Wednesday, April 25, 2012

One Sweet Cove

It's spring time!!

   
 After a long snowy winter, we are finally seeing the sun break through the clouds here in Yosemite valley. The days are warmer and the animals are coming back to the valley. I for one can't wait until the ducklings and fawns start making an appearance in the meadows and rivers!




My favorite  things about California is the spring wildflowers. Once a year the winter dead hills come alive with vivid purples, glowing oranges, bright pinks and greens. 


One of the best trails to see a bit of nature's annual masterpiece is the Hite Cove trail. Located on highway 140 just outside of Yosemite National Park, it is considered a moderate hike, with immediate and rewarding views.
                                     
Here is a little bit of background information for ya.

The trail itself is named after Jonathon Hite. This gentleman discovered rich California gold in the narrow canyon in the 1860's. Apparently, there is no more gold in the area (so they say) but the trail is now largely used for view and photographing over 60 different types of native wildflowers. BEAUTIFUL!

The trail is considered a moderate hike. It is very sunny, open and the trail is clearly defined. Bring food, water and sunscreen. If you decide to do this hike, which you most definitely should, I would highly, SERIOUSLY recommend wearing longer sleeves and pants. While beautiful, this trail is surrounded by poison oak and that is certainly not what you want to remember about this trail. The wildflowers start to fade in May so do it... do it NOW!

         



XOXOXO

~Sierra~

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hash It Out!

 I love sweet potatoes. I mean love, love, love, LOVE them! Maybe it was my southern upbringing or just the influences of some really great sweet potato masterpieces, but I could literally eat them all day. That's why, when I saw this recipe for Sweet Potato Hash from www.fitsugar.com, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The best part is, this recipe is actually gluten free and pretty diet friendly. I tweaked the recipe a little and had mine with a fried egg on top - its delicious!
'Sweet and Spicy Hash with Baked Eggs' photo (c) 2011, Bobbi Bowers - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Sweet Potato Hash

Ingredients:

1 Sweet Potato diced
2 Tbsp Coconut oil ( you can use a different oil if you prefer)
1 Cup Sweet Onion diced
1/2 Green Bell Pepper 
2 Tbsp minced Garlic
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste

* The original recipe calls for one Jalapeno if you want to spice up your life! *

Step 1: Boil the diced sweet potato until soft. Drain and let dry.
Step 2: While your  sweet potatoes are drying, fire up the skillet.
Step 3: Remember- hot pan, cold oil. 
Step 4: Add the onions and bell peppers. Saute until the onion is      translucent.
Step 5:  Add more oil if necessary, then add the sweet potatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper
Step 6: Cook until the onion, peppers and potatoes are brown.
Step 7:  Serve onto a plate.
Step 8: Put a fried egg on top.
Step 9: Loosen any belts or tight pant waists
Step 10: Try not to lose all dignity whilst shoveling it into your mouth.

Voila!



Sierra
XOXOXO

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Little Bit of Deliciousness


Mmmmmm... What in the world is better than a hot chocolate chip cookie?  What can possibly beat the warm buttery flavor, with oh-so-gooey semisweet chocolate oozing in between?
Well allow me to enlighten you. They are called Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies... made with agave nectar instead of sugar. Or more simply known as Heaven.
Its a wonderful concept. Be it whether you have worked hard all day, ran 60 miles at the gym or went on a massive hike like I did today, you can still come home and enjoy your favorite treat without worrying about undoing everything you did today. I just love them.

Now there is some debate about whether or not Agave Nectar is actually that much better for you. While it is wonderful in that it does not raise the blood sugar level, there is some concern about added calories. I confess that on this occasion I firmly believe that ignorance is bliss. I just like them way too much to give them up now! So without further adieu, I give you my recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies... with agave nectar.


Agave Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies ( A.K.A. Heaven)
1 Cup Agave Nectar 
2 Sticks of Butter
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 1/4 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Oatmeal
1 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Salt
1 Bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the agave nectar, eggs and butter thoroughly in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and incorporate. I have personally found that the batter will be a little wetter than normal cookie dough. Add your favorite chocolate chip. Place lumps of deliciousness on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for around 8 minutes. Serve warm and gooey with a glass of milk and enjoy!

This cookie dough does freeze very well. In fact I almost think the cookies are better after the dough has been frozen! 

YUM!

