Monday, November 8, 2010

2011 Tours

How I am spending my time at home: creating costumes for my puppies! Doesn't Scamp look excited?

It is time to train! 2011 tours were posted last month and it is time to get on the bike and get in shape for 2011! We kick the season off February 26th with the California Kick Start, head on over to Tucson, Arizona for a March 12th Arizona Road Tour and end the early season with the Texas Hill Country beginning on April 9th. You may think it is too early to start's never too early! Hopefully the tours will be filling fast!

If you are considering the trips:

California Kick Start is a good way to start the year. Yes, the first day is a challenge: quite a bit of up. But aren't we all up for a challenge? Good news is the overnight venue has been changed the night in Julian: we will be staying at a lodge! So if the weather is cold at night, as it has been the last couple of years, you will be nice and toasty in a warm room. I am stopping by there next Monday to scope out the lodge, and eat some pie. As I have mentioned before Julian is famous for it's bakeries! Ride day two takes you down a gorgeous ride into the desert and over to Borrgo Springs for a couple of overnights in the beautiful Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness Area. A couple of days of warm sunshine, great hiking and riding, carpets of wild flowers and fabulous fresh citrus fruit, then back up to Julian and end back in Chula Vista.

Arizona Road is another great desert ride. We start outside of Tucson at the Cactus Country RV resort and spend the week winding through Patagonia, Tombstone, Bisbee & back. The overnight venue in Tombstone has been changed this year too! Indoor accommodations at a hotel cure the space and cold challange that has persisted on this ride. Bisbee is so eclectic it is worth taking part of the layover day to explore. The great brewery that was just opened last year is a must see, and of course have a beer! And a t-shirt from the Bisbee Bike Brothel is THE souvenier to bring home.

The Texas Hill Country is one of my top favorite rides. Yes, we had a little rain last year, but that's what makes the flowers bloom! You can see pics on last years blog of the wild flowers....hopefully they will be as abundant this year. You can start or end your trip with amazing music and food venues in Austin as well as partake in the local eateries and brew pubs along the way. Two days in Fredericksburg may not be enough time to take in the museums, shops and bakeries as well as a great ride or two: and the riding is great!

I will be working on the food for these rides, as well as my cookbook, this winter. I will keep a couple of the favorites, but hope to add some new and exciting dishes! Suggestions anyone?

The rest of the year is published on the ACA websight and I will fill you all in when we have nailed down where we will be the rest of the year. Until then, Bon Appetit!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jamaican Recipes

Here are the recipes that were requested from the "Jamaican Festival" menu on the Farm Fresh Tour! I also prepared these at a cooking class that I taught the week before and they were very well recieved! Enjoy!

Calypso Beans & Rice

If buying commercial beef broth for this recipe make sure there is no msg in the broth. Most organic labels do not include msg.

8 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes: 2 yellow peppers, stemmed,seeded & cut into 1/2 inch pieces: 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4 inch pieces: 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped: 1 cup long grain rice: 4 cups cooked dark red kidney beans: 2 cups beef broth: 1 1/2 cups pimiento stuffed Spanish olives: 3 ripe tomaotes, seeded & cut into 1/2 inch pieces: 1/4 cup drained capers: 1 tablesppon dried basil: 1 tablespoon dried oregano: 1 1/2 tespoons ground allspice: 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce: salt & freshly ground pepper: 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions: 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves.

Saute the bacon in a large pot over low heat about 8 minutes: add the peppes, onion, and garlic. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes to wilt the vegetables: add the rice and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except the scallions & cilantro. Stir, cover and cook over medium low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Add the scallions and cilantro and gently combine. Serve hot. Makes 8 servings.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

I prefer to use the dark meat for this recipe, (Thighs and legs). It tends to absorbe the marinade more than the white meat. But, this is just a personal preference!

6 scallions, thinly sliced: 2 large shallots, minced: 2 lare cloves garlic, minced: 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger: 1/2 habanero chili, seeded, minced: 1 tablespoon allspice: 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper: 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon: 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg: 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced: 1 teaspoon coarse salt: 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar: 1/2 cup fresh orange juice: 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar: 1/4 cup red wine vinegar: 1/4 cup soy sauce: 1/4 cup olive oil.

In a bowl combine the scallion, shallots, garlic, ginger, and chili. Set aside
In another bowl combine the spices, thyme, salt and sugar. Whisk the orange juice, both vinegars, and the soy sauce. Slowly drizzle in the oil, while whisking constantly. Add the sacllion mixture and stir to combine. Let rest an hour before marinating the chicken.

Quarter two chickens, 2 1/2 - 3 lbs each, rinse well, removing any excess fat, and pat dry. Marinate the chicken in the jerk sauce overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Arrange the marinated chicken in a single layer in a roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes basting occasionally. (or until internal temp is 160*F) Just before chicken is done pour off excess marinade and let chicken brown.

In a saucepan on the stovetop reduce the leftover marinade until syrupy, while the chicken bakes. When chicken is done pour the reduction over the chicken. Serve alongside Calypso Beans & Rice.

More recipes anyone?

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Last Supper

Sarah & Lily ready to go: feeding Joe: happy campers: the Fashionistas: Marin County Cheeses & fresh figs.

Well, this is it. The last supper for my tribes for the season. I hope that the majority of you have enjoyed the fare throughout the tours! I definitely have enjoyed (almost all the time) cooking for you. It is such a pleasure to be able to share good food!

The last day was marvelous. The tribe peddled out to the coast and spent the day rolling up and down along the beaches. Lots of ups! The weather was mild and the scenery breathtaking. Many places along the way to stop and explore, as most everyone did.

The bakery just outside of the Casini Ranch in Duncan Mills is unexpectedly good. Fresh baked pastries featuring flaky, buttery crusts, thin pizzas with heirloom tomatoes and homemade pesto, good coffee and the best cinnamon rolls we have ever tasted. On through Bodega Bay and into Tomales for another bakery to die for! When we stopped there was a club from Santa Rose with about 25 cyclists as well as a BMW motorcycle club with about 50 riders. Popular spot! After Tomales there are the oyster farms to top the pastries off with shooters. Yummmm.
Next stop: Point Reyes Station for the Cowgirl Creamery, Bovine Bakery, and General Store. All offering delicious noshes to fuel the tribe into the camp ground. With all of the stops along the way I don't see how they could be hungry tonight!

