Posts Tagged With: fishing

Weekly Recipe: Halibut on Foil with Butter and Garlic topped with Fresh Parmesan Cheese (Cheese is optional)

Ken with two keeper halibut

Ken with two keeper halibut

Halibut on Foil with Butter and Garlic topped with Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese (cheese is optional):

In Baja, besides motorcycling, there is the fishing and believe me it’s world class. Both coasts, the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez, offer year round fishing with literally hundreds of different species to catch.

But if you find yourself in the estuaries of the Pacific, get yourself over the shelf of a sloping sandbar in about eleven feet of water, and you can catch halibut almost any time of the year. Some months are better than others but fresh halibut is our favorite. These are California Halibut and keepers for us weigh around 6 pounds but can grow up to 35.

Our dear friends, Tom and Candy Lanza, created this dish years ago. And we stole it without shame! My wife, Tammy, has made this recipe a tradition in our family. You can cook these delicate filets in a pit filled with coals on a lonely beach or in a BBQ on your back patio back in civilization.

Out of all the ways to cook this divine fish, we feel this is the tastiest and the easiest method after a long day out adventuring, especially down in Playa de Estero, where the halibut are plentiful.

Serving size:

 Depending on size of the halibut, 1 to 1 ½ fillets per person. Left overs will not go to waste!

 Ingredients:

A couple of sheets of aluminum foil

Fresh halibut filets (1 ½ per person)

Garlic salt to taste

1 stick of real butter

Fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Method:

Filet a fresh Halibut and put on plate

Pat down the Halibut with paper towels, put back in frig or ice chest to keep chilled

Heat up BBQ (charcoal or gas) to piping hot but leave the top open or off (closing the lid will end with poached fish not crispy)

Lay out aluminum foil with the edges turned up to catch and hold the butter (double layer of foil recommended)

Smear a half of a stick of real butter on the foil and be careful not to poke holes in it

Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt on the butter and foil

When the butter is bubbling, lay the filets of halibut on the foil

When the edges of the fillets start to whiten and less pink is visible, gently flip the fillets, smearing more butter on the foil to prevent sticking

(Optional) – Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese

Cook until flaky and white, no visible pink in the center… poke with spatula edge, the fillet should bounce back when done

Fresh Halibut

Ready to come off the grill!

When you taste this delicacy you know you are living well and so go forth!

Serve with rice and beans or rice and fresh steamed green beans or just by itself!

Life is very good.

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We should’ve Gone to Costa Rica – Lessons from the Road

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Fritz Hoffmeister and two halibut – Playa de Estero, Baja Norte, Mx

About this time every year, I like to retell a story about my best friend, Fritz.

It has been several years ago since he passed. But, like with all those we love who pass, it seems like just yesterday. He left, but not before he taught me one last lesson.

Fritz was a big, larger than life man who lived life to the fullest. I have often said, it is harder to find a good fishing buddy than it is, a good wife. And, Fritz was the best fishing buddy I ever had.

He was a man of many contradictions. He lived modestly, but was a millionaire. He was a tall Viking, but was the softest touch I ever met. He was the most successful contractor in our valley. He was a man’s man, and my friend.

Now, to the story. We were planning a fishing adventure down to Costa Rica. The motos were ready, the packing was done, and the dates were set. It was all we talked about for months. I poured over every route and studied all the possible tide charts and camping areas along the way.

I thought the day we would leave would never come. Finally,  the day of our departure was near. I was so excited that my friends were tired of hearing about our plans.

But a few days before we were actually scheduled to head out, Fritz called me, and said he could not make it. He said that a job had come up that he could not pass up. I was livid and we argued. He said he had doubled his bid but still got the project. He paused and said, “Kenny. We can always go next year.”

I postponed Costa Rica and left on a long moto trip that stretched into months. We didn’t talk much during the time as I was traveling to the white spots on the map where there was no connectivity. I was unplugged. When I finally got back, there were several messages on the phone from Fritz’s daughter that said my friend was ill and I should come right away to see him.

Fritz had contracted cancer. What he had thought was a bad virus before I left had turned out to be lung cancer. Immediately, I went to see him.

He was frail and ill. He was weak and barely had the strength to speak above a whisper. We talked long into the evening. He weakly laughed, as we recalled all the adventures we had been on and all the great times we had had.

I looked around his richly appointed house where we had spent so many evenings planning our adventures and realized all his stuff and money did not really count for much, now. All we were talking about were the good times and adventures we had shared.

As though he had read my mind, he squeezed my hand firmly, eyes welling up, and said, “Kenny, we should have gone to Costa Rica.”

My friend, Fritz, died the next day.

 

 

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We Don’t Own Things–Things Own Us! – Weekly Lessons from the Road

Ready to head out for a three month adventure in Baja.

Ready to head out for a three month adventure in Baja.

