Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Quinoa Chowder with Kale, Feta and Leeks

This hearty chowder was a hit with the Methow Endurance Women's Trail Running and Yoga Retreat group. As we move into fall my body starts craving simple warm and filling dishes. This chowder is excellent because its easy to make and absolutely delicious.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4-6

3/4 cup quinoa, any color or variety
8 cups (2 quarts) water, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or to taste
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely diced or to taste
1/2 lb par-boiled potatoes, peeled cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 teaspoon ground cumin or to taste
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 bunch scallions or garden leeks, include the greens thinly sliced
3 cups thinly sliced spinach or garden kale (about 1 bunch)
4 ounces feta cheese, small dice (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 hard-cooked egg, peeled and finely chopped

1.) Rinse the quinoa in a strainer under cold water until the water runs clear.
2.) Bring the quinoa and the 8 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the white outer casings on the quinoa have popped, revealing translucent little beads, about 10 to 15 minutes.
3.) Strain the quinoa through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large heatproof bowl. Measure the quinoa cooking liquid and add water as needed to make 6 cups; set the quinoa and cooking liquid aside.
4.) Heat the olive oil in a large, clean saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, cumin, and measured salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to soften, adjusting the heat as necessary so that the garlic doesn’t brown, about 3 minutes.
5.) Add the reserved cooking liquid and half of the scallions and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.

6.) Add the cooked quinoa, spinach, and remaining scallions and simmer until the spinach just begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the feta and cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Top with the chopped egg and serve.

Inspired by Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (2007).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Coconut Curry Peanut Sauce

This is a wonderful topping that we use at the Basecamp for grilled chicken or vegetables, usually served with a side of black forbidden or jasmine rice to soak up extra sauce. A great side dish or topping is adding fresh mung beans, sprouts, grated carrots, and raw unsalted peanuts.

Yields: 4 1/2 cups
Prep time: 30 minutes

1 tsp canola oil
1 small red onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
4 tsp fresh ginger minced
4 tsp curry powder
4 tsp cumin powder
1 can coconut milk
5 Tbs organic peanut butter
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
5 tsp tamari
4 tsp honey
1/8 cup ketchup
1/8 cup lime juice
3/4 cup water

Heat the canola oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat.  Saute the onion, garlic, pepper, and ginger until the onion is translucent.

Add the curry powder and cumin, saute over low heat for 1 minute.

Add the cocunt milk, peanut butter, cilantro tamari, honey, lime juice, ketchup and water.

Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking often.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes before serving

Inspired by Cameron Green's Basecamp recipe.

Massaged Kale and Currant Salad

At the Basecamp we grow three varieties of kale and love to find new ways to use them! This salad is always a hit with the Basecamp guests because it presents kale in a new fashion. Massaging the kale transforms it into a silky sweet tasty treat that will delight your eyes and tastebuds! 

Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes 6 servings

1 bunch kale 
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup currants
3/4 cup diced apple (about 1/2 apple)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Wash the kale leaves and then spin or pat dry. De-stem kale by pulling leaves away from the stems. Stack leaves and cut horizontally into bite sized pieces. Place kale in large mixing bowl and add salt. Massage the kale with your hands for 2-5 minutes or until it begins to soften and almost wilt.

Toast the sunflower seeds by placing them in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until they turn color and release a nutty aroma. 

Stir onion, currants, apple and sunflower seeds into kale. Dress with oil vinegar. Taste for salt and vinegar, adding more if necessary. When at desired flavor, toss in cheese. This salad will keep for several days and still be delicious! 

This recipe is inspired by Jennifer Alder's recipe in Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. 

Zesty Yam (and Pork) Enchiladas

Inspired by Pacos Tacos, formerly in Twisp, our favorite quick homemade burrito spot!
Prep time: 1-2 hours
Serves 8-10

~20 Small corn tortillas 
2 cups mixed shredded white/yellow cheddar cheese 
3 lbs with leftovers *optional* Pulled pork roast, slow cooked in homemade salsa
2 large Baked yams
1 cup dry Black beans 
1 bunch Kale/deep greens sauteed in hot oil 
12 oz can Enchilada sauce


Tortillas- Fry tortillas in hot oil for 5 sec per side and dab dry on a paper towel to absorb excess oil

Filling- To each tortilla sprinkle cheese, add a pinch of onions, spoonful of black beans, pinch of sweet potato and optional pork, pinch of greens, and a second sprinkle of cheese.