But, they were! We started the appetizer hour with three choice wheels of cheeses from the Marin County Cheese Company; a hand made blue, Marin French Blue, a cows milk double cream cheese lace with streaks of blue; the Yellow Buck Camembert; as well the amazing soft goat chevre. I understand the some Costco's carry these cheeses during the holidays, as well as most fine cheese shops. The cheeses from the Cow Girl Creamery are pretty darn good as well. We treated ourselves to a wedge of Humboldt Fog Blue Cheese for an afternoon snack. YUMMM!
Dinner tonight: spicy cabbage salad, apple and green salad with a cranberry poppy seed cream dressing, grilled salmon with a mango salsa, white bean puttanesca, steamed brown rice, fresh carrots & green beans, and peanut butter bars for dessert. It was a fine last supper.

The tribe finished up the evening with a map meeting and awards ceremony. Our great Chief Kevin presented some pretty funny awards! (Sarah: I really think I learned a lot about how to dress fashionably as a cyclist! Some new looks that I must try out.) Kevin did a fabulous job running his first tour. He had a great support staff with Joe as mechanic, Sue as marker supreme, Jerry and Tina on lunch and water stops, and Keith on luggage. A good job done by all.

We had a long night before the last breakfast and a long drive home. We knew that there is a quite large raccoon population at this camp and planned accordingly, or so we thought. Mr. Raccoon really loved the dark chocolate bar that was in Jack's luggage. He also was inclined to open every cooler in the park, including the beer. He managed to rifle through just about every one's luggage and bike packs that were left outside. He was kind enough to leave a granola bar at Joe's doorstep: must of thought I wasn't feeding Joe quite enough this week. (Joe is about 7 feet tall and thin as a rail and I keep trying to fill him up on these tours, but it doesn't seem to happen!) Mr. Raccoon was kind enough to keep us up from about 2am. He was bold enough to come up behind me and steal a loaf of bread as I was making sandwiches! Quite a sight to see, Jack chasing the raccoon with the hose.

The morning was a race to get everyone fed and on the road. Us as well; we have an 18 hour drive straight home. I am sad to see everyone go....can't wait until next season I hope to see many of the tribe again next year if you'll let me cook for you. I promise to use only real butter & peanut butter with no hydrogenated vegetable oil, I will give in and use real maple syrup, I promise to provide a wider variety of snacks at the water stop, and will gladly serve 1/2 and 1/2 with your coffee. And, I will try to be nice. Most of the time. Till next year!

Riding along the Russian River

The Hop Mill Winery; Mo & Jason taking a break; grapes!

What a glorious day for a bike ride! The temperature dropped as the tribe traversed towards the coast: no more 103*F days in sight! The terrain along today's route was so so beautiful! We rolled through the end of the Napa Valley, the Alexander Valley, then the Russian River Valley. I thought the wine country was just the Napa Valley: some of the greatest wineries are located elsewhere! We stopped at the Hop Mill Winery for a quick tour; it is on the historic register and is really quite a place! The roads through the valleys are steep and winding with little shoulder, yet it is a cycling mecha! We passed many, many cyclists all day long.

The tribe lunched in the Redwoods then dropped along the Russian River out to Casini Ranch. This is a working cattle ranch with a HUGE campground. The water for the ranch comes from a natural spring on the hill above the ranch and is so good that the ranch owners having a bottling plant to sell the water!

As the tribe rolled into the ranch so did the fog. It's a pretty erie sight to see a fog bank rolling up the valley and engulfing the camp. It is nice to be out of the heat!

We had a nice clubhouse to use tonight, complete with a kitchen! So tonight's new menu was a go! YEAH! And the tribe loved it: Jamaican theme! Jerk chicken, calypso beans and rice, grilled patty pan squash, steamed fingerling potatoes and Aaron's chocolate pudding surprise! The jerk chicken was amazing; I will post the recipe as asked by many!

The tribe took advantage of the indoor facility and stayed up way past their bedtime. This has been a great group: I am beginning to get a little melancholy about having this be the last trip of the season. Looking forward to some time at home, but I will miss feeding my tribes!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day Off

Balloons flying over camp this morning!

Today was the rest day for most of the tribe. A few chose to ride the optional ride through Pope Valley: 48.2 miles with one pretty intense climb of about 1100 feet over just a couple of miles. Many tribe members chose to explore the shops and restaurants in Calistoga; a venturous couple headed off to the mud baths; ten of the rowdies headed off for four hours of winery exploration with Joe as their chauffeur. Jack and I chose to ride for a couple of hours before preparing the nights feast.

Dinner tonight: fish taco night. Tossed green salad in a raspberry vinaigrette, grilled rock cod and corn tortillas with all the trimmings, cilantro lime coleslaw, shrimp quesadillas with mango salsa, basmati rice, grilled peppers and onions with tofu, and a beautiful cheese tray featuring two fabulous French style cheeses from the Marin County Cheese Company complete with dates and fruit! This tribe is in love with cheese and wine! I saw quite a few cases of wine come back from town as well as some lovely olive oils.

Tomorrow is a 52.8 (give or take depending on your choice of measuring devices)mile day. Lunch stop is in the Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve; one of the few Redwood groves left. The alternate loop of is a pretty intense ten miles with a big climb and a HUGE downhill! The next two days have more of the same for alternates: we'll see how many dare to climb!

We stay tomorrow night at Casini Ranch on the Russian River. It's an eclectic campground in a pretty eclectic area! Hopefully the kitchen we have tonight will be in working order! New menu tonight: Jamaican theme! I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Best laid plans......

The tribe at dinner: Aaron's sampling of tonights fare.

What a day for the tribe today! Up early to beat the heat, we fueled them up with pancakes and scrambled eggs for a long hard day of climbing in and out of the wineries.

The ride today is gorgeous, miles and miles of vines and amazing, huge wineries. 73.1 miles to be exact. The heat today topped at 103*F. Not any fun to ride in! The tribe was pretty well shot when they got into camp. Thank goodness for a layover day tomorrow.

