Welcome to Glacier!

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We’ve arrived and what a great start to our trip!

After two and a half days of driving through spectacular country we are happily ensconced in our condo in lovely Columbia Falls, Montana. I was not prepared for how utterly beautiful our entire drive would be.  Our route began with a night in Flagstaff, AZ and from there we headed for Midway, UT (about half an hour outside of Salt Lake) to visit with our friends Rachel and Bob and their three wonderful kids.  Our final day of driving took us from Utah through Idaho (stunning!) and finally on to Montana.  The drive, while very long was so breathtaking that we barely did anything but spend the time oohing and aahing.

Yesterday was our first full day in the area, and since it was raining we decided to navigate over to Glacier National Park (about a 20 minute drive), check out the visitor center, buy our park pass and get a sense of the best way to approach hiking in the park.  Some of the park is still closed to vehicle traffic because of last week’s snow storm and avalanche!  We expect that by the time we leave Glacier most or all of what we want to see will be open.  During this initial visit we caught glimpses of the lakes and snow-capped mountains but couldn’t truly appreciate them because of fog and rain.

Avalanche Lake Hike

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Today, we decided to begin our hiking at the Avalanche Lake Trail, a 4.5 mile hike that is one of the most popular on the west side of the park.  After seeing the potential log-jam of traffic, both to enter and park near the trailhead, we arrived before 8am.  Good move.  It was chilly but quiet and it didn’t take long before we understood why this trail is so popular.

The hike starts out in a cedar forest and immediately the rushing water comes into view:

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Actually David took some video on his phone which really gives you the idea of the power of the water but I can’t figure out yet how to import the video into this post.  Before we leave I will though!

On our hike out to Avalanche Lake we were, for the most part, alone out there so we were particularly careful to make lots of noise to keep the bears away.  For us that included singing (David did a particularly excellent rendition of American Pie), clapping and stating (loudly) “BLIND TURN” whenever we couldn’t see well in front of us.  Lest you think that our concern about the bears was in any way unfounded or exaggerated, we received this along with our pass to the park:

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Luckily for us, keeping a conversation going for the duration of the hike wasn’t particularly difficult.

In the initial stages of this hike amid the cedars and pine trees I couldn’t help but wonder when that Glacier magic was going to kick in.  After all, to this point the area reminded me of the Poconos. And then this came into view:

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Wow!  Definitely not on the east coast anymore.  And I was happy about that.

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So was David.

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After about 2 miles of this gorgeousness (and the accompanying singing and clapping) we reached Avalanche Lake.  It was still pretty overcast at this point, and initially the highlight appeared to be the lake with the spectacular falls coming down the mountain in the background:

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We walked along the perimeter of the lake (those waterproof hiking boots came in handy!) in absolute awe.  We saw this guy fly fishing and I had to get a shot because it reminded me of the wonderful movie “And a River Runs Through It”.

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After a few minutes though the sun came out a bit and the true magnificence of this place was on full display:

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Check out the color of that water.  And how about this way…

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This photo definitely has a future in a frame somewhere in my house!

There are makeshift benches  around the perimeter of the lake.  Here am I enjoying this amazing scenery:

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As we started our return to the trailhead, the blue of the water was still visible through the trees:

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By this time the crowds were starting to arrive so there was plenty of noise on the trail.  We enjoyed hiking back without the stress of making our presence known to the bears.  As we were driving back to the park entrance we could finally see some of the beautiful views that had been hidden behind the fog:

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It’s hard to believe that anything can beat this day but according to folks who know Glacier well, the amazing is just beginning!

Huckleberries

As we drove back to the condo, hungry and looking forward to lunch we stopped here:

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Apparently huckleberries are grown around here and pies, jams and other goodies made with huckleberries are local favorites.  We bought this and each had a little for dessert.

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Yum!  And now it’s definitely time for a nap…

Keeping It Real

One of the last things I wanted to take care of today before heading out of town was to bake some kid-friendly goodies to take with us to my friend Rachel’s house when we visit tomorrow evening.  I figured I would whip up some cookies because they are fast and easy and can travel in a food saver.  While I considered trying out the brown butter coconut cookies that have been on my radar of late I decided to just make good old-fashioned chocolate chip thinking they would have the greatest kid appeal.  I haven’t made chocolate chip cookies in probably a decade, and I couldn’t resist using these fabulous bittersweet chips:

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I don’t know why I didn’t just go with the tried and true Nestle Tollhouse cookies.  Hubris! Ego! I wanted to use the “good stuff”.

