Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recipe: Pumpkin S'mores

Almost everything I see on The Smart Cookie Cook looks delicious and these were no exception.   It's a very unique combination of pumpkin pie (basically) and s'mores.   I would never have thought of putting these together, but once I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it.   The pumpkin filling is pumpkin puree and sweetened condensed milk (I used the fat-free kind) with cinnamon and vanilla and some crushed grahams for texture.   If you don't like pumpkin pie, this recipe is not for you.   But with a very easy list of ingredients and a big 8 minutes of baking time (here in Colorado anyway - the original recipe suggested 4 minutes), you could make it right now and your friends and family would love you. 

And if you're here in Denver and have shoes to donate for Soles 4 Souls, I can make sure that you have some of these or one of the other Halloween treats I made this weekend.   On Thursday we're making another trip to the warehouse to drop off local donations.   Have a Sole for Sweets this week.    If you're not in Denver, you can still donate shoes for the Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge up through November 15.  Click here for all the details. 

Recipe: Halloween Bark

I remember going to a friend's house in high school in the fall and there being a big bowl of candy corn and salted peanuts.   It's a perfect combination of sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy.   So when I saw the recipe for Candy Corn Bark on the Jolts & Jollies blog I knew that the only ingredient I needed to add was peanuts.   It's quick, easy and looks very festive for fall.  

24 ounces vanilla flavored candy coating (it comes in pieces that are easy to break apart)
2 cups broken pretzel sticks (apparently pretzel sticks are a hot commodity at the King Soopers, because they were sold out, so broken pretzel twists were the solution)
2 1/2 cups candy corn
1/2 cup salted peanuts

Melt the candy coating in a microwave safe bowl, following package instructions.   Stir every 30 seconds or so until smooth.   After removing from the microwave mix in 2 cups of candy corn, pretzel pieces and nuts until coated.   Pour onto wax paper (you can put it on jelly roll pan to keep it contained if you want) and spread with a spatula.   Use remaining 1/2 cup of candy corn as decoration, sprinkling on top of bark and pushing gently into the candy.   Let cool and then break into pieces.    I'm thinking that bark for all occasions may be in order...there are different seasonal candies available all year.  

Bark is also great for gifting...yesterday I went to pick up a donation of shoes for Soles 4 Souls from a friend.   She left her shoes between her screen door and front door.   I replaced the shoes with this candy corn bark.   A fair trade all around.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Illinois Weekend: Chicago

I realized afterwards that it had been about 4 years since I had been in downtown Chicago.   I fly in and out of O'Hare and Midway every so often to visit family, but to actually go into the city and enjoy it?   It's definitely been too long.  I had no qualms in using a friend's bridal shower as an excuse for a relaxing three day weekend.   In the past few years I've been taking a lot of "big" trips.   Big trips eat up your vacation days quickly, leaving very little time for long weekends the rest of the year.   I'm making a conscious effort in the coming year to try and and do more of these trips - starting with this one.
View of the city from my hotel window at O'hare. 
Obviously using zoom...it's not that close.
My uncle took me to lunch at Rosebud near the University of Illinois Chicago campus.    This dish isn't exactly on the menu but was built with the help of our server.   What is it (other than delicious)?  Baked Cavatelli with vodka sauce and sausage crumbles.
It was followed by a cappuccino and this massive pumpkin cheesecake.
After lunch we went downtown.   It was a beautiful day - this view is from the Adler Planetarium.
Marilyn is on exhibit as public art
Tiffany ceiling in the cultural center (formerly the library)
The bean!  (aka "Cloud Gate")
And everyone's reflection looks great
You can't stop yourself from the self portrait
Inside the Rookery - designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

And then we succumbed to the ultimate tourist destination:
Sears (Willis) Tower Sky Deck
The last time I was in the tower was probably elementary or middle school.   In high school and college we hosted college exchange students and my mom would always take them to the John Hancock Center instead.  It's almost as high and we would just have some drinks in the bar rather than paying to take the tourist elevator to the viewing deck.  In typical tourist attraction style, at the Sears (I just can't call it Willis yet - that's still so new) Tower you wait to go down a floor where you wait again to go through security and then wait again after getting your ticket.   You can't see one waiting area from another, so just when you think you're there....you're not.   If you were thinking of doing this, there is a Fast Pass option.   You get the fast line through security as well as to the elevator.   You can also get the Fast Pass access if you are using the City Pass to hit the major attractions.  Another fast pass option may be available by using Groupon Now! Deals depending on the day and time.  Of course, we didn't do any of these options, so we just waited in line.    But they have added a great feature since my last visit - the Ledge.   Step out over the street from the 103rd floor.   And then look down at your shoes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Breakfast Casserole By Any Other Name...

