Monday, February 13, 2017

A New Activity For a New Year

I've been neglecting my blog for quite some time now.  Not intentionally, though.  I still cook and create.  As for the hiking segments (posts) the mountains of the Sierra's will need to wait for the Spring (perhaps Summer) thaw.  It's been a record snow year in these parts.  Most of the trails we hiked in Spring and early Summer possibly won't be accessible until Mid-Summer because of  the snowpack.  Attempting to get some much needed exercise has been difficult but not enough to go join a gym.  I prefer to breathe fresh air vs gym air.  Yes, I'm a gymaphobe!  Luckily, our son and daughter bought us new snowshoes for Christmas!  Now our activity level doesn't have to suffer.

For weeks we were able to just walk out the front door to take advantage of our snowshoes.  A few weekends ago we tried them out in much deeper snow (probably 25-30 ft depth) up near Mt. Rose summit and also at Galena Creek park the day before.  I had no idea what amount of calories you burn doing this new activity.  In deep snow on hilly terrain for about an hour you can rack up 750-1000+ calories.  Factor in the high altitude of over 8500 ft and you have the perfect outdoor gym!  The pristine sparkling vistas and solitude (except for an occasional snow mobile revving) almost took away the yearning I've been having for the beach!

Mountains or beach, you decide!

Back to cooking....  During the Winter months our grill enters into hibernation as it's wheeled into the shed, only to reappear in late Spring.  Until then, I'm busy creating mostly stove top, crockpot  and oven meals.  I do miss the char you get from the barbecue. Years ago I would have deep fried them and brushed a bit of sauce on at the end.  (too much grease, cleanup and not so healthy)  Now,  I just bake them and baste with the sauce as they cook.

These are the easiest baked wings ever!

1 pkg of wings (usually 10-12)

about 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

1 Tablespoon honey

about 1 tsp sriracha hot sauce

Spray a sheet pan with Pam or pan coating spray
Arrange wings onto sheet.  Cook in oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Before turning over baste with sauce.  Continue to cook for additional 10 minutes, turn, baste and cook for 5 more minutes or until done.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hiking Around Reno/Tahoe #10 Sagehen Creek Trail

At the beginning of Summer, as I may have mentioned before, I purchased a book describing most of the hiking trails throughout the Reno/Tahoe area.  I've been using it as a guide since my first hike of the season, "the dreaded Church's Pond episode"!   I learned very quickly what the term "This hike is classified as strenuous" means.  It's a combination of altitude, narrowness of trail,  how many feet the actual climb is (such as you gain 2000 ft).  I also have my gauges.  I look for forested or shady trails.  I like to go the distance rather than start climbing right out of the chute.  I prefer to be near a water source; I'm not into desert hiking AT ALL!

So, with that in mind, the Sagehen Creek trail was almost perfect except it didn't have much uphill climbing.  It was a serene walk in the park.  The trail was mostly narrow, single file even, nicely shaded and scenic.  Only one part comes to mind that could have been a negative.  A clearing of dry grass looking a bit like the Serengeti.  But, after you trudged past this sparsely treed area the view opened up to the distant Stampede reservoir.

Looks like swampland


Stampede reservoir in the distance

Beautiful meadows

The trailhead has limited parking off highway 89 (North).   As you leave Truckee, California go about 7 miles or so to reach it.  It may be worth mentioning that I probably wouldn't hike it in Spring or early Summer.  Mosquitoes and an assortment of other bugs could be a real problem.  This trail was an easy jaunt, just under 5 miles.

I would do this again without hesitation, maybe packing a picnic lunch, a blanket and a book!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Hiking Near Reno/Tahoe #9

Spooner Lake Loop

How many times have we passed this lake located within steps to the highway as we drove up to South Lake Tahoe?  All this hiking has opened up a new love and inquisitiveness of the area we live near.  There is some unbelievable beauty out there if you're willing and able to get "off the path" and onto a forest trail.  The Spooner Lake trail is more of a walk than a hike.  Not much elevation other than the altitude so the only challenge this day was the occasional dodging out of the way as the trail runners whizzed by.  Just happened to be a race going on!

