backpacking the enchantments.

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heyyyyyyyy.

this trip happened back in june when summer was just upon us!

i had several perdy photos from my phone so i still wanted to share them here :)

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pete won the enchantments lottery for this particular area - eightmile lake and lake caroline (if you’re not from washington, the enchantments are a big region of mountains and the most gorgeous alpine lakes that are only accessible via a lottery system that people enter in every year to be able to go hiking & camping there). we brought tom dad with us for the four-day journey. he did so great (better than me, lol). 65 and strong as an ox.

we weren’t placed in the “core enchantments” that are the most primo spot to win, but an area just outside of the core that was still beautiful as ever.

once we got up here, we totally understood the need for the lottery system. if these areas were just regular ol’ hikes accessible to all the humans at all times, they would not be nearly as pristine and amazing as they are!

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we hiked in to eightmile lake for the first night of camping. it rained just a little bit, but it was fine. the next morning when we woke up we saw the lake in all it’s daytime glory. sooo pretty.

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we hung here for a bit, enjoyed the sunshine, made brekky, & the boys tried to catch some fish.

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then we packed everything back into our backpacks and carried on to lake caroline. this was a challenging, long hike, but totally doable if you’re a regular hiker. i’m just a weenie when there’s lots of hot sun - i get hot & bothered pretty quickly. the cooler weather is just much easier for me to hike in.

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this reminded me of the italian alps or something! i’d wished we’d come upon a cozy mountain shack with cheese and salami to munch on, haha. so gorgeous here!

the wildfires that happen in eastern washington are no joke. you can see all the fire damage here from the previous years’ fires.

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 pano by peter.

pano by peter.

 pano by peter!

pano by peter!

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almost there almost there almost there.

just give me sleeping bag, get me horizontal, some astronaut food in my bellay, that tiny box of wine i carted up this mountain, please!

my friend billy!!!!! he was cool. i was not skerred of him at all. he was a big ass mountain goat, though.

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we camped at lake caroline for two nights and had a great time doing shorter hikes during the day, attempting to catch fish, reading, and chillin. pete and tom hiked way way way up one day and got some incredible photos. i opted to snooze in the tent in the sunshine and read and hang out with my bff billy.

 where pete & tom went!!!

where pete & tom went!!!

 pete’s photo of a big fat marmot!

pete’s photo of a big fat marmot!

 wilderness people.

wilderness people.

 another pete pano!

another pete pano!

^ check out the wildlife. all the snow white vibes.

big goat, two deer, marmots and chipmunks abound.

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as with every hike down, we talked about cheeseburgers and beer the entire way after 4 days of astronaut food and trail mix. we left the wilderness just as a torrential downpour hit the trailhead and an army of mosquitos appeared out of nowhere. perfect timing, i say.

simply stunning up here!!! if you get the opportunity to explore the enchantments, do it!

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easy butternut squash & goat cheese spread.

after having looked at the word ‘squash’ for the last 10 minutes…..whoa. that’s a weird one.

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oh, you butternut squash and your versatile ways.

i love eating all kinds of squash during the fall - in sooo many forms! you can roast a whole butternut squash and continue to use it in all kinds of different recipes all week long.

this week on the squash-for-dinner front: pete and i had stuffed acorn squash with arugula, sausage & goat cheese one night, butternut squash in a big salad the next night, spaghetti squash with pesto the next night, and spaghetti squash crisped up with pulled pork, corn & salsa the next night.

and the shirt i’m wearing right now is squash colored. I AM SQUASH.

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this dip/spread is so simple and you only really need 2 or 3 ingredients, but you can spruce it up with some other fun stuff like lemon, green onion, sunflower seeds or pepitas for texture!

if you prefer feta cheese over goat cheese, that would be a great substitute.

serving this warm and fresh on toasty bread is quite cozy & delightful. it also goes great with different veggies for dipping!

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Easy Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Spread

Yields 2-3 cups

Total Time: 45 minutes, Active Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a medium/large butternut squash, seeded and roasted

  • 5 oz. soft goat cheese

  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

  • lemon juice or 1 tsp. white vinegar (optional, for acidity)

  • green onion (optional topping)

  • pepitas (optional topping)

  • sunflower seeds (optional topping)

Instructions-

To roast the squash, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove all the seeds. Lightly oil the skin of the squash and poke all over with a fork. Place in a rimmed baking pan skin side up and fill the pan with a little bit of water to create steam and prevent the bottom of the squash from burning. Roast for about 30 minutes, until the squash is fork tender.

Allow the squash to cool for a few minutes and scoop the flesh out of the skin and into a large food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add about 1/4 cup of water to help smooth it out if necessary. Half of a butternut squash will yield about 2 cups of squash purée.

Add the softened goat cheese and salt to the food processor and run/pulse until very smooth.

