Thai Red Curry Chicken with Cauliflower Rice

I got the hankering for some Thai curry chow today.  I really enjoy that light creamy sauce that has just the right amount of chili heat to warm (or burn) your soul.  Beyond that, I love sopping up that last bit of sauce with a sticky bowl of white rice.

This dish has a few elements to it, but anybody can pull this off and look like you have Kung Fu kitchen skills!

IMG_1658-001

Ingredients
½ head of cauliflower
1 tbsp lime juice
1-2 tbsp red curry paste
12oz can of coconut milk
1 large chicken breast
2 cups of your favorite veggies
Coconut oil
Chili sauce (to taste)

Let’s start with the “rice.”  Take half of a head of cauliflower and put it in to a food processor.  Pulse until the cauliflower is rice-sized pieces.  Put the riced cauliflower into a sauce pan with about 12 ounces of water, a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of lime juice.  Simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Drain the extra water and set aside.

Next we need some red curry sauce.  You can pick up red curry paste at your grocery store or Asian food market.  Check the ingredients!  Bring the coconut milk and curry paste to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

In coconut oil, sautee your chicken and veggies.  I used bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and red bell pepper.

Combine your meat/veggies and red curry sauce and allow them to get to know each other over low heat for a few minutes.

Serve hot with the cauli-rice.  Add as much chili sauce as you’re willing to endure and chow down!

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Horchata

Horchata is a traditional Latin American drink. It is a lovely spiced and sweet milky drink. It is also a traditional American drink, but we call it “the milk leftover after eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch.” Whatever your ethnic roots name this drink, it is delicious!

IMG_1656

Horchata is typically a rice based drink. And clearly that isn’t going to fly in the Paleo world. The interesting thing about horchata is that it looks and tastes like it’s made from milk. So a standard paleo milk substitution does the trick!

Horchata
8oz. Coconut milk (or almond milk)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey

You can try and mix this up with a spoon if you are in absolutely no rush, but I recommend the blender.

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Denali 2014 – Part 3

Day 11

Our guide, Larry, wasn’t feeling so well today, but Dusty was still game to take a team up the fixed lines and make the cache.  Per some AMS and park service rules, Dusty could only take 4 of the 6 of us.  The first 3 were the short straw drawers from the day before – Frank, Kali, and Uwe.  I volunteered to join them and took along Kyle’s cache and some shovels in addition to my own load.

IMG_1604

A look from 14 camp at some teams (look closely) moving up towards the ridge (16,200′)

There was moderate snowfall the previous night erasing the trail from the day before.  About two hours of climbing and we reached the base of the fixed lines.  There was one team ahead of us ascending the lines.  Dusty, Frank, and myself had gotten our ascenders on the fixed lines when a heavy sloughing of snow came loose.  This was the snowfall from the night before being set loose by the team above us on the fixed lines.  It was not the fault of the team ahead of us; it’s just something that can happen.

More and more snow kept coming at us.  Frank and I were just shy of waist deep in snow.  Kali was more than waist deep (mostly because of her waist being significantly lower).  Uwe was in the back having a good laugh.  He was just below a crevasse that was consuming the entire sloughage.

Dusty made the call to turn around.  It wasn’t worth fighting up the fixed lines and then descending in those conditions.  We quickly dug a cache near wear Uwe was enjoying our misfortune and headed back to camp.

Day 12

We took a rest day today.  My legs were feeling quite fresh in the morning and I was a bit bummed that we weren’t going to try and make a move to high camp.  Dusty and another AMS guide did make a run to grab our cache and bump it up to the top of the fixed lines.  I wasn’t going to argue with this.  It was going to make our next move a little bit easier.

Day 13

Time to move to high camp!  Larry was feeling much better and we broke down camp and roped up.  The trail up to the fixed lines was well packed making that section a little easier than before.  The trail up the fixed lines was also well traveled and had “bomber” (as Dusty said) footsteps kicked into it.

Travel up the fixed lines is slow.  The team has to constantly stop and go as each team member passes from rope to rope, unclipping our ascender and “cow tail” (a caribiner on a line attached to ourselves) at each transition.  The slow pace was welcome.  The fixed line section was incredibly steep and I was feeling drained already.  One thing helping me up the fixed lines was the ascender.  This allows you to use your arms to help pull you up.  The guides told us ‘not to do pull-ups’ all the way up the fixed lines, but my legs needed all the help they could get.

