Salt Lake Chronicles: The Goblin Valley, or how not to climb a mushroom

Have you seen Galaxy Quest? Do you remember the scene where Tim Allen fights the rock monster?  If you answered no to either of the questions, go rent and watch it.  Two reasons:

  1. It is a funny movie(especieally if you watched any Start Trek growing up)
  2. We camped there on Sunday night.

The Goblin Valley is this surreal red rock landscape filled with mushroom/phallic rock formations.  It is pretty otherworldly, hence it’s cameo in Galaxy Quest.  We only spent a night, but we had plenty of time to cavort amongst the mushrooms.  A word of advice, if you want to climb on top of a mushroom, do it statically.

As you can probably guess from the picture, it’s hot, it’s dry, and it is dusty.  We forgot our towels, but it wasn’t a problem, because by the time we walked the 50 yards from the showers to our camp site we were all basically dry.  The night was nice and chilly so we built (and cooked on) a nice fire.

Speaking of cooking, have you ever made a foil packet?  You chop up meat and veggies, spice and marinade them, and then them wrap it all up in tin foil.  When you’re done it looks a bit like a foil brick, which you can just throw on the fire and let bake.  It’s a bit like making a miniature roast.  Christie’s family ate a lot of camping meals this way, but it was a new trick to me.  Ours were pretty simple: garlic, onion, carrot, potato, beef/chicken with salt, pepper and olive oil, but with a little more effort they could be turned into gourmet dishes(Jason added a can of cream of mushroom to his once).

All in all, a nice quick car camping trip.

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The Salt Lake Chronicles: The Art of Airsickness

Miah and I have ventured to the Salt Lake Valley for a week long vacation with my youngest brother Jason.  Our adventure, like many adventures, began with a plane ride, followed by a long layover, then a delay, delay, gate change, delay, and finally a barf bag worthy plane ride.  Miah says it was a little shaky, but I (and the man sitting next to me worried I might lose might lunch on him) knew better.

I don’t know what you’re suppose to do when you start to feel sick on a shaky plane ride, I tried counting to stay calm, tried thinking of something else, but this only got so far as,  “Don’t think about throwing up, Don’t think about throwing up, Think about something other than throwing up…” I couldn’t grab for the bag, because removing my eyes from the vanishing point in the distance would trigger certain doom, I debated asking the nice man next to me to prepare the bag, but once again, this took a lot of concentration, that was required for not thinking about throwing up… so, get bag or ask for bag = certain throw up, sit and concentrate on not throwing up  = potentially messy situation; you can see my quandary.  After 20 minutes of internal struggle, we landed.  I did not in fact throw up on the man next to me, my mental concentration seemed to have paid off.

Key lesson from this experience, if you fly Southwest Airlines, be sure to check in early so you don’t get the last boarding numbers and end up in the back of the plane near very nice strangers that you don’t want to throw up on.  Husbands are much better for that.

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Bite Me – Monday with Miah

Bite me – Or bite sized foods was the Memorial Day MWM theme.  I don’t know if it was the theme, the promise of a new leaderboard, or just that everyone had the day off, but, there was one amazing spread!  From super delicious jalapeño poppers, to fruit tarts, to BLTs made in bacon baskets and vegetarian spring rolls, one amazing bite sized morsel after the other.  Miah especially enjoyed this theme because of the lack of dishes following the evening.

Here’s a run down of the top 3 with recipes.
In Third… no picture, sorry, but imagine some mouth-watering mushrooms stuffed with other delicious things.

Alison and Giacomo’s Stuffed Mushrooms:

  • Mushrooms, Ground beef, Garlic, Onion, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, olive oil, 1% Miah’s soul. Remove and chop mushrooms stems. Heat oil in a pan, add garlic and onion and then beef. Add bread crumbs, salt, pepper and chopped stems. Cook for 10 min. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Stuff mushrooms and put them on a baking sheets. Grate parmigiano reggiano on the stuffed mushrooms (I didn’t do this, but I think it would be very good). Let bake for 20 mins.

And the Runner Up…

Carly and David’s Watermelon with Goat Cheese and Mint:

Carly and David's Watermelon with Goat Cheese and Mint

  • Seedless watermelon, chevre, fresh mint, salt.
  • Cube chilled watermelon~1.25in. Scoop with melon baller/tomato corer to create cavity. Finely julienne mint. Then mince. Add mint and 1/2tsp salt and mix with softened chevre. If needed, add more salt and/or mint to taste. Fill watermelon cavities with mint/cheese mixture, chill, and serve.

