Monday, June 8, 2009

The Mountain And Me ... and finally a new recipe!

I love my new digital camera. I really do. I knew I desperately needed an upgrade to get the folks over at Tastespotting and Foodgawker to even notice me. So far, my new Canon Powershot SX110 IS is giving me wonderful results when it comes to food pics (when compared to my old Canon), and it was a great bargain. But the real test was when we took it with us on our recent vacation to the Pacific Northwest. It's no SLR, but it did me proud anyway! Take a looksie for yourselves ...
Coldwater Lake - a gleaming, turquoise gem in the midst of snow-capped mountains.

Mt. St Helens - a fiery volcano at one point in time ... is it still?

The wonders of Mt. Rainier National Park - towering fir trees, glaciers and the odd mountain fox or two!

Mt. Rainier was the experience of a lifetime. That mountain tore me up, pushed me down, then pulled me back up and gave me another chance, for which I'm extremely grateful! Here's how it went down. DH and I drove all the way up to Paradise, inside Mt. Rainier National Park, which happens to be one of the highest points you can get to via car at this time of year. The scenery along the way was spectacular - DH and I just took it all in and gloried in the beauty of God's handiwork.

We were in such a positive frame of mind, that even the 10 feet of snow we saw everywhere as we reached Paradise, didn't put us off. It was all beautiful and breathtaking. I should have realized that the best thing to do was just walk around, take pictures, then head back down. But there is a visitors' center at Paradise, and the ranger there told us about an "easy" trail that we could attempt, provided we rent snowshoes. DH and I had never used snowshoes before, nor have we ever gone hiking in the snow. If that ranger
had just taken a better look at us, she would have seen that we were not prepared for any serious snow trekking! We had no gloves, no waterproof boots and certainly no hiking poles. DH had on a couple of layers of t-shirts and a rain jacket for crying out loud! But after our kayaking adventure, our bloated egos led us to believe that "suuuuuuuure, we can totally do this!". Rule no. 1 when you're in the mountains - RESPECT the mountain. Something we didn't do. So what started off as two excited city folk gingerly making their way up up UP this trail that was completely covered in several feet of snow, somehow turned into a scary lost-in-the-mountains type documentary. Ok, not really, because we knew where we were, but it got pretty dicey. First of all, it was a lot more effort going uphill in those snowshoes than I'd realized. Next, we couldn't find the trail markers (probably because they were buried!). Then the clouds descended all around us, the wind picked up, it started to rain, and we could hardly see anything. So while DH could probably have made it all the way to the end of the trail, I was a huffing-puffing-sniffling-bleary-eyed mess! The worst bit was trying to come back down. It took us a while to get the hang of it. I must have fallen down at least a dozen times, and maybe even unsuccessfully attempted to slide down the mountain on me behind (erm, I was desperate). Luckily DH had the presence of mind, and more experience than I did, and got us both back to home base safe and sound. *sigh* Another adventure that we survived. Barely.

Made it all the way up here ... and dreading the trek back down!

Damn those heavy snowshoes!

Well, lesson learned. I should really stop overestimating my level of fitness. My brain is more adventurous than my body is ready for, apparently! I'm hoping my body will catch up some day eventually.

I'll stick to cooking, thank you. And enjoying the smattering of warm, sunny days (too few) that we seem to be getting once in a while, here in NY. Food gets me pretty excited. Good food at BBQs gets me even more excited! We had a great one just yesterday, with a bunch of friends and neighbors. I took along a corn salad and my beetroot halwa. Really pleased with the reception of both dishes - the halwa was devoured with many moans of delight, and the salad was a hit too! It's a new recipe that I got from the very pretty Leela and her gorgeous blog of even prettier food, called "She Simmers". The addition of the smoked cheese was something I'd never tried before, and it's turned out to be a great idea! Give it a shot for instant success at your next BBQ or potluck.

Fresh Corn Confetti Salad with Smoked Aged Cheddar (find Leela's recipe here)
Serves 8

Click here for the printable recipe

2 cans of fresh-cut corn, drained well OR 3 cobs of fresh corn
Half a medium red onion, cut into small dice roughly the size of the corn kernels
1-2 serrano peppers, very finely diced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small dice roughly the size of the onion
4-6 ounces of smoked aged cheese (I used gouda), cut into small dice roughly the size of the bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1-2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Spanish or Hungarian paprika
Juice of two limes, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt & freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Prepare all the ingredients (except red onion) and keep them chilled in a mixing bowl. Just before serving, add the chopped red onion, olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper, and paprika; toss. Adjust the tartness and saltiness to suit your taste.

Verdict: Goes really well with burgers and hot dogs, folks! I'm not a huge fan of raw onion in my salads, so I cut down on the amount there, and maybe next time I'll eliminate it altogether. But, everyone else seemed to really enjoy it and it was mostly all gone by the end of the BBQ. I think the smoked gouda is essential though, as well as lots of lime juice. Strange combination, I know, but it works! I love surprises like that. You know I don't get overly excited about healthy salads, but this one's a keeper! I think it'll be a great entry to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging round-up (WHB # 187!), hosted by Katie over at Eat This.


Cathy said...

Love Coldwater Lake. And yes, Mt. St. Helens is still considered an active volcano. I believe there was an explosion threat maybe only 1 1/2 years ago? I remember watching it on youtube. PS - the salad looks great!

Kerstin said...

Looks like you had a fantastic trip! Love that corn salad - the smoked gouda in it sounds perfect!

Ann said...

Wow.. your new DC did its job flawlessly!! Never tried anything with corn before. this sounds as a easy great snack1

Donna-FFW said...

Wow, your camera takes absolutely beautiful scenic shots.

Your corn salad is gorgeous, and I bet it tastes just wonderful!

Admin said...

Oh, wow, what an honor. Glad you and the picnic crowd liked the salad, Maneeba. And thanks for the kind words. :)

P.S. For those who don't like the taste of raw onion, try rinsing the diced onions in a colander under cold tap water for a few seconds. Then dry the onion pieces very well with paper towel or a kitchen towel before adding them to the salad. You can also soak the diced onions in a bowl of iced water for 2-3 minutes and dry them off the same way. This will remove a lot of the harsh raw taste while preserving the crunch and sweetness.

Creative Classroom Core said...

Gorgeous pics, and such a yummy sounding recipe! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous landscape pictures! Mt. Rainier is so neat to visit. The corn salad looks delicious!

Parita said...

I love sweet corns and the salad looks yum yum..i too make it but without the cheese :)

Zita said...

Congrat's with your new camera, the salad looks scrumptious :)

Katie said...

This salad looks great, and I love that you included gouda (it's one of my favorites). Thanks for participating in WHB!!

Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

Lovely pictures again,Muneeba!
The salad looks so lovely!