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Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekend Endevors

We picked this:

and some of it became this:

We picked tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, green onions and  yellow peppers.  I thought the yellow peppers were banana peppers, but I have my doubts.  I think they were mislabeled at the nursery this spring.  So we may have canned hot peppers.  We'll find out! 

We also canned some zucchini relish, which sadly only used two medium zucchini.  I'm thinking of doing another batch next weekend as relish is fairly versatile.  Final jar tally - 10 half pints of peppers, 5 pints of peppers, 8 half pints of relish.   That's enough for one weekend, don'cha think? 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recipe Review From 8/16/10

Last week was a stellar week for new recipes.  Beautiful weather lent itself to a variety of vegetable dishes and grilling.  All of these came together fairly quickly  - or could even be made ahead of time - which meant more time to enjoy the evenings.

Grilled Peppers and Lentils  (Ckng Lght Aug 2010) 3.5
I pulled this together at the same time I was making stuffed grilled zucchini from the week previous -  I had the grill going anyway so why not grill up those peppers?  This came out just a tich on the bland side for me, but the addition of some goat cheese sprinkled on top made for a delightful lunch.  One can grill the peppers while the lentils cook. 

Sorry - no picture! 

You can substitute 1 1/4 teaspoons ground fennel seeds if fennel pollen is unavailable.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)

1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
1 green bell pepper, quartered and seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, quartered and seeded

Cooking spray

1 1/8 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 cups dried lentils (about 3/4 pound)
1 small onion, peeled and halved
1 bay leaf
2/3 cup chopped plum tomato
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel pollen   I skipped

1. Preheat grill to high heat.

2. Lightly coat bell pepper pieces with cooking spray. Place bell pepper pieces, skin side down, on grill rack; grill 12 minutes or until skins are blackened. Place bell pepper pieces in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes; peel and chop bell peppers. Discard skins. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Place bell peppers in a large bowl.

3. Rinse and drain lentils; place in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 3 inches above lentils; add onion and bay leaf to pan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are just tender. Drain lentils. Discard onion halves and bay leaf. Add lentils to bell peppers. Add remaining 5/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, tomato, and remaining ingredients to lentil mixture; stir well.

Edamame Succotash  (Ckng Lght Aug 2010) 4.0
Very quick and easy to pull together.  I did follow the recommendation and served with a baguette and herbed goat cheese.  Make refreshing lunches in the following days.  Also a great way to use up some garden produce - I added some zucchini to mine.  Yum!

Edamame makes a hearty addition to this summer staple. If you can't find frozen, shelled edamame (green soybeans), substitute the more traditional lima beans. Serve with a baguette and Neufchâtel cheese.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

1 slice center-cut bacon (can omit and use olive oil)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chopped sweet onion
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen, shelled edamame, thawed  (can sub peas or baby lima beans)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons torn basil  (I omitted)

1. Cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan; coarsely chop bacon.

2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Melt butter in drippings in pan. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn kernels; sauté for 3 minutes or until lightly charred. Add edamame, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar and next 5 ingredients (through bell pepper); cook 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with bacon and basil.

Chicken Sliders with Pickled Onions (Ckng Lght Aug 2010) 4.5
These were good both in taste and in ease of prep, especially since the Husband was great in pulling this meal together.  It helped that I had frozen, grilled leftover chicken from a couple weeks ago on hand.  Really, this can be done with a rotisserie chicken if you don't want to putz around with grilling thighs.  The pickled onions are tangy-sweet and add a really nice counterpoint to the BBQ sauce.  This isn't a traditional red BBQ sauce, but a delightful white one. 

Shredded, grilled chicken thighs are dipped in Carolina-style barbecue sauce, a vinegar-based mix with mustard, a little honey, seasonings, and butter.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 sliders)

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, divided  (I subbed cider vinegar)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey, divided
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed  I recommend rotisserie chicken
1/8 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
8 (1.5-ounce) pull-apart dinner rolls (such as Sara Lee) (I used w.w. ciabatta rolls)

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Combine sliced onion, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons honey in a small bowl; toss well. Cover and refrigerate onion mixture at least 30 minutes.

3. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 1 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoons water, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Simmer 5 minutes; stir in butter. Remove from heat; keep warm.

4. Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and salt. Place on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from grill; cool slightly. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken to saucepan with mustard mixture, and toss gently to coat.

5. Cut rolls in half crosswise. Place rolls, cut sides down, on grill; grill 1 minute or until toasted. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture over bottom half of each roll. Top each roll with about 1 teaspoon drained onion slices and top half of roll. Serve immediately.

Grilled Corn with Honey Butter (Ckng Lght Aug 2010)
I wanted something different than regular butter on my corn and this recipe was right next to the Chicken sliders.  Hmmm...I thought, something to go with the BBQ!  A nice change of pace - I would recommend cutting back on the black and red pepper as it was almost to much heat in contrast with the sweetness of the honey.  I

4 ears shucked corn

Cooking spray
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Place corn on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 8 minutes, turning frequently.

3. Combine butter, honey, salt, and peppers; brush over corn.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dinnertime Visitor

So there we were, having dinner,
when the Husband calmly goes,
 "Check out what just walked into the yard." 

A nine-point buck.  Sweeet!
What a fine looking fellow he is. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Superior Hiking Trail Guided Hike, Aug 21

If this post seems a bit like deja-vu, that's probably because it is!  I initially reported on this segment back on August 2, after the Husband and I hiked it in anticipation of this weekends facilitated hike.  The Husband wasn't able to join me due to an injury, so I hooked up with a couple friends and we had a dandy time. 

Twenty-two hikers and one dog showed up at 10:00am Saturday morning under less than auspicious skies.  Lake Superior was having her own way with a heavy fog bank and significant mist.  We had some folks come flying in at the last minute, not anticipating heavy construction coming through Duluth (even the detours have detours now; seriously, that's how bad it is!).   I went through my safety spiel, a hike preview, and basic introductions before getting people organized into shuttle cars to get us to the start point at the Lake County Demonstration Forest. 

People can hike at their own pace and soon everyone sorted themselves out into smaller groups according to ability and chattiness.  By about 12:00 the sun broke through the foggy-mist and really brightened the hardwood forest into a melange of greens and browns.  I noticed that the first hints of  Fall are appearing - a yellowish hue to the maples and ashes.  

On this segment, there are really only two decent lunch spots - one at the Stewart River Campsite and one on a rock knob about a mile beyond the Stewart River site.  Most of the group chose the campsite, and about half of us hiked on to the rock knob.  There was plenty of water for Kiba, the newfie-lab mix, with full creeks and ditches. 

The faster people in the group hiked this in about 5-5 1/2 hours.  About what the Husband and I hiked it in several weeks ago.  The slower paced people in the group finished in a respectable 6 hours.  We celebrated the successful completion of the hike with the traditional brrewski of choice, while chatting and changing out of wet boots. 

I think everyone had a good time - there were a lot of smiling faces and great conversations throughout the day. 

Next SHTA Guided hikes:
  • Sept 18 and 19, the upper most two segments - from the Canadian border south.  Great hikes, both of them.  Should be some decent Fall colors pending any windstorms between now and then.   This is set up so the hiker can stay over night in Grand Marais or camp somewhere north of Grand Marais.
  •  September 18 10:00 a.m. Jackson Lake Road to Otter Lake Road                          8.7 miles. The trail reaches its highest elevation of 1829 feet on this section. It includes a scenic old growth maple forest and overlooks of Jackson Lake and Swamp River valley. Challenging with steep ascents and descents. Meet at the Otter Lake Rd trailhead parking lot. At Hwy 61 milepost 128.9, turn north on Arrowhead Trail and go 4.5 miles to Jackson Lake Road. Turn right on Jackson Lake Rd and go 8.4 miles. At T-stop, turn left on Otter Lake Rd and go 2 miles to trailhead parking lot.

