9.30.2013

Fall in the Eastern Sierra

This past weekend I experienced my first fall in the Eastern Sierra. T had a knee doctor appointment on Monday so we both took Friday off to make it a long weekend. Our friend the fish whisperer was working this weekend so we were on our own.
On Saturday T was planning to fish (I know, big surprise) but we got a bit of a late start and discovered the aspen trees were starting to turn colors at the higher elevations. The fishing plan became a photograph and fishing plan and we started near Rock Creek lake after picking up a Strawberry-Rhubarb pie for T and a Boysenberry pie for me at Pie in the Sky!

T and I hiked the Eastern Brook trail that the Little Sister and I hiked back in June. It was much cooler this time and not a mosquito in sight. T brought his fishing stuff but didn't end up using it because of a bit of wind and no sign of fish. Instead we took a few minutes to listen to the wind in the trees and the gentle lapping of the water on the shore.
Some friends of ours were camping at Lake Sabrina campground in Bishop's Pass and we planned to have dinner with them. On our way we stopped by Lake Sabrina and were shocked at how low the water level was. In this picture you can see the boat dock in the foreground.
We then made our way to North Lake where T decided to fish a bit and I tried to take some photos and read a magazine I brought. After T had caught a few fish we hiked a bit and watched the sun set behind the mountains.
We then headed over to our friends camp where we had a great dutch oven dinner with homemade beer. It was COLD that night and I was grateful for our warm bed back at the Fish Whisper's.
The next day T wanted to fish the San Joaquin river near Devil's Postpile. I joined him and got some fun pictures on the way at the Minaret Vista point. T was hiking to Devil's Postpile with me when we ran into a former instructor and his wife on the trail. They talked fishing for a bit and then we asked them if they wanted to join us for dinner. After T fished and I hiked we eventually made it back to Mammoth and spent an evening with them over pizza and beer.
On Monday the knee doctor's assistant said T's knee looked "solid" and that he was doing great and could ski this year! Just one more appointment to go!

This weekend was filled with chilly nights and cool crisp days. The fish were not feeding but the aspen trees were starting to change colors and opening the door to fall in the Eastern Sierra.

9.16.2013

Beer Brewing on Sundays

Over two years ago T started talking about making beer. My sisters then got him a brew making kit from Brooklyn Brew-shop and we waited to try the beer. And waited. And waited. Until this summer when we went to the Orange County Fair and ended up signing up for a beer making class. T and I attended and we came home with our own jug of beer. We let it ferment and eventually had our first batch of homemade beer, which was cool. And then I waited to see what would happen with T. You know, like would he make beer at home?

A few weeks passed and he told me he was going to make the Everyday IPA that came with the Brooklyn Brew-shop kit. His brother Jay was in town and they spent a few hours making beer. The process was a little different than the OC Fair class but soon enough we had another jug of beer fermenting. A few days later I came home to two big boxes of beer brewing equipment. T had bought some additional equipment and some kits to brew more beer from Northern Brewer. First he made the German Blonde and Sunday he made the Caribou Slobber. We are currently watching three jugs of beer ferment and it has become..... interesting.

Here are the one gallon jugs. From left to right, Everyday IPA, German Blonde, Caribou Slobber.
And now a close up...

There is some ACTIVE fermentation going on! Our OC Fair beer fermented a little, but nothing crazy. We initially kept each of the jugs in a pot in case they overflowed. The Everyday IPA seemed a little more active than the first beer and we would get excited when we could see air bubbles coming up. The German Blonde was active the first night and we woke up to find it had bubbled up and almost over flowed. And then T made the Caribou Slobber and it got active very quickly. It was / is a fun science experiment watching the bubbles foam up and it has even overflowed a bit. In the meantime the German Blonde has continued to be active but seems to be on some sort of cycle. It's awesome! We are hoping to bottle some next weekend and then T is going to make another batch.... I can't wait to see how theses beers turn out.

