Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Love Affair With Peanut Butter, 108th Carnival Of Genealogy - Food!

Copyright 2011, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

The topic for this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: Food! Bring your family recipes, stories of picnics, food fights, food allergies, favorite summertime foods you remember, and best of all, photos of family favorite foods.  Thanks to Jasia of Creative Gene for hosting this COG.  And, thanks to footnoteMaven for the always terrific poster!

Here is the deal, I rather LOVE food.  I just don't enjoy shopping for it, or preparing it, or even cleaning up after it is devoured.  The simply perfect foods are things like apples, cut into quarters, chow down.  Or yogurt, open container, insert spoon, chow down.  Nuts work well too, numma numma, chow down.  Cheese cubes, ya, another numma numma, chow down.

Now it is not that I am a bad cook, I just don't enjoy the process.  I have been told my baked beans are pretty good, ditto for my cheesy scalloped potatoes.  I have a recipe that I sorta cobbled together for nachos that I am rather proud of.  And, there is the famous family cheese cake recipe passed down from my mother.  There are some Christmas cookie recipes that are favorites too, one, again, from my mother, the other from a friend.  Both of those involve pecans or walnuts.

But, honestly these days I would rather travel, take photos, write blogs and do family research.  Man and I frequently lament that what we need is a wife, one that LOVES to cook.  Trouble with that is that we would probably both gain a few pounds, OK, a LOT of pounds.  Maybe it is a good thing that I don't cook a lot.

All this said, I do have a favorite food, no, not chocolate, not yogurt (although that is a close second).  My fav food has to be peanut butter.  Remember that apple, ya, did I mention that it would be smothered in peanut butter?   Well, it would be!  One of my fav comfort foods when just NOTHING else will do, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Ya, simple, but, I'll bet you have lots of wonderful memories attached to that simple PB & J, from your childhood.  Sure ya do!

How 'bout peanut butter pie, second only to cheese cake in my estimation!  I used to maintain a running list on what restaurant had the best peanut butter pie - - I loved it that much.  Now, I don't mind a little chocolate with it, but, I want more peanut butter than chocolate and I want it to really taste like peanut butter, give me the flavor baby!!  Oh, and please, please, please, do not put those mini chocolate chips in there, those horrible little things taste like wax, like totally ruins the pie no matter how creamy and peanut buttery it may be! Nix the chips!

Oh, and have you ever tried peanut butter ice cream topping??  My preference, heavily drizzled over really good vanilla, french vanilla, even better!

Peanut butter on toast, not bad.  Better, peanut butter on toasted chocolate chip bagels.  Best source of chocolate chip bagels found so far is a little bagel shop in Ann Arbor Michigan.  They sell out VERY early in the morning, EVERY morning!

Of course, I am a tried and true fan of Reese peanut butter cups.  And, those Easter eggs Reese puts out, that are about 2 inches wide and 3 to 4 inches long and I swear they are 1/2 inch thick.  TO DIE FOR!!

Maybe my most favorite use of peanut butter is to add a bit of kick to brownies and s'mores.  Yaaa, sounds pretty good eh???  Take a moist brownie, heavy on the chocolate, nuts of choice (or not), and even add some chocolate frosting if you must.  Now, add peanut butter.  My mad method of managing all this gooey yummy brownie/frosting/peanut butter mess is to turn the brownie over, glob the peanut butter on the backside.  Frosting on one side, peanut butter on the other, stand over sink and start munching.  Yes, you will require cleaning up afterwards, that's the point of the sink standing!

The s'mores with peanut butter actually was something my brother dreamed up one night around a campfire.  We were burning marshmallows for s'mores when he requested peanut butter.  I really thought he had gone over the edge, but, he does love his peanut butter.  (Must be a family thing, eh?)  So, I dug out the peanut butter and sat and watched as he smeared one graham cracker with the PB, and then added the roasted/burnt marshmallow and chocolate and another square of graham cracker.  He pronounced it as excellent.  I hesitated, asking, "really?"  But, I did not hesitate long, made myself one and have never looked back!

