Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Thanks, Christine, for the great photo and memories!
Monday, September 29, 2008
Eleven of us went away for the weekend, spending a fun and relaxing couple days at my grandparents' beach house in Oceanside. We did LOTS of eating, including the most amazing cheese potluck, complete with homemade bread, fruit from our community garden and fresh salsa.
I think every plate, bowl, pan and small appliance in my grandparents' kitchen was used at one time or another throughout the weekend! I awoke each morning to the smell of something magnificent baking in the oven. We stayed up past 1 a.m. Saturday playing Scategories and doing puzzles. We read, walked on the beach, napped, sunned, talked, laughed. We watched "Becoming Jane". We saw ourselves on TV! We cleaned up with Alison Krauss blasting on the stereo. We attended the Saturday evening service at the Oceanside Chapel and heard about peace and rest from Jesus.
We hit the Tillamook cheese factory on the way home and enjoyed our treats in the unseasonably warm outdoors. Then we took a little yoga break:
Some of us also hit the Blue Heron cheese factory and met this guy:
We're already planning our next no-men-no-kids weekend! Next time we won't plan as many meals and we will have hymns picked out for the church service! Can't wait :)
Friday, September 26, 2008
It was cheap and easy... and I thought it was really yummy! I ate the last of it for lunch today. I'd recommend this for sure :)
I used a hunk of deli turkey ham instead of the hocks. Then to compensate for the lack of ham-hock flavor in the broth, I added some bouillon. Using chicken broth instead of water would have done the same thing. I made a big batch Tuesday night, so it sat and meddled until Thursday.
- 1 cup dry navy beans
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds meaty smoked pork hocks or one 1- to 1 1/2-pounds meaty ham bone
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
- 1-1/2 cups sliced celery (3 stalks)
- 1-1/2 cups chopped onion (3 medium)
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
- 1/2 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and black pepper
1. Rinse beans. In a 4-quart Dutch oven combine beans and 4 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. (Or, place beans in water in Dutch oven. Cover and let soak in a cool place for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.) Drain and rinse beans; set aside.
2. In the same Dutch oven brown pork hocks on all sides in hot butter over medium heat. Add celery and onion to Dutch oven. Cook and stir until softened. Stir in beans, thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and 4 cups fresh water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until beans are tender. Remove pork hocks. When cool enough to handle, cut meat off bones; coarsely chop meat. Discard bones and bay leaf. Slightly mash beans in saucepan.
3. Stir in chopped meat; heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Makes 5 servings (8 cups)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I don't usually make cakes -- cookies are harder to screw up. And I know that my baking-by-the-seat-of-my-pants style doesn't work so well with delicate cakes. So I followed the recipe carefully. (Though I went light on the cinnamon because it's not my favorite flavor) I used pears picked from our garden. I have a springform pan but I've never used it. I was scared, so I stuck with the 9x9x2 option.
The recipe came together without much trouble. But part way through the process I realized I had FIVE different bowls going... topping, nut mixture, pears, dry ingredients, wet stuff. Being more into the one-bowl projects, I thought that was a bit crazy.
Unfortunately, the cake was such a hit that I didn't get a photo before it was just crumbs in the bottom of my pan! I guess I shouldn't complain about such a problem :)
So the recipe wasn't hard... just more involved than I'm used to. And it was very flavorful and moist. If you have the patience to work through it, I would say it's fairly foolproof. I give it a big thumbs up (as do my awesome friends who tasted my experiment!)
- 1 cup broken walnuts
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 medium pears, peeled, cored, and sliced (about 2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
- 1/2 cup broken walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan or 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Combine the 1 cup nuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon. For topping, cut the 1/4 cup butter into 1/3 cup flour to make coarse crumbs. Stir in 3/4 cup of the nut mixture. Set nut mixture and topping aside.
2. Toss pears with lemon juice; set aside. In a medium bowl combine the 1-3/4 cups flour, baking powder, soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl beat 1/2 cup butter with electric mixer 30 seconds. Beat in granulated sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to batter. Beat on low speed after each addition until combined.
