Archive for June, 2010

What’s Cookin’? Spring and Early Summer

June 29th, 2010

We’ve been doing a lot of cooking around here recently.  I’ve been relying on old standards such as The Pioneer Woman, Joy the BakerSmitten Kitchen,  Williams Sonoma, and, of course, Martha.  Tom’s been doing some cooking too!  Well, he mostly just cooks one thing.  Pizza. But man, does he cook pizza!  Seriously folks, I’m spoiled for life because of this man.  Here’s a peek at some of the delicious things that have been coming out of our kitchen…

 

In order from left to right, Chocolate Dipped Macaroons, (which I whipped too much and they turned out like meringues, which was NOT a bad thing), Blueberry Crumb Bars, and Two Chocolate Endpaper Tart, (ah, Martha). 

 

 

Fresh Veggie Soft Tacos, (with greens from our garden), pizza makings, (we LOVE prosciutto), Caramelized Onion Red Pepper Prosciutto Pizza, and Caramelized Onion Prosciutto Pizza.  Oh my, if you like pizza, you need  to make that last one.  Did I mention that we like pizza?   And cured meat products apparently, (sorry vegan friends). 

Since it is now summer time, and our garden and farmer’s markets are in full swing, expect more food posts to involve local food!  Yay!

Summer Camp For Grownups

June 24th, 2010

Last week, Mom and I set off for southern Utah.  That’s right, we went to the desert in the summer.  We were bound for Red Mountain Spa, a “fitness spa”, where we could basically play all day, meet nice and interesting people, and eat delicious food.  It was sweet.  And really hot.  But pretty much just sweet.  I arrived on Wednesday on a harrowing flight from Salt Lake where things were flying around INSIDE the plane, and I was failing miserably to stave off a panic attack.  “Don’t worry, it’s like this all the time”, assures the stewardess, which really makes me question her sanity.  But anyway, after finally arriving alive in St. George, I was greeted by a very nice man, and toted back to the spa with another guest, T, who would become one of our buddies for the week. 

 

Red Mountain is incredible.  It’s rust colored buildings blend in nicely with the red, browns, oranges and yellows of the surrounding desert landscape.  The resort its self backs up to Snow Canyon State Park, nestled within  soaring red rock outcroppings.  Gorgeous.  Around the resort, there are many species of native desert plants, (and some not so native, but pretty, so it’s ok), including the barrel cactus, which I had never seen before, but was very cool.  And spiky.  I had borrowed the 100mm Canon lens from friends back home and had a blast taking macro shots of all the interesting plants on the property. 

 

 

Every day is busy and full at the spa, but only as busy and full as you want it to be.  We began every morning with the guided hiking tours led by Jack and Jill, (yes, I’m serious).  Now, if you read this blog, you know that I hike a fair bit, and while I’m not in the shape I’d like to be right now, I still feel like I know what I’m doing in a pair of boots.  These hikes, especially the one where we went straight up the rock face, had me huffing.  I could give the litany of excuses: it was hot, there were no switchbacks, there was no shade, IT WAS HOT!  Honestly, though all of these things are true, and do have a real impact on performance, I think I just need to work out more.  So.  More cardio on the horizon.  Truly though, I loved the morning hikes.  They were my favorite part of the trip, especially since I got to hike with Mom!

 

 

We would arrive back from the hikes around 10, since the sun gets so intense after that.  There were any number of activities we could chose to do then, yoga, stretch, water aerobics, etc.  Each day, however, we went to cooking class!  Sous Chef Mike taught these one hour classes, and they were different every day.  We learned about different types of grains, green smoothies, drank Mormon Tea, and generally sat in awe of his awesome knife skills.  Seriously, I’m jealous.  I want to wield a knife like that.  Our places had little name tags for us every day too, making us feel very important.  Later in the week, I “worked” with Sous Chef Mike in the real kitchen when I was “Chef For the Day”.  Very cool. I sliced, (not as well as Sous Chef Mike), and diced and worked the GIANT immersion blender to puree soups.  It was rad.  I got to keep my chef’s coat.  It makes me feel special. 

 

 

Cooking class was followed by lunch, which was served buffet style.  We learned to eat cold soup, and Mom learned about hummus and flat bread.  What a wonderful thing.  We were also often joined by some of the friends we made, L, T, or B.  They couldn’t be more different from each other, but all are fabulous women, whom I hope to keep in touch with out here in the “real world”.  After lunch, we would either go to another fittness class, or take some lounge time by the pool, or ride our bikes up some killer hill in the gazillion degree heat to the local hippie-artist-coffee shop community, or get complementary makeovers.  We did all of those things.  The fittness and biking were hard, the lounging and makeovering were not.  Both were wonderful and left smiles on our, sometimes sweat streaked, faces.

   

In the evenings, it would cool off, and we would walk, or bike, to dinner, again often joined by friends.  We often sat at the “Community Table”, where anyone can join, or we created our own.  Mom and I are social creatures, and will talk to anyone.  This is how we make friends.   Dinner was usually a drawn out affair, with everyone sharing what they did that day, and planning for trips, classes and excursions for the next day.  Sometimes dinner was followed by something fun like Outdoor Yoga, a photography class, or Texas Hold ‘em.  Mom won of course, though she didn’t even know she was holding a straight. 

