Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Muddy goodness

While I was away with 100 teenagers in Disneyland, Brad and Sean took full advantage of the rainy Oregon weather and went mountain biking at Forest Park. Sean e-mailed this terrific photo, which he titled "Muddy Goodness" - I love it :)

Muffin Wednesday: Spicy Bran-Sweet Potato

It's my first day back from Spring Break, and it's also Muffin Wednesday! So I whipped up a batch of Spicy Bran-Sweet Potato Muffins, a recipe chosen by Stacie and Gerise.

Crumb Topping:

3/4 c crushed bran flakes cereal
2 T butter/margarine melted (I used butter)
2 T light brown sugar


1 c veggie oil
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c crushed bran flakes cereal
1 c flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/8 t ground cloves
1/8 t ground allspice
1 t grated orange zest
1 1/2 c pared shredded sweet potato
1 c chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
16-cup muffin tin (I filled 18 cups)

1. In a small bowl, combine 3/4 c cereal, butter and sugar. Set aside.

2. In another bowl, combine oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat on high for 2 minutes.

3. In a third bowl, combine 1/2 c cereal, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice; mix well. Add orange zest. Add to oil mixture; stir just until blended. Fold in sweet potato and almonds.

4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling two-thirds full. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Personally, I would not have chosen this recipe because of the ginger, cloves and allspice - not my favorite flavors. But Andy and the students really liked them. Andy said he wasn't excited about the title but tried them anyway and thought they were really good - 8.5 out of 10. He liked the crunchy topping. Gerise and Stacie thought they were very moist and tasted more like banana nut than sweet potato.

The girls flipped through the book and chose Cheese Danish Muffins for next week....


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Angel's Rest (3/24/10)

I'm flying to Disneyland tomorrow to help chaperon the Tigard High School band and dance team. But before I leave town, we decided to get in one more outdoor Spring Break adventure. We initially had grander plans but decided to stick close to home and hike Angel's Rest at the Bridal Veil exit on Interstate 84.

Several cars were already in the parking lot when we arrived mid-morning at the immensely popular trailhead. It was a bit chilly and the wind was whipping. We made it up in about 50 minutes and planned to take a nice break at the top and enjoy the view. But very strong gusts prompted us to stay just a few minutes.
We saw few people on the way up, but the trail was getting crowded on the hike down. Large groups were headed up as we were returning to the car. As we expected, the parking lots and roadside were packed when we reached the bottom.

It was a quick up and down - enough to exercise the legs, lungs and heart. I wish the wind had been calmer so we could hang out on the summit. But it was a nice outing before I fly away to Los Angeles.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sample pack?

Volunteer time

I try to get in some time at Medical Teams International whenever I have a break from work. Tuesday is my regular volunteer day when I get to work with Jim, Terry, George, Paul, Michael and Michael (and many others!). Too bad George and Paul didn't make it in today - bummer.

Building pallets:
Sorting medical supplies on the brown floor:
Linus found something to do in my absence this morning:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Table Mountain (3/20/10)

Summer-like weather on the first Saturday of Spring Break drew us to the Columbia River Gorge for a hike up Table Mountain. We hiked the area two other times but because of time restraints never made it to the top.

Dad, Steve and Sean joined us for the adventure. We met around 10:30 a.m. at Bonneville Hot Springs Resort on Highway 14 just west of the Bonneville Dam (Side note: My great grandfather, John Fortune, helped build the dam in the 1930s.)

The start of the trail is a bit tricky to find the first time. Begin at the gravel parking lot on the west side of the resort and head up the gravel road. At the junction with another service road, look for a faint path across in the grass. Currently, a small cairn marks the spot. The trail gains about 550 feet in the next 1.1 miles through trees, ferns and Oregon grape. A few trillium are starting to emerge.
Soon after you cross a creek on a log bridge, the trail ends at another road. Take a right. A few yards away is another junction near what used to be Carpenters Lake. Some locals we met on the trail said it was stopped up by a beaver dam that eventually broke loose, causing flooding downstream (a bolder went through a house!) and emptying the lake. The beavers never came back, they said. Hang a left. After a few more yards, stay to the right.

The trail starts a nice, constant grade, gaining about 800 feet over the next 1.1 miles until you cross the PCT. Stay right and continue up about .4 miles and another 300 feet. A large sign marks the start of the Heartbreak Ridge Trail.
Waiting for the dads to catch up:
Next, slip some water, take a few deep breaths and then turn right up the grueling hill. The saddle is about .6 miles and 800 feet up. First is a clearing that is perfect for a quick rest stop.
Here we saw a man carrying a wooden cross up the hill. "Jesus" was the first thing that came to mind, but then I saw writing on the cross and realized it was a memorial for Kate Huether, a 24-year-old Portland woman who fell to her death March 4 while hiking in the area. Her body was recovered last week. We talked to a couple people and learned that about 20 of her friends had made the hike to place the cross in her memory. It was very touching.