  • September 19 10:00 a.m. Jackson Lake Road to Arrowhead Trail

    5.1 miles. The trail descends creek valleys and climbs rocky ridges with great views of Lake Superior and Isle Royale. Meet at the trailhead parking lot on Arrowhead Trail (Co Rd 16). At Hwy 61 milepost 128.9 turn north on Arrowhead Trail and go 3.3 miles to parking lot.
  • Oct 6Sonju Lake Rd. to Finland Recreation Center   7.5 miles. A beautiful hike through maple forests. Hike along the east branch of the Baptism River and by SonjuEgge Lake. Meet at the trailhead parking lot at the Finland Rec Center. From Hwy 61 milepost 59.3 go 6.2 miles on Hwy 1 through Finland. Turn right on Co Rd 7 and go 1.3 miles to parking lot by ball field just past Rec Center.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Probe by Margaret Wander Bonanno

Probe picks up ten years after Captin Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise saved Earth from a mysterious and deadly unknown object by stealing a klingon ship and retrieving whales from the 20th century. 

Now the mysterious Probe has returned on the eve of the death of the Romulan tyrant known as Praetor.  The Romulan's have extended the olive branch of peace to the Federation, but suspicions abound on both sides.The Romulans send Subcenturion Tiam and his musician wife Jandra as part of the negotiating team, along with her twin brother who will be part of a historic group of archaeologists to descend to the planet Temaris's surface for the first time in eons. 

The Federation has been instructed to send Dr. Benar, a leading authority in archeology, along with Ambassador Reily, a past interning Lieutenant on the Enterprise and student of Ambassador Sarak.  When an assassination plot fails, and the Probe annihilates a Romulan cargo ship and planet, the peace treaty falls apart.  It now falls on the shoulders of Captain Kirk to salvage what peace he can for the safety of the entire Universe. 

Hmm...sounds rather grandiose and convoluted, doesn't it?  Well, this is Star Trek after all and it was grandiose and convoluted. 

I found the writing style to be more explanatory than story telling.  There was a lot of exposition thrown in which I found to be unnecessary.  This world has already been built, it follows a movie (Star Trek #4 I believe), and the characters are established.   The constant comparisons to US and Russia were heavy handed and really seemed out of place in the far future.  It's was like bringing the Nazi's back in Pattern's of Force (TOS, ssecond season).  The future just can't replicate the past. 

To clarify, I don't usually read Star Trek books.  The movies and TV show are plenty and visually more appealing (I can't believe I just admitted that...).  But given the circumstances of being the recipient of this book, I felt obligated to read it.  Recommended if you're a seriousTrekkie and want to know more about the mysterious Probe and the whales.   

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Knitting Update, Aug 2010

I realized I haven't had a knitting update since May!  Far far too long.  Make it seem like I haven't been doing anything.  Not quite the summer projects are certainly less than in the winter time but I've still been plugging away on odds and ends. 

I've finished two pairs of socks.  First pair was for Sis K2
Yarn - KnitPicks, stroll hand painted in "Tea Party"
Pattern - basic stockinette
Needles #1

Second pair will either be for myself or will be gifted.
Yarn - KnitPicks, essentials in Masala
Pattern - Cabled Rib with Moss Stitch (Sensational Knitted Socks)
Needles #1.

This was my first time doing cables on a sock and I really enjoyed the pattern.  It was pretty simple to memorize the 8 rounds necessary so I didn't have to drag around the pattern everywhere.  The only hard part was remembering which round I left off on. 

The next two hats were very quick to knit.  This was a request from D - he wanted a hat with ear flaps so I knit up the first hat only to find he didn't care for the oatmeal color on the bottom.  No problem.  I knit a second one up starting with dark blue.  Ear flaps went on this weekend.

Pattern: Ol' Pappy Hat from Pints and Purls
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool (four colors)
Needles - #6 circulars

And, Nordic Mittens! This is the second pair I've made with this pattern.  First pair I did on #4 needles and they turned out way small.  I had enough yarn to make a second pair following the pattern recommendation of #6 and they still turned out on the small side.   I did the color scheme opposite for this pair.

Pattern - Nordic Mitts by Paton Yarns
Yarn - Decor by Paton yarn
Needles - #6 circulars

Currently on the needles is a Child's Beach Top in pink for Miss A.  I haven't decided what second project will be.  Probably a scarf as I have two of those in the que.  Or some hats to match the Bella mittens.  Stay tuned!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Recipe Review from 8/2/10

Lots of new recipes from this past couple of weeks!  I'm starting to get back into the cooking groove.  Hmm, maybe a sign of Fall?  No, mostly a sign of lots of garden produce!