XOXOXO

~Sierra~


Monday, May 23, 2011

Grin and BEAR it

 Hey y'all. Hope all is going well in your lives on this fine day. Things are really starting to lighten up on this end. And no, its not because I have discovered a way to eat a mountain of chocolate and not gain a lb (now that would really make my day!), or because I did anything particularly interesting in the last 24 hours. No, today is awesome because SPRING IS FINALLY COMING! THANK YOU DEAR LORD!
I know this because I talked to a park ranger today, who told me that the high camps ( or camps way high up in the mountains, where winter time brings 12 ft of snow) have almost melted. Once the snow on the high camps finally melts away, summer is here, flowers are here, the SUN is here! Oh.. yea... and the bears are back too.
 Which leads me into today's story. The night my tent was attacked by a bear.
 In Yosemite National Park, we have the North American Black Bear. No grizzlies here, which is a bit of relief to me at least. Black bears are known to be fairly skittish, and do not attack unless seriously provoked ( like.. you steal its cub or something... Don't doubt it, people try to do it).  They come in all different shades of black, brown and cinnamon, and in my hiking experience, are quite lovely to watch. However, the one major problem with these bear in the park is food. People feed them, they steal food, and well...when you put a juicy steak between a hungry tourist and a black bear it becomes a major issue. Now, these once wild creatures ravage tents, cars, backpacks, etc... to get their day's meal. Onwards with the story.
After about 3 months living in Yosemite I had become quite accustomed to bears. You see them  while hiking, biking, sun bathing- all over the place. However, my one terror, which still remains a great fear to me to day, is stumbling into a bear in the middle of the night while trying to find the restroom-which is a community restroom that can be anywhere from 3 ft- to  20 yards from your tent. Nothing is more terrifying to me that careening into a big black monster with glowing red eyes alone in the dark (this is all in my head of course)  and lets be frank folks, the need for that restroom would end quickly right then and there.
So 3 months into my life here, in the dead of night, I awake to hear my tent mate whisper to me "Sierra...there is a bear outside our tent."  Thank God it was on her side. I wouldn't have nearly been that calm. But as bears are a common occurrence, and as we keep all our food outside in a bear box, I was not at first overly concerned. Yes, there is something mildly terrifying about having only a thin canvas separating a hungry bear and your sleepy head, but you have to get sleep somehow at some point. But instead of wandering away as a thwarted bear will do, we began to hear shuffling and snuffling circling the tent. At this point I became aware that I was completely out of my bed and standing in the middle of the tent. I don't know how I got there, or when; but my roommate was right there with me so it must have been some shared human instinct to stay as far away as possible from all four very thin walls.
We, my roomie (or should it be called a tentie?)  and I began a series of furtive whispers back and forth. She wanted to look outside, and I agreed. The problem was who should do it? Well we never really got around to that because, out of absolutely freaking nowhere there was a massive BANG against the side of our tent that shook the very shallow wooden foundations. I swear to God there was a flash of light too, or maybe my near hysterical mind imagined it...
 You want to know what I did next?
I hid under the covers. Yup, dove right to my bed under those suckers and curled up in a ball so tight if you compared me to a rolly poly you wouldn't be able to tell a darn difference. I don't know what exactly I expected the blankets to do for me. Its not as if they would be any sort of protection from a hungry bear. And I did take this into consideration whilst quivering in fear. But I still stayed under them anyway. Better not risk it. I'm a brave one alright. And that immediately decided who should look outside, because there was no way in this life time I was going near that door, or anything else besides my blankets.

But when she looked outside, there was nothing. Nothing at all. No sign of a bear or anything else that tried to blow our little hut down. And in the morning, I circled the tent looking for signs of an animal, tracks, droppings anythings. But I found nothing. It was by far the strangest night of my life in Yosemite. But thats what this place is like, a cross roads where humanity and wilderness meet. Beautiful, fleeting, scary and wild.  
                             Thank God I don't live in that tent anymore.

                                                   XOXOXO
                                                 
                                                    Sierra

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Sweetest Thing

  It has been.. days... weeks.. nay! months since I have last written. In exploring my new life here in California, I found it most wonderful to just live in the moment and enjoy. I have lived, laughed, loved and now, my dear friends, I have many new stories to tell you! But first, in order to give you context for the trials, tribulations and hilarity  I must tell you a very important face about my life.  Within the course of one year I careened swiftly from living in a  beautiful little apartment, socializing over Starbucks and a Panera sandwich, tapping my heels dancing to the beat at crowded night clubs to.... running from bears on midnight restroom trips, fighting hissing raccoons to get a meal, and calling a shared canvas tent "home".  No, I have not come upon a string of horrendous luck and  have been forced to live on the streets of some dangerous city. Nor have I gone rogue, denying all the trappings and conventions of society for the uncomplicated life. Well, actually that answer itself is quite simple.

                              I live, love and work in Yosemite National Park.

 Cool? Yes Thrilling? Oh yes  Scary? Definitely.  And man do I have some stories to tell you! Wow, have I learned a few things out here in the woods!  Some good, some bad, and all part of this crazy thing we call life. First, I have to say, this place is incredibly beautiful. There is not a day where I do not walk outside, look up and stand in awe of what I see. The winters are mild as are the summers, wildlife and beauty everywhere. But lets also be frank. In there summer, especially there are a ton of tourists!  Its very crowded and you get the funniest questions; my own personal favorite being " Is there a place we can drive to take our little baby to go feed the animals?"  NO! There is no zoo inside a national park! Its wild! DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS! More often than not they end up eating YOU! Oh and here is a cool little factoid.  Apparently, there is no recorded bear attack in Yosemite National Park where the victim was killed. Horribly mauled? Yes. But killed? No. Death via wild animal attack has occurred only once within the park, and the blood thirsty beast was...
                                           
                                                         A Deer

 So tell me... what do you think of Bambi now? Didn't know that cute little nose was really his clever way of hiding his FANGS? Not quite so innocent and defenseless as you first imagined? Yea, when I see a deer in this park I take the long way around. No way on God's green earth am I going to go down like that.  So, if you ever happen to be visiting Yosemite National Park, and are taking pictures in one of our bright green lush meadows of the quietly grazing deer. If just you so happen to be taking a picture of one of these long legged graceful creatures, watching as the sun sets- take a moment and look off to the right. I am the girl screaming bloody murder, arms flailing in the air running in the opposite direction. Hi, nice to  meet you too, enjoy the park, hope the deer don't eat you!
    But I digress. Now that I have told where I live and work I hope to be able to share my stories and adventures with you! Oh and cooking! I have learned how to adapt some of my recipes for the woods and make them healthier too. So here's to a brand new year, and all that I hope to share with you my friends. Welcome back to Sweetened Endeavors. :)
                                                 
                                                                  XOXOXO,
                                                    
                                                                       Sierra