Monday, March 16, 2009

North Cascades Institute Learning Center ...............A Good Neighbor

Old Growth Forest 170 feet Up
Life in the Tree Tops
© Paul Anderson

Great Blue Heron

Thunder Bay Writers Retreat
North Cascades Institute
Learning Center

Trumpeter Swans 
Samish River Delta
© Paul Anderson

I've taken classes from the North Cascades Institute on a number of occasions and I highly recommend them!

At the Thunder Bay Writers Retreat, three inspiring nature writers, Kathleen Dean Moore, Gary Ferguson, and Ana Maria Spagna encouraged and worked with us for 4 days as we wrote, observed, listened, hiked the trails and enjoyed the ambiance of the Learning Center.

Another class found me suspended from a large jib crane in a gondola with 6 other participants, 190 feet up into the canopy of an old growth forest. It was a truly remarkable experience! We moved up, down and over almost 6 acres of old growth from one of only several "canopy cranes" operating in the world.

Meandering the back roads near the lower Skagit and Samish Rivers, Trumpeter Swans were studied with one of the leading experts and protectors of North America's largest waterfowl.

You have the opportunity to take a whole catalog of classes from leading experts in their fields.

Topics of study, to name just a few categories: butterflies, raptors, watercolors, writing, poetry, geographical regions, sustainability, local foods, birding, glaciers and the high alpine, wildflowers, geology, amphibians, photography. The list goes on and on.

So if you are looking for a way to spend additional quality time in the Cascade Range check them out!

Contact the North Cascades Institute and request your catalog.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Before we get started a quick story (you'll get the point later in the recipe).

When we were first married, my wife decided to surprise me with a new recipe that she found from some generic article in the Seattle Times.  

It was for Sweet and Sour Chicken.  It called out to use 1 cup of Heinz Chili Sauce which is very bland like ketchup. I took a bite at dinner and you can guess what happened.

Steam shot out my ears.  Sweat ran down my neck and forehead. She asked me if I thought maybe it was kind of hot?

So, being newly weds, I gently replied "Oh, I don't know." "How do you feel about this recipe?"

She replied, "Gee I think it's a bit warm!"

"Really?" "Oh I'm not so sure about that, what did you use?"

"Oh it said to use Heinz Chili Sauce, but we don't have any and you're always telling me to be creative when I cook so I just substituted a cup of this Thai Chili paste."

Point taken.

2 qts water
2cups brown sugar
6 tblsp yellow mustard
1 large onion chopped
5 cloves garlic
1/2 stick butter (ok to substitute olive oil for sauteing onions and garlic)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tblsp cayanne
2 29 0z cans tomato sauce
1 12 oz can salsa casera or equivalent (remember the story above)
1/4 cup Durkees Louisiana Red Hot Sauce or equivalent (Remember the story above)
1/4 cup Trapper Mexi-Pep Hot Sauce or equivalent (remember the story above)

Saute onions and garlic (I've even added shredded carrots)
Glop everything into a large pot and cook, and cook, and cook sloooowly so it doesn't burn.
I would leave the lid off since we want to reduce the liquids somewhat.

Taste and adjust to suit your tastebuds. Remember, you may like more vinegar, or brown sugar, or mustard, or you may just want to use ketchup instead of tomato sauce!  Again it's up to you and how you want the sauce to taste - try it, experiment!

Try cooking several more times over the next couple of days and then package what you need to take up to Ross lake Resort!

Rub My Ribs Rub

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tblsp salt
2 tblsp fresh pepper
2 tblsp white pepper
2 tblsp thyme
2 tblsp rosemary
2 tblsp garlic powder
2 tblsp onion powder
2 tblsp cumin
4 tblsp paprika (ok this was a test,  4 tblsp = 1/4 cup)
cayenne pepper (if/as req'd)  Hey! If you are manly use more, if kids around omit, it's up to you.

mix all together and break up any lumpy pieces of brown sugar.  Taste and correct with more of individual ingrediants.

Rub all over the ribs before cooking.

Ross Lake Resort and Ribs

OK, its a given that most fishermen like ribs!

Especially if it's on a fishing trip and you have already had your fill of Ross Lake rainbow trout for the past couple of breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

These ribs are easy to make in advance or in your cabins oven or on the gas bbq. 

They're great to munch on sitting in front of the bunk house and cabins while reliving your fishing stories (I meant lies) again and again about the ones you've caught in the past or the ones you hooked here in '76 but they somehow shook off - yada yada yada!

So grab an ice cold one from the cooler, plop down on a bench or Adirondack chair, put you feet up - look up and watch that glacier creep down the north face of Colonial and in a couple of hours start munching on these ribs.

* Slabs of Ribs - you decide how many. Regular pork ribs, St. Louis style or baby back ribs!
* Aluminum Foil - don't forget to bring it with you!
* Rub My Ribs Rub  (recipe follows)
* Just-As-Good-As-Any-Other-BBQ-Sauce (recipe follows)

- If you have time rub the ribs down a day before and keep in refrigerator (wrapped in plastic wrap). Don't be overly obsessive, you can always rub the meat just before cooking.

- Remove plastic wrap and double wrap each slab in aluminum foil - it's okay to have a little excess room on top.

- Place on cookie sheet and bake in 300 degree oven for 2-2.5 hours.

- Test for tenderness at end of regular cooking time by lopping off a couple of those ribs and eating them!  Hey! You are the cook and if anyone complains - glare at them or stare them down! It's ok to cop an attitude because you are the creative genius behind this dinner!

- Order the whiners to get the cook a beer or margarita* from your friendly neighbors next door (*but only if they serve better ones than you make - like Cathy and Jeff).

- If done, drain the excess juices from foil, cut into serving sizes like 4 ribs to a piece(remember to repay the neighbors with ribs) and eat as is!

- But wait!  What if someone wants BBQ sauce? Well, serve it as a side or better yet slather it all over a slab or two and finish off on the grill of the gas bbq next to the cabin (sans foil so you get a few tasty blackened sauce spots).

Waiting to Be Used

© Paul Anderson    Waiting for Use