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Friday, July 29, 2011

Road Trip 2011: Zion and Grand Canyon

As I think over the past few days it's hard to believe all that I've seen and accomplished. Justin and I left Denver last week and enjoyed the beautiful drive south to Utah. The mountains, deserts, and sometimes barren views were fascinating. It was hard to finally close my eyes for a nap while Justin drove because I didn't want to miss any of the scenery.

Zion National Park was even more grand than the photos I had seen. We arrived later than we would have liked, so we set up the tent, made a quick veggie stir fry over our camp stove before going to bed. Our friend Jason drove up from Las Vegas to hike with us the following day and arrived late. The next morning, we enjoyed some hearty oatmeal with peanut butter and banana, and set off to hike. 

Zion National Park

For some reason, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I was imagining a long hike that wasn't too steep. Wrong! I struggled to get up the steep switchbacks. My walking poles helped, and my pack wasn't unbearably heavy, but I was hot and tired. I struggled. It seemed like every quarter mile I had to stop in the shade, rest, and drink water. Justin and Jason were so patient with me and never made me feel like a burden, even though I knew I was holding them back a bit.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Road Trip 2011: Denver/Fort Collins

Friends, I must say that the Denver area has surprised me with it's food and beer. Not that I had doubts, but you know, I have been most looking forward to San Francisco and the huge foodie scene there that I didn't take time to stop and think about Denver.

It began when we arrived and our friend Jeni took us to a free jazz concert at City Park. She brought along with her hummus, baba ghanoush, an olive tapenade, chips, Cupcake wine, chocolate...oh, it was delightful. We barely noticed the music since we were so busy eating and catching up.

The following day seemed like three days. After driving all weekend it was a welcome change to have activities. We had a nice breakfast of yogurt, granola, and fruit on the deck. We drove to New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins and had a private tour (thanks to my former boss's sister, who works there) and sampled amazing beers, learned about how it is made, and were awed by the worker-owned co-op that is New Belgium. We got lunch at an old hippie place and Justin and I split a falafel sub and a Greek wrap. After a swim in a nearby lake, we headed back to Denver and cleaned up for dinner. We ended up at a cafe where I could build my own salad. It was perfect with arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, goat cheese, smoky portabellos, and balsamic vinaigrette. For dessert, I had a "scout cookie" -- a sweet potato chocolate coconut concoction that I need to learn how to recreate.

Today Justin hiked a 14,000 foot mountain. Crazy? Yes. But he did it, and he loved it, and now he's limping on calloused feet. He ate three burritos, and more, when he got back. While he was gone, Jeni and I went for a bike ride, ate more delicious food, did a little shopping, and got some sorbet. A great day. Now we're at our friends Becki and Michael's house and we made them dinner. I chose an easy recipe with sweet potatoes and black beans that I would love to share with you. I know I had said there wouldn't be any recipes for the next month, but I guess you got lucky.

Justin's hike
Next stop? Zion National Park!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Road Trip!

Justin and I have embarked on a month-long road trip with our final destination being California. In between, we are visiting Denver, Fort Collins, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon. In California we will hit up San Diego, Los Angelos, San Francisco, Sonoma Valley, Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe. On the way back, we’re heading to Salt Lake City, Rocky Mountain National Park, and then home (with some stops in between). It’s going to be an epic journey and I’m already enjoying every minute of it.

A delicious breakfast.
It took two and a half days to drive to Denver, but the stops at Akron, Ohio and Des Moines, Iowa have been quite nice. A friend’s parents hosted us in Akron and provided us with good conversation, a comfortable bed, and a delicious breakfast. They feel like family. Actually, I mentioned them in a previous post about food hospitality. Our next host was found through couchsurfing. She is a French girl living here for a year working at a computer job. She made us dinner and invited Brazilian friends over. It was fun to hang out with people from different cultures and eat German spaetzle (even though there were no Germans around!).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Apricot Pie

Sounds pretty unassuming, right? Pie. Apricot. Ho hum. Oh, think again...!

I went to the farmers market and saw some lovely apricots. Remembered a recipe I had seen for the "world's easiest pie" that featured apricots. Doesn't take much inspiration for me to bake. In fact, it's usually teetering on the edge of all-I-can-think-about-is-food and have-to-bake-right-now.

Which is what I did, last Wednesday, after coasting to a stop on my bike, hefting the market finds out of my baskets, and lumbering inside. A quick pat on the kitty's head, a glass of lemonade, and whoosh -- I'm off! Oven on, recipes scrutinized, apron tied, here I go.

Justin arrived home shortly after. "What are you doing?" he asked pleasantly. With a sheepish grin, I respond, "Oh, I'm making pie. Just because." And then I launched into how beautiful the apricots were, and how I found this great recipe for a whole grain pie crust, and how I have to take advantage of all of the wonderful fruit that is in season.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Last week, after a lot of morning chores on a hot day, Justin made this refreshing salad that I had dog-eared in the new issue of Bon Appetit magazine. It was quick and simple and delicious.

Normally, when I buy sugar snap peas, I like them enough to eat them raw as a snack without doing anything fancy. When I came across this recipe I got a little excited, since I figured it would spruce them up a bit, and we could use the radishes that needed to be plucked out of the raised garden bed in our front yard. It was also an excuse to use some amazing sheep's milk feta we had on hand.

The salad came together in twenty minutes or so. I was so grateful Justin had time to make it, since I had a lot of stuff to do that day. I was able to just come downstairs, sit down, and photograph. And then eat.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pesto Pasta with Peas

Woke up one morning last week and realized I had nothing ready to take for lunch today. What to do? I had plenty of food that needed to be cooked/prepped/baked, but nothing prepared. I didn't want to spend the money and eat out, so I chose the quickest option: pasta.

What comes to mind when you think of pasta? Boring? Heavy? Red sauce? This recipe is none of those. I started my early morning cooking session by going out to my front yard and grabbing as much sweet basil as was ready to be harvested, along with some thyme sprigs, amethyst basil, and African basil for a salad. As a passed through the kitchen, I put some water on to boil for my spelt pasta.