New Product Category Notice: Rescue and Safety

If you’ve been visiting our website (www.AustinKayak.com) over the last several years, you may have noticed an evolution of how we organize our products. The reason behind this is simply focused on your shopping experience. We continually strive to provide an easier more convenient path to the products you are looking for specifically in how we categorize our online catalog. Our most recent addition is the “Rescue and Safety” category. Outdoor sports are generally safe but we want our customer to be prepared in any emergency. Click here to check it out! Roland @ACK

 

Hi, I’m Joseph…

I recently joined the ACK team this January and wanted to introduce myself along with some of the projects I have already started working on. First off, I’m a native Austinite and take pride in that fact. Although I don’t always have the time for it lately, I used to take advantage of the Texas weather year round — whether it be riding the trails at Walnut Creek, camping at Enchanted Rock, or night kayaking with friends on Lady Bird Lake. Heck, I didn’t even get my driver’s license until I was 19 just because I rode my bike everywhere! Anyway, that all changed when I moved to Iowa to go to school at Cornell College, but after a long and cold four years I’m back and trying to get into the swing of things again. I’m excited to be part of a company that helps people experience the Texas outdoors!

I’ve already gotten to work on some cool projects including the 2012 Kayak Anglers Tournament Series (which you should check out if you are interested in kayak fishing), our blog, the boat shows and most recently a project to add downloadable installation guides for some of our more technical products. The idea behind everything so far has been to find ways to provide a better customer experience. So I thought I’d end this post by asking to see if you have any suggestions on more ways we could improve your experience as a customer, different content you might like to see featured on our blog, events we might be able to get involved with and anything else you might want to share. Just comment below!

Werner Paddles Expansion to Facilitate Better Customer Service, Bigger Orders

We are proud to be a Werner Paddles retailer. Werner Paddles recently expanded their operation to include a new shipping facility and warehouse. With the investment in new infrastructure, Werner has doubled their paddle storage space, increased their ability to stage orders and will be better equipped to provide increased customer service to their dealers — like us.  The transition, they say, has been seamless.

ACK strives to provide its customers with the best products and customer service available. While we try our best to keep all of our products in stock for quick delivery, we also have to rely on our suppliers to fulfill their end of the deal. It is great to see this sort of commitment coming from our suppliers!  If you want to read more regarding Werner’s expansion, click here to read the complete press release.

Belton Boat Show Report

ACK's Booth @ the Belton Boat Show

The Belton boat show may have come and gone but it certainly left a lasting impression on me — it should be called the “Belton Boat and Fishing show”. While all boat shows cater to attendees with an in interest in fishing the folks at this show view it as a way of life. The result was a weekend full of conversation about kayak fishing and the benefits of using a kayak over a powerboat. I don’t want to get into that debate here but we certainly made our case! Even though we had many beautiful and enticing boats engulfing us on the show floor, attendees flocked to our booth with many questions.

We had a great time at the show, made many new friends and customers and thanks all those that dropped by just to say hello. If you missed it, we are currently exhibiting at the Houston Boat Show through January 15th. Here is a short video highlighting what you can expect to see there. – Roland @ACK

Traffic Getting You Down?

Frustrated with your morning commute? You might take inspiration from Theo Maryeski, who decided over six years ago that he couldn’t handle the stress of driving. Instead, he employs a number of alternative methods of transportation to get to work. One such method — kayaking. Check out the video to see for yourself! Thanks to TheDay.com for the cool article! Let us know if you have unique ways of involving kayaking into your lifestyle by commenting below!

In the News: College Kid Paddles Home for Christmas

As seen in the Cape Coral Daily Breeze

20 year old Nathan Jangraw, a senior at West Florida University, decided to partake in an 18 day commute to his home for the Christmas break. According to a report by the Cape Coral Daily Breeze, he traveled about 20 miles a day before finding shelter each night. Aside from a few issues with winds and the tides, he stated that he really didn’t run into any serious problems. Kudos to Nathan for taking on such a challenge! Check out the full article here. Thanks to @PaddlingFan for the tip on this one!

Jack’s First Fish

Many of our readers will appreciate this since many are Kayak fisherman, it is a natural fit since the Kayak can get you to places that walking and/or motor boating cannot.  My son, Jack (4), caught his first fish this past weekend.  While I would love to say that my son’s first fish was caught out of a kayak I would be lying (and the picture would prove that), instead we stuck to land casting and much to my amazement he caught a fish on his first cast reel in.  I am not stretching the truth here, other than me doing the actual cast he reeled this bad boy in himself along with what I would call a shoreline sleigh ride for the fish.  You will notice a bit of fear, his cousin told him “Catfish are mean and will sting you”.  That was enough to keep him far away, even so much that when I caught a small large mouth bass he was still focused on the catfish and wouldn’t go near the bass.

