Aeropress Coffee Tips

Stumbled onto this article that gives some very good tips on coffee brewing using my favorite on-the-road brewing tool, the Aeropress.


Double Beef Crock-pot Chili Recipe

It is fall in Michigan, and it is time to make some chili. I looked on the web for some new recipes, and found some recipes that provided me with some ideas.

When I saw sirloin steaks on sale at my local meat market, this is what I ended up with:

2 large sirloin steaks (approx. 2.5 lbs) cut into 1 inch cubes (other cuts of beef probably works too)
1 lbs Ground Round

3 Carrots – peeled and diced
3 stalks of celery – diced
1 large Vidalia onion – finely diced

Canned Goods:
1 10.5 oz Can of Campbells Condensed Beef Consomme
1 28oz Can of Tomato Puree ( I use Muir Glenn brand)
1 14 oz Can of Tomato Sauce (I use Contadina brand)
1 14 oz Can of crushed tomatoes
2 14 oz Cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glenn brand)
1 14oz can of dark red kidney beans
1 6oz can tomato paste (I used Costco Brand)

Chili Powder – 1/4 cup  (I buy the Costco bulk container)
Cumin – 1 teaspoon
Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon
Dried Oregano – 2 teaspoons
Kosher Salt – 2 Tablespoons
Lawrys Seasoned Salt – 2 teaspoons
Cocoa Powder – 1 teaspoon
Brown Sugar – 2 Tablespoons
Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
Tabasco Chipotle Sauce – 2 Tablespoons

1. Turn on crock pot to “High” to get it warmed up
2. In a skillet, add enough oil (I use canola) to lightly cover and brown the steak pieces in batches (probably 2 or 3 batches). Move the browned steak to the crock pot, adding oil to the pan between batches if needed.
3. Drain/clean (or get a new) pan after steak pieces are done, and new oil. Add the diced carrots and celery to the pan and cook for a few minutes.
4. Add diced onion and cook until onions start to cook through (at this point this is what is called a mirepoix).
5. Add the ground round. I also add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until ground round is cooked through. Transfer all contents of pan into crock pot.
6. All meat and veggies should now be in the crock pot.
7. Open all the canned goods and place into the crock pot along with the meat and veggies.
8. Add in all spices listed in recipe, and stir to combine.
9. Cook on HIGH for one hour.
10. Switch to LOW and cook for 6 hours.

Go turn on some football and eat a bowl now.

Pigeon River Country 2018

There is a gem in Michigan known as Pigeon River Country. There are three major rivers that run through the state land. I visited this year in September, but a huge cold front followed me there and shut the fishing down for the weekend. It was still fun to be outdoors.

Big thanks to Jake Kapeller, a local guide who was able take me to an amazing fishing spot where I saw the only fish of my trip.

Pere Marquette vacation fishing

Family vacations do not mix well with fishing outings. I’ve tried, and it usually doesn’t work. This time it worked.

The PM desperately needed rain as it became lower and clearer with each August summer day. We headed up for a family vacation to one of the many Michigan West coast beach towns, and rain storms arrived the following day.

It was too rainy to do anything outside, which meant it was time for my father-in-law and I to head to the river. Also, our family dog got to join in the fun to because he had no where else to go. We stopped at the PM Lodge where I hoped to pick up a few streamers before heading to the river.


I’m not sure how much fishing pressure there typically is for the section I went to, but we definitely were not alone. I hiked down past the first fisherman I came upon until I found a nice spot to wade in. I ended up tossing small streamers thinking there would be some smaller browns looking for food.

My dog was annoyed with me switching flies while I held him in a a dog carrier. Once again, not the ideal fly fishing setup.


I eventually switched over to a cone head leech pattern, and that is when the fish responded. A nice smaller brown took a swipe, and I figured I would try again.


Within a few minutes, a much bigger fish took a swipe. It was not a brown… There was a giant flash of chrome this time. Maybe a rainbow, but most likely a steelhead.


My leader was a well used 5x. I was not expecting the big fish, and I now realize I should have prepared better. I let the water rest for five minutes, and tossed the streamer back in the same hole. A huge swirl in the water, and the fish was on… for about 5 seconds. I went to set the hook and the line popped. I could feel the knot pop – either the knot at the fly, or the knot to the tippet. I pulled my line up, and the fly was gone.

I did not have any more action after that. The clouds started to clear and my window of opportunity was closing. I didn’t have any fish to hand that day, and I had turned my nice steamer into a new lip ring for a very nice fish. It was still an awesome adventure, and it was fun to move one of the bigger fish of my fishing life. Also, lesson learned once again that I need to be prepared for that big fish that could possibly show up when I least expect it.

I appreciate my wife

20 Reasons I appreciate my wife…

1. She sacrifices her time and energy for our family
2. She sacrifices her time and energy for our children’s future
3. She keeps our family on task, otherwise we would flounder
4. She keeps our life and our house organized
5. She likes to cuddle (especially in her pajamas)
6. She forgives my mistakes
7. She is my best friend
8. She plans awesome activities for us to make memories
9. She let’s me hug her even when she doesn’t want to hug
10. She prays with me
11. She thinks ahead, when I don’t
12. She loves her daughters
13. She loves me, even knowing my faults
14. She laughs at my jokes… sometimes
15. She is someone I can trust
16. She does more laundry than anyone I know
17. She sleeps on the couch with our sick children
18. She helps keep me strong when I am weak
19. She can read faster than anyone I know
20. She never quits



A short Fall fishing outing

I did not make it up to northern Michigan this Fall, and I am definitely missing autumn brook trout colors.

A friend invited me to explore a nearby park area, and I still ended up having some Fall fishing fun.

