Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spring, Hiking and Some Cookin'

This week has been awesome.  It appears as if spring has finally arrived to our lovely valley.
I say this with cautious optimism.  There is a 99% chance that we will have more snow.  But we are enjoying the heck out of these perfect 70-degree days and watching everything finally, finally turn green.  You can feel the happy spirit of Bozemanites as everyone is coming out of winter hibernation and soaking up a little sunshine.  I must have said an overly energetic "mornin" to about a dozen people on my run/hike today.  And, I don't appear crazy because they are just as ecstatic about only having to be in a t-shirt and shorts and not layers upon layers of clothes.  I suppose that is a good thing about living in a state with 9 months of get a little loopy-excited about some nice weather.  No one can accuse us of not taking full advantage.  

I decided to go for a hike instead of my usual run this morning.  The snow has been melting off the Bridgers and the mountains have started calling my name.  It's too early to really get up in the mountains, but luckily we have the good ole "M" trail here.  It's close and easy to get to so perfect for an early morning hike.  I love hiking with Matt or with the family, but there is also something beautiful about some solitary time on the trail.  Just me and Sadi.  I remember taking her when she was a puppy and the poor thing couldn't make it to the top and I had to carry her down.  Now, 9 years and many, many hikes later she races to the top.  Although...we went the steep way which slowed her down a bit.  I don't blame her, the steep way always kicks my ass.  It was a lovely morning...
Don't be fooled by the dark clouds, it was perfect.  18 minutes later and out of breath, I was at the top...

Overlooking my Bozeman, chatting with the girls next to me, watching some boys getting ready to parasail down.  I may talk a lot about wanting to leave, but dude, I love this town.  It's like a love-hate relationship.  I hate it throughout most of the winter (Thanksgiving to Christmas excluded) and then come spring I fall in love again.  Getting up into the mountains again deepens this love affair and by our first camping trip we're back in a solid monogamous relationship.  Something about being at the top makes me feel so strong.  After catching my breath and taking in the view I ran down the long way. I felt like I was flying even though I was running very cautiously.  Many years ago I watched a girl blow her knee out running down the hill and sat with her while waiting for them to come help her down the mountain.  That image sticks with me so while running down, I'm very careful to not get going to fast.  What a way to start a day.  Apparently I was not the only one with this plan because it was a busy trail.  Doesn't anyone work around here anymore?  It's a Thursday morning people!

With the busyness of birthday parties I have not been writing much about cooking.  But, I have been cooking.  Last Thursday I dropped the girls off at school and realized there was no party planning that needed to be done.  I felt at a loss a bit as to what to do.  So, I did was I always do when I'm at a loss.  I cooked.

Bread and go-to cooking foods.  It's a good thing I run because I am a sucker for carbs.  And desserts...

My sister had been talking about lemon bars so I had lemon on my mind.  I made these lemon poppy seed cookies.  So good.  I love lemony desserts...they taste so fresh.  I'll put the recipes at the bottom.  Sadly, these did not last long.  Dessert never lasts long in this house.  I love cooking.  There is something about taking plain ingredients and creating something delicious.  I love that I have been doing it long enough now that I can get creative and more adventurous.  The other night I attempted some homemade tomato soup again.  I have tried it a few times and for some reason can't quite get it right.  However, this time something went right and it turned out well.  I added black Japonica rice.  It really added a nice texture to it.  
Perfect for a chilly night, which hopefully we won't be having anymore.  Topping it with fresh parsley makes it so pretty.  

This weekend is Mother's Day and the beautiful weather is supposed to continue.  I love Mother's Day and the celebration of my own mother as well as being one.  However, I have mixed feelings about it this year.  It's marks an anniversary of sorts to me that I don't like.  It was on Mother's Day last year that I last saw my sister totally healthy.  We went out for pizza with her and her family and my parents after the kids afternoon soccer games.  We were all sitting outside having pizza and beer and enjoying each others company.  No cares in the world.  No thoughts of hospitals, medical flukes, brain surgery and the scary roller coaster ride that was about to occur.  The only drama was the fact that they had put chicken on our pizza.  A few days later her world was rocked.  It's hard to believe it's been a year that she has been fighting.  A year of fighting and it's not over yet.  Man, she's a fighter.  And so strong.  I look forward to celebrating Mother's Day with her and my other sister, my mom, grandma, aunt and all the kiddos this Sunday.  She's the strongest mama I know.  What a year it has been.

On a lighter note.  I've been rocking my sweet purple 80's shades I got from the Color Me Rad run this week.  Matt keeps making fun of me for it, but everyone else says how cool they are so he can suck it.  They look pretty rad on my little nephew too...
Yea, they're cool, I'm gonna keep rockin' them for awhile.

Have a happy day...enjoy the glorious sunshine.  

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies:
-1 cup butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
-2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 cups flour
-Powdered Sugar for sprinkling
1.  Beat the butter with an electric mixer on med sped for around 30 seconds.  Add the 1 cup of sugar and beat until combined.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add poppy seed, lemon peel and salt and mix.  Gradually add flour.  If it gets to thick stir in remaining with a wooden spoon.  Cover and chill for at least an hour.  
2.  Roll dough into small balls and place on a cookie sheet.  Gently press down to 1/2 inch thickness.  I used a glass that I had dipped in some sugar to prevent from sticking to press down the dough.  
3.  Bake for around 10-minutes in a 375-degree oven.  Cool and sprinkle with some powdered sugar

Tomato Soup with Rice
-3/4 cup cooked, black Japonica rice
-1 tbls butter
-1 small onion, chopped
-2 stalks of celery, chopped
-2 small carrots, chopped
-1 garlic clove, crushed
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes with juices
-2 cups veggie broth
-salt and pepper
-1 bay leaf
-3/4 cup water
-Fresh Parsley and shredded cheese to top with
1.  Melt butter in a sauce pan.  Add onion, celery and carrot and cook around 10 minutes,  Stir in garlic and thyme and cook a couple more minutes
2.  Add tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, water and s&p.  Heat to boiling and break tomatoes up with spoon.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 30-45 minutes.  Discard bay leaf.
3.  Let cool slightly and then, in batches, blend mixture in food processor until smooth. Return to saucepan and warm back up on the stove.  Add rice.  Serve with fresh parsley and lots of cheese.

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