Back in the day I probably made chocolate chip cookies with butter and eggs out of the fridge, using a hand mixer, all purpose flour and processed cane sugar.  This time I brought everything to room temperature, used the gluten-free flour and organic sugar and mixed it all up in my Kitchen Aid.  I should have stopped when I noticed that the dough was looking too thin (probably from being beaten into submission in the mix master) .  And here’s what happened to the first batch:

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The recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli chips said to use an ungreased cookie sheet.  My Williams-Sonoma cookie sheet did not like these cookies one bit.  What a mess.  In reaction to this first batch, I put the dough in the refrigerator for a while and cooked the second batch on the non-stick pan:

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Uhh. No.  Can we go back to the peach pie now??

Luckily I was able to salvage enough (reasonably tasty) cookies to bring with us:

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I don’t even want to eat them; I probably consumed several just trying to scrape them off the pans!

I’m not sure where I went wrong with these and I’m not even that curious about it.   I do feel disappointed though that I struggled with such a simple recipe.  I’m reminded of many episodes of Top Chef where contestants are challenged to take the most simple ingredients (eggs, chicken, potatoes) and make them taste amazing.  The professionals don’t always get it right either.

And on that note, it’s time to hit the road….Finally!

Oh my! Peach Pie!

And a Little Bit of Growth

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Considering we are taking off for Montana in a few days and are all about using up our refrigerator contents, my impulse buy the other day at Trader Joe’s was probably a bit ill-advised.   I just couldn’t resist the wonderful smell of the ripe peaches (even though I’m not much of a peach eater), so that crate of peaches came home with me.  Check out these beauties:

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So, what to do with the peaches?  I went to my usual sources, Smitten Kitchen and Barefoot Contessa, for some inspiration and I found a peach pie recipe from SM and a peach crumble recipe from Ina.  At first I was leaning toward the crumble because my inner voice (you know, the one that tells you all the reasons you can’t do something?) was suggesting that I could never pull off making a great fruit pie.  It’s hard to make a good crust.  It takes so much time. What about that lattice pattern on top?  And anyway, who is going to eat this?  Can it even freeze?  Is my pie pan the right size?  Wow.  I was all up in this when I had an “aha” moment care of Oprah.

A Fortuitous Super Soul Moment

While I was perusing peach recipes yesterday I was simultaneously catching up on this week’s Oprah Super Soul Sunday episode, and her guest was author and screenwriter, Steven Pressfield.  He is probably best known (outside of super soul circles) for his book, The Legend of Bagger Vance which was also a movie with Matt Damon and Will Smith.  The topic of the show, however, was how he understands the  creative process and the resistance we all have in response to our efforts to achieve greater consciousness, fulfillment and success.  His philosophy is outlined in his book “The War of Art”.   What caught my attention though (and how very timely) was his assertion that these inner voices, like the Debbie Downer in my head around the peach pie, are all about fear and exist as levels of resistance in direct proportion to the potential for growth in consciousness.  No argument from me.  This is stuff I know and believe.  The antidote?  Correctly identify the voices as irrelevant to the business at hand, and just do it.  So I did.  And here it is:

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With perfect flaky (gluten-free!) butter crust:

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And juicy, tart peaches:

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An absolutely perfect summer dessert!

In truth, making this pie wasn’t any more complicated or difficult than many other things I have made  (that glazed lemon pound cake comes to mind), but for some reason tackling it felt like a task that was beyond my skill in the kitchen.  As I plowed ahead, step by step, I got in the flow and the nagging voices receded.  My kitchen didn’t look so hot, but when I popped that pie in the oven I suspected that it was a winner.  This time I didn’t let the what-ifs stop me and right now, I’m pretty sure that David’s office staff is enjoying a fabulous dessert with their lunch.

I know that this is a pie and not a big life decision but the experience of feeling “not up to the task” for me anyway, can show up around all kinds of endeavors.  And how very limiting that is.  I even suspect that the impulse buy/Oprah show wasn’t that much of a coincidence but instead the universe putting an opportunity and a little encouragement in my path.  This time I was paying attention and got the message.

