Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lake Lanham

We decided to take a hiking trip last weekend at Stevens Pass. We bought snowshoes last year but never really got to use them. I wanted to take them out at least once before the snow melts. I packed some hiking gear into my Lowepro backpack and put my 50mm macro and 50-200mm in my camera vest and carried my E-3 + 12-60mm. I decided to use my vest for easy access to my lenses so I wouldn't have to dig through my backpack every time I wanted to switch lenses. I was able to fasten the snowshoes to the back of the pack, putting the tip of one of the shoes in the pocket that's made for holding a tripod. It wasn't a perfect fit but it did the job. One thing that annoys me about the Lowepro pack is that two different types of clips are used on the bag. It would have made things a lot easier if they were all the same design. Instead I ended up having to tie two of the straps into a knot to hold the snowshoes in place. Mark brought along his new Boda Bag which seemed to hold everything he needed.

We decided to check out Lake Lanham, which is located at the East end of the Stevens Pass Nordic Center, about 5 miles East of the pass. Neither of us had been there but was pretty sure there would be plenty of snow. Unfortunately since the weather has been so nice there wasn't really any powder. The snow was hard and packed down. At least the trail was easy to spot. The hike was listed as being 3 miles roundtrip but sure seemed like a lot more. It always seems that way when you're going up hill in snow/ice.

YakTraxThe first 1/4 mile of the trail was very icy and there was much slipping and sliding. At one point, while trying to pick something up, my water bottle slipped out of my vest and slid down the trail a good ways. Was starting to wonder if it would ever stop, Eventually it did. I decided it was a good time to get my YakTrax on. I put them on and they worked like a charm. I didn't take them off until we got back to the car. Unfortunately I didn't get to use my snowshoes. Mark didn't have any Yaktrax so put on his snowshoes for traction and that seemed to work well so at least he got to use his.

It was a beautiful day for a hike. It was sunn, not a cloud in the sky and the temp was in the mid-50's though it seemed warmer than that. At one point we crossed a cross country ski trail and watched a few skiers fly by. We continued on into the forest and walks up and up and up. The trail split several times. It was hard to tell which was the "real" trail, but it didn't seem to matter because all the trails ended up going to the same place. We took a few different routes coming back than we had going and it worked out. For it being such a nice day, we were expecting to see a lot more people on the trail but there were surprisingly few.

We eventually made it to the lake which was completely snow covered and sparkling in the sun. There were footprints around the perimeter of the lake but none going across it. Who knows how thick the ice/snow was. People were probably too afraid to find out if it was safe or not. We found a spot to sit down and relax for a bit and enjoy the sunshine and view of the snow covered mountains around us before heading back. We sure made good time coming back since it was pretty much all downhill.

We hiked a lot longer than planned and only had a Cliff Bar for lunch. It was around 3 by the time we got back to Sultan so decided to stop at the Sultan Bakery for some split pea soup and bread. Mmm Here's a few pics from the trip.
Snowy Mountains
SkierHiking in B&W
SnowshoeingMark's Boda Bag

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"P" is for Pizzelles

This week for the Food: A-Z Project was the letter "P". It was hard to decide what to do for it, there were so many options. I ended up doing two.

Poached Eggs - I've never actually poached an egg before, never really had a reason or want to do it. I guess I was always kind of curious about it though so I figured now was as good a time as any to do it. There's all kinds of tips and tricks people do to make them just right. I made sure the temp of the water was between 160-180ºF and put in a bit of white vinegar as it's supposed to keep the egg together. I cracked the egg into a ramekin, swirled the water around with a spoon and dropped the egg into the middle and watched as the egg swirled slowly around while I took pics. I read about other tricks people do like put the egg in plastic wrap so it stays together. That seems too easy to me and it's not as purdy either.
Poached Egg

Pizzelles - This is probably only the 2nd time I've made them. They're an Italian cookie that requires a special pizzelle maker that looks just like a waffle maker. It makes crispy thin wafers that are addictive. I think I ate about 10 of them today. They're so light and thin you just want to keep eating them. Most of the recipes I found are basically the same with just a few minor differences. I followed one I found on PennLive.com with a few adjustments. I used Anise extract instead of anise oil and added a bit of rum.

Ingredients
3 large eggs - Room temperature
2 cups flour - Sifted
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
3 teaspoons baking powder
1.5-2 teaspoons Anise Extract
2 tablespoons Anise Seeds
½ cup water
1 tsp rum

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs; then slowly whisk in sugar, cooled melted butter, Anise extract, seeds and water. Slowly mix in flour and baking powder mix. Set aside and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes before baking. If the batter becomes too thick, whisk in small amounts of water.

