This story, long overdue and continued from this post.
I left Breckenridge, CO a day early to make my way to Cimmaron, CO, which would be my one night base-camp while I explored Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I woke up and felt strange. It took me a minute to rub the sleep from my eyes and realize that the strange feeling I had was that I was sick with something that felt eerily like the beginning of the flu. No. NO. But yes. There I was in the mountains of Colorado, over a thousand more miles and several days of travel left before returning home and I could feel my sensitive skin, flushed face and general malaise. There it was; the flue…equipped with a fever. Ugh. I rallied and made my way to the nearest gas station. There were no pharmacies or convenience stores located anywhere nearby—at least the way I was going. I didn’t want to shave 45-60 min off of my trip by traveling in the opposite direction to Frisco, plus it was so early that I doubt any of the shops were even open.
I purchased some packets of overpriced DayQuil and made the best of it. On to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I followed through and drove straight there, dosed with ‘Quil. Unfortunately, I was so congested upon arriving that hiking was completely out of the question. I had to make the best of my time there by driving to the various look out points and walking to them from the car. It’s not ideal, but lucky for me, this is still quite the amazing way to enjoy Black Canyon of the Gunnison. One of the best pieces of advice I can offer for roadtrippers, especially if you’re a solo traveler, is to know that unexpected things are likely to happen…that you’re trip may not go exactly to plan and that’s okay.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the least visited National Parks, which makes absolutely no sense to me, other than it’s a tad out of the way from things one might be traveling to. However, if you plan to visit southern Colorado at all, Ouray, Silverton, Durango etc, I highly recommend making the trip out the this park. It’s one of the lower priced parks, only a $15 entrance fee per vehicle, or no fee if you’re like me and have an interagency pass. It could be very easy to do Mesa Verde, as well, in the same trip.
Throw on your awesome mix and get ready to jam. And make some jam while you jam. When I was dreaming up pie flavors for different Marvel characters, I decided on White Peach and Strawberry for Star Lord. For me, the strawberries were a clear representation of the eyes on his mask/helmet. The white peach comes in as something sweet and comforting, uniquely Terran, but a little different at the same time, which I think, for me at least, encapsulates Star Lord.
I had originally intended this as a pie. Then, I thought, perhaps a cobbler with a biscuit top suits Star Lord a bit better. And then it dawned on me, that his Awesome Mix Vol 1 (and now 2) are some pretty sweet jams, so why not create a jam for him? The jam would be versatile. You can use it in a jam tart (recipe tips and link below), which is like a pie, or you can slather it on hot biscuits with vegan butter, straight from the oven (which is kind of like a deconstructed cobbler). You can get the best of everything from this one jam. Plus, all of the other possibilities–ice cream topping, thumbprint cookie filling, PB and J sandwiches etc.
Well, hello there! Today, I’d like to introduce a series of new posts involving a few of my favorite things:
1. Marvel Comics and the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
2. . Food
3. Clothes!Over the holidays, I was re-watching Captain America: Civil War and started coming up with pie flavors based on different Marvel heroes. I named off most of The Avengers and then some. Six months later and after seeing the new Guardians of the Galaxy film, it dawned on me that this is something I should share in this space. While the MCU is not perfect, it’s been pretty successful at bringing so many of my childhood heroes to life and that thrills me, truly.
I grew up on Marvel comics (and trading cards) with my older brother to thank. We had our own likes and dislikes in terms of stories and characters, but each of us became pretty well-versed in various story lines involving most of the characters we’re seeing in the big and small screens today.
I decided to kick off this series with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, since it’s still currently in theaters and I just had the opportunity to enjoy the new ride at Disney’s California Adventure. I took a few hours one afternoon when I finished work early and headed down to Orange County (I live in Los Angeles). I decided to go alone and ended up having an absolutely joyous day.
I went the first half of my life disliking grapefruit and most other bitter things. I can’t pinpoint when it happened, but one day, I just started craving pink grapefruit. Something about that sweet, bittery pulp became so delicious and refreshing. After becoming a grapefruit convert (and general citrus fan), I have had a few wonderful citrus themed opportunities.
If you live in Southern California and know a bit about its history, then you know that there was a time when citrus dominated the area. When large portions of Los Angeles were nothing but groves of yellow and orange gems. I have had the pleasure of touring UC Riverside’s rare citrus collection, that is only open to the general public on one special day per year. A gorgeous walk through the groves, filled with endless interesting facts and juicy tastings. The only thing that really compares is the docent led tour at California Citrus State Historic Park, which may even have the UCR tour beat, as you can take home a bag of your own fruit, the picking of which, is otherwise prohibited.
On these tours, I had the opportunity to taste several types of grapefruit that I didn’t know existed, as well as one of my favorites, the Oro Blanco. It’s got a greenish-yellow skin and a pale white-yellow interior. It’s aromatic, as grapefruit tends to be and has an equally intoxicating flavor. IA completely different experience from typical supermarket grapefruit and it makes a unique and tasty Paloma.
1/4 c Tequila Blanco (I used Suerte)
1/4 c freshly squeezed Oro Blanco Grapefruit Juice
1/4 c La Croix Grapefruit/Pamplemousse
1 1/2 tsp agave
*optional course salt for rimming glass
First, if you’re using salt, use a grapefruit slice to wipe around the rim of your glass and then dip your glass in salt. Place some ice or one large cube in a glass.
In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, grapefruit juice and agave. Give a few vigorous shakes. Pour into glass and top with La Croix.
