Friday, October 28, 2011

Homemade White Pizza

Apparently, I wrote this before I came out to Yellowstone when I was chillin' with my mom (over a year and a half ago!).  I'll share now because we had homemade pizza last night (visiting Graham's family in Memphis)...

When my mom was in Chicago, we went to Piece and she fell in love with their white pizza.  She doesn't have any good pizza options in her town so we attempted a version of their white pizza tonight.  I've often heard that traditional white pizza is made with Alfredo sauce; however, Piece's is made with a layer of garlic and olive oil. Now Mama Bear won't have to go to the corner store to get a frozen pizza anymore!

We started with a wheat pizza crust recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle from Barbara Kingsolver.  We cut it in half since the recipe was for two medium pizzas.  While the dough rose, we roasted a bulb of garlic - next time, two bulbs will be roasted.  We used whatever veggies were available - sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms, broccoli (from the garden) and ripe olives.  We were worried about the crust being too dry but it came out wonderfully crisp and had a great flavor.  The only change would have been more garlic and something with a tomato flavor on the other half (preferably fresh tomatoes from the garden).  

Dissolve 1.5 teaspoons of dry active yeast in .75 cups warm water.

Add in 1.5 tbsp olive oil and .5 tsp salt in to the yeasty water.  (It looks like an egg, which reminds me...  My mom's neighbor (who has a crush on my hot mama) brought over some blue eggs that we've been eating for breakfast and in salads.  The yolks are so bright and big and yet the overall taste of the eggs are so light!)

Mix in 1.25 cups of white flour and 1 cup of wheat flour.  

We had to add in water slowly and we didn't even finish adding in all the white flour.  The dough seemed a little bit of a tough consistency - but it ended up fine.  Let it rise for about an hour or so.  

While the dough is rising, roast the garlic.  Cut off the top of the bulb, place it in a foil bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Close up the foil bowl and place in a 450 degree oven for about an hour.  Check on it every once in a while and drizzle with more oil if necessary.  

Caramelize the onions - slice them into half moons, saute them over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes until brown and shriveled in size.

Prepare whatever else you are going to add.  If your mom is around, have her cut some olives...

...mushrooms and broccoli.

Once the dough has risen, spread it out onto a prepared pan (drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with corn meal to prevent sticking).

Smear the smashed roasted garlic and olive oil onto the dough with the back of a spoon.

We made half of the pizza with sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms and the other half with olives, broccoli and mushrooms.

Cover the whole thing with cheese - mozzarella, Parmesan and goat cheese (if you have it).

Enjoy with hot pepper flakes!  

Happy cooking!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Appalachian Trail.

I realize that I often just tell stories of what we have done but not what we will be doing.  It’s mostly because I think of our future as being so variable that I don’t want to say we are going to do this and then do that.  However, we do have a few future plans that are set in wet cement – this winter will be our last season in the park and then next summer we will hike the Appalachian Trail.

[NOTE:  I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and hadn’t posted it yet – because that’s how I roll sometimes.  I have also realized that I don’t share a lot of the details of our daily lives – the tourons (like tourist combined with moron), the awful food and run ins with local power-hungry security (which is like a rent-a-cop but not rented).  I’m going to work on this as well… (And you can't fault me too much - I have improved on posting frequency!)]

Winter is a magical time in the park and I would like to experience it one more time.  I’m ready to get some skis on my feet and go out in the quiet, calm after a fresh snowfall.  The geysers and other thermal features have a more poetic draw to them with the freezing air causes the steam to multiply and the hush of nature allows you to hear the rumble beneath your feet.  The animals that spend their time trying to survive a Yellowstone winter, with -40 degree days and 200+ inches of snow, is a very humbling thing to behold. 

There are a multitude of reasons that we’ll be ready to leave the park after that – the main one being that we have little to no freedom here (see above comment about local power-hungry security).  It’s not because we have a million rules (although, we are on federal land so any trouble with the rangers and not security means a felony…) but because we don’t have any facilities.  If we want to make dinner, we don’t have a kitchen and even worse, we don’t have a place to get groceries.  We have a little camping stove and a grill but we have to drive at least an hour to pick up fresh veggies and some chicken.  (And I miss Rupert!)

