Thursday, April 28, 2011

Adventure in the Kitchen: Chicken, Portobello Mushroom and Quinua Soup

Tonight I was in the mood for soup, and I created Chicken, Portobello Mushroom  and Quinua Soup.   Quinua is an ancient grain with a great texture and taste.  It is high in protein, fiber, and gluten free.  I hope you enjoy the soup as much as I did.



1 qt Chicken Stock
1 large Portobello Mushroom very coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Onion chopped
1 Carrot peeled and chopped
1/4 cup Quinua
1 clove Garlic minced
1/2 cup Cooked Chicken Cubed*
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grated Asiago Cheese

Bring chicken stock to boil in a 2 qt stockpot.  Add Portobello mushroom, onion, carrot, quinua, and garlic.  Simmer 15 minutes.  Add cooked cubed chicken, salt and pepper simmer another 5 minutes.  Serve with grated Asiago Cheese.

* Raw cubed skinless, boneless chicken breast could be used and added to stockpot the same time as the chicken stock. Simmer a little longer, 30 minutes total or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Household Hint: Getting Rid of Ants Naturally

The weather has finally turned warm, the flowers are blooming, spring is in the air, and some how the ants are in the house.  There is nothing that will ruin a spring morning quicker than finding ants in the kitchen.  My mom taught me an easy and envirornmentally safe way to get rid of them. Vinegar.  It works better then ant traps or any of the toxic chemicals on the market, with the added bonus of being safe for humans and pets.

As soon as I see those little pests, I watch them for a while and try to figure out where they are coming into my house. I clean all the ant occupied surfaces, as well as to any potential ant entry points with vinegar and don't rinse it off.  I'll repeat this a couple of times during the day, and the following morning.  All foods in my kitchen are placed in plastic bags, jars, plastic containers or in the refridgerator to keep the ants away.

I wipe down the outside of the window or door frame with vinegar as well, if it is the entry point for the ants.  I inspect the outside of house for an external ant source.  I look for rotting wood or plants that might be harboring ants growing against the house.  When I find an external source I remove the source.  If it is a tree branch or shrub, I first try trimming it back away from the house.  If the plant itself is infested, I remove it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunrise Easter Service

This morning I was awakened by a 5 AM phone call from my friend Steve reminding me that I agreed to meet him and Cindy at the base of the Killington Gondola at 6 AM for the Sunrise Easter Service at the Peak Lodge (elevation 4100 ft).  I rolled out of bed and climbed in the shower, downed a cup of coffee, and headed out. 

The service didn't start until 7AM, but last year we arrived at the gondola base at 6:30 AM and we missed the last spot for the service.  Do to space/fire restrictions, it is limited to the first 300 visitors. 



This is the first time in 15 years that I finally made it to the Easter Sunrise Service, and the last time the service will be in the old Peak Lodge.  According to the April 21 issue of The Mountain Times and First Track Online Ski Magazine, the building will be removed this summer.  The lodge was built in 1960 as the return station for the original gondola and a dining center. 

The Skyeship Gondola no longer returns at that point, and the K1 Gondola, a short walk away now services the lodge.  They will keep the buildings original foundation, and rebuild a modern more functional smaller 22,000 sq ft structure in the summer of 2012, with an estimated cost of $7 million.  The new facility will provide vistas of the Adirondack Range in NY, the White Mountains of NH, and the Green Mountains of VT.

I hope to make it to the first Sunrise Service in the new Peak Lodge on Easter of 2013.  Wow that sounds a long way off.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

End of the Snow Season Wander

It is hard to think about transitioning into spring when there is still so much snow here at Killington.  Today, I decided to take one last snowshoe for the season.  It felt more like mid-March than mid-April.


I wondered around the mountain in solitude, reflecting on the ski season.  I will miss the the quiet beauty of the mountain.


I will miss my good friends. Tonight, we celebrated Gerry's Birthday, and I said my goodbyes for the season.

