Monday, November 24, 2008

Let's Make A Pie!

To me, there is nothing more Thanksgiving than pie. For whatever reason, despite the fact that I love pie at Thanksgiving, it is the only time I ever eat it. Or make it. Maybe if I made pie more often I wouldn't find it necessary to make so many at Thanksgiving. But as it stands now . . . I always make too much pie. Right now I have leftovers from three pies in my fridge and I just baked the fourth pie shell I didn't use yesterday. But I have one specific pie I want to talk about today:
Apple Pie

Fall in NYC means lots and lots of freshly picked apples readily available. I make it a point to stop by the farmer's market in my neighborhood every Wednesday morning and on Saturdays to pick up a few. The stand I frequent generally has samples cut up so I can try the different varieties. They taste so good I often overbuy. Which means I always end up with a few extras lingering around in my fridge. So this year, rather than buying another eight to ten Granny Smiths (like I usually do because Martha claims they are the only baking apples to which I now say whatev!), I gathered up all the leftovers and gave them a good scrub. Including a stray asian pear (I'm addicted to these - if you haven't tried one, go pick one up immediately!). Depending on the size of the apples and how full you want your pie, you need 8 to 10. Next up, I use an apple corer and just slice them up, then use a knife to peel off the skin. Tasting a few of the skins along the way because they are a tasty snack. If you are super skilled with the knife you can do that trick where you peel the skin off in one long strand . . . I can't do that (despite trying with the pear).
Next I slice the apples into thinner pieces. Essentially, as thin as I can slice them while still remaining in control of my knife. Throw all the thin slices in a big bowl.
Now, these next few steps are optional. I just got a little crazy this year and decided to do something different. I rinsed off a carton of raspberries (an impulse buy at Whole Foods - they were on sale and looked delicious!):
And tossed them in with the apples. . . just to see how they would play together.
Then I pulled some blueberries out of the freezer . . . fresh blueberries were my addiction this summer so it was hard to part with the last of my stash but honestly I put them to excellent use.
I mean, how beautiful do the berries look with the apples? I almost got crazy enough to throw in some cranberries or pomegranate seeds I had on hand but decided to keep it a little simple for this experiment.
Now add a 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar
And 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. If you have an actual lemon (I used mine all up in the turkey brine the night before unfortunately), it is best to zest that peel right into the mix and then squeeze out all the juice. But . . . I didn't quite plan ahead that well and didn't have any fresh lemons left.
Mix it all together and admire how beautiful and delicious it all looks. Then add some spices. I like 1 - 2 teaspoons (or more) of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon or so of nutmeg and some ground cloves - but just a couple of shakes (sorry, no photos of the spices).
At this point you should have already made some pie crust. Did I forget to mention that part? This recipe isn't really so much about the crust so I will send you to Pie Crust 101 for instructions and a recipe. I'll wait right here while you do that. But the beauty of the pie crust is that mixing it together takes no time. And once you mix it together you can put your little lump (or disc) of pastry wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge or the freezer until you are ready to do something with it. It actually gets better with spending some time to solidify in the fridge for a bit. I made mine during the half-time of the Utah game Saturday night (12-0 . . . WOOHOO!) and left it in the fridge over night. I should mention that since this pie has both a bottom and a top crust you will need to make enough pie dough for two regular pies or the deep dish pate brisee recipe I linked above. Make fun all you want but Martha generally knows what is what.
Below you can see my beautiful pie crust all pressed into the pan. I should also mention here that - while expensive - that rolling mat you see under my pie revolutionized my baking. Seriously. Just a little flour and things roll without sticking. It is a major improvement over my prior method of taping wax paper to the countertop and hoping it doesn't lodge free and start moving around as I rolled (it often did). Best $50 I have spent on a baking gadget. Oh, this sounds like something I can add to that gift idea list I'm supposed to write . . .
Back to the pie. Add the apple/blueberry/raspberry mix to the shell (oh, and remember the raspberries and blueberries are completely optional here). Dice up a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter and sprinkle them along the top of the pie.
Now back to the crust. You should still have one more ball of dough to roll out. Once you have it all rolled out evenly, it is time to make the lattice strips. I picked up this fun little gadget to help me. But really, it just looks fancy and a knife works pretty much the same. Or you could probably just use a pizza slicer if you have one. No need to get lured in thinking you will have a pretty crimped edge with that fancy wheel (like I did). You can't see it in the end for some reason anyway. So with whatever utensil you have on hand, slice your pastry into strips about 1 to 2 inches in width.
Then weave them onto the top of your pie. This looks super fancy and beautiful but it is very easy. I start with a long piece down the center in each direction and just add one at a time in each direction working toward the outside of the pie.
Trim the overlap and crimp the edges to blend the lattice top into the bottom crust. Then beat an egg and use a pastry brush (or a bunched up paper towel works if you don't have one!) to coat the top of the crust and edges with the egg - this is called an "egg wash" and makes your pie crust shiny! You can also sprinkle some sugar on top for a bit of sparkle (forgot to take a pic of that part too).
The beauty of this pie is, once assembled, you can put it in the fridge or even freeze it until you are ready to bake it. I put this one in the oven while we were eating dinner. To bake: heat the oven to 375 and bake it for an hour or until it looks something like this (the filling should be all bubbly):
I should warn you that you will want to eat this pie directly out of the oven with a dollop of freshly whipped cream quickly melting on top. Feel free to do so - we did. But, for best results, you should let the pie cool and set for an hour or two. Otherwise, the juices are still really soupy and it becomes difficult to serve. Luckily, pie lovers are a forgiving bunch and eagerly ate it up, despite the soupiness.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