Yep, peanut butter rules, oh, and make that smooth if you please, simply smooth, thank you.

* Photo of the Reese peanut butter cup courtesy of Evan-Amos and Wikipedia.

** Remember, Reese/Hershey owns the copyright to the name, the product. I have received not one thing from them for mentioning them here in my blog.  If they send product later, as a thank you, like that's gonna happen, NOT, but if they do, I am going to enjoy it. They have a web site here, with photos of products, I had to clean the drool off the keyboard.

*** Jar of peanut butter photo courtesy of PiccoloNamek and Wikipedia.

****  Amish peanut butter, not discussed here, could be an entire post, which Amish community makes the best and which store/restaurant in which Amish community stands out above all the rest.  Ya, I have a fav there too!

***** This post really needs a warning label, "THIS POST CONTAINS EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNTS OF CARBS!  And, no my friends, this Demon sufferer rarely enjoys diabetic diet busters these days.  But, those apples -- I still smother them in peanut butter.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

THE Trip, Arches National Park, The First Drive Out

Copyright 2011, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

All wonderful days must wind down, and our first day in Arches did indeed wind down, but would not end till we enjoyed the 18 mile drive out of the park.  Sony was clickin' away, Man and I were ahhhhhhhhing away. We stopped at several of the attractions/viewing points on the way out, mostly the ones that were deep in the park, as we knew we could not see it all, at least not on this day.  Plan was when we came back we would do the stops in the first 10 miles or so of the park.  Plan worked fairly well, by the way.  LOL

Below:  This area is called Fiery Furnace.

In the photo below I love the contrasts, the low slung structures in the foreground, with the look of melted ice cream, vs the upright structures (fins) in the background, jutting out of the desert floor.

Below, zoom in a bit, thanks to Sony:

Below:  Similar structures, noting the area of white tucked in between 2 areas of red:

Below:  There was a large area where these "green" hills appeared.  Striking difference in color and structure, once again.

Below:  I direct you to the very bottom of the photo, find the automobiles, and the road, and use those to gain perspective of the massive size of the structures and of the park.

This is Delicate Arch.  Man and I did not hike to the arch, in fact, we did the "view it from the viewing stations, less than desirable, but at least you get to see it" act.  We would have preferred to hike in, at least a bit closer, but time and energy were not working in our favor.

Below, Delicate Arch again, backing off a LOT on the zoom, taking in the entire landscape - -

Following photo taken near the area called the Salt Valley, note the deep shadows as day wanes:

The light is turning golden as the sun falls further towards sunset, giving the desert a special color and tones:

We end our photo tour today with this towering structure.  As always the size befuddles our brains, look at that white car down there, ya, it's there, keep looking - -

We will return to Arches two more days, resulting in many more photos and memories.  This first day into Arches I took over 425 photos in just over 6 hours, noting that I took none for the couple of hours that we were visiting our friends Robbie and Alice.  WOW, and MORE WOW!!!

* Our first day in Arches National Park was April 27, 2011.

Friday, July 29, 2011

THE Trip, Arches National Park, Hike to Landscape Arch

Copyright 2011, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

(Warning, this is another graphics heavy post.)

Our first visit to Arches included a walk/hike to Landscape Arch.  It is somewhere between a mile and 1.5 miles one way to the Arch.  The arch is reported to be about 290 feet long, it is the longest arch structure in Arches National Park.  We were a bit surprised that parts of the trail are very soft deep sand, making those portions of the walk difficult and tiring.

We start our walk in passing through this passage of "fin" structures.

The formations, all different, have one thing in common, they amaze and astound us. Size, color, textures, form, all artistic and beautiful.

Below, snow on the mountain in the background contrasting with the red of the stone of Arches National Park, ok, how hard is this on the eyes??  SIGHHH.  I know, fabulous, isn't it??

Below:  This photo shows size real well I believe, Man is down in the far left bottom corner, and the trail, see those other hikers, look how small they look.