And that is sweet indeed.

It’s a Jungle in There

OK, hyperbole got the better of me there, but thanks to some very happy tomato plants

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a big-leafed zucchini plant,

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and an enthusiastically climbing cucumber plant (which I mistakenly thought was going to give us green beans!)

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our greenhouse is a fun place to be these days.

As far as actual vegetable production goes, we’re still not sure the degree to which a healthy plant will produce veggies.  Clearly we are not ready to bring our bounty over to the community food bank or start jarring and canning, and we’re lucky if something makes it into David’s lunch salad.  Happily this was today’s addition:

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Yes, that photo is intense.   I got a bit carried away with my close-up of our very first cherry tomatoes, which I thought were supposed to be a regular sized variety.  I’ve started to realize that not all tomato plants look the same and that’s one way to distinguish the cherries from different varieties . I’m sure more fastidious gardeners make note of which are which but I was so sure that my little transplanted seedlings weren’t going to survive that I got careless.  Here’s a look at the younger plants.  I’m thinking we’ll have a few varieties:

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I’m pretty sure that our zucchini plant will continue to provide:

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But the cucumber plant has me pretty confused:

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That’s got a long way to go!  Or perhaps it never got fertilized?  These are actually knowable things-a quick google search should do the trick-but I’m not feeling like researching right now.  I think I’ll just wait.  I have a feeling that by the time we return from Montana all will be known.

These plants clearly like the very warm weather, and our greenhouse helps keep things pretty tropical.  At the same time it seems that the radishes, carrots, arugula, cilantro and kale can’t handle this heat.  They all have pretty much let us know they are done for the summer.

As we think about the fall planting season which begins in August, our goal will be to fine tune our scattershot approach and consider things like temperature fluctuations, soil nutrition, compatible plants and proper spacing and thinning.  There’s so much more to know but we experienced just enough success over these past six months that the idea of sourcing all of our vegetables from our own garden (over time of course) doesn’t seem so unlikely.

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As I’m writing this post I am reminded of a book I read by a fellow Tucsonian and favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver, who spent a year on her family’s farm in Southern Appalachia eating only locally-sourced/grown food.  I read her book entitled “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” long before I ever considered growing anything, and while I don’t remember the details of the book (except there were lots of ways to eat zucchini!) I was completely drawn to her family’s story.  If you’re interested in becoming more self-sustaining or are just looking for a good read you can learn more here.

 

 

 

“Shoot From The Hip”

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Gearing Up For Glacier

Next week David and I are taking our sun-drenched selves out of town and heading north, north, north to Glacier National Park in Montana.  And with the trip looming, we finally got around to thinking about what we wanted and needed to bring.  I hadn’t really given too much thought to what we might need for this trip, but after lots of SNOW fell in the area just last week we started planning in earnest.  Really? SNOW? Well, yeah, GLACIER.  I think on some level I didn’t think that the photos of the snow-capped mountains would have anything to do with me.  After all, it is almost July!  Snow, at least any that I have to deal with underfoot, or, god forbid, in my car is completely unacceptable.  I spent my week in New Jersey with my teeth chattering wrapped in sweaters and muttering about my thin blood.  Yup, I’ve become that warm weather person.

We are driving up to Glacier by way of Salt Lake City where we will be visiting with some old friends of mine.  Once in Montana we are staying in a condo in a resort not far from the west entrance to the park. Our plan is to settle into our temporary (and very comfortable) home with all the conveniences and venture out each day in search of gorgeous hikes, great exercise and photo ops (for my blog of course!).  So in some ways our Montana adventure will mimic our life in Tucson (there is a Costco nearby, although, sadly, no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)  but we had to acknowledge that our minimalist approach to hiking in the desert might not work so well up in Montana. So off we went to our local hiking store for supplies:

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Lots of dollars later we had outfitted ourselves with some must-haves and here I am modeling my new clothes:

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I know, it’s a lot of look 🙂   These uber-boots are fabulous, if not much of a fashion statement.  They are waterproof, flexible, lightweight and already dirty from our trial hike here this morning. The rain jacket (it rains a lot in Montana; that’s why it’s so green) folds up into a small pouch so I can be ready for anything.  And there’s room underneath for a fleece if it gets very cold or we are out at night (NOT!)  The bright color will help rescuers find me in case of…David’s jacket is red and we will look like a pair of M and M’s.

