Imnaha Springs, Oregon

An old Forest Service cabin, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Core in the 1930s, sits near Imnaha Springs in Southern Oregon. It’s a magical place where crystal clear water gushes out of mossy ground to form Imnaha Creek. Now available as a vacation rental, the cabin’s location is idyllic. Lush monkey flowers and miners lettuce line the stream banks, and the sound of gurgling water fills the forest. Lovely as it was, my dad and I didn’t linger. We’d come on a mission – to find King Bolete mushrooms.

Kooky mushroom expert David Arora calls them “the consummate creation, the peerless epitome of earthbound substance, a bald bulbous pillar of thick white flesh – the one aristocrat the peasants can eat!” If you’ve sampled this mushroom, you might find such effusive descriptions are apt for King Boletes, also known as porcini. Firm, meaty, with an earthy aroma, they are absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, little grubs and animals think they’re delicious also; sometimes fresh mushrooms are riddled with bugs. We didn’t find a bounty of boletes, but the one we brought home was absolutely perfect. The real excitement of the day, however, wasn’t of the fungi variety.

king bolete, porcini, oregon mushroom

king bolete, bolete mushroom, boletus edulis

Eyes trained at the ground, searching for mushroom caps, I was more focused on the forest floor than usual. A small spot of softness caught my attention. Can you see it?

fawn, baby deer, bambi,

A tiny fawn, no more than a week old, lay curled in the undergrowth. Young fawns rely on their spotted coat and stillness to hide from predators. Had I been simply hiking, I certainly would’ve walked right by.

fawn, camouflaged fawn, baby deer

I’d never seen any living thing be so utterly motionless. We stared through binoculars, trying to discern whether or not it was breathing. We thought we saw movement in its small body, but it was so hard to tell. We waited for the little thing to blink. To twitch an ear. Nothing.

Finally we moved on, trying to find a few more mushrooms. Thwarted, we circled back to see if the fawn was still there. This time I crept closer, and watched as the fawn took a big breath. I also saw it twitch its nose almost imperceptibly. It’s easy to see how people think fawns are injured or abandoned; I easily could’ve picked up this tiny fawn. But the doe was undoubtedly somewhere nearby. The fawn was simply acting on survival instinct to remain still and wait for its mother to return. It was incredible to be so close to something wild and beautiful.

Our single King Bolete was quickly sautéed with butter and viognier, an elegant addition to simple rice bowls. We kept talking about the fawn, our thoughts on a small, dappled body in a spot of green.

camouflage fawn

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Grand Teton National Park, WY

Wildlife abounds in Grand Teton National Park. During our first few hours here, we saw a chipmunk eating flowers and a heard of elk, in addition to everything you see below. I am now faced with the terrible decision – which is the cutest National Park animal – a pika or a marmot? Or the Prairie Dogs from Wind Cave?

Yellow Bellied Marmot

We saw dozens of these dapper Yellow Bellied Marmots. I’d like to cuddle them.

Moose mother and calf, Grand Teton National Park, Tetons

Mother moose & calf, feeding beside a waterfall, which is just out of the frame. They’re standing front-to-back here, making them look like a two-headed beast.

Pika, Grand Tetons, Grand Teton National Park

Tiny, chirpy pika peeked out of his (her?) hiding hole.

Moose, Grand Tetons, Grand Teton National Park

Male moose with his growing antlers still in velvet.

Moose, Grand Tetons

Another shot of the handsome, hungry chap.

Buffalo, Grand Tetons, Grand Teton National Park

Big ol’ buffalo just hanging out in the road.

Grand Tetons National Park

Ocean Springs, MS

Image

This little Carolina Anole put on quite a show yesterday at the Gulf Islands National Seashore. We watched, rapt, as he changed colors from bright green to brown. Then, with a flourish, he proceeded to pull the old skin off his tail and eat it. Perhaps not your idea of a tasty snack, but incredible to see nonetheless.

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Arroz con Pollo

Aaaaaaand we’re back. Tanned, relaxed and missing the monkeys. Here’s a recipe to whet your appetite; more to come about our full adventure!

white faced monkey, montezuma, costa rica, capuchin

Even though the beaches and tropical forests feel very far away on this cold rainy day, we can still eat as though we’re in Costa Rica. Costa Rican cuisine is simple, with beans and rice at the heart of every meal. One of our favorite dishes was Arroz con Pollo, which we often ordered at the sodas, or causal diners, that are common in every city. This was from Soda Naranjo, one of our favorite eateries in Montezuma. My recipe, below, is inspired by this dish, but isn’t necessarily authentic.

arroz con pollo, costa rica, montezuma, chicken and rice

Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken) 

2 lbs bone-in chicken thighs

3 Tbs vegetable oil

2 C long-grain white rice

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 small carrot, shredded

1 tsp dried oregano

1 15-oz can chopped tomatoes

3 C chicken broth

1. Add oil to a large, deep frying pan that has a lid. Heat over medium-high. Add chicken pieces and brown on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside.

2. Add rice to pan and cook for a few minutes until lightly browned, stirring regularly. You can add another 1 tsp of oil if it seems too dry. Add onion, cook until translucent. Add garlic, bell pepper and carrots. Cook until softened. Add oregano.

3. Stir in tomatoes (and their juice). Return chicken thighs to pan, placing them skin-side up on top of the rice. Pour in chicken broth.

4. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over medium-low until rice and chicken are cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can either chop the chicken and mix it back in, or serve a chicken thigh on top of each serving of rice.

Suggested side dishes: fried plantains, avocados, cabbage salad and cucumber slices. Or, pile on french fries for a true Costa Rican experience!

Banff and Lake Louise

I intended this blog to be much more about food & cooking – and it will be, it will be! It’s just that these national parks are so stunning I’m compelled to write about them here.

There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the beauty of Banff and Lake Louise. Everything was “er” – the mountains seemed higher, the rocks craggier, lakes bluer, wildlife easier to spot. Continue reading

Glacier National Park

Limited Internet makes keeping this current a bit challenging! The past four days we’ve been in Glacier National Park, hiking and gawking and trying to stay dry. It’s been stormy, with the steep mountains draped in clouds and rain every night. Many of the trails are still closed due to snow.  Still, wildflowers are abundant as if a careless gardener threw open packets of seeds all along the roadways and valleys.  Continue reading