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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Elation, exhaustion and eating.  Those three words pretty much summarize our first official “bicycle tour” for me.  We set out for the Little Red Barn Campground in Quakertown, PA last Friday morning, spent the night and rode back to Philly on Saturday.  So all things considered not much of a tour, but a great practice run for longer trips and overall a good experience.

We loaded our bikes on Thursday night and ate a carb-full dinner in anticipation of the 50+ miles we’d ride each day.  On Friday morning I woke up to cramps and general malaise but I was determined to go.  So after egg sandwiches, coffee and stretching we hit the road.  It was so nice to feel the warm sun and take in the lush green Schuylkill banks, especially after a week of rain.   The Manayunk tow path was looking like a jungle with crazy vines and tunnels of green leaves.  We stopped for a snack at the “wayside bike stop” at the beginning of the Schuylkill path and saw a doe about 20 feet up the path– I was surprised to see one so close to the path and houses!  No picture since digging for it would have scared her 😦

Pat's bike loaded up

Our journey continued until we pulled over just after Valley Forge (about 25 miles) to mow down hoagies and cookies for lunch.  Once back in the saddle we both commented on how awesome you feel after eating… a full tank of gas!  After a few more miles we turned onto the Perkiomen Trail, a first for us.  It’s a very pretty, hard-pack gravel path that winds west through towns and forests.  We spotted cardinals, a bluejay and some super-cute chipmunks.

“Navigation” for this trip was printed google directions– I now admit this was not my best plan ever.  At some point in the directions you are instructed to leave the path and start heading north to Quakertown on country roads.  Somehow we got waaaaay off track.  Luckily Pat’s phone has a decent maps application and we were able to redirect ourselves.  Unluckily we took a wrong turn and ended up many more miles out of the way.

Throughout all of this navigational bumbling we were also tackling some of the biggest hills I’ve encountered.  Philly is pretty flat and the 3 hills I climb each day commuting are just a few blocks long so this was uncharted territory.  These hills felt endless to my screaming legs and I had to get off and walk a few times.  Pat gently reminded me that Europe has WAY more, and bigger, hills so this is good practice.  We had to pull over for a banana break after he said that since I was irrationally yelling “screw Europe! I HATE bicycle touring!” in response.  I felt so defeated by the hills, being off-track and my tired body that I even suggested heading home.  But 15 more miles of hills sounded more manageable than 40 miles back.  No quitting!

I will survive!

Twelve miles and many turns later I ecstatically blew kisses at a road sign that said 3 miles to our campground.  As we churned up one last hill I found a hidden pocket of energy after spying campers and tents in the woods to our right– we had made it!  I checked us in, picked up some hotdogs from the camp store and we got settled into our “home” for the night.  Our tent is a breeze to pitch and we were set up and devouring left-over pizza in about 15 minutes.  We relaxed in the tent, soaking in the beautiful woods around us and breathing in the fresh air.

Trees from inside the tent

REI Quarter Dome T3 tent, love it!

Later we walked the campground’s loops to stretch our legs and check out all the ridiculously large RVs clustered together. I gave Pat a run for his money at the air hockey table in the campground’s game room (they also had a pool but we didn’t have suits, boo)  Dinner was hotdogs roasted on the campfire then stuffed in pita pockets with cheese and mustard.  Trust me, anything is delicious after 6 hours of bike riding so this was gourmet.

Forest surrounding the camp site

Breakfast and map reading

The next morning I woke feeling a little sore but ready to take on the day’s riding.  Knowing that the hills were at the beginning of the ride and that we wouldn’t get lost this time made getting back on my bike a lot easier.  A quick breakfast of PBJ in a pita, trail mix and cookies and we were back on the road.  Our route back to the Perkiomen Trail was more direct (understatement of the year) and carried us through the many small communities and back roads of Upper Bucks county.  Just outside of Collegeville we stopped to gawk as several skydivers landed in a grassy airfield.  Feeling venturesome, we agreed that if we can bicycle tour we can certainly skydive!  SO now that’s on our bucket list…

Although I had pre-made some falafel patties to have with hummus, pita and veggies for lunch we decided to treat ourselves to a diner sitting just a few yards off the trail.  The best part of the meal for me was letting my booty rest on the squishy booth, sweet, sweet relief!  We rode side-by-side for the next 20 miles or so, cracking up at our lame jokes and encouraging each other on.  One more snack break in Norristown and all of a sudden we were in the city again.  The ride home from the trail is a complete blur to me, my mind was focused only on a cold shower and our couch.  The one and only safety incident we had on the trip happened 4 blocks from home when a police officer nearly doored Pat while getting out to talk to a bike cop.  But we made it home in one piece and the rest of the night was spent chillin’ and reducing a large pizza to crumbs.