A bit farther past the clearing, the trail is suddenly cliff-side with a dizzying view of the top of Table Mountain and the razor-sharp cliffs around the cirque. Kate's friends placed the cross in that saddle, where they believe she likely fell.

The trail continues about another .6 miles and 1,000 feet through forested switchbacks and over a boulder field that is much steeper than it looks from this photo:
Small signs pointed left to the PCT and right to the Gorge lookout, so we went left and came out at another clearing - this one offering views of St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood and Jefferson!
When the entire group arrived, we walked to the end of the lookout for more views of Hood, the dam, the Gorge and the center of Table Mountain, which is now a huge cirque surrounded by massive cliffs left by the Bonneville Landslide. The slide sent the mountain south, relocating and temporarily damming the river. The story and Native American legend is fascinating. Click HERE to read more about it.

From the top looking down at the cliffs near saddle:Picture time (Notice the boys' matching shirts - SO cute!):
Dad was all smiles:
Someone made a snowman in the spots of snow left from last weekend's storm:
Gotta get the group shots! Adams in the background:
Armed with our trusty William Sullivan guide book, we planned to make the return loop back to the PCT to avoid the boulders and steep downhills. But somehow it got confusing and we're not really sure where we ended up. I think new trails have been built since the book was written (copyright 2008). We decided we were where we were supposed to be, but it wasn't what the book said.

We headed back to the sign that pointed left to the PCT and right to the lookout and headed west toward the PCT. It took us to a rocky ridge where the steep trail was covered with very loose rock. Tired legs made it quite challenging and slow going. We agreed this was the most sketchy part of the hike (aside from keeping away from the crazy-steep cliffs). Soon (not soon enough for the older members of our party) we were back in the woods and then reunited with the PCT. Take a left and return the way we came. Piece of cake :)

The trail was beautiful and the weather was perfect. The faster part of the group spent more time sitting than hiking, but we were thrilled to have the old guys along. Looking back, it wasn't the best trail to take them on for their first hike of the season. Oh well ... everyone made it :)

Brad and I loved the trail and want to go back. But we're not sure if we'd do the loop again or just go back down the way we went up. Not sure which is the better (less-sketchy) option. We were pleasantly surprised at the five-mountain view from the top - a wonderful reward for the hard work. We were also amazed that aside from the large group on the memorial hike, we saw just a handful of single and couple hikers. For such a wonderful Saturday (and Spring Break!), it was not crowded at all.

We definitely recommend this hike for a clear, dry day. But respect the mountain and stay clear of the edges. It's very strenuous, so take lots of water and snacks and be prepared for some huffing and puffing. Oh - and I would strongly recommend trekking poles for added stability on the steeps.

Of course, we ended our trip with a stop at Taco del Mar, my new favorite fish taco place.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Birthday girl

Happy Birthday, Kayla!
The fam gathered tonight at Chevy's to celebrate Cousin Kayla's 13th birthday!! Oh my, does that make me feel old! ;)

Count me!

I just filled out my census. Have you? :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wilson River Trail (3/12/10)

I've always shied away from the annual NFC women's retreat at Twin Rocks Friends Camp in Rockaway. It's not that I was anti-social or didn't want to get away to the beach. I wasn't thrilled by the thought of hanging out with a bunch of "moms" and learning about how to raise my family (I do fine raising my cat, thank you!). But this year, Kendra convinced me that it wasn't all about kids and talked me into joining her.

Because of a shifted work schedule, we were able to leave early Friday and hike on the way to the coast. We chose a section of the Wilson River Trail from Jones Creek to the Footbridge Trailhead, about 7 miles round trip.

It was pouring, hailing and snowing as we drove down Highway 6. But we're tough... and we vowed to go ahead with our plan. We arrived at an empty parking lot (no one else wants to hike in the snow?!?!), suited up in rain gear and hit the trail. We chatted as we made our way past the Tillamook Forest Center, along the Wilson River to Wilson Falls:
Trying not to fall down the hill as I crossed the waterfall:
Because that's Kendra's maiden name, I decided it was her falls :)
Shortly after Wilson Falls, the flat-until-now trail started uphill as we went up and over a drainage. No problem until Kendra decided to turn the trail into a muddy Slip 'n Slide ;) (Don't worry - only her ego was injured)

We reached Footbridge Trailhead and took a picture of the drowned rats on the bridge over the Wilson River. I'm so glad the rain gave me alien eyes again :)
It was a fun hike along the river, which is running high and swift right now. Much different than the last time I was there during the hottest week in July. I would definitely recommend this one - summer or winter.

Then it was on to Subway in Tillamook and Twin Rocks for hot showers and our first group session at 7:30 p.m. The weekend was nice. There was a lot of breastfeeding discussion, but overall, not too much "mom" talk. I met some great women and had lots of laughs. Kendra and I stayed up WAY too late talking one night, but it was totally worth it! I'm glad I went.

