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Archive for the ‘fall goodness.’ Category

Tonight was one of those nights that I realized many things:

  • that our pantry, cupboards and fridge are pretty empty
  • I need to get back into the habit of running again in the early mornings, and
  • the dishes must be washed every single night.

I quickly washed two sinks worth of dishes after work and decided that I needed a healthy meal to ease my unexercised mind. Because of the craziness from this past weekend at the shop, we still had all of our veggies from last week’s delivery still on hand. I wasn’t in the mood for rice (again) and didn’t think quinoa would taste good paired with the veggies I thought about sautéing. I dug around and found some leftover lasagna noodles; and immediately put on a pot of water.

Random Veggie Roundup serves two hungry people

  • three or four  stalks of fresh curly kale (FG) [broccoli, brussels sprouts and zucchini would all work too]
  • EVOO
  • about three cups of sliced mushrooms (FG)
  • about two cups of sliced red cabbage (FG)
  • two cloves of garlic (FG)
  • about a cup of corn, fresh or frozen (FG)
  • veggie stock (my mom made this delicious batch!)
  • sriracha
  • Braggs liquid aminos
  • tiny splash of apple cider vinegar
  • optional: udon noodles, rice noodles, or any pasta on hand

Super easy: Cook choice of noodles as directed. I had four leftover lasagna noodles that I crumbled into bite-sized pieces.

Saute kale in a little EVOO until it is bright green, add a splash of stock if dry. Add mushrooms and cabbage and cook for just a few minutes until the cabbage becomes softer, but still snappy. Stir in corn and cook until warm.

Push the veggies to one side of the pan and cook the diced garlic in a little EVOO. It would also be delicious to add some fresh ginger (we didn’t have any on hand). Once it smells delicious, stir in with the veggies. Now add a generous splash of stock, about 2-3 tablespoons of Braggs, the tiniest splash of ACV and about two teaspoons of sriracha (less if you aren’t a fan of spice). Stir and let that start to simmer. Add in the noodles, stir and serve. Top with scallions if you have any- we didn’t, sadly.

Meals like this make me happy: they are simple and full of flavor. They also inspire me to make a shopping list!

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(If you missed parts I and II.)  

I woke up Tuesday morning not completely rested; my knee had been uncomfortable throughout the night. When I stood up to take advantage of the bathroom right across the hall, I knew it wasn’t good. Every once in a while I’ll twist my knee while hiking and although it’s uncomfortable, it’s nothing worth mentioning because I usually rest the next day. This was different but being someone with a high tolerance for pain, thought I’d be okay after taking something.

With a warm belly full of soup and homefries, and with my pack emptied for the day trip ahead of us, Paula and I were at the trailhead by seven forty-five. The first couple of miles I didn’t really notice my knee because the rest of my body was screaming at me for trying to move so quickly. This was our fourth day hiking and a first for attempting as many miles as we did. By mile five it was impossible for me to hide from Paula that I was in pain. I was limping and my pace was not at my normal chipper rate. I took another Aleve and ate a snack at Slant Rock in hopes that this would do the trick… but it didn’t.

Lucky for me the pain was nonexistent while going uphill. We took the little “shortcut” over toward Basin instead of taking the route that we took toward Haystack for two reasons: a) it was steep and b) it cut off a small amount of distance. I personally enjoyed the steep little climb, although, I had to be very cautious of my knee when stepping so high. I couldn’t trust it 100% even though there wasn’t pain, it was still weak. Paula kept asking me if we should turn around but we were almost to the middle of the mileage for the day, so I figured why not continue upward? I should have done my research about this hike ahead of time.

The mile or so up Basin once we met the trail junction was steep! It had ladders. It had a cliff. It had sheer rock with barely anything to hold on to. It was a test for my fear of heights. One young man passed us who said he had done this hike a number of times and suggested that maybe we not go over to Saddleback because if it was wet, it could be dangerous (we were in the clouds). I had no idea what he was talking about and didn’t care; I was in pain and there was no way in hell I was going to re-climb Basin. We got to the top, took our photographs and immediately headed toward Saddleback.

