Friday, July 30, 2010

Peace in the Panhandle

{A Night in the Idaho Wilderness}

P. and I left Oregon and headed east and north into the coniferous dreamland of the Idaho panhandle, through tiny canyon towns with names like Halfway, White Bird and Horseshoe Bend. We wound our way through the mountains until evening, then broke camp somewhere in the middle of the 2.3 million acres of Payette National Forest.  No one else. Just us, the dogs, the pines, and, for a fleeting, wondrous moment, a grazing mule deer doe.

Hope you have a marvelous weekend.

Crater Lake

{Looks Just Like In Da Pikchahs}

We woke up to the thrum of mosquitoes, scarfed down a quick breakfast, hitched the Scamp to the truck and drove up the switchbacks to the rim of Crater Lake. As we parked at the top a portly man readjusted his fanny pack below his impressive girth and called over to us, "Looks just like in da pikchahs." I suppose he was right, but still. It's unbelievable.

Next stop: Idaho.

(Also, to my horror, it was pointed out to me that I spelt San Francisco the sisterly way, as San Fransisco. I swear I know how to spell SF.  Bay Areans, please forgive.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Figs in the Forest

{California to Oregon}

We left San Francisco reluctantly. There was more sister time to be had, more eating to do. But we hit the road nonetheless and made our way north, north.

The golden Northern California landscape opened up and flattened out, occasionally salt-and-peppered with a laze of dairy cows. And north, and north. Past Mt. Shasta, which lords like a despot over the surrounding plains. Then the pine forests of southern Oregon swallowed us up suddenly and decisively, and we were in the belly of the whale. We arrived at Crater Lake National Park just as dusk settled. For supper: pesto, San Fransisco sourdough, figs, hard goat cheese, and Hitachino Nest white ale, which, in my book, is pretty close to being the perfect beer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Foreign Cinema

{On Parking and Eating in San Francisco}

Driving through San Francisco during rush hour whilst towing the Scamp was a spectacle, but trying to actually *park* the Scamp in my sister's petite parking space was another kettle of fish entirely. The huz, the sis, yours truly and a good Samaritan pizza deliveryman all maneuvered the Scamp into her allotted space like an obstinate, obese pony, while a completely unfazed homeless fellow oversaw the entire operation from his perch in the dumpster across the street.

Later that night my adventurous sister whisked us down to the Mission for dinner and a movie at Foreign Cinema, a wonder emporium of gustatory and cinematic delights. We sat outside under a constellation of strung bistro lights and delected upon fresh Point Reyes oysters with champagne vinegar mignonette and dainty forkfuls of arugula and rose petal salad. Some racy Italian film from the 1950s projected across the long brick wall, and the whole experience was just magical. Really, add Foreign Cinema to your list of places to eat the next time you're in town, and hold court in the marvelous brick courtyard. It's the urban answer to a Midsummer Night's Dream feast, but the fairies wear skinny jeans, Puck is played by your server with the handlebar mustache, and the love potion comes in the form of a mint gazpacho amuse-bouche.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Last Night in Wonderland

{And First Night On the Road}

Our last night in the desert was also our first night on the road; we moved out of our house, hitched up the Scamp, and drove one mile up our dirt road through the gates of Joshua Tree National Park and into the lunar wonderland of boulders, ravens, and golden light. As predicted there were tears as we pulled away from our beloved tiny house and the life we'd created in the desert.

We hit the road at dawn the next morning with few words exchanged between us. As we sped through the Mojave Desert and the monzogranite cathedrals gave way to grassy plains, I knew we'd crossed some nameless, wordless divide and into a new chapter, and I squeezed P's hand.
He knew, too, and squeezed back.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Scamp Update

{A Tour of the Space Nugget}

Finally! High-speed internets at a campground (in North Sioux City, South Dakota, of all places), and some catching up on bigBANG. But before I unleash a flurry of posts about the road trip we must pause for a moment to reflect on how very far our little Space Nugget has come. Some of you will remember the Elvis-inspired time capsule that was our 1978 Scamp when we first bought her off Craigslist in April. Three months later here she is, de-shagged, updated, and ready for the road:

We had grand ambitions of doing lots of reading this trip but nearly three thousand miles in, we've barely cracked a spine. But at least it's comfortable if we ever do have time to read (brushed burlap pillows from Crate & Barrel outlet, four foot long orange bolster from Anthropologie online sale).

The faux bamboo floor has held up spectacularly and is easy to keep clean. The tiny rug (Urban Outfitters online sale) attracts spotted dogs. Below, the new dinette.

P. built placeholders into the bottom of a bamboo cutting board so that we could use the area as extra counter space when we weren't using the sink. A 12 volt water pump (from the Scamp parts store) and new faucet (Home Depot) were a big step up from the dinky airplane lavatory hand pump that was there before.

He also installed three 12 volt LED lights meant for boats (the silver hockey puck above the sink, below). Because the Scamp is essentially a fiberglass boat on wheels we found the lights and a lot of other ideas on yachting websites like, no joke,

A generous birthday gift card allowed us to splurge on fun ceramic knobs (Anthropologie online) which went perfectly with the rest of the chrome hardware we used. Self-closing hinges from Home Depot keep the cabinets closed as we bump down the road.

We dry-cleaned the original 1978 curtains that were lovingly sewn by someone in the Scamp's past life. I mean, who can resist mustard pompoms. Seriously.

So that's a little glimpse at the Scamp before we hit the road a week and a half ago. Updates from the trip to come...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Who Needs Hubcaps

{Holla from the Frontier}

So. The Scamp lost both hubcaps in Napa, we encountered a mosquito hatching of historic proportions in Crater Lake, Oregon, and there was an emergency midnight trip to the vet in Kalispell, Montana. But we're still married and both dogs are alive, so besides a few minor hiccups our little mobile space nugget adventure is *AWESOME.* Internet and cell phone service, not so much. We've seen the better part of the northwest quadrant of America at 55 miles per hour, and chickens, it's grand. Real posts with pictures coming soon. I promise. As soon we emerge from the backcountry and find a faster internet connection.

Also, skinny dipping in a lake in a National Park is fun but, as it turns out, illegal. Just FYI.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Desert Quinoa

{Quinoa Salad with Mangoes and Curry Vinaigrette}

The movers have come and gone, the studio and house are empty, and tonight we're sleeping in the Scamp for the first time, just up the road in the bouldery majesty of Joshua Tree National Park. When we hit the open road at sunrise tomorrow we'll be leaving behind a beloved desert life. And, because that life quite often revolved around food, it seems only fair that I leave you with a beloved desert dish. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa, for the uninitiated) isn't a true grain but actually a gluten-free seed. It's super high in protein, contains a perfect cocktail of essential amino acids and is closely related to *tumbleweed.* And it will blow your socks off tossed in this light yogurt-curry vinaigrette and accompanied by a cacophony of sweet chopped mangoes, scallions, lemon juice and a fistful of bright-eyed cilantro.  Since I can't actually make it for you (I wish I could) you'll have to make it yourself, and please do; it's so. damn. good.

Happy cooking, chickens. I already miss the desert. There will be tears tomorrow morning, I'm sure.

Quinoa Salad With Mangoes and Curry Vinaigrette
From "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison, with a few changes
Double the recipe. You'll thank yourself when you go back for thirds. Even better as leftovers the next day. Seriously, this recipe is a winner.
Makes 4 modest servings for 4 immodest eaters.

pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
2 large mangoes
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and diced
3 scallions, including 1 inch of the greens, thinly sliced
curry vinaigrette (see below)
1/3 cup toasted almond slivers (if you fancy them)

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the quinoa to the boiling water. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Do not overcook.

Cut the mangoes by standing each 1 upright and slicing down either side of the seed, which you can't see, but which runs lengthwise through the center of the fruit. Score the 2 pieces, then bend the skin. Cut off the squares of mango where they attach to the skin.

Toss the quinoa with the mangoes, chile, scallions and vinaigrette (recipe below). Chop the almonds and add them last so they stay crisp.

Curry Vinaigrette
I recommend following the recipe at first, then adding more of this and that until you have your desired balance of flavors down. Make the vinaigrette while the quinoa cooks. 

1 garlic clove
salt to taste
2 tablespoons yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise or sour cream
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons light olive or sunflower seed oil
1 teaspoon honey, if desired
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Throw everything but the cilantro in the food processor, adjusting flavors to your suiting (I add more lemon juice, curry, and yogurt than what the recipe calls for). Taste for tartness and salt and adjust if needed. Mix vinaigrette into cooked quinoa, add chopped cilantro. Great warm or cold; either way it's absolute summer heaven. Enjoy!