Saturday, December 29, 2007

Kolob Canyon and Zion National Park

We decided to go through the Kolob Canyons before heading farther south into Zion National Park. I'm really glad we did because it was really beautiful. There was a hint of snow on the ground and a few patches of ice but it wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it might be. The road was a beautiful red color - they must have used the local stone in their paving process.

Beatty Point at Kolob Canyons - the view from the end of the road. We took a short hike to Timber Creek Lookout. Ended up following a park ranger's trail due to a covering of snow. Luckily it stuck pretty close to where the actual trail was and didn't veer off too much. When we ran into him on his return he did say that he had been looking for mountain lion tracks but didn't see any.

Tim enjoying the view!

Zion NP was about a 40 mile drive through more sandstone cliffs and mesa's along the Virgin River (which eventually flows into Lake Mead). Springdale is the community right outside the park entrance and looked like a place that would be a real mess in the summer - lots of traffic stopping at gift shops - a lot like the Denali Park Canyon. We had thought about staying in one of the hotels in Springdale and even thought about the lodge right in the park. But we ended up getting done earlier than we thought and ended up driving to St. George.

Riverside Walk was a 2-mile paved walkway along the headwaters of the Virgin River. Its at the very end of the road in Zion Canyon. I understand that if you wanted to you could cross the river and walk farther up the canyon. That might be fun on another trip. Nice little walk with a lot of people on it.

This was taken at the trailhead for the Emerald Pools trail. After a short walk on the red paved pathway we can to a barricade due to icy conditions. A waterfall had frozen in the recent cold snap causing a log of icy to form. So an attempt at a 1.5 mile loop walk turned into a .5 mile jaunt.

The best trail was the last one we found and really too late in the day for us to really enjoy it. Sand Beach Trail looked like a loop trail and I didn't find anything written up on it except for a dotted line on the map. It is one of the only trails that was actually wasn't paved. The trailhead wasn't very well marked and we found it along a narrow dirt path. The trail followed a creek and then crossed it and followed what looked more like a game trail up the middle of a canyon with tall sandstone cliffs rising above us. It was beautiful. It looked like the trail continued on into a box canyon. We kept an eye open for mountain lions, hostile indians, and bandits but didn't see any of them. We did come across a couple of mule deer camouflaged in the brush - I think we walked right past them once and saw them on our return trip. We also came across a flock of wild turkeys.

Christmas Feast with Friends

We enjoyed a great feeding frenzy over the holidays with many traditional recipes:

Christmas Eve: Swedish Meatballs in sour cream gravy, made by the Norwegian chef Shane

Christmas Dinner with Prime Rib, potatoes au gratin, green salad, Spinach Casserole (I sometimes add chopped water chestnuts, sliced mushrooms or sliced cauliflower and improvise with the cheese - swiss and feta are pretty good alternatives)

Day after Christmas: infamous Tammy Tragis Mango Chutney Cheeseball
(who would think that there's be a run on Mango Chutney in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs - we had to substitute with a hawaiian BBQ sauce with some added Tabasco)

Along with pre-and post-dinners of chinese (hot and sour soup, BBQ Pork with hot mustard, Crab Rangoon with sweet and sour sauce, egg rolls, mu chu veggies with mandarin aka flour tortilla pancakes.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

From the tops of our heads…

To the tips of our toes…

Best wishes for a Happy Holiday!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Kooking Kookies with Kelsie

YUM Sugar Cookies!

White Christmas in Colorado

So here we are in Colorado enjoying a White Christmas. We weren't sure if we were going to have one in Juneau so decided to head south! We arrived in Las Vegas after several plane delays but I think it took just as long to get our luggage. Apparently, Alaska Airlines contracts out with another airlines to do their ground work so I'm sure their own flights took precedent. It took over an hour. We had planned on heading towards Utah and having dinner on the way but after getting the luggage and the car we didn't have time for dinner. Got to the hotel in Mesquite at about 1 am and to bed at 1:30. Nice, clean bestwestern hotel - far enough from vegas to feel like a normal town.

The next morning we drove towards our friends house in AspenGlenn (between Aspen and Glennwood Springs). The drive was gorgeous with a dusting of fresh snow really giving definition to the rocky plains.

We made pretty good time (since the speed limit was 75) and arrived safe and sound. We had a day of rest and did some shopping in Aspen.

Then the girls headed up to Snowmass for a night in a condo right on the hill (aka ski in, ski out). We had a blast in the hot tub, making snow angels, decorating gingerbread people, and hanging out.

A free ride on the lift.