The descent was just as steep as the climb. It was slow-moving and because we were in the clouds, we couldn’t really see where we were headed. All I remember thinking was I will never re-do that mountain in the winter in fear of falling off cliffs.

Before I knew it, we were heading upward and it wasn’t bad until we broke the treeline. I literally could not believe what was in front of me: boulders stacked upon boulders. There was no trail. There was a yellow painted dotted line giving us a suggested route but there was no definite route. You could see dirt and skid marks from crampons all over the boulders. It was do or turn around and re-climb Basin; which was not an option in my book because of the pain in my knee.

It took Paula and I a good five minutes to assess what was about to happen. The rocks weren’t wet, which was a plus, but they seemed impossible to climb. I could conceptualize how I was suppose to move forward (up really) but I couldn’t physically do it; the fear was in me 100%.

Paula decided to go first; this tactic of her proving that it could be done is what had gotten me up other similar situations. When it became my turn, I followed her direction (meanwhile, she was clinging to the boulders up above us) and then froze. I was shaking and the tears were a-flowin’! There was no budging. I had to close my eyes and say out loud that I HAD TO DO THIS. I had to. And I did. Slowly. And ever so tightly gripped to rocks that didn’t have spots to grip onto. It was by far the most difficult thing I had to do on my 46er journey.

We got to the summit with absolutely no views and no fingerprints left on the tips of my fingers. I was happy but very worried about the walk out. After a quick snack in the trees to avoid the wind, we headed down Saddleback; which wasn’t too bad at all. Before I knew it, we were at the junction to either head out of the woods or go to Gothics; we chose to walk out (our plan all along).

All I really remember from the walk out was the amount of pain I was in. Luckily Paula let me borrow one of her poles which helped me take off some pressure from my right knee. It was a long steep out, and this time we got to see the finished staircase going down the slide that was created from the hurricane. When Paula and I hiked Gothics last summer, they were just starting this project. I was very thankful for those stairs because although I moved slow, they helped in that very steep section.

We passed JBL and Paula picked it up this time to get me motivated to get out to the car. We knew we’d be in the dark for a little bit of the trip, but with no water crossings ahead of us, we were both in a better mood. On the trail we got to see a man from PA that we had met the previous Sunday on top of Redfield. He was camping out there for a couple more days before heading home to his wife. We also met a father and son from western NY who were planning on staying out in the woods, but decided to get a room in Keene instead. They were shocked to hear that we only had one more peak left. How dare them doubt us! 

We only walked a mile or so in the dark, and reached the car shortly after seven. We stripped off our boots (mine were still wet from the water crossing the previous night) and cranked the heat… and cracked the window because our gear stunk! Despite the knee pain, it was a wonderful four days in the Adirondacks and it was an even better feeling knowing that we accomplished what we set out to do. 

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…so Paula and I woke up to rain Sunday morning; not exactly what we had in mind for one of the longest hikes on our journey to becoming 46ers. I personally don’t mind the rain and we’ve both hiked in it previously, but for eighteen miles?! I think the stubbornness within me kicked in and I was determined to reach that summit.

We loaded up our packs, put on our rain gear and started, slowly toward Allen Mountain. Because we were already at Livingston Point, we only had to travel a half mile or so to the trail that ran parallel to the Opalescent River. I would love one day to return to this trail because I could hear the Hanging Spear Falls and see them through the brush, but had no desire to stop because I was already coming to the realization that I was going to be wet soaked all day. Hiking in the rain is one thing but having sopping wet boats that squish with each step is another. From early on in this hike did I have to remind myself repeatedly why I wanted this so bad.

