Wednesday, May 19, 2010



This whole trip has been amazing!  I've taken a ton of pictures (over 1,000 in about a week) and looking through them, I don't feel like they do it justice.  When we were passing through a small corner of New Mexico, we stopped and went to the top of the Capulin Volcano.  It has amazing views since the landscape was mostly flat with just hills popping up here and there.  If you look closely - you can see the snowy Rocky Mountains in the distance.

In Colorado, we took a detour to Estes Park.  It's where the Stanley Hotel is located - the inspiration for Stephen King's The Shining.  It was a breath-taking drive out there.  It started snowing while we were there - and it was undisturbed nature.  If you ever have the chance to drive through the Rocky Mountains with snow - do it.  (Do the Rockies ever melt?)

The total population of Wyoming is 544,270 people.  Most of the state is just open space - it's nice to see that some parts of America still look like this.  In this photo, there is the start of a fence, which doesn't connect to anything.  The fence runs along the highway to collect snow drifts or else the snow just keeps blowing.  They also close down the highway from time to time due to the snow.  That's right - that actually happens.

We stopped in Thermopolis, WY - where the World's Largest Mineral Hot Spring is located.  It smelled like rotten eggs.  We got away from the smell by climbing a hill and we got this amazing view.  The landscape here is a muted green color due to the White Sage bushes that cover the landscape. 

The 52 miles between Cody, WY and the entrance to the park is supposed to be the 52 prettiest miles of highway driving in the US.  I'm not going to argue against the person that made the claim - there was a river that ran along the highway with huge rock formations.   There were so many deer or elk (mmm - not sure) taking up space in the cow pastures.  We also ran into a herd rock climbing sheep (not pictured - maybe I'll share those later).  We stopped to take a picture of the group.  I rode up with a friend from high school, his girlfriend and best friend.  

Ross (my car-riding partner) is 6'3" - a full 8 feet when his arms are raised.  He's been entertaining the idea of wrastling a bear.  This wooden one would do...

...but then we ran into a real bear about a quarter of a mile down the road.  Ross opted not to go down into the valley with a hungry bear. 

Once we got into the park, we started to go up in elevation (I'll be living at 7,900 feet - I'm still getting adjusted to the thin air), which means it got colder.  After a 4 day car trip, sledding was a nice break for the Texans that I rode up with.  As for me, I'm just not that excited by snow anymore.  

The buffalo are everywhere here.  We are already so used to them walking through town, scratching themselves on rock, buffalo dueces, etc. that we just zoom on by them now.  They are amazing animals  - they've been grazing the grasses of Yellowstone for thousands of years.

We've been taking mini-hikes so far.  We went up and around a few hills and climbed rocks.  It's made me super excited for a real hike.  (Ross as King of the Mountain on a mini-hike.)

Yellowstone is home to two-thirds of the world's geothermal activity.  This is part of Mammoth Hot Springs.  The bright colors are caused be thermophilies that thrive in the extremely hot, mineral-rich waters.  Since the geography of Yellowstone is contantly changing - the hot springs are constantly changing. 

Yellowstone Lake is a sheet of ice - and will probably stay that way for the next few weeks.  On the lake are a bunch of little islands.  Some animals will walk out to the islands during the winter when the water is frozen and then will get stuck there when the ice melts.  They are then required to live out their summers on a little island until the lake freezes back over in a few months.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is where I will be living for the summer (starting tomorrow).  The waterfalls are so powerful.  I've only seen one - but there is another one just up the river a little ways.  The road to that waterfall is still closed because they haven't plowed it yet.  I'm so excited that this is my new home - and there is great hiking all over the canyon area!  

And we chased otters down the river because they are adorable.  

I'm definitely missing cooking - so you all need to cook and enjoy wonderful food for me!  Happy cooking.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Doris' Sourdough Biscuits

Happy Mother's Day!

(NOTE: I didn't use this picture of my mom to embarrass her - it's one of my favorites.  She looks so happy and peaceful - I just love it!)  For those of you who know me personally, it's been no secret that my mom and I haven't always had the perfect relationship.  However, we have worked on rebuilding the rifts that had developed between us.  Now I'm lucky to say that my mom is one of my best friends.  (Remember when my sister and I surprised my mom for her birthday - that was awesome!)

I've really enjoyed spending the last two(ish) weeks with her - we've cooked and gardened, talked, laughed and cried.  This is the first opportunity in a few years to actually hang out with each other and I'm so thankful she's my mom.

About a month or so ago my mom lost someone very close to her, which my sister talked about when it happened.  When she was 8 years old, she lost her mom.  My grandmother's best friend, Doris, helped raise my mom.  The other day, we were talking about things that stay with us our whole lives - she ties her grocery store bags in knots (just like Doris did) or worries about leaving water running in between dishes (just like Doris did).  You can see my mom light up just a little bit when she shares something that Doris did or said.

