First Day

My “suite”. I was worried about rain sneaking in the tent under the tiny rain fly so I covered the tent with the tarp. It worked! No rain in the tent.

Of course, that’s because the predicted rain was all of 4 drops.

Slept poorly. The campsite is near the intersection of two heavily used highways. Many trucks all night. But I stayed warm and relatively comfortable.

More later.

First Leg Complete

Very briefly. my tent is up and I am crashing. 13.4 miles in less than 4.5 hours. According to my Fitbit, that is 27,912 steps.  840 feet of elevation increases.  Very tired. No food pics, because I didn’t make anything tonight. Lived off trail snacks. Wasn’t hungry after pitching tent, just thirsty.

More tomorrow.

It Begins Today

I will hit the trailhead at about 3:30pm today.  Today is a short day, only about 12.5 miles, so I will reach my stopping point at about 7:30pm.  Tomorrow is the longest leg, almost 30 miles and hope to be on the trail by 6am.  I will arrive at my next camp by 4pm (if I push it) and 6pm (my more likely pace give the length of that leg.)

When I update here, I will post pictures of my food and some of the sights.  They won’t be long posts, but just something to let you know what I am doing (and that will be one of three things:  hiking, eating or sleeping.)

Keep watching!

Pork Steak with Basil Pesto and Mozzarella

Pork Steak with Basil Pesto and Mozzarella, with Grilled Baby Carrots
Serves 4

2 pounds pork chops or pork shoulder steaks (four pieces)
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons water
1 cup flour with the seasoning of your choice (I used 1/2 teaspoon Penzey’s Sunny Spain)
1 cup panko bread crumbs with an Italian-type seasoning  (I used 1 teaspoon of Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset.)
2 ounces finely shredded mozzarella

1 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon water

1.  Preheat oven to 425F.
2.  Separate eggs.  Throw away the yolks (or cook them and feed them to your dog.  Ozzy loves the treat!)  Whisk with the water, and set in a large shallow dish.
3.  Mix seasoned flour in a shallow dish (serving platter works well.)
4.  Mix panko bread crumbs with seasoning.
5.  Dip each piece of meat in the flour mix, the egg wash and the panko crumbs (pressing down to help the crumbs adhere to the meat.)  Set aside.
6.  Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Cook each piece of meat over medium-high heat, for 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned, and place on an oven-safe pan.  When all meat is done, place pan in oven and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the meat is cooked to 165F in the middle.
7.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle 1/2 ounce of cheese on each.
8.  While the pork is baking, mix together all ingredients for the pesto in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave for 1 minute, remove and let sit for 5 minutes.  Stir to mix well.
9.  Serve 1 tablespoon pesto on each piece of meat.

Nutritional Data (for 8 ounces pork steak–lean pork chops will have lower numbers):
Calories:        577
Fat:                 22g
Sat fat:           7.8g
Chol:             213mg
Sodium:         282mg
Carbs:             13g
Fiber:             0.7g
Protein:           75g

Nutritional Data (for 1 tablespoon pesto):
Calories:          66
Fat:                7.1g
Sat fat:              1g
Chol:                 0mg
Sodium:          0.7mg
Carbs:            1.5g
Fiber:             0.5g
Protein:          0.3g

In case you are wondering, the garnish is fresh chives from my garden, harvested just before the blossoms open. This is when they taste the best, blossom and all.
2 pounds baby carrots
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Penzey’s Sunny Paris

1.  About 1 hour before the meal is to be served, place carrots in a microwave-safe bowl.  Add the wine, loosely cover and microwave for 8-10 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking.
2.  Remove from the microwave, drain any wine off.  Top with olive oil and seasoning.  Toss to coat.  Set aside.
3.  Start preheating grill and grill basket on high about 20 minutes before dinner will be served.
4.  Ten minutes before service, place carrots in grill basket.  Toss occasionally.  Let the carrots get a little brown.
5.  Remove and serve with a hint of dill.

