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Bright and green!

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That’s my review of this evening’s new recipe from (where else) Gourmet. It’s Spicy Napa Cabbage Slaw with Cilantro Dressing, which we’re having with hamburgers tonight.

It earns an A from both of us. Reed thinks it would be great switch for the carrot slaw on the Vietnamese subs we had a while back or as a filling for a wrap. It is nice, not too spicy (I had to sub the serrano chile with a jalapeno), with Asian flavoring from the rice vinegar and ginger–and it is a pretty white and green side dish.

I promise I will write about hiking soon–it’s been rainy recently, so I haven’t been getting out for walks in the afternoon.

Salmon Cakes

I grew up eating salmon croquettes–little salmon cakes fried, and eaten with ketchup. I have to admit that my favorite part was eating the salmon out of the can, crunching the little bones with my teeth, and not being a huge fan of the cooked product. (Nothing against my mama’s cooking, I’m not a huge fan of salmon in any form–canned or otherwise.)

There’s a recipe for salmon cakes in this month’s issue of Gourmet, so I thought I’d give it a spin and see if it was something we might want to add to our line-up. I don’t think I have ever made salmon croquettes since we’ve been married, so I didn’t know if Reed would like them.The blurb accompanying the recipe says that they’re giving salmon the crab cake treatment.

Here’s the link to the recipe for Salmon Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce. I didn’t make it strictly according to the recipe. I used a can of salmon (drained) instead of a salmon fillet, and a leftover hot dog bun for the bread. The only thing I left out were chives.

The verdict is in: Reed says they are tasty and we should try different kinds of sauces with them. I ate one serving–it was good, but I wouldn’t really want to eat more than that at a time. That’s about par for me and salmon, so I think that’s good. (As usual, my favorite part was eating the salmon straight out of the can.) The sauce was delicious, but thinner than I thought it would be–very bright and a great accompaniment. These are pan-fried, but could probably be baked or broiled to lighten them up a bit.

Other good points to this recipe are: 1) easy to make, just dump everything into a bowl and mix, with little chopping or measuring and 2) easy to keep the ingredients around so you have a quick go-to meal.

Adventure Saturday!

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Yesterday was a long, long day, but full of fun! Well, mostly fun and some ickiness.

First, I met up with another meetup group for a local hike. Raleigh has a state park of over 5,500 acres with great trails for hiking and mountain biking and a couple small lakes basically within the city limits–it’s between one of the largest malls and the airport. Reed and I have been once since we moved here, which is sad because William B. Umstead s a pretty decent park.

The meetup group was made up of four other women from the area, one of whom was on her first hike ever! We were hiking the Sycamore Trail, which is one of the longest trails in the park at 7.2 miles. It winds through the woods and along a nice, scenic creek, making a loop about halfway through. Yesterday was a beautiful day for a hike–great weather and not too hot. I had a great time, and enjoyed meeting some new people. Sycamore Trail is also one of the hikes in the 100 Classic Hikes of North Carolina book.

After yesterday, I only have 10 more miles to go to meet my mini-hiking goal! That is very do-able, since I have a week left and can walk a couple miles a day. If I meet my goal, that will be more miles than I hiked all of last year, which is pretty impressive. I’ll have to start thinking about what the next time frame and goals will be!

In the evening, I took Reed out for a surprise! I thought he might not want to go if I asked him, so I didn’t ask him and told him that he had to go to the surprise! Ha.

This weekend was Arts on the Edge in Raleigh, an artsplosure event. There was a performance by Strange Fruit, which is described as “a fusion of theater, dance, and circus.” That’s about right. The actors climb up onto these large, bendy poles and act out little sketches set to music. It was lovely and fun and frightening because I kept wondering if there would be an accident! They performed Swoon! for us, and they have videos and pictures on their site of their performances.

After that, we visited the Luminarium made by Architects of Air. We had to stand in line for an hour! But once we were inside, it was beautiful. The Luminarium (we visited Levity III) is a huge inflatable structure made of different colors of material. When the sun shines through, you are immersed in color. It was a strange experience. There was an interior room with multiple colors and then a red, green, and blue room. You can sit in little nooks and people watch. Fun! These structures tour all over the world, and if you have a chance to go inside one, you should.