One thing I took away from it... "If you can poop on a bed you can poop on a mountain." Amen.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ma's Irish soda bread

Despite my Scottish heritage, I'm joining with others this week in feeling very Irish. For me, it doesn't come out with large quantities of green ale but with baked goods. For Muffin Wednesday, I made green Irish oatmeal muffins. And knowing that I would need something to share for our Thursday evening meal and The Office party, I e-mailed Ma for her Irish soda bread recipe. She gladly shared, and I came up with this:
Mine split open a bit too much, but that's just a lesson learned for me: Don't make the slits too deep next time. It tastes just like I remember hers tasting ... success! I read something online about baking it ahead, so I made them Wednesday night. They were terrific hot from the oven and terrific again this morning after time to sit. It was an easy recipe with few ingredients, though I had to get buttermilk, which I don't keep on hand.

4-4 1/4 c flour
1 t salt
3 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 c sugar (optional)
1/8 t ground cardamom or coriander (optional)
1/4 c firm butter or margarine
1 egg
1 3/4 c buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In large bowl, stir together 4 c flour, salt, baking powder and soda (and sugar and cardamom if used) until thoroughly blended.

3. Cut in butter with forks or pastry cutter until crumbly.

4. In separate bowl, beat egg lightly and mix with buttermilk; stir into dry ingredients until blended. Turn out onto floured board and knead until smooth (2-3 minutes).

5. Divide dough in half and shape into two smooth, round loaves; place each into a greased 8-inch cake pan and press to make dough fill pans. With knife, cut a 1/2-inch-deep "X" in the top of each loaf.

6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until nicely browned.


Ma said she uses the sugar and cardamom and sometimes adds a cup of currants. So I used sugar, too, but didn't have cardamom or currants... maybe next time. She also sometimes makes rounds on a cookie sheet. That's what I remember eating at her house, so that's what I did too


Muffin Wednesday: Irish Oatmeal

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I knew I had to bake something Irish or green... how about both?! I took a detour from The Book, did an Internet search for "Irish muffins" and came up with Irish Oatmeal Muffins from Recipe Zaar. Of course, I had to add green food coloring for extra fun:
  • 2 c buttermilk
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c dark brown sugar (I only had light)
  • 1 2/3 c whole wheat flour (I only had white)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T vegetable oil
1. Combine the buttermilk and oats for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight). Stir well, cover and let rest in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease the muffin tins or use paper cups.

3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs just until the yolks and whites are blended. Add the sugar and beat until smooth and well blended.

4. Add the buttermilk-oats mixture. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and oil. Beat until batter is well mixed.

5. Fill the prepared muffin tins 3/4 full of batter (I filled 18 cups - because that's what I have). I baked these for 10 minutes, rotated the pans and baked another 5 minutes. Cool on rack.

I think these are good. They were sweet and oaty and very moist. Gerise and Ashley liked them but didn't seem overly thrilled. The girls said the muffins were spongy - and I think that was a bit of a negative for them.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BCEP: Dog Mountain (3/13/10)

Brad's lending a hand this season with several climbing schools, including the Mazamas Basic Climbing Education Program class (BCEP). Their group's first outing was Saturday: a trip up Dog Mountain on the Washington side in the Columbia River Gorge. It's a trail we've hiked many times - a great one for training.

In the early summer, the open upper section is covered with beautiful wildflowers. Right now, it's covered in snow! Student Chris O'Leary sent out these photos:
At the top with other BCEP groups:
Nice view from the top!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Smith Rock: Day 2 (3/7/10)

Our recent Smith Rock adventure didn't end Saturday night. We camped, woke again to icy tents and frozen ground and headed out for another few hours of rock climbing before we had to get home and back to real life.

This time we hiked across the river and took a right. We ended up on Flunked Out. Brad led the 5.6 trad route. Each route we tried this weekend was different and provided practice for different skills. The lower portion of this one had a crack for hand and foot jamming and also a slab where we had to use friction to stay on. And a
lie back was helpful for the crux.

Brad took a slight wrong turn and ended up above and to the left of the crux:
No worries... Brad gets back on route and easily zooms over the crux: Jacob's turn: Lindsey's getting comfortable belaying. Note her awesome new birthday belay jacket - toasty warm in the cool morning shade: Jacob reaches the crux: Lindsey coming down: Cold hands again, but I'll give it a try. That's a BIG step for someone with short legs: My turn at the crux: It took a couple tries, but I made it, too: Brad went up to pull the rope and decided to try that feature on the left. No problem for him!BIG step down to the anchor:OK - one last group shot before we leave the rock (note MY new belay jacket. Kendra also got one at the last REI sale!): We stopped on the way home to refuel at the Madras Black Bear Diner. Yummy veggie burger for me (FYI - the split pea wasn't very good): Jacob's shirt seems appropriate: But Lindsey's says it all! Another successful day on the rock and a memorable trip with good friends! :)