About that List . . .

I was making good progress on the list. Yesterday I ran some errands at lunch, made an appointment to get my shots for Peru, sent my sister a reminder to do the same, my groceries were all ordered, developed back up plan for the the BIG GAME and worked until midnight last night to keep my weekend free. When I got home last night I walked into a clean house because I had remembered to call the cleaning service and first thing this morning my groceries were delivered. I was off to a good start until . . . 
I was rearranging the cupboards a bit to make room for the extra baking supplies I had picked up and was trying to decide if I have time to make pie crust and climb the stairs to the roof when disaster struck:
I don't think I need to explain too much. Apparently in my rearranging of my highest shelf, I knocked a jar of spaghetti sauce the 6 to 7 feet to the tile floor. 
On the plus side, at least it didn't hit me on its way down.
Turns out, I didn't have time to make pie crust or run up the stairs. I spent the next hour scrubbing my freshly cleaned kitchen.
At least it is now, once again, clean. And tomatoey/oliveish mixed with Mrs Myers lemon verbena spray smelling. Now I have to get ready to run some errands. I have a brunch appointment in less than an hour, still need to tame my eyebrows, pick up some prescriptions and grab a few odds and ends my online grocer didn't have. Hope your weekend started a bit better than mine did!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Upon your advice . . .

I decided to call DirecTV to ask about getting the Mountain Network. Even though at the beginning of the football season they told me they didn't carry it . . . they do now! And all I had to do was switch from my "expired package" to the new package that cost the same amount of money. Crazy. So thank you all for insisting that DirecTV carries the channel enough to make me call again. Now I have a place to watch the game and it is called: MY COUCH!

GO UTES!


UPDATE: I checked channel 616 on my television last night and was greeted by a blank grey screen. Checked again this morning. Another grey screen. Looks like I will be having yet another conversation with DirecTV this evening about getting this stupid MTN channel.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Turkey Tips

I do not proclaim to be a turkey expert. I've only made two. Sunday will be my third. That being said, I thought I would pass along my instructions/recipe for brining and roasting a turkey because I think it is pretty tasty and if you are in charge of the bird next week and looking for a way to keep it moist and delicious, give this a whirl!
The Night Before: Brining the Turkey
  • Make sure your turkey is not frozen (glad mine was "All Natural" - hate to think what those other turkeys are made out of)


  • Snap on some gloves if you have a a fear of touching raw turkey (I do):





  • Remove all the mysterious giblet innards (This year I may make an effort to suppress my gag reflex and keep this stuff to try and make gravy. Normally, I throw it away) and rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water.




  • Quarter 2 oranges and 2 lemons




  • Dissolve 1 cup of sea salt and 1 cup of brown sugar in 2 gallons of cold water and then add the quartered oranges and lemons along with 6 sprigs of thyme and 4 sprigs of rosemary to the mix



  • (I did this first step in my biggest stock pot even though it isn't big enough to hold the turkey although given this next step I'm sure it is just dirtying an extra pot)

  • After that delectable concoction is mixed up, transfer it to a brining bag (I bought mine here and they are great - and since they come 4 in a pack that is one thing I don't have to hunt down this year!)



