Monday, August 23, 2010

Because That's What We Do In Colorado

(click on any photo to access the entire album on Flickr)
I wasn't willing to let go of summer just because we have a wee little'un in tow so I planned a family camping trip up in the mountains.  Normally Ferg style camping is rather rustic as we can never seem to embrace the beauty of car-camping.  We are all decked out with backpacking gear which is great on the shoulders after many miles on the trail, but it does lack certain creature comforts.  Namely a tent large enough to fit our growing family.  We have on more than one occasion squished two people and a dog into a 2-man tent and it is NOT comfortable.  Not at all.  I'm through sleeping curled up in the fetal position to give Molly a small patch of floor to call her own for the night (as if she actually slept instead of walking her head into every wall of the tent like a drunken mime, shaking with terror because OMFG did you guys hear that?  That sound outside the tent??!?).  Yes, we needed a bigger tent.  And bigger we got!  We finally settled on an REI Basecamp 4 model which perfectly fits 2 adults, one infant, one dog, and a crap-load of their stuff.  Seriously, I can never go back.  There's so much room!  And you can kinda stand up and stuff! 


Of course we needed a good ol' fashioned  Coleman camp stove to go with our new tent.  And it's really easy to setup!  And it cooks food evenly!  I'm getting spoiled here.  Next thing you know I'll be wanting a blow-up queen sized mattress and a bug zapper.  So off we go to Lost Park, near the Lost Creek Wilderness area.  We arrived on a Thursday afternoon so luckily we had most of the campground to ourselves.  It really is a beautiful area and the sites were well separated so you got a feeling of isolation often missing when car camping.  Steve setup the tent while I nursed Holly in the car (to get away from the mosquitoes...why do I always forget about the bugs?) and then we moved all our gear into the new tent-palace.

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We hung out here and took ridiculously cute pictures of Holly all bundled up before heading out for a pre-dinner hike.  

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 The valley we hiked along was just gorgeous, but we did find it odd that there were cow pies all over the trail.  We didn't think that cattle grazing was allowed in Wilderness Areas, but I guess we were wrong.  It was quite wistful to think that this is how cattle ranching used to be before feed lots and factory farms.  This doesn't seem to be a bad life for a cow. 

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Surrounded by the sounds of mooing echoing off the valley walls, we head back to our campsite and ate some dinner.  A thunderstorm had rolled in so poor Steve stood out in the rain cooking while I snuggled with Holly in the tent.  By this time everything was damp from the humid air and the temperature was dropping rapidly.  We put as many layers as we could on Holly to keep her warm.

Even still, this was a REALLY cold night.  When I checked the car thermometer the next morning it read 38-deg, so I have the feeling it was pushing freezing during the middle of the night.  Coupled with the damp air, it just gets inside your bones.  No one got much sleep but I have to give Holly kudos for taking the whole experience in stride.  She was such a champ and never complained about being cold.  It sounds ridiculous now, sitting in my 80-deg house, but I had her in footed-jammies, baby leg warmers, a hat, a swaddling blanket, anotherswaddling blanket, a fleece blanket, and even that didn't seem like enough so I wrapped the whole burrito in my down jacket.  I think she had the equivalent of my +10deg sleeping bags at that point so I relaxed enough to get some intermittent sleep of my own, up to my eyeballs in my mummy bag.  Steve says it was the coldest night he's ever spent in his sleeping bag.  And Molly, oh Molly.  She kept getting up and trying to walk on top of us all night.  I purposefully put her in the opposite corner from Holly but still we didn't get more than an hour at a stretch of continuous sleep.  I only had to nurse once and managed to stay mostly in my sleeping bag, though my arm got very cold.  There was no way I wanted to change Holly's diaper in the middle of the night so I just left her dirty until morning.  Even then I wore my fleece gloves because my hands were so cold!  All can say is if it was me, I would have screamed from having that freezing cold wipe on my bare bum, but Holly just silently scowled.

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It warmed up quickly once the sun came up and promised to be much warmer than the day before, but even still we agreed that we would end our trip short and not stay another night.  I didn't want to push our luck and Holly's good temperament, and besides we were all pretty tired.  After breakfast we loaded Holly into the baby carrier and she instantly passed out. In fact, I don't think she was conscious for more than about 3 hours all day.  (Secret to getting your baby to sleep: keep them in a meat locker all night).

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This really is such a beautiful area and I hope to do a lot more exploring here.  If I ever get brave enough for mushroom hunting I'll be spoiled by the bounty.  Until then I'm content to take pictures:

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All in all it was still a successful trip and I think we've shown ourselves that we can continue having fun adventures as a family.  Already we're thinking about going to Moab this should be a lot warmer!  Hopefully Molly won't fall into the ash-filled fire pit next time:


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't you hate it when....

...when you're having the best dream about getting some nummy milk, and then you wake up to find it was only your car seat.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Welcome home, dear!

Those who know me know I love to cook.  I really love it.  Cooking is a creative outlet for me; it is challenging and immediately rewarding, and so totally different from my work life at the end of the day (even though there is a lot of science to be learned).  I used to furtively look up recipes at work in between making charts, but hey! now I can do it all day long!  Well, that is when I actually have a free hand for hunting/pecking at the keyboard.  It's very hard to disrupt such moments of beautiful innocence for the sake of a recipe.

Baby Holly
My latest obsession is a blog called Smitten Kitchen, which apparently everyone already knew about except for me.  I love her writing style and her fantastic photographs...and of course the food!  I've probably made close to 20 recipes so far off her website, and while not everything I've made has been a winner, there have been plenty of meals I know I'll be eating for years to come.  I've fallen in love with cooking all over again after discovering this blog. 

I'm no food blogger but I wanted to share some of the delicious meals I've made in the past few weeks.  First up was a divine breakfast pizza.  Seriously, bacon and eggs on a pizza!  I can't get over the genius of it all.  It was so damned tasty.

Pair that up with some green beans sauteed in the bacon drippings and a fresh peach-blueberry cobbler and you've got yourself a perfect summer menu.

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Later in the week I made a tasty zucchini and ricotta galette.  The dough was a little tricky to work with, but in the end it made a beautiful presentation.

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette 
For those of you who have one of those zucchini plants that is trying to take over the world, here is something easy and delicious to make with those gorgeous yellow blossoms.  Steve and I had these tapas-style in Venice and absolutely loved them.  It's important to pick the blossoms early in the morning while they are fresh and fully open.  If you wait until the day gets warm they will have closed up and be impossible to work with.  Also, make sure there are no pollenating insect stuck inside before you start cooking!

Fresh Squash Blossoms
You can keep the blossoms for a few hours in a plastic bag in the fridge with the stems wrapped in a damp paper towel, but they must be used the same day.  We stuffed the blossoms with a mixture of ricotta, mozzarella and herbs, but you can also just use them plain.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms
After stuffing the flowers we battered them in a tempura-style batter and then deep fried them in vegetable oil.

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Once they are golden brown set them to cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy them immediately; they're delicious!

Fried Squash Blossoms
I want to give a shout out to a couple more recipes that I had great success with. I hope you enjoy them too:
BTW Holly is still wonderful and adorable.  I know you're probably all thinking, enough of the food!  We want baybee pictures!!!  Well, here's a video of the wee one we've dubbed "Thrashy McThrasherson":