Nutritional Data:
Calories:        137
Fat:                   7g
Sat fat:              1g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:          62mg
Carbs:          12.8g
Fiber:             2.7g
Protein:          1.4g

No Recipe In This Post

I am planning a hike of the Mountain-Bay Trail (in case no one has been reading my other blog posts about it.) Today was a test walk, with my fully loaded pack, on a local trail, the Devil’s River State Trail. It is a 14 mile trail. I wanted to hike three hours out and then come back, and was hoping for a total of 18 miles.

The walk back was a little slower than the walk out. The entire walk took 3:28, but I walked 18.8 miles in total. I hit the trail at about 8:45am and got back to the car (I was never happier to see my car in my life!) at 3:15pm. The hike was good and I learned a few important things.

  1. Pack weight is important. I loaded my pack with my tent, sleeping bag, supplies and enough books to equal the weight of my food, and then a little extra. (I had planned to hike with a total pack weight of 35 pounds, so I loaded today’s pack to 40 pounds.) Then I added another 4 pounds in water (2 liters.)  Yeah.  I’m going to find ways to reduce that weight. I can carry it. But it get HEAVY around mile 12.
  2. I need better shoes. I need shoes with a stiff sole. Parts of today’s trail were crushed rock or nicely grass covered. Those were the great walking areas. Other areas (it seemed like forever) were large (half-fist sized) rocks that were loose and moved under foot. 
  3. I need larger shoes. My right great toe rubbed against the shoe and while it didn’t really hurt, it was uncomfortable. When I got home, I found that I have a large bruise under the toenail of that toe.
  4. Have my camera ready. I saw a lot of wildlife, and I would have like to get pictures of them, but by the time I got it out, they were gone.
  5. I will attempt this hike, but I need to realize that I do have the option of calling for pick up from my wife. Today was good. I wouldn’t use the word “enjoyable”, but it was peaceful and relaxing. Sort of. But when I get out there, I do not need to finish just to protect my fragile ego. If it gets bad, or if things start hurting too much, I can call for a pick up. And that is okay.
  6. Take my naproxen in the morning before I leave.
  7. I don’t need to carry 2 liters of water. I think two half liter bottle will be enough.

So, what about the good things on the hike?

I saw a few deer crossing the trail ahead of me. A woodchuck looked at me as if he wasn’t sure what I was doing in his territory (I felt the same way.) Wild turkeys are an epidemic and were all over the trail. Three gangs of turkeys (two with four, and one with three) were in the area, along with one lone tom. If you have never seen a wild turkey, this is not what you see at your Thanksgiving Feast.  These are bad ass birds, standing about three feet tall with wing spans of nearly five feet when they fly. And they fly fast. That lone tom was hiding in the brush right next to the trail and took off when I was abreast (get it? poultry pun!) of it, not more than three feet away. Loud! Explosive! And nearly made me, well, let’s not get that personal, okay?

Other birds seen frequently other than the commonplace robins were orioles, cardinals and I heard (but could not find) a woodpecker.

I strongly smelled a skunk, but only a residual aroma. (I am not worried about large predators while walking, but I never thought about skunks.)

I wore my Fitbit (but that is normal, I always wear it.)  Here is what it showed when I got home:

Big numbers. I’m tired. And I lost my voice. Not sure why that happened.

I’ll post a recipe or two tomorrow (maybe.) I’ll be getting ready for a Mother’s Day brunch on Saturday. I’ll get the salmon souffle recipe on here soon.

Baked Salmon with Tomatillo Salsa and Spinach-Strawberry Salad

Baked Salmon and Fresh Red Onion-Tomatillo Salsa
Serve 4

1 pound salmon fillets (4 pieces)
Spice blend (Penzey’s Sunny Paris works very well)

1.  Preheat oven to 375F 
2.  Place salmon in a baking dish. Season.  Bake until done (approximately 16-18 minutes.)
3.  Top with tomatillo salsa

Nutritional data (per one 4 ounce fillet):
Calories:        190
Fat:                  9g
Sat fat:          1.5g
Chol:             70mg
Sodium:         50mg
Carbs:              0g
Fiber:               0g
Protein:          24g

Red Onion-Tomatillo Salsa
Serves 4

While the salmon is baking, mix together:

3 medium tomatillos, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tablespoons)
1 tsp fresh lemon zest

Set aside to let the flavors blend.

