Night Fishing

Growing up along a river in northwest Iowa gave many of us ‘lads’ an opportunity to fish for catfish at night. One of the necessary items for night fishing was and still is some kind of a light. Back in the 1950’s and 60’s being a farm boy left us looking for an inexpensive solution to that problem. Some of the more resourceful guys let the county highway department help them out. This period of time was pre-flashing warning lights around road construction/repair sights. If you are old enough to remember the 50’s and 60’s, you immediately thought of smudge pots. These were a small, black pot that looked a lot like a smudged in Crisco can that had a small burner coming out the top. Dietz was a common brand of these Toledo or road construction torches. They would light the pot at night and the small flickering flame would burn all night warning of the danger nearby. They also made great fishing lights.

If you would like to make your own smudge pot for night fishing or to just ‘sit around and shoot the breeze’, here’s a way to make one with items you probably have ready access to.

Thoroughly moisten sawdust with used crankcase oil from your auto/truck, lawnmower, garden tractor, etc. Pack this mixture into a tin can. It will light easily and will take a strong wind to blow it out. If the flame gets dim, simply stir the sawdust and it will flare up again. To put out the flame, smother it by putting the lid onto the can.

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Baked Catfish

The first fish I remember catching was a 4 pound catfish. Mom and I had walked down to the (Big) Rock River that was the north boundary of our farm in northwest Iowa. We didn’t have any fancy fishing equipment. We cut a couple of branches off a wild plum-tree, striped off the smaller side shoots, tied on a short length of fishing line along with a treble hook and an old washer for a sinker. Presto! We were ready to fish. Mom had made some catfish balls out of cornmeal and water which we used as bait. After I landed the fish, Mom took it to town (Doon) with us to show it off. When the man who owned the hardware store found out what I had caught the catfish on, he went into the back room and came out with a 10 foot length of a bamboo stalk that came in the center of a roll of floor covering in those days. He said that I deserved to have a proper fishing pole for catching a fish like that. I caught many more catfish and bullheads with that ‘fishing pole”.

Being an “Iowegian” we ate many ‘less desirable’ fish. Carp, catfish and bullheads were common fare on our table. No fancy preparations were necessary. We gutted, skinned and fried the fish in lard. I’m sure they tasted every bit as good as the fish that were served at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Sioux City.

Here’s a baked catfish recipe for those of you who enjoy eating catfish. It’s a wee bit healthier way to enjoy the fish.

2 lbs skinned, cleaned catfish fillets cut into serving-sized pieces
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c scallions including the green tops, chopped
1 medium-sized lemon
1/2 c ketchup
1/4 tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp white wine

In a 350 degree preheated oven, place the fish fillets in a single layer into a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the fillets with the salt, pepper and scallions and top with lemon slices. Combine the ketchup, chili powder, butter and white wine and pour evenly over the fish. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

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Sunlight’s Health Benefits

I think we all realize that too much exposure to the sun can damage our skin which could lead to skin cancer although a moderate amount of sunlight has health benefits. Here are some of those benefits.

  • 30 minutes of sun while wearing a bathing suit causes our skin to produce a significant amount of vitamin D, which is important for healthy bones and a healthy immune system. If you’re not into sunbathing, 15 minutes of sun on your hands, arms and face two or three days per week provides some vitamin D benefits.
  • Sunlight also gives a boost to our levels of serotonin, a mood- and energy- enhancing hormone produced in our brain.
  • Exposure to sunlight supports your body’s production of nitric oxide, a substance that helps lower blood pressure as well as chronic inflammation, which may have a role in the development of heart disease and certain forms of cancer.
  • Remember, ‘moderation’ is the word when it comes to sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s ultraviolet rays are at their peak. If you are out in the sun for 15 minutes or longer, wear a sunscreen with a (SPF) sun protection factor, of at least 15.

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BBQ Grill Breakfast Scrambler

Since when is the grill to be used solely for dinner (lunch) or supper (dinner)? Need a recipe for breakfast on a hunting/fishing trip or family camping vacation? Here’s a breakfast scrambler that will please the boys or family members.

6 c Hashbrowns
2 c Diced ham
6 Whole eggs
1/4 c Milk
2 c Shredded cheddar cheese
1 c Diced green onions
1/2 c Diced tomato
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the grill to 375 degrees. Spray a grill safe pan with cooking spray. Add in the hashbrowns and ham. Add the eggs to the milk in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Stir in the cheese, green onions and tomatoes and pour over the hashbrowns and ham. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook for an additional 15 to 35 minutes until the edges are crispy.

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Sunscreen Reminders

After spending 3 hours out in the hot sun mowing the lawn, I decided that I need a reminder on the proper use of sunscreen. Then I thought, “What the heck, maybe others need the same reminder.” Here are 7 thoughts on sunscreen.

  • Apply sunscreen regularly – Recommendations are that you apply sunscreen 30 minutes before being exposed to the sun. Reapply every two hours, every hour and a half if you are swimming or sweating.
  • Be generous – Use at least 1 ounce (a palm or shot glass full) to cover your arms, legs, neck and face.
  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen – Look for the words “Broad Spectrum” on the label. A broad spectrum sunscreen will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrates deep into skin and causes wrinkles and aging. UVB rays plays a big role in skin cancer development.
  • Use a minimum of SPF 30 – SPF 30 will block out 97% of UV rays.
  • Use a water-resistant sunscreen – if you are swimming, playing sports or working hard.
  • Remember – to apply to your ears, hands, feet and underarms.
  • Look at the expiration date – As sunscreen expires, make sure it has not expired before you use it.

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Both hot and cold smoking traditionally has been limited to proteins. Recently, innovative chefs, bartenders and regular Joes have been experimenting with smoking techniques in various ways. A bartender in Portland  hot-smokes ice, then re-freezes it to use in his cocktails. A chef cold-smokes yogurt to use with a salad to give it a smoky taste. The possibilities are endless. Here are some random, rambling thoughts on cold-smoking, with some hot-smoking thoughts thrown in.

  • Cold-smoking ingredients impact a smoky flavor to food that doesn’t need to be cooked (e.g. butter, cheeses, salt, nuts) or that you plan on cooking later.
  • Hot-smoking ingredients imparts a smoky flavor to foods while cooking them (e.g. meats,fish).
  • The four things you need for cold-smoking include: A way of producing smoke; A method of cooling the smoke before it gets to the smoke chamber; A smoke chamber to hold the food/ingredient being smoked; Methods to regulate the amount of heat and smoke.
  • The internal temperature of the smoke chamber for cold-smoking should be below 85 degrees.
  • For hot-smoking, the internal temperature of the smoke chamber should be between 120 to 180 degrees depending on what’s being smoked.
  • If the internal temperature of the smoke chamber is greater than 180 degrees, you are cooking rather than smoking.
  • The conditions for cold-smoking are also ideal for bacterial growth. Therefore, cold-smoking is usually done in the colder months or in colder regions of the world.
  • Since cold-smoking does not fully preserve the food being smoked, the finished product should be kept in the refrigerator until it is used.
  • In addition to cold and hot smoking, meats can also be cured through brining, salting, wind drying or combinations of these methods.
  • Since cold-smoking doesn’t cure meats, salting or brining before cold-smoking is suggested.
  • Various types of equipment is available for purchase, or you can make your own. Being fancy is NOT necessary!

Here are a couple of pictures of my cold-smoker.

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Southern Broiled Trout

Southerners have various ways of fixing most dishes. Here is a good recipe for broiled trout with a southern twist to it.

4 large fresh speckled trout
Salt and pepper
1/2 c melted butter
1/3 c lemon juice
5 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 c grated onion
1/2 tsp paprika
5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Few grains cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper the fish and place on foil. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over the fish. Broil in 450 degree oven until done.

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