Saturday, August 25, 2012

Playing Hookie

After more than a week of fitful sleep and too many projects nipping at our heels, pressure from Karl's work and a seemingly never-ending to do list, I had awakened waaaaay too early yet again!  This time rather than toss and turn in frustration, I did the unthinkable and *gasp* I got up and took a shower, had some tea, and dressed before 9:00 AM.  I know, I know!  Shocking, right?  Must be like, the Seventh Sign!

Next, I dug out the pic-a-nic basket, loaded it up with a few things, along with a nice bottle of wine and a decent cloth.  I had a plan, and I would flesh out the rest of the goodies later once we got on the road.  Karl was ready and he knew I was up to something, wondering quietly what the heck had gotten to me.  Gathering up a couple of leashes, jackets, camera, binoculars and the dogs, off we went; in a blizzard of horseradish!  (That; folks, is a famous Mom-Mom-ism!) 

Initially, my plan began with breakfast.  That whole notion disappeared when Karl suggested we hit the downtown market.  (By the way; don't click on the link there to watch the commercial!  Trust me on this.) We hadn't been this year, so I was game.  This year has been pretty meek for the local farmers' markets as it was a cooler than usual season.  Most produce yields were down, so we haven't had much luck finding our favorite carrots, potatoes, lettuce and such.  Still, it's fun to watch people, peruse the artists' booths and partake in various food items.  Think small county fair and you get the picture.  It was a fun way to start a Saturday, and enjoy what little sun the day had to offer.

After this outing we got distracted by a couple of yard sales, finding NO good junk!  That was really a blessing in disguise as we need to have a yard sale our own selves.  Can you say, "Too much stuff?!" 

Next stop; New Sagaya Market on 13th Street.  We picked up some Italian fontina, Taleggio, Black Diamond extra fort Canadian cheddar, a small stick of Rose Salami # 7, a baguette and some dark chocolate.

We were set!  We decided to head toward the Kenai Peninsula for a nice day trip and to find a great spot for all of us to enjoy.  It was starting to look a bit blustery along the Turnagain Arm, but we were escaping our duties as home renovators, so wind be damned!  ;)

Meandering our way toward Seward.  No real scheme in mind, we rode along enjoying the sights along the way.  One of the neat activities on that route is the paved biking trail at 63 mile on the highway just up from Hope.  Stunning views!  Right here would be a great spot to insert a great photo, but as many times that we've made this trek, we haven't even one pic!  I couldn't find one on the innertubes.  Sooo; next trip!

Around 28 mile is the town of Moose Pass.

This Image of the Trestle Found Here.  By Frank Keller  #339801.

About mile 14 is the Snow River  train trestle.  Benson loved that stop.  He got to run, "water" a few bushes, splash around in the river a little, smell everything carried on the brisk breeze.  He gave it two paws up.  No thumbs, you know.  Roo, not so much.  She hates the wind!

We still had that matter of a picnic!   Up the road at 12 mile is our favorite stop on this stretch.  Snow River Valley.
This is from June 2010, when we had Gibson for that short year.

Snow River 2010
The lupines at this rest area are beautiful!  By August this year they were spent, but the view was still spectacular. 

Benson says, "Look what I've found!"

Some seriously wonderful wine!
What a good lookin' Dawg!
When we finished our meal it was time to set off for the trip home.  Just up the road from the Snow River Valley, is a wild life viewing boardwalk at about 14.5 mile.  It extends over a lilly covered area that is a haven for water fowl and moose.  We continued on, enjoying the day and the drive.  I didn't feel one bit guilty about shirking the responsibilities at the house!
The junction of the Seward and the Sterling highways is a beautiful spot called Tern Lake.  Right  before that at 36.0 mile is a great place to spot salmon spawning.  Dave's Creek is a great place to walk around, stretch and use the "facilities."
That way!

Time to wash up.

It was a bit drizzly, but still not so bad that we couldn't walk around and take a few pics.  There were quite a lot of salmon spawning and trying to move up stream.  It's amazing how powerful the instinct that drives them to perpetuate the species carries them to their very last breath.  It's quite a journey.

The bridge over Dave's Creek.
Looking back in the opposite direction.
Almost at the end...

 One of Karl's pics.
When the fire weed blooms to the top of the stalk that indicates winter is six weeks away.
By now, drizzle had become all-out rain, so we climbed back into the car.  I can't believe we'd never taken the time to stop there considering the many times we've travel past.  We'll have to visit again.

Here's a quick shot of a sliver of Kenai Lake.

This photo doesn't do it any justice. 
When we reached Indian, I asked Karl to pull over so I could take a photo of Mary Lou Redmond's place.  There has been some dispute over the location of the decades old neon sign and its' distance from a federally funded highway.