The new menus that I wrote for the tour got all shot to heck today. I had planned on utilizing a kitchen for some great new entrees to treat the tribe to. The kitchen we had last year was amazing. The one that we got to today was not going to work. The oven didn't work, there was not place to set up except on the black asphalt, no fun in this heat. So, plan B. A shady spot near the tribe with water and a pavilion with a cool breeze!

So, no oven roasted herb chicken with fall root vegetables tonight. We fell back on the old favorite, Greek Lemon Chicken; marinated veggie pasta salad; spiced rice and lentils; steamed asparagus; eggplant & portabello strata; fresh breads from the Model bakery in St. Helena; (A must when you come through the town!); and cappuccino nanaimo bars for dessert. It was a good menu for the heat.

Only one mishap today: Sarah and Lilly crashed while ogling the wineries. No serious injuries, but some pretty good road rash. It was cute to hear Sarah tell Lilly; "you know, when you ran over me it wasn't too bad! You're really light!". Cute.

Tomorrow is a good day for a layover. Walking distance into Calistoga, Joe's planning a wine tour for 10 lucky individuals, a 48 mile optional ride, or just plain hanging out. Sounds good to me!


The camp ground at Spring Lake: Mechanic Joe hard at work: Chief Kevin, hard at work?

SKUNK: 1a) A small carnivorous New World mammal of the genus Mephitis, having a bushy black tail and black fur with white markings that ejects a foul smelling oily liquid when frightened or in danger.
2b) Not what you want to wake up and see staring into your tent at 2:00 in the morning.

Today's ride completed, the tribe gathered at Spring Lake Park for some R&R and bonding after a pretty easy first day. The park is adjacent to Spring Lake and is acres of brown grass and California Live Oak trees. Everything is so dry due to a late heat spell in the valley. The temperature was right at 100*F most of the afternoon. It was nice as it cooled down in the evening!

Dinner tonight consisted of a wedge salad with bacon and hard boiled eggs, carrot raisin salad, honey spiced pork chops, Russian fingerling potatoes, yellow vegetable curry and pound cake with strawberry rhubarb sauce for dessert.

The the couple years we have been staying here we have never seen a critter other that tribes of squirrels that are more interested in gathering nuts than they are in bothering us. SO, we thought nothing of leaving the snack kit out next to the truck during the night. I suppose we should never trust what we cannot see! We could not see that there are raccoons and SKUNKS in the park. We were introduced to them at 2:00 in the morning. I had the fly tied back on the tent to enjoy the night breeze. The little Le' Piue thought it was so that he could come visiting! Have you ever woke up with a skunk staring into your face? I screamed. Kevin heard me scream! Because I didn't scream twice he figured everything was ok. Jack woke up and we contemplated how to rid ourselves of a skunk without being doused in eau de' skunk juice. You know, you really can't. We let the little guy run around camp and explore for a couple of hours. He visited Aaron and we know he investigated Joe's truck. Just about the time he decided to leave for the evening his buddy Rocky Raccoon appeared. HE was interested in the snack kit. Jack got up and tried to shoo him away. He would look up at him and tried to figure out if Jack was serious. This went on for awhile until he finally high tailed it up the street. Critters.

We backed tracked today on the way to Santa Rosa to the Marin French Cheese Company, the oldest continually operating cheese factory in the United States, to pick up some great French style artisan cheeses to serve later in the week. The cheese company made history in 2005 by beating the French in the famous International blind tasting. A must see what you go through the valley!

Tomorrow is the long day for the tribe. Going to be a hot one!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chantrelles & Cheese!

The new Chief, Kevin; Aaron's bike and Aaron after 21 days on the road; Chantrelles! Yumm!

Farm Fresh has begun! After four weeks off I am ready to cook for the tribe one last time this year! And, I hope to make this a specially delightful culinary experience!

After a day and a half of driving, (thank you Jack!), we reached Petaluma on Saturday afternoon. We were greeted by throngs of people attending the Taste of Petaluma as well as the Vietnam Memorial Gathering. Petaluma is the weekend get-away for the people of San Francisco. It is close enough for a day trip and there is no shortage of great restaurants, antique shops, brew pubs, and planned community activities. We had a great lunch at a local pub and then met up with my "cheese connection".

Last year at the Ferry Building's Farmer's Market at Fisherman's Wharf I discovered a small Cheese Company from just outside of Petaluma. I was looking for the "perfect" cheese to compliment the Spiced Pumpkin and Lentil Salad that I was planning to prepare on the trip. One taste of Achadinha Cheese Company's Capricious aged goats cheese, I was sold. Another one of those "Jack tried to keep me on budget" moments! I won. The cheese is amazing and I was determined to track down more for this trip. I met up with Donna, the owner & cheese maker at a booth at the Taste and not only was I successful scoring a wheel of Capricious, I snagged a wheel of their Broncha cheese as well. The Broncha is an aged goats cheese made on 7/21/09, a mild quiet morning on the farm! It is a semi hard cheese that is complimented with a "touch of blue". It has a creamy, semi tart, mildly pungent flavor that lent well to the pasta feature of the night; bow tie pasta with fresh chantrelle mushrooms and grated Broncha cheese. YUMMMMM! You can find the company on line by googling Achadinha Cheese Company, and if you are lucky you to can partake in some fabulous cheese. They also have a goat summer sausage that we found to be subtle in the goat flavor and very very good. Tell Donna that I sent you!

The tribe all gathered quite early in the afternoon on Sunday and we are off! Aaron joined us on the last day of his trip down the coast; looking forward to riding in the truck and eating mom's cooking! Good job Aaron! Our new fearless chief on this trip is Kevin, his first tour on his own! He has a great support staff, including Joe the Mechanic who completed leading the Northern Tier Self Contained ride a couple of weeks ago. Congrats Joe and good luck Kevin!

Tonight's dinner was: Spinach salad with cherry tomato medley in a white balsamic vinaigrette;salmon fettuccine with peppers and fennel, linguine with pesto; artichoke hearts & kalamata olives; bow tie pasta with fresh chantrelles & Broncha cheese; sauteed zucchini & carrots, fresh French breads & Nanaimo bars for dessert. This is going to be fun!