 
Tomorrow morning I will attend Easter Sunrise Service at Killington Peak, then drive home to share the holiday with my mom and son.  Then spring will officially begin for me.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Ski Season

Today has been bittersweet.  I met my friends at the Killington Base Lodge a little before 9AM to catch one of the first Gondola's up to the top.  The sun was shining and the skies were blue.  It was a perfect spring ski day, and my last for the season.  Killington has plenty of snow, even though the official close is next Sunday, May 1st, I won't be back until summer.


We started out on firm groomed trails, but as the day warmed up we headed over to the soft moguls.  I think I took at least 5 last runs, telling myself just one more until about 2 PM. 


By that time I was starved, and I finally headed in.  A quick stop at the Killington Base Lodge deck to smooze, before heading to the Sunup Bakery to pick up a sandwich for lunch on my way home.



Maybe if tomorrow is nice, just one more day....


I thank you God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes. EE Cummings (via Diana)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wonder: The Ronald MacDonald House

On Monday, I went to Boston with my son Iggy to look at apartments.  In our search for apartments we passed the Ronald MacDonald House on Kent Street in Brookline, MA, just a few blocks from The Children's Hospital in Boston.

RMH brought back a flood of mostly sad memories.  Nine years ago, I only prayed he would be graduating from college, and we would be hunting for an apartment.  At that time, he was battling for his life after a bone marrow transplant to treat a rare and lethal form of lymphoma.  While he was being treated at TCH, RMH was my home.  He was in the hospital for over seven monthes, and when he was initially discharge we stayed at RMH until he was stable enough to return back to our home in CT.

RMH was invaluable to my (and my family's) emotional well being.  I felt so isolated being so far from home without friends or family. It was nice to have a friendly face, sometimes food, and a safe home to escape the stress of the hospital. The staff at RMH and the other parents I met while staying at RMH became my surrogate family/support system. 

RMH is one of my favorite charities.  I commend their efforts and all the volunteers dedicated to their cause.  Thank you.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Muse: Quotes from the Dalai Lama

On the chairlifts of Snowmass, I had an interesting discussion with  Robert from Alaska.  Robert loves the spirituality found in India, and he has been back their many times.  As we were pondered the meaning of life, he recommended the philosophy of the Dalai Lama.  He encouraged me to take a pilgrimage to India to spend time to listen and study with the Dalai Lama.




I am not ready to set off on a pilgramage, but I do like many of the Dali Lama's quotes and philosophy.  I will share some of them with you this Easter week.  I think they are consistent with the message Jesus brought over 2000 years ago.

"All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives." Dalai Lama

"We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves."
Dalai Lama


"With With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world."
Dalai Lama

"Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life."
Dalai Lama

Quotes via BrainyQuote.com

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Aspen

The Base of Aspen Mountain

Aspen is my favorite ski town to hang out in. There are many rich historical buildings, a sense of community, and culture.   On Monday, before the PSIA 50 Year Celebration began, I wondered around the town and joined a friend for lunch.

Aspen was a booming silver mining town in the late 19th century. At that time the town center include banks, a hospital, and an opera house. There are still buildings from the old mining company on the mountain, and locals tell me that the old mine extends 400 feet below the town. By the 1930's the silver production declined and only around 700 residents remained. The people may have left, but the buildings and snow remained.

After WWII Friedl Pfeifer, a member of the 10th Mountain Division who had trained in the area, returned to the area and linked up with industrialist Walter Paepcke and his wife Elizabeth to found Aspen Ski Corporation in 1946 (Wikipedia). Over the next few decades Aspen Ski Corp. expanded to three more mountains; Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass.

The town is now full of many boutiques, ski shops, art galleries, and fine dining. The best winter place to sit and soak in the town is the Ajax Tavern next to the Gondola at the base of Aspen. In fact that is where I met my friend, CP for lunch.


That evening I returned to Snowmass for the PSIA/AASI Welcome Reception and met the group I would be skiing with for the week. We skiied Snowmass, Aspen, and Aspen Highlands over the next 5 days. We didn't ski Buttermilk since it already closed for the season. It was an exceptional week.


Snowmass

I love Aspen/Snowmass.  The PSIA/AASI 50/50 Celebration was my 5th trip to the area.  I skied Snowmass, on Sunday, before the event began. 