9.09.2013

Figs and Grand Marnier

It's fig season again and my neighbor's tree is producing beautiful figs for us. This is the third year I am gifted with figs from my neighbor. I wrote about how the Little Sister and I were walking the neighborhood and knocked on his door to ask about the tree last year. You can read the back story here. Fig season started this year and I came home to a big bag hanging on my door! At one point the neighbor hunted me down and asked if I could watch his tree from August to October as he was going to be in Italy! Ummmm, yes I would love too! So this year is going to be another amazing fig year!
While watching the tree I soon found my refrigerator filled up with figs and I started thinking of what I should do with them. I eat them raw all the time and have two jam recipes I love but started looking for something else I could do. A few internet searches later I had two recipes I wanted to try that both involved figs and Grand Marnier.
The first was Roasted Figs from David Lebovitz. I modified it a bit as my figs were extra sweet and I didn't think they needed the brown sugar. I also used lemon juice added after roasting because I didn't have a lemon to zest for the required zest pre-roast. Sometimes I am a lazy cook. In spite of all of this, the roasted figs turned out. Currently they are part of a fancy coconut milk vanilla ice cream dessert.
Next I found a Fig Jam made with Grand Marnier from Kiss My Spatula. This also called for lemon zest but I just used lemon juice. The recipe makes five small jars, not very much, but it is delicious and is now the third jam recipe in the line up for fig season. It is one of those jams that you take a bite and instantly you think of different ways to eat it. If I was having a bread day, it would be brie and fig jam panini, or a fancy crostini. It would go well with chicken or lamb and just heavenly on a scone. This one is a keeper and I can't wait to make more!

9.01.2013

Slow Cooker Carolina Pulled Pork Roast

We are having a bit of a heat wave in Southern California this Labor Day weekend and it is days like these when the crock-pot makes an appearance.
My crock-pot has two seasons. Season one is the typical cold weather, short days season, and season two is the "it's so hot I could not possible turn on a oven or stand in front of a stove season", it's even too hot to BBQ some days.

I grew up in a desert region of California where summers were between 100-115 degrees. My Mom will call me once in awhile to let me know it's 90 degrees in the shade at 9am even now. When I was 18 years old I left the desert region and made my way to the coast. For the most part, that is where I have stayed for the last 18 years (WOW! has it been that long?.....Crazy). I have never had air conditioning at the coast and our current home is no exception. My sister mentioned the other day that we have amazing weather 360 days out of the year, and the other five are the times we wish we had air conditioning. She is right. We are in those five days right now. So the slow cooker has made an appearance.

This slow cooker idea is thanks to my friend Mo of Russia and field studies fame. She had me try a bite of it at her house and I could not wait to make my own. I almost feel like this is a cheating recipe because you don't really do anything except turn on the slow cooker. I know, the heat makes me lazy....

What happened with Mo was that she was at Trader Joe's and they had samples of chicken with their new Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce. Now Mo went to school in Carolina and even has a Carolina BBQ sauce she makes from scratch, but after tasting the Trader Joe's version, she said they nailed it and went and bought a bottle. She then purchased the already cooked pot roast, brought everything home and threw it in the slow cooker for five hours with a sliced onion and now had the most amazing Carolina pulled pot roast.

I went to Trader Joe's. Got the already cooked Pork Roast (not Pot Roast like Mo) and the Carolina Gold BBQ sauce. Came home, didn't have an onion, and threw everything in my slow cooker for 5 hours. HEAVEN! And no stove or oven needed. I will be making this through all the seasons now!
Slow Cooker Carolina Pork Roast
2 Trader Joe's Fully Cooked Pork Roast with BBQ sauce (1.5 pounds each)
1/2 bottle Traders Joe's Carolina Gold BBQ sauce

Turn slow cooker on low. Add Pork Roast with BBQ sauce. Add 1/2 bottle Carolina Gold BBQ sauce. Cover and cook for five hours on low. Mo opened up her pot and shredded every hour. I shredded and stirred about two hours in. Find what works for you and ENJOY!

Serve on Hawaiian rolls with some cole-slaw and a chilled beverage. The perfect summer BBQ feeling with out the BBQ.