Thursday, June 28, 2012

Super Loop Pre-Ride in Beautiful Winter Park

It has been a real heatwave here in Colorado. It seems like most of the state is on fire. Yesterday we had a chance to get away from it all by going up to Winter Park so that Ellie could pre-ride the Super Loop race course. She'll race it this Saturday.

It is a beautiful, much cooler place. They started out on the road and made their way through the trees as part of the course.

After the kids rode the course we had lunch. Then the boys did the Trestle Downhill Bike Park trails.

Ellie and Kathy opted to go for another ride. They did some of the downhill, and some cross country. I think Ellie had a good time and feels a bit more confident about taking on downhilling. She had a small crash and ended up with an impressive bruise.

It rained off and on. It did not seem to bother the kids at all.

Ellie and I carpooled with Anita and Maris. Anita and I spent the day walking around The Village and chatting. It was a nice change from the big clean that I am trying to get done at home.

(The photos are actually from the Hill Climb race and taken by Annette of Mountain Moon Photography)
Ellie had so much fun that she decided she would do the Intergalactic Pond Crossing at the end of July. It is part of the crank Worx Freeride Festival. She is super jazzed and is now trying to come up with a great costume idea. Here's a video of the fun:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

After a year of watching bits and pieces of production, I was happy to go see Moonrise Kingdom. The kids, along with Kohlton and his mother, Britt, and I went to see it last night. It was great. I would recommend it, especially if you like kind of kitschy, artsy movies.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Veggie Garden

I'm always a little late in getting our veggie garden growing. I admire people who start their stuff form seed in the dead of winter. I used to try that, but my cats would nibble on the young plans. Now I put in plants from a small, local grower.

I love fennel. I have this one because it is beautiful and makes me happy. When I run my hand along its airy parts it comes out smelling a little like licorice.

The early morning light makes this tiny parsley plant look wonderful.

Now that the weather has turned hot (104 degrees yesterday - broke a state record) the tomatoes are happier. They like it hot and sunny.

These are volunteers. They've been going since before we bought our house 20 years ago.

Ethan wanted to try growing potatoes. I was not sure how happy they would be. It turns out that they love growing in our gardens. They look completely different from what I expected. I thought they would be light green and viney, like sweet potato vines. These make me happy.

This bush in the front yard has beautiful, striking color.

This is the most successful plant in our veggie garden. It was planted by the birds, I think. I know it is something from the squash family, but which member has yet to be disclosed. We will know soon.

The tiger lilies turn their faces to greet the sun each morning, smiling at the day.

The trumpet vines put on a pretty face to greet you as you enter our front door.

The tiny squash is already setting up blossoms.

For some reason, I am a much better flower gardener than vegetable gardener. It may be a timing issue. I was when my husband unexpectedly did a bunch of tilling yesterday morning before it got hot. It was such a help in getting our veggie garden back into respectable shape. Those pesky weeds had set up camp.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mike's Ranch or Why I Almost Came Home with a Baby Goat

I recently visited a friend's ranch. I'm pretty sure they have a ranch simply because they love the animals. I don't think any of them are being raise as food. It is a wonderful place. Here, let me show you.

I love the kids. They had 48 of them by that point. Most are fed by their mamas, but a few are bottle fed. The bottle fed ones area very friendly. They are all very curious and silly fun.

They like to climb on their mamas. The mama's don't seem to mind one bit.

They have begun to make goat's milk soap and lotion.

I love how some of them seemed glad to see me. Do you see her smile?

The boys are in another pen. The alpha goat was a big boy who acts very much like a golden retriever. He simply wanted to be loved on and would not let me move back enough to take a photo. I think he was unhappy when I left their pen. I imagine that they could see all of the visitors playing with the kids and wishing some people would visit them, too.

The kids run, scamper and play. A storm was brewing so the mama had to be moved to another pen to separate them from the kids. That way the kids would go inside where they would be safer from hail. The mamas are big enough to ride it out outside. They did not like being separated. They kept calling for one another.

They have a few other animals that simply needed rescuing. Mike has a big heart and took them in. Several of them will get bigger pins soon.

This emu is called Freeway because he was found battered and most likely near death when he was found. Since there is no emu farm within a reasonable range, someone must have dumped him. When the police found him he was missing most of his chest feathers were missing. His feathers are really lovely.

I think this is Mike's favorite horse. All of the horses were born on this ranch, or the one they owned before.

They also have lots of cool birds, too. I loved the rooster and he was happy to let me pet him. I am pretty sure that he considers himself the king of the birds.

They have built a huge, wonderful, multi-room bird sanctuary/ coop.

I'd never encountered chickens like these. They reminded me of the people in the cities in the book, "Hunger Games."

They raise several kinds of pheasants that are indigenous to the area.

This is the only surviving +-turkey hen. The others were stupid enough to stay outside of the coop at night and became dinner for the coyotes in the area.

These geese were huge, about 3 or 3.5 feet tall. They seemed to have their own party going on as they fretted about the weather.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Enchanted Forest Hike for Father's Day

This morning Larr and I went hiking in the Enchanted Forest section of the Apex trail. It was indeed enchanting.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Epic Singletrack Hill Climb

Today marked the beginning of a new adventure in mountain biking for Ellie. She branched out and decided to do the Epic Singletrack Race Series up at Winter Park. It started off with a hill climb, which is awesome for her. She likes going up. Going down - that can be another story.

She had many choices to choose from today. She could have done the Colorado State Time Trial Championship race or she could have been part of the Colorado Star Ball, like she did last year, but the Epic Singletrack was what she wanted, and she rocked it.

We went back and forth about whether she should race beginner, or sport. We settled on beginner as we had no idea what the competition would be like and this would be her last year for the 15 and younger category. She can race sport next year. They started out all of the beginner women, regardless of age/category, which gave Ellie a good sense of how she could do and it improved her pacing. She was able to keep up with the adult women for a good portion of the race.

She won her category by about 35 minutes. If she had done sport, she would have won by about 7 minutes. She was only 20 seconds off the expert 18 and younger girl, though Erin might have pushed it harder if she had competition. Either way, she had a great time. She had fun hanging with the boys on the team, too.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Flowers and Recipes for the Road

The flower garden is glorious right now and my husband does such a good job of capturing its beauty.

This is the neighbor's kitty, Gorham, who loves the garden, too.

The colors on these are very intense and a little magical.

The Bee Balm (Monarda) is a pretty girl who wilts by the time it gets warm.

Chocolate Apricot Nut Bars
via: Whole Living Magazine

1 1/2 cups dried apricots
1/2 cup raw almonds, toasted **
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
Coarse salt (I did not use the salt.)
1/2 ounce dark chocolate, melted

Pulse apricots, almonds, 1 tablespoon coconut, and a pinch of salt in a food processor until finely ground.

Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment, leaving an inch overhang on all sides. Transfer mixture to pan and press firmly to form a rectangle.

Use parchment overhang to remove from pan. Drizzle mixture with chocolate and sprinkle with remaining coconut.

Transfer to refrigerator and leave until firm, about 15 minutes. Slice into six bars.

Cook's Note:

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

** How to Toast Almonds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spread almonds on a single layer on baking sheet.
Bake for 5 minutes, shuffle nuts and turn over, then continue to bake for 5 more minutes.
Remove toasted almonds from baking sheet with spatula and store in airtight container.


Morning Glory Muffins
via: Paleo Comfort Foods

2 1/2 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups carrots, peeled and grated
1 large apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup raisins
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey (optional)
1/2 cup coconut or olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a standard-sized muffin pan.

2. Combine almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add carrot, apple, coconut and raisins and combine well.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, honey, oil and vanilla extract together.

4. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and mix very well. The batter will be very thick.

5. Spoon the batter out into muffin pan and place on upper or middle rack of your oven for 40-50 minutes.

6. When a toothpick inserted into the top of a muffin comes out clean, the muffins are done.

7. Cool muffins in the pan for 8-10 minutes and then remove to a rack to finish cooling.

**If you are looking for variety, sub out currants or chopped dates for the raisins. You can also add a little orange zest to give them a bit more citrus flavor.

Baked Kale Chips
via: Steamy Kitchen

Baked Crispy Kale Recipe
Servings: 4 as snack Prep Time:5 Cook Time:20

The biggest secret to getting the kale super-crisp is to dry them in a salad spinner. If there is moisture on the leaves, the kale will steam, not crisp. Also, do not salt the kale until after they have come out of the oven. If you salt beforehand, the salt will just cause the kale to release moisture...thus steaming instead of crisping. I've also found that the convection setting on my oven works really well too - I set the convection on 325F and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Have fun with this recipe, I sometimes mix the salt with Cajun or Creole seasoning.
4 giant handfuls of kale, torn into bite-sized pieces and tough stems removed (about 1/3 pound)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place the kale leaves into a salad spinner and spin all of the water out of the kale. Dump the water and repeat one or two times more just to make sure that the kale is extra dizzy and dry. Use a towel to blot any extra water on the leaves. Place the kale on the baking sheet.

3. Drizzle olive oil over the kale leaves and use your hands to toss and coat the leaves. Bake in the oven for 12-20 minutes until leaves are crisp. Take a peek at the 12 minute mark - the timing all depends on how much olive oil you use. Just use a spatula or tongs to touch the leaves, if they are paper-thin crackly, the kale is done. If the leaves are still a bit soft, leave them in for another 2 minutes. Do not let the leaves turn brown (they'll be burnt and bitter) Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt and serve.

Baked Lemony Kale Chips
via: Hungry Foodies Pharmacy

Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch kale, strip out the center core or stalk, tear kale into small pieces, washed and dried
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Whisk together the olive oil, and lemon lemon juice.

Toss in the dry kale and coat them evenly. Arrange the kale in a single layer of the baking tray. Season with sea salt.

Roast the kale for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are crispy. Turn the kale once or twice for even crisping.

Calories per 1 cup of baked kale chips: 60

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Beti Bike Bash 2012

Ellie raced in the Beti Bike Bash 2012, a women's only mountain bike with nearly 300 racers! It was a perfect day for such an event.

She got a great start and was in first place for a long while.

Then she crashed and dropped her chain. By the time she was back in action, she could not catch up and ended up coming in second place. The two other girls on the Jr. 15-18 podium were a few years older than she is. I think she had a good time and she won some great, bright green grips for her bike. She wanted new ones and was happy to win them.


Friday, June 08, 2012

A [No So] Distant Sound of Thunder

Summer has begun in Colorado. It ushered in the hail and rain season on Wednesday in a big way. My DH and I were happily tucked away in bed, snoozing. The distant sound of thunder and the patter of heavy rain had incorporated itself into my dreams. Just as the sound of a WWI vintage air raid siren began to wail, Ethan shook us awake. What was in my dream was suddenly bursting into a cacophony of the siren, the thunder nearly overhead and the drum of heavy rain pocked with the tinny sound of what I thought might have been hail. Mother Nature's show was capped off with a lightening show. Larr bolted upright and began to dress, ordering Ethan to turn on the computer as he put one leg into his pants. It was just after 11 p.m. They had to check the emergency weather information. Ethan darted out into the rain to save the garden in the backyard. The remnants of our garage door fail served as excellent covers for the favored hosta garden. The empty trash cans, the picnic table and benches, as well as all of our patio furniture were called into action. Amazingly, he was able to cover everything. I sat near the big picture window, still slightly sleepy and a bit dazed, watching the headlamp beam and silhouette of my son dart around in focused effort. I had not been thinking about the damage a storm like this could do, but how much I will miss him when he moves out. He is remarkable, that son of mine. at 11:45 there were tweets of a funnel cloud sighting less than a mile from our house. By that time I had place candles in useful places and tucked the cats securely, if unhappily, in the basement bathroom. We waited it out for a while. Once it began to lessen, the guys went over to the school to check it. Thankfully, Larr had prepared the building for the approaching rain and so all was safe.

The next morning I found my weary eyed self at my 7:30 a.m. meeting. The news stations predict that we were experiencing a once-in-a-100-years storm with its estimated 2 1/2" of rain in less than an hour. Down south they had hail the size of golf balls and quarters. The worst of it for us was a few wet close, the lose of about 3 hours of sleep and a garden that looked like a Salvador Dali painting.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Raven Boys Trailer - Maggie Stiefvater's Awesome Art

Remember when I wrote about the Teen Lit. conference back in April and I shared photos from the event? Maggie Stiefvater, the one with the bagpipes, just released her trailer for her newest book, The Raven Boys.

It will not be be available until September 18th, but you can get a jump start by reading the first pages here.

Maggie brought along the drawings that she was working on for this trailer. They are more beautiful in "real life." They are done with colored pencil on special paper that feels a little like a smooth grade sandpaper. She is so talented, creating the story, the music and the art for the trailer. I'm excited to read the rest of the story. You can check it out, too.

See how much fun she is?!

Friday, June 01, 2012

My Boy, The Graduate

On Saturday, May 12th, my boy graduated. At our small school the graduation ceremonies are very personal. It was such a beautiful ceremony.
Bruce spoke first. He is an eloquent speaker. This is his last graduation ceremony with us as he is moving to Texas. Bruce has been with the school for 15 years and his speech offered a sort of historical retrospective mixed in with remarks about the two graduates, Brett and Ethan.We were all expecting to cry, but I managed to only get a bit misty. Bruce will be missed.

Missa was Ethan's thesis committee chairman. She is also the school president and an alumni. Her speech was touching and funny. She dug up stories about Ethan as a young boy. She is a shining example of what the finest of their generation has to offer. Ethan will stand in her wedding party next summer.
Larr also spoke. He also gave out the traditional gifts from the school. Each graduate receives a special book and a coin. This year it was special silver coins. Ethan received Stones of Destiny.

After the ceremony we hosted a reception and the boys played a great game of football. I think that might have been more anticipated than the graduation ceremony itself.

We followed the school reception with a family party at home.

Brandon and Ethan enjoy hanging out together. They've forged a tight relationship over the years.

We have handsome men in our family.

Larr and I were so busy putting on the various parties and the celebration that the day slipped by without our getting a picture of Ethan, Larr and myself. That makes me a bit disappointed, but the day was wonderful. I am so proud of my boy. Everyone had such wonderful things to say about my boy. His future is indeed very bright.

Here are the desserts that I made for the reception and party:
Pecan Pie Bars
via: Home is Where the Holmans Are
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 jellyroll pan with aluminum foil. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into cubes and add to flour mixture. Toss and use a pastry blender to cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles crumbs the size of peas. Pour mixture into prepared pan and press into a smooth crust. Poke several holes in the crust with tines of a fork. Bake about 18-20 minutes until light golden brown.

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, beat eggs and add sugar, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pre-baked crust. Return to oven to bake for about 20 minutes until filling is set. Cool on a wire rack until completely cool. Use foil to lift bars out of pan and cut into squares.


Grasshopper Pie
via: Koko Cooks Blog
Adapted from Martha Stewart

6 Tbs butter, melted, plus extra for the pie plate
¾ c sweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ c crushed chocolate wafer sandwich cookies (reduced fat Oreos work great)
½ c sugar
2 c heavy cream
3 Tbs green crème de menthe (or clear, with 4 drops of food coloring)
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin
5 large egg yolks
½ tsp peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. Whisk together the coconut, cookie crumbs, and ¼ c of the sugar. Add melted butter and stir well until combined. Press mixture into the pie plate. Bake until just set, 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.

Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice cubes. Pour enough cold water in to fill to the top of the ice. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat ½ c whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Place crème de menthe (and food coloring) in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over it. Set aside. Beat egg yolks and remaining ¼ c sugar in a medium heat-proof bowl. Set aside.

Heat the other 1 ½ c cream and peppermint extract over medium heat until warm. Add gelatin mixture and whisk until gelatin is melted. Temper the egg yolks by slowly drizzling about ½ c of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour egg mixture back into the pan of remaining cream. Heat until cream mixture reaches 150ºF, stirring constantly.

Transfer the pan to the ice water bath. Whisk until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the bath. Gently fold in the chilled whipped cream with a rubber spatula until well combined.

Spoon mixture into the pie crust. Chill until set.


Velvet Hot Fudge Sauce
via: The Yummy Life Blog
By Monica Servings: Makes 4 cup

1/2 cup butter
1 12-oz. bag (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups light corn syrup*
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee granules
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

In 2-1/2 to 3 qt. saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips on low, stirring frequently. Stir in corn syrup and espresso/coffee granules. Then stir in condensed milk. Cook on low, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

STORE in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 months.

SERVE hot over ice cream, cake, brownies, or as a fondue dessert dipping sauce. This sauce is too thick for serving when it is cold.

TO REHEAT, microwave on high, stopping and stirring at 20 second intervals, until hot. Boiling or overheating will result in sauce getting overly hard.

*1 cup of honey may be substituted for the corn syrup; however, the sauce will have a distinct honey flavor. (Honey is sweeter than corn syrup, so you don't need as much.)


Strawberry Cream Pie
via: Willow Bird Baking
Recipe by: Pat Howard
Yields: about 10 servings

Crust Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoons salt
3/8 cup cold shortening or lard
3/8 cup cold butter, chopped
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Cream Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Other Ingredients:
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
red food coloring (optional; I skipped this)
mint leaves or whole strawberries for garnish (optional)

Note on timing: There are several components of this pie, but their preparation fits together nicely. You can make the crust dough and while it’s chilling, toast your almonds and set them out to cool. While the crust is baking and cooling, make and refrigerate the cream and slice your strawberries. Assemble these things once the crust is cool, and chill your almost-completed pie while you whip up the glaze. Chill the whole concoction for a few hours before slicing for best results.

Make the crust dough: Pulse flour and salt together to combine. Add scoops of lard and pulse into the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Add in chunks of butter and pulse until butter pieces are no larger than small peas, about 10 pulses. Add minimum amount of water and pulse on low. If dough remains crumbly and doesn’t come together, add another 2 tablespoons of water. Add as little as is required to enable the dough to be rolled into a ball. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Toast your almonds: While the crust dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and spread your sliced almonds out on a baking sheet. Toast for about 4-6 minutes, using a spatula to gently flip and stir the almonds ever 2 minutes. They burn quickly, so keep a close watch on the nuts and remove them when they just start to get some color and are fragrant. Mine took about 5 minutes.

Finish making your crust: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Roll disk of dough out to around 2 inches larger than your (9-inch) pie plate and transfer it, situating it in the plate. Fold the excess dough around the edges and crimp, trimming where necessary. Cover the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans, pressing to the edges. Bake for around 20 minutes. Remove weights and paper, egg wash crust, and bake 5-10 minutes more, until golden brown (you won’t be baking it again, so make sure it has good color — shielding edges with foil if they begin getting too dark). Let crust cool completely.

Make cream filling: While the crust bakes, prepare your cream filling. Prepare an ice water bath in a bowl big enough to accommodate your saucepan. Mix sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook until thickened, still stirring constantly. Spoon out about 1/4 cup of your hot mixture and gradually drizzle it into your beaten egg, whisking constantly. This will temper the egg so that when you add it back into the hot mixture, it won’t cook. Add the egg into the hot mixture, continuing to stir constantly. Bring this just to boiling.

Set the saucepan in the ice water bath and stir it periodically as it cools. Once cool enough, chill the mixture in the refrigerator. During this time, whip the cream and vanilla together to stiff peaks. Take the chilled mixture from the fridge and beat it to break it up. Stir in about 1/3 of the cream to lighten it, and then gently fold in the rest of the cream until well combined. Chill until ready to use.

Assemble the pie: Cover bottom of crust with toasted almonds, and then dollop in chilled cream mixture, spreading it smooth with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Slice about a cup of fresh strawberries and layer them in overlapping concentric circles on the top of your pie. Chill this while you make your glaze.

Make the glaze: Crush remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries and cook with water in a saucepan over medium-high heat for two minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the pulp. Add the juice back to the saucepan over medium-high heat and gradually stir in sugar and cornstarch. Cook until thickened. If you want, you can tint this glaze with food coloring to desired hue, but mine was plenty bright enough! Cool the glaze slightly (I transferred mine to a heat-proof measuring cup with a pour spout to cool for a bit) and then pour over top of strawberry slices on your pie. Garnish with big mint leaves, if you’d like, or whole strawberries. Chill entire pie for at least a few hours for best results; cut with a knife held under hot water and then dried.


Pumpkin Pie

1 egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Add the sugar gradually to the pumpkin puree. Beat well an stir in the flour, salt and spices. Stir in the corn syrup and beat well. Stir in the slightly beaten egg, then slowly add the evaporated milk, mixing until well blended. Pour the batter into the unbaked pie shell.
Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees F) and continue baking pie for an additional 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the mixture comes out clean.