At the Silvertree hotel we took advantage of the free activities and decorated some gingerbread people. We had fun afterwards walking around telling all the kids to go decorate their own. (and boy were they tasty).

We had several soaks in the hot tub which included snowball practice on each other and on the we-thought-it-was-vacant-but wasn't-condo patio door (Merry Christmas to the couple from Corpus Cristi who took our picture - sorry for knocking over your coors light can)

Ashley and Jeanne did some skiing/snowboarding while Heidi and Kelsie did some knitting:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Knitted Project

I made these socks for one of my nieces for her birthday and she was gracious enough to send me a picture of her wearing them! I keep forgetting to take pictures of my finished products so this was nice to have.

I used some of that self-striping yarn along with a solid color. The top part was a mosaic pattern and then it turned into stripes. I've been making it a habit recently that when I have to knit a matching set of gloves, socks, sleeves, mittens, etc. that I will knit them at the same time. I'm pretty sure I got this idea from Ruth Storvick. Anyway its been working out for me pretty well. I usually pick certain rows where something changes in the pattern to use as markers for switching to the other item. This way things turn out more of a similar size and if I've done any creative editing I usually can remember to do it to both items.

Luckily I continued my new process for this pair of socks because when I got finished with the really hard part on the first one I might have quit and just given Melody one sock to use as a coin purse or something but because I had already vested time in the matched pair I had to persevere. I think it was worth it but at the time I had my doubts!

By the way, my niece has become quite successful in her online scrapbooking–check out some of her pages.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Some of my favorite things

Mom's Fudge
3 cups sugar
3/4 c margarine
2/3 c (5 1/3 oz) evaporated milk
1-12 oz semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1-7 oz marshmellow creme
1 c chopped nuts
1 t vanilla

Combine sugar, margarine, and milk, bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil 4-5 minutes over medium heat or until candy thermometer reaches 238° stirring constantly (mixture scorches easily) Remove from heat and stir in chocolate pieces until melted. Add marshmellow creme, nuts and vanilla, beat until well blended. Pour into 13 x 9 greased pan. Cool, cut into squares.

Works with other kinds of chips too. This really does scorch easily so get all your pans together, extra hot pads, spoons, and scrapers handy and with reach. I often double the recipe and use the same size pan to make thicker fudge. Variation: add 1/3 c peanut butter

Mom's Pecan Tassies
1 3 oz cream cheeese, room temp
1/2 c butter or margarine, room temp
1 c sifted flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 T soft butter/margarine
2 t vanilla
dash salt
3/4 c coarsely broken pecans

Pastry: Blend cream cheese and butter. Stir in flour. Chill slightly about 1 hour. Shape into 2 dozen 1-inch balls and place in tiny ungreased 1 3/4 muffin cups. Press dough against bottom and sides of cups.

Filling: Beat together eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt just until smooth.

Putting them together: Divide half of the pecans among the pastry cups, add mixture and top with remaining pecan pieces. Bake in slow over 325° 25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool; remove from pans.

YUM - almost better than pie. Making this recipe is greatly enhanced when you use one of those Pampered Chef's tart-tampers. It really makes the job go fast. I've also used a similar technique with a brownie mix to make little brownie cups for Mud pie (brownie tart, coffee ice cream ball, covered with that chocolate sauce that hardens up). Hint: keep a small bowl of flour handy and dip the end of the tamper in the flour to keep it from sticking to the dough.

If you need to find a pampered chef representative - Natonya Tate in my office is a rep and I'm sure would be happy to help you out! Let me know and I'll put you in touch with her. I've only gotten a few things from them - and I love every one of them!

I had one metal mini-muffin pan and broke down and bought a silicon pan that I happened to find at the grocery store. I've seen these floppy blue pans around for awhile but haven't had the chance to use one until now. The side of the muffin hole isn't angled like the metal pan so the tarts don't look the same. It does seem like the silicon pan of tarts needed a couple more minutes of cook time. I do love that you can put the silicon in the dishwasher and that it cleans up really well. Sometimes the filling dribbles on the top of the pan and that burns on but it came right off the silicon and didn't leave a mark. And I guess the best part was that the tarts just popped out of the cups - no digging around them with a knife.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Some Knit Reads

Some of you may have read Debbie Macomber's 3-book series about the Knitting Shop in Seattle where all the various characters overcome their hardships. I just found another author who center's some of her books around knitting: Maggie Sefton. I just read Knit One, Kill Two which is a story that includes knitting, mystery, murder, and Colorado. I think she has two more novels out that I'll have to see if the library can get them.