IMG_1617

A view from the ridgeline

At the top of the fixed lines we took a right hand turn to travel along the ridge.  The views were beautiful!  I would love to have enjoyed them more, but we had to keep moving.  A short ways along the ridge and we stopped to pick up our cache.  At this point I was running on empty.  I was extremely exhausted and we still had a ways to go.

IMG_1619

A view of the second section of fixed lines leading up to the prominent Washburn’s Thumb

Along the ridge we reached Washburn’s Thumb.  There was a very short section of fixed lines to ascend here.  I was digging down for any bit of energy I could find just to keep up with our extremely slow pace.

We rolled into camp after 7 hours 45 minutes of travel.  I got my ass handed to me on a silver platter on this move.  Actually, that’s way understated…

IMG_1622

The most lovely 17 camp

With ass in hand, we built camp.  The team of 8 was now in two 4-man tents.  A very cramped situation, but better than carrying another tent.  I guess.

Day 14

The weather was no bueno today.  The winds higher up the mountain were too high to make a summit attempt.  I was very cool with the decision to sit after the butt kicking I received on the way to high camp.

IMG_1623

Denali Pass (18,200′) taken from 17 camp

Day 15

Bad weather.  Continue to wait.

Day 16

Bad weather.  Continue to wait.

Day 17

Bad weather.  Continue to wait.

Day 18

The weather up the mountain was still too windy to summit.  On the other hand, it was just good enough to descend, so we broke down camp and headed back down the ridge.  There was some traffic ascending the narrow ridge as we were coming down.  This made travel slower and more dangerous as it was harder to get the rope team clipped into the running protection on the more exposed sections.

At the top of the fixed lines the winds got intense.  If we had these winds in the morning, we wouldn’t have broken down camp to move.  At this point we were committed to continue the descent.

Descending the fixed lines is also slow for the same reasons that going up is slow, except we do not use the ascender.  Half way down the fixed lines, we were out of the wind and life started getting way better.  It took four hours to make the move back to 14 camp.  Here we dug up our cache and borrowed a cook tent to eat dinner.

IMG_1633

Looking towards Windy Corner from 14 camp at sunset

The team decided to keep pushing down the mountain.  At 10pm we rolled out of 14 camp.  We traveled around Windy Corner and as we were crossing the Polo Fields the view was the best of the entire trip in my opinion.  The sun was low, lighting up the scattered grey clouds in red and yellow.  The wind was brisk and a light visible snow was wisping across the Polo Fields in dim light.  As we traveled leisurely through this section I was trying to soak up as much of this view as I could.  I wish I had a picture of this for you!

We made it to 11 camp right at midnight.  We stopped long enough to dig up our cache and switch from crampons to snowshoes.

Day 19

We continued our night travel and made it back to the base of Ski Hill (7,800) around 4:30 am.  This was the first time we had traveled at night.  No need for head lamps.  It was an amazing experience!

IMG_1635

An icy selfie

Here we rolled out our sleeping bags and slept out in the open for about 3.5 hours.  We packed up quickly and started out on the last leg of the descent.

We moved well across the mostly flat section and took a break at the base of Heartbreak Hill.  We descended the hill to start our climb 17 days before and now we were finally going to understand where it got its name.

IMG_1639

Taking a rest after rolling into base camp

Heartbreak Hill is a very low grade hill.  On paper it’s extremely mellow and shouldn’t be heartbreaking.  On any other day of the trip, it wouldn’t have been.  We spent a very long hour grinding up the 400-500 feet of gain.  The heartbreak was over when we rolled into base camp and took the packs off!

IMG_1640

Parker celebrating with style

We prepared our gear to load into the air taxi to go back to Talkeetna.  Unfortunately, the weather prevented planes from coming in so we pitched our tents and hoped a clear flying window would present itself the next day.

Day 20

Early in the morning and we got the word our plane was in the air on the way to base camp.  Everyone was pumped and ready to go back.  We broke down camp way faster than any other day!

The taxi arrived and we rushed to load up.  The flight out was awesome!  As we cleared the mountains we saw trees!

A lovely lunch with the team and guides in Talkeetna and we all went our separate ways to go home.  We had already forgotten about the dispair of sitting at high camp for 5 nights and there was lots of talk about trying again next year.  Myself included!

Posted in Mountains | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Denali 2014 – Part 2

Day 2

I would say we started the day at first light, but that wouldn’t really be accurate.  This time of year, there’s no darkness.

