Sunday, July 31, 2011

pico de gallo: the best mexican salsa ever.

Doesn't that just look so yummy? That is how Aaron and I eat 3 tomatoes in one meal. Whenever I went to Mexico this was always my favorite salsa and when we first got married I tried making it but I never had exactly what I needed so I'd improvise, lemon instead of lime, dried cilantro instead of fresh, hot sauce instead of peppers. For some reason it was never has good. Well last month we went to a taco stand down the street from us and I was complaining to the owner why all Mexican joints charge EXTRA for this type of salsa. By the end of the conversation he was telling me how he makes it. He didn't give any amounts but you usually judge that by taste anyway so here's what I came up with.

Pico De Gallo
- 4 medium size roma tomatoes
- 1/2 a medium onion (I usually use 1/3 of a vidalia onion)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (so that there's lots of green bits for every bite!)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- the juice of 2 limes (about 1/2 cup if you're cheating and using bottled juice)
- 1/4 cup orange juice (this is the "secret ingredient" that the taco stand guy suggested, I use it if I have it but plenty of Mexicans don't use it so whatever!)
- serano pepper to taste. I have jalapeno plants growing in my garden so I use them and they have less heat. Any hot pepper is good just add a little bit at a time or your husband will need tums. (Edited to add- take out the seeds from the peppers to be able to control the heat better!)

Chop the tomatoes and the onions up into little tiny squares (maybe about 1/4"x1/4"?). Chop the cilantro up so that it doesn't look like a plant in the salsa. I cut about an inch of hot pepper and then slice it into fine little sticks and then chop it. (Each piece ends up being about 1/16"x1/16"?) Dump everything into a bowl and mix. Chill and serve with taco chips, tacos, quesadillas or anything even remotely Mexican sounding. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

day 2: failed hike

So you noted my mention of snow eh?! Well if you didn't there was a ton of it.

We woke up that morning and attempted to drive down to the trail head. Attempted because there was a snow drift across the road and our wee truck doesn't have four wheel drive. So we hopped out and walked to the trailhead to see if it was possible to do.

Some snow, lots of water but it looked doable- the guidebook had said that there was no bridge over the first stream crossing and they had just put one in! We figured that we should at least head back and see what it was like further in.

We headed back to the truck to pack all of our junk into our backpacks. ALL of it. We didn't have a scale with us but I think we packed about 20 pounds of food, and a ton of gear that we didn't need.

So off we went. Ready to conquer the known world, or at least this part of it. Our goal was to get up to the Aero Lakes and then maybe bag a peak. We cross over the bridge that had been seemingly built just for us and enter into our winter wonderland. There was enough gaps between the drifts to see the trail and from some snow mapping that Aaron had looked at he figured the worst snow was in the first few miles. So we gotta at least attempt it, right?!

Our first non-bridge stream crossing got my feet soaked so I hung my wet socks on the back of my pack to dry and changed into the dry ones. Aaron escaped but, as he was leading, if he got too close to a rock or tree he'd sink in to his hip so his socks were wet too.

The snow kept getting deeper and the gaps between piles longer. The trail would just completely disappear and because the snow was so high it covered all the trail markings. So I would stand in one spot and Aaron would scout around me until he found it. We had stopped in one such spot and realized, as we were standing talking about where the stupid trail was, that there was a stream coming out of our mound of snow and that we were on a snow bridge.

Down a steep steep hill where we were using our trekking poles to maintain our balance we lost the trail again, only this time no matter how much scouting we did we couldn't find anything, it was just buried way too deep. We figured we had gone this far we should keep on at least to the lake. So we then ditched the whole finding the trail thing. We knew there was a cliff to our left and a stream to our right and there was another path down near the stream that headed to our first lake ahead of us. So Aaron took our bearings and we started going as the crow flies to the stream. At this point I took my first hip deep plunge into the snow and it really, really scared me. I was shaking so bad. At that point I just wanted to be at home. (Aaron didn't realize that I had fallen in and was extremely calloused to my cries for pity, and told me to buck up or something.) We found a frozen path that must have been the stream and I stared imagining that we were walking down a roaring river with a thin shell of snow on top. Obviously we were going to die.

Then it started raining. Pouring in fact. We hunkered down under a tree and pulled out the rain fly for shelter and discussed our options. We made a rather quick decision to turn back. It had taken us four hours to go just over a mile down the "trail". If we lost our trail going back out it could take the same amount of time and it was getting dark. Our feet were both sore and wet and we were miserable. Up and at 'em! You never saw two people move so fast through snow with such heavy packs.

About 30 minutes into our backward trek the rain stopped and about 40 minutes in we breathed a sigh of relief as we hit the first spot we lost the trail. It took us an hour to get back to the trail head compared with the four hours to get in. We were drenched from head to toe and most of the stuff in Aaron's pack was damp. (My pack was still dry inside- maybe because it's newer the rain guard stuff wasn't worn??). So we draped all our stuff over the truck and on tree stumps to dry out and I made us a lovely super. Stir fry with frozen veggies, japanese noodles and a package of seasoning. Next time I'll read the package. It was disgusting. I had used what should have done for six servings on two servings of food. Oh well, there's always beef jerky, dried fruit, trail mix and monster cookies!

Monday, July 25, 2011

day 1: the beartooth highway

We left my growing up home super early thursday morning and Aaron drove his little heart out for hours and hours. We saw some gorgeous scenery on our way that I never new existed (the Theodore Roosevelt National Park?!). We hit Red Lodge Montana at about 7:30pm and figured we could do the Beartooth highway before it got dark. No such luck:) We didn't account for the lowered speed limit due to hairpin turns, switchbacks, cliffs and crazy elevation changes. The first half of the highway was spectacular; tall pointy mountains with snow caps in every direction, then you hit the plateau. It was the weirdest feeling ever, it felt like someone had gone and stuck the prairies on top of some mountains. Flat, barren, cold and so much snow. Aaron says some of the snow banks the highway went through were at least 20' deep, I don't think they were quite that high but they were higher than the truck. We then started descending and the mountains turned more rounded and pine covered (this half of the highway is the Absaroka range). We pulled off on the Lulu Pass Road and found a spot to pitch the tent overnight. I would totally recommend driving this highway if you ever are anywhere near it!

The Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Beartooth Highway

We were trying to conserve space on our memory card and so were avoiding taking pictures on the highway when we knew we'd see some of the same types of mountains while hiking. That didn't happen so the beauty of the place mostly exists in my head and on people's computers who actually stopped their car to take pictures:P

Thursday, July 21, 2011

family photos

While we were at home Studio D took photos of my family and they just posted some of their favorites. If 15 unique people comment on the post my parents get a free gift so go comment now!!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

home is where the heart is

So we went on our vacation- it wasn't perfect but I think I'll still look back on it with nostalgia!

First we went to visit my family up in Canada for 7 wonderful days- it had been 17 months since I had left to marry Aaron so it was a very overdue visit. We went to the beach, hung around the house, shopped, had a big backyard bbq, fixed our truck (the ac went with 8 hours of HOT driving ahead of us), and oozed in as much kid and family loving as humanly possible in such a short time.

Aren't they all just beautiful!!!?