  • But no worries if you don't have a brining bag, you can brine the turkey in a clean bucket, large stockpot (a seriously large stockpot!) or a clean, heavy-duty, plastic garbage bag. The first time I did this, I scrubbed a couple of Whole Foods grocery bags clean (they are thicker than normal grocery plastic bags) and dumped it all in and crossed my fingers that it wouldn't spring a leak as it brined over night in the fridge.


  • Next, dump (carefully) the turkey into the brining bag, although maybe it would be easier to put the turkey in the brining bag and then dump the stuff in over it . . . .




  • Last step, find a spot in the fridge.




  • Then have your assistant cram the brining turkey in quickly before something falls out. Also, as you can see, I put my brining bag/Whole Foods bag in the roasting pan just in case things leak.


  • The Big Day
    Start the process approximately 7 to 8 hours before serving.
    • Remove the turkey from its brining bath and give it a thorough rinse under cool water both inside and out (I, of course, use the gloves again)
    • Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and let it stand for 2 hours at room temperature. If you put the turkey breast up on the roasting rack in your roasting pan now you won't have to adjust it later.
    • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and make sure the oven rack is on the lowest level.
    • Next up, my secret ingredient: open a bottle of dry white wine. But just remember if you aren't a wine drinker to have something on hand for the uncorking or else you will find yourself trying to uncork it with that twisty thing on your swiss army knife - not fun!) Also, if you aren't a wine drinker, you can ask the guy at the liquor store what wine works best and he will probably point to the one sitting next to the register. It is Thanksgiving afterall.
    • After you get the wine bottle open, combine 3 sticks of melted unsalted butter with the wine in a medium bowl. I am not really sure how much wine I use, probably a bit less than half a bottle. 
    • Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch(ish) four-layer square. Immerse the cheesecloth in the butter and wine mix and let it soak.
    • Next up, with the turkey breast side up (although I realize some swear by breast down, I have no real preference) in roasting pan, tie the legs together loosely with kitchen string and fold the neck flap under and secure with toothpicks or those long metal toothpick things that come with your roasting pan (at least they came with mine and came in handy). You can also try and tuck the wings under with the pins.
    • Rub the turkey with approximately 4 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter and sprinkle with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and pepper and a handful of sprigs of sage, rosemary and thyme. No need to rub it in or put it under the skin given the next step.
    • Lift the cheesecloth out of the liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey; it can cover some of the leg area (sorry I don't have a photo of this part). The cheesecloth helps rub those herbs in a bit more.
    • Place the turkey in the oven legs first and cook for 30 minutes
    • Then, using a pastry brush, baste the cheesecloth and exposed parts of the turkey with butter and wine. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to cook for 2 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes. I simply set a timer for 30 minutes to remind me to baste as I work on the rest of the meal.
    • After the third hour of cooking, remove and discard the cheesecloth.
    • I love the tan line look after removing the cheesecloth.
    • Turn the roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven and baste the turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices (obviously I don't get a lot but I read that is a good sign somewhere), continue to baste with butter and wine. Baste carefully because the skin gets fragile as it browns. Cook 1 more hour, continuing the 30 minute basting routine.
    • When fully cooked, transfer the turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. If you aren't a complete failure at making gravy like I am, you can use this time to make the gravy. This year (a glutton for punishment) I'm going to attempt this gravy (but keep some store bought gravy on hand just in case).
    • (Isn't that a pretty turkey?)
    • Finally, ask one of your guests to carve the turkey because you are exhausted and trying to finish up all the other last minute items.
    I should mention that while the brining is a mix of a couple of other recipes, most of the roasting instructions come from Martha Stewart. Enjoy!

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    On My To Do List

    In no particular order, these are the TO DO items that keep floating around in my head distracting me from whatever task I am currently performing, which reduces my efficiency and makes it more difficult to finalize any one task. Why must the holidays be so chaotic?