The three and a half miles went fairly quickly until we had reached an opening with private property signs. This threw us off because we could see where the trail kept going but Paula had the idea/inclination that we were suppose to be on this property. We continued on about ten minutes and came to an odd intersection. To the left was a yellow marker trail (what we needed to follow out to the car) and to the left was a massive sign carved out of wood that said Allen. That to me looked familiar (and obvious that that was indeed the trail to Allen) but the trail seemed to go into two opposite directions: left and right. The right was used far more frequently than the left but Paula swore she saw a yellow marker on that trail = Allen is NOT marked = couldn’t have been the trail we were looking for. We dumped the contents of our packs (in the rain) to the left and proceeded on. But this was clearly not the trail.

My assumption was that these were trails used by the property owners and not hikers. I hiked back out and over to that mysterious “marked” trail and my gut said go. Turns out the yellow markers were made of recycled plastic and were intended to help hikers. I convinced Paula to follow me and ensured her that if we didn’t get to some sort of registry, then we’d turn around. With my luck, the registry was found! One solo hiker had signed in previous to us so I was optimistic that we’d see him at one point throughout the day. I secretly hoped we weren’t too far behind him.

The trail to the mountain was long and somewhat uneventful for the two miles. It was muddy in plenty of sections but because we were pretty wet, we didn’t really mind. It was so cloudy we didn’t have any views and couldn’t even really see where we were headed/what we were about to hike. Things got very interesting once we got to the Allen Brook.

This trail normally runs up a brook. In the rain, it felt like we were climbing up a river; over rocks with slippery algae and very little to hang on to. It was very slow moving and each step was calculated. I could tell that Paula was out of her element big time and realistically she and I should have established a turn around time. The higher we got, the steeper the large sections of rock became and we were basically crawling. Right when I think the two of us were getting ready to call it quits in the heavy rain, we ran into the guy who was signed in before us! I of course had to ask him how close we were to the summit and he said another 45 minutes or so… “are you kidding me?!” I thought. He even went on to tell us that it got steeper, more slippery, AND almost dangerous. I could hear him hinting for us to turn around.

I could see it on Paula’s face, she was convinced in turning around. I was torn: I did NOT want to turn around. I also didn’t want her to sit there and wait for me in the cold if I decided to go on without her. I don’t remember what I said or the tone in which I said it but she kept going. She moved slower and I talked her into every step; also talking myself into every step forward. I do remember thinking, “this guy doesn’t know who we are or what we’ve hiked. We can do this.” And we did. And when we reached that summit there were high-fives and middle fingers.

After we got our photographs out of the way, we sat down for a quick snack and realized that it was after two in the afternoon. We still had get down that mess we had just climbed and walk an additional seven miles or so out. And those miles had their own obstacles for us to face.

See I don’t like heights, which means on hikes I don’t like cliffs, climbing hand over hand on boulders or climbing ladders. I especially don’t like climbing off of ladders. There have been plenty of times on my journey to becoming a 46er where this fear has been tested. For Paula, she does not like water crossings, no matter the size. She is just extra cautious in fear of getting wet and having our gear ruined. What I didn’t realize was that all she had been thinking about all day was the three water crossings that were ahead of us. And after a day of rain, she was worried that they’d be worse. I’d have been doing the same if I knew three of the biggest cliffs were ahead of me, potentially in the dark.

We walked as fast as we could. When we signed out of the registry, it was just after 5 o’clock. We both knew we had about two hours of hiking ahead of us and that the remaining portion of the hike would be in the dark. Luckily we were both prepared. I tried to stay as calm as positive and kicked it into high gear to get us out. Our pace was fast and I kept my head lamp off for as long as possible so that I could see more clearly in the dusk. Once the headlamps were on, all you could see in front of you was what was lit. We now had to be extra careful of our steps and alert to the noises around us. It was hunting season after all.

Our first water crossing was the Opalescent River. This looked like it had enough rocks for me to scramble over and I am usually a pro, but my right foot sunk into the water and I quickly hopped over other rocks as fast as possible to the other side. Paula managed great with the use of her poles. Our second water crossing was suppose to be over Lake Jimmy but the bridge, well, it is no longer existing. Lucky for us, a team cleared a marked trail around the lake with no issues at all. Slightly longer milage, no complaints.