And, in what I’m sure will prove to be a fluke accident, Miah and I took home 10 points this week with what added up to be a whole day of cooking.  Christie and Miah’s Grilled Goat Cheese on Cranberry Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

 Christie and Miah’s Grilled Goat Cheese on Cranberry Swirl Bread:

Christie and Miah's Grilled Goat Cheese on Cranberry Swirl Bread

  • Cranberry (or Rasin) Swirl Bread, 4 oz Chevre, 2 T. Honey, 1/2 t. Lemon Zest, Dried Dates, Basil
  • Cranberry Swirl Bread – I made this bread, I used the Cook’s Illustrated Cinnamon Swirl Bread recipe.  If you are not a Cook’s Illustrated member, I could share this recipe with you, but I won’t post it here since they are so private with their recipes.  Bear in mind, this break takes about 6 hours to make, so unless you have that kind of time, you might stick with store bought cinnamon raisin bread or something else similar.
  • Mix 4 oz goat cheese, 2 T. Honey, and 1/2 t. Lemon Zest until well combined.  Dice several small dried dates, about 5.  Chop or tear 3 sprigs of Basil.    Spread small layer of goat cheese combination on two pieces of bread, spread chopped dates about 1 centimeter apart on bread, sprinkle with small pieces of basil, close two pieces of bread together to make a sandwich.  Cook on medium skillet with thin layer of olive oil.  Press down on sandwich with heavy cast iron pan or another heavy object to flatten while cooking.  Makes 4-6 sandwiches.

And Winner of the One-Time-Only “Hummas” Category for 100 points….. No Applicants

Current Leaderboard:
Christie and Miah………..10
Carly and David…………….5
Alison and Giacomo………3

Monday with Miah: Bite Me


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Homemade Laundry Detergent

So, for the life of me, I can’t remember who brought up this idea to me.  But, I someone did and I was intrigued with the idea of making cheap, more environmentally friendly laundry detergent.  After looking around online, I decided to try the recipe I found on this sight:

The recipe is super simple and only requires soap (ivory or fels naptha), borax, and washing powder.  I also added some essential oil to make it smell pretty when I was done.
In all the recipe took me less than 15 minutes to put together but note that you have to let it sit for 24 hours after). AND, as I learned because I spilled a bunch in my bath tub when pouring it into a bottle, which later became a perfectly white spot when we took a shower, it makes an amazing bath tub cleaner.   The next day, we spread a thin layer on the entire tub and let it sit for a few hours, rinsed it and we had a clean white tub.
Economically, it adds up to about a penny a load to do your laundry.

Melting the Ivory in a pot


Pre-diluted Laundry Soap

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Mawage is What Brings Us Together Today

More specifically, the proposal of Mawage between two wonderful friends, David and Caroline.  I’m so excited to watch this wedding unfold, I even joined Pinterest, just to keep tabs on Carly’s every design choice, not that I don’t fully expect many hours of my life to be lured down the trail of, “ooo shiny,” and other adventures in Pinterest Land.  We enjoyed hanging out with many of our close friends at the Workhorse on Thursday afternoon.  Please enjoy these grainy photos of the event curtsy of iPhone.

Engagement Happy Hour for David and Carly at the Workhorse


Caroline and Linda Celebrate with a Shot

Justin and Miah engage in a Brother-In-Laws Forever high five while Justin practices evil mind control.

 Other Happenings This Week

Following our date night tradition, Miah and I went to Kome post happy hour and had some sushi and appetizers.  We’ve been dying to go to this place for quite some time, so we were excited to finally make it happen.

Kome Review:
We had the Miso Soup, Sunshine Roll, Go-Go Roll, and a tuna sushi dish that had crab salad in the rice.  The Sunshine Roll (Salmon, Mango, Avocado) was good, but not exceptional, and I didn’t enjoy the crab-salad rice under the tuna,  I would have preferred plain sushi.  Miso soup was Yummy.  And I would definately get the Go-Go Roll (eel, avocado, cream cheese, sauces) again.  I believe I will most likely enjoy this place overall, but we’ll need to do a better job ordering in the future.

We also attended Austin’s FrankenBike on Saturday.  Frankenbike is a bike swap meet, where people bring lots of bike stuff and sell/trade it and there’s free beer. We had fun hanging out with David (who had some bike clothing and boxes of hats to sell), while we tried to sell the wheels and few random components we brought.  We sold a wheel, drank free beer and hung out with some fun people in the austin biking community… can’t complain.

David Making a Sell

Miah Hanging Out at Frankenbike

In business news, I just wrapped up a successful semester at work.  We have children enroll in our therapy groups on a semester long basis, and this past semester was very full.  I’m now enjoying 2 weeks of less work before our summer semester starts, therefore, you can probably look forward to many exciting posts.