Panorama of part of the interior room

Part of the blue room’s ceiling.

That was all the fun part. The icky part was I was bit by a tick on my hike. I also had a weird rash on the top of my feet. Also, something I ate made me get up in the middle of the night and spend too much time willing myself not to be sick. I feel much better today, except for an itchy tick bite.

If you like peaches. . .

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You might want to try Roasted-Peach Streusel. Yes, also from this month’s Gourmet. I usually don’t go so crazy over the recipes so much that I actually make a handful, but there are some eye-catching ones this time around.

Roasted-Peach Streusel. What can I say about you? Well, it is peaches baked/roasted in the oven with almond streusel topping like you might put on coffee cake. The recipe also calls for almond-flavored whipped cream as an accompaniment. Yummy, and it is a nice fancy-like dessert that takes minimal effort. Very rich, so you wouldn’t need much to feed a bunch of people and I bet you could make it in the toaster oven in a snap. I whipped the cream by hand because I didn’t feel like getting the mixer down for that, and that was the hardest part. I think the butter in the bottom of the dish could probably be eliminated–I don’t think that it added much to the flavor, and might have been just to keep the peaches from sticking? Cooking spray would probably work just as well, and that cuts out about half the butter.

I made this tonight at 10:45 pm because the peaches I bought at the farmer’s market were heading downhill fast. Two were already unsalvagable by my standards when I checked on them yesterday. Today, it looked like I needed to make something or call them a total loss. I ended up only using 2 peaches in the dish and halving the streusel. I ate way, way, WAY too much of this. I don’t want to look at another peach this week and maybe not next week either. Maybe never.

It’s not really something that keeps, but it is pretty scalable so you could make individual peach halves in the toaster oven. Streusel topping like this usually keeps ok in the fridge for a bit, and it could probably be frozen so if you made a batch of it up you could save it independently of the peaches. Then, when you wanted a decadent dessert, you could make half a roasted peach and save the fresh half for the next day. Or whatever.

On a related note, Reed figured out that almond extract is one of the primary flavors in chocolate-covered cherries and his favorite ice cream, Cherry Garcia. And probably lots of other things, but it was strange to think about how whenever you thought of what “cherry-flavor” was, it was likely almond extract.

There are about a dozen more recipes in this issue that I might try. Hey, we’ve got to eat. Stay tuned!

P.S. I did take pictures of this, but they are are a little flat. I’m going to work more on my presentation and photo skills if I keep this cooking thing going!

Well, as I mentioned in an earlier comment to Sarah (let me know if you’d rather be initialized than named!), I attempted jalapeno poppers from scratch tonight. Yes, from scratch!

Oy. Not really as difficult as you might think. I only used one type of cheese (MJ) instead of a combo because I didn’t want to buy extra cheese for this recipe. Cutting the veins and ribs out of the peppers while keeping the pepper’s shape was actually not that hard–I didn’t attempt perfection, of course, just good enough.

Most of the aggravation was my inexperience in battering and deep frying. I should have let the coating set up a little on the peppers before giving them a second run through of the eggs + crumbs. And finer bread crumbs would have been better, too. Also, I should have used the Fry Daddy, instead of a pan because then I wouldn’t have had to turn them. Deep frying itself was perfectly peachy–potentially not as messy as pan frying (if you don’t pour the cooled used oil all over the countertop when straining it back into a jar for keeping, that is). I also don’t have a deep fryer thermometer, but I heated the oil slowly over medium heat and then dropped little bits of batter to test whether it seemed hot enough. That seemed to work out fine, although maybe a bit on the cool side.

Unfortunately, either I didn’t stuff enough cheese in the peppers or I stuffed too much and it fried out, because only one of them was actually cheese-filled at the end of this whole shebang. The end product was ok–I won’t be making these again, because the work into them is far beyond the goodness of the end product. What can I say, I was seduced by the picture in the magazine!

On the other hand, the deviled chicken drumsticks that were also part of dinner tonight were fantastic! You should definitely try them, especially if you like a little spiciness. Delish!! These will be making a recurring appearance on our menu–but maybe when we appreciate the heat of the oven a little bit more.

