Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Holidays, Skis and Crepes: A Chance to Work on Challenges 1 and 2

Sadly, into all vacations a little work must fall. For me that meant that President's Day was spent in my office trying to get caught up on overdue reports, letters of recommendation and other administrative tasks.  But the fact that Monday was bookended with ski excursions on both sides -- cross country at Bolton on Sunday and down hill at Smuggler's Notch on Tuesday -- sweetened the deal considerably. And ending the four day stint of no classes with an evening of crepe-cooking (and eating) was a fine way to top it all off.

Here's the whole group: Patrick, Eliot, David, Greta and me. (Although I was actually interested to see if anyone noticed, I feel compelled to admit that this photo is actually a composite of two that David put together so I could have a shot of the whole group.)\

The loop we took had a lot of downhill on the part going out, which meant quite a lot of uphill on the way back.  Here's David snowplowing down one of the hills at the beginning.

When I started complaining about not having managed to catch any of our falls on camera, David spontaneously obliged me with this pose.  I just had to include it.
The Bolton afternoon was splendidly sunny, although the trails were a bit icy.  My friend and colleague David had organized the outing for some of his fellow Saint Michael's faculty and staff.  Given that we had a pretty broad range of experience, from regular cross country types (Eliot) to a first timer (Patrick) and everything in-between, it was a very good sign that we all agreed the day was a big success and we're all psyched to go again.

To my surprise, the weather for skiing on Tuesday was even better.  Once again, Alexsis agreed to head up to Smugg's with me, and we had an awesome time on the slopes. We felt that Smuggler's Notch needed to make some amends after having rained out our ski plans last Friday and being ridiculously cold when Alexsis went with her boyfriend Alex on Saturday.  But it totally lived up to our expectations, and we're trying to figure out when we can go back as soon as possible.  Here I've posted pics of two institutions well-known to those who ski the area.

The Cupboard is a terrific take-out and deli attached to a gas station at the junction between Routes 15 and 108 on the way to Smuggs.  Since I am always on the lookout for great breakfast food, I am in Alexsis's debt for introducing me to the Cupboard's Breakfast Buddy sandwiches.

Each resort I've visited this year has a tree adorned with women's lingerie and necklaces that have been flung on it by people passing from the chair lift.  Here's Smugg's, decorated by riders of the Madonna lift.
Although, for once, I could have skied at least a few more runs without feeling like I'd lose my toes, Alexsis and I had to cut our ski trip short a bit so I could get to the grocery store in time to prepare for the last challenge event of the long weekend -- the Crepe Cookout. As anyone who's been following the blog knows, the way I've decided to attack my Become a Better Cook Challenge is as a group activity.  I pick foods or types of foods I want to try, then see who else is interested in trying it out with me.  Last night quite a number of students and alumni answered the call.  Alexsis, Ali, Alyssa, AnneMarie, Dan, Josh, Kate and Matt all came over and together, we trialed-and-errored our way to crepe cookery.

We started out too ambitiously, trying to make ones with too large a diameter.  So we scaled back to a smaller pan to get the hang of crepe spreading and flipping and then worked our way up to larger ones and finally -- under Josh's tutelage since he figured out the technique first -- ones where we cooked the filling directly with the crepe in the pan.  We did savories with cheese, spinach, mushrooms and apples and sweet with strawberries, bananas, nutella, honey and whipped cream. 

At this moment my first effort at a crepe looked good, but about 10 seconds later it self-destructed due to my flip fail.

Alyssa, AnneMarie, Kate, Ali, Alexsis and Matt chatting after Round I of crepe-eating.

Josh tutoring me on his newly-mastered method of folding crepes over the ingredients in the pan. 

Kate throwing on a healthy doses of whipped cream to garnish her strawberry-banana-nutella creation while Josh coaches Ali in the background.

Dan arrived a bit later, thereby missing the fails and going directly to crepe success in making his savory creation under Josh's watchful eye.

Challenge Report:

Happily the last week has been good to the various challenges I've started for 2011.But given how long this post is, I'll wait till the next one to do a challenge report. I'm definitely looking forward to this coming weekend, when Siham and Leah come up for our dog sledding adventure, and I'm sure some combination of ice skating,rock climbing or other challenge activities.

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