When I was a junior in college at Colorado State some friends and I decided to go skiing one weekend. Even though I had grown up in Alaska and spent three years in Colorado I had never been skiing (unless you count strapping my dad’s cross-country skis to my boots and lunging off the top of the big hill in my backyard skiing – which, for the record, I don’t).
Driving out of town, we went past a Jiffy Lube. In the place where you would normally see something like, “20 Minute Oil Change – $29.99,” there was instead this:
“There is no silence like the mountains.”
A little cheesy and cliché but, considering the source, pretty deep.
There was not any silence in the mountains that weekend. We were a bunch of college kids for the love of Pete! We did more partying than communing with nature, but I always remembered that sign.
This Christmas my family and I made our way up to the mountains to celebrate Christmas and I can say that sign has taken on a whole new meaning. We recently moved into a new apartment. The apartment is fine, but it is on a very busy street and it is loud. Very loud. It keeps me up at night and wakes me up in the morning. And I am not a fan. Where we stayed this Christmas was really really quiet, and I can honestly say that there is absolutely nothing like it. This was an amazingly wonderful Christmas just for the peace and quiet!
We stayed in a house about 45 minutes outside of Yosemite Park. Here it is:
Awesome, right!?! It was a good size and had a fabulous kitchen. There was a nice hot tub outside (which Riaz was in love with). And a few hundred meters from the house was a cute little lake. Isn’t it serene!
Swoon – I love it here.
Plus, it was kind of cold outside, so Aiman got to dress up in outfits like this.
The idea of dressing the little guy up like this all the time almost makes me want to move back to Alaska. Almost.
I cooked tons, which I love, witness the cooking binder:
What? Like you don’t plan each meal when you are on vacation and then carefully put them in a binder with a detailed menu plan, recipes and tabs. What?!?
I had planned to take pictures of each meal to share with you all, but I got hungry and forgot. Though I did sort myself out by Christmas Eve, so you will get shots from that dinner and those after. It took us about 6 hours to get there from L.A. Aiman did really well on the drive especially considering the kid hates being in his car seat with a fiery burning passion.
When we got to our house I made a yummy north Africa inspired dinner, but for the fact that I overcooked the halibut by about 4 hours, it was delicious.
For most breakfasts, I have been making these pancakes. They are ridic. You don’t need the blueberry sauce, the pancakes are good on their own. Whenever I make these pancakes (vs. pancakes from the Bisquick box) Riaz always says that they are full of love. So I have re-named them the “Loved-Up Buttermilk Pancakes.” I think Riaz will love me until I am old and wrinkly so long as I make him these pancakes on a regular basis.
On Christmas Eve I made herbed baked eggs for breakfast from the Barefoot Contessa. I love LOVE the Barefoot Contessa. I pretty much want her life, she lives in the Hamptons, cooks ridiculous food all the time and has fabulous gay friends. Who doesn’t want that? Anyway, according to Riaz these eggs are “magic.” Clearly a success.
That afternoon we drove into Yosemite. It was absolutely beautiful. There weren’t a lot of people around and just a dusting of snow. It could not have been more perfect.
El Cap on the way in:
** Ed. Note: My law school boyfriend climbed El Cap before we met – or maybe it was Half Dome – in any event, now that I have seen these massive rocks up close and personal I have a whole new respect. El Cap (and Half Dome) were huge, and I literally cannot imagine standing at the base of those enormous walls and making the decision to climb up one – and I have done my fair share of climbing. Big walls are for people much crazier than I.
Seems isolated doesn’t it. It wasn’t … witness the other photogs. I can only imagine this place in the summer. It must be swarming with people. I’m glad we came in the off-season.
Back at the house. Aiman was cute.
And amused with himself.
Then it was time for dinner. Side story: After Riaz and I had been dating for about two months I came to the conclusion that I liked him. A lot. A. LOT. So I pulled out all the stops and cooked him my best “I like you A.LOT. meal.” The dinner consisted of steamed clams with jalapeno and basil, steak and potatoes. He loved it (except for the steak which I fried to within an inch of its life – it looked and tasted exactly like a hockey puck). But everything else was great and Riaz has since told me that meal was the moment he knew I was trying to “woo” him. He was totally right.
Anyway, I made that same meal on Christmas Eve. I have gotten much much better at making steaks, and the ones that night were fabulous. Witness:
Then I made Riaz’s favorite bread and butter pudding. This stuff is the bomb. I got the base recipe here, but tweaked it a bit. I added a teaspoon of cinnamon and instead of a teaspoon of vanilla I did a half a teaspoon each of vanilla and almond extract. I also added about a 1/2 cup of raisins which, in my opinion, is absolutely necessary. I also let the baguette go hard on its own sitting in the kitchen, then baked the cubes as indicated in the recipe. Next time I will probably skip the almond extract and do all vanilla, I didn’t love the almond flavor. In any event the pudding was sick but definitely only for special occasions because it is FATTENING to the nth degree! It even looks bad for you:
This post is getting really long … And food centric. Hmmm … lets finish up the Very Yosemite Christmas in another post. Check back tomorrow!
P.S. Riaz tells me that no one cares about my stories and recipes and people only want pictures of Aiman (OK – he doesn’t actually say that, but he probably would if he wasn’t afraid of my death glare and passive aggressive silent treatment!) So … I have put most of the pictures I took over this Christmas holiday in a flikr gallery. You can click on the gallery over there on the right. I am going to load the rest of the photos I have taken of Aiman over the past eight months over the next few weeks. So check back for more pictures!