We have decided that we want the things that come with the “real” world – Rupert, a dog, a garden – but we want one more grand adventure (and probably many others in the grand scheme of things).  We debated the three major trails – the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails – but decided the Appalachian would be the easiest for us since we are both fairly new to backpacking and working on getting our gear up to par.  We recently got a new tent after our zipper broke on our last one!  I’m looking forward to the adventure from Georgia to Maine – approx. 2, 218 miles that we’ll travel with everything we could need on our backs. 

After the Appalachian Trail, we’re not sure where we will end up but we do know we want to be close enough to places that are rich enough to allow backpacking in the somewhat near vicinity.  We have found a peace out in the woods that will be hard to leave so we don’t plan on leaving it completely – “The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go.”  -John Muir.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


One of the biggest things that Graham and I struggle with in terms of our backpacking trips is what to eat.  It must be lightweight, won't spoil, packed full of calories, quick to prepare and tasty.  (We have to carry everything on our backs, outside in the heat to replenish lots of used calories while using a gas (and we carry that too) stove with one 2 quart pot - and nobody wants to eat gross food.)

I always try to eat fresh/local/organic (which lets be honest hasn't happened much in the last year and a half because that is not what is served in the Employee Dining Room - hell, we're lucky if it's cooked all the way!) but we've found that the prepackage, full of salt and preservatives meal usually fits the bill over other foods (mostly the can't spoil and lightweight thing - potatoes are just not very light).

With the prospect of spending 6 months out in the woods (I don't think I've mentioned yet that we are planning a trip on the Appalachian Trail for next summer - more details to come with the next post) with the usual go-to's: Kraft Mac and Cheese with a can of chili (which is too heavy realistically anyway) or (newly discovered to us) Indian food in a bag with Minute Rice (which I then have to take Pepto and/or sit on a tree over a hole for 30 minutes - dang! Indian food is tasty but it does NOT agree with my belly) and then no matter what it is you have to wrap it up in a tortilla because it just makes it taste better (seriously, on the Mr. Bubble trip, Graham literally ate a chunky peanut butter, snickers and gummy bear "sandwich" wrap) - I have been on a mission for better health choices.  (This paragraph should probably be more than one sentence - but I think it has character so I'm going to leave it.) 

(I'm writing rather rambly - but it's currently 4:27 a.m. and I just can't sleep.)  I started this blog as a food blog and I'm going to start back down that path in detailing what we make; how we package, store and transport the food; and then the actual preparation on the trail. The pictures probably won't be pretty in anyway but hopefully they will be helpful to other campers/backpackers/hikers (or as I've learned in my recent research - people who think the world is going to blow up or something so they need massive amounts of emergency food supplies - not kidding, click here).  I have found a few pretty good sites but most of them seem started and then forgotten (the best one that I've found is from the Backpacking Chef) so hopefully this isn't some late night, sleep deprived dream that I soon forget about as well.

We are getting ready to head home (Memphis, Texas and Oklahoma) to visit the respective families.  During this time, we are going to cook some foods that could then be dehydrated - or if it would be possible to dehydrate the ingredients and then quickly make the meal after rehydrating.  It's not the same as fresh/local but hopefully we'll pick some of that up along the way too.  I have learned that you can dehydrate almost any food (like rice and then it'll have more nutrients than the Minute Rice but not noodles - but we can just bring those raw, which is basically dehydrated anyway, and add them into the cooking process).  I'm currently working on a list of recipes I think might work - and since this all currently hypothetical since I've never dehydrated anything in my life up to this point - I'll just let you know how they go so we discover together.

The other idea that we had is to make super muffins or biscuits but the concern is that they'd get too crumbly.  We might still make some, freeze them and have them shipped to us periodically.  By super muffin I mean one that has protein powder, flax seed, nutritional yeast and anything else we can throw in to it to add more calories (I did say we wanted lots of calories right?  specifically protein. The average AT hiker burns between 3000 to 4000 calories a day! and we have to carry the food to replenish that on our backs.)   I believe we could make tasty ones (and I love to make muffins!) and they would be good for breakfast or a snack - it's just the crumbly part.

Any other food preparation ideas?

