November 18, 2013
I’m not sure where it started with me and nature. Growing up my family was not all that outdoorsy. Sure, we’d go canoeing down the Huron River a few times each summer, there was a bit of dabbling in camping once or twice, my dad or brother would take me fishing sometimes at Argo Park. We never took it to the next level or anything, like with gear or synthetic shirts or hiking boots. But who knows, maybe that was all it took, maybe that was just enough to give me the itch for more.
In high school I adorned my walls with pictures I cut out of magazines like Outside, Backpacker and Powder. I imagined myself scaling huge cliffs, whitewater rafting, backcountry skiing, writing for National Geographic, going on extreme adventures. When I was 22 years old Drew and I moved out west to Boulder, Colorado where we hiked and camped all the time for four years. It was there that I started to realize I’m not so much of an extreme sport sort of person. I barely even like waterskiing. I would much rather snowshoe or cross-country ski than downhill. The thought of scaling huge rock walls with hundreds of feet of nothing below scares the shit out of me. What I like most of all about being in nature is the stillness, the quiet. That when I camp all I have with me is a good book, stuff to cook with, and a camera.
Last month we met our friends Kim and Ryan at Bluestone State Park in West Virginia to camp for a couple nights. We’d never been to this campground before and when we got there the cool, rustic tent camping area was closed and the vast, nearly treeless, someone’s-playing-a-radio-a-few-sites-over RV campground was the only place open. So after setting aside our disappointment and our vision for a secluded, backwoods getaway, we sucked it up and found the best spot we could from our limited options. We cooked food, drank wine, caught up on life and then the next day, right around lunchtime, the whole campground cleared out and we had the place to ourselves. Suddenly it became the best place ever.
It was one of those long, lingering afternoons where it feels like it should be 5 o’clock but instead it’s barely one. It was early October, the afternoon was windy and sunny after a foggy morning, the leaves just starting to turn, wisps of burnt red and orange. We sat at the picnic table for hours, played Euchre, drank coffee, went on a long hike, took pictures, Drew and I made kimchi fried rice for dinner, Kim and Ryan built a fire. Then the next day, sometime in the early afternoon, after a breakfast of potatoes and eggs, we went our separate ways, Kim and Ryan back up to Thomas, West Virginia and us, home to Asheville. It had poured down rain in the middle of the night and as we drove through the Virginias and Tennessee, you could see the changes in the trees, the leaves getting closer to their peak.
Somehow I need more of that in my life, and I’m on a quest to find a way to make it happen. There is nothing that calms me to the core like being outside away from everything. When I was 19 years old I spent nearly three months working at a summer camp in northern Wisconsin and on the long drive home back to Michigan, after weeks of sleeping in a cabin, waking up at sunrise to swim or sit alone on the dock and read, watching the sunset every evening, I cried, feeling homesick for what I was leaving behind. I’ve always been conflicted, wondering if I’m a city girl or a country girl, since I feel at home in both and fear isolation, in both. But for now, with the colder nights, shorter days and holidays approaching, I’ll have to let my ideas simmer and embrace the city girl in me a bit more. With a good book to read, a camera and stuff to cook with.
Kimchi Fried Rice
I love making this recipe at home or camping. It takes hardly any time at all, uses barely any ingredients and is so very, very satisfying. Unless of course, you hate kimchi, in which case I don’t think you’ll like this at all.
A few tablespoons of canola oil
About 2 cups of kimchi
About 4 cups of leftover cooked rice
4 fried eggs, or poached would be super delicious too if you’re feeling ambitious
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kimchi and sauté for about 5 minutes or so, until a little bit crispy. Add the rice, cook until heated through. Divide onto plates and top with a fried egg. Enjoy every bite.
October 30, 2013
This past weekend Drew and I drove an hour north to Hot Springs, NC for an overnight camping trip. We weren’t so organized this time around. Our stuff was still all over the place after camping in West Virginia a few weeks back, plates in one bag, pots and pans in another, the leatherman, somewhere. I’m in the midst of starting to get super organized with our gear so that it’s easy to just throw in the car and not worry that you’ve forgotten a headlamp or dish soap or god forbid, salt and pepper, but I’m not quite there yet.
Our original camping spot was closed for the season which is how we ended up camping in a treehouse, Swiss Family Robinson style. We hiked down about 800 ft to the creek bed where there were little tree houses speckled throughout a few acres, each spaced a nice distance away from one another.
Drew built a fire while I set up the kitchen. We thought we’d be car camping so we brought the most un-backpacking friendly meal ever, our double burner stove, my Le Creuset Dutch Oven, a chicken carcass for stock, a giant bottle of olive oil, a six pack. But man was it worth it.
I cut up an onion, sautéd it for a while, added chopped up chicken carcass pieces, sautéd those for about 10 more minutes until they let their juices out, poured enough water to cover everything, then let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile I cut up another onion, finely diced this time, some carrots and sautéd those in another pan until soft. Then I discarded the chicken parts and onion, added the carrots and the other onion, a sprinkle of thyme, leftover shredded chicken, including some smoked chicken from the night before which brought the whole meal up a notch, a couple handfuls of egg noodles and let it cook until the noodles were done, about fiveish minutes.
We ate our chicken noodle soup sitting on a rock in the creek looking at this view. Everything tastes better when you’re camping, especially when you’ve lugged a cast iron pot down the side of a hill. Backpacking gear is next on the list.
October 14, 2013
My parents came to visit this past weekend so first thing on the list was to show them the Blue Ridge Parkway. I never get tired of this North Carolina beauty.
My mom brought me a ring of my grandmothers and a real pearl necklace of hers as well. Treasures.
Drew and I cooked them a feast celebrating my mom’s upcoming birthday and my dad’s recent retirement. We had West African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup; Spinach Salad with Feta, Sunflower Seeds & Miso Dressing; Fresh Bread & Brie; and Apple Cake for dessert. We need placemats.
We introduced them to boiled peanuts.
Our new little bonsai tree. We went to the NC Arboretum for the first time (gorgeous!) and there was a bonsai expo going on. There’s a lot to this world of bonsai, fingers crossed this thing stays alive.
October 9, 2013
Fall, my most favorite season, has begun here in Asheville.
Rolling out tortillas for the Montford Farmers Market dinner hosted at All Souls Pizza.
I’m pretty sure everyone had a good time.
On Saturday we drove four hours to Bluestone State Park in West Virginia and met up with a pair of our best friends to camp for the weekend. This was the view from our campsite. Words can’t even describe how great this weekend was.
Driving home at sunset through the mountains about 30 minutes outside of Asheville.
October 1, 2013
September 24, 2013
Last week my friend Emi and I ate at Knife & Fork, a seriously delicious restaurant about an hour out of town in the mountains. She was writing an article and I was along to take the photos for it. It’s a pretty sweet monthly gig we’ve created for ourselves, one where we get to eat for free at really great restaurants around town, the chef usually just makes us whatever he or she wants to feature and for me, it means I get to take pictures of food that actually knows it’s going to be photographed, the polar opposite of the guerilla-style photography I’ve been doing a lot of lately. I like both styles equally, but there’s something that makes me feel a little spoiled when I’m presented with a really beautiful dish and lots of lovely window light. And this food was off the hook.
1 // Rabbit mousse with pickled peppers, sprouts and a few other things I can’t remember
2 // Red quinoa with butternut squash, onion, parsley & rosemary
3 // Pork rind with tomatoes & basil
4 // Cinnamon bread pudding with house made vanilla ice cream & caramel sauce
September 17, 2013
At work / Eggplant waiting to be roasted.
On Friday I took photos of my friend Melissa’s pottery for her website. She made food for some of the shots, I took photos and we ate really well.
On Sunday we saw The Runaway Circus with the Loose Cabooses, a local community circus that a friend of mine is a part of. There were acrobats, a lady on stilts, knife throwing, juggling… It was super entertaining.
This was taken while out on a walk.