These are sweet books, warm and fuzzy, not to everyone's taste, not academic, not really that well written, but there's a place for such books in the general population and fun to read if you need a break from your usual genre.

I'm pretty sure that there's room for an Alaskan mystery that involves quiviat and a knitted project. Maybe even an entire series on basket-making, beading, carving - just think of the dangerous tools involved in such craft.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Spanish Meal

Roxi sent Tim a cookbook called Savoring Spain and Portugal and we thought that since the temps had dipped to single digits we'd warm up with some sangria and tapas. This recipe for pork kabobs was delicious:

Pinchos Morunos (moorish pork kabobs) serves 8
1/2 C olive oil
3 T ground cumin
2 T ground coriander
1 T sweet paprika
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t oregano
1 t salt or to taste (I left it out)
1/2 t ground black pepper
2 lb pork, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 T minced garlic
1/4 c flat-leaf parsley
1/4 c lemon juice

In small frying pan combine oil and spices through pepper. Place over low heat and warm through about 3 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Place pork pieces in bowl and rub with spice mixture. Add garlic, parsley, and lemon juice and toss well. Refrigerate overnight (or for a few hours. Don't you hate it when you make a recipe and you realize as you are making it that you were supposed to have thought of marinating or chilling many hours before you actually got to the task–who is that organized!)

Thread the meat on skewers and place on broiler pan or grill rack (or george) and cook about 4 minutes on each side (or 4 minutes on the george).

Serve with lemon wedges

We also made Pataas Bravas ("fierce" potatoes) but we didn't have most of the ingredients so they turned out more like spicy roasted potatoes. serves 8

Olive oil for frying
2 lb potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 T flour
1 t sweet paprika
1 c beef stock
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2-1 t red pepper flakes
1/4 c tomato sauce
salt to taste.

In large frying pan fry potatoes in boiling oil until tender 20-30 minutes.

Drain off all but 1 T oil and add flour, paprika and stir over low hear for a couple minutes. Add stock stirring constantly. Add vinegar and red pepper flakes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in Tomato sauce. Pour sauce over potatoes and toss to coat.

So here's what we did. Cut potatoes and set aside. In cast iron skillet follow second part of recipe. (We used catsup instead of tomato sauce.) After simmering sauce, add potato chunks, cover, and place in preheated 400° oven. Stir once or twice to get the goo all over potatoes. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until done.

We also made Favas com Coentro a Portuguesa (fava beans with cilantro)
The recipe calls for shelled fava beans, bacon, onion, garlic, bay leaf, pepper, and cilantro. We only had the onion, garlic, pepper, and cilantro so we used lima beans and left out the bacon. Not too bad!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I told you it was windy!

A blurb in the newspaper documented the high winds we had yesterday - Tim often parks his truck between the red truck and this boat. Luckily he was driving it so his brother could use my car so there wasn't any damage.

It amazes me when we get these big winds that the power doesn't go out and we rarely hear of trees toppling over. I guess the lack of permafrost allows the tree roots to run deep.

We've heard reports from pilots seeing waterspouts out by Berner's Bay - one raising from the water up to the cloud level at about 3500 feet. I haven't seen any photos. We've been seeing small ones in front of the house but these don't last very long.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mighty Gusts

up to 70 mph are predicted. The wind seems to be giving the windows a test and its pretty drafty in here. I could really use a set of these gloves: USB Gloves. I don't necessarily care for the design too much but I'll love to get the internal heating pad and make my own!

New birds from the Deck

We've saw three birds on Saturday that were new sightings from the deck: We saw a Pacific Loon, Tim saw a Black-billed Magpie, and we also identified a Double-crested Cormorant swimming around the channel. There was a big storm moving in with really high winds which may have brought in the water birds which we normally don't see around here. We thought the spring migration was over!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Buyer Beware

One of our dog friends took us to Swampy Acres to buy his dog food and while we were waiting I noticed this sign. I thought about leaving Tim unattended so we could get a puppy...

Clear and Cold

We've had some cold and clear days here lately, which is quite a change from the normal Juneau weather. Its dropped down to below freezing and we've had some frost. It hasn't snowed since we had a dusting several weeks ago and melted off.

We went out the road to the Boy Scout Trail because we knew that we'd be able to be out in the open along the beach and through the meadow. The wind really picked up (The wind was from the North which means clear, but cold. The winds from the south normally bring in the clouds and the warmer temps.) so we sought shelter on the leeward side. It was a really nice walk and we had a lot of other 2- and 4-legged company.

I never thought I'd want to buy a cabin to live in but I'm thinking this would be a pretty sweet deal...

and what a view!