Here are some things we learned:

1. GPS is an absolute MUST.  We were rewarded for this mistake though because REI had a brief mega-sale on them the day we got home and I picked up a Garmin GPSMAP 62s for 30% off- score!

2. Eat a lot.  I think we learned this last year when we went on our first long haul, but it’s good to keep in mind.  I can get really cranky when my blood sugar dips!  I’m planning on taking a small, soft-side cooler next time we do an overnight.  Also bring more water.  We stopped at CVS on the way there and back for big Gatorades.

3. Our plan for Europe is totally do-able.  Not that I really doubted that… but thinking/writing about it is one thing, actually doing it is another.  So this showed me that we will face some challenges in our trip but that they will be more than worth it.

Lastly, sorry for the lack of pictures– we were pretty focused on biking.  I want our next trip to be a 3-day weekend so we won’t feel so rushed for time.  At the end of the trip we had logged 121 miles and over 10 hours in the saddle!  Not too shabby for two Long Haul Truckers’ first really long haul 🙂

Life is good!

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A little late but… St. Patrick’s day was super fun.  We both had the day off work, as did P&E, so we joined forces for a drunken, corned-beef-fueled celebration of our Irish heritage. 

Corned beef, veggies and Pete's soda bread YUMM!

Festive garlic & onion dip

Beautiful spring, beautiful people!

It was unseasonably warm and beautifully sunny in our backyard, perfect weather for Tully Tea.

Euchre was a lost cause after that drink

Mr. Meow enjoys a walkabout

 

Can I sit on this?

 

Nope.

 

Proof that Pat tried to fix it

It was a good thing I had the next two days off work as well… I did manage to go on a bike ride to blessed Ikea on Saturday while Pat was working.  I didn’t get an ice cream (too cold) but tomato soup was tasty.  Also completed my second successful Century Week!  This week is looking pretty promising, especially since Valley Forge is on Friday’s agenda.  Today we rode to work in the sleet– not nice!  

love!

  

 

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6,000 Calorie Diet

Pledging yourself to a new diet this year?  Try the Kelley 6,000, it’s guaranteed to drastically alter your figure… though maybe the alteration I’m talking about will probably result in you buying larger pants.

Now it's cheerfully clogging my arteries

Anyway, to follow the diet plan don’t do anything out of the ordinary EXCEPT eat an entire plate of what you see above as often as possible.  Yes, you read that right.  A “bananas, white chocolate and peanut butter egg roll with side of fried bananas” diet.  It’s pretty awesome.

Don't forget the powdered sugar! It's 500 of the calories!

In all honesty I feel like I should probably eat salad for the next 3 weeks to make up for that delicious little feast.  It was pretty indulgent…  Instead we took a long walk yesterday and rode into the city today.  I’m calling it good. 🙂

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Take 5

I never watch her show (we don’t have cable) but I do like Rachael Ray’s magazine and my favorite feature is the “Take 5” section.  She challenges readers to make a recipe with 5 ingredients or fewer, the freebies are EVOO, salt and pepper.  Last night we had my take on the Take 5 (har har): Cheesy Baked Potato Soup.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cans Campbell’s cheese soup
  2. Milk
  3. 4-5 red potatoes, chopped
  4. Bag frozen broccoli
  5. Bacon (thick-cut is SO GOOD!!)

Follow the recipe on the can for cheese soup (1 can soup + 1 can milk)– using the ingredients above will yield enough soup for 4 dinner-sized portions.  Add the potatoes and broccoli.  Cover and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.  Meanwhile, fry the bacon, drain on paper towels and then crumble.  Season the soup with salt and pepper and top with crumbled bacon.  Serve with crusty warm bread and say mmmm!

thinking about taking a trip

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I ripped this off from a Racheal Ray recipe, yum-o!  I would say chocolate in all its forms has great power over me but nothing holds me in its grips tighter than a delicious no-bake cookie.  That’s why I was actually a little scared when I found this recipe.  It is basically a deconstructed no-bake cookie that has been reconstructed into some miraculous no-bake, peanut butter fudge layered bar of heavenly delight.  Would I have the will power to give half of the batch to my sister-in-law like I promised myself?  Would I be able to stop “testing” the batter before there was too little for the pan? 