I still want your sole!  See the bottom of this post about how you can help as we go into the last few weeks of the Soles 4 Souls Flippin' Good Deeds blogger challenge!

I'm behind.   And that's ok.   I took a three day weekend to go to Chicago and am still trying to get caught up.   And then we had our first real snow of the season.   If I took this picture today that tree in the background would have sad depressed branches covered with snow.   Today counts against our 300+ annual days of sunshine. 

This recipe comes from Cooking Light and is euphemistically called "Savory Bread Puddings with Ham and Cheddar."    I think the only reason it got such a fancy name is because the original recipe calls for the portions to be baked in individual ramekins.   I do not own ramekins.   Although I can probably find them at Goodwill right next to where I bought my $4.99 espresso maker.    Without ramekins, this recipe becomes your (light) garden variety breakfast casserole.   Everyone loves a breakfast casserole!

8 oz multi grain bread with seeds, cut into 3/4 inch cubes   (you can feel the nutrition right here)
cooking spray
3/4 cup (3oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces lower sodium ham, minced
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 large egg whites
4 teaspoons light sour cream

Preheat oven to 375.    Place bread cubes on a cookie sheet, coat with cooking spray.  Bake for 10 minutes until lightly toasted, turning once.  Remove from oven and cool.

Combine bread, 1/2 cup cheese, milk, broth, pepper, ham and egg yolks in a large bowl.   Place egg whites in a small bowl and beat at high speed until foamy (30 secs).  Gently fold egg whites into bread mixture. 

Since I did not make individual puddings, I used an 8x8 pan coated with cooking spray and spread the bread and egg mixture into the pan and then topped with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.   Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Top with 1 teaspoon sour cream and enjoy.

Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge Update
The Soles 4 Souls challenge ends on November 15.   I was excited to see today that my blog has made it onto the leader board.   For my friends here in Denver, contact me directly and I can let you know about where to drop off your shoes (or my shoe wagon can come to you).   Or you can follow these 6 easy steps below:

1. Gather your pre-loved shoes. Tie each pair together, either with the shoelaces or with a rubber band.
2. If you have fewer than 10 pairs, you can donate them at a local drop off location. Click here to search for one near you.
3. If you have more than 10 pairs or would rather ship your shoe donation, please ship them to one of the Soles 4 Souls warehouses. Click here for the addresses. If you ship a box, please include the form from #4 (below) in the box as well.
4. Whether you drop off your shoes or ship them, please fill out THIS FORM and email it to the Donor Services Guru at Soles 4 Souls, LaCita Mason (lacitam@giveshoes.org). If faxing is your style, you can fax the form to 615-391-5730. This form has my blog address on it (travelerforgood.blogspot.com) as well as my blogger ID for this challenge (ID #040).
5. Oooh, we're getting close to the end of the year....do you want a tax receipt? Here you go!
6. Give yourself a big hug. Or grab somebody sexy and tell them "hey." Your gift of shoes has made a difference for someone in need.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where is the West Coast?


Now this is the West Coast!
Just when I think that the "average American" understands basic US geography, I am proved wrong.   Earlier this year I had to clarify Where in the World is Tanzania?  This morning on the radio there was a concert promotion for an event here in Denver next month.  One of the selling points was First Time on the West Coast!  

I hate to break it to them, but someone needs to:  Denver is NOT the West Coast.  Between here and there is the majority of Colorado then Utah then Nevada then California.  From personal experience it is a long long drive.  The West Coast has the Sierra Nevadas.  We have the Rockies.  The West Coast has famous redwoods.  We have famous aspens.  Squaw Valley vs Vail.  Ocean vs Reservoir.  When I moved to Colorado from Indiana 6 years ago someone wished me "good luck on the West Coast." 

If only they knew how far I still have to go.