We grubbed and broke down camp.  For an expedition of this nature, it requires more gear and food than can be stored in just a backpack.  Our team of 8 started out with just shy of 1000 pounds of gear.  To carry all that gear, we each dragged a loaded sled behind us.

IMG_1520

Roped up and lookin’ good

From base camp (7,200′) we descended “Heartbreak Hill” to about 6,800′ and climbed gradually to our next camp at the base of Ski Hill (7,800).  Just as we started setting up tents and digging our kitchen area, the clouds descended and engulfed the camp in a snowy, low visibility embrace.

IMG_1523

Uwe helping dig the kitchen

Day 3

The embrace of stormy weather continued and we decided to sit tight for the day.  Even though we weren’t moving, the camp required continual shoveling to keep tents and gear in good order.

IMG_1531

Larry, Parker, Uwe, and Frank hanging out in the kitchen

Day 4

The weather didn’t get any better, but we made our next move.  We loaded up extra gear and food in our packs and sleds and headed up Ski Hill to make a cache in between our camp and the next camp at 11,200′.

IMG_1542

Cache digging

The whiteout conditions and fresh snowfall made the climb interesting as we had to break trail though foot deep powder.  Even with the snowshoes, there was quite a bit of postholing.  This is exhausting work!

We dug our cache (~9,900′) and buried our extra supplies to be recovered later.  The way back to our camp was much quicker as we were now heading down hill with empty packs.

Day 5

Our whiteout continued.  Undeterred, we packed up camp and set off to move to the next camp at 11,200′.  Again, we were breaking trail most of the way as the snow had not let up and the previous day’s trail was completely gone except for some well placed wands from the day before.

IMG_1540

We saw a number of dead birds at 7,800′ camp and up to 11 camp. Small birds get blown of course and die in this harsh terrain. This group was getting tossed around by the high winds. A similar fate for these birds if they stick around too long.

Even though we had cached a fair amount of supplies the previous day, the gear load was not light.  Our team pushed hard for 7.5 hours to make the 3,400′ climb to ’11 camp,’ passing our cache along the way.

IMG_1555

11 camp in the not so lovely weather we were enjoying

Exhausted from a long day of climbing, it was time to set up camp again.  We found a previously camped spot and did some shoveling to spruce it up a bit.  It was getting late, so we put off digging a formal kitchen until the next day.  The guides cooked up dinner in the tent vestibule and we ate in our tents that night.  This was a taste of what life is like at high camp.  (You like that pun?)

Day 6

We slept in until mid-morning to fully rest from the late finish the day before.  As we were all now accustomed to the bad weather, it was just expected that morning activities included shoveling the snow from the night before.  The team then got together to dig our kitchen and raise the kitchen tent.

Again, we decided to rope up and move in the less than ideal conditions.  The task for today was to descend approximately 1300’ to retrieve our cache we deposited on day 4.  The trip down to the cache was very quick.  It was nice to move downhill with nothing in our packs.

Once at the cache, we dug it up and loaded our gear and headed back up the hill.  It was only a few minutes from enjoying the stroll down the hill to slowly grinding our way back up.  About 30 minutes outside of camp and we got caught behind a slow moving team.  While the slow pace was easy to maintain, it was difficult to stay warm in the windy/snowy conditions.

Day 7

We finally saw the sun today!  Along with that were some gorgeous views we had all come to see.

IMG_1563

A view up Motorcycle Hill from 11 camp

Even though the weather was better, the wind further up the mountain did not make the next cache day look like an appetizing endeavor.  We would have been looking to move gear up around Windy Corner at about 13,700’.

A lovely casual day for the team!

Day 8

Another clear day and the wind appeared to have died down so we got ready to cache some gear.  The path was not very long in distance, but a climb of about 2,500’ up steeper trail still dragging our sleds let everyone know that today was not a gimmie.

The route:
Climb Motorcycle Hill
Veer to the right up Squirrel Hill
Cross the Polo Fields
Go around Windy Corner

IMG_1572

Looking at Windy Corner from the edge of the Polo Fields

The guides had been telling us about keeping a manageable pace and making sure you don’t burn yourself out.  While I had listened to the words, I didn’t follow their advice.  The pace up Squirrel Hill had taken its toll on my and I was struggling to keep pace across the fairly flat Polo Fields.  We took a break here (which I was absolutely dying for).  The next leg was to climb up and around Windy Corner.  This section is notorious for rock fall, so it’s important to minimize your exposure and move quickly.  It was a difficult section for me as I was digging down to find the legs I needed to keep up.