One thing that my mom was worried was lost forever was Doris' Sourdough Biscuits.  However, the recipe was found in her address book and my mom made a batch the day she got the recipe and we've been eating a pinch off the batter each morning.  They aren't big flaky biscuits but more dense with a wonderful flavor that goes perfectly with some honey.  The dough will last up to six weeks in the fridge - making them perfect for everyday breakfasts (like Doris did for her husband) or for special occasions (like Mother's Day).

Doris' Sourdough Biscuits
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup corn oil
6 cups of flour - or more as needed
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup sugar

Mix all together.
Keep dough in refrigerator.  
Let sit overnight in the fridge before baking the first batch.  
Bake at 450 until golden brown.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  I love you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I'm back at my mom's and with what we suspect is the flu and allergies.  I just took a lovely medley of Benedryl, Mucinex, Ny Quil and Thera Flu - so I apologize for any nonsensical talk.  I'm just hoping I feel better before the big road trip north, which is set to begin Monday evening.  My ride just gave me a call, which was really not to say much more than - I'm so excited!!! I wish it were Monday already!!!

My brother and I are going to my dad's in east Texas this weekend and will possibly be attending a rodeo!  The last rodeo I went to was in Wisconsin.  A group of girlfriends and I went up to work the ticket boths and entrance for our friend's dad.  Steve Azar played and we talked to rodeo cowboys.  One of them tried to convience my friend to run off with him and live on his ranch.  She's an impressionable young lady, but luckily we talked her out of it.  

My mom made a lovely dinner to try to help give me some energy.  She didn't really let me help - all I did was cut up the pineapple, which I did very slowly while sitting down.  Not really one of my prouder food moments.  She grilled filet mignon, shrimp, asparagus and pineapple.  She also made a salad with lettuce, radishes and onions from the garden with bacon, feta and blue eggs from a neighbor!  She's been experiementing with salad dressing of oil and vinegar - this one was a little mustardy, which I'm particularly fond of.  

It was delicious and I have a bit more energy than I did before eating but I feel it slowly leaving my body through my finger tips as I type.  Good night and happy cooking!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mom's Garden

I just got back from Austin - went to a nice wedding and got to see my best friend from high school (not her wedding).  I got to spend a couple days at mom's playing in the garden, doing laundry and sorting through everything before the final pack-up to head to Yellowstone.  I was thankful for the garden play - it's a lot like cooking where it gives you time to work with your hands and meditate.  The sun warms your skin while the wind blows through your hair and you can just feel at peace with the world around you.

This is a view of her whole garden and house.  (You can see my moving truck out front - it caused quite the buzz in her little town.)

She has about 7 roosters and maybe one hen.  She keeps them as pets - so when one dies, she makes a cross for it and buries it in her backyard.  This is Duke, the top rooster, who is inspecting the crosses.

This is Maude and Lucy.  When she got them she thought they were going to be hens, so they got feminine names.  The roosters are starting to fight - and Maude seems to be the one that they are getting the worst. 

Lucy doing the rooster dance.

She has a rabbit, Sally, that is probably 2 times as large as Rupert (and almost as white).  She gets to eat fresh lettuce from the garden. 

My monkey's are going to be staying with her this summer so a bear can't eat them.  We let Lily outside for a little bit - Rupert tries to run away so he wasn't allowed out.  This is Lily inspecting my mom's cat, Hot Lips. 

Lily got put back inside after she starting going to places she shouldn't have - but she stayed by the screen door all afternoon.  

I think she was a little worried that my small handful of readers would think that she's a bad gardener because everything is so little - so please keep in mind it's still only April. (Although, I think her garden is looking fantastic!)  Since she had been in Chicago for the past half week, there were a lot of weeds.  I tried to help her out by hoeing half the garden.

Sugar Snap Peas



Additional Lettuce (with a gardener inspecting for potato bugs.)

Potato Bugs (I told you it was spring - and love is in the air!)

Lady Bug


Blackberry Bush (my favorite!!)

Squash (planted that morning.)



Green Beans


Plums (They say in Oklahoma you only get fruit about once every 4 or 5 years - this a year for fruit!)


She said that she had garlic growing over in one spot of her yard, but that she had never dug it out.  So we decided to give it a try...

...and we got this, which looks like a bear.  It really does smell like garlic but it looks like an onion.  I tried to find out what it was by googling "onion that smells like garlic" but I got a lot of how to get the smell of garlic out or garlic smell in lady areas...  So I'm still not sure what it is.  It smelled so strong we left it on the front porch.  Any ideas?

Happy cooking!