Sunday, July 25, 2010

Camping in Mammoth Lakes, California

At the end of December 2009 I thought it would be easy to make camping reservations.  It wasn't.  After two hours of searching, finally went with the only reservation I could get:  a group campsite.  Chalk it up to the 2008 recession; camping reservations were, and continue to be, challenging to come by.
The ten campers (and two locals) ended up having a great time.  June Lake is the warmest of the lakes in the area, and we spent time swimming and soaking up sunrays (and some Summer rain) in the picture-perfect setting.  
My childhood friend lives near Mammoth Lakes, so she gives us great advice.  She mentioned a place to get ideal pies at Rock Creek Resort.  The must-order-ahead fresh nectarine pie and a fresh strawberry pie were served in large slices per couple.  Nearly everyone said they couldn't possibly eat the pie, but only scraped-clean plates returned.  I had a bite of nectarine and it was juicy, sweet, fragrant and luscious.  Sweetened cream and a crisp, flaky crust only added to our enjoyment.
Couples took turns making a breakfast and dinner each, the food outstanding.  We all pitched in and helped create marvelous meals.  One night we had South Carolina BBQ chicken sandwiches, and another night we ate salad nicoise, etc.  Big gourmet breakfasts started our violet vacation days (yogurt with berries and granola, pictured above).

With friends, we sat in Wild Willie's Hot Spring and cooled off in Convict Lake.  Four of the guys hiked up around Horseshoe Lake, got lost when they didn't see the proper signs, and ended up walking 15 miles without enough water.  We said that they really should have brought along a girl as we would have complained before they became lost, or would have navigated correctly.  
Hubby and I woke extremely early one morning to see the sunrise and to take a photo at Little Lakes Valley.  On the trail, a woman suggested McGee Creek in late June for wonderful wildflowers.  The heavy rain season caused wondrous wildflowers.
It was a treat driving back and forth through Yosemite National Park.  We purchased a park pass, and plan to visit Hetch-Hetchy and Tuolumne Meadows again, soon.  
Next year's camping trip:  Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fourth of July

My husband's cousin, cousin's wife and their three children came to stay the holiday weekend with us.  It's a full house.  This morning the cousin and his youngest daughter took a walk up our creek.  She spied what she thought was a plastic lobster toy and asked her father about it.  Cousin chased after the "lobster" and with much effort caught the crawdad.  It was the largest/oldest crawdad I'd ever seen, perhaps six to seven inches long.  He put the crawdad back in the creek, but it gets me wondering, should we put a crawdad trap in the creek?  These "fresh-water lobsters" may taste really good.
Today we were invited over to our wine club friend's house for a Fourth of July barbeque.  As usual, she went all out:  balsamic glazed pork ribs, Santa Maria tri-tip, bratwurst, spicy lamb sausage, chipotle-buttered corn on the cob, etc.  Plus, the over twenty guests brought fruit salad, cheese and crackers, humus and pita, rosemary cashews, salsas and chips, chocolate cake, turtle brownies, etc.  The company was great.  We tried to put a dent into our host's extensive wine collection.
I brought a watermelon, kiwi, CSA strawberry, blueberry and handpicked backyard peaches fruit salad; and turtle brownies.
 G.G.’s Turtle Brownies:

1 box (1 lb 2.75 oz) Ghirardelli® Chocolate Supreme brownie mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on brownie mix box
1 jar Richard Donnelly fresh caramel (or caramel sauce for apples in a tub)
1 bag (11.5 oz) semisweet chocolate chunks (2 cups)
1.5 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 325°F. Butter bottom of 13x9-inch pan. In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, pouch of chocolate syrup, water, oil and egg until blended according to the package directions. Spread 1/2 of batter in pan. Bake 15 minutes.
2. Pour caramel over partially baked brownie; spread to edges. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the chocolate chunks and 1 cup of the walnuts. Drop remaining brownie batter by small spoonfuls onto caramel layer. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chocolate chunks and 1/2 cup walnuts.
4. Bake 33 to 36 minutes longer or until center is almost set. Cool 1 hour at room temperature. Cover; refrigerate 1 hour before serving and cutting. Store covered at room temperature.

We could hear periodic personal fireworks go off in Menlo Park, and thought about the thousands of personal fireworks going off in Santa Cruz.  The cousins headed there to the beach to watch the spectacle.  After dropping off a friend at home, we arrived back home before turning into summer squash.  What a joyful Independence Day!