I’ve been home alone this week. It’s been rainy. Most of my Christmas shopping is done thanks to Amazon. The stars have all aligned and created that perfect environment where wonderful things happen, like baths and new cocktails. I’ve become totally obsessed with milk punch. It started because I found an amazing Aged Egg Nog recipe from Sun Liquor Distillery on the Seattle Times website and made it and couldn’t try it because its, well, aged. So to tide me over I created a non-egg nog, and I call it Rummy Milk Punch. I’m probably going to have one a day for the next two weeks until I can’t even stand to put milk in my cereal. Here you go:
Our latest (and my favorite) addition to our gear room is a “lay flat” hammock for gear that’s best stored flat. We used:
24ft 1/16 in wire rope
2 1/16 in crimps
4 1/4 in eye-bolts
2 1/16 in thimbles
1 tiny quick link
1 small straining screw (eye-to-eye)
2.5 yrs nylon netting (purchased, interestingly enough, at a bridal fabric store)
- Secure eye bolts into studs at least 3ft apart on each wall
- Construct loop through one end of straining screw using thimble and crimp
- Attach straining screw to eye bolt using quick link
- Thread the wire rope through the nylon netting near the edge in 1 in “stitches”
- When you reach the next well run through the eye bolt and continue to thread
- Repeat until reaching the final eye bolt
- Construct final loop through eye bolt using thimble and crimp
- Tighten straining screw to increase tension in rope and reduce netting sag
I’m trying out something new… Infographic Recipes. I love cooking but it’s taken me years to learn the “art” of reading a recipe. And, I often find myself looking back over the same instructions five times during the cooking process. The infographic solves this problem: it presents complicated information in a simple, visual way. Let me know what you think!
It’s been too long since I’ve been outside. Long stretches like this make me a little crazy and I start to try to create my own excitement in ways less productive than a nice long hike. The latest excitement was a month-in-the-making Halloween Feast. Erica, Dan, Connor, and a flock of girls showed up with fabulous costumes and hungry bellies to enjoy: Homemade Pumpkin Raviolis with Fried Sage, Balsamic Braised Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pork Belly, Salt Crusted Pork Tenderloin (see below), and an incredible Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake. Jump to the recipes. Here are some pictures
We ate this with our hands sitting on the floor. And it blew my mind. Definitely making again!
Erica is a piñata. She made it through the night without getting hit. Dan is Mr. Clean (not a condom). I am a gopher.
My mom celebrated a very (as she’d like you to believe) un-noteworthy birthday today. She is a talented rose gardner and our backyard has at least 20 bushes of a variety of types which have all popped into bloom over the past few weeks. So, when this pie popped up on Pinterest I had to try it out for her. Sadly (or luckily?) the link didn’t include a recipe. Some googling, and a google-translate from Bulgarian, later I came up with this beauty.
Adapted from Delicious with Jolien
- 125g soft butter
- 70g powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp powdered vanilla
- 1 tsp grated orange peel
- 100g finely ground almonds
- 150g flour
For the custard:
- 100ml cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tsp powdered vanilla
- 1 tsp grated orange peel
- 6 Tbs sugar
- 4 Tbs flour
- 300ml milk (whole is best)
- 100ml white wine (I used a sweetish riesling)
- 3-5 apples
Cream together butter, sugar, and egg. Mix in almond flour and orange peel, then flour to form a dough.
Oil and flour a 23cm pie form and press the dough into the form on bottom and sides. The dough does not have a leavening agent besides the egg so it will not rise much. Place in the fridge while you prepare the custard.
In a medium bowl stir together the dry ingredients and orange peel. In a wet measuring cup mix together the three egg yolks and 100ml of cream. Mix into the dry ingredients. In a medium saucepan mix 300ml of milk and the white wine. Pour in the dry/egg/milk mixture and mix thoroughly. Heat over medium, stirring continuously to prevent scalding. Resist the urge to turn the heat up, stop when it just reaches boiling. Pour this custard on top of the crust. I stopped with about 1/4 cup still in the pan, as the sides of my tart form are short. I left about 1cm from custard to top of crust.
Use a knife or potato peeler to grate roughly 1 inch square, super thin slices of apple, leaving the peel on as these create the pretty red color. Microwave these for 30 seconds to soften them up. Roll them up tightly to create the center of the roses, pushing them into the custard every 4cm and wrapping a few more pieces around. Repeat the peeling process on two more apples, but this time don’t microwave. Push the “petals” into the custard around the rose centers. Get artistic with this part, stop when you can’t fit any more apple in.