IMG_1566

Just in case you were wondering. This is what our bathroom looked like. Pee hole with the infamous CMC beside it. CMC stands for clean mountain can. Ironic.

We all got around the corner in one piece and dug the cache.  The next leg was to retrace our steps back to 11 camp.  Even though I was worn out, the downhill move with no pack weight was quite easy and even a good recovery activity from the climb.

Day 9

Keeping in mind the wake-up call I got the day before, we packed up and got ready to move.  The route was the same, but we would continue on past our cache along a mellow rise into 14 camp (14,200’).

IMG_1590

Kyle putting on his jacket during a break. Awesome view behind him!

This day went very well for me compared to the day before.  I was actually feeling good enough to want to pick up the cache gear as we went by.  We did not do this and by the time we reached 14 camp I was pretty tired and thankful we had not.

At 14 camp we found a large walled in campsite that had been abandoned with a lovely walled in bathroom (aka – pee hole).  A little bit of shoveling to spruce up the site and we pitched our tents.  Another team effort to dig a kitchen and we were sitting pretty at 14,200’!

IMG_1608

View of Mt. Foraker from 14 camp

From here we had gorgeous views of Mt. Hunter and Mt. Foraker.  We also had a view of what lay ahead when it was time to move up the mountain.

Day 10

A quick (18 minute) stroll down the mountain and we were back at the cache set on day 8.  We loaded up and leisurely made our way back to camp.  It was a quick and easy back carry.  The team looked great, especially considering the difficult move the day before.

IMG_1601

Kinda artsy, ain’t it?

That night at dinner we talked about the go forward plan.  The next move would be to carry gear to the top of the fixed lines for a cache.  Since there was only group gear for four people to carry, we drew straws to see who had to carry it.  I drew a long straw.  No group gear for me!

IMG_1610

Straw drawing

Posted in Mountains | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Denali 2014 – Part 1

As you are now very well aware, I have been on a mission to climb the highest point in all 50 states. With 49 in the bag, I headed to Alaska to try and complete the set. The obstacle in my way was the 20,320′ giant, Denali.

While climbing Denali involves many footsteps in Denali National Park, it is by no means a walk in the park. It requires an organized and well trained team to achieve a safe ascent. Beyond that, it requires the cooperation of the mountain weather. As you will read and see, the weather makes the journey a bit… interesting…

Day 1
I met up with the team (2 guides and 5 other climbers) at the Alaska Mountaineering School (AMS) headquarters in Talkeetna, Alaska, and had a thorough gear check to make sure nothing extra was included and nothing necessary was left behind. A mistake in gear check can be an expedition ending move!

IMG_2721

Larry, Uwe, Parker, Me, Dusty, Kyle, Frank, Kali

The team:
Me – you know me
Frank – Globe-trotting cyclist
Kali – One tough Air Force girl
Kyle – One tough former Army dude
Parker – Fellow Houstonian
Uwe – German/Californian surfer

Guides:
“Scary” Larry Holmgren
“Dirty” Dusty Eroh

After a lovely lunch, we headed to the airport to catch a ride to base camp. Once I set foot on the glacier the ‘I have arrived’ feeling hit me. This is the climb I’ve had in my sights for so long!

IMG_1515

Unloading the plane at base camp

I had to shake that overwhelming feeling of awe quickly. The team was already unloading the plane and I jumped in to do my part. This mountain requires your game face!

We set up camp, enjoyed a gourmet salmon burger dinner and discussed our next moves.

Posted in Mountains | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients (per each stuffed squash):
1 acorn squash
1/3 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped zucchini, red bell pepper and onion (total)
1 clove of garlic
chili powder
cumin
salt
pepper

IMG_1499

Take the top inch or so off your acorn squash. Scoop out all the seeds to create a bowl. Also chop off a little bit of the bottom so the squash can sit upright. Brown your ground beef with the seasonings. Add your veggies to the pan for just a few minutes so they get to know the beef. Stuff the meat and veggies into your squash. Put the squash top on the squash. Bake at 400 for one hour.

Just a note here: The more veggies you put in this recipe will directly effect the amount of meat you can stuff in the squash. I choose to err on the side of more meat, obviously.

Give your squash a couple minutes to cool and go at it with a spoon. It’ll be zesty and squashy! Enjoy!

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pork Stew

I had a bunch of left over veggies this week. This means it’s time for stew. Of course, I crock pot my stew because I’m efficient (or lazy). Ain’t nobody got time to stir a pot every 20 minutes!

