Monday, August 24, 2009

Paradise Park-Mt. Hood

*Longest post EVER.

This past Saturday I did something I never thought I'd do: a 12.3 mile hike. Yes, I can hear your gasps. I heard them from everyone I told. Honestly, it didn't seem like that bad of an idea, or that long. But I've done this before. I've run a 10k without really realizing HOW LONG it really was. So I said to myself "12 miles? Well, I'll be walking so it's ok." Yeah, walking UP HILL! But I digress.

I should also mention that even though it was 12.3 miles, it was one of the highlights of my summer (after my Karaoke birthday party and Kelly's engagement). My friend Morgan (who moved here from Kentucky in April) and I decided on her day off, we'd tackle and day hike and finally settled on Paradise Park in Mt. Hood. That or the coast. The coast, we will do for her birthday in October. Her 30th birthday. So coast, please don't rain for my dear friend Morgan.

We decided, since it was a Saturday, we didn't really want to get up to early, so Morgan came to pick me up at 9am and off we went to Mt. Hood. We finally started our trek at 11am. This was our view from the trail head.

As we ascended the trail toward the mountain, we got a little lost. The directions in the book weren't as detailed as we wanted, this being our first time and all, so when we came upon this sign, we were perplexed:

I decided with how the immigration policy was going, I'd better jet.

Just kidding. We decided to keep going straight cuz as you can tell from the sign, the choices were "Canada" or "Mexico" and we decided um, Mt. Hood. So straight we went.
The book directions told us we'd cross under two ski lifts, so this is what we saw when we did that:

We finally felt like we were on the right path. It was truly amazing and the best weather. We couldn't have asked for a better day. One thing I was completely surprised by was the buzzing of the bees. Poor Morgan has a "thing" about bees so I'm sure this was unsettling for her. I just ignored them (having faith they wouldn't find me tasty) and we trekked through, but man, was there buzzing. Once we finally came out of a small thing of woods, there was the beautiful mountain. Morgan decided to "explore".

We were still not 100% sure we were on the right track until we found the sign. Man, were we happy!

After the encouragement from the sign that we were going the right way, we assented toward the ridge. Man, we were FAR UP! It was a bit vertigoish, but I managed. We took a few pictures of our time on the ridge. Morgan needed to look sexy for hers:

After the ridge, we came upon a sign that said we needed a permit. We were a bit perplexed. We opened the box and basically it had a bunch of hand written notes: dates, names, destination. So that we did. Then I decided to sit in the rock chair and contemplate life for oh, 5 seconds.

After the ridge, we went into the forest. This was beautiful but didn't quite capture how I saw it in my mind's eye.

Then we came upon a moss wall

And had to cross a broken bridge

Honestly, out of all of the hike, the forest was my least favorite (but still loved it) because I felt a bit claustrophobic. Finally, I have no idea how many miles it was, but we got to the bottom where we had to cross the glacier run. We were NOT looking forward to that. So, we decided to break and have lunch.

I was there too =)

Finally, we mustered up all our courage and crossed the river. We were successful! We didn't die nor get wet, but what I always forget is that if we cross it once, we have to cross it twice. But I didn't think about that until well, we had to cross it again.
After that forested part, we came out into a beautiful open meadow. Man, this whole HIKE was just beautiful. We saw some plants that we dubbed Lorax cuz they looked like a character from dr. Seuss

And then we came to the turning point:

Do we keep going and do 12.3 miles or do we head back. After our poses we made our decision. I didn't like Morgan touching my sweaty ass back, so here I am, making a face!

And I didn't like my rolls, so I cropped it.

We headed forth. We knew no matter how hard it would be, we'd be proud we did it.

More meadows and a beautiful camp ground. Man, if I were a camper, I'd go here. If I have someone that would like to go camping next summer, I know exactly where to go! Since this was a loop, honestly, I have no idea where the "end" was, but we started to descend down. Unfortunately, there was another little river glacier thing we had to cross. Morgan was successful

But I was not so much. I hate doing the splits:

After this crossing, it was back into the forest and finally onto the ridge. By this time, we were pretty spent and didn't take as many pictures. We just wanted to get to Timberline alive!

Finally it was time to cross the major glacier river thing, the first one. Morgan went first and unfortunately a naughty rock decided to tilt mid walk and she fell about thigh deep into the water. She got a bit scrapped up and a bit wet, but was fine:

We sat there for a bit to rest and muster up all energy. I think it took us about two more hours to get back to Timberline. We were seriously so tired. Our bodies and feet ached. Finally, I saw the ski lifts and said "we're close!" and kind of jogged. Morgan was having none of it.

I think all in all, we did about 7 hours of hiking with a few breaks here and there. Its the longest I've ever been on and thus far, the most beautiful. I'm really glad I did this, and had really great company on the way there. Next up? Cascade at the coast!

*Note* Unfortunately, my recollection of events might be out of order. Also images # 8-12, 15-17, 20 & 21, 26-29 are Morgan Mathews'.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chocolate Sliders w/ Honey Spice Buttercream filling (aka Whoopies)

Last October for my brother's birthday, instead of giving Mr.I-have-everything-I-need a monetary gift, I decided to bake him something. Every year, for his birthday (and of course for Thanksgiving) there has to be a Sara Lee pumpkin pie baking in the oven. Sara Lee, you ask? Yes. My parents were Mexican immigrants (no, they're not dead, just American citizens now) and marveled at all the things that came in packages: oatmeal, french toast, macaroni and cheese, pie. So Rene won't have it any other way, he must have his packaged frozen Sara Lee pumpkin pie.
Knowing he loves pumpkin pie, I decided to make him something called "Pumpkin Whoopies" which I found on's food section, Since I couldn't remember their names and they looked like raw little burgers to me, I called them "sliders." They were so easy to make, so tasty, and so darn cute, that I made them again and again.
This year, my BA (best amiga) Kelly said her friend and her were throwing an appetizer's party. My immediate thought was: can I please make dessert?! I had been mulling around the idea of using a specific frosting I'd baked a cake with (for this very same amiga's Halloween party) three years ago. I thought to myself: what would be good with a honey spice butter cream frosting other than pumpkin? Chocolate was the most feasible answer I came up with.
So, armed with my blog links and a go-head from Kelly and gang, I proceeded to make my chocolate whoopies with honey spice butter cream frosting. I'd looked far and wide and was torn between using this recipe, from Sunshine Mom via Food BUzz and this recipe from Cakespy, but I ended up using Sunshine Mom's because of the buttermilk ingredient. I'd only used buttermilk once and it failed, so I thought I'd give it another go. So here is the result:

Halfway through the process.

Um, yum! (I did end up eating the remaining of the batter, couldn't let it go to waste!)

Now its time for frosting after they cooled:

I had to take a bite, to taste of course!

And the conclusion: I thought it was really tasty. I liked how the chocolate was spungy. This is the second time I've mixed together two recipes I'd separately, but the first time I'd taken a risk and used something that wasn't specifically for the inside of a whoopie. I thought the mix of flavors was delicious, however, the consistency of the filling was not to my liking. I'm not pastry chef so I don't understand the science behind it, but baking in my kitchen the size of a normal person's closet, no A/C and in the middle of Portland's summer heat wave, was probably not the best choice of butter cream. I had to put it in the fridge for it to harden because any feel of heat, would make it start melting. So when I decide to make another flavored whoopie, I'll be sure to pay attention to what kind of frosting it is and what weather we are having. Plus, it was just a LOT of butter, but ever so tasty! As an experiment, I put a couple in the freezer, you know, in case I get a craving for a chocolate honey spice slider at a future date.