In addition to these articles of clothing we needed a few more supplies, also in case of…

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In Tucson, I’m lucky if I remember a tweezers for when the jumping cholla get me, but this is Montana, so we need more things.  Think blisters and Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail  (From the book,” Wild”).  Her toenails fell off!  Well that won’t happen to me.  But if it does, I’ll be ready.

And of course we need these in case of…

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You light one of these in Sabino canyon in June and the whole park will go up in flames!  But not in Montana and you never know…

And finally our trip to Montana would not be complete without this:

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That’s BEAR SPRAY folks.  And it is most recommended that when hiking in Glacier you carry this.  Apparently it is rather common (decidedly different from not uncommon) to run into bears (Grizzly or Black) in Glacier.  OMG.  Leave that gun at home because it will do you no good.  David researched the bear thing a bit and there was actually one article that suggested that you “try to find out what the bear is up to” so you can decide how to respond.  WHAT?  David (who will be all about protecting me) will have this spray in his holster attached to his belt loop and at the ready.  I’m particularly glad that the one we selected has a glow in the dark safety wedge which should be in the “off position”.  This way, should you need to send that bear running, you are all ready to “shoot from the hip”.   You can’t make this stuff up.

All kidding aside (oh, was I kidding?) I am getting very excited about our trip, and I fully expect that we will see and do amazing things, relax, enjoy each other and take some stunning photos, which will be much more interesting to my readers than the contents of my suitcase.  Bears or no bears, I’m sure it will be a memorable two weeks.

And for a final note today,  I want to send a get-well shout out to my father-in-law, Ron, who is in the hospital in New Jersey and not feeling so great right now.  I hope that reading this and reminiscing about his many wonderful trips to Glacier will help lift his spirits. We are sending our love…

PSA

So this is my first public service announcement on my blog.  And I come to you as a wholly unsponsored user of the following product:

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I became gluten-free about three years ago.  No celiac disease or “diagnosed”  issue with gluten.  I just felt so much better without gluten in my diet that it was a no-brainer not to continue.  Ironically, at just about the same time as I chose to eliminate gluten from my diet I discovered my passion for cooking and baking.  After some initial research on using replacement flours in baked goods, I had some success adjusting favorite recipes.  Since baking is science (and science I don’t really know much about) my tinkering didn’t always work and I still remember a pretty dramatic fail with a banana bread recipe that ended up all over the oven.

Quite by accident, as I was only half listening to a Barefoot Contessa show on Food Network, I heard Ina say that she was making a gluten- free meal.  And that’s how I found out about Cup 4 Cup.  As the name implies, this flour can be substituted into any recipe where all-purpose flour is an ingredient without any other adjusting of ingredients.  Intrigued, I tracked Cup 4 Cup down in Williams-Sonoma (now they carry it in Whole Foods!) and got busy baking.  I was skeptical but I needn’t have been.  In each and every recipe where I have used this gluten-free flour the results have been divine.  And this includes both sweet ( all the goodies on this blog) and savory (béchamel, binders in fritters, etc.) dishes.  I am fairly certain that in terms of both taste and consistency no one could tell the difference between these items and items made with all-purpose flour.

As I search for recipes online I often see comments from readers who are wondering how to make delicious looking recipes gluten-free, so I’d like to do my bit to get the word out about this amazing product.  OK, my bit is done.

And here’s my latest obscenely delicious (and gluten-free) dessert.  This is a bittersweet chocolate cake courtesy of (where else?) Smitten Kitchen:

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No shortage of powdered sugar either (oops!).  So dig in, feel good and enjoy.

 

Green Green Everywhere

A Sweater for Anne  Me

Oh my!  I returned a few days ago from a week-long trip to New Jersey to see family and friends.  I had a few days to myself before David joined me and I planned to blog during the trip.  It was a great trip with so much to write about but in the end the words wouldn’t come.  So, rather than push it, I decided to let it go.  I am home now, back in my space where creating just seems to happen.  So remember this?

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This was the yarn that Anne selected for the sweater that I was knitting for her.  Well, it’s a good thing I like green. In fact, it’s my favorite color.  Because this sweater turned out to be my size (barely), not hers.  I had warned Anne, as I was halfway through the project, that it was looking a little skimpier than I had anticipated.  This was disappointing because one of the reasons we chose this pattern was because I had already knitted it up in a short sleeve version that fit Anne perfectly.  Sorry honey.

