Thursday, December 4, 2014

A few days away

Tenaya Lodge

Big Ag and I took advantage of the slow season to head up to the mountains for a few days of rest and relaxation.  We stayed at a lodge close to Yosemite National Park, thinking we'd go down to the valley floor and see the sights for a day or so.  But Mother Nature had other plans and we were rained out.  Which meant we were forced to spend the two days at the lodge huddled up by the giant fireside reading books, in the basement playing pool, sitting in the hot tub, eating great food and then working it off at the gym while the rain poured down outside. 

I know.  First World Problems, right?

Yosemite Park is ready for the holidays.

All in all it was not a bad way to spend a vacation.  We've been to Yosemite many times already, and unless the ancient rock formations have changed, I'm thinking we probably didn't miss much down in the park.  But sitting around at the lodge was a lovely way to kick off the holiday season, and although we love where we live, the brief change of scenery from provencal-style vineyards to Alpine pine forest was great.


  1. Oh that sounds so nice! That tree is gorgeous! I wouldn't mind being rained in. I'm sure the sights look all the more lovely glittering in the rain. Especially considering how badly it's needed! Glad you made the best of it, despite the change in plans!

  2. Thanks! We probably could have rouged it and made the hours' drive down to the Yosemite Valley floor, but Half Dome and El Capitan would have been obscured by clouds -- the same clouds we were wrapped up in high on the ridge. Sometimes it is just very nice to be in lovely surroundings doing absolutely nothing! And hearing the rain fall for two days straight was wonderful. There are many pine trees up there that look stressed, no doubt due to lack of water. This should help.

    1. Oh I'll bet it was! Hopefully the mud slides weren't an issue in your area? Also, wanted to let you know I added a few more pictures of the SV devices to my blog post in case you're interested!

    2. I have the Anova on my Amazon wish list (along with the vacuum sealer and bags) and have decided to buy it. It's just too good of a device; I honestly cannot believe I have never heard of it. So excited! And yes, I am sure I will have questions about cooking with you have a recipe book for it you particularly like, I saw a couple on Amazon but was wondering if there was one you liked or used successfully?

    3. I don't think I did have a recipe book. I doubt they had been written yet. Honestly, I doubt you need one. You're a good enough cook to come up with your own seasoning blends and timings. It's almost shocking how easy it is. I have a mixture I commonly use--I'd say it's about 30% kosher salt, 30% Italian seasoning (without salt), 20% black pepper, and 10% and 10% ground mustard and chili powder. It's a great multi-purpose spice blend. Then I'll make it the consistency of damp sand with vinegar, wine, vodka, or whiskey and rub it all over. A touch of liquid helps the rub attach to the meat. And I prefer to use alcohol because it amplifies flavor and will help the surface of the meat dry faster when you take it out and brown. Temperatures are the only thing that require some special attention. Chicken I keep at 161 the whole time. Beef roasts (like chuck, not a tenderloin) I'll do at 140 until the last two hours, when I turn it up to 165. Fat will not render below 160ish, and beef fat will not render quickly enough when browning at the end. The thing I cook the hottest in the sous vide is duck. That I'll cook at 175 for only five hours. Just depends on how quickly you need to liquefy the fat. Duck will become chewy if the fat is not rendered at once, so it needs that immediate heat. Beef fat will render easily. Some people will start high and end low, but that is playing with fire (in a water bath!) in my opinion because it gives a chance for bacteria to grow. Sorry for the length of this rambling comment!

    4. No apologies necessary, this was the stuff I wanted to know! The reason for the cookbook was actually the cooking times...on one of the sites where people were reviewing the Anova, there was a HUGE discussion about food safety, and one woman said she always cooked her chicken to 140 (yes, chicken!), which seemed too low to me and also some others who commented, even if it was done over several hours. I will always remember our friend at Cold Antler Farm giving herself campylobacter! But if you cook yours at 161 for a couple of hours, that sounds a whole lot better -- and safer. I just didn't know if cooking it that high would ruin the tenderness, but lowering the temp is playing with fire and I'm not sure I'd enjoying my meal worrying if it was safe! There, now I have a rambling comment of my own lol!