I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am so busy trying to make it through the day (the week, the month, the year) I often forget to stop and enjoy my life. Why do I do this? Why do I get caught up in the “busies”? Especially when life is such a beautiful gift!
When I DO try to sit down and relax, I’m then inundated with bad news from all over the world via my cell phone, laptop, etc. There are millions living in slums throughout India with no access to clean drinking water! Lions are being hunted to extinction for sport and traditional medicines! Terrorists have killed innocents in Belgium! The Amazon Rain Forest is being destroyed for slash-and-burn agriculture and road-building! Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!
What is one to do with all this information? I donate to the charities I believe will make a difference. I do yoga. I hug my family and my dog. But the best advice I’ve ever been given is when someone told me to TAKE A HIKE!!!
My husband often has to drag me out of my recording studio and out of the house kicking and screaming, but I’m always grateful afterward. We grab the daughter, the dog, the backpacks and drive a few miles away to absolute paradise where we hike till our feet fall off!
Recently, I was inspired by Bill Bryson’s, “A Walk In The Woods” where he recants his Appalachian Trail hiking adventures. I often wonder if I could do such a thing—take off on a hiking trip for several months? According to Bill, you can hike these historical, long-trails in SECTIONS so it’s not so overwhelming! What a concept!!! For more info, check out www.sectionhiker.com.
Walking Connection will set you up with naturalist interpretive guides, some of which are educators, photographers, landscape artists, geologists, botanists and published authors. They suggest using a guide for these five reasons:
1) They know where they are going! Guides are usually very passionate about their profession. They take great pride in showing you things you could never find on your own.
2) For the money, they are one of the best travel investments you can make. Unless you are fully knowledgeable about where you are visiting, they can save you time by taking you to the places that you should see and help you avoid the ones that are a waste of time.
3) Safety. Unless you are very familiar with the place you are visiting, whether it is in a deserted forest, open desert, mountain landscape or an urban setting, a guide can help you avoid danger. Through personal experience, we can tell you, if a guide tells you not to go to a certain place, take their word for it and don’t go.
4) Fun! Most guides we have traveled with have a bit of a “performer” in them. If they have been in the business for any length of time, they usually have a ton of interesting and fun stories about their travels and the people they have met along the way.
5) If you want to travel like a local, walk with a local. They can introduce you to people they know, their friends and family. Because of guides, we have been invited to impromptu stays and private home dinners in India, Italy, Peru, Australia, Kenya and too many more to mention here.
Check out the Connect Program and longer hiking list on www.walkingconnection.com
Mount Tom Traverse, Metacomet-Monadnock Trail (Easthampton/Holyoke, MA)
Mt. Tammany (Worthington State Forest, NJ)
Old Rag Mountain (Shenandoah National Park, VA)
Franconia Ridge Traverse (White Mountain National Forest, NH)
Beacon Heights (Linville, NC)
Cape Henry Trail (Virginia Beach, VA)
Torreya Challenge Loop (Bristol, FL)
Cohutta Wilderness, Jacks River Trail (Epworth, GA)
Blue Spring Loop, Conecuh National Forest (Wing, AL)
Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, Honey Creek Loop (Oneida, TN)
The Hayduke Trail’s Hurrah Pass, Arches National Park (Moab, Utah)
The Lost Coast (CA)
Williams Lake Trail (Ski Valley, NM)
Snowmass Wilderness, Maroon Bells (Aspen, CO)
Mt. Wittenburg Loop, Point Reyes National Seashore (Olema, CA)
Angels Landing (Zion National Park, UT)
John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada Mountains (Yosemite Valley, CA)
Here in Nashville, we have wonderful day-hikes:
Shelby Bottoms Nature Center, Percy Warner Park, Radnor Lake State Natural Area, Natchez Trace Parkway, Harpeth River State Park and Old Stone Fort State Park.
Since I’m from Alaska, I cannot help but mention some of my favorite, most beautiful places in the world:
Chilkoot Trail, Denali National Park and Preserve, Exit Glacier, Kenai Peninsula, Skagway, Chugach State Park, Juneau, Stampede Trail, Seward, Anchorage (trails through town are great to skate-ski in winter), Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Girdwood, Cooper Landing, Glacier Bay (my absolute fave!), Ketchikan, Kachemak Bay, Lake Clark and Sitka.
Please hike safely by getting in shape beforehand; bringing proper gear and attire; learning about local animals, flora and fauna; carrying your food in animal-proof canisters; and proper disposal of your waste.
Dehydrated foods work best when hiking, but I thought I’d share these recipes with you for when you’re not on the trail:
Kelly’s Crunchy Tacos:
Serves 4 Prep Time: 20 min Cook Time: 1 hr
1 package of Garden of Eatin’ Non-GMO Hard Taco Shells (10)
2 Cups Carrots (Pulsed into a course meal in food processor)
2 Cups Shredded Zucchini
½ Cup Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Non-GMO Coconut Oil (and spray for sheet pan – I use Dr. Bronner’s)
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
¼ Teaspoon Cumin
Smoked Cherrywood Salt (to taste)
Himalayan Pink Salt
6-8 Red Potatoes (sweet potatoes are a delicious alternate version)
Daiya Vegan Cheese (I prefer to use the mozzarella block form and place in the freezer so it’s easier to shred)
1 package of Sunflower Sprouts or 2 Avocados
1 lime (cut in half, then take the 2nd half and quarter)
Preheat Oven to 375 Degrees.