The trail is an informative  one with markers scattered throughout depicting the flora, fauna and a brief history of the area.  There's also plenty of shade from pine and old growth aspen trees that have survived over the years.  What was especially poignant were the "memorial marker" benches along the trail as we made our way around the loop.  It was a way to reflect, say a prayer and realize how fragile life is. 

We did this in early August so the lake level was low.  We did part of an adjacent Marlette trail earlier in June, but the mosquitoes were out for blood that day!  I would imagine the Fall would be gorgeous as the aspens display their colors....

Get out and walk if you can!

a great day

walk in the woods

very tough and old aspens

view from a memorial bench


finishing up the loop...done counterclockwise

Monday, September 26, 2016

Zucchini Bread

My husband has this saying and he's usually right.  "Don't change horses in the middle of the road" or "If it's not broken, don't fix it".  I recently tried to fix it using a different recipe for zucchini bread.  I'm sure the recipe probably worked but in my rush to bake this delicious bread, I grabbed the wrong measuring cup, thus using half the amount of flour for the bread.  So, as I watched the oven, needless to say after ample amount of baking time, the bread was still like mush.  All was not lost though.  I grabbed some frozen blueberries and proceeded to build a blueberry cobbler, of sorts.  It turned out okay, but lesson learned on measuring correctly.

I realized while glancing through my blog that I hadn't posted my zucchini  bread recipe which is fairly fool proof!  It's the perfect way to put a dent into a huge zucchini harvest!   Hopefully it works for you....

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, beat until foamy.  Add 

2 cups shredded zucchini
1 c crushed pineapple

In another bowl blend (I use a whisk instead of sifting)

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg

Add the flour mixture into the egg/sugar mixture  folding until well blended.  Add the 

1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans)

Pour into 2 greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Enjoy! 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

How I Spent My Summer Vacation #1

Summer vacations from the past have usually been few and far between consisting of a quick weekend here or there.  One year was spent in Half Moon Bay, CA, on the coast hiking, relaxing and enjoying fantastic seafood.  Another, was spent in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  These were relatively quick trips coinciding with my birthday or our anniversary in July.  I have to admit, I felt a tinge of jealousy as we somehow managed to be in Venice, Tuscany and France during hubby's October birthday.  I guess it "just happened" that way!

This Summer I jumped at the chance to go on a RV trip to Yellowstone and Jackson, Wyoming.  It was everything I envisioned and more.  It truly is "God's Country" with miles of pristine forests, rolling hills and meadows filled with wildflowers, bubbling cauldrons dotting the landscape and incredibly blue sky.  We were lucky to see elk, and buffalo/bison but fortunately no bears or mountain lion even though on one of our hikes, the Ranger suggested we take our bear spray from the holster and "be ready"!

Although the Yellowstone area swells in population during July you can still have moments of solitude if you get off the beaten path and away from the famous "Old Faithful".  We were able to experience this solitude when we drove up into Montana just north of West Yellowstone.  Sometimes if you're willing to "get lost" those beautiful and memorable adventures will follow.  On the northern end of Lake Hebgen a river runs through it.  One of my all time favorite movies was being played out as we approached the river's edge on our hike through knee high wildflowers.  Fly fisherman lined the shallow banks and if we would have had more time I would have loved to watch more of their graceful casting.

Continuing on this hike we somehow lost the trail.  Maybe the scenery was too gorgeous because between the four of us we found ourselves blazing a new trail through an evil (think Wizard of Oz, flying monkey forest) prickly overgrown forest.  With each step the stickers dug into my ankles and barbed their way into my skin.  Unfortunately, our friend's dog suffered the brunt of the stickers as they quickly burrowed into her fur and skin.  Poor Lulu!  It took a while but Lulu got a "new hairdo" that day as we took turns snipping, pulling and cutting away the thorns.

All the trauma aside this was one of the most gorgeous mountain areas I've been to in a long time.  Pictures NEVER do it justice.  You'll just have to take my word for it.  BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL 

gorgeous wildflowers

Lulu on the trail

hubby admiring the view

Beautiful scenery = lost trail

Lake Hebgen, Montana
More to come!