Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fried potatoes

I have fixed potatoes quite a few different ways, with varying degrees of success. I don't think I've ever ruined a potato recipe, probably because potatoes are so simple and sturdy and edible to begin with that you actually have to work hard to make them really bad.
However, I've rarely had potatoes come out as something that seemed excellent.  Sure, the baked potatoes I've made have been very satisfying.  I've made boiled and mashed potatoes, and they were fine.  Potatoes I've fried have been OK.
Sunday, after fishing, I came home hungry.  There was a half-bag of smallish red potatoes on the counter, and I decided to fry them (to accompany some reheated crock pot chicken), and to finally do it right.  I actually tried to adhere to a recipe.
So I trimmed them, cut them into smaller pieces, boiled them for fifteen minutes, and then sautéed them in a mix of butter and canola in a cast iron skillet until they were brown.  The recipe called for rosemary, but I had none, so I sprinkled them with parsley flakes and coarse salt.
Maybe it was the fact that fishing in cold weather makes me feel a little calorie starved, but by golly, those were the best potatoes I have ever fixed.  They were perfect.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Otter Creek luck, but fun.

Kentucky fishing licenses expire at the end of February, so I decided to take mine out for one last spin yesterday.  I went to Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, since it had been a very long time since I had been out there, and it’s one of my favorite spots to be outdoors.

I parked at the end of the road that leads down to the area near the Blue Hole, and hike from there. I headed downstream first, and fished in spots I could get down to the water. The banks were steep and slick with mud, so I had to find gullies that I could descend through and gravel bars to fish from.  Fortunately, there are quite a few of those.

The first spot I fished in, I got a couple of good hits on a spinner.  The second hit, I could see the fish in the water, thrashing; it looked great, certainly a respectable size fish, but it threw the hook.

The first spot I fished
After that, nothing. I fished as far down as the old stone remains of a mill, which was a beautiful spot to fish, but there was nothing doing.  It was hard to decide between changing lures or moving to a different spot, but since fish had hit my white spinner, I stuck with that, and occasionally switched to a second rod that had a cream-colored curly tail jig.
In the mill ruins

This time of year, one is likely to only catch trout or smallmouth in a creek like that (the trout are stocked). However, there are plenty of spots that would be good in the future to look for largemouth, catfish, and various species of sunfish. There were lots of nice little pools alternating with rocky riffles.

At one point as I was walking, I saw four deer standing in the creek ahead. I moved as close as I could, taking pictures, before they bounded off.  The deer were still far away and hard to make out in the photo, so I circled them in red.
White tail deer

At mid-afternoon, I moved to the old boat ramp area on the Ohio River. I baited up with some chicken livers, thinking that a couple of days of milder weather and sunshine might have prompted some channel catfish to move in shallower to feed, but I had no bites.

It was a nice place to hang out, though.  From that spot, one can see five or six miles of river.

I spent quite a bit of time watching the Indiana side. Upstream, on the opposite bank more than a half mile away, I could see two people.  They were tiny dots, and they were there the whole time I was. I tried to figure out what they were doing. They were climbing up and down the bank, walking all around.  At first I thought that maybe they were playing with a dog that was just too small to see, because their wandering around was just like the behavior of someone outdoors with a dog. However, I don’t think they had a dog.  Maybe they were looking around for artifacts washed from the bank, or collecting driftwood.

A tug, the Donna Rushing, came dramatically into view pushing 24 barges around the upriver bend, and I watched it get farther and farther away. Miles downstream, I could see another one, tiny with distance, approaching, but I left before it drew near.

The Ohio River, near the boat ramp. I've painted down here a few times, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bed and Breakfast - black and white drawing

 Here is the small house portrait I completed last week. It's 6 x 9 inches.  It's a bed and breakfast, and the business owner wanted a horse featured, since the area used to be a horse farm (and home to a Kentucky Derby winner.)

Friday, February 08, 2013


I recently finished "Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde, which I borrowed from my brother.  I was not sure what to expect from it. He had described it to me, and I had read the book jacket, so I knew it was a strange, somewhat comedic story set in a the far future when a person's social standing is determined by what colors he or she can see (everyone, it seems, has some degree of colorblindness.) 
Kevin had been recommending the book to me for years, and I'm glad I finally read it, because I really enjoyed it.  It was very strange and imaginative, yet at the same time grounded in recognizable details of daily existence. 
There are two more as-yet-unwritten books planned in the series, and I look forward to them.  I guess I should also try Fforde's other books; Kevin likes them, too, and so does my friend Loraine.
I am now reading "A Feast for Crows," the fourth book in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series by George R. R. Martin.  I'm almost half way through it, and I can see why most people think it's the weakest book of the five books so far written (two more are planned).  Yet I am still quite enjoying it. 
It fun the way Martin takes what is on its face a clichéd-sounding fantasy story scenario (huge fictional Medieval-style kingdom full of conspiring nobles who go to war with one another, paying little attention to the silly tales they hear of an ancient evil coming back to haunt them, while meanwhile a young princess across the sea marshalls a barbarian army…etc etc.) and then populates that story with interesting, believable humans.  I think that's the central conceit of the story: What if a typical sprawling epic fantasy didn't have real heroes and villains, but instead had the sort of people that existed in Europe a thousand years ago?  Which is to say, there is a lot of death and dismemberment, bad mistakes, horrifying predicaments, and brutality. 
There isn't much magic, and some of the humans are worse than what few monsters show up.  It's pretty grim, but there are still sympathetic characters that I root for and hope will make it to the end, and even many of the bad guys become more understandable as they are fleshed out.