In Front of the Big Burn

It snowed most the day with high winds in the morning, thundersnow at lunchtime and they closed the mountain.  The afternoon was worth it all.  They reopened the lifts, and opened the upper lifts for the first time of the day.  I had 15 inches of fresh untracked powder to myself.  The Rockies are different than many ski mountains.  The tree line goes well past 10,000 feet, which gave me visual cues when skiing in near white out conditions.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Skiing Adventure: Aspen/Snowmass

I'm back again from another skiing adventure.  This time I was in Aspen/Snowmass attending PSIA AASI's (Professional Ski Instructor Association, American Association of Snowboard Instructors) 50/50 Celebration.  Over 600 snowsport instructors and guests from across the country gathered to celebrate 50 years of snowsports instruction. 

The Celebration officially ran from April 4-9, 2011, but I was there from April 2-10.  There were instructors there from Virginia to Alaska to Maine to California, and just about everywhere in between.  The event was a combination of parties, educational/informational events, and a chance to ski and learn from the best in our industry - The National Demo Team.

The National Demo Team is an elite group of skier/boarders who are the best in the industry.  They set the on standards for skiing/boarding, education, coaching, and instruction we all try to achieve.  I along with 4 other ski instructors, were lucky enough to ski with National Demo Team Member Doug Pierini for 5 days.

Needless to say it was an incredible week.  The instruction, company, snow conditions and events were all exceptional.  I'll post more details tomorrow.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Skiing Adventure Bormio/La Motte Day 6-7



We started out at Bormio on Friday, hoping to ski off pista and in the powder.  The winds were strong up top and many of the lifts were closed.  The avalanche danger was high. 
View of Bormio ski area from La Motte

Note avalanches in the snow near the top

We headed over to La Motte mid-morning.  It is more a local/family resort.  The higher areas are serviced by surface lifts, which are affected less by the high winds.


Well I should say, usually surface lifts aren't affected by high winds.  If you look closely at the photo below, you will note the wind blew the cable off the pulley.  I was glad it wasn't a chair lift or gondola that came off the pulley.  I just laughed and side slipped down.  That poma was closed the rest of the day.


The chair lifts were a bit antiquated.



I had a wonderful lunch mid-station on the mountain of fungi polenta and il fermaggio (grits with wild mushrooms and cheese).  A very popular dish in that region.  The food at the resorts was wonderful.  Served on real dishes.


Lunch

A little post lunch nap at mid-station

La Motte was small by Alps standards, but I would guess as large if not larger than Aspen. We liked it so much we headed back there on Saturday.  It was a nice way to get out of the crowds and winds. We were catching first tracks into mid-afternoon. 






It was a nice way to end the week. We left early Sunday morning to return home.

I want to thank my friends Erik and Barbara for sharing some of their the photos.
 
 

Skiing Adventure St. Moritz Switzerland Day 5

We took a bus took a bus to St. Moritz on Thursday.  The skiing was fun, lots of fresh powder, but the visibility was poor.  We missed out on all the incredible views.  The resort starts at 8000 feet and goes up from there.  There is no tree or cliff line to follow so trying to get a sense of direction or baring of where we were on the mountain was a challenge.  We all had some degree of vertigo.  Unfortunately due to the white out conditions we ended up lost, and I didn’t have time to explore the town. 

Getting lost ended up being a fun adventure, and it gave me the confidence to help shepherd 8 other people from our group down the mountain.  We made it down at 3:50 and the bus left back for Bormio at 4. 

That evening, our group of lost adventurers were all starved for dinner.  We had missed lunch while we were lost on the mountain.  The Hotel Larice Bianco, as always did not disappoint.  Every evening dinner started with an appetizer bar of delicious bites of regional cuisine. 



After we were finished with the appetizer course, we were served a choice of a second course of pasta, salad, or soup.  The main course which varied veal, chicken, fish, or pork.  The final course was dessert.  We had a choice of the chef's nightly creation or gelato.  An amazing end to an amazing day.