Saturday, February 13, 2010

Big Snow continued ...

Waway ski

Finally enough snow to ski Harriman, and it was a beautiful sunny day as well. Nate and Art joined me, but I found myself mostly skiing alongside my shadow. The sky was deep blue and the late afternoon sun sparkled off the snow like candy for my eyes. We do not get this much snow that often, so it was great to be able to take advantage of the opportunity to ski in a winter wonderland.

The soup chronicles:

CJ soup

I have been on a bit of a soup kick lately. I roast a chicken each week, and use the carcass for making soup base. I started making soup because most processed soups contained too much MSG and garlic. I got a little tired of the typical chicken soup, so I have been spicing it up each week. The first week was "potato leek". The second week was "squash ginger" which also contained sweet potato.

Today I was inspired by a soup called "Tortilla Soup" that WOW host, CJ made when we were in Arizona. I had to wing it a bit, as I could not remember exactly how it was made. I mainly remember that it was really good and he crumbled chips and a mild cheese on top. My version was basically chicken soup with yellow pepper, corn, rice, southwest spices and fresh cilantro. He may have used mesquite smoked chicken, which I did not have, so it was missing some of the traditional local flavors. Although my soup was good, it was still not the real thing. Maybe because of the spice and maybe because I was eating it here in New Jersey looking out over a foot of snow. I look forward to returning to Arizona to taste it's flavors and feel the sun.

Big Snow 2010

Wednesday's snowstorm dumped a ton of snow on New Jersey. I spent my day making soup, shoveling snow and skiing through town....

skiing mount onto the rings ...

past big snowmen and little girls ...

and back home for Squash Ginger Soup.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cycling Through the Seasons

Just when you think things are looking gray, Mother Nature covers our little world in snow, making everything look clean and new again. Two inches of snow may just have been a tease, but it renewed my spirit enough to get me out on the road bike once again. Yes, I know many may think that riding a bike in winter is nuts, but winter riding can be quite beautiful and an enlightening experience. I think it has less to do with any immediate training goals, but has more to do with feeling alive through the long haul of life. If you can imagine having the cold take your breath away and still be breathing hard, being chilled while sweating, and loving the sun and hating the wind all in the same time. It makes me feel alive in a way that only a few take the time to experience.

As I neared the lee side of the mountains, I was surprised to see so little snow. I noticed water running down ice-lined crevices in the hillside. One particular branch lay suspended across a stream, draped with a curtain of ice. The higher I climbed, the more the snow there was. By the time I climbed up to the lake, snow covered the ground and the frozen lake. The sun was almost blinding as it reflected off the lake. It was a whole new world up there, well worth the effort of climbing. The effort may have actually made it better.

I enjoyed the accomplishment of the climb, but descending down out of the park was quite cold. I ended up riding my brakes in hopes to avoid any extra wind chill, which allowed for some extra sight seeing along the way. Everything looks different in winter. There are longer sight lines, animals are easily visible, and the landscape takes on a less cluttered and honest look. Throughout most of the descent, I was just bracing myself against the cold that had crept into the sweaty nooks and crannies in my under layers.

Finally, I reached a little uphill to pedal myself warm again. It was just a matter of time before muscle memory kicked in and it was business as usual pedaling home. Just like in summer, the sun was getting low in the sky on my return. Whether I dreamed of summer, or embraced the cold, it felt good to be outside taking it all in. It is good to ride a bike in any season.

homemade soup of the week: chicken, potato, leek