Diamond Jim's.
Personally, I say leave her be.  She's one of those colorful characters who has been around for a long time.  Her sign should have been grandfathered in when the highway was widened.  She's not hurting anyone plus, it reflects a bit of local history.  That sign may be the only thing left from the town of Portage. 
Here, you can see what the town of Portage looked like before the 1964 earthquake; just after; in

(This image found here.)
 1998 and as it looks today.
(This image found here.)  Photo by Lamar Steen.

Upon our return home, this litte beggar was there to greet us!

Hey lady!  Where's my peanuts?!
They are so bossy!
What favorite thing/outing/stress relief adventure do you love? 



Thursday, August 16, 2012

This is what "job creators" really are.

I think corporate raiders should be forced to live in the same communities they destroy for five years among the very families they've eliminated the jobs that were once the back-bone of our nation.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

OMG! Two posts in one month. Saints perserve us! Peppers edition...

Hi all! 

I posted a photo of my take on stuffed bell peppers with a New Mexican flair to Teh Book of Face a couple of days ago and a few people were interested in the recipe.  I generally cook by just zoning in (or out, as it were) and don't really pay attention much to a method.  I got my inspiration for this recipe from my good friend, Linda Fitz Gerald.  We were doing a bit of catch up after a round of phone-tag, and as always the conversation turned to what's been on the menu at each others' house.  Having an abundance of fresh bell peppers, she had made various versions of stuffed bell peppers over the past month or so.  Some meatless, some traditional and some with a Southwestern twist.  Now, she's a So Cal Mexican food fan, and I prefer a New Mexican flavour.  No matter what you love in this case, this idea is easily adapted to your own taste buds!  This is just a foundation for you to build your own favorite stuffed peppers. 

Roll up your sleeves and get a little creative!  ;)

I know I get a little carried away when I compile an ingredients list, so feel free to whittle it down.  I just love to play a little!

(Just so you know; when I mention using a particular brand, I'm not endorsing it; nor am I getting paid to recommend it.  It just works for me, so feel free to substitute what you like.  It'll still work.  Just trust your taste-buds!)
Here we go:

South Western Style Stuffed Bell Peppers

--1 1/2 lb.--85% ground beef
--6-8--bell peppers.  Rinse well.  Remove the tops and core them and set aside.  You'll need the tops, so don't discard them.
--1 Cup--Uncle Ben's Converted Rice.
--1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes.
--1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed to remove the gooey, salty ick.
--1 4 oz. can HOT, diced green chile.  Do not drain.
--1/8 (or there abouts!) Cup chopped bell pepper from the reserved tops.
--2 Tblsp. Organic No Salt Seasoning.  (from Costco)  I use this a lot.  It's a good go-to all purpose seasoning. 
--4 Tblsp. Taco Seasoning.
--2 tsp. Sea Salt.
--1-2 Tblsp. Red Chile Powder.  Use your judgement on this.  I love it pretty warm, but you want to enjoy this meal, so adjust this spice to suit you and your folks! 
--1 tsp. Marjoram, or Mexican Oregano.  You can also substitute 1/8 tsp. Epazote powder for this.  This will help counter-act the effect of the black beans, if you get my drift!  ;)
--1 medium yellow onion, diced.
--2-3 ribs of celery; sliced and chopped to match your onions and chopped peppers.
--3-4 medium cloves garlic, pressed or very finely minced.
--2 1/2 Tblsp. olive oil.
--6-7 oz. warm water.
--1/3 C. of your favorite salsa.
--1 C. frozen corn.

Pre-heat the oven to 355*.

Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and core them.  Reserve the tops--you'll need them later.

Remove the stem from the tops,and dice the tops about the same as you've done the onions and celery.  Combine 1/2 of the onion and 1/2 of the garlic with all of the celery in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In a large, deep skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high.  Add the rice and saute stirring constantly to avoid burning.  When the rice is just transparent, incorporate the onion mixture; oregano and 1 tsp. of salt.  Continue stirring until the onions become translucent.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the green chile.  Allow some moisture to reduce a bit while still stirring.  At this point you can fold in the tomatoes and the 6-7 oz. of warm water.  Allow the rice mixture to reach a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover.  Let simmer for 20 minutes--NO PEEKING!  When 20 minutes have passed, turn off the heat, and remove the skillet to a cooling rack or trivet.  Set the timer for an additional 5 minutes, still covered.  When the buzzer, bell, beeper (whatever) sounds, remove the lid, and fluff with a metal fork--anything else and the rice could turn out sticky.  Trust me on this; it makes a difference. 

Or you could skip all of that portion of the recipe and use this:

                                                              (This is a good time saver.)

Crumble the ground beef a medium sized stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add in the no salt organic seasoning, red chile powder, and the remaining salt and garlic. If using the boxed Spanish rice, add your tomatoes at this point. Cook this all together until the ground beef is just browned.  You don't want to over-do it as you'll be finishing this dish in the oven.  Stir in the corn, beans and salsa.  Remove from heat and combine with the rice mixture.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Place the bell peppers in a 3'x9'x13' lightly greased baking dish.  Fill them generously with love and the ground beef/rice mixture.  Top with grated cheese of your choice; cheddar, pepper-jack, or queso fresco, and a sprinkle of chopped parsley or cilantro.  Tent with foil for about 17 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 4 more minutes to toast the cheese lightly.