Roll tortillas over and place open side down on a 9" by 13" glass casserole dish.  Fill pan with filled and rolled tortillas and sprinkle more cheese on top and drizzle with can of enchilada sauce.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stunning Hikes Near the North Cascades Basecamp

Even though summer is over there is still plenty of autumn sunshine and beautiful scenery to be explored in the mountains surrounding the Methow Valley.  The changing of seasons means bright fall colors are bursting all around, making for some awesome hikes.  We have had an absolutely amazing summer of hiking and trail running around the Basecamp and wanted to share some of the nearby routes that we have found and loved. 

Jacks Trail/River Run-
This is a trail that we frequently run because it has stunning views of the mountains around Mazama.  This time of year, it is accessible right from the Basecamp's front door since the Methow River has slowed down and lowered so it can be crossed without getting your feet wet.  There are about 10 miles of trail that remains relatively flat along the valley floor that opens up to a grassy meadow at one end giving great views of Goat Wall, Driveway Butte, Sandy Butte

 Monument Creek-
 A nice hike that's a five mile drive from the Basecamp.  The trail gradually follows Lost River upstream to the Eureka Creek crossing (3 miles), and continues for up to 20 miles.  It is a great out and back hike for any distance.  Beautiful riparian habitat and mountain views.

Pipestone Canyon-
A short distance outside Winthrop with beautiful rock formations and a conifer forest in the base of the canyon.  It opens up to a grassy valley and there is also a loop that takes you along one rim of the canyon.  This area burned in the summer wildfires; conditions have certainly changed!

Big Valley-
Halfway between Mazama and Winthrop this trail is on flat terrain and offers amazing views of the mountains surrounding the valley floor.  Walking/running the entire figure eight course results in about a 5 mile outing.

Rubber Boa near the trail on Big Valley, easily identifiable because of its blunted tail.

Robinson Creek-
Another beautiful creek trail that extends from Mazama all the way up to Harts Pass.  This makes a great out and back hike of any distance.  You will be traveling near the creek through interesting riparian areas of deciduous and cedar trees while revealing the stunning mountains of the Pasayten Wilderness.

Dagger Lake/Twisp Pass-
The hike begins at the end of Twisp River Road and is a gradual incline for about 4 miles up to the top of Twisp Pass.  Dagger Lake is just over Twisp Pass another mile along the PCT.

Blue Lake-
This is a classic hike along the Highway 20 corridor.  It is a gradual climb up to a beautiful mountain lake that is surrounded by dramatic rocky mountain peaks.  A four mile round trip distance makes this hike accessible for many visitors.  Keep an eye out for mountain goats as they are often seen around the lake!

Cutthroat Pass/Snowy Lakes-
Cutthroat pass is a ten mile out and back round trip hike that boasts beautiful views of the peaks along the North Cascades Scenic Highway.  Cutthroat Pass can be reached from the Rainy Pass trail head as well as the Cutthroat Lake trail head.  If you continue along the PCT from the top of Cutthroat Pass you will reach Snowy Lakes in about five miles.  Snowy Lakes is a popular backpacking destination that has two pristine lakes surrounded by mountain peaks.

 Cutthroat Lake-
 This is a short four mile round trip hike that is relatively flat.  It reaches a beautiful alpine lake and surrounded by ridge lines and peaks.  The trail splits off and goes up to Cutthroat pass as well.

Cedar Creek-
This is the closest hike to Mazama on Highway 20 and is a beautiful short four mile round trip up to a series of waterfalls.  You are surrounded by wonderful cedar forests and cool leafy vegetation.

Maple Pass/Lake Ann-
Maple Pass loop is often said to be one of the best hikes in the area.  The trail brings you along a ridge line surrounding Lake Ann.  All along the ridge there are amazing vantage points for all the surrounding mountains.  The deciduous trees in the area will make this a stunning and colorful autumn hike.

Goat Peak-
Goat Peak is a trail in Mazama that takes you to the top of a peak over 7000' tall.  Luckily you are able to drive to about 5000' up so the hike is only about a four mile round trip.  At the top you will find the fire lookout tower that has been manned by a cheerful character named "Lightning" Bill for 20 years, if you get the chance to meet him will we gladly share his poetry and artwork with you.  This hike gives you a great view of the valley and the area around Mazama.