Nutitrional data (approximately 1/3 cup portion):
Calories:       46
Fat:             0.5g
Sat fat:           0g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:         0mg
Carbs:         3.4g
Fiber:          0.8g
Protein:       0.4g

Spinach-Strawberry Salad
Serves 4

In an large bowl, toss together:
6 ounces baby spinach
1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds
8 ounces fresh strawberries, sliced

To toast the almonds, heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add almonds and saute dry (no oil.) Toss frequently. The almonds are done when they begin to turn light brown and are fragrant.

Make the dressing:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons Splenda (or 5 tablespoons table sugar)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (optional)

Pour dressing over spinach and strawberries. Toss to coat.

This salad does not make a good leftover salad. The spinach wilts, and the strawberries get mushy. Eat it freshly made.

Nutritional data:
Calories:     142
Fat:           10.5g
Sat fat:           1g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:       39mg
Carbs:         9.8g
Fiber:          3.5g
Protein:       4.5g

Ideas Can Come From Anywhere

You never know where the next idea and inspiration will come from, which is why I am always looking in books and magazines, and keeping an ear to the radio and TV. About a week ago, I was at the hospital, running the clinical experience for my students, and I heard a couple of local grilling gurus talk on Good Day Wisconsin, a local morning show on our Fox affiliate.

The gurus, who go by the names of Mad Dog & Merrill, were talking about thin crust whole wheat pizzas and that caught my attention. We love homemade pizzas, especially thin crust. And we always try to use a whole wheat product whenever possible. But some of the whole wheat crusts left a lot to be desired.

They were talking about a new product available locally. An “ultra-thin” crust. Hmmmm.  It might be worth looking at. I found a package (at Woodman’s Market). This is what they look like:

It is a very thin crust 12 inch crust (it’s almost a thick tortilla) but it holds up to the pizza toppings very well.  And very tasty! Don’t bake it as long as the label suggests (10-14 minutes) because after 7-8 minutes it was already too brown.

I’ve already posted the veggie pizza recipe that I made using the crust.

On a totally unrelated line of thinking, I tested by portable camp stove and find that it will boil 2 cups of water in 20 minutes. I take my practice hike on Thursday, and leave on the real hike next Thursday. I’ve got all the food purchased and now I only need to put it into ziplocks as ready-to-cook recipes. I am getting excited–and nervous–about this walk.

More on it as it gets closer.

Ultra-Thin Crust Veggie Pizza

“Ultra-Thin” Crust Veggie Pizza
Make 3 portions (1/3 of the pizza)

1 Ultra-thin whole wheat pizza crust
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 teaspoon Italian spice blend  (I used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset.)
2 ounces finely shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Mix garlic, spices and oil together.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes. 
2.  Spread garlic-oil mix evenly over the crust.
3.  Top with half of the mozzarella cheese.

Add your favorite ingredients.  In the picture above, I used:
1 small can mushrooms
2 tablespoons sliced black olives
10 sliced green olives
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
15 cherry tomatoes, sliced

4.  Place all toppings on the cheese.
5.  Top with remaining mozzarella.
6.  Place in a pre-heated oven at 425 degree, for 5-7 minutes.

Note: the label suggested 10-14 minutes in the oven.  Hah!  I checked it at 8 minutes at it was already a little too brown at the edges.  I suppose I could have avoided that by piling the topping on right to the edge, but that would defeat the idea of a light pizza.

Nutritional data:
Calories:         261
Fat:                12.7g
Sat fat:             3.2g
Chol:             14.7mg
Sodium:          484mg
Carbs:            28.8g
Fiber:               5.2g
Protein:            8.9g

(Fresh mushrooms would reduce the sodium load by 153mg per serving. But at 484mg for 1/3 of a pizza, that amount of sodium is not bad.)