Bake for roughly 30 minutes at 350F, check at this point and bake longer if the crust does not seem appropriately browned. Cool completely and enjoy. Great with ice cream. Best when eaten in big slices.
My “real life” starts next week, Tuesday to be exact, when a truckload of middle school minds will arrive at school expecting a world class education delivered by a stand-up comedian. To celebrate the last free weekend (at least until winter) we went down to Portland to help a few of Dan’s friends move and then joined them for a quick car camping trip at South Beach State Park outside of Newport, Oregon. This trip afforded us the rare opportunity to merge the minds of four culinarily talented campers and we came up with the following delicious and low-maintenance campfire dessert: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.
On a foot-by-foot square of aluminum foil place 1/4c of a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and enough melted butter to make it stick together a bit. On top of that place about 1/2c of sliced strawberries and sliced rhubarb. Dot the top with pieces from a large marshmallow and wrap the foil up into a packet. Place the packet next to the coals. Since cooking on a campfire is more of an art than a science it’s hard to say how long to wait. I’d recommend checking after 10-15 minutes and if the rhubarb looks soft dig in! I’d also suggest rotating it at least once during that time to allow for even cooking of the crust.
This tasty dessert followed some blog-worthy mushroom and red onion burgers that deserve more than this awful quality photo.
Last weekend, during a two-nighter to Shi Shi beach on the Washington coast, we were introduced to the best backpacking drink I’ve met yet: The Hard Palmer. This was brought to us by my sister’s boyfriend, Connor (see flying below).
2oz Sweet Tea Vodka
A bit of Crystal Lite Lemonade powder
Salmon / lemon / capers / herbs
Rub a big salmon filet with olive oil, season with salt/pepper, slice up half a lemon thinly and place over the top. Sprinkle with herbs of your choice (I did thyme and a tiny bit of lavender) spoon over a tablespoon of capers. Wrap up in tinfoil and place in a cast iron over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Push on the top gently to test doneness, fish should feel firm…if it does then you can open the foil to check.
Clams / white wine / green onions / herbs
In a tin foil pouch place clams, a fair bit of white wine (I did about a 1/4 cup for 6 clams), a big scoop of coconut oil, and some herbs de provence seasoning. Finally chop up some green onions and throw those in there before sealing up the foil and placing in a cast iron with the fish until you can see by peaking through the foil that all the clams have opened.
Sweet Potato Cakes:
Sweet potato / green onion / breadcrumbs / coconut oil / egg
Greek yogurt / garlic / lemon juice
Chop up a sweet potato into 1/3″ cubes, boil until fairly soft. In a cast iron saute green onions in coconut oil until soft. Place both ingredients in a pot or bowl and mix together with about 1/4 cup fine breadcrumbs and one egg. Form into palm sized patties and cook in ample coconut oil until browned on each side. Serve with a yogurt sauce made of garlic, greek yogurt, and lemon juice (play with proportions until it tastes right to you).
The last leg of our trip took us north through California and Oregon, and finally home to Seattle. From Sonoma we made our way up the ridiculously scenic Highway 101 and spent a night in Anchor Bay. Our campsite, although a bit pricey, had us parked not 100 feet from the beach. As soon as we arrived and had found some lunch (Bones Roadhouse BBQ) we dragged a crashpad and some beers 1/4 mile down the beach and enjoyed an hour’s nap (and pelican viewing) in the sun.
From Anchor Bay we drove further up the coast to our second to last (and possibly most awaited) destination: Lost Rocks in Klamath, CA. On the way we saw the worlds largest herd of Roosevelt Elk (and a few horses).
In Klamath we stopped by Mr. Fish Seafood and picked up 1/2 lb of clams and a large salmon fillet. Following some convoluted directions and using google maps satellite view we found the Flint Ridge campsite and trail that we would use to access the beach. The campsite was a 1/4 mile walk in, which with all our cooking gear was not too appealing, so we opted to drive the truck 10 yards further onto the bluff to an overgrown grassy area just feet from the trail we would use the next morning. We set up camp and started preparing our hard earned seafood feast. As we were about to throw the salmon packet onto the Coleman stove a German tourist peaked his head around the end of the truck and asked, “Did you see the deer?”. “The deer?” I replied. “No! The bear!” And over sauntered Little Bear, possibly a year old at most. Dan and I jumped up, he knowingly let me snag a few quick photos, and a few hand claps scared him off…at least for a bit. Little Bear returned twice during dinner and then disappeared for a few hours. His second arrival was a bit more eventful.
