Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Bunch of Frozen Turkeys

Many years ago when I was oh, twelve or so, Dad thought it would be a fabulous idea to go camping on Thanksgiving. It sounded like a great plan actually. We'd grab the tents, head out to Kodachrome Basin with his extended family and have a Thanksgiving adventure in the outdoors. Complete with dutch oven Thanksgiving dinner, of course.

Truth be told I don't remember a whole lot about the trip. Except for the fact that we all almost died from exposure. Ok, maybe it wasn't that bad, but it was close.

You see, in November it is not uncommon to see snow. And sometimes it's also windy. On our camping trip we had both of those things. The day we got there we set up our tents and tried to explore the surrounding area. This is a little difficult to do when the only place to hike is up the side of a steep mountain on a trail the size of a walnut which is also soaked with snow and muddy and slippery. So instead we spent the evening melting our socks on the campfire, trying to keep the frostbite away.

That night was the worst night of my life. Mom and Dad were snuggled in their tent and my sisters and I were in another tent. We each had our own separate mummy bag in which it was simultaneously impossible to move and to keep warm. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if the zipper on our tent wasn't broken. It only zipped half-way down which meant that the snow was blown into our tent by the hurricane-like wind. I spent the night swapping between a suffocating airtight cocoon with my sleeping bag pulled over my head, and leaving the top of the bag open to breathe while my hair froze to my scalp.

The next day was Thanksgiving. Praise the Lord, at least we'll get some food. Somehow cooking a turkey and Thanksgiving meal in dutch ovens actually worked. I had to put my gloves on in between bites to keep my fingers from freezing off, but that was by far the most delicious Thanksgiving meal of my life.

As soon as we'd eaten everybody decided they'd had enough of cold weather camping and went home. I'm pretty sure the trip was cut short by at least a couple of days. While this was probably the worst Thanksgiving ever, it was also the most fun and memorable. Breaking tradition doesn't always work, but it sure makes things more interesting.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It'll Be Better for All of Us

Any of my loyal readers (thank you!) who have been with me for a while have probably noticed the increase in food/cooking posts over the last year. I'm basically a hopeless Foodie and cannot help but talk about all things food related. The problem is that even though it's a big part of who I am and what I like to do, I feel like it's kind of taking over this blog. It's become a bit of an overbearing monster to the memories and daily happenings that I would like to shine through here.

Because I don't want my food obsession to take over this blog and because I don't want to stop talking about it and because I enjoy it so much, I've decided to start my own food blog. I know there are about a bazillion other food blogs out there but I don't care. So for those of you who love food as much as I do and enjoy all my blah blah blah about cooking, join me over at Gravy Training.

For now I'm going to keep all of my past food posts on this blog, but I've also transferred them over to Gravy Training, so you can find them there too. Keep in mind this new blog is still a work in progress, there are glaring errors and bugs that need to be worked out, but I'm too excited to keep from posting there, so join me, warts and all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

101 in 1001

My friend Holly over at Snapshots posted about a really cool sounding project called '101 in 1001'. You basically make 101 goals that you want to accomplish over 1001 days.  I thought this would be a great way to accomplish some goals and also something that would be fun to track and tell you about.

 First of all, here are my important dates:

Start: November 20, 2010
Finish: August 17, 2013

My 101 goals:

Find out my blood type
Buy a Spin Bike
Run 5 5ks
Get a pedicure
Go backpacking
Try dry shampoo
Workout 3x per week
Drink at least 40 oz. of water a day
Have my "vitals" checked once a year (cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.)
Floss everyday for a month
Go in for a complete physical
Be able to do the hard version of my kettlebell workout
Lose 5 pounds and keep it off
Whiten my teeth
Go to dermatologist for skin cancer/mole check
Get a bikini wax
Add at least 10 more accessories (necklace, earrings, scarf, etc.) to my wardrobe