Tomorrow's ride is a bumpy back road adventure to Santa Rosa for a night in the State Park, and then on to two days in Calistoga. The weather is hot: 90's today and tomorrow, then should cool down a little as we head to the coast. So follow along and we'll see what mischief that we can get into!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chef Kathy Rants

Ok you guys: I know I'm not perfect, but give me a break! I was privilaged to read the reviews of all the summer trips on Sunday. So, I have not had a good nights sleep since then. My obsessive compulsive brain just won't let go of the not so good comments. I should be able to justify in my silly little head that I can't please everyone all the time and that I do make mistakes, but I have chosen a career (is that what this is?) of trying to please everyone every time! Poor Jack has had to listen to me rant for the last four days. Says I take it way to personal. Me? No way. It feels to me that the more effort I put into the menues, the quality of the product that I serve, the more critical my audiance is.

(I do want to say, before I get started, that we did recieve many great comments and reviews! The critisisms were the minority, I just obsesse about them. I do want to thank all of you that appreciate what I do and are supportive of us! THANK YOU!)

Do you realize that in the last 15 years I have catered 84 bike tours. 84 times the average of 70 participants. 5,880 people have been privy to having catered meals in some of the worst conditions imaginable: I love cooking in 107* heat or sleeting hail. 5,880 people, 3 meals a day: 17,640 meals. 17,640 meals for the average of 6 days of touring: 105,840 individual meals I have prepared. And I'm not perfect? Should be! Don't you think? And of these some 5,880 people that I have catered to, some 806 of them have "special needs" that I try to accomodate while feeding everyone else! That's 4,836 sandwiches that have to be made seperately!

If there is a food allergy, intolerance, preference, like or dislike, I have just about seen it all. I'm supposed to make them all happy all the time!

So: here's my rebuttle: I'm a "chef" so I'm allowed to rebute.

Ok, I put you the vegetarians name on a chicken salad sandwich ONE TIME. You indicated no red meat. It was chicken breast.

You don't want any foods with hydrogenated vegeatable oil? Margarine was all I had in the truck. I will try to provide butter from now on, but bring your own REAL maple syrup. Yes, I can put more of my budget into providing it for you, but forget the seafood feast at Bayview State Park. I do that beacause I want to share our fabulous local fare. It's not in the "budget", just ask Jack. And I won't splurge and buy the amazing cheeses in the wine country. Jack tried to reel me in on that one, but I won. They were good!

If you don't want a rice and lentil wrap, Veggie person, there is ALWAYS peanut butter and jelly and bread at the lunch stop, as you suggested.

Hate my job? What did I do to deserve that one? Oh, I know: your darling youngster took 14 pieces of watermelon, 6 ears of corn and 15 desserts. (who's counting?) Maybe I wasn't gentle enough in addressing this issue during the week. For that I apologize.

More fresh foods: what do you think $2000.00 of organic, sustanably grown produce is doing in the back of my truck. I didn't pick it fresh that morning. I did in Colorado, but that opportuinity doesn't come up in Utah where nothing grows. Guess I could have served cactus.

Yes, the bananas on the last day were a little soft. They were not mushy! But it's still a banana. Good fuel!

And about recycling: I try to recycle whenever possible, but it's not my fault the majority of the states that we're in don't recycle. I drove around following a park ranger in Borrego Springs for an hour trying to find a recycle for glass: the state cut their recycling program because of budget cuts, and Montana has to ship the glass too far so it's not cost effective. And what is the logic behind, "wasting our time washing dishes to cut the amount of garbage when we don't recycle?". We are saving almost 4 large bags of trash a day on the low end by washing our own dishes. I will, however, try harder to recycle. I cannot haul it 2000 miles home. Though, at home I am a recycling maniac. Just ask Jack and Scott.

Breakfast on the last day was cold? It was in a chaefer with sterno, but when you show up 3 minutes before breakfast is over, you're having a good day because there was breakfast. AND: we're outside for goodness sake. It's cold out here. Hint: I have on long johns and a hat.

About food safety: I have my food handler's card. As well, I am HACCP certified by the State of Washington. My restaurant was recognized for our food safety practices in our county. I sat on an advisory board with the health department for two years. I think I know a thing about food safety. 106,000 meals later, I have never had a food borne illness outbreak. If you had a tummy bug on the last day that you think was from your sandwich, I don't. No one else got sick. Sounds like a tummy bug. And, I don't make the sandwiches the night before. I got up at 4 that morning to make them before breakfast. (I did make the sandwiches the night before on Washington, but had a fridge to put them in.) I have thrown away 50 pounds of lunch meat in Colorado because when I tempt the cooler, it was not in the safety zone. Oh yeah, I do know what that is by the way. I have tossed out breakfast sausage, eggs, chicken, and much more because I was not comfortable with it. Jack makes fun of me because I smell everything: the nose knows.

More protein at breakfast? Tough one when you don't like eggs. There is always a bowl of walnuts with the oatmeal. Great source of protein. I will never, as suggested, put out a bowl of protein bars. Logic behind this? History has shown that when a group, presented with an unlimited supply of gooddies, will pack every pocket available with extra bars that will then get packed to go home. One year the comment was made that I should provide a blender and protein shakes at the water stops. OK.!!!

Yes, I am ranting. Not being really nice? Just frustrated. I really do try to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone. AND I DO APPRECIATE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITISISM.
But you don't have to be mean. Mean is reserved for me at 5:30 in the morning. Just ask Jack. I am constantly learning and changing on these tours. I have had many suggestions from participants that are great ideas! But just know, I am not perfect and I can't make everyone happy. I will, however, keep trying as long as you'll have me.

I love what I do. I have a passion for what I do. (There are days that I really question why I am doing this to myself.) (My family questions my sanity quite often.) But, I will keep on keeping on. Hopefully I'll see you on your next tour and we can laugh about my ranting. And, I'll try to be nice. :)

Pickled tomatoes and Peanut Yam Tofu

Ok ok. It has taken me awhile to let go of this recipe, but I have been busy! After getting home from Oregon I had a garden full of veggies to can, crab to catch, and a trip to Vegas with my best friend! Priorities you know! Vegas was a blast and we'll see how my pickled green tomatoes turn out!
Here is the recipe for Peanut Yam Tofu. This is the "involved" from scratch recipe. It is amazing, but there is a short cut that I will post at the end. Serve this over steamed rice or fresh rice noodles! You can use the dried noodles as well. Some of the ingredients may be a tricky to find: kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass can be found in all Asian markets. If you can find Frozen minced lemon grass it is great to have on hand, just keep it in the freezer. It is fromGolden International Co. Also: beware of the fish sauce. If you have not used it before it is very potent. A little bit goes a long way. Funny story about fish sauce: when I owned my catering truck that we named Norm, (As far from normal as you could get), Dad built a spice rack along the edge of the Granny's Attic for me. I had a bottle of fish sauce, industrial size, stored on this shelf. Of course it wasn't really secure. It didn't survive a really big bump, I guess. It spilled all over the inside of the truck and leaked into the cab. We could never keep the windows closed for any long period of time after that as the smell would just about kill you! Don't spill the fish sauce.

Peanut Yam Tofu:

2 tablespoons canola oil : 1 cup chopped onion : 1 cup diced red & green peppers : 2 cloves garlic, minced : 1 tablespoon chopped lemongrass : 3 kaffir lime leaves or 2 tsp grated lime zest : 1 teaspoon Thai curry paste : 1/2 teaspoon curry powder : 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk : 1 cup chunky peanut butter : 1/2 cup milk : 1 cinnamon stick : 3 bay leaves : 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce : 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar : 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice : 2 teaspoons tamarind paste : 1 large can unsweetened yams : 8 ounces firm tofu

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion, peppers, garlic, lemongrass, lime leaves, curry paste and curry powder: saute until tender. Stir in the coconut milk, penaut butter, milk, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, fish sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, tamarind paste, yams and tofu. Heat through over meduim heat, smashing the yams as it cooks. It will thicken as it sits: serve over cooked rice noodles or steamed rice.

Ok: the shortcut: Saute your veggies and add 2-3 cups of Yoshida Gourmet Sauce and 1 cup coconut milk. (Gourmet sauce is available at most grocery stores or Costco). Add peanut butter and curry powder, yams and tofu. Cook until heated through, smashing the yams. Not the original thing, but it is quick and easy!

This recipe is great with chicken or shrimp in it as well. Have fun with this!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Broken Truck

We said our goodbyes to the tribe this morning and sent them off for a long day of riding. We loaded up and headed home, or tried to. As soon as Jack started the truck we knew there was a problem. Why, on the last day of a long run of bike tours does the truck have to break? Couldn't it wait one day until we got home? No, it had to break on the day I want to be home. We were able to limp it into Eugene and fortunately were able to get it into Penske to be fixed. Set us back 5 hours, guess it could have been worse! We did make it home and it feels good to be here!

A note of congratulations to Pete for a great tour! This was the first one that he led and he did a great job! We hope that you do this again next year! And, we hope to see all of you tribe members on a tour this next season, if not on Farm Fresh! I WILL let you know what's for dinner in the Napa Valley....if you're there I hope we can share a great bottle of wine.

Trading Up!

Trading with the tribe: Devil's Cove

The "off day" today was a ton of fun for all of the tribe. The kayaking was awesome, hiking the dunes more difficult than imagined. Our fearless leader had a great ride and watched a baby black bear run across the road in front of them! The town of Florence was invaded by the tribe: great restaurants and shopping! Mo's has pretty good chowder, they claim it is world famous!

I spent the day nursing my wounds and whining. Jack has the patience of a saint to put up with me! We did go into town for lunch and shopping, then spent the afternoon getting ready for dinner. RIB NIGHT! BBQ chicken and ribs, green salad, potatoes, cowboy beans, and dessert assortment, (all that is left in the truck!). The tribe did an amazing job of eating tonight!

A special thank you to Kent for interrupting his dinner to doctor my finger. Well, for looking at my finger and telling me that I'm having an allergic reaction to the bee sting, and yes, I'm being a baby. Waaa. It's taking my attention away from my burned foot!

The tribe had a final camp fire tonight, complete with smores! The pow wow was joined just after dinner by two really cute young men. They approached the tribe with a jar of spaghetti sauce and a mischievous grin. They explained that they were going through camp "trading up". They started with a small bag of chocolate and wanted to see what they could end up with if they traded their way through the camp ground. I was more than happy to participate: I traded a large jar of peanut butter for their sauce. I wonder what they ended up with! What fun.

Tomorrow is a long ride back to the start for this roaming tribe. It was the first ACA tour for many and we hope we will see them again! On that note: NEXT YEARS TOURS HAVE BEEN POSTED!!! The first three supported tours and the van supported tours. Time to start planning for you next ride! Of course there is still space on Farm Fresh this fall! First on the calendar is what is now being billed as the California Kick Off, formerly Winter Warmer. It is a great ride early in the season. The first day is a long climb, but three days in Borrego Springs makes it worth it! You can go back to my first blogs and see what you don't want to miss. Next on the roster is Southern Arizona. There will be some changes in the overnights that will make this fabulous tour even better. Follow this ride with the Hill Country in Texas. A favorite to say the least. So keep on peddling this winter and join us early next year! Jack has signed up for the "border to border" ride in September. Van supported Canadian border to Mexican border along the west coast! There will be more tours to come.....can't wait!

We will be heading home for 4 weeks off. I don't look forward to unloading the truck, but am looking forward to some time at home. Aaron will be heading out next week to ride the coast to meet up with us in California for Farm Fresh. What a great experience for him!

I would love some feed back from our tribes: if you have any ideas for new menu items, if there was something you really loved or even really didn't like! Email me and let me know....and I promise to post the peanut yam recipe this week!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Salmon Burgers

Riding along the coast...sunset on the beach.

I have stumbled upon a new tribe favorite. Salmon Burgers! (This tribe is showing their true ability to consume mass quantities of food: they shall be renamed the flock, seagulls and vultures to be precise!) SALMON BURGERS! I made them from scratch and they loved them. Tonight's dinner was Nana's BBQ beef, salmon burgers, broccoli salad, cucumber and tomato salad and steamed potatoes. The tribe had a stressful day of riding; maybe that's what contributed to the mass consumption that took place.

