Jacked Up Hare’s Ear from Richard Strolis on Vimeo.

Nifty tie from Richard Strolis.

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CWVC14Dec_1

CWVC14Dec_2

It’s suddenly mid-December, a fact heralded by a remarkable run of grey days. The world is white snow and dark skies and Christmas lights all around… cosy and quaint, but not terribly inspiring with the camera. And so in honor of Vermont’s grey-ness, here are a few images from my favorite grey-toned photography session.

Anglers Steven Bonney and Justin Waters braved a foggy and drizzly Puget Sound morning for a wading session, and I tagged along with the camera. We saw seals, a host of seabirds, and one very talkative old couple out walking their dog.

No fish.

Sometimes the days are like that, but despite the fog and the cold and the lack of aquatic species, it was a memorable morning. Light—or the lack thereof—determines the quality of the day.

Just goes to show, sometimes a lack of color is a good thing. 

(As I re-read what I’ve just written, I grinned at the UK spelling of several words. Sorry. I’ve been writing a UK fly-fishing catalog and seem to be in the mode.)

At any rate, enjoy. Hope it’s blue skies and warm sunshine wherever you are.

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Hill Country on the Fly from Alvin Dedeaux on Vimeo.

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Mediterranean TEASER from 9p#5 Média on Vimeo.

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CWWBL12Dec_HB2

A very nice, recently launched build of a Hindman-inspired, decked, 14 footer in blue. Well played. Via the intrepid boaters at Wooden Boat People.

CWWBL12Dec_HB1

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CWFFHDR_12Dec_TRDCCQ

Growing up in West Texas I was fortunate to have been (unknowingly at the time) exposed to several regional culinary classics that remain hallowed for many of us even today.

West Texas Cheese Enchiladas.

The Bacon Wedge.

Real Chile – both Green and Red.

Fresh Tex Mex Chorizo.

Chow Chow.

CWFFVertTPQThe list could go on and on (and it does). There’s one from those years growing up I’m almost a little ashamed to admit to now, even though we still do it now and again – Chile Con Queso made with a block of (cough, wheeze) Velveeta Cheese Product and a can or two of Rotel tomatoes. If we were entertaining folks of higher caliber we’d even fry up a pan of spicy Jimmy Dean sausage and dump it in.

When we did that folks would be licking the pan down to bare metal with their fingers before the party was even to halftime (most of our guests are very easily entertained).

Recently we’ve been on a wild run to eat things that we can identify all the ingredients of (don’t try that with Velveeta) and a need arose to make a big batch of Chile con Queso for a get together. So I fired off a call to chef friend Libby in Austin who confirmed a suspicion I had – real (Tex Mex) queso is made by melting grated cheese in what French chefs would call a béchamel sauce.

You can – and should – add a number of fixin’s to your queso to get it just right; once you stir this recipe (The Real Deal Tex Mex Chile con Queso) together you’ll find it’s nearly as easy as the Velveeta – Rotel roadhouse version and many , many times better.

And just in time for your holiday entertaining.

1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1 small poblano pepper, seeded and diced small
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced small
1 small serrano pepper, seeded and diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 + 2 tbsp. butter
2 generous tbsp. flour
1 cup of whole milk
3 cups grated medium sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese
2 roma tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Sauté time. Melt the 1 tbsp. of butter in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion and peppers until the onions are near translucent; add the garlic and cook another minute. Scoop the vegetables into a bowl.

Make your béchamel sauce. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter in the same saucepan and whisk the flour into the butter until smooth and cook for 30-45 seconds. Now slowly whisky in the milk and keep whisking until the sauce thickens (4 or 5 minutes for us over medium-low heat). Stir in the tomatoes and cilantro, then the onion-pepper mixture.

Make your queso. Turn the heat down to low and mix in the cheese, roughly 1/2 cup at a time, stirring the sauce until each drop of cheese has completely melted in. Libby sometimes thins her sauce if too thick with creme fraiche or more whole milk.

Get it to the table hot and stand back.

Enjoy.

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High Country Trout from Tom Clancy on Vimeo.

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Mushroom & Gruyère-Stuffed Baguette, French Bakery Style from Tasting Table on Vimeo.

Recipe.

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For the creatives and in honor of Thirsty Thursday…

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CWTT11Dec_HtTod

For those fortunate enough to work in retail during the holiday season, you know that inevitably there is a frenzy of activity coming your way. (Personally I’d rather fish than shop any day, and I mean any type of fishing, though that’s just my naive preference…)

She Who Must Be Obeyed manages a local retail establishment (an Orvis store of all places) and has been nothing short of astounded at the shopping feeding frenzy ongoing this Holiday Season within the four walls of her domain.

Days are often long and always busy; when she came back to the house bleary eyed and scratchy throated one night last week, I knew it was time to break out the best our home remedy and modern science lexicon had to offer to stave off the pesky virus knocking on her door.

One of the things I searched around for was a new spin on the Hot Toddy; legions of folks (and not just southerners) have long imbued the hot toddy with medicinal benefits, even if those benefits are a touch of rum to aid sleep and a sweet libation to coat a prickly throat.

This recipe for the Honey Bunny Hot Toddy popped up on the Garden and Gun website and made all of us feel better around our camp. Use fresh-squeezed lemon juice too – it’s chock full of vitamin C.

She Who Must Be Obeyed was able to fight off that flu knocking on the door too. It must have been the Toddy.

1 quart filtered water
1/4 cup peeled, sliced thin
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 lemon juice, fresh squeezed so much better
2 oz. Corsair rum

Prepare the base. In a small saucepan, heat one quart filtered water, add the ginger and simmer for 15 minutes. Whisk in the honey until dissolved; add the lemon juice and cinnamon stick and simmer another 15 minutes (simmer mind you). Strain into a thermos to hold or into a pyrex cup if you’re going to consume all eight of the toddies the base yields.

Toddy time. Into your toddy glass pour 2 ounces of the rum and 4 ounces of the ginger-honey mixture. Stir with a fresh cinnamon stick and garnish with a piece or two of candied ginger if you’re in to that sort of treat.

Enjoy.

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Flashback Pheasant Tail Tutorial from Sparks Fly Company on Vimeo.

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POD10Dec_FWIS

If you can’t be on the river first thing in the morning, this isn’t a bad view to kick off the day. A panoramic view from The Bozeman Angler counter, smack dab in the middle of downtown Bozangles courtesy of Jake.

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JMM_BRC_Mo-4

Every now and then I really wonder why I do this at all.  I do enjoy the writing and getting to interact with everyone that we do.  But it’s a lot of work and stress sometimes.  There’s a lot of days when I just sit here and stare at the blank page and wonder what the hell to say that might actually matter a damn to somebody.  It’s harder than most people think to sit down and come up with something to say on a regular basis that is at least somewhat fresh and entertaining.

Brantley and I had more than one conversation about this over the course of the summer.  At one point, and I believe it was during a float on the Mo, he turned to me and said something along the lines of “You do it because you make people happy.  At the end of the day that’s what matters.”  I don’t remember the exact quote as there was some gin involved by that point in the day, but you get the gist of it.

I got a phone call the other day at the shop from a friend of Brantley’s who has been reading Chi Wulff for some time now.  This gentleman, let’s call him CR, is a retired Navy SEAL who spends quite a bit of time overseas.  I had the privilege of meeting him once.  During the course of our call, he told me how much reading the blog makes him think of home when he’s gone.  That right there makes it all worth while.

A fly fishing blog is an interesting outlet.  Sure, we write about fly fishing, conservation issues, gear, and other industry news.  But it’s more than that.  Years ago a regular customer of mine who was significantly older and wiser than I was told me something I’ll never forget: “I don’t tell stories.  I share pieces of myself”.  And that’s exactly what happens.  You read back over the years and you can get the story of all of us here.  The ups, downs, twists and turns.  Kind of an interesting deal for a more private person like myself.

Any project or job has its ups and downs, but if you can find one that’s worth sticking with you can power through the doubts.  In the end, for me anyway, it comes down to the people reading this.  If we can make someone’s day a little bit better then it’s worth writing.  If someone can look over the pictures, posts, and videos and think of home while they’re gone, then it’s worth it.  We’ve been at this for almost 8 years, which is a long time when you think about it.

Thanks for making it worth while.

booze

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Switch it Up from scumliner media on Vimeo.

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POD_AlmostTime690DS

It’s almost time to see more and more ice along favorite waterways back home. Here’s a bit of shore ice on the upper Madison.

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