The thing about knitting is that if you change the weight of the yarn even a little bit the gauge can be off.  Gauge refers to the number of stitches per inch, both horizontally and vertically that you need to have in order to achieve the finished measurements.  A way to “make the gauge” is to change up needle sizes.  This also helps knitters adjust for how loosely or tightly they knit.  So before a project really gets going there’s a bit of tinkering that goes on.

In this case, the yarn Anne chose was slightly lighter in weight than the one I had used previously and even after upping the needle sizes the gauge was a little bit small.  And I learned that a little bit small adds up to a whole size small when all is said and done.  So without further ado, here’s my new sweater:

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And up close, here’s the lace pattern:

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And the trim:

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If you’re thinking, “wow, those stitches are soooo even”, so am I!  As a relatively new knitter it’s been a real challenge to knit with even tension.  There are a couple of reasons why this project was so technically successful (the gauge issue notwithstanding).  First, the entire sweater is knit “in the round” using these:

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Knitting in the round means that the entire body of the sweater is knitted at once eliminating the need for pesky seaming which I’m not great at.  In addition, the smooth “stockinette stitch” which makes up the non-lace part of the body is achieved by knitting all the rows.  If a project requires turning the work after each row the stockinette stitch is created by knitting a row and purling a row.  For me those purl rows are a bear;  the motion is not as natural for me and this inevitably shows up as uneven tension from row to row.  And that brings me to:

Blocking

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Years ago when I first tried (and failed) at knitting I complained about uneven stitches, and my mother always said “oh, you can block that out”.  I didn’t even get that far back then, but now I get it.  Blocking is essentially wetting the sweater, either by submerging or spraying it, pushing and pulling it into the proper shape and dimensions, pinning it down and letting it dry completely.  Wetting the yarn literally causes it to relax and the stitches almost reorganize themselves into a more even configuration.  Plus any lace patterns or cables will become more prominent. My “pinned into submission” sweater is shown above.  I blocked it yesterday and it was fully dry this morning.  Blocking hides a multitude of sins and in this case, helped me make a too-small sweater fit.

As it turns out, Anne is in the middle of mild Chicago summer weather, and David and I are headed to Montana in ten days to explore Glacier National Park.  So maybe this turned out the way it was meant to.  I will be rocking this look, “apres-hike” in Montana:

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And while we’re on the subject of green, look what else we came home to:

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This honking zucchini is our first full-size veggie from the garden.  Shocking to see it really!  Well this guy is slated for some zucchini, quinoa and parmesan fritters.  Details to follow 🙂

700 Channels and Nothing to Watch

 

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Our wonderful 60 inch flat screen TV is looking forlorn.  Or at the very least restless. After the umpteenth night of trying to find something decent to watch on television (and failing miserably) I knew I wanted to write about how with more and more available on television (hundreds of channels!), there is actually less and less I have any interest in watching.  I’ve been sitting on this title for a day now and I’m perplexed by my inability to get this post off the ground.  So what gives?  What’s so hard about this subject?  Maybe some free association will help.

I am mourning the loss of Mad Men, The Good Wife, The Voice and Parenthood.  Does it sound unseemly to mourn the hiatus of a TV show?

I want to get hooked on a new show and it’s just not happening.  I’ve been trying out all kinds of things.   The latest disappointment was Night Shift which I guess was supposed to be the current replacement for Grey’s Anatomy.  The writing and acting were so dreadful it made me pine for Grey’s which  also had its share of ridiculous plotting and writing.

Please STOP the horrible and incessant commercials from being SO LOUD that I can’t ignore them without the mute button.

On the subject of commercials, thank you for replacing that annoying kid in the back seat of the Kia Sorrento with a much more appealing Saint Bernard.  That commercial is now usually better than the show it is interrupting.  Dogs rule, especially the ones that drool.

I will never, I repeat never switch to Sprint “friends and framily” because their commercials offend me.  I prefer the Kia kid to the hamster.

Will we ever have another M*A*S*H?  Or All in the Family? Or Maude? Or Seinfeld? Or any half hour show with some real wit and edge?