Our third water crossing was the Hudson River. There was no avoiding getting wet here. It was either take your boots off and walk across barefoot or go boots-‘n-all because the car should only be a few hundred yards away. I decided on the boots-‘n-all option and started in. Paula hollered for me to stay with her, and I did, laughing and thinking to myself, “this is the best way to end the day.” The water wasn’t too fast but had definitely risen up over our gators to about our knees. And we were right, the cars was only a few hundred yards in front of us. Seven- thirty at night, after twelve hours of hiking in the rain, we had left the woods.

We were hooting and high-fiving and snapping photographs and stripping off layers of clothes and just talking about what we had just accomplished. There was so much excitement between the two of us. With the heat cranked, we called in our orders at the Noonmark Diner, drove up the Northway to exit thirty and checked into the Rooster Comb Inn. We had warm beds and hot showers awaiting us but couldn’t stay up too late; we had another day of hiking ahead of us.

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This is a very long overdue post that I was hesitant to write about because I can’t share any photographs, but decided to go for it regardless. The post covers the span of four days so I’ve decided to break it up into three posts.

This post is about my hiking trip I took the weekend before I finished up my 46. Paula and I set out the Columbus Day weekend, on Saturday, and didn’t return home until late Tuesday night after hiking five mountains. You read that correctly, five of the 46.

Saturday we drove up around noon to Upper Works after I finished my morning shift at the store and decided to park at the first parking lot because we knew that would be the lot we’d come out at on Monday. We had a short walk on the dirt road to the second (furthest) lot, logged in, took note of all of the cars parked for the holiday weekend and started on the Calamity Brook trail to the flowed lands. One special thing that I remember from this walk in was that we stumbled upon the monument for David Henderson who died near the trail in 1845. I still haven’t researched who he was or his significance to the Adirondacks, but it was a gorgeous location and quick break (our packs were heavy!). All of the lean-tos we passed were full, so Paula and I continued on and ended up at Livingston Point. It was very secluded but right on the Flowed Lands; my new favorite spot in the whole park to date. If you are friends with me on Facebook, my cover photograph was taken our second evening on the water. We unpacked, ate a hot meal then settled into our sleeping bags around seven. I was passed out within ten minutes.

Sunday morning we woke as the sun was just rising and Paula mentioned that two men had passed by the previous night in the dark. When I went down by the water I couldn’t find them and because the trail ended at our location, I was confused as to where they had gone. I decided to walk along the water’s edge and found a trail that cut across the bog. I told Paula about it while I ate my big bowl of hot soup for breakfast and we decided to try and cross the bog. On our way over, we found the two men; they had camped out on a little “island”. They were curious to see if we could get across because they too had to get over on that side of the bog and cutting across would shave off miles from their trip too. Well, we made it! It was wet in some places and the brush was thick (especially because I was in shorts) but we were all smiles and high-fives on the other side. This put us at the base of the Uphill Brook, and we followed the trail to the Uphill lean-to where the intersection for Cliff and Redfield were.

It was uphill but a very scenic route with plenty of waterfalls and gorges in the rocks. Oh, and the privy at the Uphill lean-to was clean and a great stop before (and after) climbing Cliff Mountain. The trails to these two peaks were unmarked but very easy to follow. The number one thing I remember about Redfield was the mud. The number one thing I hated about Cliff were the cliffs! I can’t imagine hiking to that summit in the winter- yikes! Gotta do one thing a day that scares you, right? The day was absolutely gorgeous and we did get views along the trails and on the peak of Redfield.