We don't have these kind of lions in Colorado

Sea Lions and Soles Update:
There's a little under a month left of the Soles 4 Souls Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge.    If you have made a donation, make sure that you send in your donation form to lacitam@giveshoes.org.    The easiest thing is to check here to see if there is a shoe drop near you (here in Denver, Whole Foods is often the spot).   Then drop off a pair or two and send in this blogger donation form.  Thanks!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Recipe: Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Dill, Feta and Lemon

I've never really been one for pasta salad.   Maybe it's because pasta salad is always up to interpretation.  The salad may include...unfriendly vegetables.  Over time my interpretation of unfriendly veggies has changed.  Fifteen years ago a lot of things were on my do not serve list.  But times change.  Raw onions? Not on my burger, but in my pico de gallo or ceviche?  Si.   Mushrooms have a very limited time and place.   But the nice thing about cooking for yourself?   You make all the decisions.  You don't have to include that ____________ (disgusting food with the weird texture) ever again. 

I found the original recipe on CookingLight.com.   Knowing how I feel about onions, in some cases, I opted not to include the thinly sliced green onions.   But don't let that stop you.   I also didn't have fresh dill, so I used the dried dill.   I didn't use the 1/4 of a cup that you would use for fresh, but probably a tablespoon or so of the dried.

1 cup uncooked orzo
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (optional for me)
1/2 cup (2 oz) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 (19oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 and 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic

Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again.  Combine pasta, onions, cheese, dill and chickpeas in a large bowl.  Toss gently to combine. 
Combine juice, oil, water, salt and garlic in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Drizzle over pasta and toss gently to coat.     I chilled this salad for a few minutes before serving.   Enjoy!

Salad and Soles Update
I made this salad after returning from dropping off over 100 pairs of shoes off at the Denver Soles 4 Souls warehouse for Flippin Good Deeds Challenge.   We met the volunteer who handles all the shoe donations for the area.   Shoes are tied / rubber banded together and bagged 20 pairs at a time.   In general shoes are picked up once there are 25,000 pairs.   This seems like a huge number of recycled shoes, except that last year Americans threw away more the 300 million pairs (per the S4S website).   These donated shoes then take a trip to either Iowa or Alabama where they will be sorted by usability, function and size.    Shoes are used in charitable programs here in the US (such as providing shoes for work and interviews) as well as going abroad.   You can donate shoes (10 pairs or less) at local drop off locations.  Here in Denver many of the Whole Foods stores accept shoes.   Click here for local donation sites in your area.  If you're donating shoes in the next month, you can help me with the Challenge by sending in THIS FORM which will credit my blog.  

Inspirational foot quote of the day:   The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there... and still on your feet.  -Stephen King-

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recipe: Apple Walnut Cake


I saw this recipe featured on the Food Buzz Top 9 last week and said "yes."  Partially because my friends and I have been taking turns tormenting each other with links to recipes for fall desserts featuring apple and pumpkin.  I don't make a lot of cakes, but this one was easy (using pie filling and mixing in the pan).   It's a perfect fall gift for your friends.   

Click here for the recipe on The Country Cook.   Brandie, the author of the blog, had her friend Becky from Baking and Cooking, a Tale of Two Loves write as a guest blogger.   It's always good manners to bring a treat when you're a guest, and this recipe is definitely a treat.  We've been enjoying beautiful fall weather here in Colorado, so I took my slice of cake right outside to take a photo then dive right in.

The Status of Small Soles:
Yesterday (after baking the apple cake) I went to visit a friend who has tiny feet.  After hosting us for pizza and movie, she sent me home with a bag of shoes.   This morning another friend met me at the door of the church with a box of kids shoes.  It tied in nicely with the sermon today about our responsibility to all the children of the world....not just the ones that we know.

All of these shoes are being donated to Soles 4 Souls as a part of the Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge

Friday, October 14, 2011

Holy Soley!

Today's quote to put things in perspective:
"If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you."
-Muhammed Ali-

See - you feel better already.   You know you're better than a green heel of bread.   Want to know how you can feel even better?  By donating shoes.  My sister, along with her coworkers, have been champions of shoe driving this past week.   She showed me the trunk of her car after work today and all I could say was "HOLY SOLEY." 
I'm not sure when I first heard of Soles 4 Souls, but it must have been last year sometime.   Earlier this year, I arranged a shoe drive at work as part of our Earth Week activities - it puts a new spin on recycling.    And then I learned something really exciting....

You can go on international volunteer trips to distribute shoes.   
You can see the actual difference a pair of shoes can make.  