Place parchment paper on sheet pan, spray with coconut oil.
Cube the red potatoes and place on sheet pan. Spray with coconut oil and sprinkle lightly with Himalayan Pink salt. Place potatoes in oven on middle rack and roast for 30-40 minutes til potatoes are browned and soft in the middle.
While potatoes are cooking, put 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil in non-stick pan then add carrots, zucchini, fire-roasted tomatoes, garlic powder, cumin, squeeze in ½ the lime and salt. Cook til carrots are soft (5-7 minutes). Remove from heat and add cilantro. Cover and set aside.
5 minutes before potatoes are done, place taco shells on separate sheet pan and place on top oven rack.
When taco shells are browned, remove from oven. Remove potatoes. Assemble tacos in square bowls or taco stands. Fill with potatoes on bottom, carrot/zucchini mixture in middle then shredded vegan cheese (or regular cheese if you’re vegetarian), sunflower sprouts (I forgot to add those the other night before I snapped photo and they were eaten so quickly I never had the chance!) or avocado. Serve with slice of lime and your favorite hot sauce! Enjoy!
On a recent trip to LA, I dined at vegan restaurant Sun Café in Studio City (www.suncafe.com) where I enjoyed “Sun Florentine” for brunch. I posted a photo and some of you asked if I’d share the recipe. I don’t know theirs but I’ve hunted down separate recipes for all the components and assembled this version. Here ya go:
VEGAN HOLLANDAISE SAUCE
recipe from www.WholeFoods.com
3/4 cup cashew butter (purchase or make your own)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch cayenne pepper
Combine cashew butter, mustard, lemon zest and juice, garlic powder, turmeric, cayenne and 1/2 cup warm water in a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add more warm water as needed to reach the desired consistency. Refrigerate in an airtight for up to 3 days.
GLUTEN FREE VEGAN SANDWICH BREAD
Recipe from Megan Ancheta www.AllergyFreeAlaska.com
Prep: 7 min Cook Time: 55 min Servings: 1 loaf
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds, optional
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (I highly recommend SAF brand, the red package)
2 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons organic cane sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or maple syrup (or honey for non-vegan)
1/4 cup olive oil
12 ounces club soda, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F) and line a 8.5 x 4.5” loaf pan with parchment paper; liberally grease. (Make sure you use a 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan. If you don't, and use a 9 x 5, your loaf will spread out and bake out, instead of baking up like pictured.)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the sorghum flour, tapioca starch, millet flour, brown rice flour, flax seeds, baking powder, instant yeast, xanthan gum, and organic cane sugar.
Mix in the sea salt.
Add the honey and olive oil and turn the mixer to low. Slowly pour in the club soda.
Mix on medium to medium-high until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps, about 45 seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and use a spatula to evenly spread the dough and smooth the top.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the inside of the loaf measures 200 degrees (F) with an instant read thermometer. Remove from pan and cool completely before enjoying.
RECIPE NOTES FROM MEGAN
This recipe produces a smaller-sized loaf, about the size of an Udi's or Rudi's brand gluten-free loaf.
Cool completely before enjoying, seriously. This loaf in particular, when removed from the oven, still continues to cook as it cools. Please, please - let it finish cooling before slicing!
I don’t mix the sea salt with the other dry ingredients, because salt, if placed directly on top of yeast, can kill or inhibit the effectiveness of the yeast. It is better to mix all of the other dry ingredients first, and then add in the sea salt.
Instant yeast does not need to be proofed. Mixing the instant yeast directly into the dry ingredients, as the directions state, is not a typo.
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (I use Tamari Sauce to make a GF version)
1 tsp garlic powder
1.25 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 ttsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
dash or two or ground cinnamon
3 tbsp ketchup (I use 365 Organic Non-GMO brand)
1 tbsp yellow mustard (I use Organicville GF Non-GMO brand)
hot sauce, salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup of Quinoa (I use Lundberg’s brand)
-Whisk 2 cups of water with red wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, ketchup, and mustard together until well combined.
- Add in grain of choice, cover and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring every so often until all the water has absorbed, about 10-20 minutes**.
Add salt, pepper and hot sauce, stirring to combine
-Set aside covered for 15-30 minutes to allow flavors to merge before serving
**NOTE**If liquid has not cooked off after 20 minutes, remove lid and cook uncovered
Assembling the Sun Florentine:
I served this for Sunday Brunch so I cooked the bread and hollandaise sauce on Saturday but made the chorizo fresh on Sunday right before serving! I started by placing a bed of fresh, washed organic spinach and then two slices of bread on plate, topped it with freshly sliced tomatoes and chorizo, drizzled with hollandaise and topped with chopped chives and fresh cilantro. The Sun Café version uses Tempeh bacon, but I do not like it so I omitted it. You may serve with roasted fingerling potatoes (Coat fingerling potatoes in 1 T olive oil and sea salt on baking sheet in 375 degree oven for 1 hour).
**I do not receive funds from brands I recommend. These are items my family has used, consumed and enjoyed. They are organic, vegan, gluten free, Non-gmo products.
I wanted to give a special shout out to @TeamKellyM; @marino_angie; @kaz52112; and the wonderful #Bope Team for the extra love and support you’ve shown me during the International Songwriting Competition Finals!!!! Thank you so much!!!
For those of you who’d like to vote for Skippin’ Stones in ISC’s People’s Voice Awards please go to: