Saturday, June 30, 2012

Colorado Bound!

We leave today for a big family getaway to Colorado with my parents, Sister, Brother & their significant others plus Pdog & cousin Bexar (Sister & M's new lab pup). I am so very excited to spend 10 days with my favorite people in the world - Hooray!We'll celebrate 4th of July and my 30th B-day and generally being together. Much fly fishing & hiking is planned.

We have 4 nights of back country camping in the Uncompahgre Wilderness in the beautiful San Juans plus 4 nights in a cabin (actually 2 cabins). We have been looking forward to this for so long - I can't wait! (fingers crossed that Pdog sleeps in a tent better than she did on the Sewanee...)
Here we are in Maine in 2007 on our last big adventure - its been too long!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Texas Bound!

We head off today to Texas. Happily TD, Prairie and me are all road warriors so its a pretty easy trip. We hope to be in ATX by dark!

And we can't wait for Prairie to meet this guy this evening!
Sweet Bexar - my Sis & BIL's new pup

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

(oven) Fried Green Tomatoes

These were delicious & even TD loved them!

Not even really a recipe here - I mixed 1/2 C panko with 2 T Parmesan which was enough to cover a cookie sheet of tomatoes. Be sure to slice the tomatoes 1/4 inch thick - thinner = mush & thicker = tough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tomatoes and arrange on a sheet pan. Sprinkle tops with panko mixture and bake for 15 minutes. Yum! I served these with some sour cream with a bit of parmesan.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What have we been eating around here?

We had several delicious meals of wild game - Alaskan Dall Ram courtesy of my father & brother. We had one large ham roast (about 3 lbs). Usually, we'd recommend to cook this low and slow - like a pot roast. However, we just marinated this (OJ, jalapenos & garlic) and then grilled it. Medium rare perfection!

We also enjoyed some oven fried green tomatoes with this. Recipe coming soon!

We also had these delicious sweet potato patties. They couldn't be simpler - boil 1 cup of lentils until soft (about 30 minutes) combine with 2 baked sweet potatoes. Add in some flavorings if you'd like - I added diced jalapeno & feta. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees or pan fry. Yum! We ate them as patties and also as burgers - shown here with mashed turnips & purple hull peas.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bear trapping

At the end of May we got to tag along on a day of bear trapping for a study that I am collaborating on. This bear needed to be moved because it was getting in someone's yard but it was also close to our study area, so we could GPS collar it.

It was a pretty amazing experience seeing this guy up close and personal. We put the collar on him, tagged his ears, gave him a tattoo and took a tooth for an age sample and then released him in a nearby conservation area with the hopes that he won't go back and get into trouble.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Coconut Panna Cotta

Continuing with this week's dessert theme - Coconut Panna Cotta

We had dinner recently with some friends who are allergic to gluten (him) and dairy (her). I made this just like my regular panna cotta but subbed coconut milk for the half and half. It was delicious. I topped it with some mango puree (one really ripe mango whizzed in the blender, which was plenty for 10 servings). It was delicious and a perfect summertime dessert with all the tropical flavors.

Coconut Panna Cotta
Serves 8-10

2 cans full fat coconut milk, well shaken
1/2 c sugar or other sweetener
1 T gelatin
1 T vanilla
1/4 c water

Grease 8 ramekins or a deep pie plate.
Dissolve gelatin in water and stir til well mixed. Set aside to soften. In a saucepan, gently heat the coconut milk and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Remove milk mixture from heat and stir in vanilla and gelatin. Pour into dishes. Refrigerate at least 4 hours until well set. Serve chilled with mango puree or berries.

Calories: 194, Carbs: 12g, Fat: 15 g, Protein: 2 g

Thursday, June 21, 2012

(Paleo) Zucchini Brownies

I can't really get on with the Paleo/Primal eating thing. I mean, I am all for low carb, no white stuff - we eat about 1 meal PER WEEK that has potatoes/corn tortillas/whole wheat pasta - the rest is just meat, eggs, veggies and beans. We've also drastically cut down on fruit - we each eat about 1 serving per day.

But those beans? I love them. And lowfat milk? yogurt? cheese? love those too. So paleo eating isn't really for us.

But! These brownies are GREAT! (Although I make them with peanut butter so they aren't really paleo anyway). I bake them in a 9x 9 pan and cut them into 25 squares. They are pretty moist, so I store them in the fridge.

Better Paleo Zucchini Brownies (adapted from Fast Paleo)

1 c nut butter (I used peanut)
1 c zucchini shredded/grated
1 egg
1/3 c sweetener (the recipe calls for honey, next time I'll use brown sugar)
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 T vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg

Stir all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. Bake in a greased 9x9 or 8x8 pan for 25-30 minutes. 

Nutrition Info: Calories: 86, Carbs: 7, Fat: 5, Protein: 3

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Old Fashioned Chess Pie

I had family visiting a few months ago and I wanted a one bowl, chocolate free dessert - I thought of Chess Pie, which is a very old-fashioned, Southern sort of pie. I went to my source for all things old-fashioned, The Pierian Study Club Cookbook from San Saba, Texas.

My Mom gifted me with this nifty volume containing all four editions from 1948, 1956, 1962 and 1994. My family on both sides are from this small town so its fun seeing recipes from family members and its interesting to see how the recipes change through time - there's a lot more I would like to make (and eat) in the earlier years.

Chess Pie is a perfect example:
The 1948 edition has one recipe - traditional (cornmeal, no lemon), 1956 has Lemon Chess, 1962 has four recipes - including one that calls for evaporated milk, dates and raisins (!!!), 1994 only has 10 pie recipes in total and no chess.