Let cool on a rack for about 10-15 minutes before serving.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Bad blogger!

Dear Blog-o-sphere;

Please forgive my lack of posting for, I don't know--just shy of forever?

I've been a bad blogger!

(This image found here.)
Let me redeem myself by sharing some pics from a day trip to Talkeetna

I love this place!  It's a fun blend of kitsch-i-ness, granola and a wonderful hippie vibe that's irresistible.  It's kind of funny that the markedly hip and en vogue inhabitants of this community think that they're on to something new.  I know that their approach to life was something I had discovered 35 years ago, only to abandon it for a while in the '80's and '90's.  I've made a semi-return to some of that philosophy again in the last 10 years or so.  Maybe this batch will hold on to it longer than I did, but I suspect that as their beautiful kids named Nevaeh and Aiden (great names, BTW) grow as children are wont to do, these creative and passionate, you know, the not-the-same-as-their-parents will slowly and begrudgingly take on boring careers for the sake of insurance for their families, buy the friggen' mini vans and that house in the 'burbs or whatever the equivalent is these days, and basically feel at some point that they've given in or "sold out."  Just.  Like. All those others whom have passed before.  I feel their disdain when they look at me--that lady, as OLD as their MOMS; and wish that they could realise that I am more like them than they could possibly know!  If that knowledge could be unveiled to them at a glance, life would be so much easier for all of us, and who knows what avenues and friendships would open up to our society!  I've been there, done that; and I have no reason to judge them, nor do they , me.  I hate that part of being 51.  I still feel 30 (except in the morning, then don't--I repeat, DON'T  bother me before I've had my cup o' tea!)  Of course, there's the other side of the coin wherein some will judge them and dismiss them as silly young folk.  So I get the disconnect, the distance and the wariness.

Anyhoo; I could totally live there if I could be accepted for who I am, not who some perceive me to be. 

The people who live there are approachable and you can see that most love where they live, and that's a good thing!  If you want to go on a rafting trip, or flight seeing, or climb Denali (provided you are successful at drawing out for the lottery to do so,) this is the place.

If you're hungry, definitely eat at West Rib Pub.  Great food and libation all around!  One of the appetizers we enjoyed was the bbq caribou (i.e., reindeer) meat balls.  Excellent!  So clean and lean, and not the least bit gamey.  Don't be afraid to give these a whirl!  They offer burgers and seafood that is so fresh, you'll think you've died and gone to heaven.  I had the Stubbs burger and it was very tasty.  It comes highly recommended by the Mayor of TalkeetnaHere are some of their other menu offerings.  Their photos do not capture the excellence of the fare!

                                                                               The famous Stubbs Burger and Fish Tacos.

                             BBQ Caribou Meatballs.

The town site is so cozy.  Yes, there is the standard tourist crap; but hey, there is literally only about 3 months of summer!  That's money time, people!  Overall, there is a laid-back quality about the place that just feels good.  For those back home, picture Durango, CO; without all the fancified developement over the last 10-12 years.  I can not stress the bohemian aura that envelopes the community and surrounding areas enough!

              Because we have to have rules, man!

A Yurt.

                                                             Definitely get the spinach bread!

                                                                         Last year's fancy moose.

                                                                                                      Pretty little raised garden in the park.

                                                          Haven't eaten here yet, but plan to!

                                                                                                                                                              Just before arrival to; or shortly after you leave Talkeetna, you may notice a quaint little oasis for kids by the roadside just outside the townsite.  Put on your inner-child hat and stop by this little park in the wilderness for a spell.  I guarantee, you won't be disappointed!

Here are some pics to give an idea why this place is so enchanting.

   Plenty of seating to keep an eye on things.

Wonderful play areas built by the locals with love.

Tlingit Raven Slide.

Magic Bus.
Sturdy little cabin with a pint sized table for little ones.  It's
a private club, y'all!

                          More seating by the back gate.  Notice the cool xylophone just outside the fence.
                                                                            Cute little bridge.

Is there a Grumpy Old Troll who lives under the bridge?

                                   Orca and Skiff.

Scarry Dino!

                                                                                             The plaques above the swings were made by local children.

Cool labyrinth with hand made path stones.
                                Neat-o prop-plane!

                                                                                       Construction site.
Neat little "bird house."

                                      Cow Parsnip,                     


Fish Lake.  Pretty original, huh?

Actually, this is one of my favorite lakes near Talkeetna.  It just draws the eye in and makes you think maybe being a float plane pilot woudn't be such a bad idea!

If you're ever up this way, please try to take ths little detour.  It's a day trip you can make from Anchorage and besides, you'll have a great time!