Also, when I went to pick Reed up from the office today, we got to see deer! A deer and its two spotted fawns were crossing the street at the 4-way stop, and we watched them run across the road. Then, in our stealthy driving around to see more of them, we saw two more spotted fawns! They did not have a mommy with them to tell them to run away from cars, so they just watched us as they ate grass and we inched around them, trying to get good pictures on our cell phones. We also saw another adult deer lying down in the kudzu where the first deer family ran off to! I told Reed that when I come to pick him up, we should walk around on the trails on campus and see how much wildlife we can see!

Chilled Corn Soup

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I think, and Reed agrees, that my primary hobby at this point should be cooking. After all, we’ve got to eat, I enjoy staying home, and Reed doesn’t get pestered to go on trips. Win-win.

That was what we were kidding about anyway, as we ate lunch at Waffle House today. And then I came home and cooked all afternoon.

Besides the scavenger pie, I also made Chilled Corn Soup from this month’s Gourmet magazine. It is nearly impossible for me to pass by a Gourmet or Bon Appetit in the newsstand, which is horrible because I keep them! Runner’s World or any news magazine I can recycle, but not those (or Backpacker). Well, I did recycle my BA’s last year, but I still have a binder full of recipes I clipped. And a few issues that I loved too much to cut up.

Anywho. This month’s Gourmet is chock full of interesting recipes. The Chilled Corn Soup looked very simple and summery, so I bought some corn and decided to give it a shot.

It is the essence of corn. I didn’t have any sour cream, so that would have thickened it a bit probably. You can’t eat too much of it because it is just too sweet. It would be great in tiny little bowls at the start of a summer meal, maybe with some cayenne or yummy crab meat chunks. (Corn and crab chowder is my favorite soup in the universe.) Or as an appetizer in porcelain spoons with chives. Or with bacon crumbles, because bacon basically goes with everything. (We had a bacon chocolate bar a few weeks ago. Still good.) Anywho, very, very easy as long as you have the kitchen tools.

Reed’s opinion was that it was too sweet. He had a taste, but that was all. He doesn’t like sweet veggies, though, like carrots and squash and creamed corn.

I promise I am going to the gym tomorrow morning. I won’t tell you how many sticks of butter I used today, though.

Scavenger Pie

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Well, at least Scavenger-inspired pie. Since I procrastinated in making the apple galette recipe with the scavenged apples, by the time I was ready for them, they were no longer ready for me. I could have gone and gotten more, but I am lazy.

Instead, I saw that a few booths at the farmer’s market had apples this weekend, so I bought some of theirs. That way I could try out the recipe I picked out for scavenger pie. It also fits into my adventure list, as it is from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The recipe is Apple Galette with Pine Nuts and Candied Lemon.

Yes, it is one of those recipes. The kind with recipes within recipes that will likely take forever. That is why I kept procrastinating about it. It turns out that I shouldn’t have, since it was (dare I say) easy as pie. Harhar.

Of course, although it was easy, that didn’t mean my production of it was flawless. Despite my plans, I still ended up without the Calvados or sweet sherry that would have boosted the apple flavor. I used probably an apple or two too many for the filling, since I don’t have a food scale. And I put the crust back in the fridge while I made the filling, which made it a bit too stiff to work with easily. Eh, none of those appear to be deal breakers.

As you can see, I baked the excess filling in a dish instead of overstuffing the dough. I already need to clean my oven, and I didn’t want to make that problem worse. I’ve only tasted the filling baked on its own, but that is pretty good.

The recipe had a few different parts–make the candied lemons, make the dough, make the filling, assemble. I started making this about 2 pm and it is now 5pm-ish. Of course, I wasn’t doing anything for the 45 minutes it baked, and there were plenty of breaks in between the steps. The other two galette recipes are made with figs or apricots, and I might at least try the figs one soon.

The worst part about making something that is somewhat multi-step is that our kitchen is not set up to deal with anything more complicated than sandwich making or boiling eggs. We need a kitchen island (still!), but I think we might get one soon. At least before Thanksgiving!

In other news, I can walk today and only a few muscles are still incredibly sore!

