Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let's go Fishing!

It's not a bad drive to the lake and I enjoy talking to my Dad about life and how he and Mom are doin'.  So much so we don't even turn the radio on.  As an only child you sorta don't have anyone but your Mom and Dad.  They are your best friends, heroes and she-roes!  Good times coming and we finally arrived.  I was on the lake with Dad, alright!  Little did we know someone above painted this awesome picture for our arrival.  I guess b/c we were the only boat on the lake that afternoon........ 
It was awesome and we made it just in time to go catch some bait.  See, being a Country Boy you learn how to supply your own product.  That product may be tobacco, or Moon-shine, maybe even home-grown tomatoes for your salad. ;-)  I've seen Country folk still using clothing lines to air-dry their clothes.  Being Country doesn't necessarily make you stooopid, it makes you self-sufficient and knowledgeable of your surroundings.  Something we've all forgotten about, myself included.   But when going fishing, catching your own bait can still be done; you just gotta know how.  First you have to look for little flickers in the water like a diamond shining.  That's them!
the flats in 3 foot of water in the back of a cove
I do the tooth method.  Dr. Dedmond I'm sorry. 
Bend your knees and shoot the hips!
You want it to open up like a frisbee....want being the key word. 
Success!! 12 inch Gizzard Shad 
Now it's starting to get serious...... We are set.  The water temperature is perfect. The barometric pressure was perfect and the weather was amazing.  Have you ever heard of the Goldilocks syndrome??  Well this had to be it because all the conditions seemed juuu'st right.  :-)
Here fishy fishy fishy......
Morone Saxatilis is Latin for a very elusive creature.  A creature men from States all around search high and low for. A species that leaves even the most ardent-angler scratching his head wondering what the heck just happened?  The fresh water Striped Bass is one bad-to-the-bone fish.  The World record for freshwater is around 63 pounds.  So next time you go swimming in the lake remember little fishy below might be nibblin' on your toes! (jk they have no teeth)
Stripers are a funny fish;  funny like weird and not in a good way. They are finicky and will only eat certain things relative to their habitat.  They are the Virgo's of the underwater world.  Picky, mysterious, elusive and mean.  But graceful, beautiful, and organized.  It's my opinion Stripers are the funnest fish you'll ever catch as far as fighting goes.  Plus, they are very mean!!  They fight, pull, YANK, and jerk till every ounce of energy they have is exhausted. The stripers we catch are in a natural reproductive habitat, therefore they are muscular and strong due to the continuous running water.  The power plants of North Carolina produce some of the best tail-race fishing in the Nation.  But it is called fishing for a reason, otherwise we'd always go "catchin."  Thankfully the majority of fisheries in the South mandate and regulate specific lengths and sizes on the stripers.  This leads to huge growth within the striper community itself and makes for some great fishing. But most importantly remember: When reading a fish-tail you can't always believe what you see.  As I'll tell you like my uncle told me. "Matthew, how can you spread the truth if you are telling a story?"

There's a method to our madness..........
This is a down rigger about 15 feet down with a weight and a hook.
free-lining a gizzard shad straight back 150 feet
Well enough of the scenic shots right?  Here's some fish....
about a 30 pounder!
Be smart, always catch and release unless it's a wall-hanger or for food. 
We were winding up to go in and he attacked our bait!
the next day was beautiful as well.
Boat Ride
Shine on down. 
Country Boy with a 25 pound CATCH!!!
and release....

until next time,

~Country Boy

Monday, September 27, 2010

Flaming Fall Chicken!

Often when men grill out they do it with vigor and confidence.  "Where's the grill?"  Give me fire!  Huggg-Uggg.  Flip the meat, flip it! flip it! flip it!  This is all wrong of course, your meat should only be flipped once and only once.  The more you flip the meat the more juice/flavor comes out.  And never cut the meat on the grill to see if it's done as this enables the juice to flow (bad idea.)  Chicken 11 minutes a side.  Beef for Medium Rare: 4 minutes a side.   
It was a gorgeous Carolina day, and when City Belle and I come to North Carolina we jump at the opportunity to grill out.
Blue Skies callin' our name.
Our Grill gettin' ready for the slaughter!