Don't leave me alone with these!

Let’s just say I plead the fifth… fifth helping, that is!  Ha, okay here is the recipe I modified slightly from this one here:

Ultimate No-Bake Cookie Peanut Butter Fudge Bar

  • 6oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 16 oz creamy peanut butter
  • 1.5 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Line a 9″x9″ baking pan with wax paper so it overlaps the edges

2. In a medium saucepan melt half the chocolate and 1 tbsp butter over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup peanut butter and 1 cup oatmeal.  Spread into the prepared pan; refrigerate about 15 minutes, or until firmed.

3. Clean out the saucepan and melt the rest of the butter over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and stir in the remaining peanut butter and confectioners sugar.  Spread half of this mixture over the first layer.  Top with 1/2 cup oatmeal, pressing it down slightly into the warm fudge.

4. Melt the remaining chocolate and stir into the remaining peanut butter mixture.  Spread over the oatmeal layer, sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.  Refrigerate until set, 45 minutes but much better over night.  Pull out by wax paper and cut into squares. 

5. Try to forget about those 2 sticks of butter in there.

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I’m sure you’ve deduced by now that I’m not a fan of summer weather.  But one thing I DO love about summer is the food.  Corn, watermelon, berries and, of course, BBQ.  It all tastes better in the summer, especially when I pass up the normal grocery store for Whole Foods’ local, organic offerings.  I’m not an “eat local” devotee for 1. I like eating lots of different kinds of foods and they haven’t figured out how to grow oranges in Pennsylvania (yet..) and 2. I can be kinda lazy and our grocery store is a hike from our house so I like to buy it all at once.  Okay now that I’m done making myself feel better for being an environmentally irresponsible shopper… One food I WILL go out of my way to buy fresh and local is: cherries.  Mmmm, sweet cherries!  So delicious!  So nutritious!  So good baked into a pie with ice cream on top!

Mmm, delicious!

One of my childhood memories is of a family camping trip to the Thumb where we became hopelessly lost but luckily had a huge bag of wonderful Michigan cherries to tide us over.  They will always taste like summer, sunshine and Michigan to me!

Here is the pie “recipe” I followed:

  • 2 pounds ripe cherries, washed and pitted**
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (you can use more if you want)
  • A bit of salt (1/2 tsp?)
  • 4 tbsp flour (or you can use tapioca, but I don’t keep that on hand)
  • 1 tsp each vanilla and almond extract (I tried this on a whim, not too shabby)
  • Double pie crust**

Mix all the ingredients together and put into a pie crust.  Top with another pie crust.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until it’s golden and done.  Let it cool a little bit and enjoy!

*Pitting cherries: This was my first adventure in using ripe cherries with the pits in for pie.  My normal method for getting the pit out is to bite the cherry in half, use my teeth to wrestle the pit out, suck on it to get all the goods and then throw it out.  I have a feeling that’s not kosher for pie-making.  So I google-searched “pitting cherries” to see if I had to have one of those special gizmos.  You definitely do not.  Martha Stewart suggests bending a paperclip up and then using it to carefully excavate the pit.  Others swear by a bobby pin, a nail, or a paring knife.  I tried Martha’s suggestion and immediately understood why she has servants, too much work for me.  Instead I took the end of a wooden spoon, stuck it in the end opposite the stem, gave it a firm push and POP, out comes the pit and stem.  Easy cheesy.  Tip: do the whole operation over the sink!

The Goods and my non-fancy pitter

**Who wants to make pie crust in the humid heat of summer?  Not me, that’s for sure.  They never turn out right and I don’t have a ton of experience to know how to alter the ingredients.  SO I bought a frozen double crust (from Whole Foods, while I was there) and used that instead.  I was a little sad that they only had whole wheat crusts, not that whole grains aren’t important, but I prefer not to eat them with dessert.  The filling more than makes up for it though!

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