*If you find yourself in Southern California in the winter time, look for the UCR tour in January. The California Citrus State Historic Park tour is offered several months per year, I recommend going Jan through April for the best citrus.
I made my way into Colorado on I-70; the second leg of my first long road trip. I was alone, wide-eyed and free. I’m glad the roads were fairly empty and that the drivers in Utah and Colorado seem better mannered than those back home in Los Angeles. It afforded me the opportunity to take in all that I could from the car. Every second of it was glorious.
I was making my way to the small mountain town of Breckinridge, where I would stay for several days to explore the surrounding areas. It was August, but the my time in Colorado would turn out to be mostly cold and rainy. I had packed for all weather, I like to be prepared that way.
I arrived at sunset. I stopped at Whole Foods in Frisco, CO for provisions and headed on. After I made my way into the a-frame cabin I had rented, I realized it was so dark. So quiet. I have become so used to city lights and sounds, or even the gentle sounds of the pacific (when I visit Maui) that I found the darkness, the still and quiet environment unnerving. I could feel I was in for a restless sleep. However, I awoke early and ready to start my first day, visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.
Vanilla Scented Orange-Lemon Bourbon Sour and some notes on Vanilla
1/2 c Fresh Orange Juice (I used Navel oranges from my mom’s tree, but Valencias yield great juice)
1/4 c American Prairie Bourbon
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (I used half Eureka lemon, half Meyer lemon)
Vanilla Sugar for rimming the glass*
1-2 drops real vanilla extract*
Orange or lemon slice for garnish
Use a lemon or orange wedge to moisten the rim of your chosen glass. Rim the edge of your glass in vanilla sugar. If you don’t have that, you can use demerara or turbinado sugar or make your own quick vanilla sugar by combining some vanilla powder with sugar. Nielsen-Massey makes a decent vanilla powder. Combine orange and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Add bourbon. Shake until well combined.
A: Do you want to go on a hike?
A: Okay, we will go up here around my house
L: Okay, sounds good.
A: We are not going to go around my house anymore. We’re going up to Haleakala. Do you still want to come?
L: For sure.
A: Okay, wear layers and bring water.
That was a paraphrased conversation between me and my wonderful friend who lives on Maui. Originally, we were going to hike near her house in upcountry Maui, but last minute, plans changed and it turned into a group hike up on Haleakala.
If you’re not familiar with the islands, Haleakala (means House of the Sun) is Maui’s massive, sleeping volcano. At the summit, you are transported to another world. You might think you were suddenly on Mars, from the vibrant orange-red rock and dirt that surrounds the very top of the crater. When you look out, you cannot see the ocean. You cannot see the rest of Maui. There are the fluffiest, puffiest, most pillowy white clouds as far as the eye can see. The only plant you’re likely to find is the silversword if you can even spot that at the summit.
A warm hello, to whoever out there might still be reading!
I have been away for a long while and was away for a while before that it seems as well. I’ve come back to tell you all some tales of new adventures and turns my life has taken. There will still be vegan food, good vegan food, but more too.
Where and how do I begin to tell you? I was browsing through my last couple of posts, which date about a year ago around this time. I’m not sure if I included in any of those posts that I was recovering from a thyroidectomy and thyroid cancer.
I will save the details of my thyroid and health journey for another post, but I finally do feel ready to talk about it. An emotional rollercoaster, equipped with weight loss and gain, crises in energy, not wanting to cook, and so much more in between. It became hard to blog.
For this post however, I’d like to tell you a story about the last time I was on Maui.
It starts in May, 2016. It began with nothing unusual, other than I was still trying to get my wits and health about me after surgery (Feb 10, 2016). It had been a few months and I had remained mostly inactive during that time, trying to adjust to new doses of levothyroxine and my new life, post-cancer.
There I am on Maui. Enjoying the warm, but not-too-hot west Maui sun. Taking in morning and early evening rains of Kapalua and swooning over the white-blue glow of the Maui moon….untouched by light pollution, so bright that street lights and flashlights and other forms of artificial light have no place because the light of the moon is enough to guide you through the night. A true, blue beauty.
It’s not often that I will work with key limes. I find them tedious to juice, but ultimately am always glad that I took the time to work with them because dang….. they are the best limes. This cake came into my life by a friend’s Facebook “like” of a non-vegan Epicurious recipe. After looking the recipe over and having a pretty good stock of Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg, I decided that the great Coconut-Key Lime Sheet Cake test of 2016 should commence immediately.
First, you should know that this recipe will give you life. It is a rich, dense, flavorful and unique cake, but you should be warned that this recipe is time consuming. If you decide to take it on, read through the recipe and make sure you have everything set up the way you like. If you love cake, coconut and key lime, you won’t be sorry. 🙂
Did you know that coffee can grow in Southern California? Turns out there’s the perfect little microclimate out in Goleta for such things. Last August, I had the opportunity to tour the beautiful Good Land Organics Farm and harvest coffee cherries. Along the way, we also visited passionfruit vines, dragonfruit, flowering cherimoya, finger limes and more.
Finger lime and passionfruit samples to try before the tour.
Happy Durin’s Day! Whether it is, in fact today, or later this month, I’m sending everyone reading my very best.
If you’re not familiar with Durin’s Day, let me provide a brief explanation. Durin’s Day is an annual holiday observed by J.R.R. Tolkien’s dwarves “when the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together”. It signifies the New Year for the dwarves. If you’ve read The Hobbit or seen the films, you’ll remember that Durin’s Day is of especially significant importance to Thorin’s company as it is the only day of the year when the light will be just right to reveal the keyhole to the secret door to Erebor.