The scenery along the coast is breath taking to say the least. But for those on bikes it comes with a catch. Narrow shoulders and really big RV's. Many of which are piloted by really inconsiderate drivers. The theme for the day was, let's not be patient with the bicycles. Those tribe members that aren't really comfortable with tight spaces had a rough time. There were no crashes, thankfully, just some stressed out riders. It's a good idea when you do this ride to get out and ride with traffic for awhile and you'll feel much more at ease. Fortunately tomorrow is an off day with an optional ride.

Many riders stopped at the Sea Lion Caves, and most all went into old town Florence for some great clam chowder! After dinner was camp fires and plans for tomorrow. A big group is kayaking the river. Many are heading into town and a few are going to ride. The park we are at is at the edge of the sand dunes. A few brave warriors are going to "hike" the dunes.

Me? I was going to ride. A big, mean, nasty yellow jacket put an end to that. He wanted into my salmon burgers and fought for his space. A really painful sting to my left middle finger was a warning to leave him alone. It has swollen up three times its normal size and hurts like heck. I can't bend it to brake or shift on the bike. :( I'm really grumpy too. We'll see how it is tomorrow.

I See All!!!!

By the sea.....LUNCH!

Ok vegetarians. You should know that I am watching you. You all have your individual special needs and I truly do try to accommodate them. I have learned how to prepare vegan, keep the cheese out of your salad, which ones of you will eat eggs, who won't eat pork or beef but chicken and fish is ok(???), actually not cringed, visibly, when all you want for lunch is peanut butter and cheese sandwiches......I have seen it all. I also see when you "CHEAT!!!!" You thought I wasn't looking when you slipped that bacon on your plate. Eating chicken salad for lunch, you feigned innocence : of course you thought it was the best tuna you ever ate. I have had more than one of you, on steak night, give in to the temptation of red meat. "I haven't eaten a steak in 7 years!".
Yeah, right. Kevin, it is a known fact you enjoy a steak a year. But that's ok! It keeps my job interesting and gives me something to laugh about!

Today was a fabulous ride day. 46 miles of up and down along the sea shore. Through Depoe Bay, the smallest harbor in the world, a stop at Devil's Punch Bowl, a visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and onto Beachside State Park. The tribe road around the town of Newport, but Jack and I had to stop in at the Newport Cafe for his birthday breakfast. They are open 24 hours and serve a mean seafood omelet.

One our tribe from the East Coast was overheard on his cell phone today: "the ride was fabulous, but they've got hills on this coast!" Yes, it is a roller coaster. All the more fun.

Tonight was fish tacos and shrimp quessadilas with mango salsa. It was if a flock of seagulls converged on the dinner table! They weren't shy about consuming two sheet cakes, either.

Tomorrow is another day along the coast. The breeze at their back, the sound of pounding surf, the sweet ocean air..... Does it get any better than this?

Over to Lincoln city

Good morning Isabel!! The table at Corvalis. Squash chickens...aren't they cute???

So....I was a little bored!! The pasta dinner last night fueled the tribe over the hill and onto the coast. The ride was tough on a few of the tribe members...73.2 miles with quite a bit of climb: all the way up to almost 800 feet in elevation! What a switch from Colorado. The tribe encountered a pretty good headwind and lots of traffic once they got onto Hwy 101. There was about a mile of gravel at the beginning of the descent. We did have one rider go down in the gravel but no serious injuries. Many comments on the gorgeous country: So many Christmas trees!

Jack and I drove around and stopped for lunch at McMinniman's in Lincoln City. Great brews, good halibut and chips: a little pricey. (Note to Aaron: when you're rind the coast in two weeks you'll want to stop!) There is also a restaurant that we ate at last year at the North end of Lincoln City: Szabo's. It has great nightly specials: Tuesday night is New York steak & potatoes for $9.95. (Another note to Aaron if you're staying in Lincoln City!)

We stayed the night at Devils Lake State Park. The parks in Oregon are really nice: lush camp sights, good restrooms and showers and yurts if you please! Dinner tonight was Asian noodle salad with curried chicken and peanut yam tofu. The tribe is looking forward to some beautiful riding tomorrow: down 101 to Beachside State Park just South of Waldport.

Tomorrow is Jack's birthday. I won't tell how many, but I will need to find a cake!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oregon and OUCH!!

New yard art for the tent: covered bridge in Corvallis: the new fearless leader, Pete, and his tribe.

The first night of Oregon Coastal Odyssey kicked off fairly uneventful. The tribe members arrived at Richardson County Park just west of Eugene, registered, set up tents and gathered for the map meeting. A great many repeat riders that we have not seen for a couple of years, and many first timers. We'll break them in!

Jack and I set up the kitchen and prepared a dinner of Apple and Cabbage slaw, spiced pork chops, Indian vegetable stew, Russian Fingerling potatoes & cappuccino nanaimo bars for dessert. All went well until I poured boiling potato water on my foot. OWEEEE! I am missing a few layers of skin. Jack doctored it with saline solution and covered it with tagaderm. It's kind of like a second skin; stops the hurt and keeps the burn sterile.

This is not the first burned foot to happen on the tours. 3 years ago I did the same thing on the Oregon Gorge tour. The burn was worse than this one. Jack was mechanic on the tour and fixed that one too. About nine years ago my BF Susan was filling in for me on Cycle Washington. Once again, potato water on the ankle and foot. She experienced a pretty major burn. I burned my hand on Cycle Washington one year. By the time we got to Montana Divide it looked like an alien was going to hatch. That's what I told the ER doc was wrong with me. He said it was the second alien that day. One of the job hazards that I would like to avoid!

The tribe was up and on the road this morning to cover 42 miles of rolling hills heading towards the Coastal Range of mountains. Local agriculture includes acres of Christmas trees, hazelnut orchards, corn fields and wineries. Oregon produces some great wines! Water stop was set up at a great little bakery, The Sweet Spot, in Monroe. The tribe munched down on Pecan Caramel rolls and chocolate eclairs. It's a must stop when you are headed this way! Wildlife spotting today included wild turkeys AND their babies, a flock of vultures and a grey squirrel.. Don't think we'll find any moose here.

