Summer Adventure + Tasty Bite Review: Part II

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Several weeks ago, I had a decent stretch of time off from work – simply because that was the way my schedule ended up. In a span of seven days, Tim and I spent five of them immersed in the wilderness. It was awesome. If you didn’t catch Part I, you can read all about it here!

I’m quite fond of backpacking trips that lead out of the trees and into a world dotted with alpine lakes, wildflower meadows, and grand views of snow-capped peaks. We have a few favorite trails, one of them being the Broken Top Loop near Sisters, OR. We hiked this 25-mile gem two years ago and knew we would make it a point to return again.

Sadly, during the year between our first and second visit, a wildfire damaged a generous portion of the trail (4-5 miles or so). The area is still beautiful, but wow, what a transformation of landscape! Charred tree trunks, dusty black ash underfoot, not much greenery, and no shelter from the sweltering summer sun.

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This time around, we took less photographs, but I think we still captured the beauty. And, we had a Tasty Bite meal to review. Easy dinners are always appreciated after climbing for 8 miles!

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We camped close to a mountain lake on our first night – the perfect place to splash around in icy water and cool off. We had the company of dozens of squawky Clark’s Nutcrackers. They are noisy and hilarious. Tim recorded them and you can listen here and here! I loved hearing their sharp beaks peck away at pinecones.

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After relaxing and rehydrating, we whipped up dinner: a pouch of Tasty Bite’s Ginger Lentil Rice plus some kale and vacuum-packed tofu we brought from home. Gourmet, right?! It was filling and very flavorful. We marveled at how we could detect all the fresh spices and ingredients.

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I would absolutely make this meal again. Dry rice takes too much time to cook when backpacking so this was a special treat. Tasty Bite provides lots of nourishment in a small pouch, and enough food to feed two hungry (HUNGRY) vegans.

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As you can see, Tim is a fan of smiling for the camera. We hope to get several more backpacking trips in before the weather turns wet and cold. We have a few months still so it should be easy!

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See ya next time!

 

Wilderness Adventures

Today was forecasted to be one of the only sunny days this week. Since Tim has been working on an audio project for a short film, we ventured into the wilderness so he could make recordings. It was my job to be the foley artist and walk on twigs and run in the forest. It was pretty fun!

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We drove into higher elevations and found snow! It doesn’t snow much in Portland, so opportunities to enjoy the snow are always appreciated.

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The forest is so pretty during the onset of winter. Blankets of snow, water droplets suspended on bare branches, moody skies, and crazy birds cackling overhead.

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Running and jumping like a child in the forest tired me out and I slept the whole way home. And then, we made pizza for dinner! :)

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Mac-n-Cheesie!

Quick quiz: What is the ULTIMATE vegan cookzine?

Answer: Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food!!

Raise your hand if you own a copy of Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food. Wait, what? You don’t have a copy? Well, I highly suggest visiting Kittee’s website and purchasing one, like, right this second. I’ll wait…

OK, ready? Tim and I had a very active day on Thursday. It started with taking Kittee’s dog for a hike in the Oregon wilderness. He loved it! Midway, we had lunch, lounged in the sunshine, and ran in circles. Don’t you just love his mohawk?

When we got home from our hike, we made mac-n-cheese for dinner. It’s finally getting chilly enough in the evenings for comfort food. That makes me so happy! Now, this wasn’t your average mac-n-cheese. Aside from being vegan (of course), it was southern style! The recipe hails from the aforementioned Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food, but you can also find it on Kittee’s blog, here. It is smoky, spicy, cheesy, and delicious. We served it with a side of steamed kale, for the sake of getting our greens.

During dinner we watched 30 Rock, Parks & Rec, and The Big Bang Theory (I love Thursday night shows!). After dinner I made hot chocolate topped with Dandies. Busy, busy.

The Days of Summer

I can’t believe I am finally sitting down to write a blog post after such a long break! Time passes quickly in my world and my schedule has been filled with plenty of activity. While I am incredibly excited for the fall season, the weather in Portland still boasts plenty of sunshine and high temperatures so Tim and I are taking full advantage during the dwindling days if summer. Here is a peek at the highlights:We visited our friends in Seattle a few weeks ago and enjoyed brunch at Cafe Flora. I had a plate with potatoes, toast & jam, tofu scramble, and homemade soy sausage. It was delicious, especially the scramble. Tim had a tofu sandwich that came with salad. He didn’t care for it, but it sure looked pretty:After we left Seattle, we wandered around Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. It’s so much fun to explore places like this because if you are patient and quiet, all sorts of creatures make their presence known with a chorus of sounds. We even saw jellyfish floating in the southern end of the Puget Sound! Overall, it’s a very peaceful place to visit.When we returned from Seattle, we decided it was time to take a backpacking trip. It had been awhile and we knew September meant less crowds and less bugs. We opted for a two night loop hike in the Deschutes National Forest. We crossed paths with very few people and had our campsites all to ourselves. Plus, both campsites were next to chilly mountain lakes which we happily dove into after hiking all day in the sunshine.Campsite on night number two looked toward this view:
And then, before we knew it, my parents were in town for a visit. My mom had never been to the Pacific Northwest before so she really enjoyed all the scenery and places we took her.