I love to travel.   It's what prompted me to start my blog in the first place.   I've done a variety of international volunteer trips in the past 6 years including going to Mexico with the Whitewater Presbytery as well as with Healing Waters International.    I went to Thailand with Cross Cultural Solutions.   Last year I (and over 50 highschoolers) worked with Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala.  Going on a trip with S4S will hopefully be something I can do in 2012.    Keep your fingers crossed. 
This current shoe drive is part of the Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge sponsored by Soles 4 Souls and Flip Flop Wines.   Bloggers are encouraged to reach out to their community and share the love of (donating) shoes.  Look in your closet.   There is some pair that you only wore once to your cousin's best friends college roommates wedding.   The cute pink shoes your niece outgrew.   A pair of shoes that you just don't like anymore.   If it's in good condition, even if it's rollin' solo, it can be donated.  

Traveler's 6 Step Guide to being a Flippin' Good Person!


1. Gather your pre-loved shoes. Tie each pair together, either with the shoelaces or with a rubber band (or silver ribbon...whatever you have on hand).
2. If you have fewer than 10 pairs, you can donate them at a local drop off location. Click here to search for one near you.
3. If you have more than 10 pairs or would rather ship your shoe donation, please ship them to one of the Soles 4 Souls warehouses. Click here for the addresses. If you ship a box, please include the form from #4 (below) in the box as well.
4. Whether you drop off your shoes or ship them, please fill out THIS FORM and email it to the Donor Services Guru at Soles 4 Souls, LaCita Mason (lacitam@giveshoes.org). If faxing is your style, you can fax the form to 615-391-5730. This form has my blog address on it (travelerforgood.blogspot.com) as well as my blogger ID for this challenge (ID #040).
5. Oooh, we're getting close to the end of the year....do you want a tax receipt? Here you go!
6. Give yourself a big hug. Or grab somebody sexy and tell them "hey." Your gift of shoes has made a difference for someone in need.

I was looking for a motivational quote about shoes to end this post with.   And then I saw this (source unknown):  "Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes."

There you go.   Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Recipe: Chicken with Pears, Spinach and Blue Cheese


I don't spend my days thinking about pears.  Well, there was that poached pear with chocolate sauce on the cruise ship that one time.  Since pears come into season in the fall the good people at Cooking Light educated me (read here for your own education).   As they say, knowledge is power.    When I was at the store I decided I'd use my new found education and buy a pear different than the standard Anjou.   I bought a few Comice pears - both for this recipe and for snacking.   This is a great recipe for a weeknight, it took less than a half an hour and was a great accompaniment to the Sing Off

The original recipe came from Whole Foods.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium white onion, diced
1 small shallot sliced (not in the original recipe, but I like them, so why not?)
4 to 6 cups spinach (in defiance I used baby spinach, again because that's what I like)
2 tablespoons apple cider
2 ripe pears sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
blue cheese crumbles to taste

Preheat oven to 375.  Generously season each chicken breast with salt and pepper.   In a large skilled heat 1 tablespoon oil and sear breasts 2 to 3 minutes on each side until lightly golden.   Using a medium to large baking pan (I used my standard 13x9 with cooking spray) bake chicken in the oven until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium heat and saute onion and shallot until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes.   Add spinach and toss until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to the plates.   Wipe out pan and heat remaining tablespoon oil with cider.   Add pears and gently heat until warm.  Stir in parsley.  Arrange cooked chicken on spinach.  Top with warmed pear slices and blue cheese crumbles (the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons per breast, I just sprinkled it on, but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't anywhere near that).    Enjoy while watching a capella singers.  

Happy Wine Choice:  I admit, I was sucked in by the smiley face on the bottle.  Project Happiness Syrah

And in case you didn't know....I want your sole!  This October (and early November) I'm participating in the Soles 4 Souls Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge. For more information about the challenge and how you (wherever you are) and your shoes can get involved to help others, please click here. Bottom line, it's encouraging bloggers and their readers to donate their used shoes for a good cause.  If you've got a few pairs of shoes, you can ship them here or drop them off here.   To make sure that I get credit for the challenge, please email this form directly to Soles 4 Souls.   That being said, I am going to try and incorporate shoes in every post I do this month. So here goes....


Coming home straight from Zumba at the gym, I was rockin' my gym shoes while I was making this recipe for dinner.

Recipe: Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Butterscotch Buttercream Frosting


Ahh the sacrifices I make to not waste any food.    I had seen this recipe on The Smart Cookie Cook blog and knew I would have to make them.   By making both these cookies and the Pumpkin Turkey Chili on the same day I was able to use the whole can of pumpkin puree.   It's not one of those things you can easily throw in the fridge and say "I'll just make a little somethin' with that tomorrow." 