3. Spread two-thirds batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture. Layer pears over top. Gently spread remaining batter over pears. Sprinkle with reserved topping. Bake 10 minutes. For a chunky top, sprinkle with 1/2 cup more nuts. Bake 45 to 50 minutes more or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Remove side of springform pan, if using. Cool at least 1 hour. Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired. Makes 12 servings.
If you haven't seen it, HERE is the university's response, including a letter of apology from President Robin Baker to Sen. Obama.
"We cannot hate those around us and say that we love God. It is not possible," Baker told students, staff and media gathered at Wednesday's chapel service.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I managed to snap a picture as he trotted through the neighbor's front yard toward Fanno Creek in the back. We'd just seen a news story about an increase in coyotes in the metro area. I guess they were right!
The coyote ran away, and we drove to meet our group at Gateway Park & Ride and pick up a couple carpoolers. We knew the weather wasn't going to be great, but when we got to Timberline Lodge, the wind was gusting and the temperature was low. We reluctantly got out of the cars, threw on our coats and stocking caps and said something like, "I'm not sure this is what I signed up for!" The sky was ominous, with dark clouds pouring over the summit.
Our group included many seasoned Northwest hikers (meaning, we know the weather around here and were prepared with layers for warmth and waterproofness) and a couple novices (meaning, I don't think they had any idea what we were planning to do). One newbie said that he was told that the hike was "near Mount Hood" - not actually ON Mount Hood. One of our leaders handed out some extra long underwear to one of the guys in shorts, as well as gloves and a stocking hat to the unprepared. Rain-Fly-Guy, wearing shorts and two cotton shirts, fashioned his own outer layer with, you guessed it, the rain fly off his tent, which happened to be in his trunk. We all got a big laugh over his unique cape-like contraption! I really wish I had a picture.
My trusty William L. Sullivan book says the Paradise Park loop is 12.2 miles with 2,300 feet of elevation gain. The trail heads west from the lodge, across the ski area, through Little Zigzag Canyon and through big Zagzag Canyon. Then it makes a loop around the Paradise Park area. Because of this year's extremely late snow melt, the wildflowers were out in full bloom! It was a gorgeous hike. Unfortunately, the low clouds kept the mountain top hidden the entire hike. I can only imagine how lovely it would be on a clear day.
Because of the cool temp, I kept my giant ski mittens on the whole time to protect my stupid hands from going numb. So that meant very few pictures of this trail and our new hiking friends. Hopefully we will return on a warmer day and get some great shots.
We had a great time on our first Mazamas hike and will look for more treks in the future!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Having family in education, I've always understood the extreme importance of school workers. But now being in that environment and seeing my efforts make a true difference in students' lives is super cool. Knowing I touched that student made my whole day.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!
PS - And another THANK YOU to those who've already donated :)
I was thrilled to be included and get the chance to play and learn with my CEC friends! We had a great time getting to the top, eating lunch in the sun, learning about pooping in a bag, posing for pictures, pumping water from the stream and riding home in the little green bus. I'm so proud of their hard work and determination.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Before leaving town we realized the weather forecast wasn’t so hot. The disadvantage of having reservations is that we were pretty much committed to going rain or shine despite the foreboding weather forecast. Our plans for the weekend included a hike to Camp Muir and an ascent of Unicorn Peak in the Tatoosh Range with a rest day inbetween to tour the Paradise area.
We arrived at the campground Friday evening after dark in a pouring rainstorm. Fortunately, we’d come prepared. After quickly erecting our 10’x10’ canopy we were able to set up our tent underneath in relative dryness. We slept well through the rainstorm and awoke Saturday morning to overcast skies with some occasional drizzle. Since the cloud ceiling was around 6,000’ we decided to make Saturday our sightseeing day and hope that the weather would improve for the hiking and climbing we’d planned.
We drove to the park and cooked a nice pancake breakfast at the day-use area. Then we drove up to the Paradise Inn and visitor center, which neither of us had been to before. Since things were completely socked in, we had to use our imagination to see the views of Rainier. We did manage glimpses of the Tatoosh Range.