Below:  It never failed to befuddle my mind, the red, the white, how sometimes one formation will be red on top, and the next one, sorta close by, might be white on the top, as you see here.

And, more snow on the mountains and yet, another unusual formation.

Below:  Nothing to show scale here, but these formations were massive, and there is that white thing happening again.

Below:  Our first view of Landscape Arch:

It was getting to be later in the afternoon, remember this is the end of  April, and the sun was starting to sink on the horizon, blinding me in my attempts to take photos of the arch, so, why fight Mother Nature and the almighty sun:

Below:  Almost have to have a panoramic photo (you know the routine, click on the image, opens to a bit larger format, click return button on your browser to come back to Reflections.)

There were other arches and formations to be seen and found further down the trail, but, not for Man and I on this day, hear us sigh.  So, we turned and hiked out the same trail, enjoying all the formations from the other side.  When we were almost to the end of the trail we heard this sound, not sure who or why, but there he was, high on top of a rock formation, playing his heart out, kilt and all.

Fantastic, awesome, spiritual, maybe even a bit outrageous, but, wonderful!

Our hike to Landscape Arch was taken on April 27, 2011.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

THE Trip, Arches National Park, The First Drive In

Copyright 2011, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

(Here is the warning, THIS POST is HEAVY in GRAPHICS, and may load slow.  Hope you can stick around for the load, if not, I certainly understand and hope you will come back again sometime soon.)

Arches National Park is larger than life, larger than large, huge, gigantic, ok, here is the word, again, "overwhelming".  On the first day alone I took about 430 photos.  In total, during several trips into the park, I took well over 1000 photos.  No, I won't share them all!   LOL

Today's offerings are photos I took on the first day in, the first drive into the park, note the word INTO.  We were actually driving to the campground at the far end of the park, about 18 miles.  We were looking to find MOC friends Robbie and Alice in the campground where they were volunteers.  We found them, and spent a couple of hours chatting, sharing, telling lies round the picnic table, and then we were off to do more driving, oohhing, ahhing and even got in a hike.  More on that later, for now, here are a few of our first impressions, and believe me, I like the photos I took the next day in the park even better than these!  These for the most part were taken from a moving Big Butt.  The sun was bright, almost blinding.  I felt that most of the photos I took were somewhat washed out, I have tried to correct for that a bit with the photo editing program.  A few weeks later, Man and I would play with the settings on the Sony and he showed me some new tricks that will overcome this blinding sun a bit.  Always learning, always tweaking, and always in awe - -

Barely have left the Visitors Center, and you see - - massive rocks, and if you look close you can see different strata, textures - -

Even though I really prefer photos without autos and/or people, sometimes that is pretty hard to do, and sometimes the perspective they give is worth having.  For example, below, looking at the two cars, you can tell, this structure is pretty tall - -

Below, another example of appreciation of the massive size of these formations, lookie that little car.  Sadly this photo is a bit diminished by, mmm, the bugs, on the windshield.  SIGHHH.  But, still, lookie at that little car!

Below:  See that ribbon mid photo??  Yeppers, that is the road, more massive formations standing tall above the desert floor.

I cropped some of the "soooooo blue it is unbelievable" sky out of the photo below.  I want to emphasize the rock, red, white, mixed textures and look how it is not straight or level, up, down, you can almost see in your mind's eye how the molten lava rolled, cooling some, filling in low spots.  Yea, I was totally taken by these contrasts, how magnificent, almost makes me want to study geology so I will have a better understanding.  Almost, instead I will just gawk and ooooo, and ahhhhhh, and stay in a state of bewilderment!

I am running out of descriptive words:

Below:  Believe these formations are called "fins".

Below:  One of the "windows" to be found at Arches:

After our visit with Robbie and Alice, we continued our discovery of Arches.  We took a short hike to Landscape Arch.  I'll show you next time, come on back ya all!

* These photos taken on April 27, 2011.