Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ducati’s First Camping Trip! (Canyon de Chelly National Monument)

Arrival, Canyon de Chelly National Monument.  No entrance fee, AND free camping! 
First task, grab a campsite and take a breather, gazing at the trees above me…

Canyon de Chelly National Monument Cottonwood Campground (1)

And now, because I skipped the Blue Mesa Trail hike in Petrified National Forest, I had time for the White House Trail…

Canyon de Chelly National Monument White House Trail (14)

Oh Glorious Light!  I couldn’t have been there at a better time of day…

Canyon de Chelly National Monument White House Trail (25)

For some reason I found myself thinking of cupcakes and swirls of chocolate frosting…

Canyon de Chelly National Monument White House Trail (22)

Here they are, at the bottom of the Canyon, the “White House Ruins.”   You can’t see it in this photo, but one of the buildings is whitewashed, giving the ruins their name.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument White House Trail (51)

You can see in the bottom left of the photo below how the ruins are built into the steep canyon side…

Canyon de Chelly National Monument White House Trail (53)

I also had time for a ride out to Spider Rock…

Canyon de Chelly National Monument Spider Rock (4)

And a peek at Junction Overlook, where Canyon de Chelly meets Canyon del Muerto…

Canyon de Chelly National Monument Junction Overlook (5)

I made a friend at my campsite that evening.  She quickly appeared every time I arrived, or emerged from my tent…

Canyon de Chelly National Monument Cottonwood Campground Friend-1

Not one of the heritage breed Navajo-Churro sheep, but a sheep in a Navajo canyon, nonetheless…

Canyon de Chelly National Monument near Cottonwood Campground (8)

No camping trip is complete without a night time photo of your motorcycle!  (Cool  red seat cowl removed before departure to accommodate my tail bag.)

Canyon de Chelly National Monument Cottonwood Campground at night (10)

I’d stay in this campsite for one more night.  Next: Day Trip to southern Utah!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ducati’s First Camping Trip! (Petrified Forest National Park)

Next stop (after a handful or two of the granola I had made before I left my house and kitchen, and after having an unusually colorful experience assisting an out-of-fuel motorcyclist),  Petrified Forest National Park.

Petrified Forest National Park Giant Logs Trail (9)
The "Giant Logs" Trail.  Yup.  It's wood that's been turned to rock.

Petrified Forest National Park Giant Logs Trail (5)
The wood, er, rock, er, whatever... really is this colorful!

Petrified Forest National Park Blue Mesa Loop Drive
You can take a short hike here, off of the Blue Mesa Loop road.  I regretted not doing so, but the time saved allowed me an even cooler hike at my next destination.  You can't do it all when you can't ride at night.

Petrified Forest National Park Painted Desert Lacey Point (2)
The Painted Desert, as seen from Lacey Point...

Petrified Forest National Park Pintado Point
...and again from Pintado Point.  I wish my pictures could be bigger without getting cut off.  I gotta figure that out.  Maybe I need to skip this fancy "caption" feature.  I'll try that on one of my next posts.

And then I motored north, past a really cute restaurant.  I should have turned around.  Why didn't I turn around?  Instead I had an awful meal in Chinle, AZ, where I was quite aggressively chased across a parking lot by pan handlers before my feet even touched the ground.  I was going to have to rectify my poor judgement later.  But I had arrived at my next stop, Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ducati's First Camping Trip! (Homolovi Ruins)

I took the Ducati on its first camping trip!  It took a while to get my luggage set up squared away, and then I was busy, busy, busy for months, and then there was this trip, which was cool, but not camping, and not hiking, and then, a little more busy, busy, and then… AND THEN…

…I had a week off!

Yahoo!  The Duc ‘n I are goin’ campin’!  Through the same Salt River Canyon from this trip, tantalizingly close to the Black Mesa Ranch and Goat Cheese Dairy I've been dying to visit, yet been foiled every time (they weren't open this time), and...

...first stop, Homolovi Ruins State Park, since it was the nearest  (if you call 70 miles "near") open camping to Petrified Forest National Park.   I was going to take a few days to explore some AZ destinations I had yet to see.  After my greens and cheese sandwich (yup, the same lunch I wrote about here), it was time for a look-see.

Homolovi State Park Homolovi I Trail (3)
"Homolovi I" ruins, abandoned by the Anasazi  about 1400-1500 A.D.

Homolovi State Park Homolovi II Trail (14)
Ancient pottery shards were everywhere, and some were cleverly laid out , like crackers on a cheese board, for the unobservant tourist.

A view from the Tsu'vo Trail. 

Homolovi State Park Tsu'vo Trail (3)
Plenty of petroglyphs on the Tsu'vo Trail.

Homolovi State Park Sunset Pioneer Cemetary (2)
The Sunset Cemetery is about all that remains from the city of Sunset, a town established on the nearby Little Colorado River in 1876, by a group of Mormon Pioneers.

Like a chick hatching on what was Easter Sunday, Mother Nature triumphs over asphalt.

Homolovi State Park Tsu'vo Trail (14)
Looks like a peaceful scene, doesn't it?  This photo doesn't show the "blow your standing moto over" wind that I enjoyed for much of the week.  Pitch your tent and park your bike accordingly.

Not a bad first day out, huh?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Daily Special (Pumpkin Feta Strudel)

I've been wanting to make my own strudel dough (primarily because I am too lazy to go to the store and buy phyllo), I had a little bit of CSA pumpkin left in my freezer, and it's that time of year when I try to clear such odds and ends out of said icebox,  so...

Stretching the dough.  Not quite thin enough yet in this photo, but I was pushing my luck messing with the camera.  This thinner than paper dough dries out fast, especially in the land of single digit humidity.  Put the camera away!  Keep stretching!

You can use pre-made frozen phyllo dough to wrap your strudel, if you like.  This would make you a normal person, unlike the kitchen freak that I am*.  In either case, lay out your dough, brush with melted butter (clarified, if you are so inspired), spread on some of the pumpkin you cooked and froze this fall (first drain it and cook it again to ensure it's really dry**, then let it cool), sprinkle with crumbled feta, perhaps some pepper, oregano, and pine nuts if that sounds good to you, roll it up like a super-sized Austrian burrito (folding in the sides of the dough as well), brushing with more butter as you go, give the final product a final brush, and bake at 400 in the upper portion of your oven for 30 minutes or so.  I used a scant two cups of filling for a 12 inch roll.  You need less than you think.  Or I needed less than I thought. The key in this process is speed. Don't worry how the roll looks, don't worry about any holes in the dough, just work fast enough to finish the whole process before the leaves of dough dry out.  The crispy crunch is to be enjoyed after it's baked, not before!

Oh, aren't you clever?  Make up your own filling, just be sure it's not too soupy.  I think an apricot one will appear in my household very, very soon.  I take that back. I am going to make a miniature apricot one from the left over dough scraps as soon as I hit the "publish" button on this post.  Apricots from this source .

I have a little extra feta on the side.  The strudel needed a bit more.  It was an experiment***, okay?

* If you are a kitchen freak, then make your own strudel dough. It's magic with gluten, and super fun and easy.  I followed a recipe by Rose Levy Beranbaum.  More or less.

** A little insurance against a too wet filling.  Use the traditional "brusel."  Brown a few tablespoons of bread crumbs in a pat of butter, let cool, and sprinkle half of them on the dough where your filling will go, then the other half on top of your filling.

***An experiment.  Meaning I'd do it a little differently next time.  I'd do it the way I wrote it in this post!  So yes, I am, basically, giving you an untested recipe.  In reality, I mixed the pumpkin, seasonings and (not enough) feta together and then spread it on the dough.  And I only thought of the pine nuts after the fact.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Boeing 911?

This post isn’t really about motorcycles or food, although in light of my last post, it seems appropriate.  In any case, I guess it’s covered under my blog subtitle disclaimer,  “Occasional Other Matters.”

I’m off to another animal rescue in glorious motorcycle country! 

“Yay!” [grabs helmet]

I have only five days total, and I and need get to and from the flooding located near those roads in northern Arkansas I’ve heard so much about? 

“Oh.” [sets down helmet and cashes in frequent flier miles]

Sadly, my transport this time is a Boeing 757, not my Ducati M696.

I’m off to take care of the many animals displaced by what is the worst flooding of the lower Mississippi in decades.  Almost 500 animals so far and still counting…

I doubt there will be any fine dining experiences over the next few days, but I can tell you one thing.  I’m not taking in any airport food on my way out. I’m hastily packing a lunch, thank you very much.

Wish me “Dogspeed!”

EARS lunch
Raspberry turnovers raided from freezer not shown.

Cheese melt with garlicky spicy greens:
Melt some cheddar on toast.  Use nice crusty  hard rolls or French bread, okay?  Wilt  some fresh greens (i.e. cook them briefly on medium heat in only the water clinging to them after washing, just until they are wilted – you can use spinach, Swiss chard, whatever you’ve got; if using frozen, just defrost but it won't be as good), squeeze them dry without burning yourself, chop them and toss them with olive oil,  and lots of crushed red pepper and mashed raw garlic.  Heap generously upon your sandwich.  Yum.

Carrot salad:
In its most basic form, grate carrots, and toss with a dressing of minced onions, olive oil, perhaps a squirt of mustard, an acid (I like lemon juice in this case but you can use any sort of vinegar*) salt, pepper, and garnish with fresh parsley if you’ve got some.   (You need a really sharp knife to chop parsley effectively, and it needs to be dry, so plan accordingly when you wash it.)  Extra virgin olive oil is nice, but good heavens, don’t let it stop you from cooking if you can’t afford it.  Despite all that says otherwise, the world will not get sucked into a black hole if you opt for “pure” olive oil instead.  The correct proportion of oil to vinegar/lemon juice varies according to who you ask, and ultimately should be determined by you!  Start with one part acid to three parts oil or so, and adjust from there.  I don’t really count, so I have no idea what I do.  Change your salad however you like – add grated parsnips (as I have done this time), or grated raw turnips, or grated fennel (I did that last time, but I’m saving my fennel for fennel sorbet this time, and this time I hope all my fingers will remain intact, unlike what I described here), or add cumin and saffron (dissolved in tablespoon or two of liquid) and raisins and call it Moroccan.  Let the contents of your fridge inspire you!

*Can I say something about balsamic vinegar right now?  When making  a salad dressing, please do not use it exclusively.  Think of it as a seasoning, and use a splash in additional to the primary vinegar you choose.  This has been a public service announcement designed to rid the world of sickly sweet and over-balsamicasized vinaigrettes.  Thank you for your compliance.