I don’t want to get my nails done because I can’t bear the endless inane daytime talk shows that are always on the TV.  Ditto for the Nissan service waiting room, Hyundai service waiting room and most airline terminal waiting areas.  Why oh why does that have to be on? And I promise that if I have to watch FOX news in your establishment I will never give you my business again.

I’m sad that what passes for entertainment is so depressing–Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty, Hoarders, Celebrity Rehab, etc. etc. etc. The junk we are eating as a society has nothing on the junk we are watching.

Exhale

Ahhh.  That was cathartic.

So all that whining probably begs the question, why not just shut the darn thing off?  That’s something I can control. As is clear from this blog I have plenty of other things to do.  Why do I care and what’s eating at me?  Well, first of all, sometimes I just like to relax and be entertained.  I like to laugh.  I like to cry. I like to be inspired.  I like to think.  Television, at its best, does all of that for me.  But it’s getting harder and harder.  Between the mediocre programming, onslaught of meaningless reality stuff, “news shows” that are nothing of the sort and endless commercial interruptions it’s really difficult to stay engaged in any show.

In the interest of full disclosure I am right now watching the French Open.  Check that.  I’m watching a loud American Express commercial.  You know, the one with Tina Fey.  I can say that for a sports fan, both in terms of quality and quantity, things have really improved.  24/7 programming means we get to watch more big games and tournaments live even if we’re watching in the wee hours of the morning.  And while I hate the commercials they happen during play breaks. So it’s not all bad.

I think I’m feeling nostalgic and perhaps struggling with my own inner curmudgeon.   The little rant above comes perilously close to a “back in my day” offering.  Truth is, that’s exactly how I feel but I’m struggling to say it.  I’m all about embracing change but on this one I’m missing what was and I keep reengaging hoping to find something that is, for me, just…gone.

Not surprisingly, my kids are way ahead of me on this.  Not one of them has cable.  Why?  “Because it’s not worth it mom”.  Yeah, I know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe Hack

Is that even a term in cooking?  I learned that term from sewing blogs, specifically a “pattern hack”.  Sewists “hack a pattern” by combining different elements from existing patterns to create their own.  Sometimes it’s to change the style, sometimes the fit.  Well, today I did a recipe hack!

I Built a Better (Turkey) Burger 

So remember our hockey pucks of a week ago?  These were our good-looking, but oh-so-dry turkey burgers:

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Well, I was determined to tinker with this recipe to find a way to add some moisture.  I checked out all of my favorite food network gurus to see how they did it.  So with a bit of help from Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay and a smattering of info from other recipes online I decided to make a few changes:

1.  I used less lean ground turkey.  Unbeknownst to me the original recipe used 85 % lean ground turkey, although that wasn’t specified in the written directions.  I discovered that today when I was perusing the comments section on the blog where I found the recipe.  So I chose 93% lean because that was all my supermarket had.  This was a mix of dark and white meat ground turkey.

2. I added one egg white.  Plenty of recipes use eggs.  I didn’t want to overdo it because I was still trying to get a burger-like consistency rather than a meatloaf one.  I saw one recipe that used egg whites so I adjusted the amount for my recipe.

3. I added 1/8 cup of (gluten-free) panko bread crumbs.  Bobby Flay didn’t use any bread crumbs but lots of other recipes did.  I went with a small amount.

4. I pumped up the jalapeño.  We liked the flavor of the original recipe but thought it needed more kick.  I still eliminated the seeds and most of the inner membrane.

5. I made a sambal oelek mayo spread for a condiment, both for added flavor and in case the burgers were still too dry.  I think I stole this idea from Anne Burrell.

6. I gently combined the ingredients using a fork . I read that overworking the patties can make them tough.

PHEW!  That was a lot of research for a weeknight dinner, but I am nothing if not persistent.  And the results were FANTASTIC:

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They still have that good eye-appeal, but oh my, they were divine.

Here’s a shot of David’s constructed burger with some avocado and the sambal mayo:

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Unfortunately, by the time we realized that the photo was a bit blurry that burger was long gone 🙂

Some of what’s exciting about a recipe hack (aside from the fact that we had a great meal and a dish that’s a real keeper) is that I actually created my own recipe.  And, I get to share it with my readers!  So if you want to have some very delicious, very moist turkey burgers try the recipe at the end of this post

And if you’re still hungry I can recommend some gorgeous little pecan sandies that I also made this afternoon:

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No recipe hack here but they’re just too delicious not to share.  The exceptional flavor comes from toasted pecans ground right into the flour (I used gluten-free).  Yum. This recipe is from my go-to, Smitten Kitchen and you can find it here.