Wear a necklace or earrings everyday for 1 month
Get my eyes checked
Call at least one family member at least once a week
Send Christmas cards
Send birthday cards to all family members
Visit Corinne in Arizona
Have dinner with Mom once a month
Learn how to read French
Learn how to use Photoshop
Learn how to use new Solidworks software
Knit or crochet a scarf
Catch a steelhead
Finish a painting
Take a picture a day for 30 days
Try painting with watercolors
Play the piano at least once a week
Fish Silver Creek in Idaho
Go on a guided fly fishing trip
Catch a big brown on a streamer
Fish the Salmon River
Keep a fishing journal
Ride a horse
Learn a new hard song on the piano
Play my clarinet at least once a month
Start a food blog
Subscribe to 5 new blogs
Do at least one post per week on my personal blog
Write about 5 memories
Write about how I chose my career and what I do
Do a video blog post
Eat 5 things I’ve never tried before
Host a dinner party
Find my signature dish
Go vegetarian for a week
Bake bread 1x per month
Try cooking tofu
Go to an Indian restaurant
Make crème brulee
Bring a treat for co-workers at least once a month
Try 5 new restaurants
Make a Julia Child recipe
Attend a concert
Read a book written by someone I disagree with
Watch 26 movies I've never seen starting with each letter of the Alphabet
Read 150 Books
Go to a football game
Stay up late and watch a meteor shower
Read a book series
Read a book in one day
Read a Western
Go on a date with Seth where we have to dress up
Go see a comedy show
Watch 10 movies that I should have seen already
Go to an event, festival, or convention
Go to the symphony
Go to a Jazz game
Go to the beach
Visit 2 states I've never been to
Visit Wine Country
Go to the big Farmers Market in Salt Lake and buy something
Start a "car fund"
Save at least $20k for a house
Save up enough for a 3-6 month emergency fund
Bring my lunch to work 3x per week
Plant an herb garden
Learn how to tile
Get a dining table
Buy a House
Update and hang family pictures
Frame and hang one of my photographs
Make my bed everyday for a week
Vacuum & Dust once a week
Clean the bathrooms once a week
Clean out my pantry
Organize my bathroom cabinet
Wax my car
Take my car in to get the recalled thing fixed
Give a handmade gift
Host a giveaway on one (or both) of my blogs
Make an lolcats with Gracie in it
Get a passport
Clean out my work e-mail inbox weekly
Replace the battery in my watch
Replace the battery in my car remote
Compliment a stranger

Monday, November 15, 2010

Today's Special: Turkey Recipes

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I'm sure you're all getting your brains and bellies ready for some turkey. Whether you'll be cooking a turkey or just eating it, here are some recipes I've tried out that are definitely worth your time.

This was my first real turkey and I have to say it turned out really well! I think the brining made a huge difference in how moist the meat turned out, so don't skip that part! There are a couple changes I think would make this recipe even better. I don't know that I'd spend the money on the candied ginger the brining calls for as I don't think it really affected the flavor. Also, the recipe has you start at 500°F then you cover the whole turkey with tin foil and finish it at 350°F. The only problem with finishing it out this way is the tin foil basically steamed the skin so it wasn't crispy anymore. Next time I would remove the foil maybe 15-20 minutes at the end of cooking and bump the temp back up to 500 deg. to crisp up the skin and give it just a bit more color.

This was also the first time I've ever made my own stock. To do this, I picked the turkey carcass clean and saved it in the fridge until the next day when I could make this. I also saved the raw turkey neck from the turkey cavity. This was very simple to do and although it took a while to cook, it was something I didn't have to sit there and watch. For those of you who have never made stock before, it will solidify (unlike the store-bought stuff), so don't be all freaked out thinking you did it wrong. It'll turn back into a liquid as soon as you heat it up again. This made approximately 6 cups, so not a ton, but definitely a great thing to have on hand!

I made this soup once before with Seth's wild turkey. It was just as good this time around and maybe even better having used the fresh turkey stock I'd just made. The recipe says to add salt to taste... I added at least 2 tsp. This is one of my favorite soup recipes.

Ok I know I probably don't need to say anything about this sandwich given the name of it (and hello, look at the picture.... Mmm) but this was so good! The recipe says to use apricot jam (or a couple other types), and I tried it that way. It was good with the apricot jam, but I thought it was even better using Dijon mustard. And don't be stingy with the apple... cut nice thick slices or you won't be able to taste it.

If you have any turkey left at this point I would be very surprised. If so, lucky you! You can eat more of this stuff! Now some of you are probably like, "Yeah this is great and all, but I don't have to cook a dang turkey. I'm on pie duty." What's that you say? PIES? Pies just happen to be my specialty. Don't believe me? Check these babies out.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hanson Family Reunion 2010

After reading my dear sis-in-law Rachel's blog, I realized I had completely forgotten to write about the Hanson family trip up to Island Park in early October. We had a short few days to spend together, but managed to have a great time fishing, checking out Yellowstone, and hanging out together in the cabin.

Instead of a wordy post, I thought I'd just share some of the pictures we took... enjoy!

The first day we went fishing at Island Park Reservoir. This is Mama Hanson driving Soren around like a horse in Seth's hoodie. It's a lot funner than it looks.

Arielle went out fishing in the float tube (she's not sleeping, just concentrating really hard...)

Dad Hanson getting all rigged up.

Me, Marty Jr., and Dad Hanson

Calysta, Marty, and Tessa. Oddly enough, Soren the Hoodie Horse was the only one who caught a fish... with the help of Grandpa of course!

Abe and Liam overlooking the main floor at the Yellowstone Inn.

Collette and Calysta walking around the Old Faithful boardwalk.

 Old Faithful

 Me and Seth on the boardwalk.

This is my sexy pose.

Scott, Amanda, and little Charlotte

A coyote that wandered into the parking lot at the mud pots.

So there you have it... the Hanson Family Trip! It was definitely a lot of fun and we were all sad to leave. Thanks everyone for all your help and hard work!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Today's Special: Breakfast Edition

As a pre-cursor to this post, let me say that I do not make breakfast on weekdays. Seth is out the door by 4:30am and he's lucky if I'm half-conscious when says 'goodbye.'  My neighbors are lucky if I have my pants on when I rush out the door at 7:15am. However, I do try to make up for my lack of early morning meals by whipping up some good stuff on the weekends. Some of these are faster to make than others, but none of them require much skill. And according to Seth, you have to serve them all with bacon. Otherwise, it's just not breakfast.

