Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Reflections from a Grandma

Dear Favorite Place,                                                                                                                            Oh, how I've missed you!  You've been a great friend over the years and I owe you an apology.  My original intent for writing this blog has always been to compile my recipes and gather the recipes of my ancestors, put them in one place for eternity for generations to come.  One of the main reasons for not updating my posts is because I've been taking care of my new grand baby, Ryann.  She is truly my heart and her smile makes my heart dance!  I can hardly wait to teach her what I know from the culinary world.  I especially want her to know about my grandmothers, their recipes and the special relationship I had with them.

One grandmother was French through and through, very prim and proper, but knew how to have fun.  She loved her sweets and I spent as much time as I could watching her whip up her rice krispy squares, fried chicken, and lemon chiffon pie, etc.  I don't have any recipes of hers that were saved, unfortunately.  From what my mom  has said, she was a very good cook but Grandpa was only interested in his meat and potatoes, not a fancy French inspired meal!

My other grandmother, Emma, a single widow for many years would come over for most birthdays and bring her specialty dishes from her Czech heritage.  Lentils, peach dumplings, red cabbage and at Christmas time she'd make a large bowl of her eggnog!  Her sauerkraut was the best!  I have a few Czech cookbooks and a handwritten recipe for red cabbage that I received from Grandma..

If I can be of this caliber of a grandmother for Ryann she will hopefully have many wonderful memories and my job will be done!  I have almost perfected some recipes from my husband's Italian heritage.  Years ago I would never have even tried to make Italian because my mother-in-law made the best. After a few trips to Italy I learned some tricks and gained more interest for Italian cooking.  Now, I believe, I can hold my own in that arena.

Today my son was reminiscing about some of the meals I would make when he was a young boy.  Evidently he was fond of my chicken broccoli casserole and rice pilaf.   He showed an interest in cooking when he was 3.  We'd move a chair close to the stove (but not too close) so he could watch and help me stir the scrambled eggs.  He now owns a deli and ice cream shops where he comes up with some unique and interesting flavors like rosemary chocolate chip, chocolate curry, thai tea, blueberry pancake and the list goes on and on!  His bride is an equally good and ambitious cook and I always look forward to their family dinners or brunch!

I gaze at my beautiful grand daughter as she approaches 12 months old and wonder what she will be like.  No matter what, she'll have generations of culinary talent behind her and I secretly hope she'll appreciate her varied heritage and the family of her past.  She is a beautiful spirit!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Back on the Trail......

So, I'm back on the trail, some days literally.  I haven't posted anything since early February!  I had good intentions to write but, that's how far my thought process went.  Distractions (just plain LIFE) were many.  In the beginning of 2017 we were inundated with a record snow pack.  We kept busy snowshoeing the peaks around us.  We also eagerly watched and waited for our grand baby.  Hubby went "under the knife" to repair a rotator cuff injury.  He's still recuperating to this day!

We made a mad dash to the Mendocino Coast for some much needed R &R.  Of course, we took our traveling gray cat.  She's the best...  We walked the headlands, ate great seafood, scoured the beach, took lots of pictures, rested, drank more wine, etc. Good for the soul time!

Our grand daughter arrived before her due date.  I'm sure she was eager to meet her new mommy and daddy.  I can't say enough about the love I felt seeing her for the first time.  I can't wait to teach her some family recipes and spend grandma time with her.  I had a wonderful relationship with my grandma while growing up and I hope I can impact little Ryann Ava like my grandma did for me.

Summer is almost over...technically it's Fall, but could someone notify the person in charge of the weather.  Turn the thermostat down or something!  So, in anxious anticipation of Fall I'll leave you with some of my favorite recipes.

Zucchini Bread

Mushroom Tagliatelle

Apple Crisp

Spicy Chicken Posole Soup


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