Chicken Thighs with Chimmichurri Sauce

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chimichurri Sauce and Grilled Vegetables
Serve 4
8 Chicken thighs, boneless/skinless (each are about 3 ounces)
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
Your preferred seasoning (I used Penzey’s Bouquet Garni)

1.  Place chicken thighs on a platter.  Rub oil over both sides.  Sprinkle with seasoning.
2.  Preheat grill for 5 minutes on high.
3.  Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
4.  Remove and cover to keep warm.

Nutritional Data (6 ounces of chicken thighs):
Calories:         310
Fat:                  31g
Sat fat:               4g
Chol:              140mg
Sodium:          170mg
Carbs:                0g
Fiber:                 0g
Protein:            38g

Chimichurri Sauce
10 garlic cloves (this is delicious but a bit pungent)
1 bunch parsley
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Process garlic in food processor until chopped.  Add remaining ingredients.  Process for 1 minute or until finely minced. It will not be smooth.

This is a very tart sauce. If you don’t like it this sour, add sugar (or sweetener) to taste.

Nutritional Data (1/4 cup serving):
Calories:         104
Fat:                    8g
Sat fat:            1.1g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:          38mg
Carbs:            7.7g
Fiber:             3.8g
Protein:          1.6g

Grilled Vegetables
1 head cauliflower, cut into moderate size chunks
1 head broccoli, cut into similar sized chunks
3 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 ounces mushrooms, whole, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Spices (I used Penzey’s Sunny Paris.)

1.  Place cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, and cook on high for 3-4 minutes. The goal is to get the cauliflower hot and start to cook, but not cook it completely.
2.  When the cauliflower is out of the microwave, add all other veggies, and top with the remaining ingredients.  Toss to coat and set aside.
3.  Preheat your grill, and if you have one, a grill vegetable basket.  (Mine is similar to this.)
4.  Pour veggies into the basket.  Occasionally toss them around to ensure more even cooking.  You want some browning of the veggies for the best flavor. 

Nutritional data will vary depending on the vegetables used.

Chicken Scaloppine with Pan-Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes

In case you are wondering the meaning of scaloppine, it generally refers to very thin slice of meat (usually veal or chicken), dredged in flour, sauteed and served with a sauce. This recipe uses whole chicken breasts that I pounded flat and panko bread crumbs for the breading.

Chicken Scaloppine with Pan-Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
Serve 4

4 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless (5 ounces each)
2 egg whites
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Your preferred seasoning (I used Penzey’s Sunny Spain.)

2 pound fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed off and rinsed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, whole

1.  Separate egg yolks from the whites. Throw away (or fry and give them to your dog. Ours loves the yolks!)
2.  Mix the panko crumbs and seasoning to taste. I used about 1 teaspoon of the Sunny Spain.
3.  Place the chicken breasts between heavy sheets of plastic or in a Ziplock freezer bag. Using a mallet, pound the breasts flat (to about 1/2 inch.)
4.  Run the breasts through the egg wash, and then dredge in crumbs. Set aside.
5.  Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray.
6.  Pan fry on each side until done (3-4 minutes per side.)  Remove from the skillet, set aside and cover.
7.  Respray the same skillet and return the the heat.
8.  Lay asparagus in skillet.  Season to taste (again, Sunny Spain works well here.)  Cook for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat, turning once halfway through.
9.  Add whole tomatoes to the asparagus.  Continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to burst and get soft.

I did not serve this with a sauce, but you could certainly make a red sauce, or deglaze the pan after cooking the chicken with about 6 ounces of white wine, and cook that down to 4 ounces and serve over the chicken. However, in my opinion, the chicken is moist and flavorful and does not need to be sauced.

Nutritional data (one chicken breast):
Calories:     233
Fat:             5.3g
Sat fat:        1.9g
Chol:         81.2mg
Sodium:   122.4mg
Carbs:         9.6g
Fiber:          0.5g
Protein:     34.5g