German Apple Pancake

A super easy and fairly quick breakfast option. I made this in my cast iron skillet and it worked perfectly. This is one of those breakfasts that seems a little special... I mean, you don't get German Apple Pancakes everyday, right?

I love, love, love this French Toast. It's not too eggy and always turns out so delicious. I think it's the addition of flour to the batter that makes it so good. I like to use Texas Toast bread or even better, leftover French bread. Regular bread works too, just not nearly as delicious as the thicker stuff. This is definitely one of my favorite breakfasts.

Seriously the best waffles ever. They always turn out wonderful. I typically use 8 tbsp. of butter (the recipe gives an option as to how much you can use). I've also made these with half wheat and half white flour and they were great that way too. For some reason these tend to turn out better on waffle irons with the larger squares (think Belgian waffle) than the traditional smaller squares. But still good either way.

These are a great variation to traditional pancakes. I typically make these when I have a banana or two that are overly ripe. I like these because the banana flavor isn't too overwhelming and the texture of the pancake is always nice and fluffy. Try these with Blueberry Breakfast Sauce (also works well with mixed berries) and you'll probably die. Also, I have to call pancakes "pampcakes" because of this.

I've never been very good at making omelets, so this is a great alternative to the stove-top method. You can pretty much use any kind of filling you want... I've used cooked diced bacon instead of ham and I'm sure you could add onions, peppers, or mushrooms. This is VERY filling. I usually halve the recipe and there's still leftovers.

(Uh... I made this today but sort of screwed up and even though it still tasted fine, it looked a little odd so imagine a delicious looking omelet... or look at the pictures in the recipe link. See, I mess up sometimes too!)

So the link to this one just goes to a basic white sauce, but that's pretty much all you need for this recipe. I  hard-boil about 4 eggs, chop them up and add them to the white sauce. Grind in some fresh pepper and salt then throw the sauce onto a couple slices of toast and you're done!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Shangri La

Seth and I braved the rainy weather this weekend and headed up to fish on one of my favorite spots on the Weber River (don't look so shocked!). All I can say is, it's near Taggart and it holds the best fishing hole ever... so good in fact that we call it "Shangri La."

The day started out drizzly but pleasant and only got better. It was a great day to be out and as we'd hoped, the fishing was awesome! We fished our way up to the Shangri La hole using streamers. Seth bought a few articulated streamers a while back and wanted to try them out. He was using an orange one called the "Sex Dungeon" (gotta love the fly fisher sense of humor) and ended up catching one medium sized brown and got several strikes. I used a regular cone head olive/black streamer with white rubber legs and didn't get anything. Then Seth let me try his olive colored Sex Dungeon. It looked really good swimming but I didn't get any action with that one either.

Seth's Sex Dungeon (HA!)

A big Rainbow Seth caught on the orange Sex Dungeon on a different fishing trip less than a month ago.
I gave up on the streamers after we got to the Shangri La hole and switched to my tried and true "Horny San Juan" nymphing rig which consists of an orange or two tone red/tan San Juan Worm as the attractor and a Green Hornet as the dropper. I immediately caught a couple nice browns. Shangri La was living up to its name.

So, in order get to the Shangri La hole we had to pass a guy who was fishing a nice riffle (behind me in the picture above). We were fairly close to him, but not so close as to disturb him. He fished that same riffle for at least a half hour... as long as we were fishing our hole, and neither of us saw him catch anything. I assume he was a fairly good fisherman as he was all decked out in Simms gear. Well after he left and went further downstream, I was a little curious to see if I could pick up a fish or two from that same hole. Sure enough I landed a nice brown and a whitey. You know, I hate to be all cocky and such but that sort of stuff really makes my day. Maybe it's because I'm a girl and feel like I have something to prove out there but nothing beats catching a fish out of a hole a guy just left.

Seth and I both caught about 10 fish during this trip which was the best day we've had for a little while. Seth even accidentally foul hooked a big old honking Sucker in the tail. That thing was HUGE! And UGLY! I can't get over how ugly those things are! It looks like they could suck you right up like a vacuum! Yuck!

It's days like these that just make me love fishing. I can't help it. What a great way to spend time getting to know your local water and surroundings. And not only is the fishing great, but the atmosphere is amazing. Maybe some people don't like this sort of thing, but most of the Weber River follows closely along the train tracks. These tracks are heavily used and see at least one train an hour or so. I love trains. They're so beautiful and I love to watch them every time they pass. They're so big and powerful and I love to hear them blow their whistles and listen to the screeching sound of the cars running along the tracks. I always have to stop and stare and listen.

I've vowed not to let bad weather keep me off the rivers. Fishing is one of the few ways I know of that helps me stay centered and happy.  Can't imagine how I got along without it. If you fish, you know what I mean. If you don't, you should.