Note, this post is not about food.. it is about sustenance while hiking. We hiked the Grand Canyon over the holiday, and oh my it is grand! We hiked down to the Bright Angel campground on the South Kaibab trail and then returned to the South Rim the next day via the Bright Angel trail, a 9 mile uphill hike at >10% grade. The sights were fabulous! While hiking we consumed usual hiker food such as beef jerkey, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, power bars, and trail mix. At the bottom of the canyon, we were ravenous and immediately went to the Phantom Ranch canteen for snacks, postcards and card games. We then feasted! I had brought a dried beef stew, Joey brought packaged Indian food from whole foods, and our friends were geniuses.. They made dried mashed potatoes with peas and canned chicken. This was amazing and highly recommended!! For breakfast, we had oatmeal and eggs. And then we started our grueling 9 mile (7 hour) hike to the rim.

Here a a few photos from our trip, enjoy!

View on the hike down.


Drinking wine and playing hearts at the Phantom Ranch canteen.

Me on the hike back to the rim.


We ventured to the North Carolina Museum of Art late last fall for brunch at Iris and to explore the collections. It is a beautiful museum, with an amazing restaurant. If you’re local, you should go. If you’re not local, you should venture to NC and head here.

Brunch was delicious. To start, we were given wonderful scones and butter.I selected “quesadilla desayuno, scrambled eggs, farmers cheese, chorizo, black beans, lime-cilantro creme fraiche” for my meal. They were  amazing!! Nom nom nom. I’m excited to go back!

Life has been a bit nuts. I’m heading to Malawi next week for work, and have been traveling because of the holidays.

Anyhow, this is a pizza recipe my friend Lindsay concocted and it is fabulous. Enjoy!

Makes 1 pizza

Pizza dough, store bought raw dough or make your own
1 cup Arugula
3 figs, sliced
1 small onion, sliced and caramelized (use a medium onion if making more than 1 pizza)
3 oz. Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
1/2 Tsp. Basil, dried
1 Tbsp. Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 or use the grill.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add onions, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper and let cook until caramelized.

3. Roll out pizza dough and bake for 5 minutes or until cooked.

4. Top pizza crust with the remaining olive oil, onions, figs, mozzarella and basil. Bake in oven (about 14 min) or grill (about 10 min) until cheese is melted and crust is crispy and brown. Top cooked pizza with arugula and enjoy!!

After the flurry of thanksgiving, I wanted to make something that was hearty and light. I had purchased an eggplant earlier in the week. In light of these circumstances, I adapted a recipe for baked eggplant Parmesan and made a scrumptious homemade tomato sauce .

Baked eggplant Parmesan
Serves 5

Ingredients for tomato sauce (Makes 6+ cups)
1/2 Large Onion, diced
4 Cloves garlic, minced
3 Tb Olive oil
1/16 Tsp Salt
28 oz. Can of Whole Tomatoes
1 Cup Tomato sauce, canned
8 oz. Red wine (I used Bubo Old Vine Zinfandel)
1/8 Tsp Black pepper
1 Tsp Basil, dried
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Remaining ingredients:
1 eggplant
2 eggs, whisked
1.25 cups Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, dried
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 Lb Linguine

1. To make the tomato sauce, saute garlic, onion and salt in olive oil until translucent. Add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, black pepper, dried basil and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for ~30 minutes. If desired, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Create the assembly line by placing eggs in a small bowl and the breadcrumbs 1/4 cup dried Parmesan in another bowl.  Boil water in a medium sized saucepan. Slice the eggplant and immediately place in boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove the eggplant and place on towels to drain. Dunk each eggplant slice in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.Bake in oven for ~5 minutes on each side.

3. Cook pasta until al dente. After the eggplant fillets are baked on each side, place sauce over the bottom of a medium sized baking dish. Place eggplant fillet, sauce, and mozzarella  across the bottom of the pan. Add additional layers until remaining eggplant is used. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve eggplant Parmesan with pasta and the remaining sauce and a green salad.

A few weeks ago we had a cold wave here in Durham, now it is in the 60s and sunny. The cool weather inspired me to make chili, and I soon made this recipe again for my dear friends Dori and Dave after the arrival of their lovely daughter Abigail. This recipe makes a ton of chili, and freezes well. Enjoy!

Kitchen Sink Chili
Makes many servings for continued enjoyment.

1 Large Onion
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tb Olive oil
2 Large Carrots
1 Cup Corn, frozen
2 28 oz. Cans of Tomatoes, whole or diced
2 15 oz. Cans of Red Kidney Beans
3 Cups Vegetable Stock or water
Any other veggies you have hanging around (i.e. potatoes, peppers)
Sour Cream
Cheddar Cheese
1/16 Tsp Cayenne, use more or less depending on your desired spiciness (I can only handle mild- eg. mild salsa is spicy for me)
2 Tsp Chili Powder
Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. In a large soup pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add chili powder and cayenne.
2. Add carrots, tomatoes, kidney beans, stock (or water) and other veggies and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to simmer.
3. When vegetables are tender, add corn and continue cooking until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper (Note if your tomatoes are salted, you probably won’t need to add more salt).
4. Serve with sour cream and cheddar, and diced scallions if you have them!

In light of our hectic fall travel calendar, we chose to spend thanksgiving in Durham. Our dear friends Steve and Sam had us over for a magical evening. I contributed a green salad and pumpkin pie. Joey created a wonderful vegetarian Shepard’s pie, that he adapted from the Moosewood Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Lindsay made the cranberries and pear & cranberry pie. David made green beans with bacon. Steve and Sam made stuffing, turkey cooked with bacon on the skin and an English trifle. A great time was had by all. Here are some snippets of the evening, will post some of the recipes soon.

The lovely place settings.

Steve pouring champagne.

The spread.

Joey’s plate (note the bacon that topped the turkey!).

Joey and I have been making this risotto recipe for years. It is amazing! I make it about once a month in the fall/winter.

Vegetable Risotto
Makes about 5 cups

1 cup Arborio Rice
3 cups Vegetable Stock
2 Tb Olive oil
1 large Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 head Broccoli, chopped
2 large Carrots, diced
1 medium Butternut Squash, diced
2 medium Tomatoes, diced
1.5 cups Mushrooms, diced
2 slices Munster Cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1 Tb Basil, dried
Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable stock on medium until boiling, then turn down to a simmer.
2. While the stock is heating in a large pot, cook mushrooms, onion, garlic, and 1/4 Tsp salt  in olive oil until tender.
3. Add arborio rice and stir until the rice is golden brown. Add 1 cup of the heated stock to the vegetable mixture, stirring constantly. Add carrots, squash and continue to stir. Once the liquid is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of stock and broccoli. Continue to stir and add 1/2 cup of stock after the liquid is absorbed, and all of the stock is absorbed. Add tomato, munster, basil and Parmesan. Serve immediately and add more Parmesan if desired.