These cookies are yummy.  I already know they won't last more than a day or two.   You should bake these.  Immediately.


I want your sole! This October (and early November) I'm participating in the Soles 4 Souls Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge. For more information about the challenge and how you (wherever you are) and your shoes can get involved to help others, please click here. That being said, I am going to try and incorporate shoes in every post I do this month. So here goes....


At a training class on Friday I asked everyone their favorite thing about fall - and one of the answers was boots.  It's not quite cold enough for these yet, but they are great for walking the Chey dog in the snow.  

Pumpkin Cookie Update 10/15/11:  
A friend had seen my post on FB about this recipe and asked if she could have some.   Yesterday my sister gave them to her and this was her response:  "So I just wanted you to know that I ate a couple of the cookies on the way to my blood test this afternoon and after almost two weeks, my results were not only passable but ideal. Clearly those were the missing factor in my recovery! Thanks!"

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Recipe: Guinness Brownies



In September I was looking for beer recipes for a dinner party.   I made the wonderful Gingerbread Guinness Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.   However, when I went to the liquor store to buy the Guinness, they didn't have the individual cans, so I bought a four-pack.  I found a recipe for Triple Chocolate Stout Beer Brownies.   Since I don't really like to drink beer, I think I'll just bake it all off.  Can #2 of Guinness is now history.
 
12 oz Guinness
1 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (melted)
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour  (I added about 2 tablespoons more due to altitude)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
 
The brownies have a firm cake-like texture so I decided to slice one in half to make a brownie whoopie pie (see picture above) and fill it with just a little cream cheese frosting.  What a tasty experiment. 
 
Line your 13x9 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.   Preheat oven to 350. 
 
In a large bowl, whisk together Guinness and cocoa powder until blended and smooth.  Whisk in sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs, one at a time.  Blend well.   Add flour and salt;  whisk until smooth.  Stir in the chocolate chips.   Bake 42-45 minutes until top is shiny and dry.    Remove from oven and let cool completely.   Use the foil to pull it from the pan to slice into your favorite brownie size.  
 
{Shoe donation window is closed, but I still encourage you to donate to Soles 4 Souls}
I want your sole! This October (and early November) I'm participating in the Soles 4 Souls Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge. For more information about the challenge and how you (wherever you are) and your shoes can get involved to help others, please click here. That being said, I am going to try and incorporate shoes in every post I do this month. So here goes....


Saturday was my lazy cooking day.   I tried not to wear structured shoes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Recipe: Pumpkin Turkey Chili

I want your sole! This October (and early November) I'm participating in the Soles 4 Souls Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge. For more information about the challenge and how you (wherever you are) and your shoes can get involved to help others, please click here. That being said, I am going to try and incorporate shoes in every post I do this month. So here goes....



I now receive targeted coupons from King Soopers, the local grocery store.   Obviously by shoppers using their Sooper Cards, they (those people in an office somewhere who run reports) know exactly what products their customers buy on a regular basis.   I am not bothered by this.   I love to eat Clif bars for breakfast, so if they want to send me coupons, bring it on.   In the most recent coupon mailing, the good people at KS also included recipes.   

Today the weather in Denver made a dramatic shift.   Last weekend it was in the 80s and sunny.   All week it was nice, but getting a little windier during the day and a little cooler at night.   But even last night I was able to sit out on the patio without freezing to death.   But then it happened.   It usually happens within the first two weeks of October.   The first snow of the season.   It doesn't stick, but it does remind us that winter is on the way.   Among my friends this is usually a cause for celebration because it means that ski and snowboard season is right around the corner.   And what goes better with snow than chili?

First, dig your crock pot out from the back of your kitchen cabinet.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium white onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced (because I like garlic, if you don't, take it down to 1 clove)
1 lb ground turkey
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes for chili with peppers)
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 can (15oz) drained black beans
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder (I went half and half with chili powder and chipotle chile pepper to kick it up)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
dash salt (and then I added a second dash of seasoning salt)
dash of white vinegar - just because it adds some tang to the chili    

Garnishes:
low fat sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese (perhaps the habanero cheese from King Soopers), toasted pumpkin seeds

In a fry pan on the stove heat up the oil and then saute the onion and garlic until tender.  Your kitchen will smell delicious.   Stir in the turkey and cook until evenly browned.  Drain the fat.   