On the way down the Uphill Brook trail, it was like a highway. Tons of people were either looking for a lean-to or heading out to their vehicles to head home. Once again, we cut across the bog and were happy to see that no one else decided to camp out at our spot. Because we cut off almost four miles of our anticipated trip, we finished in the daylight and I decided to sit down by the water. It was beyond gorgeous; I took my boots off, soaked my feet in the freezing water and just thought about how grateful I was to be experiencing that day. As the stars starting to show, I walked back up to camp and cooked up a warm meal.

So many people have asked me what I eat on the trail, especially now that I’m vegan. And while that’ll be a separate post, I will share with you now what I eat for dinner. When I was preparing for my first overnight, I knew I’d want something quick, healthy, warm and substantial enough to fuel my body after a long day of hiking and before another day of hiking. I stumbled upon Tasty Bites at my local health food store, but I only had one option that was vegan; the channa masala. I tried it and was hooked! Paired with rice, I was stuffed and satisfied. Once I got back from that overnight, I immediately reached out to Tasty Bites to see if they’d like to sponsor any other overnights that I would encounter while finishing up- and they agreed!

I was beyond thrilled when they sent me seven packets of food to try! There was a great mix of noodles and classic Indian meals. For the two overnights mentioned above, I brought the lemongrass ginger Asian noodles and the Bombay potatoes respectively. Although the noodles weren’t as soft as I would have preferred, they weren’t mushy and had a great flavor. I was a little nervous that it wasn’t going to be enough, but it was and I even had room for dessert (a fig newton or two). The Bombay potatoes I saved for the second night because I knew I’d be hungrier after a longer day, and I was right! It was the perfect mix of potatoes and chickpeas with a wonderful flavor that most aren’t expecting in a camping situation.

What I love most about Tasty Bite products is that on all seven packages of food, I recognized every single ingredient. Better yet, I have almost every ingredient in my own kitchen. Each packet costs just over $3 and doesn’t take up much space in my bear canister. They simmer well over a small canister flame and can also be reheated by simply placing into boiling water. I could have saved the remaining packets for future hikes but was too curious to taste them; they made a great meal at my desk when I didn’t have the time to step out and dinners, when I didn’t want to make something from scratch. Some of my other favorite options are the pad thai (!), aloo palak and spinach dal.

Back to the hike… I washed up my dinner dishes, bundled up and stood under the stars listening to the animals moving around in the bog. It surely was a peaceful night. Again, Paula and I were tucked into our bags early and although it was cold when we fell asleep, it was much warmer in the morning. Warmer weather typically means one thing: cloud cover. And it was cloudy alright, with rain falling…

{The Tasty Bite samples were provided to me at no cost however, all opinions are my own. I will continue to be a big fan of theirs and will continue to pack their meals in my bear canister for each overnight.}

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To piggy-back off of a previous post, instead of buying gifts for each other for the anniversary of our first date, the beau and I decided to take a day trip to Woodstock, NY. I had only driven through this little town after hiking once before but he was more familiar with it because his art had been featured in a gallery down there. I got up early to run my long run, shower, have a hearty breakfast at our regular spot and hit up the local car wash thanks to the HUNDREDS of crows that live in the trees outside of my apartment this time of the year. We were on the road by eleven and at the trail head by noon.

A co-worker suggested that we hike up Overlook Mountain, which I didn’t know the beau  would be interested in doing. Luckily, I was wrong! I think the short distance (just over a mile) combined with the fact that it was on an old carriage road were the selling points. We bundled up and started up the trail!

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We passed a bunch of people who were already heading back to the car, it was a gorgeous autumn day, and within no time had to stop to take our coats off. By the time we made it to our destination, it was getting a little grey out and snow flurries were floating in the air. We decided not to hike to the fire tower and just to the abandoned hotel because we wanted enough time to walk around town before dinner. I loved it! I read up on this old building and it was originally built in 1871 but unfortunately burnt to the ground in 1923. It was so much fun to walk within it’s walls and imagine what it had looked like over a hundred years ago.

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We spent quite a bit of time wandering around but it got cold fast, so back down the trail we went. And then decided to explore the Buddhist monastery across the street from where we parked! There was a retreat happening but we did get a peak inside of the meditation hall.