Tonight we are camped at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Corvallis. The picnic table that we are eating at is made from a single tree: it is about 64 feet long! Just across the road a bit is the covered bridge pictured above. Oregon has, if I remember correctly from last year, about 13 covered bridges in this area. We will get to see a couple of them. We were able to ride for about an hour: my foot is a little too tender for much more right now. Tonight is pasta night to fuel up for a long 73 miles tomorrow. It will be worth every crank of the pedal: we will be on the coast in Lincoln City.

I am working on the menu for Farm Fresh you guys! It's going to be great.........

Friday, August 20, 2010

On to Oregon

Fresh zucchini and crook neck squash for the tribe from Mom's garden! Jack and a gorgeous Dungeness Crab fresh from Washington waters! (Sorry tribe, not for you!)

Pheww....5 days off and it's time to head out again. We had just enough time to offload, gear up, spend some time with the boys, go crabbing with my dad, do laundry and get ready to go again!

Oregon Coastal Odyssey begins tomorrow: a full crew of 64 riders. The weather is scheduled to be great and the ride is going to be awesome. If you are looking for a new ride to do next year, I would recommend this one! So...I will fill you in on the ride as we go this next week. Then it's 4 weeks off until Farm Fresh. If you are looking for a final ride this season: Farm Fresh is for you! It's a great ride and the food is so good: a completely different menu featuring the best that we can find in the Napa Valley. We will also be suggesting wines as we shortage of wines there! Follow us in Oregon and hopefully join us in California!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Home and Hot Sauce Heaven

On the trail to Aspen: the tribe getting ready to hit the road the last day.

The last breakfast! Everyone was up and at 'em bright and early to head up the trail to Aspen. Once there they catch a bus back to Silverthorne and then home. I am really looking forward to home. We have been on the road for six weeks! I miss my chickens and garden and dogs and offense tribe members!

The final breakfast was a hash brown scramble with ham, eggs, salsa & cheese. I know that I mentioned earlier that I collect salsas and hot sauces along the way and send them home to my son Matt. It's a tradition I started when he came home from Iraq. He loves hot sauce: you have to be careful if you want to sample his cooking. Matt called one day on this trip to share a funny hot sauce story. It goes like this: I sent him a box of sauces that we picked up on our week off in Colorado. One of the sauces was labeled, "Nucking Futs". It warned that one drop should be used at a time as it is over the edge hot. Matt failed to read the label. He got home from work, tossed together a large taco salad and smothered it in sauce. Those of you that know Matt know that he is not too dainty when he is hungry. After shoveling in a good portion of the salad he suddenly realized that his mouth was on fire, his throat was swelling up! For two days he felt the after affects of the sauce. Montezuma's revenge was how he put it. Read the label, Matt.

We said our goodbyes to a happy tribe. There were many personal accomplishments made on this tour. So, Hillary, Mary, Jan, Catherine and crew, we'll see you on another ride!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Last Supper

Today was such a great day for the tribe! Up early for a day of r&r for some, riding for some, river rafting for some! The weather is gorgeous, going to be hot!

After a breakfast of sausage and mushroom scramble & hash browns, the tribe went in their separate directions. The mood was relaxed and jovial. No agenda! Gotta love it! Well, except for one fine gentleman. Jack was hanging out by the dish wash station and overheard this man's plans for the day: "I am going to find the biggest, greasiest cheeseburger there is to find!". He proceeded to describe some of the best burgers that he has ever eaten. When he turned around and saw Jack he looked a little sheepish and said, "no offense! The food has been great!". Maybe a little TOO healthy for some!.

Isabel offered to camp sit for us. Jack and I got to ride the route the tribe is taking tomorrow. What a great ride! Almost all on trail, a gradual 1-2% grade up toward Aspen. When the trail peeled off to the left at Carbondale we found ourselves riding along a beautiful river for miles and miles. We stopped at mile marker 21 for a granola bar and were immediately swarmed by hordes of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are another topic for a whole blog. We jumped back on the bikes and headed back toward camp. In Carbondale we left the trail to explore the town. HOW CUTE! It is a must see if you are in the area. We found the Village Smithy Restaurant that is extremely bike friendly, (they have a tire pump out front for those who need one! TOM?????)
We ordered a late breakfast and were surprised to be joined by Suzanne, the massage therapist that Spike arranged for the two day layover, and her partner. The food was great, (grilled veggie salad for me, heuvos rancheros for Jack). A must do when you are in Carbondale.

Jack and I took advantage of the downhill from there and hauled back to camp. About 8 miles from the jump off on the trail we passed our luggage guy, Tom. He was pulled off with a flat. We hollered to him and kept on riding. Jack asked me if we should stop, and I almost said no: he's experienced and of course has tubes and a pump: but I said, sure, let's check on him..No tube....No pump...8 foot elk fences along the trail: no hitch hiking back to camp! Glad we stopped.

We got back to camp and started dinner. I had to do a twist on the peanut yam tofu. I was out of tofu! No tofu for you, veggie people! So the menu for the last supper was:
Spicy Asian noodle salad: peanut yam sauce w/ fresh spinach: curried chicken & vegetables: basmati rice. I was really surprised how well everyone liked the curries! Another hit to add to the collection.

After dinner Bill had the award ceremony: oldest rider, repeat lady rider over 70: youngest rider, Tom's son at 15. Good job all! Then the tribe headed to the hot springs for a good soak. We cleaned up and are getting ready to head home. 6 weeks on the road is a long time away from home. I can't wait to hug my Ruby Dew!

Glennwood Canyon & Ribs!!!

Today the tribe was up bright and early to ride their longest day (@ 62 miles) from Avon to Glennwood Springs. The first few miles of the ride was pretty uneventful: dry & arid, on Highway 6 until they jumped onto the bike trail and started through Glennwood Canyon. Jack and I had hoped to go back and ride the route the next day and get pictures: but we chose another ride. You can not believe how gorgeous this canyon is! It narrows as you get deeper into it: the cliffs get higher and higher. The rock formations look like a giant tetras game...the river runs along the floor of the canyon; the bike trail along the river; the highway along the bike trail. The highway was built in the 1970's and was dubbed the million dollar a mile highway. It cost a million dollars a mile to complete the road: the road had to have the least amount of environmental impact as possible. A better part of the road is elevated. If you get a chance to ride or drive this: do.