Dan lived in Alaska for a few years and has seen his fair share of bears. This, however, was my first bear. I tossed and turned all night, convinced that Mama Bear would be returned to seek her revenge for messing with Little Bear. Around 2:00 AM I startled awake and shook Dan, “There’s a bear over there. A big brown one. Actually, sorry, I dreamed a bear…never mind.” After waking up fully and hearing what I was saying I knew I had dreamed it up. There was no bear. But then only a minute later we heard a rustling in the food bin tucked under the tailgate of the truck, the same tailgate our heads were laying on. “I knew it!” I whispered. “I have perfect bear-dar!” Dan clapped again at Little Bear and he startled off into the grass to rustle around further from camp for the rest of the night.
The next morning, a bit lacking in rest but excited for the day, we packed up camp and bushwhacked 1/4 mile down the steep, jungly bluff to the incredible beach below. From our campsite about we could see the faint puff’s of migrating Grey Whales surfacing for air but from the beach we could easily see hundreds of whales spouting, breaching, and even tail slapping! The climbing at Lost Rocks is incredible. Easily on par with Squamish, Yosemite, and Joshua Tree bouldering (if not better for the location!). This is an area I will definitely need to return to.
Our climbing ended too soon and we made our way back up the banana-slug ridden trail and headed northeast to our last stop: Crater Lake. A quick peek, the obligatory couples photo, and a hasty snack and we were back in the car on our way home. Our final night we opted to stay in a hotel, all of which were booked up and over priced due to railroad workers and Olympic hopefuls, so we found ourselves at the Oakridge Hostel and Guesthouse in Oakridge, OR. We were treated to an empty hotel, our own bathrooms, and a homemade breakfast of granola, fruit, and oat waffles in the morning. Now home, safe and for the most part clean, it’s time to start planning our next adventure.
Friday night, after an extremely long drive, we were finally able to trade the AC in for open windows. The beautiful town of Badger, CA gifted us with cool temperatures, amazing views, and the most immaculately maintained campground I’ve ever been in. This campground had air fresheners and solar-powered lanterns in the biffy’s. We ate a quick backpacking meal that night and passed out in the truck.
Saturday morning we drove up a bumping forest service road 14 miles to the South Entrance Station at Yosemite. The CA Wilderness Firefighters were doing controlled burns on either side of the road and (questionably) had left the road open.
Entering the park from the south took us through the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias, including the largest tree in the park, The Grizzly Giant, and the third largest tree by volume in the world, General Grant.
Yosemite was by far the most crowded park we’ve been in this trip. The only first-come campsites in the valley are at the historic climber’s Camp 4. We were lucky to be spotted by some Australian tourists while loitering at the ranger booth on Saturday afternoon and scored a free night of camping. That night we pulled out all the stops and whipped up coconut curry soup, fresh spring rolls, and moscow mules.
In order to camp on Sunday night we woke at 5:45 AM (see mom, I can get up early) and dragged our crash pads and a bag over to a growing line to wait for the ranger to arrive and dole out shared sites at 8:30AM. We ended up being placed at the same sight as Saturday night, which saved us from moving bear lockers. We shared the site with 10 soldiers in the British Army who were on a three week “adventure training” tour in the US. I went to bed early while Dan enjoyed some guy time.
Sunday was a day of classic Yosemite crack climbing! We started at Knob Hill with a 5.9 hand crack that started off this season’s knuckle calluses. Took the afternoon to do some Camp 4 bouldering and finished on an ass-kicker of a 10a and a 5.8 crack.
We left Yosemite for Sonoma on Monday morning, enjoyed some much-needed showers and did some laundry. We scored a $40 motel and ate some amazing sushi in Rohnert Park.
I won’t lie. Today was the clean-pants-real-grown-up day I’ve been looking forward to all week. Today we visited Gloria Ferrer, J Vinyards, Simi Wineries, and Clos de Bois. Got free tastings thanks to Dan’s REI Visa Signature card and picked up a few bottles of delicious wine. Currently I’m happy as can be, knocking about in the passenger seat as Dan winds our dirty truck down a coastal road to Anchor Bay where I have been promised awaits cheap salmon and abalone.