Windy Pass/Holmans Pass-
 These trails are accessible from the top of Harts Pass and follow the PCT towards Canada.  We encountered some late summer snow on the hike which made for some wet hiking but made the scenery even more beautiful.  This trail takes you into the Pasayten Wilderness which is pristine and some of the most gorgeous terrain we encountered this summer.

Monday, September 15, 2014

5th Annual Raptor Migration Festival

Raptor viewing in the Methow Valley spanned from Pateros to Mazama this weekend, during the 5th Annual Raptor Migration Festival.  Pateros to Chelan Ridge field day was hosted on Saturday Sept 14th by the Audubon Society of Northcentral Washington, and Harts Pass field day was hosted on Sunday, Sept 14th by the North Cascades Basecamp.  

It was an amazing day of sunshine, south winds, incredible viewscapes and great group of 30 enthusiastic birders.  Birders were welcomed at the Basecamp for a pancake birding breakfast, and then carpooled up to Harts Pass with Kent Woodruff as our birding guide.  The group casually observed 60 raptors throughout the day, including 22 sharp-shinned hawks,  7 merlins (one who caught and consumed a dragonfly on the wing), 4 goshawks, 4 prairie falcons, 3 golden eagles, 2 swainson's hawks, 1 broadwing hawk, 1 peregrine and many others...  The group also observed horned larks, American pipits, ravens and clarks nutcrackers.  
Kent helped beginner birders by discussing "shape and behavior" as the key components for raptor identification.  For our two similar sized and shaped accipiters, the shrug-shouldered and sharp square tail helped remember the sharp-shinned hawk, while the C-shaped curve in a Coopers hawk tail helps distinguish it from its smaller but overlapping sized cousin.
The warm summer -like weather, a steady wind, and full visability with no clouds on any horizon, was an ideal landscape for a day of birding.  The best advice given for the day, do not identify your bird til it is far in the distance; then your birdwatching friends can't disagree with your field ID when its gone.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Kids Art and Nature Camp- Garden Camp

Campers holding up their garden inspired banners
Chickens, snap peas and bunnies, oh my! We finished the last art and nature camp this past week at the North Cascades Basecamp, entitled Garden Camp. We had 13 kids join instructors Deirdre Cassidy, Kim Romain-Bondi and Raechel Youngberg. Our week kicked off with in-depth exploration of vegetable plants in the beautiful Basecamp garden. 

Amelia works on her carrot banner
Each kid completed a series of sketches in the garden focused on the garden plants and pollinators. The kids then drew a picture inspired by the garden, which they transformed into brightly colored garden banners. 
The wonderful intersection of art and nature did not end there. The kids used big luscious cabbage leaves gathered from the garden as a template for creating concrete birdbaths. The cabbage leaves left beautiful and intricate impressions onto the concrete. These birdbaths will be a wonderful addition to all the kids' home gardens or yards.
An unpainted birdbath
Later campers furthered their knowledge of garden plants while we practiced saving seeds. We smelled the calendula flowers while learning that it can be made into a salve to help treat rashes, as well as cuts and scrapes. We tasted spicy mizuna, a Japanese mustard green, that is a great addition to any salad. We crushed coriander pods in-between our fingers while inhaling its pungent aroma. The last seed we collected was swiss chard, a bright dark leafy green that can be transformed into a variety of dishes. 
Campers saving seeds
We also had the chance to hold baby chicks that have hatched in the garden within the last couple of weeks. It was a great opportunity for both human and feathered friends to become socialized with each other. We all enjoyed assisting the chicks with their perching practice by placing them on our shoulders and sometimes heads!
Emmet with his favorite chick, Pineapple.

Nichola with a perching chick

Lily familiarizing with chicks and their little sharp nails
We finished the week creating colorful designs with rocks, twigs, weeds, and other natural materials down near the river. Our designs were inspired by Andy Goldberg, an artist famous for transforming natural materials into awe-inspiring works of art. 
Evan showing off his mullenweed design 
Lilliana working on her concentric rock design
All in all we had a wonderful week here at the Basecamp exploring the garden, river, artistic endeavors, and friendships.