Chicken and Guacamole Tostadas  (Ckng Lght, Aug 2010) 
True to it's billing, this is indeed pretty quick to pull together.  I didn't use a rotisserie chicken but grilled my own.  During the summer time, on the weekends, it's so easy to throw a bird on the grill for an hour and a half while doing yard work or whatever.  Then I have extra left over for chicken salads, sandwiches, etc.  This was enough of a meal for us, but if serving more, then some grilled corn on the cob or a fruit salad would be good summer side. 

Smoked paprika gives the chicken rich, grill-like flavor—with no cooking. Look for tostada shells (fried, flat corn tortillas) near the flour and corn tortillas or in the Mexican food section of your grocery store. Serve with lime wedges.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 tostadas)

1 ripe peeled avocado
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped tomato, divided
3 tablespoons minced fresh onion, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
8 (6-inch) corn tostada shells

1. Place avocado in a small bowl; mash with a fork. Stir in 2 tablespoons tomato, 1 tablespoon onion, 1 tablespoon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and garlic.

2. Combine remaining 1 cup tomato, 2 tablespoons onion, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and jalapeño; toss well.

3. Combine chicken, remaining 1 tablespoon juice, and paprika; toss well to combine. Spread about 1 tablespoon guacamole over each tostada shell; top each with 1/4 cup chicken mixture and about 2 tablespoons salsa.

Quick Spaghetti and Meatballs (Culinary in the Country)

This was another recommendation from Culinary in the Country via Joe that I must rave about. Fairly quick (especially when made the night before) and incredibly flavorful) - I departed from the recipe just a bit to tweak it to my preferences.

I’ve been using San Marzano canned tomatoes in my pizza sauce lately and decided to give them a try here. I used one can of whole tomatoes and one can of diced. I added a spoonful of sugar to the sauce as I’ve heard that helps with flavor in tomato based sauces. Toward the end of cooking, I scooped out about two cups and blended them, then let everything simmer for about 15 minutes. I prefer my sauce thick with a few chunks. 

I also made the sauce and meatballs ahead of time, still saving 2 cups of sauce and 8 meatballs for future Spinach Calzones. Come dinner time it was just a matter of heat, cook pasta and serve with minimal dishes at the end.

Please note – the recipe does call for hot Italian sausage, but I think turkey sausage would be a great substitute. I didn’t substitute this time as a treat for the Husband.  You can also just omit the sausage and substitute fresh veggies.  The sauce is that good!


Plank-Grilled Zucchini with Couscous, Spinach, and Feta Stuffing  (Ckng Lght Aug 2010) 4.0
This was pretty quick to pull together even with the changes we made to the recipe.  I used goat cheese instead of feta (love melted goat cheese!), I used marjoram instead of mint, and Israeli couscous instead of regular.  I did note after I made this that quinoa would be a great substitute to go GF. 
We didn't cook up all the zucchini at once because there is only two of us.  I'll set the extra "stuffing" aside and cook it up again later - which also means this can be made ahead of time!  Don't have a cedar plank?  No biggie.  The cedar just infuses a nice subtle smokiness to the dish, so you can just grill as normal or put some wet woodchips in an aluminum foil "baggie" and smoke that way.  I would make this again. 

Plank-Grilled Zucchini with Couscous, Spinach, and Feta Stuffing
Cedar planks lend this dish a pleasant smokiness. If you don't have planks, cook the zucchini halves directly on the grill. Use zucchini with some heft; if it's too thin, it may get too soft.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 stuffed zucchini halves)

2 (15 x 6 1/2 x 3/8-inch) cedar grilling planks
2 1/4  1 cup organic vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 1 large)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
3/4 cup uncooked couscous   (I used Israeli)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) diced feta cheese  (I used goat cheese)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Soak planks in water 1 hour; drain.

2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

3. Place broth in a large skillet over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Add shallots and spinach; cook 5 minutes. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in cheese and next 5 ingredients (through pepper).

4. Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Sprinkle salt evenly over zucchini. Spoon about 2/3 cup stuffing into each zucchini half.

5. Place planks on grill rack; grill 3 minutes or until lightly charred. Turn planks over; place zucchini on charred sides of planks. Cover; grill 12 20 minutes or until tender.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Precursor by C.J. Cherryh

Depending on how you look at it, Precursor is either book 4 in the Foreigner series or book 1 of the second trilogy. Personally, I think it’s book 4. But, as usual, I’m quibbling.

The premise of this book, picking up three years after the conclusion of Inheritor, Paidhi Bren Cameron, recalled early from a visit home, finds the politics of the Atevi mainland all topsy-turvey with the imminent departure of his co-paidhi Jason Grahm along with a very unexpected contingent of humans on the next shuttle to the struggling space station. What takes him even more by surprise, is the ajji has ordered him to the space station as well to negotiate the terms and conditions of the Atevi people rebuilding the space station.

Instead, he finds himself thrust into the middle of a Pilots Guild upheaval, unable to contact Jason, unable to communicate with the captains of the starship, reaching only tentative agreements with the Mospherian contingency, and his messages to the planet monitored and even questioning whether they were reaching the intended recipients. Bren has two choices, retreat to the planet’s surface to negotiate terms of Atevi interaction or to force his way into the Pilot’s Guild and risk the ship turning on the planet itself.

Of the four books in the Foreigner series I’ve read now, I would have to say I think this one is the strongest. Cherryh’s writing just pulled me along. While politics and frenetic events still happen to Bren at an almost unbelievable pace, he is finally starting to take control and dictate the situation rather than being pulled hither and tither. We see more interaction between him and his staff. The reader is treated to how Atevi react in a human space, and how humans, up to now unaccustomed to Atevi, begin to interact with them in a close and confined space.

A delight to read. Recommended if you’ve already read Foreigner (1), Invader (2), and Inheritor (3).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Ride 2010...

...or, Me Without My Camera

That's right, I left the camera in the the finish hour away.  ((sigh))  So it goes.

Anyway, Team Shakti (yup! we've named our small group!) with guest D rode the 50 miles on Saturday from Giant's Ridge to Hibbing as part of the Great River Energy - Mesabi Trail Ride 2010.  An organized ride along the Mesabi Trail on the Iron Range of Minnesota encompassing a 50 mile, 26 mile and 12 mile family route which all end in Hibbing at Bennett's Park to food and live music. 

This ride needed a bit more coordination than the Velo Duluth's Split Rock Tour.  For one, it is a one way ride.  You need to either have two cars and shuttle yourself and bikes, or take advantage of overnight storage and the morning shuttle.  We opted for option three - S, D and J biked from Duluth to Giant's Ridge on Friday afternoon (about 65 miles) and I drove up with my bike.  We left our bikes at the start point in secure indoor storage.

Saturday morning we then drove to Hibbing (the finish line) and took the shuttle bus to the start.  After borrowing a tire pump from some friends of D's, we were on the trail by 9:00am.  What a lovely morning!  Almost no wind, cool temps (about 60*) and sunny.  The trail departs Giant's Ridge and meanders through all the Range Towns: Biwabik, Gilbert, Virgina, Mtn Iron, Buhl, Chisholm and the organized ride ends in Hibbing even though the trail continues on another 40 miles to Grand Rapids.

What I liked about this was it's a trip through Minnesota's history - the towns, now diminished in size and population but reflecting once the heyday of mining.  The man-shaped landscape in the huge hills of mine tailings and the open faced mines now filled with aqua water.  The path passes by roads long abandoned, by crushing structures now rusting and silent, and other remnants of a history dating back to the early 1900's. 

This was also very well supported - they had five rest stops with fruit, baked goods, water and Gatorade (and bathrooms, very important those bathrooms!).  They had mobile assistance on the trail so if someone broke down or had a medical emergency, assistance could be there in a short period of time.  At most major intersections or questionable trail crossings, they had trail marshals who monitored traffic and pointed the cyclists in the right direction.  That is a huge staff of volunteers who are all very much appreciated. 