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Once downtown we shopped, visited a couple of galleries, dreamt about purchasing antiques and laughed plenty of laughs in a neat children’s toy store.

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Seriously, what are those naked baby angels? And did you ever get to dissect owl vomit?

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The beau had originally suggested a trip to Woodstock because he had found an all vegan restaurant for us to have dinner at: Garden Cafe on the Green. Reservations were at five and we had a cute little seat in the window.

I think we were both overwhelmed to have so many options! We both agreed that we should try as much as we wanted/could and that we did! Besides the wine and side salads, this is what we ordered:

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For appetizers: the caesar salad with toasted almonds and the quesadillas with roasted red peppers and kalamata olives. The salsa, guacamole and sour cream were a big hit in my book!

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Dinner for him: pasta with “meatballs” and garlic bread. A classic!

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Dinner for her: wild and brown rice mushroom saute, cornmeal crusted tofu with red wine fig sauce, butternut squash terrine with pistachio swirl and roasted brussels sprouts. Out of this world delicious!

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For dessert: warm chocolate brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This serving was huge! Bigger than my hand! My only criticism of this rich, creamy dessert is that it wasn’t a brownie; it was a cake. Of course neither of us complained!

It was a wonderful day. Not buying gifts for each other was a great decision and I enjoyed spending time with him rather than money on an object. I would highly recommend this small town to any New Yorker looking for a day trip, even with the winter weather pressing us. Just remember to bundle up and hold the hand of your loved one.

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In this week’s bag:

  • brussels sprouts: these will be roasted and then baked into a macaroni and cheese with soy chorizo.
  • spaghetti squash: gobbled up this afternoon with leftovers! I got up at 6 am to bake the squash and then packed them into our lunchboxes with lentil meatballs and homemade sauce.
  • yellow onions: will be used in the “cheese” sauce for the mac & cheese mentioned above and also the carrot soup below.
  • salad mix: all that talk about pasta requires at least one salad for dinner, tonight.
  • kale: while the squash was baking, I made a big pot of short grain brown rice. I picked up some shredded unsweetened coconut on lunch… you know what that means… all time favorite kale dish!
  • cameo apples: Sliced and dipped in peanut butter, simple but the best morning snack at work.
  • yellow carrots: all time favorite soup time!

I literally LOVE everything in this bag! And could repeat it for another three weeks before the frozen goods kick in.

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And while we’re on the topic of veggies, this weekend the beau and I will be vending at the Albany VegFest 2013. Stop by and check it out! There will be demos, speakers and samples galore! Make sure to say hi if you do pass through! Stay happy and healthy my friends!

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In this week’s bag:

  • spinach
  • head lettuce
  • baby bok choy
  • bunched rutabagas
  • adirondack blue potatoes
  • green tomatoes
  • ida red apples

It’s horrible to admit but those veggies were sitting in the bag, on the couch, for two days until I had the time to snatch this photograph this morning before running off to work. Luckily, everything is still fresh and not wilted. The lettuce may need to be consumed tonight for dinner. ASAP.

We’re most likely going to make a spicy Russian or Ranch-like dressing for the salad/fried green tomatoes. Maybe throw in some tempeh bacon and nutritional yeast, sounds delish to me!

No prepping being done this weekend- tomorrow the beau and I will be disconnected from the electronic world and exploring a new town that I’ve never visited. We’ll be gone all day and I know cooking will be the last thing I’ll want to do when returning to the apartment. Regardless, we know the potatoes will be used in this delicious cabbage stew that the beau whipped up a couple of weeks ago. It’s hearty, filling, and all veggies! Now what to do with those rutabagas?

Hope you all enjoyed World Vegan Day yesterday! Just in case you forgot that holiday, you have all day tomorrow to show the animals, planet and your body a little love and consideration. Think you can do it? I KNOW you can!

 

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