Traditionally women are known for their great cooking.  I know my Mommaw made the best apple pie you've ever put in your mouth, and I'm sure your mother is a great cook as well.  But grilling is predominately male oriented.  Women in the kitchen men on the grill. Unfortunately it's a simple narrow-minded concept that often holds true.  Well, I'm here to tell you that the world's best chefs are men. You name a famous chef  and I bet it's a man.  Bobby Flay?  Guy Fetti?  Wolfgang Puck? Scott Conant?  The list is endless but the traditional outlook remains the same.  Women can cook and men clean the dishes after sitting on the couch.  lol
Anyway, Country Boy here has implemented northern-palate knowledge w/ Southern grilling.  I took some chicken today and marinated it for City Belle in a lemon vinaigrette w/ fresh cracked pepper, kosher salt and evoo for about 2 hours outside of the refrigerator.  Allow the meat to be room temperature before putting it on the grill.  Cold meat doesn't grill well.  

Prior to this I topped the chicken with lemon zest,  finely chopped garlic, paprika, chives, and lemon juice.  Chicken is bland so sometimes throwing the "kitchen sink" at it isn't a bad idea.   I splice the chicken breast down the center to ensure a more thorough seasoning throughout the entire breast.  I find thicker pieces are more bland while thinner pieces take less time to cook and are more flavorful.   Use salt and pepper liberally while seasoning.
Next I took locally-grown fingerling potatoes, diced them in half and topped them with oregano, lemon-butter, kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, basil, and paprika.  I drizzled a little evoo on top and baked them at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  I put them in while I grilled out basically.  Set it and forget it!!
It ain't fancy but it gets the job done y'all. 
Always allow the coal to turn entirely white before putting on your meat
I put tin foil down on top of our grill b/c gas tastes bad.
Almost ready to "flip" but just once!
It turned out great and City Belle was pleased.

until next time,

~Country Boy

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cupcake Tour-Part 1

Hey Ya'll!  Welcome to the 1st installment of City Belle's Cupcake Tour!  Cupcakes have been the hottest little desert for the past few years.  It's all the buzz in NY and across the country.   I jumped on the cupcake bandwagon and I'm never gettin' off!  I've tried all of the trendy ones in NYC and in LA, and thought I would share some of my cupcake experiences.  
So, for the first cupcake post, I'm not going to blog about the most well-known cupcake shop in NYC, Magnolia Bakery in the West Willage,  Nope....... I'm going east,  to the East Side of Manhattan!  Sending my props out to Butter Lane in the East Village.

The 1st time I heard of Butter Lane was at a Crate & Barrel Registry event for our wedding.  They were there showing off their cupcakes and yummy frosting!
Then, Butter Lane was featured on the Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate."  
So, Country Boy and I made the journey downtown to the East Village to Butter Lane.  
We were so excited!
Their concept is to choose your cake flavor: Vanilla, Chocolate or Banana.  Then you choose your frosting flavor.  √ out all the yummy frosting choices. 

We had so much fun picking out our flavors.  We decided to get a box of 6 so that we could try multiple flavors.  We tried the Chocolate/Chocolate, Vanilla/Chocolate, Banana w/Grapefruit Ginger, Chocolate/Espresso, Banana/Cream Cheese and Vanilla/Salted Caramel. YUM!

The cupcakes were so cute and delicious.

Since we love Chocolate and coffee, I think the Chocolate/Espresso was our favorite.  
But really, they were all delicious! 
Soooo good they had safety equipment. 

Butter Lane has cute branding as well.  Their signature color is Yellow, with a rustic feel.  Their logo has a vintage bicycle and their shop is sweet like a 1950's kitchen w/ floral wallpaper. Their packaging is plain brown with "Butter Lane" stamped in the corner.  Just like something you would see back in the day. 
Cupcakes = Love

Until the next treat,

~City Belle
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