It is always the same every time I get ready for an adventure. I get so wrapped up in the planning and packing that I’m exhausted by the time I throw my leg over the motorcycle and twist the throttle. And what is craziest about all this is I always pack too much which is half the reason I’m tired in the first place. I realize it is not the effort of packing but how all that stuff weighs on the mind.

I learned from many past adventures, that, except for emergency gear, if you haven’t used it in first three days you don’t need it. So I pack it up and send it home at the first chance I get. This makes for better traveling; as packing and unpacking gear is faster and less cumbersome when setting up and breaking down camp and its just plain easier to find where I stashed something on the motorcycle. Life on the road becomes less cluttered.

So, while it is easier for me now days to get ready for an adventure, I still pack more than I need. And really, I’m down to one pair cargo pants that make into shorts, two pairs of underwear, one Jetbol to cook in–you get the picture.

I have slowly grown into to a minimalist on the road. But what I’m noticing is that this philosophy has carried over into my life off the road. After several months out, I return needing less, and more, importantly, wanting less.

To paraphrase Thoreau, we don’t own things–things own us.

Have any of you found this to be true? Or is it just me?

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New book review of The Baja Catch in the Book section

The Baja Catch, Neil Kelly and Gene Kira

The Baja Catch, Neil Kelly and Gene Kira

Visit the book section of this blog. I have a new review of The Baja Catch by Neil Kelly and Gene Kira. Books.

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Fresh Yellowtail! Bahia de Los Angeles

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Running out to the islands in Bahia

Just click on the picture to get “that Baja feeling!” We’re still looking for those heads on sticks. 

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Whale Shark – Bahia de Los Angeles

I’ve been going down the peninsula of Baja for years and have yet to find those heads on sticks. Search as we may, this is all we found last trip.

A whale shark off the beach near our home at Campo Gecko, Bahia de Los angeles.

When you are in the water with them you realize how gentle these 50 foot creatures really are and how ill equipped and ungraceful we humans are in the water.

Here’s a YouTube link to this magic:

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Hecho en Mexico! – Lessons from the Road

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Many years ago while traveling in the backcountry of Baja I learned an important lesson that I have carried with me ever since.

Several of us were on a fishing adventure slowly making our way down the old Mexican 1 which serpentines it’s way along the backbone of this wild peninsula. We were in the middle of one of the loneness and driest places on earth, the Vizcaino Desert, when I felt a hard jolt followed by a loud clanging. My jeep coasted to a halt next to a large Boogun tree, engine still running. My son, Sam, ran up the dusty road and retrieved the driveshaft. It is amazing at how quiet and empty the desert can feel when you are broken down in the middle of it.

After a little trouble-shooting we figured that we could limp back to the village of Catavina some miles away by engaging the 4WD, which still transferred power to the front wheels. And so we began a long and tedious trek back to that little pueblo.

Upon arriving, we searched for a mechanic to help us. Actually, this place had more abandoned dwellings than occupied. But as luck would have it we found a guy who had ran out of money and was stranded there waiting for an opportunity to continue his journey North and he was a mechanic—only in Mexico.

Julio examined the shaft by rolling it on the crumbling pavement of an old abandoned gas station to check its trueness. I remember looking at a peeling mural of a map of the peninsula with a star marking our location. We were a long ways from home. The station had shut down years before for lack of traffic. Since its closure, the only fuel available was gotten from fifty-gallon drums strained through a chamois. My attention went back to Julio, who was shaking his head while examining the broken strap. We would not be traveling far without a new one.

I began to worry when he shaded his eyes from the intense Baja sun and scanned the surrounding desert. Without a word, he abruptly left us and carefully picked his way through the cacti toward a line of wrecked vehicles. I watched him disappear underneath a rusting Chevy pickup with a cholla growing up through its missing hood.

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Upon returning, he told me he needed 80 pesos to pay the man who “owned” it. Sensing I did not understand, he explained that he would have to salvage the pin bearings from it and further he would need to buy a strap from another “owner” of an old Ford rusting on the other side of the road. He smiled sweeping his arms across the desert encompassing at least thirty old, rusting vehicles and said, “This is my parts department.” The parts he needed would need to be salvaged off these abandoned wrecks.

Without any further discussion, he began to work. Using the tools we always carried on these adventures and an old rickety jack, he worked for a couple hours in the sweltering heat. First, he replaced each pin bearing one by one and than slowly jacked the shaft back up in place using a cradle he had made from pieces of wood he had sent the village children out to gather from along side the road.

By now, we had attracted most of the villagers; us being the best entertainment in town. I remember my friend, Fritz, teaching the game of chess from the tailgate of his pickup.

I asked Julio at one point how he was going to balance the shaft so it would spin true when reconnected to the engine. He smiled as he propped one end on a rock and took a small hand sledge and carefully lifted it a few inches above and struck it. He did this a couple of times more with care and precision. When he finished, he proudly said, “Hecho en Mexico!” Made in Mexico!

I paid Julio less than a hundred dollars for the whole job, which got him on his way and us as well. We continued our journey south to explore many bays and beaches without names that fueled countless campfire stories to this day. Years later, I passed that jeep on to my son and it still runs and has never needed any modifications to Julio’s repairs.