Peter @ ACK

Dutch Oven Cooking – Getting Started

Biscuits, just a few simple ingredients is all it takes, but how you bake them will make a world of a difference. If you have yet to experience the warm, buttery taste of biscuits cooked in a Dutch oven after a long day of paddling or hiking, you seriously need to add it to your top ten lists of things to do this year. To my personal delight, I was thrilled to find out that we were going to start selling Lodge Cast Iron Cookware and was first to pick up a copy of “Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101”. That said, I thought I would share some of my research and readings based on the same questions I used to have.

Typical Dutch Oven Design

So what’s a Dutch oven anyway?
People often get confused because they look more like pots but a few design elements give way to their name. They are made of iron and consist of a tight fitting flanged lid and bottom legs, which allow a fire source to be under and over the pot contributing to more of a “baking” effect. The oven is placed directly over a hot bead of coals and concurrently coals are placed on the lid.

What gives it such a unique flavor?
Several things actually. Camp cooking always seems to result in some amazing food partially due to being extremely hungry after a long day of hiking and paddling but much credit needs to be given to a Dutch oven’s seasoning. That is the preparation and long-term use of your oven with essential oils. One self proclaimed camp cook expert once told me that the older your oven, the better your food will taste due to years of flavors and natural oils being absorbed into the inside of your Dutch oven. Of course, while you can cook fast and hot, much of it is also a result of slow cooking similar to that of what you may experience when using a crock-pot.

Speaking of seasoning, what’s that all about?
Unlike most pots and pans, Dutch ovens need to be seasoned prior to their first use and as maintenance. Seasoning simply means coating your oven with a layer of oil or grease to keep your food from sticking, your oven from rusting and ultimately contributes to a unique flavor. Most ovens, including Lodge Cast Iron come pre-seasoned but if you don’t care for your oven or rarely use it, you may have to periodically re-season it. To properly season your oven, follow the manufactures recommended procedures or search online, you’ll find a ton of how-to’s.

Camp Chili (Image source: Lodge Logic)

How do I cook?
You’ll need to either dig a shallow hole or use a protected fire ring or pit to cook in. The idea is to keep the oven protected from cold and winds. Charcoals briquettes are the easiest to use due to their consistent size. You’ll simply heat up coals (always have extra coals ready to use) and place an even layer under the oven and top of the lid. Most Dutch oven cooking is done at 350 degrees but this will vary depending on what you are cooking. Lodge Cast Iron recommends that you calculate the number of coals by doubling the the of oven diameter. For instance, for a 12” oven you will use 24 coals. However, always use two-thirds on the top of the lid, since heat rises you will need more to keep heat coming from the top. Additionally, too much heat on the bottom of the oven can cause your food to burn.

What can I cook?
You name it, you can do it. I personally prefer hearty meals such as stews, roasts and chili for dinner and a variety of egg dishes for breakfast. I can’t go without biscuits or cornbread but my all time favorites are cobblers. I mean WOW, you’ve never eaten cobbler until you’ve tried one from a Dutch oven. Seriously, hooked for life! Wish we had space for recipes but here is a link with a few you can start with. “Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101” also offers a variety of simple recipes too.

How do I clean and store it?
Unlike conventional pots and pans, you DON’T use soap when cleaning your Dutch oven. You’ll need to clean with hot water and a stiff brush. Once cleaned, dry thoroughly with a towel and immediately wipe a light coat of cooking spray or vegetable oil on all interior and exterior surfaces. Store in a cool and dry place with folded paper towels inside and between the lid and the oven to allow air to circulate.

Now that’s a pretty high level overview. There are so many different sizes and types of ovens, and accessories available are plentiful. I recommend you purchase a book or spend some time online researching cooking methods and recipes, but beware, don’t do any of this while hungry!

Do you do any Dutch oven cooking? Share your experiences, tips and recipes below!

Happy “Dutch” oven cooking!

Roland @ACK

Getting to Know Us: Joe Provil, Associate Buyer

I joined the team back in June of 2011 and have since been working behind the scenes as an Associate Buyer. I moved to Austin from Omaha, Nebraska to take this job and it’s been a fantastic change. While this past summer proved to be the hottest and driest on record for central Texas, the experience of working with everyone here at ACK has been cool.

I graduated from Bellevue University with a Bachelors Degree in Business Management and I’ve worked as a buyer in several industries over the past seven years. I’m a musician in my personal time having played guitar for the past 20 years, which paired well with the Austin music scene. It’s a great place to catch a live show and meet other musicians to play with.

I’m actually new to paddle sports, mainly because water is somewhat limited in Nebraska but the staff here are knowledgeable and helpful and their input has been essential in my first kayaking experiences.

Part of my job is to understand our customer’s needs and wants so if you ever have a new product recommendation, don’t hesitate to contact me (just be sure to mention my name in the email).

Here’s to a great 2012 with ACK and I look forward to hearing from you!

Joe @ACK