So there was lots of good eating in our house tonight.   And now I’m off to go root against San Antonio (long-suffering Suns fan here) 🙂

 

Third Act Evolution Everyday Turkey Burgers  (Makes 5 one-inch thick burgers)

Burgers:

1 pound ground turkey (I used Jennie-O 93% percent lean)

1/2 cup minced yellow onion

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/8-1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeño finely chopped, seeds and membranes removed (be careful not to put your hands near your eyes!)

1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/8 cup panko bread crumbs (I used Ian’s gluten-free)

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Olive Oil (for brushing on burgers before grilling)

Mayo:

1/2 cup Hellman’s mayo

1-2 tablespoons sambal oelek (it’s spicy so test it out)

Directions:

Combine all burger ingredients with a fork trying not to handle the meat too much.  Shape loosely into 5 one inch patties and press a quarter size impression on top of each one (This is so they keep their shape on the grill).  Preheat grill to 400 degrees.  Brush a bit of olive oil on the outside of the burgers and cook about 6 -7 minutes per side or until they are cooked all the way through.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Combine mayo and sambal oelek and smear on buns or english muffins.

Serve burgers with slices of avocado and ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something’s Happening

Ever since we put the first seeds in our garden David and I have enjoyed a ritual of walking out to the garden and greenhouse together in the morning before he goes to work.  Part of what makes this so much fun is that the plants seem to experience a great deal of growth overnight, so each morning the landscape is noticeably different.  Admittedly, there were days when the growth of the mushrooms was outpacing the growth of our plants (truly stunning how quickly those crop up!) but I still feel excited each time I take that initial look around in the morning.  Today was particularly wonderful, and there was hardly a mushroom to be found.

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I have to start with the most thrilling.  That my friends is our very first green bean!!!  Check that, I impulsively yanked the very first one off the vine and ate it so this is technically our very second green bean.  What made this so surprising was that the plant really has not been thriving AT ALL.  These pole beans are supposed to grow upwards of two feet (this guy is maybe seven inches tall).  The bean plant in the greenhouse is developing in a more predictable way (I think) and it looks like this:

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The plants in the bed had literally been stalled for months.  Yesterday David noticed some new leaf growth and today, voila! It was delicious too.

Next David pointed out this cucumber plant:

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These too were virtually non-existent and I was sure there would be no cucumbers this time around.  I’m not sure if we just didn’t notice it because it’s in the shadow of the mammoth zucchini or if it just appeared that quickly.

And while we’re talking zucchini:

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I’m pretty sure there was only one of these there yesterday.  Wow!

And the greenhouse plants are also thriving.  The tomato plants are all bearing fruit:

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and I think I see the slightest tinge of red.  Plus the seedlings I recently transplanted are also very happy:

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Finally, I was pretty sure the arugula was done for the season (don’t ask me why I would say that; really I have no idea!) but here it is growing away:

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You know, it’s not hard to associate these happy plants with what has to be perfect growing weather–warm enough overnight and tons of sun during the day.  And our gardening friends have emphasized over and over that patience is key and some plants take forever.  I thought I was being patient–ok, pretty patient, but I am definitely adjusting my sense of what a reasonable time frame for growth might look like no matter what the seed packet or internet says.

“Watching” Things Grow

The daily drama of the plant growth in our garden reminds me of an Oprah Super Soul Sunday episode featuring the amazing photography of Louie Schwartzberg.  He has made a career of using photography (time lapse, slow motion, etc) to illustrate the magnificence of the natural world that is beyond what our eyes can see.  If this is something that fascinates you the way it does me check out his website.  His work is a wonderful reminder of the interconnectedness of all life forms.  In fact his current work is all about the amazing world of mushrooms!  I will definitely be checking that out in order to increase my own appreciation for the mushrooms are so very happy in our garden.

As we become more familiar with gardening and have an opportunity to experience a full year of the ebbs and flows of plant life cycles I expect that the changes we see from one day to the next will become less shocking.  It is my hope, however that we never lose the delight we feel as we “watch” nature do its thing.