We took my mom to see Mt. Hood! It was a gorgeous day despite the haze from nearby wildfires. We also took her and my dad to Portobello for dinner. I opted for the portobello burger, garlicky fries, and a homemade peach and rosemary soda. Don’t you just love how my meal was served? Everything was amazing, especially the fries. Oh my goodness, those fries were the best!We took my parents to the coast too. It was windy and a good 30 degress cooler than the city but still worth the trip. They both dipped their feet in the icy Pacific Ocean. I knew better.After my parents left, I accepted a job offer with one of the coolest vegan companies in Portland. I am now happily employed after many months of miscellaneous freelance stints here and there. It’s a quick bike ride from home and I am sandwiched between Food Fight Grocery and Sweetpea Bakery. This has already proven dangerous because yesterday I snuck over to Food Fight for chocolate caramel cups, ginger iced tea, and a curried tofu sandwich. It’s perfect because I work part-time and can still enjoy outdoor adventure activities while the weather permits. Come visit me if you are ever in Portland!!

This past Friday Tim and I went hiking on the southern slopes of Mt. Saint Helens. A good portion of the trail involved boulder hopping, but snacking on an abundance of wild huckleberries and views such as the one below made up for it, just a bit.And finally, this weekend is Portland’s 2012 VegFest! I will be selling/sampling treats from Nicobella Organics (chocolate truffles!). Stop by and say hello and I might let you have a sample!

Enjoy the week ahead!

Road Trip 2012: Part II

As I mentioned in my previous post, Tim and I recently returned from a road trip across the country. We spent a majority of our time camping, hiking, and exploring national parks. We did our best to avoid main highways, opting for scenic backroads instead. If you ever find yourself planning a road trip, I highly suggest taking the less traveled roads. We encountered solitude, beautiful stretches of country, and quirky little towns.

My last post ended with a photograph of Tim and I posing with the Green Giant statue in Blue Earth, MN. Once we left Minnesota, we headed for Madison, WI and stayed with our friend for a few days. Madison has some incredible vegan food (we had pizza, cupcakes, and tasty sandwiches)!

Cupcakes from Bloom Bake Shop near Madison, WI

After we left Madison, we headed for Milwaukee, WI to attend a family wedding. I can sum Milwaukee up with six words: huge vegan pancakes and ice cream.

Huge vegan pancakes (and French toast and smoothies) from the Riverwest Co-op Cafe

Tasty vegan milkshakes and ice cream cones from Babe’s in Milwaukee, WI (thank you, Kelly, for the tip!)

Next stop? Erie, PA! My younger sister got married so we stayed with my family for a week. I was in charge of making the cupcakes (all vegan!!) for the wedding. I spent a hefty chunk of time whipping up four dozen (it was a small wedding) cupcakes: chocolate with peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache drizzle, and chopped salted peanuts; carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut.

And then? We hit the road once again. Our first stop was Niagara Falls in Canada. We had both been before, but it had been many, many years.

We spent the afternoon people-watching and then had lunch in St. Catharine’s, at Rise Above Bakery & Cafe. I had a lentil burger and Tim had pizza. We both had doughnuts (maple and cookies-n-cream). They were some of the best doughnuts ever, seriously.

Tim yawning on the shores of beautiful Lake Superior, near the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Our campsite in this area was two feet from a swimming beach on Lake Superior. We even jumped in the water a few times! It was so clear and clean; I was delighted!

Grand Sable Dunes – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox – Bemidji, MN

We waded through the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca State Park (MN)

Hale Bay people somewhere in North Dakota

Windy day at the geographical center of North America in Rugby, ND

Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Massive field of sunflowers in North Dakota

Wild Goose Island – Glacier National Park

Poor jump timing at Ptarmigan Lake – Glacier National Park

Iceberg Lake – Glacier National Park

Beargrass on the Iceberg Lake trail – Glacier National Park

Hiking the Grinnell Glacier trail – Glacier National Park

Grinnell Lake – Glacier National Park

Looking over the Continental Divide on the Dawson Pass trail – Glacier National Park

My best attempt at photographing a grizzly bear cub – Glacier National Park

Tim crossing a huge swing bridge over the Kootenai River

And then, eventually, we were back in Portland. But, I shall leave you with one more photograph:

Tim and I posing with Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur. I won’t tell you what we saw…

And that’s it! I am still sifting through a ton of photographs, so there may be a follow-up post of outtakes. I hope you all enjoyed the highlights!