Put turkey and onions into the crock pot.  Add the tomatoes, pumpkin, beans, and seasonings.  Stir until mixed.   Put your crock pot on low and walk away.  4-5 hours later your chili is ready to enjoy.   Garnish with sour cream, cheese and pumpkin seeds.   You cannot taste the pumpkin, but it adds almost a creamy texture to the chili. 

And since the ski season is just around the corner, here's the "shoe" picture for this post in honor of the Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge.  My skis on the moving walkway at Beaver Creek last season.  To learn more about Soles 4 Souls, click here.

Hello October: Cider Days and Taste of Denmark

I want your sole! This October (and early November) I'm participating in the Soles 4 Souls Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge. For more information about the challenge and how you (wherever you are) and your shoes can get involved to help others, please click here. That being said, I am going to try and incorporate shoes in every post I do this month. So here goes....


Today it is cold and alternating between rain and light snow, depending on where you are in the Denver area.   But last weekend it was 80 degrees and sunny.   What gets you into the fall spirit faster than apple cider?  My sister and I met up with two other friends at the city of Lakewood Cider Days.   You can eat giant turkey legs, drink cider floats, see old-time crafts (tatting anyone?), watch the tractor pull and hand crank your own cider.  
As a part of our participation in the 10 Day Give - we stopped at this booth
to play a game and to make a donation to Camp Paha

Antique tractors on display at the tractor pull.  I used to live in Moline
(world headquarters of John Deere), so felt obligated to take this photo.

I liked the reflection in the barn window - including the mule ears

Wild Wings Environmental Education was also at the event and Sophie, their owl, was very photogenic. 

Since we were already in Lakewood we ventured to the Taste of Denmark bakery.   Growing up in southern Wisconsin, the grocery stores sold a Danish pastry called Kringle.  Raspberry kringle is my absolute favorite.  Earlier this year, my grandma surprised me by sending me an unexpected birthday kringle, so I was on an unofficial mission to see if there was a bakery somewhere in the Denver area that sold them.  As you can see, we bought all kinds of good things.   One thing I like about danish pastry is the use of almond paste.  More things in life need almond paste.   Sadly because we were there in the late afternoon they were out of kringle, but I don't feel cheated at all.



And as promised - these were the Cider Day shoes.  
If the event was today instead of last Saturday it would be something entirely different. 
And much warmer.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recipe: Spiced Apple Peanut Bars

I want your sole!  This October (and early November) I'm participating in the Soles 4 Souls Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge.  For more information about the challenge and how you (wherever you are) and your shoes can get involved to help others, please click here.    That being said, I am going to try and incorporate shoes in every post I do this month.   So here goes....


I have already introduced you to the estimable Mable Hoffman and her cookbook Chocolate Cookery.    This book made its way to me via my Grandma's house.   The copyright for my edition of this book is 1978.   I think the heyday of these shoes was probably a little bit before '78, but in honor of Mable and her career in the 1970s (as well as the shoe challenge), I present a photo of my gogo boots.


Now, onward to the recipe.   One of my co-workers said that they had all the good flavors of fall in each bite.   Apples are definitely in season here in Colorado, so there are a lot of options.   I'm pretty sure the only way Mable was able to justify this recipe making into her chocolate cookbook was the 1 tablespoon of cocoa.   Very sneaky Mable, very sneaky.

1/3 cup shortening at room temperature (I used margarine)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 - 1 1/2 diced peeled apple (I used Gala apples)
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Lightly grease a 9 inch square baking pan (or use silicone); set aside.  Preheat oven to 375.   In a large bowl cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until very light and fluffy.  Combine flour, powder, soda, salt, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.   With electric mixer on low, beat flour mixture into egg mixture until just combined.  Stir in oats, apple and peanuts.  Turn mixture into prepared pan.  Bake 25 minutes or until edges begin to leave sides of pan.   Cool completely before cutting.   Sprinkle with powdered sugar (if desired). 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Soles 4 Souls Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge

Traveler for Good's Happy Feet
For most of us here in the US, going without shoes is considered a treat.   You get home from work and you kick off your shoes.   You dream of a tropical vacation where you can lie on the beach and swim in the sea.  Swim up bars and beach restaurants are shoe optional.  Kenny Chesney's "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem" and the Zac Brown Band's "Toes" are your theme songs.   