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Acquiring Mouths Want To Know

Acquiring Mouths Want to Know-or- Things you didn’t like as a child that you love now.  And yes, we got lots of delicious vegetables, a few 6 packs, stinky cheeses.  Some favorite recipes were Sebastian’s Roasted Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Spicy Green taken from his favorite food blog 101 Cookbooks, Al’s spinach salad, and Giacomo’s broccoli among many others.  We’ll will start getting better at the voting next week as I intent to start a fun graphic with a running total.  Miah and I made some delicious corn dogs, as I was not a corn dog fan as a child.  We used Alton Brown’s Corn Dog recipe which was deep fried deliciousness.  Make sure you dry out the dogs well if you are going to do this recipe.  We used the Applegate Turkey Hotdogs to make them non-mammal eater friendly.  yum.

prepping the turkey dogs

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Wedding Pictures

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Birthday Garage Sale and Race for the Cure: Great Weekend

Miah makes garage sale signs to post.

We started out the weekend by celebrating Miah’s birthday.  With a garage sale.  We had a great time- some friends came over and we sold some things.  And made a little bit of money.

Creepy Neighbor: Jason spends time looking at passers by through binoculars as Miah makes signs.

Friends Hanging Out at the Garage Sale

Birthday Cheesecake

Miah has finally reached an age when his birthday cake comes in binary.  You have to read it in reverse of what you see here since I was handing it to him the other way (100000).  I made a cheesecake with a pumpkin whipped cream.  It was tasty.  Special thanks to all who brought other delicious things to eat 🙂

The 2011 Race for the Cure Team

This morning, Miah and I set out with some awesome friends (from left to right Sonny, Miah, Christie, Dave, Silvia, Jeff, Jason and Carly) to run the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  I believe this is Team Val Halen Shrez’ 4th year racing (Miah and My Second).  We dress up like 80’s rock starts with small pink shorts and try to raise some money for breast cancer research while having a good time.

Miah, Jason, and Sonny Jam

Team Van Halen Shredz on Congress

Dave, Jason, Carly and Sonny

We looked pretty awesome if I do say so myself.
I put together a very short video of Van Halen Shredz.

Donate Money to the Susan G. Komen Foundation here:

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Honeymoon Day 1: London

Walking up to the Greenwich Observatory for a picnic lunch/dinner.

So, for those of you who could not make it, the wedding was AMAZING!!!  We’re starting to go through all the pictures from that, but in the mean time, we went on an amazing honeymoon!  Thanks to all those who helped us afford it 🙂  I’m going to go into more details about our days cycling through France, because I found it difficult to find good information online about cycling there prior to our trip. But, I digress…

In the beginning… there was London!

London was our city of entry and departure.  Much much cheaper than flying into any other city.  And when we booked the flight originally, all we knew was that we were going to Europe.  Inside Europe, there are cheap airline companies, we happened to find a  flight on EasyJet to Montpellier the day after we arrived.

So, we got to Heathrow and our friend and Austin-neighbor Melissa (who is conveniently in London studying), came to the airport to greet us.  We refilled the Royal-Wedding Oyster cards that Jette and Justin kindly lent us (we’ve got them for you, don’t worry) and headed out on our journey.

After stopping by our hotel (and getting a free upgrade) we set out for a day of London fun.  Melissa had planned our day for us.  First a stop at Marks and Spencer to get some delicious food, then a walk to Greenwich Park.  This was great choice since it offered a beautiful view of London while we ate.  We had an adventure afterwards looking for a toilet, and ending up back at the observatory where we started, but otherwise the outing was all fun.

After our picnic, we visited Melissa’s “posh” dorm, and walked along the Thames, before finally calling it a night.  We were grateful to Melissa for keeping us up, as we were incredibly tired once the sun went down, and Miah and I both adjusted to the time change pretty much immediately because of this.

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If you are going to use the google to help direct you, then use the address 156 martin ranch rd, McDade Tx 78650

If you want turn by turn directions, well here they are 🙂

From austin:
1. Get on 290 headed east.
2. After you pass Elgin, it’s about 10 miles to the turn, take a left on loop 223/waco rd. You’ll know you are getting close when the highway comes back together and a center turn lane appears.
3. Take a right at the stop sign.
4. Take a left on to Marlin St., It should be the 3rd left.
5. Drive until it deadends, and take a left onto a dirt road.
6. The wedding venue is the second drive way on the right.
7. The camping/party venue is the third.

See you all there!

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