If you’d like your dip/spread to taste a little more bright, add a squeeze of lemon or a teaspoon or vinegar to wake it up.

Serve warm with toasted baguette, pita or bread of choice & vegetables! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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i am one with the squash.

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enjoy!

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cabbage chicken pad thai.

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it’s technically like a no-noodle chicken cabbage pad thai curry, but i didn’t wanna throw you off with a weird long title.

also - super almost vegan (just remove chicken & use alt fish sauce) and super customizable in the veggie or protein department!

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AND… best news ever:

i finally figured out the missing flavor in homemade thai dishes that i’ve been searching for FOR-EV-ER.

i have made thai curries at home over and over and over, adding one new ingredient at a time that i always think will be THE ONE missing link, but it’s never been quite right…

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until now.

i have found it. this is the one.

LIME LEAVES, PEOPLE.

lime leaves.

i should have freakin known. there’s a whole thing in that movie no reservations with catherine zeta jones where she’s a chef and she hauls her chef boyfriend all over town looking for her signature secret ingredient - which ended up being kaffir lime leaves.

i knew it somewhere deep in my head.

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i was actually buying thai basil at the store and admiring these edible flowers. i noticed the box of “lime leaves,” took one sniff and i knew that was the flavor i’ve been searching for.

i pretty much ran home and made this right away. i was so excited to discover how much flavor lime leaves give off when you steep them in coconut milk. it’s such a specific taste and it really makes your homemade thai dishes extra legit.

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this is kind of a “curry” recipe because it has the base of a thai curry - then you add a TON of freshly shredded cabbage which soaks up all the coconut milk and all the salty curry flavors to become noodley! and then voila, it is a cabbage pad thai with ALL the right flavors.

at thai restaurants, pete & i usually order panang curry & chicken pad thai - and i always end up mixing them together a bit, so this recipe is kinda like that idea!

the tenderized cabbage actually does a pretty good impression of noodles in this form. i was so pleasantly surprised! just don’t over cook them so they keep a little bit of that al dente crunch & chewy factor.

plz don’t be intimidated by the ingredients list - you can do itttttt. and once you buy all the thai flavors/spices/jars of various things (fish sauce & red curry paste are just staples around here now!), you’ll be making thai food for daaaays.

think of them as a homemade thai food investment.

No-Noodle Cabbage Chicken Pad Thai

Serves 2-4

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large chicken breast, thawed & filleted

  • red chili flakes, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil.

  • 2 cloves or 1 TB garlic, minced

  • 2 TB fresh ginger, minced (or Gourmet Garden Ginger paste)

  • 1 TB Gourmet Garden Lemongrass paste, optional

  • 2 tsp. tamarind concentrate

  • 1 TB fish sauce

  • 1 1/2 TB. Thai red curry paste

  • 6-8 lime leaves, whole or ripped in half

  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk

  • 2 heaping cups green cabbage, thinly shredded with mandoline

  • 2 heaping cups purple cabbage, thinly shredded with mandoline

  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, seeded & sliced

  • 1/2 a green bell pepper, seeded & sliced

  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets, optional

  • mung bean sprouts

  • fresh Thai basil, lots!

  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

  • 1 lime

  • fresh mint or cilantro, optional

Instructions -

Using a mandoline, shred the green & purple cabbage until you have at least 2 heaping cups of each. It should be about half a head of each cabbage. Shred or cut it to about the thickness of noodles (not too thin or the cabbage might get soggy).

In a large pan, cook the chicken breast in 1 TB olive oil and garlic on medium heat, seasoning with salt, pepper, and red chili flakes for spice. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and allow it to rest on a cutting board before slicing.

In the same pan with the chicken & garlic remnants, add the sliced chicken back into the pan with fresh ginger, lemongrass paste (optional), tamarind concentrate, and red curry paste. Toss well to coat. (***Note: If you’re making this recipe using real noodles instead, cut down the salts by half [salt & fish sauce]. There’s extra sodium here to compensate for the large quantity of raw cabbage.)

Add 1 whole can of coconut milk to the pan and stir. Drop in all the lime leaves and some Thai basil to steep as it simmers on medium/low.

Prepare & slice the remaining veggies, herbs, and toppings.

Toss half of the green & purple cabbage in the coconut milk to coat. The liquid should thicken and become almost gravy-like. Add the remaining cabbage, bell peppers, and broccoli, if using. Toss everything to coat using tongs until the cabbage has tenderized and resembles the consistency of noodles. The liquid from the pan should mostly be soaked up into the cabbage “noodles” when it is ready to eat. You may remove the lime leaves before eating if desired - they are pretty tough to chew.

Divide into servings and top with lots of fresh Thai basil, mung bean sprouts, lime wedges & chopped peanuts. Optional: fresh mint, cilantro, or edible flowers for garnish.

Serve immediately and enjoy leftovers within 1-2 days.

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