IMG_1498

TV + Stew

Here’s what my stew was stewin’:

1 chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 pound of carrots
1 chopped green bell pepper
2 pounds of pork cubes
1/2 head of cabbage
1 can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper

You can just throw all this junk in the crock pot if you like, but I suggest putting the onion on the bottom to keep the pork from possibly sticking and pouring the can of diced tomatoes over the top to keep everything moist.

On low for +/- 10 hours. You now have stew.

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Refreshin’ Mexican

I got hit with Mexi-cravings again.  Today’s south of the border fix is light, super fresh, and most importantly, downright delicious!

IMG_1492

Oh yeah! That’s the stuff!

A lovely cilantro lime grilled chicken with a zesty tomatillo salsa is on the menu.  For the chicken, mix up the marinade and throw it in a bag or container with the chicken for a couple hours.  Put those bad boys on the grill for that extra flavor that only the kiss of flame can deliver.

While the birds are cooking, you can quickly make the tomatillo salsa.  Just throw all the ingredients into the food processor and give it a whirl.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Marinade
6 chicken tenderloins
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice

While the birds are cooking, you can quickly make the tomatillo salsa.  Just throw all the ingredients into the food processor and give it a whirl.

Tomatillo Salsa
4 tomatillos (husked)
1 clove garlic
1/4 jalepeno seeded
a few stems worth of cilantro leaves
1 tbsp lime juice

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rump in the Pot

Got a huge appetite and small motivation to cook? Ok, good. You’ll like this one.

So I saw a nice rump in the grocery store and picked it up. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it at the time, but I always pick up good looking meat when I see it.

Crock Pot Beef Rump Roast
Dice an onion and throw it in the crock pot. Place your rump roast on top. Separately, mix up the following seasonings:
Chili powder
garlic powder
paprika
onion powder
pepper
cayenne

IMG_1486

Rump in the pot fully seasoned

I didn’t measure these out, but they are listed in order of how much I put in the mix (chili powder being the most, cayene the least). Pour the mix all over your meat. Put the crock pot lid on. Set it on low, and come back 10 hours later. The crock pot doesn’t care if you come home late. A little extra time won’t kill this dish.

IMG_1488

Grub

I had roasted carrots with this. Also pretty idiot proof. Peel your carrots, lightly coat with olive oil and salt. Place in the oven for 40-60 minutes depending on how thick your carrots are and how firm or soft you like them. Flip half way through.

Enough of the veggies. Back to the beef. This beef is both delicious and versatile. I had it straight up as you see in the picture, but I also used it with some over easy eggs for breakfast and in stir fry later on. The seasoning from the beef melds well with so many things!

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bierstadt: Round 2

After my failed attempt to make a snowy ascent of Mt Bierstadt a few months ago, I’ve had it in my head to return and give it another go. I got the opportunity to meet up with some buds in Denver for the weekend with a plan to tackle one of Colorado’s 14ers.

In planning for this second attempt of Bierstadt, I took the learnings I had from before and made sure we had snowshoes!

IMG_1467

Sarah ready to go!

After a casual breakfast and drive to the trailhead, we got on the trail around 9:30am. Equipped with some extra layers and trail grub, we started up the snow-covered trail. An hour and a half in to our climb and we were clear of the trees and had a clear view of the summit.

IMG_1465

Austin posing for the camera

Luckily for us, we hit the weather lottery and got a cloudless, fairly warm, sunny day in the mountains. The down side to this is the three of us are paler than average. SPF 50 is worth its weight in gold!

I had forgotten how much the altitude effected me. I felt like I was gasping for air from the first step. As the trail got steeper and the air got even thinner, our pace slowed and break frequency increased.

IMG_1476

Havin’ a break. Enjoyin’ the view.

Austin was crushing it and made it to the summit at around 1pm. I was an hour behind. The summit was windy and cold, but the feeling was amazing! With legs burning and face freezing, I snapped a couple pics and started making my way down.

IMG_1478

Summit view

IMG_1479

Another summit view

Unfortunately, Sarah was feeling considerable discomfort and elected to not attempt the summit.

We regrouped just shy of the summit and descended. The snow had softened quite a bit since the morning and even the snowshoes couldn’t keep up on top of the snow all the time.
Back at the car at 6pm. An extremely exhausting, will-testing, and absolutely fantastic 8.5 hours in the mountains!

IMG_1482

Team selfie:  Austin, myself, and Sarah

Round 2 of David vs. Bierstadt goes to David!

Posted in Mountains | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments