' oars on a 16' and 11' on an eighteen.
The big consideration I'd have with buying the ones from Colorado would be the shipping cost to Alaska: I don't know what it will cost, but I'd be willing to bet you wouldn't save much if any money over buying them new locally. Though I also have no idea what they cost locally.
If possible, you want your oar handles at nipple height when you're pulling back: ergonomically, that's the most efficient position. That means that when seated, and the oar handles are at arms length and nipple height, the blades of the oars are completely but just barely under water. This (coupled with the 2 to 1 rule), is how I determine what length oar I use on a given raft. Additionally, ideally, you want the handles to only have about an inch or two of space between them at their closest point. If you find that the handles hit you in the chest this way, you need to either move your seat back or your oar stands forward (either is easy with an NRS frame). If your oars have much more space between them than that, you again put your shoulders in an un-ergonomically efficient position, and you won't be able to push or pull as strongly.
When Chris' dad and I were on the Grand Canyon, one of the people who was driving a small cat had a really strange set-up where he had almost 18" of space between the oar handles, and had his oar towers as high as he could make them. So when he went to pull, his hands were really far apart and almost over his head. Needless to say, even though he didn't have a particularly heavy boat, he was having a hard time making pulls, and moving downstream. At one lunch about halfway down the river, I messed with his oars while he was on a hike: pivoting his oar towers out so they were lower and wider, and moved the handles closer together (by moving his sleeves down the oar). This got him in a much better position ergonomically, but now he had the pivot points of his oars too far out so he didn't get much leverage. I fixed that by stealing the oar extenders off CBsr's spare oars. After we started floating again, he was amazed at how much easier it was to row, and how much more powerful he felt. He wanted to make me a saint. The point being, this stuff does make a big difference, both for how you feel rowing, and for how well you can move your boat.