I had only a couple complaints about this very well organized and attended ride (there were over 600 people signed up!).  One, lack of basic bike courtesy.  While the vast majority of cyclists are polite, there were some gits, and one of these gits almost caused a crash with D by not looking before turning to stop and meet a friend.  There were a lot people on the trail and vigilance was of utmost importance.  Two, the food at the end - no green salad!  The porketta was fabulous, brats and dogs okay, but the wild rice salad dreadfully bad and I did get a laugh out of the colored marshmallow and fruit cocktail salad with whippy cream that I haven't had in years. Only in MN.  But really, a fresh green salad and some veggies would have been much appreciated.  Especially for anyone vegan/vegetarian or with other food allergies. 

It took the four of us 3 hours and 24 minutes to complete the ride with only three rest stops.  We averaged only 14.7 miles per hour, which does seem slow, but we did note that there were significant places where we had to slow down for 90* turns in the trail and street/highway crossings. 

I don't know that Team Shakti would participate in this organized ride again.  The logistics getting the bikes to the starting point and bodies to the finish point and shuttling back to start point were a bit...time consuming.  However, I do believe we are going to try and ride this with a support car later this fall again.

A very enjoyable ride. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lake Superior Hiking Trail Guided Hike: Aug 21

I've participated in several of the Lake Superior Hiking Trail Associations facilitated hikes over the last couple-three years and they really are a lot of fun. Everyone cooperates in shuttling people to the start point, you hike at your own pace, you can talk to a naturalist if you want,  hike on your own or with others. I've met some great people doing these facilitated hikes.

The next one of note is:

August 21, 10:00 a.m. Lake County Demonstration Forest to Reeves Road
11.0 miles. New section! The highlights of this section start with the Lake County Demonstration forest, which has an interesting collection of hiking trails, including an interpretive loop. The relatively level section also features several old growth maple forests and the scenic Stewart River.

Meet at the Reeves Road Trailhead. At Hwy 61 milepost 26 in Two Harbors, turn north on Hwy 2 (Lake Cty Rd 2) and go 5.5 miles. Turn left at Reeves Road and take an immediate left into the trailhead parking lot.

What can a person expect from this hike? The first five miles go through predominately maple forest, at some points the canopy is so thick that there is just a carpet of leaf debris on the forest floor and a few scattered twisted stalk. There are a few rock knobs covered in lichen and moss that bring you up out of the forest before dropping back in. The trail then crosses the west branch of the Stewart River, crossing through a low area made up of ash, before coming to the Stewart River campsite and the river itself. A good lunch spot.

Happy hikers!

The trail then meanders through Lake County managed forests, crossing recent harvests and young spruce and red pine plantations. The path drops down into ash types, and through hardwoods. The hardwood stands are notable as Lake County Land Department is doing a variety of management opportunities such as thinning and patch cuts. A neat way to see how hardwood types can be perpetuated.

This trail is a bit different from other SHT segments in that it is moderately easy to rolling for the Superior Hiking trail. It doesn't have the huge rock outcrops that predominate the more northern segments. It also crosses numerous woods access roads, the North Shore Trail (a snowmobile trail in the wintertime) and goes under a railroad bridge.  A good hat and sunscreen are recommended!

North Shore State Trail crossing under the RR bridge

Friday, August 6, 2010

Movie Review: Julie and Julia

I've read both books this movie is based off of: My Life in France by Julia Child and Paul Prudhomme and Julie and Julia by Julie Powell so when I heard there was going to be a movie I was intrigued, and when I heard that Meryl Streep was going to be Julia, I knew I had to see it.

It was a nicely done movie, Meryl Streep did a spot on Julia Child, if not just a tich over done. The Husband noted right off the bat, as Paul and Julia are assigned to Paris right after the war, that it wasn't reflected how battered Paris was. I also thought Julia's ignorance of food and cooking could have been emphasized a bit more at the beginning as that was what really launched her 'food affair'. There were other small nuances that needed to be overlooked as well from both books, but I have to remind myself, they were condensing two books into one movie.

The segways between Julia Child's life and Julie's world were also very smooth and the parallels nicely emphasized; the 'mid-life crisis's, the inexperience of the cooks, the tribulations of daily life. But it is there that the similarities end. As in the book, Julie P. comes across as a bit of a whiner. Downtrodden government employee by day, frantic cook by night, neglecting husband and social life in her quest to cook 524 recipes in 365 days in one tiny apartment.