    • finalize grocery order for Sunday's pre-Thanksgiving dinner
    • bake a couple of pies
    • cook a turkey
    • schedule a cleaning person for Friday
    • finalize packing list for Peru trip
    • order trekking poles and water purifier from REI and maybe some new sock liners
    • waxing (be happy there is no photo illustrating the desperation of my eyebrows that must be combed in the morning - not to mention my lip)
    • create list of dessert party items and stock up on baking supplies
    • decorate apartment for dessert party
    • send out email with details for Sunday's pre-Thanksgiving dinner confirming food assignments
    • return dress I don't like
    • decide whether to wear an old dress or purchase a new one for formal holiday party
    • find a place to watch the Utah-BYU game Saturday
    • curse DirecTV for not carrying the Mountain
    • or curse the Mountain for being so private
    • finish reading The Interpreter of Maladies so I can pass it along to my brother next week
    • purchase Christmas cards . . . did I buy some on sale at MoMA last year or was that 2007 when I planned ahead like that?
    • start making cookie doughs and freezing them
    • figure out who I need to buy Christmas presents for
    • um, actually buy some Christmas presents
    • ship presents since I won't be with any family members this year (until the final 15 minutes or so of Christmas day when my sister's flight lands in NYC)
    • warn all non-mormon first-time dessert party attenders that they are heading into a Mormon cultural experience aka no alcohol, just lots of sugar
    • figure out what I am going to wear to my dessert party this year
    • return magically shrinking heels
    • pick up a few new ornaments
    • return stupid super skinny boots for the atrophied calf people
    • climb 41 flights of stairs once a week and do cardio 3 times a week to prepare lungs for Machu Piccu trek
    • return H&M item before 30 days elapse (next week!)
    • get yellow fever vaccination
    • remind my sister to get yellow fever vaccination
    • renew prescriptions
    • buy birthday present before Saturday birthday party
    • clean out fridge (ie, wipe down empty shelves) before pre-Thanksgiving festivities
    • visit friend's new baby in Brooklyn
    • look into White Christmas broadway show and find someone to go with
    • stop compulsively checking evite for dessert party responses, seriously, just STOP!
    • not to mention work, work and work which has decided to overlap into the late evening hours again
    • find time to enjoy the holidays
    • write a Gift Guide like Tiffany that is better than the sad one I threw together last year (not that the ideas were sad, it is just very, very short)
    • remind people that gift cards aren't the best option in the current economic market given the fact that most of the retail industry is ready to topple into my professional arena in early January
    • blog about something more interesting than my to do list
    • finish blogging my summer vacation
    • write another divorce story chapter
    • remind people to enjoy Thanksgiving before rushing straight to Christmas

    I don't even think that is everything. But I'm sure the rest will come to me as soon as I get back to work.

    Tell me, what's on your To Do list right now?

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Reality

    You know how lawyers on tv and in movies always work late and order Chinese food? They are usually supposed to be "preparing for trial" or "writing a brief" or "negotiating a merger" but what is generally portrayed is a handful of very attractive people dressed impecably picking at various items with chopsticks in those Chinese takeout boxes with the little wire handle thing and flirting or "hashing things out" or exchanging witty repartee with co-workers. The part that is never portrayed is pretty much how my evening has gone.

    630-ish Realize I'm staying late and need to order dinner
    642 Receive confirmation email that my online food order has been received by the restaurant (fancy and convenient, I know) and will arrive in 40-55 minutes
    700-ish Remarkably early phone call from delivery guy indicating food is in the lobby
    705-ish Take the elevator down to the lobby (I delayed because I could hear street noise when the guy called and I knew he was calling me a block before he arrived)
    710 me, waiting in the lobby for the delivery guy who is not showing up
    715 me, back at my desk, irritated he called me way too early, receive call #2 from delivery guy. He swears he is waiting in the lobby. Mad, I head back down 18 flights on the slow elevator to discover NO FOOD GUY!
    720 I am back at my desk, fuming over the 20 minutes I've wasted and the fact I still don't have any food. I call the restaurant to complain.
    721 The delivery guy calls again and I put the restaurant on hold. The guy insists he is waiting in the lobby. I repeat the address of my building multiple times and he claims that is where he is. I don't believe him. He then says he is at 42nd street or something . . . only 10+ blocks away!
    728 Delivery guy calls again and swears he is now "in the lobby, please"
    730 I finally return to my desk to eat my now somewhat cold massaman curry. Only, I've mostly lost my appetite.