We wear shoes so often that we take them for granted.  And we're lucky.   Elsewhere in the world shoes are a prized possession.   Little kids in Haiti or Tanzania may only have one pair.   And if they don't?  They can't go to school.   Imagine going for a job interview barefoot.   Do you think you'd get the job?  Shoes also provide safety: what if you step on a nail or drop a box?  Shoes protect us from the snow, the rain, illness and things that go bump in the night. 
As you may know, I enjoy travel and community service.   Here's your chance to do both, just by cleaning out your closet.   Your "pre-loved" shoes can have the trip of a lifetime, traveling to a child or adult in need, here in the US or around the world.  Imagine last years tennis shoes being worn by someone walking to work.   The cute shoes you daughter outgrew in about 30 seconds being worn by a little girl on her first day of school.  
  
I am participating in the Flippin' Good Deeds Challenge which is sponsored by Soles 4 Souls and Flip Flop Wines.   And I would love for you to donate shoes for this project.

Traveler's 6 Step Guide to being a Flippin' Good Person!   

1.   Gather your pre-loved shoes.   Tie each pair together, either with the shoelaces or with a rubber band (or a vintage scrunchie - your choice).
2.  If you have fewer than 10 pairs, you can donate them at a local drop off location.   Click here to search for one near you.
3.  If you have more than 10 pairs or would rather ship your shoe donation, please ship them to one of the Soles 4 Souls warehouses.   Click here for the addresses.  If you ship a box, please include the form from #4 (below) in the box as well.
4.  Whether you drop off your shoes or ship them, please fill out THIS FORM and email it to the Donor Services Guru at Soles 4 Souls, LaCita Mason (lacitam@giveshoes.org).   If faxing is your style, you can fax the form to 615-391-5730.    This form has my blog address on it (travelerforgood.blogspot.com) as well as my blogger ID for this challenge (ID #040). 
5.  Oooh, we're getting close to the end of the year....do you want a tax receipt?  Here you go!
6.  Give yourself a big hug.  Or grab somebody sexy and tell them "hey."  Your gift of shoes has made a difference for someone in need. 

You may be a flippin' good person all year, and I hope you are.   However, the deadline for all shoes to have been received and processed by Soles 4 Souls for this particular challenge is November 15.       

To learn more about Soles 4 Souls, the work that they do, and how you can get involved, please watch this short video. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day Trip: Cañon City

There we were cruising along towards Cañon City and then we saw the little blue sign with an arrow.   Happy Apples?  Of course we had to stop.  Sadly their apple crop had been wiped out, but we picked  happy raspberries instead.  Yum!
   
After Happy Apples, what else could we do but go to the Museum of Colorado Prisons?  The museum was the old women's prison and it was fascinating.   It also shares a wall with a current medium security prison (formerly a supermax).   Nothing like seeing guard towers and barbed wire up close and personal to give you the real prison museum experience.
Ice cream for lunch?  Don't mind if we do.   KaleidoScoops in Cañon City.

What prompted our trip to Cañon City originally was a coupon I bought from Denver Perks at the beginning of the summer.  It would be the momentum needed to make a day trip.   All the sudden the coupon was a few weeks from expiration, the summer had come and gone.  Unacceptable.   

A quick journey down memory lane:  The last time I was at Royal Gorge I was on a youth mission trip and full of middle school angst.  We did a lot of sight-seeing on that mission trip - the quintessential Colorado experience....from Casa Bonita to Pikes Peak, from Gunnison to Garden of the Gods....no wonder I wanted to move back here.   I remember taking endless (awful) pictures of the Colorado scenery:  the funny looking house on I-70, the red rocks for which Colorado is named, tiny snow capped mountains in the distance, the cliff divers at Casa Bonita.    Where is that album now?   I can just see myself in my khaki shorts and brand new Banana Republic t-shirt with a map on the back, being all self-conscious around the highschool boys. 
 
And now a return to the present:  It was a beautiful day to enjoy the bridge, arial tram, incline railway and the park - with no crowds.   It also meant no gunshows or cutesy stage entertainment.   That's ok.






At the end of the day we visited a friend in Colorado Springs who was preparing a "healthy Chinese meal" for us.   We busted out our chopstick skills enjoying dumplings, spare ribs, salmon, veggies and fruit.   And went home with bags of food to enjoy in the upcoming week.   A perfect Colorado day.

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