Julia C., as an ex-government employee with nothing to do in post-war Paris, she takes cooking lessons. A passion is ignited within her and she hooks up with Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck to produce a French cookbook for the "American cook who has no servants to cook for her..." Julia comes across as bold, unconventional, and daring.

I enjoyed the movie even though I knew how it was all going to come together at the end simply because Meryl Streep was a delight to watch - it was as if she was channeling Julia herself. I did find myself becoming fidgety as I didn't realize (and should have) that this was a 2 1/2 hour movie. Fortunately my knitting was nearby.

Recommended if you like Julia Child and have a lazy afternoon or evening to commit to it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recipe Review 7/26/10

We've been eating a fair amount of fish this summer, trying to have it at least once a week.  It helps that the Husband went on a Lake Superior charter fishing trip back in May that was quite successful, and we have some great sources for local fish in town.  The downside is, there just isn't much to say in the way of grilling fish and having a side salad or grilled zucchini (garden has been quite prolific - I may have to start turning the zucchini into baked goods).

Some of my favorite fish include: halibut, whitefish, trout, salmon, and coho's (a type of salmon).  My least favorite fish?  Walleye and Lake Trout.  I know, I know, very un-Minnesotan of me. 

This past week, partially inspired by the movie Julie and Julia, and partly inspired by listening to Splendid Table on MPR,  I pulled out my underused Mastering the Art of French Cooking (J. Childs) and made...(drumroll please...)... Hollandaise Sauce!  Yes!  That decadent golden sauce that adorns a perfectly poached egg on an english muffin.  

But, this wasn't destined for eggs benedict.  Indeed not! This creamy rich sauce was headed for grilled Lake Trout.  As I noted above, I don't much care for Lake Trout, finding it to be a rather strong oily fish, but when drizzled in a lemony, buttery velvety sauce...very palatable.  

Grilled Lake Trout with zucchini and Hollindaise Sauce (sorry, not the best pic)
I won't type up the Hollandaise sauce here, instead I'll refer you to a copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking or to Michael Rhulman's Classic Hollandaise Sauce blog post. 

The other notable recipe this week was Creamy Polenta with Kielbasa as provided by Culinary in the Country

The Husband actually made this dish, so I cannot comment on how it all came together.  When I walked in the door, he did note that it does take a good 45-50 minutes for the polenta to simmer into a smooth, creamy dish.  It turned out just like Joe's pictures!   I can comment though that one can change the cheese added to the polenta at the end - it calls for parmesan - to make it tangier if desired.  Some asiago, a splash of blue cheese, and others would be a good counterpoint to sausage or kielbasa.

Joe recipe called for sausage, but we used venison kielbasa as we had a lot made up last time we were deer hunting.  I'm not wild about traditional sausage and kielbasa is my compromise.   A crisp garden side salad rounded out the meal.  


Monday, August 2, 2010

More Tall Ships 2010!

Over my lunch hour on Friday, a co-worker and I went down to the Canal to check out the Tall Ships in port.  To give you an idea of how popular these ships were, Monday mornings news reported that upwards of 200,000 people were in town at some point over the four day event.  That's more people than Grandma's Marathon, which used to be the people drawing event, and I think it easily surpassed Blues Fest. 

But I digress.  If a person wanted to get up close and personal with the ships, one had to pay.  If one just wanted to admire, there was plenty of room to do that too.  Which is what we did. 

For your viewing pleasure:
HMS Bounty, Roald Amundson, Amistad, Barque Europa

HMS Bounty (aka The Black Pearl, Mutiny on the Bounty)

Roald Amendson, US Brig Niagra, Barque Europa

Roseway (has rose colored sails)

Smallest ship in for the tour (sorry, couldn't find it's name)

I think next time the ships are in town, I am going to sign up for a sail boat ride.  I've only ever done one, on Lake Champlain in 2004, where it stormed and rained so we had to head back early.   Still, to sail on a wooden ship on Lake Superior, that would be so cool. 

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