The parks department is in the process of constructing a new visitor center to replace the existing one, but Liz and I liked the '60s vintage architecture of the existing visitor center.
We spent Saturday evening around the campfire and made plans to tackle Unicorn the following day. Sunday morning proved to be wetter than Saturday. We arrived at the Snow Lake trailhead in a mix of snow/rain and debated whether or not we even wanted to get out of the car. Neither of us wanted to go back and sit in the campground in the rain, and we’d pretty much exhausted our sight-seeing opportunities on this side of the park. We decided the climb would be fun anyway, and we would turn around if it got miserable.
The hike in proved to be wet but enjoyable. Moisture management became quite a challenge. Gore-tex went on when it started to rain, then back down to the base layer to let the sweat out when it stopped. Fortunately it was warm enough that we remained comfortable in spite of being wet. The gully from Snow Lake up to the summit was pretty interesting scrambling. We saw lots of pikas building beds under the rocks.
We spent Sunday evening at the campfire and read for a bit before heading to bed. Since there was a complete white-out above 6,000’, hiking up to Camp Muir on Monday was out of the question. We were disappointed to miss out on the views and most of our climbing plans, but it was a nice relaxing long weekend. We’re looking forward to coming back in the spring to complete our hiking/climbing objectives in this beautiful area.
I cleared my computer when I started riding. After five weeks, I've already gone 50+ miles!
Just goes to show that the little stuff can really add up!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
After several months of training hikes it was a great disappointment when our originally scheduled date was canceled due to the Cold Springs fire. They were predicting that the fire may burn into the fall, so we weren’t really expecting to have another opportunity this season. With the fire still burning but contained, the Forest Service opened the route for climbing on Aug. 1.
August is pretty late in the summer to be doing this trip, but after our disappointment over having our earlier date canceled we decided to take a shot at it. Being so late in the season meant we had to endure hiking on mostly bare rock for the majority of the approach. This part of the trip is much easier when snow covered in spring and early summer.
The plan was for the three of us to hike in on Friday and camp at a spot called the Lunch Counter at ~9,000’ on Mount Adams. We would get up early Saturday and attempt to reach the 12,277’ summit before returning to camp to recuperate before hiking out Sunday morning.
The drive in provided some early excitement. We spotted a group of wild turkeys and a coyote on the road to the trailhead. We also passed through a section of the forest coated with red fire retardant.
This ended up being the hottest weekend of the summer. With record 3-digit temperatures in the valley, it was also sweltering in the mountains. I think this is the first time I’ve slept at 9,000’ and wished I’d left my sleeping bag at home!
Camp (Piker's Peak in background)
We had a fun time watching other climbers work their way up the route and trying to guess which way they’d go. We saw several parties searching for alternate routes, which confirmed our suspicion of poor conditions higher up. After a brief nap and some fun with target practice, we headed back down the mountain.
The hike out was HOT, and we were all very glad to be out of the heat once we reached the car. All in all it was a really fun trip. It would have been nice to summit, but we were all happy with the decision to hike out instead.
I rode the bus to work at KOIN TV and I worked nearly around the clock for the next several days.
Today we remember.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
It's good to be making music again :)
Sunday, September 7, 2008
We slept Friday night at Climbers' Bivouac, a "campground" at the trail head. Our slumber was interrupted by what we think were two owls mating (very loudly!) in the trees right outside our tents. A few hours later, we were up, dressed, fed and ready to climb. It appeared that all 100 climbers left about the same time, and we leap-frogged through the woods, over the boulders and up the scree slope to the crater rim.
When I hike or climb, I always covet everyone's food. When I reached the summit, two women were eating burritos. My PBJ just couldn't compare. (Though I did have awesome sour cream and onion Pringles ... Pringles never taste better than on a summit!) When we reached the parking lot, a father and son were cooking their dinner right next to us - and it smelled heavenly. Having gone the last 12+ hours on oatmeal, gorp, chips and PBJ, it took all my remaining strength to keep from stealing their food and running into the woods with it. Thankfully, we used Christine and Jakob's GPS to find the nearest pizzeria. Soon we were chowing down on some great pies in La Center, Wash.