Archive for April, 2011

My friend Kristin told me about a new food blog called When Harry Met Salad. I was so excited once I checked it out. I love the way the woman writes and her dishes sound and look great. I have actually made a few dishes from it and they have been super!

One of her latest posts was about ginger syrup. Also, one of the things that she mentions that can be made with the ginger syrup is ginger ale. I was intrigued! I love ginger ale, but I do not drink it very often since it is loaded with sugar and whatever else they put it in. Also, I have never had homemade ginger ale nor have I ever thought about making homemade ginger ale. If I only knew?!?!

The syrup is simple to make. You peel a pound of ginger, chop it, and then boil it with 5 cups of water for 45 minutes. Once boiled, you strain the liquid and add sugar and a bit of salt. And voilà … you have ginger syrup!

To make the ginger ale, you simply combine the ginger syrup with some seltzer or sparkling water, and then add a few squirts of fresh lime juice. It was absolutely delicious!! I will never purchase store bought ginger ale again. Nobody should!!

I have made the ginger ale for a couple of my friends and they loved it just as much. Another thing that you can do with the ginger syrup is add it to your tea. YUM!

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I have been uninspired to cook lately. I know… again. :( What can I say… I am ready for summer. I am ready to give up the stove and oven for the grill. Grilled veggies, grilled veggie burgers, grilled sausages, grilled anything… who would not want to give up the stove and oven for that?

A few weeks ago, I came across the Quesadillas recipe on 101 Cookbooks. Heidi promised that it would take me only 5 minutes to make the dish. “Perfect!”, I thought. The recipe is super simple. It only requires eggs, corn tortillas, capers, grated cheese, lemon zest, chives, and yogurt.

I modified the recipe a bit, since I did not want to use the yogurt. I sandwiched the chives between the egg and the tortilla. Also, before folding the quesadilla, I added the grated cheese, the lemon zest, and a few fresh spinach leaves.

Since I did not use yogurt, I decided to top the quesadillas with some fresh avocado, the fried capers, and some sprinkles of chives. It was delicious!! Also, the fried capers really made the dish, so if you make the quesadillas, do not skimp on the capers!

Ok, so the dish did not take 5 minutes to make, since I made 5 quesadillas. Having only 1 quesadilla for dinner would have left me, and especially Joel, starving. It is an easy recipe though, and it will definitely be part of my dinner menu rotation.

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The day finally arrived! My first bike ride of the season. It was the most beautiful day… upper 60s, sunny, and not one cloud in the sky. To make it even more exciting, I finally got the chance to ride my new bike. That’s right… I have a new bike! It is the most beautiful bike… red, sparkly, and a bit flashy. I feel very lucky to be able to own such a bike. I do have moments when I think that I am not worthy of it though.

As I was getting a fitting at Full Moon Vista, Scott Page gave me the pep talk. “The bike will feel like a race car!”, he said enthusiastically. He also recommended that I ride it more aggressively… “sprint often, stand up more during climbs, and just have fun”.  Lastly, he said that he wished that he could be there the first time I rode it so he can see my reaction.

I could not wait to ride it. I was a little unsure about the whole race car comparison though. Can a bike really feel so much different? Plus I have always heard that it is not about the bike. Being a strong rider has nothing to do with the bike. It’s all about the rider.

Well… it was true! The bike did feel like a sports car!! As I was riding it, I felt as if I was floating on air. Also, I was pedaling almost effortlessly and going pretty fast. It was so much fun! I forgot how much I love cycling. And having this new bike makes me love it even more.

So the conclusion is that it might not be all about the bike, since you still have to be a strong rider to be able to handle such a bike. But it sure helps a ton! :)

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Yes, I know what you are saying… finally, a post about hiking! I am well aware of the fact that I have been slacking in the hiking department. I blame cycling for this! Plus, it has been winter here for the past 4 months. :) However, since it is still a bit too cold for cycling and the snow has finally melted away, a hike seemed like a perfect thing to do on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning.

A few weeks ago, my friend Kristin mentioned that she and our friend Marc talked about going for a hike in Letchworth State Park and then going to Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn for all you can eat pancakes. I was sold! I am not a huge fan of pancakes, but why on earth would anyone pass up the opportunity to have fresh maple syrup? Beats me!! Plus, I have been wanting to check out the Inn for a while, so I was excited to go.

Letchworth was really beautiful! I have actually never been there during spring. I really loved the bare trees and the shadows that the sunrays painted on them. The waterfalls were amazing too! I have never seen so much water gushing out. It makes perfect sense, since I have only been there in the summer when the water levels are lower, which yields tamer waterfalls.

Another amazing sight were the ice walls. I have never seen them close up. The best ones were near the popular Lower Falls bridge.

After about 2 hours of hiking, we were ready for some pancakes! After a short drive to Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn, we were in line waiting to get in. Yes, there was a line to get in… this place is very popular! Fortunate for us, the line moved fairly quickly (we waited for ½ an hour), since by that point we were super hungry and a bit cold. (I cannot imagine waiting in line in the middle of the winter. Brr!!)

While we were waiting for our food, we decided to sample some maple syrup. Why spoil it with pancakes when you can taste it by the spoonful? YUM!!

Apparently the maple syrup is made in the restaurant’s basement, which is not a very large area. I do not know much about the process, but it seemed amazing to me that they can produce so much maple syrup in such a small area. Perhaps they have another facility nearby.

All of us ordered pancakes (of course) and some kind of a combination of eggs, sausages, and ham. The pancakes were good. They were made with buckwheat so they had a slight nutty flavor. As I mentioned before, I am not a huge fan, but they were pretty tasty, especially drizzled with the maple syrup. The sausages were good too. Breakfast sausages can be pretty rich and greasy, but these were not like that at all. Also, apparently the sausages are made only a few miles away from the Inn. I love it! Local business supporting each other!

The outing was fun! I am not sure that I would make the drive very frequently though. It is a far drive for pancakes and maple syrup. But I perhaps could be persuaded if a hike or a ride around the area is involved. HA!

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