Spoon one tablespoon of batch per cookie on a pre-heated Pizzelle iron. Latch the handle so it makes a tight fit. After the initial steam escapes from the iron, take care to not over bake them. They should be slightly golden brown, but not dark. I prefer mine light. Check them after 10 seconds. Remove them with a fork and set them on a flat surface for drying before they are stacked. A course dish towel is good because it absorbs any residual moisture. Home made Pizzelles are not necessarily perfectly round like the cardboard commercial ones. Homemade ones can be any shape that comes out of the iron. That's a symbol of genuine homemade greatness.

Store them in an air tight container. A tin is a traditional favorite for storing pizzelles because it keeps them fresh and crisp. The best pizzelles are so thin that it is difficult to transport them without breaking a few. If your pizzelles cookies soften due to high humidity, place them in a slightly warm oven for about ten minutes. Each batter makes around 35-40 thin cookies.

P is for Pizzelles Pizzelle Stack
Pizzelle Baker

Monday, February 15, 2010

Yogurt

NaanI needed a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt for the naan recipe I made a couple of weeks ago but the grocery store had only large containers of plain yogurt. Why is that? They had all kinds of small containers of yogurt with every flavor imaginable except plain. So I ended up getting a 32 oz container of plain yogurt. way way way more than I needed. So I again had a dilemma of too much of something and asked my fb/twitter friends for advice.

The most common suggestion was fruit smoothies. Why didn't I think of that? I stocked up on some fruits to make some smoothies with some of the yogurt. I got some kiwi and strawberries and still have a bunch of frozen blueberries that I had picked last summer.

I also got a good recipe for Waldorf Salad from Frank that was actually pretty tasty. I'm not sure I've ever had waldorf salad so don't have much to compare it to but it turned out well. I used craisins instead of raisins and didn't use dates. I also used one can of albacore and one can of regular tuna. Probably would have been even better if I used two cans of albacore.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Naan

This week is "N" in my Food: A-Z project so I decided to try making some naan using Aayi's Recipe.Naan

Ingredients:
1 tspn active dry yeast
2 tblsp yogurt
1.5 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 C milk
2 tblsp water

Garlic-butter topping(Mix both):
1 tblsp butter
1 tsp garlic

Directions:
1. Heat the water to about 110 degrees. Add yeast, sugar and salt. Leave it for 10mins till the yeast forms a froth(gets activated).

2. Add all remaining ingredients and make it into a dough. Knead for 3-4mins. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place for about 2-3hrs till the dough doubles in volume.

3. Preheat the oven to 425F.

4. Make balls from the dough and roll them. Do not make them too thick as they puff up when baked. Apply a little butter on top. Line them on a lightly buttered cookie sheet.
dough Rolling
5. Bake in the oven at 425F for about 7 mins till they puff up.

6. Take out, apply the garlic-butter mixture on the top and keep it in the oven again. Bake for another 5 mins till the top looks brownish.

Makes about 8 small naans

I followed the recipe and didn't really make any modifications. I may have rolled the dough out a little too thin or cooked the naan too long cuz it came out pretty crispy. Crispier than the naan I've had before. I also sprinkled some chopped basil on top after it was done cooking. It didn't taste quite like traditional naan but it wasn't bad. I ate 3 of them fresh out of the oven. It's the best time to eat them!

Monday, February 01, 2010

D&D

D&D SuppliesNever played before but always wanted to. I have several online friends from Minnesota that play on a regular basis and I was always jealous when they talked about getting together to play. It sounded like fun, but I never knew anyone locally that played and I didn't want to play so bad that I'd play with a bunch of strangers so I didn't think I'd ever play. A friend started posting about D&D last month on FB so I inquired about it and before I knew it I was in a campaign.

I tried to read up as much as I could about it so I would be somewhat prepared for the first session. Everyone was new to 4th edition D&D so it was a learning experience for all. I bought a player's handbook, set of polyhedral dice, journal, pencil, eraser, DM bribe and a bottle of Elven wine. I thought I had everything I needed for the first session. After the first session I decided I needed a few more things. A couple more sets of dice and a set of power cards for my Ranger. I think I have everything I need now.
More Dice Sets Dice Set
We met up on Sunday at 1:00 in the afternoon to get our characters rolled and do a bit of adventuring, if time allowed. Time didn't really allow but we couldn't wait and did it anyway resulting in me getting home at 12:30 in the morning.

I rolled a bad ass Archer Ranger. We also have a cleric, fighter, warlord, and a wizard in our party. We at least got in one good fight and a bit of xp before we closed the session. We meet again in two weeks!