 

 

We had a wonderful time at Red Mountain.  It was great getting to reconnect with Mom, and meet lots of new and interesting people. I’d love to go back with Mom, or girlfriends.  It’s a beautiful place.

Backpacking to Eightmile Lake

June 13th, 2010

The sun came out!  School is out!  Classes are over for the quarter!  Did I mention the sun came out? Spring has been hanging on with both hands out here, but the gray skies finally cleared for a few days this weekend, so Tom, B, E and Little Baby S ventured out for the first backpack of the season.  We headed up to Eightmile Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness near the “Bavarian Village” of Leavenworth.  We wanted an “easy” trail to start with , because I, unlike Tom, have not been doing so much hiking recently.  I’ve mostly been eating, drinking, stressing out and not sleeping.  This does not equal optimal hiking shape.  I’m working on remedying this situation. 

We started a little late because Tom and I had gone out to see The Paperboys at the Tractor the night before, and decided to sleep in.  We hit the trail in the early afternoon, and man was it WARM!  Almost HOT even!  What a change!  My weak Seattle blood had a hard time with this, and I was quickly chugging water.  The trail is in great shape, and climbs steeply at first, but levels off after about a mile when you enter the wilderness boundary. Unfortunately, we saw several people blatantly disregarding the “no dogs” signs, which was disappointing. 

 

After a little more climbing, and even more sweating and water chugging on my part, we took a break at Little Eightmile Lake.  Little Baby S was totally fascinated by the moss on the tree and wanted to touch and eat it all.  The trail winds through boulder choked fields, and cool forests where the scent of sun-baked pine surrounded us.   

 

We made the final push up to Eightmile Lake, and found an amazing campsite right near the lake.  It had a sloping section of rock that lead out from the shaded campsite and we whiled away the rest of the afternoon and evening lounging in the lingering sun by the lake.  Across the lake from us was Eightmile Peak, (really original names going on here), which is still snow-covered.   Tom and B took a quick dip in the bracingly cold lake, while E and I decided we’d be content to simply rinse off.  There was a minute when E needed to do something quickly and handed Little S to Tom.  They had some bonding time, and Little S quickly discovered that pulling on Tom’s beard made a fabulous toy to pull on. (This is for you, Mom)

   

 After a yummy dinner, (freeze dried food never tasted so good), we set up camp, read a bit and headed to bed.  Luckily it wasn’t too cold, and we all slept well, even Little S!  The next morning, we enjoyed a tasty breakfast of not-too-stale lemon and cherry cake-bread.  NOM.  On our way out, we were able to get some nice views of Mount Stuart and some beautiful wildflowers that I’d not really appreciated on the way up, due to all the huffing, puffing and water chugging. 

 

It was a beautiful hike and it was wonderful to be there with friends.  I feel like summer is finally coming, with lots of new adventures to enjoy!

10 Years Ago

June 1st, 2010

Ten years ago:

Clinton was president.  Sepetember 11th was just the day after September 10th.  We survived the Y2K panic.  National unemployment was 4%.  American Beauty won Best Picture at the Oscars.   I lived in Virginia.  I was 17.  And I graduated from high school.  Dad was there too, along with the rest of my family.

And now I’m headed back.  Though it’s Virginia, not Dodge.  Headed back to 95 degree heat, Republicans, the James River, southern accents and white linen pants.  Yes, indeed, it’s my 10 year reunion y’all.  A time for folks to compare designer purses, talk about your 2.5 kids and try to look as skinny as possible.  Personally, I’m hoping for just the last one.  Though with the heat, I may just sweat off a few extra pounds before the reuion starts.

This 10 year thing has made me feel oddly introspective recently.  I wondered, what would my life look like in the snapshot form that often is used to describe one’s life at events such as these.  Here’s what I came up with:

 ”Oh yes, I’m recently married.  My husband and I live in a rich, suburban neighborhood.  I’m a teacher and he works in the software industry.  Look at my shiny new SUV and my huge diamond ring.  Isn’t my life awesome?  “

Oh yuck. Oh gag.  OH horrible sterotype we never wanted to be!  But as I started to panic about becoming a founding member of the Real Housewives of Seattle club,  and needing to find defences to all of these things whether for myself or for others, I took a moment to think about the depth, the real life, and the love that shape all of those statements above.

“Oh yes, I’m recently married, and he works in the software industry” – To my best friend, the man of my dreams, the one who I wouldn’t care if he worked at Wendy’s and lived in a van down by the river, I wouldn’t have anyone else. 

My husband and I live in rich, suburban neighborhood” - We live in a house which we affectionatly call the Dr. Seuss house because it’s so weird, funky, and quirky.  It used to have purple shutters ok?  Our neighborhood is also wildly diverse (as is most of Seattle); in fact we can walk to 6 different ethnic restaurants.

I’m a teacher” – At a bilingual school.  Where I get to practice French every day. 

Look at my huge diamond ring” – That was my husband’s great-grandmothers.  The diamond is set in a band that that same husband designed himself.  Did I mention he rocks?

“And  my shiny new SUV” – OK, so it is pretty sweet.  But it also has 4 wheel drive to take us to the mountains where we pretty much spend all of our free time. 

 

Isn’t my life awesome?” -  YOU BET YOUR ASS IT IS.