I went for the 1948 version from Mrs. Frank Sloan - Merne is my Uncle Bill's mother and at 90+ is still living on her own out in the country (and driving!). She is also an excellent cook.
Couple of typos - should be beat thoroughly (not heat) and should be 350 degrees - not 250.
Important note: For Chess pie all your ingredients should be room temperature. And I used stone ground cornmeal - would be better with regular yellow cornmeal.

I am not much of a pie person, but this is a good one - sweet and custardy with good vanilla flavor.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Silver River Canoeing

We had a great visit with my brother last week. He hadn't seen our new place yet, and we were happy he could squeeze in a trip before he moves to Seattle.

Pdog LOVES J & was pretty sure that he came to town just to visit her.

We had a great paddle on the Silver River while he was here. Beautiful water, great scenery, and lots of wildlife. It rained a bit while we were eating lunch under a covered platform, but was mostly a perfect overcast day. It wasn't too hot, which was great since no swimming is allowed due to the high numbers of alligators.

We put in at Ray Wayside Park which had ample parking and nice boat ramps and did the 5 mile paddle up to the headspring. We had originally planned on renting a kayak for J, but ended up all going together. The boys paddled while Pdog and I kept watch.

 Most of the gators we saw were pretty small. We even saw a group of hatchlings (we assume Mama was nearby...)

 TD caught this cute baby Armadillo (there were two) while we were eating lunch

 and he grabbed this guy right out of the water as we glided by...

 There are several troops of naturalized Rhesus macaques that live along the Silver River. They were pretty interesting to watch.

 This guy crawled down to the water and caught something

 Prairie thought these were the biggest squirrels she had ever seen!
 There is no development along the entire stretch of river, except for the headspring

 The water is crystal clear and looks perfect for swimming - too bad for all the gators!

This was our favorite paddle so far and we will definitely be back!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Finders Keepers!

I have been wanting matching nightstands - with drawers!!! - since we moved in but haven't been able to find the right combination of height/style/price/color (what style & color goes with a cherry sleigh bed and a rustic pine dresser anyway???)

But, the other morning when walking Prairie I found this little chest that a neighbor was throwing away. It looked like it had been stored outside or in a garage, and the bottom beveled piece was beyond saving, but I thought it might be salvageable - and the height (tall!), style (simple!) and price (FREE!!) were spot on.

I vacuumed it inside and out, pried off the rotten bottom boards, reglued the peeling veneer (and pulled some of it off too) and then wiped it down with Formby's refinisher. This stuff is pretty miraculous and I would like to use it on my dining table but I am too chicken (it can also remove stain). After the refinisher, the wood was much cleaner, all the paint splatters were gone, and the wood was much smoother, although it had sort of a dull, cloudy look to it. There were a few dark marks on the top that I couldn't remove completely, although they were smaller than before.

I then rubbed on some high gloss tung oil. Its very easy to use (just rub on in a circular motion and buff like car wax) and I think it looks a lot nicer than polyurethane (although I haven't used the new wipe-on poly). Perfection! (or as close to perfection as you can get without spending any money)
 This color is the most accurate - its pretty similar to the pine dresser although I think this wood is maple.

 You can see the dark spots and a spot of missing veneer on the bottom, but its an improvement over what was here before.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What's new around here?

Since I last posted in the fall, TD got hired and then un-hired from a job here in town (it wasn't the best fit, so probably for the best, but still...). So we are (again) looking to both find permanent, fulfilling jobs in the same place. We will both apply for jobs this academic job season and see what we get. It's stressful to still not feel settled but we are thankful for one good job and a great place to live for now.

My first semester of teaching came and went and I survived. I actually really enjoyed it - especially my undergraduate students. I was prepared for a hellacious time, being so busy that I couldn't even eat or shower, so the fact that my semester was a few notches below that was a pleasant surprise.

The other big news is that I joined a gym and TD and I are working out together. We did this pretty regularly his first semester at Harvard, but I literally hadn't darkened the door of a gym in over 2 years (and I hadn't done any other exercise either). The big moment for me came when I basically couldn't carry our canoe back up from the river (never mind lift it onto the roof of the car).

I've been pretty successful at getting into a regular workout routine (for the first time ever?) - we go to the gym together 3 mornings a week & I do 20 minutes of cardio & then lift weights. I am doing 20 or 30 minutes of yoga a few nights a week. I also have been running and I am happy that I can run 30 minutes without stopping (or feeling like I am dying). New shoes help too.

I still am waiting for my canoe rematch. Hopefully all this work has paid off at least a bit.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Continuing on the theme of things I haven't ever done in ABQ, we spent Sunday morning exploring the Petroglyph National Monument.

We wanted to go somewhere where we would have a chance of seeing some wildlife, but given the cooler weather, we weren't sure if anything would be out and about. We decided to check out the petroglyphs, so that we would be sure to see something cool even if the animals weren't out.

 The trail we were on goes up a valley rimmed with volcanic rocks. While we were scrambling over the rocks, a family down below found a large bull snake. TD went to see & caught it so they could see it.

 She was very calm.

 While TD was playing snake handler, look what I found - a western diamondback.

 Some of the glyphs were very elaborate like this warrior with a headdress.

 My favorite were the animal shapes like these birds, snakes & turtles

 Deer? Armadillo?

We saw another bull snake on our way out. The trail we did was a nice 1.5 miles out and back which took us about 2 hours poking along. And we were happy we didn't choose to ride the skyrail to Sandia Peak as the mountains were stormy all morning.