    Oh, and I am far from impeccably dressed. I purposely selected my roomiest pants to wear in prepartion for a late work night. And I am not hashing anything out with anyone, I am editing a brief and passing my comments to a junior associate ensconsed in her own office down the hall. The only repartee involves me interpreting my scribbled comments for her.

    TV lawyers have it so easy . . .

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    How I Spent My Summer Vacation: On the River Days 3 & 4

    This is where I once again belatedly recount - in ridiculous detail - the story of my August vacation. Do you feel like you are trapped at your neighbor's house after dinner and they are droning on and on and on about their family trip whilst showing slides and you are huddled on the couch with a cup of punch wondering how long you have to stay before making an excuse to get the hell out . . . Has that really ever happened by the way? Do people (or did people) really trick their neighbors into watching vacation slides at their house so often that it turned into a joke? Anyway, if that is how you are feeling, please feel free to resume your blog browsing. I'll try and put something more titalating up in the near future (do I ever post anything titalating . . . I'll do my best).

    DAY 3
    Since the majority of the people in our group wanted to paddle the bulk of the time, everyone had to bow out and take a rest day at some point and hang out on one of the oar boats with a guide at least once during the six days. Given my slightly traumatic swim and strange narcolepsy experience from the day before, I decided Wednesday - the halfway point - was the best day to relax in the oar boat.

    I rode with the one female guide with whom I had a surprisingly lot in common. We are about the same age, both divorced, both lawyers . . . actually, she had just graduated from law school and taken the bar exam. I really enjoyed hanging out with her one-on-one that morning. At lunch time one of the quieter teen-age girls joined us and shared one of the most exciting rapid runs of the trip with us. A rock slide just a week or so earlier had changed the course of the river and created a new - and very difficult - rapid that only one of the guides had maneuvered previously. There was a backlog of river companies with multiple boats and solo kayakers "parked" just before the rapid so everyone could scout it out. I took some pretty good video of several of the boats making the run and even captured a kayak who wrapped a rock and swam through most of the rapid. Unfortunately, since my camera was encased in its waterproof shell, I didn't realize the video was on some sort of weird setting that results in everything being replayed in uber-fastforward mode. I keep hoping to sort this out and figure out how to make it play normally but I'm just not techy like that. . . So, take my word for it, this was a rough rapid! All the kayakers had to get out and walk their kayaks around the rapid.

    My guide was definitely nervous but totally rocked it. She went a slightly different route than others had cut and it actually felt very smooth! I filmed that too . . . it is also in hyper fastforward playback mode.

    That night we camped at my favorite spot of the trip - Camas Creek. It was beautiful in every way. The camp was situated where Camas Creek ran into the Middle Fork of the Salmon which means we were at the widest part of the mouth of an incredible canyon cut by this powerful creek. The camp "kitchen" was set up beneath the low-hanging boughs of a giant Ponderosa Pine. I had an ideal tent spot backed up against the smaller shrubbery and trees running along Camas Creek with just a few short steps down to the creek. Meaning - private loo!

    Since I spent the whole day lazily sitting on a boat, I decided I needed a big hike. The guides told us we would be taking a hike back into the canyon and after I set up camp I told them I would set off early. He explained where the path was and I was off.
    The trail started fairly steep and then rose and fell with and away from the creek. I became more and more enamored with the trail with each bend and dip and even the steep ascents. I kept a brisk pace and unleashed my mind and allowed it to wander in whatever direction it chose. I took photo after photo and experimented with the lighting. Oddly enough, I occupied my mind by keeping an eye on my watch and attempting to estimate my distance based on my pace - comparing my treadmill pace and distance and the 1.3 miles I walk to work each day in 20 minutes with what I might be doing. But trying to be conservative. I also factored in the times I had to stop and just soak it in:
    Throughout most of the hike I kept expecting to hear distant voices and the trudging of other hikers. I didn't see a single sole. I was enjoying myself so much I failed to consider the return trip and each bend in the trail held out the promise of a more striking scene. Finally, I realized, after consulting my watch, that I would need to turn around soon in order to make it back to camp for dinner. So I chose a spot to sit and rest and rehydrate and snacked on trail mix. I pulled out my notebook but was too overwhelmed to capture any of my thoughts in words. I figured I had come five, maybe six miles. As I sat there, I expected the other hikers to come upon me at any moment. After waiting about 15 minutes, I decided it was time to speed hike back. So I pulled out my ipod for the first time of the trip and listened to my nostalgic Red Rocks playlist which was inspired by my early college days hiking around Southern Utah. I refrained from singing out loud but the music definitely propelled me along. At some point I started to notice a number of varying footprints imprinted in the dusty trail walking in my same direction that hadn't been there before. This was my only evidence that others from my group made the hike.

    I returned to camp with enough time before dinner to stretch my legs and feet in the sand on the bank of the Middle Fork and cool my feet in the river. People inquired as to how far I had gone and I estimated a 10-12 mile circuit. I was exhausted but I believe that was one of the absolute highlights of my trip.

    DAY 4

    The next morning I woke well-rested but still contemplative and spent the early morning hours exploring some more and meditating before heading back onto the river with the group. I spent the day paddling with a fun mix of people and before lunch we tackled another hike. This one was steep and switch-backed and for the first time on the trip I struggled to carry a conversation as I followed the guide up the gravely path without pausing to capture the stunning view as the river fell far below us.
    The hike was short and the view from the top was spectacular. The hike down was difficult. My knees were feeling worn and the steepness of the path made me fear my knee would give out and I would tumble down over everyone picking their way down in front of me. It so happened that this was the day that Sam, a very sweet 12-year old boy in the group, had selected me to shadow. He had offered to help me take down my tent earlier that morning - and this time I acquisced to the help. Although he thought I was a bit of a nut when I had him help me turn the tent upside down to shake out the sand and dirt that had found its way in. He also thought I was nuts for insisting we swipe off the sand and dirt as we rolled the tent up. He was paddling in the same boat as me and stayed by my side at the top of the hike. He chattered away as we descended, choosing to slide down some of the steepest parts of the trail as I continually tried to stablize myself. He was fascinated by my camera and stuck by my side at lunch and even handed over his last two EL Fudge cookies when he heard my disappointment that they were all gone.

    After lunch - fortified by EL Fudge - I jumped back in a kayak. And much of the afternoon looked like this:

    Which meant, not at a lot of rapids to contend with but a lot of paddling to move through the eddies. However, when we did encounter a tricky rapid that required a chat onshore and a plotting of the route entailing maneuvering around and between large boulders . . . I chickened out. At first I put on a tough face but the second time the guide asked me if I was sure I wanted to do it, I knew it wasn't for me and I resumed paddling in a group from the relative safety of a larger boat. When the other kayakers all made it through without incident I doubted myself and my cowardice. But I think one swim was enough for the trip.
    That afternoon we set up camp on a beautiful sandy beach. And I decided it was time to do something about the greasy mop that was masquerading as my hair. As I was getting situated at the river's edge for my "bath", Sam and his parents were preparing to do the same. I observed as Sam's dad soaped up in the river and then stood on the rocky shore to lather shampoo into his hair as I tried to figure out the best way to go about this. Sam acted as shower assistant and dumped buckets of water over his dad's head (and down his back). He then offered to assist me as well. It was still sunny on the shore but that didn't seem to have much effect on the icy water so my time in the river was more of a quick plunge. I stood on the rocks and lathered up my hair with my eco-friendly shampoo bar as Sam laughed at me for washing my hair with a bar of soap. His rinsing skills improved dramatically with me as I was his third customer. Having clean hair for the first time in days was remarkably refreshing.
    For the first time during the trip, I settled in to read until it was time for dinner. I still can't believe it took me until Day 4 to delve into my book, I barely wrote in my journal and listened to my ipod only once. That night, one of the guide's pulled out his guitar and entertained us by the fire while we made s'mores.
    I will refrain from modesty and confess I impressed more than a few of my fellow campers with my ability to whittle a roasting stick and roast the perfect marshmallow.

    The music was good and my belly was full and I felt clean and really wanted to get back to my book. So that night, I went to bed while others remained at their posts around the fire and continued to call out requests to the lone musician. My reading didn't last long as tiny flying bugs continuously flew at my headlamp. By this point in the trip our altitude had dropped so much that a tent was superfluous for anything but a changing room the nights were so warm. There was a full moon that night and I tried to count the stars before drifting off hours before the rest of the group called it a night and continued singing softly next to the fire a dozen yards away.
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