American Tobacco Trail

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This morning, I rolled out of bed at 6am and got ready to go run/walking with a meetup group I joined. I doubt any of you would be surprised to learn that I got to the trailhead 15 minutes early.

I wanted to go because I have GOT to start getting outside and moving more. The treadmill is being very unhelpful. Being with other people gets my competitive juices going, too, so I push myself a little harder. Like by signing up to walk 8 miles with a little jogging thrown in toward the end on a Saturday morning.

Yes, we did 8 miles. I don’t know when the last time I walked 8 miles that quickly, but I’m pretty sure it was during 3 Day training.

The other women I met up with were really friendly and nice, and I enjoyed their company. We saw 3 deer on the trail, which was fun! And I got to see what the American Tobacco Trail was like, since that is where the 10 mile race will be in October.

The American Tobacco Trail is a rails to trails conversion, and it is beautiful. We started at the southern end of it and walked to the 4 mile post before turning around. Even at 7 am, there were lots of walkers, runners, and cyclists using the trail. There were also a bunch of road cyclists out that way, which was nice–although they could all have used headlights. I forgot sunscreen, but it was very shady so I didn’t need any.

Also, because it is a Trail, it counts towards my hiking miles! I’ve been trying to update my ticker, but it seems I’ve forgotten my password. I’ll have to fix it later.

We finished right at 2 hours, which really isn’t bad for mostly walking. One of the women is using the Galloway method to train for a half marathon in November, so we were doing some part of her training plan. I think I slowed them down a little bit, but they were nice about it.

It was exciting to be out and meeting some new people and seeing a new place! Now my legs and feet hurt, though. I need new running shoes and clothes. Woohoo!

Today is mine and Reed’s sixth wedding anniversary! Happy anniversary, sweetie!

To celebrate, yesterday we went to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. We have been meaning to go, because they have chimps!

The zoo is divided into two zones, Africa and North America. We started in the Africa section and saw the chimps. It was interesting to see them, but it made me sad because I think it has to be stressful for them to be under so much observation from people.

Besides the chimps, we also spent a good chunk of time watching the elephants. It was the funniest thing, because one of the viewing areas is behind a pool that is big enough for an elephant to get into. One of them was let out of the elephant barn and was making its way towards the pool. Almost every single person in the viewing area mentioned wanting to see the elephant get in the water (including myself). I thought that was weird–this common desire to watch the elephant play. Eventually, after eating some hay, it did drink from the pool and spray itself with water. That was fun. We also saw one of the elephants giving itself a dust bath.

One of our favorite exhibits was the Sonoran desert area. We almost skipped it because we were tired and it was out of the way of the tram. But it was great–there were lots of interesting birds and an ocelot and nocturnal animals like bats and a coati and a very cute and hyper skunk.

In the North American section, my favorite exhibit was the puffins and sea birds exhibit. They had just been fed, so they were swimming around, stuffing minnows down their throats and being greedy. Very cute, but it smelled awful.

We were there until the zoo closed, and walked and walked and walked and walked. In the past, it seems that there was a tram system that stopped at most exhibits, but that has been severely shortened. The zoo has 5 miles of walkways, and if you just ride the tram to exhibits you would miss a few along the way (like the Sonoran desert!). The next time we go, we are going to park on one side and then take a tram to the other and work our way towards the car. And probably take a picnic, since the zoo food left something to be desired (and was incredibly expensive).

On our way home, we took the scenic route and visited the House in the Horseshoe. Well, we drove down to it, since it was closed. This weekend it is hosting a Revolutionary War reenactment, and the re-enactors had set up camp there. Even though the site was closed, they were all still dressed in their historic clothes, sitting around in their tents. Very neat. We also saw where a dam has been removed along the Deep River. There is a decently active movement in North Carolina to restore rivers and remove dams that are no longer needed or used. Where the dam had been removed, there was a public river access area, but it was not really developed. People were wading around in the river, but Reed and I decided that we would give it a pass.

All in all, it was a great day trip. The zoo is less than two hours from our house, so we got home by dark. No snakes at our door, either. Reed also said that all the walking we did counts toward my exercise goal, so I have earned enough stars for bowling! We’re going to do that next weekend. My next exercise reward is going to see the lemurs while they are in their outdoor pens!

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