Sunday, October 26, 2008

All the Pretty Pun-kins!

I can't think what might make me happier right now. The sun is shining bright, the leaves are all beautiful contrasting colors, the air is crisp but comfortable.....Life is good.

We went to the pumpkin patch today on Sauvie Island. The same place we rode our bikes a few weeks ago. It was like the Washington Town and Country Fair out there! There were cow tractor rides, corn mazes like none I've ever seen and the "Field of Screams" so cleverly named. We walked around the hundreds of acres for a couple of hours today and just dreamed about our own farm someday. Since we don't have cute kids to take pictures of with the pumpkins, you'll have to look at us acting like kids.

Oh yeah, we also rooted for Mizzou in spirit, as we did not get the game on any TV stations out here. But I heard it was a blowout. Mizzou-RAH!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Piece of Cake.

I made a great discovery last week. The powers of cake mix recipes. I don't know about you, but when the cold weather comes in, the leaves change color and the days get shorter I crave baked goods. No more icecream. Fresh berries aren't at their peak anymore. What is another easy sweet treat for after dinner? Last tuesday, we were needing something to satisfy the sweet tooth. One thing we did have was a box of yellow cake mix. Hmm....not very exciting. Wonder how I could fancy it up? There are dozens of recipes online that spice up cake mixes. Here are two (yes, that's right. we like our sweets) that we've tried so far:

Apple Cream Cake

1 box spiced cake mix
3 cups peeled, sliced apples (tart preferrably)
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup whipping cream

Prepare cake batter according to package directions. Pour into a 9X13 inch greased baking dish.

Combine apples, sugar, walnuts and cinnamon. Spoon over batter. Pour cream over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

*Can serve with whipped cream or scoop of icecream

Amaretto Almond Cake

1.5 cups chopped almonds (preferrably toasted)
1 box yellow cake mix
1 box vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 amaretto liqueur
1 tsp. almond extract (I used vanilla)

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 amaretto
1/2 tsp. almond extract (again, I used vanilla)

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10" tube or bundt pan and sprinkle 1 cup of almonds inside. (I used 1 regular cake pan and saved all almonds for batter)

Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, water, amaretto and extract. Beat on low with electric mixer or stir by hand for a couple of minutes. Stir in the rest of the almonds. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for an hour. Cool for 10-15 minutes on a plate.

For glaze, in a small saucepan, combine sugar, water and butter and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Stir in amaretto and extract. Punch holes in cake with wooden pick or knife. Slowly spoon glaze over the cake until absorbed.

See...Adam likes cake.

By the way, we wandered south this past weekend and stayed with some dear friends at their amazing ranch on the Rogue River. The Doubletree Ranch is absolutely wonderful, and if anyone comes to visit Southern Oregon, they should stay here for a few days! Enjoy the cakes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Oh Give Me a Home..."

The words that come to mind when I think about this past vacation are the lyrics to "Home on the Range". Our experience was much like stepping back in time.....a simpler time. No, we did not have electricity, nor running water. Here, take a gander at our swanky place:

The Wenatchee Guard StationBut we have these views right outside the door....

What you're looking at are called the Blue Mountains. On our first day there we hiked all the way down that canyon. During our hike, we saw a herd of elk. The first night we stayed in the cabin, we saw another herd of elk grazing by the gravel road. We're thinking it was the same herd that kept us up that same night yelping their weird elk calls. I know you can barely see them by the road, but if you squint just enough and tilt your head to the right....

There are so many beautiful pictures and so much to share, I'm not sure I can fit it all in this post. I think I should mention that the nearest "town" was approximately 20 miles away on a gravel road. Here's the sign as you enter "town". The nearest real town was about 45 miles away.

The second part of our trip was to Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area. This place is what I would imagine the Grand Canyon looks like. Since I haven't been there, that's what I'm going to compare it to, even though I know (and Adam tells me) that its not quite close in grandeur. It is, however, just as spectacular. The Snake River, which has carved the canyon, is the border between Oregon and Idaho. You can see it way below.

We obviously had a gorgeous sunshiney day. That doesn't quite mean warm though. No, actually it was the opposite. The night we camped up on the ridge of Hell's Canyon, temperatures dipped into the low 20's. Don't believe us? Reference the picture below of the frozen towel...

Here's a tally of the wildlife we saw on our trip: two different herds of elk, pronghorns, a coyote, grouse, quail, turkey and mule deer. We unfortunately did not get to see the wild mountain goats and big horn sheep that roam the area. We have yet to spot a black bear or cougar. One of these days though. In the end, we did not get to see the "buffalo roam", but we did watch the elk roam and the deer and the pronghorns play.

"Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word. And the skies are not cloudy all

Saturday, October 4, 2008

On the Road Again.

Hey Folks!

I have a week off of work, so Adam and I are going on a road trip. We will be renting an old fire ranger cabin in the Umatilla National Forest, which is also near the Blue Mountains. The location of this magical place is just about as far east as you can get, right on the border of Washington and Oregon (almost to Idaho).

Hence, there won't be any cool posts until we get back. But, rest assured that you will be blown away by the tales of our adventures.

M-I-Z...............Z-O-U!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gotta run and watch the Tigers :)