We got into the school that we were stationed at in Glennwood Springs and set up camp. The tribe was set up at a campground around the corner and across the street. The real estate in a greater part of Colorado is so expensive that camp grounds don't exist. The camp ground that the tribe was at was not the worst we have ever seen: there were hot showers and a laundry! I will give a dissertation on camp grounds one day in the future!

Dinner tonight consisted of : broccoli salad, BBQ chicken & baby back ribs, steamed new potatoes & green beans and fresh watermelon from the farmers market in Boulder. The dinner was well received and we didn't run out of ribs! I say that because:

The last time I did ribs was on the Cycle the Gorge Tour about 4 years ago. It had been a nasty day of riding: pouring down rain and fog. The tribe got into camp at the elementary school that we stayed at and had nothing to do but sit around and watch me cook. They were bored and hungry for a couple of hours. My day wasn't going so good either: I poured boiling water on my foot and had a pretty nasty burn. When dinner was ready: chicken & ribs, etc. etc.. the tribe was ravenous. I had planned for 4 ribs per person and didn't think there would be a problem. Yeah right. The first 5 or 6 men through the line took about 12 each. I panicked and had Jack, who was mechanic at the time, start rationing the ribs. By the time staff went through I was out of ribs......not a good place to be. I have not done ribs since. I was really taking a chance today: but it all worked out well and everyone was happy!

Tomorrow is a lay over day: hot springs, optional rides, river rafting. What a great ride!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Laughing Tribe

The Laughing Tribe: me at the top: sharing snacks, views from the ride.

Today's the big one! Up and over Copper Mountain & Vail Pass. 46.7 miles: about 21 miles of climb ranging from 2-10% grades. A few tribe members are hitching a ride to Copper Mountain to avoid part of the climb. Me: I'm jumping on the trail in Frisco and riding the 18 miles to the top. I hope.

We fueled the camp with pancakes & scrambled eggs and sent them on their way. Loaded up the truck and Jack dropped me off in Frisco and met up with me at the water stop at Copper Mountain. The ride to Copper was beautiful. Not too steep: maybe 6-7% for a good part of the climb. I passed Hillary & Mary on the trail and felt really good when I got into the water stop. Then on up to Vail. Another story! The scenery was amazing: the climbs pretty brutal. Well, not too brutal. Up to 10% on the switch backs: time to stand up on the bike! The last 1/2 mile was the toughest of the climbs: of course I had a pack of hard core path pounders passing me on the hills! The last 1/4 mile I was slowing down and one of the pack yelled at me that there was only 1/4 mile left to the top and keep on going! I made it! Yahoooo! Wheeled around the rest area and then screamed down to the lunch stop with a big grin on may face. I couldn't tell you my name at that point, but I could grin. I could also manage to share my snacks with the cutest little chipmunks that came out to great me!

I opted to not ride down: my mission was to make it to the top: 10,622 feet is the top! Jack and I headed down to Avon to prepare a huge pasta dinner for the tribe. At about 2:30 the wind came up and I felt sorry for whomever was left on the trail. Then the rain, then clear skies once again! The last tribe members made it into camp at just 6:00 in time for dinner. Isabel did a great job on the trail coaching the last of the riders up the climb...good job tribe!

Dinner tonight was a really yummy Italian sausage & mushroom fettuccine, linguine with pesto & artichoke hearts, Caesar salad, herbed breads, sauteed crook neck squash (squooshes?) & lemon cake. Lot's of beer.

I don't know if was the thrill of the ride or the beer, or the combination of the two: but I have named this tribe the laughing tribe. They have definitely bonded. I have never had a group that laughs and giggles as much as this one. It was great to hear!

Tomorrow we are on to Glennwood Springs for a layover day before the last day of the tour. They go by so quickly. This is #8. Eight down two to go........

Ride Day #2 & More Evil Geese!

Views from our ride: Jamie & Jack: Naughty Teens: the Tribe @ dinner.

The tribe woke to a gorgeous day! Bright sunny skies & the forecast of staying that way all day! Today's ride is back up the switchbacks then 16 miles into Breckenridge and the same back. A couple of concerned tribe members: worried that it is a long day and they won't do so well. They'll do fine! It's a relaxed ride & they have all day.

We dined on a breakfast of yummy veggie scramble & sides of bacon & fresh cantaloupe from the fields (once again) in Boulder. Packed their lunches & sent them off for the day! It's our day to ride, too. 9:45 am and two of the three Naught Teens showed up to work! The third took a sick day. I filled them in on their duties for the day: keep the screaming meanies out of the pop and lemonade and out of our truck and take turns napping.

Jack, Jamie & I hopped on our bikes and headed up to the top of the reservoir. I have not ridden with a youngster in quite awhile and really had to concentrate on not leaving her behind! We headed into Frisco (about 7 miles) to the first water stop for the tribe. On the way in we encountered a flock of Evil Geese. We had made a stop to take a phone call and the Evil Geese were on the field next to us. I assume they are pretty well in tune to the tourists and the tourists' snacks that are tossed to them. Once they spotted us they were on their way over. We ended the phone call & scampered back on our bikes. We headed up the trail with Evil Geese on our wheel....we made our escape.

The trail was REALLY fun to ride: could almost qualify as a roller coaster ride! Up and down and around and around. We passed a really cool beaver lodge and Jamie saw deer. She did a great job riding with us, considering her mountain bike really needs a tune up: it wouldn't shift off of the middle chain ring. She was a trooper to climb the hills stuck in the wrong gear!

We got back to camp and all was well with the Naughty Two. I paid them in cold hard cash and invited them back for dinner. They were all over the making money thing and begged for more work tomorrow. Unfortunately we are moving on tomorrow. Maybe next year.

Tonight's dinner was fish tacos, shrimp quesadillas, cilantro lime coleslaw & all the trimmings, refried beans & spanish rice. The tribe thinks the food just keeps getting better! The quesadillas were yummy. Everyone had a great day and are gearing up for a long day tomorrow.

Tomorrow's ride is up and over Copper Mountain and then Vail Pass. I really want to ride: probably kill myself, but it may be fun!