When you leave the frontiers and venture down the back roads of Baja there is no Auto Club to call, no machine shops, no dealerships, or Auto Zones to stop at. You only have yourself and the kindness of strangers. These strangers, the locals, are geniuses at making do with what they have. They live by the adage that necessity is the mother of all invention. It is what surely attracts me to these lonely places over and over.

When not writing and adventuring on my moto, I work as an educational consultant here in California. Doing that work in these times is not much different. We are bombarded with an endless stream of regulations and directives from the state and federal government that cost large sums of money to implement while we are asked to do it with less.

We find ourselves spending more and more time out of classrooms meeting the needs of outside bureaucrats who claim to have all of the answers. But when all is said and done, the solutions are in the talent we have all around us. The secret to our success is the same as Julio’s; use our own talent and ingenuity to solve the problem.

We need to invest in ourselves for a change. This of course, will not make the test making companies, “consultants,” textbook publishers, software designers and outside trainers very happy in their quest for billions of our tax dollars.

But in my experience, a good teacher who makes positive connections with children will out perform any program, any time. That is were I have always put my money because I am used to betting on winners.

 

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Only in Brazil! – Weekly Lessons from the Road

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Only in Brazil

There are moments in our lives that define our character. Very often at the time they are happening we do not even realize it— but they do just the same. Recently, while riding across the Vizcaíno Desert in Baja on my motorcycle I remembered one of those moments that put last year into perspective.

Many years ago, I was a wild animal trainer on a movie in Brazil were I was responsible for the training of several jaguars. We had been working on this movie for over a year shooting mostly in the jungle. We shot at 55 different locations. Part of my job was to scout locations that would work for the animal scenes. This was demanding and dangerous work being that we were a long way from home and many times found ourselves in situations that we would just have to say, “Only in Brazil.”

The director, John Boorman, was brilliant but demanding. Clearly, he was a person used to getting his own way. At one point he directed us to find a location with a waterfall that would serve as a backdrop for a jaguar scene. We searched for days hiking further and further up a river, deeper into the jungle. Finally, after trekking miles, we found the perfect spot. It was a spectacular series of small waterfalls stepping down into a series of deep azure pools; each filling the next until reaching a huge pool that mirrored the surrounding jungle. The river’s mist filled the clearing with competing rainbows. But it was the rocks that were the most stunning. They were pure white except for patches of emerald green moss. It was pristine, magical.

I approached some Indians who were laundering their clothes at the edge of the pond. They laughed and gossiped loudly as they slapped their wet linens on the rocks. Through our interpreter, GuGu, they told us the place was called Piedra Blanca, the same as their village and they had lived near these falls for generations.

After showing the location to Mr. Boorman, we arranged for a meeting with their chief. The director explained that he wanted to use the falls and all the area around the pond for a movie. They did not know how movies were made and this took some time to get across. Further, he wanted to pay for the privilege to use the area. This became even more confusing as they did not have a concept of private ownership of land. But it was clear they understood the concept of money when a large bundle of Cruzados were produced. The chief slyly took them looking around confused.

Now at this point it became really confusing when Boorman explained that he wanted guards placed around the whole area and that no one was to use it as he did not want anyone marring the rocks or moss. But when more Cruzados were produced they quickly took them looking from one another bewildered. As we were leaving we saw the chief’s sons hastily clearing the laundry area. Boorman’s parting words emphasized that no one was to use the area until we returned.

We left a few days later for our next location several hundred miles away. As the year passed the film crew, from time to time, sent someone down to check on the falls and always it was guarded and as pristine as when we first found it.

We worked, moving often as the time went by but still we had not returned. At some point, I realized that we would never get back for that shot and month later we left for England.

Years later I was working on another film at Pinewood studios and ran into the associate producer of the film who had been with me when we found the falls. I asked him what he thought. He laughed and said that was how legends were born. He paused and said, “Only in Brazil.”

I often wonder about that place and those people. I wonder if they are still guarding it, waiting for our return. I wonder if generations will be guarding it waiting for the return of the strange outsiders with the big bag of money. I wonder about many things.

Very often we can find ourselves in situations where we are preforming tasks that make about as much sense as guarding those falls. When you find yourself in such a situation get out as quickly as you can. If you have the courage to do that—you, too, can have the luxury of saying “Only in Brazil” or, only in any place like it.

That’s what I did.

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Welcome to my blog, Baja Moto Quest!

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My name is Ken Decroo. I am a writer and an adventurer, and I’ve been wandering the Baja Peninsula for over 50 years. I keep coming back to this land and its people as though she were a mistress–she has the unique ability of reclaiming herself and keeping the core of her character, and she has been a centering, constant support for me in this high-speed, plugged-in world. It is where I write. More at Welcome!

My latest novel is Almost Human. It is available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Autographed copies of Almost Human can be purchased directly by clicking the buy button below.

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