Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wallowa Lake

It has taken me so long to write this post because I have no idea how to begin to capture our time at Wallowa Lake in one little blog post. We were invited to join some friends of ours who have been camping here with their family for 30 + years. I definitely understand why they keep coming back. Thank you to the Wallowa crew for your patience with our neophyte camping skills and endless questions. Thanks for making us feel so welcome and comfortable and for sharing your stories and camping gear with us. We're so grateful!

Unfortunately Chris had to work and couldn't come with us, but my wonderful Mom signed on for the adventure. Thanks so much, Mom, for making this vacation possible. We couldn't have done it without you! Unlike Chris' family, mine did not grow up camping. The closest we came was staying in a motel near Sequoia while the rest of my aunts and uncles "roughed it" in tents. We were a little nervous starting out, not knowing exactly what to pack or if we could assemble our tents. But with some help from our friends we were good to go, and now I think we've caught the camping bug. We're so looking forward to going again next year (the kids ask every day when we are going camping again!), and maybe we'll finally master lighting a campfire :)

For a more detailed recap of some of our adventures and outings, (including the very first encounter with the ubiquitous deer) check out my friend Michelle's blog. Thank you, Michelle, for inviting us to come with you and for showing such grace to us as we peppered you with questions and requests for help. You and Brian win the award for being cool under pressure and for teaching me how to find perspective and maintain faith despite crazy circumstances. We're so grateful and blessed to have friends like you!

Now, finally, here are the pictures!

Nothing better than breakfast outside!
For my kids, the deer were the most memorable part of the trip. They came home with a little deer family they play with every day. For the adults they were just a nuisance!

Lucy took these two pictures with my camera:
Sorry, Brian :)The kids played for hours on the grass beside the lake:

Maryn and Lucy made some great new friends on this trip! Here is Maryn with her friend E - they are working hard to build some kind of stick and pine cone stockpile.
Love these ones - you make me smile!:

As we took this next photo we knew the kids would look like we photoshopped them into the picture - the scenery here is just unreal!:

Quiet time at the campsite:
The kids had so much fun playing at doing art projects:
Michelle thoughtfully brought some cool solar paper the kids used to make designs with found nature objects. Super fun!

Joseph is the little town right outside Wallowa Lake. It is the epitome of a cute artsy community. We were there during Chief Joseph Days where the whole town gears up for the rodeo. The kids saw a "stampede" and enjoyed checking out the town:
This one is for DB and Laurel - maybe Maryn will follow in your rowing/rafting footseps!

This was right before the stampede - We were all tired and hot and cranky and the door totally captures Maryn's mood :)

Campfire cuddling:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

double rainbow soup

As far as food goes, tortilla soup is one of my first loves. I was never much of a veggie girl, or a soup girl for that matter, but tortilla soup somehow escaped my picky eating rules. Maybe it was the cheese melting over everything, or the crispy crunchy tortilla bits that made each bite a sensory surprise, or maybe it was just the context. In my mind tortilla soup is inextricably linked with memories of my mom and our sporadic Coco's dates where, as a rule, we shared a meal of soup, salad and (of course!) pie as we talked through the ups and downs of life during my middle school and high school years.

Naturally I was thrilled when a friend offered me a super easy recipe for a delicious soup. It is perfect for cold nights when you need something hot and quick. The original recipe uses a family size can of Campbell's chicken and rice soup, to which you add the required water, plus a can of black beans (drained), some frozen corn, diced cooked chicken, a can of tomatoes (the kind with green chiles is great) and some cilantro at the end. Chris especially likes the rice in the soup, and it doesn't get any easier than dumping everything in and letting it simmer for a bit while you put some yummy cornbread in the oven to go with it.

The pictures are my summer version of this soup. I decided to try a from-scratch version, that still uses some canned ingredients but takes advantage of the delicious farmer's market veggies that abound this time of year. Here's the "recipe" I use (keep in mind it changes each time I make it. I'm hoping that typing it out will help me remember for next time!)

Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a dutch oven or soup pot. Add 2 or 3 diced carrots and some minced garlic and saute for a few minutes. Meanwhile chop 1 green zuchinni and 1 yellow summer squash into 1/4" pieces and add them to the pot. Add 6 cups water and 2 heaping Tbsps organic chicken bullion stuff (from Costco), or use 1 box (4 cups) chicken stock + two cups water. While the soup is simmering, dice 2 or 3 chicken breasts and saute in a little oil, adding salt and a hefty pinch or two of cumin. Add cooked chicken to soup. Dump in a drained can of black beans, a cup or so of frozen corn (you could use fresh here, too) and a can of diced tomatoes with green chile (we get them from Trader Joe's). That's it! Simmer for a bit and you're good to go.

I used to put a pot of rice directly in the soup but the rice did not hold up in leftovers during reheating. Instead I make the rice on the side and spoon some in the bowls before ladeling the soup over. For leftovers I just save the soup and rice separately and combine them in the bowl before reheating.

We serve the soup with grated cheese, chopped cilantro. diced avocado and of course chips. The blue corn ones add to the rainbow effect :)

Let me know how it turns out if you try it! I'd also love to hear your favorite summer recipes, especially ones that entice kids to eat their veggies.

*I stole the double rainbow name from this crazy youtube video, which some brilliant(?) person took and autotuned to make this annoyingly catchy song. I thought naming the soup something fun would get my kids to eat it :)