City Girl Goes Outdoorsy

Pivotal moments for my psyche have revolved around the outdoors. Key moments.

Gresham, OR

We had some fairly intense fog in early October of 2013. I don’t live in the mountains, but it damn well felt like it at times.

And then in the second week of December, we had ice and snow at the campus I go to school at. The pond (that people stupidly fish from) froze over.

And then I began my Wilderness Survival class. Most people felt like it was an introduction to camping, but for this city girl who craves the wilds, it was essential coursework. And also, really fun. See: photo above, my first attempt at a shelter. Sorry for the blurriness.

And then, I got better. I got more equipment, and played around with more abstract setups that required minimal tiedowns.

And as we reached the end of the term, I had pretty much everything. I was ready for field day, hell, I was more ready for anything to get out of concrete everythings and not have the sound of cars permeate every waking moment.

Also, can I just say that my hatchet is effing badass?

And the next day, the field day was incredible. We left early, crammed into vans and an hour’s drive later, we pitched our emergency shelters, and completed our scenarios. Team Gladiator scored all 5’s on all 8 scenarios, including the bonus ones. We then decided to make pine needle tea with an old can we found near the river. Much success, such wilderness.

Winter term came to a close. My Wilderness class project, a camping trip to a po-dunk area of Southwestern Oregon near the confluence of the Illinois-Rogue Rivers, was complete, and we were due to leave the following Monday after finals.

My preferred shelter, actually in use, barely stood up to the rain. It was the thought that counts, and I know now what I need to do. Here’s the major parts of what I brought (since we didn’t hike in):

  • Hi-Tec Waterproof Hiking Boots [similar here]
  • Texsport Reinforced Tarp – Camo [here]
  • Thermarest Ridgerest [here]
  • Browning 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
  • High Sierra Access Pack
  • Coleman Hiking Pole
  • Timbuk2 Messenger Bag – Small
  • Cheap crappy solar charger

I also had most of what I included on my field day set mixed in here, with different clothes… except I should’ve brought the snow pants during the camping trip. With how much it rained, I needed them. Hindsight man… hindsight.

But let me show you what a little area called Oak Flat Campground looks like…

Three days here. It rained most of the time, and shown are the intermittent breaks in cover we had. Probably the most beautiful place I have ever spent time in, and I would love to go back someday. Not bad for a first camping trip, eh? Only took 22 years to happen. Next on my bucket list is a multi-day trip somewhere in Eastern Oregon.

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Potato Leek Soup – the IDGAF way

For anyone who knows me, they know I love food. I especially love amazing food, that isn’t filled with what I deem “shit”. Shit translates to me, preservatives or lots of margarine. It needs to hold it’s own while still having good nutrition. Being in a swing of Vegetarian means it needs to pull double duty – tastes good and is filling. That’s usually my problem with smoothies is that they don’t fill me up and I’m still irking for something solid. Soup tends to be the most comfortable way for me to tackle my problems of needing food.

If you follow me on Pinterest, which I wholeheartedly recommend because you never know when something awesome will pop up, I recently pinned a soup from a good friend of mine to make later. It was only appropriate to try to make it today – and by golly, we had a winner.

[Original Recipe]
With that as my jumping off point, I started to tweak it just enough to fit my diet and my food preferences.

This was by far the most challenging part. I’ve never worked with leeks before, and it wasn’t until a week ago that I had eaten anything with leeks in it. They’re a member of the onion family, and are basically like a giant green onion with a much softer flavor. The original recipe calls for only using the white & light green part. But only buying one leek (it was about the size of my arm) meant trying to find a way to use the rest of it. A bit of research showed that if I started with the darker parts being cooked and then adding the rest, it would soften up plenty.

From there, everything vaguely followed the recipe… I think the only thing I changed was using two types of potatoes for variety and only using vegetable stock. It took a lot longer for it all to simmer down until I was ready to blend part of it, about an hour total on low, but I ended up having a much higher quality taste in the end than I would have with rushing it.

Now, at this point I tasted it and it definitely was missing something. I wanted to have it creamier, unlike the canned soup I had purchased last week. I added about half a cup of whole milk to what I was blending until it was completely smooth.

When it was reintroduced to the pot it was still a bit thin, so the lid was replaced for a good 20 minutes or so while it simmered down a bit more. Right about now was when I added roasted garlic (which isn’t on the original recipe), the listed spices and just a tiny bit of parmesan.

Looking back I did forget to add in the tabasco. Now I’m not overly fond of tabasco — it’s taste just doesn’t really roll with me. We have chipotle tabasco in the house but I normally reserve that for eggs – so I’m gonna experiment with the leftovers to see what sort of sauce will go best with it. I also have Sriracha in the fridge which could be good… I guess we’ll find out the hard way, eh?

And here’s the end of it — the soup with my choice of ale for the week, a Sam’l Smith fruit ale.