I played golf for my birthday.  Graham said I looked like Hunter S. Thompson in my golfing attire.
P.S.  I'm glad to be talking about food again.  I don't think this is an idea that will leave me once I'm finally able to get some sleep.  Definitely more details (about the Appalachian Trail and food) to come!


Glacier Lily.
 "Look!  Look!  Look deep into nature and you will understand everything."
                                                                                               - Albert Einstein

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Senor Bubble.

Graham and I recently hiked out into the Bechler River region (the southwestern corner of the park).  The area in general has the reputation of being fairly busy with traffic but also as being one of the more interesting backcountry places to hike.  

Lone Star Geyser.

We started out along the Lone Star trail, which we skied pretty commonly in the winter.  When we were about 50 yards from the clearing of Lone Star Geyser, it started to erupt.  We could feel the mist of the water so we started running to catch the tail end of it.  I’ve probably been out there 15 times and have never seen a lot of activity although it is has a fairly frequent eruption interval (3 hours). 


The rest of our hike that afternoon was through small geothermal areas or old growth forest (probably about 160 years old).  The dragonflies seemed to congregate in the thermal areas where mating dances were occurring on fallen over logs covered with thermophiles.  (Thermophiles are heat loving micro-organisms that thrive in the hot waters in the park and give many of the springs their bright colors.) 
Shoshone Geyser Basin.

The next morning, we took a short detour to the Shoshone Geyser basin.  It was really cool to see such undisturbed thermal features.  Walking around the Upper Geyser basin usually makes me a little sad because you can tell where objects have been thrown into the pools (or where the pools were damaged during the process of cleaning them out).  I would have loved to spend the day out here exploring the area but we still had 8 miles to hike before our destination for that night.

We stopped back at our site to pick up our packs and have lunch.  The next stretch of trail was all through old growth forest and over a (mostly) gradual hill.  I had been wearing my raincoat due to the large amount of mosquitoes that were feasting on me, but it made me super dehydrated.  The hike was significantly harder than it should have been and I had no energy – despite drinking over 4 liters of water in about 4 miles.  I protested against going all the way to our site and we set up camp with some nice guys that were on a multi-night backpacking trip.  Thankfully they didn’t mind sharing the site with us.


That night we woke up to a electrical storm and a drizzling rain.  I had left my boots outside the tent and didn’t want to unzip the tent to grab them due to having zipper issues (our tent officially went out of commission on this trip).  Thus, I finished the hike in my sandals and had to pack my wet boots out. 
My super white legs in Mr. Bubble.
We got up early and hiked out to Mr. Bubble, a thermal feature that you can soak in.  It was a really relaxing way to start our day and a treat to experience without anyone else there.  Graham did burn his foot by stepping in an area that was entirely too hot, but not anything too bad.  Across the river was another (much hotter) Hot Spring, supposedly Grandpa Bubble, which was beautifully bubbling away.

Grandpa Bubble.

After relaxing, we started out the 15 miles back to the truck.  It was an amazing trip.  Although we had a few minor mishaps and were utterly exhausted by the time we got back, it was well worth the effort.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I am super jazzed about the upcoming winter season!!!  A couple of days ago it snowed about 4 inches and a surprisingly large amount of stuck (especially for how warm it's been).  Sadly, I don't have any photos of it to share since my camera recently went cupt.  A couple of weekends ago we went camping at Agate Creek and in the morning when I went to turn my camera on it made a clicking noise for like a minute and then it takes pictures that look like this:  (I have been taking pictures, but with my film camera so it'll be a while til I see those...)

Picture from my broken camera.
The snow makes Old Faithful look more like home to me.  The surrounding hillsides are blanketed white and the tree branches are holding heavy armfuls of snow.  It's beginning to melt and it will most likely be all gone by the time that I'm done working and am spending some time car camping out in the area while I wait for Graham to finish the season. 

I have my last shift of the season this afternoon and then we are heading to Bozeman to hang out with a dear friend and talk to a gentleman about a camera!  It's a Canon EOS Digital Rebel DSL!  (I am super jazzed about a new camera!)  As I've mentioned - I struggle with the limitations of my camera and have been wanting a new one for quite a while.  If it's in good shape (it's used), then I'll get it.  If not, then I'll keep looking.