As I approached the pond above, a large snake skittered under the tall grass.  I am fairly sure it was a blue racer, and is probably the largest snake I have seen in my time in the Michigan outdoors.

After pulling a few small blue gills out of this pond, we headed to the river.

While I know there are no trout in this specific tributary, I was hoping that there might some type of fish that would be hungry. We ended up finding a couple pods of creek chubs, who eagerly chased a nymph and a dry. They may not be as majestic as the brookies, but I was happy to see some dry fly action before I have to put my fly rod away for the winter.

Maybe someday I will stumble onto some bigger fish in this river. I imagine there are probably some bigger fish hiding somewhere in this trib, but for today I am happy to be out on an amazing autumn day standing in the river waving a stick.

Granola Recipe

For years now, I have been using a modified version of the recipe I discovered from this web site:

This is some really good stuff. Here is my version of the above recipe.

4 cups rolled oats (aka old fashioned oats)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
7 tablespoons extra light olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup slivered almonds

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (You must use parchment paper, this stuff is like glue and will stick to the pan.)
3. Grab two large mixing bowls.
4. In first bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. (I use a microplane grater for fresh nutmeg. – )
5. In second bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla – until well mixed.
6. Pour the dry mixture into the honey mixture, and use a plastic or silicone mixing spatula to stir and coat the oats thoroughly.
7. Spread the mixture onto the parchment paper on the baking sheet, and then even out the mixture across the entire pan.
8. Bake in oven for 10 minutes.
9. Remove from oven, then stir (I use a spatula and flip and move the mixture around) and then even out mixture again.
10. Spread the slivered almonds across top of mixture.
11. Bake in oven for 10 more minutes.
12. Once again, remove from oven, stir, and and even out mixture again.
13. Bake for 10 minutes more.
14. Remove from oven and let cool before eating.





Healthy Shake for the New Year

I have been looking at various recipes floating around the Internet to come up with a great smoothie that incorporates greens (so that I can stay healthy for fishing season).

I discovered if you Google “smoothie cubes” you will find a variety of recipes that work well, but the one I have eventually settled on is a mixture of a few I have tried.

Morning Smoothie-Cubes

Tropical Fruits:
1/2 cup of diced pineapple (I buy frozen)
3 organic kiwi
1 mango diced mango (See Alton Brown’s description here:

Standard Fruit:
1/2 cup diced peaches, or apples or pears (out of season, I will buy the frozen).

The Greens:
1 bunch of greens. Somewhere between 1 and 2 cups.  I like Spinach and Kale.  Earthbound Organics sells pre-washed containers of green mixes too.

The Process:
Everything above goes into blender (Vitamix or Blendtec are made for this), and makes a big gooey green mixture.  This can be poured into ice cube trays (BPA Free ones) and then frozen to make Smoothie-Cubes.

You can then take out the smoothie cubes each morning for a morning smoothie.  I have found that two or three cubes, combined with one banana, and one cup of juice makes a great smoothie.  You can always toss in some walnuts too for some extra Omega-3 oils

Does this have a lot of sugar – Yep.  That probably isn’t great, but does this have a ton of nutrition, including all the plant-based pulp – Yep.


Fishing and Barakel 2016

2016 has been a year of change.  Ironically, change is a constant.  In the midst of change, fishing has taken a back seat on my list of priorities this past year.  My one and only fishing trip this year was during my trip up to the Fall Barakel Men’s retreat.

I was able to go streamer fishing all day on Friday with a guide named Steve Pels from Gates Lodge.  The weather was a little nasty, and seemed like a good day to toss streamers.

I started out the morning with a breakfast at Gates Lodge, overlooking the AuSable.

Gates Lodge Breakfast

We then headed over to the Trophy Water section, and put in the drift boat. The fish were showing up. They were not there too often, but they would turn on for a while, and shut down for a long while. Eventually, we had a couple takers.

Got one

What amazes me, is when a 10 to 12 inch fish will eat a streamer that is over half their body length.

Big streamer

With bird hunting season underway, it appears that the birds got smart and hid down by the water. Like this grouse who decided to hang out in a tree on the river.

ruffled grouse in the tree

Steve was a great guide. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to give us some tips and educate us on the art of streamer fishing. I would recommend him as a guide to anyone looking for a great day on the river.

Looking for the brown

On Saturday afternoon, I headed through some amazing fall colors to one of my favorite spots on the river.

Northern Michigan

The sun came out, and I thought I might just have a chance to catch one on a dry fly.

Fly fishing Michigan

The river was looking great, and fresh Fall air was crisp and clean.  I waited on a few holes and finally had a few risers.  My casts did not result in any fish, but they were still productive.  The end result was the best couple days of fishing all year.

Fly fishing Michigan

So, until we meet again AuSable.  Hopefully I will be back soon…

Fly Fishing Michigan

During the weekend at Camp Barakel, Tom Harmon brought a series of sermons regarding the Apostle Paul.  He described Paul’s upbringing as a Jew in the Roman culture, and explained how his eventual imprisonment that is outlined in Acts 23 was a very silent imprisonment, around a two year period where Paul seemed to be spiritually dry.  Harmon provided an opinion that Paul’s visit to Jerusalem in Acts 21 could have been Paul slipping back into the Jewish religious customs that Paul grew up within, and until Paul was recommitted to going out to the Gentiles (his true calling) there was no spiritual movement in his life again until his journey restarts in Acts 27.  The point I took away was that sometimes you have to let go of the things of your past to move forward.  It was a powerful series of messages, and I am grateful for this awesome weekend that refreshed mind, body, and soul.