Thursday, August 30, 2012

Flaming Gorge

Have you heard of Flaming Gorge? It's an area about three and a half hours east of here. The scenery reminds me of Southern Utah (especially the reddish rocks) but it has a character all its own, too. We love to take little trips like this (we didn't even stay overnight). It's amazing how you can go just a few hours away and feel like you're in a whole different world! And this was a beautiful drive with lots of interesting things to see on the way,
such as this peaceful mountain reservoir

and this enormous wind farm.

The views are so dramatic from all angles!

There was a beautiful view area that overlooked the gorge and the reservoir.

Beautiful, and kind of scary because there were these deep fissures in the rocks. Some weren't that deep, but some looked like they went all the way down!  There were a couple of fences at the edges of the cliffs, but none for the fissures---just signs saying "Hold on to your children." We tried to.

The abruptness of the dropoffs just made the views that much more striking, though (and I don't mind heights, if my children aren't about to fall off of them).
Junie had some things to say about it all.

We made her sit by her namesake (or is she its namesake?), the Utah Juniper. Lovely, brave, resilient tree.

The way the river (now reservoir) cuts through and fills up the gorge is just amazing.

Another view from above, with pretty white arch bridge in the background

Later in the day, we drove around to a campground on the other side of the reservoir (one of the other sides---it snakes all along, in and out, up into Wyoming---I think I read the reservoir is 91 miles long!) and got our feet wet and threw rocks in the water, etc. It was a beautiful, beautiful evening---fast-moving clouds and changing light.
Tongue out in concentration

Happy baby

I like this picture, with all the children in their random and sometimes colliding orbits

Monday, August 20, 2012

S'mores bars

This is a recipe my sister-in-law made for the family Christmas party. It was awesome, and I asked her for the recipe back in January (I know because I wrote it down on the back of an envelope, with a January postmark. Elementary, my dear Watson!) but I didn't get around to making it until now! Seb requested these bars for his birthday, which provided the motivation to buy marshmallow creme (which had been the sticking point for me earlier). (Sticking point! Ha!)

I had to use 5 of the big IKEA chocolate bars for the chocolate layer, which pained me somewhat (because I like to just EAT those!) but it was worth it. These are delectable. BETTER than s'mores, in my opinion, because the graham cookie crust is softer and chewier and more delicious than a real graham cracker, and the chocolate layer has just the right soft-but-biteable consistency (the kind you rarely achieve in an actual s'more). I'm debating whether it would be more proper to call them just "s'more bars", but no; I think the original treat is "s'mores," and then you add a "bars" to it.

Well. Use Hershey's chocolate if you wish, of course, but you really can't beat the IKEA bars. And I like to toast the whole pan under the broiler for a minute when they're done, if the marshmallow layer didn't get browned enough. These are the perfect late-summer treat to eat outside on August nights and pretend you're camping, when you don't want the bother of real camping. Yum!

S'mores Bars

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 2/3 c. flour
2 c. graham cracker crumbs (about 15 full-size crackers)
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
5 large chocolate bars (the really large ones)
3 c. marshmallow creme

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar; beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix graham cracker crumbs with other dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix till combined. Divide dough in half. Press half of dough into 9x13 pan to make crust. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove hot crust from oven and lay chocolate bars on top, breaking to fit perfectly. Spread marshmallow cream on top of chocolate to make a marshmallow layer. Then crumble the remaining graham-cookie dough over the marshmallow layer. Bake again for 10-15 minutes more at 350. (Stick under the broiler for just a minute or two if the marshmallows need more browning.)  Cool completely before cutting.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cecret Lake Wildflowers

We went up Little Cottonwood Canyon last weekend to see the wildflowers. I had read that they were really spectacular up in the Albion Basin at the end of July/beginning of August, but I was afraid that because I was looking forward to it so much, maybe I'd end up being disappointed. Luckily, I wasn't---the flowers more than lived up to my hopes, and we couldn't have asked for a lovelier day. (Although I could, maybe, have asked for a better baby backpack---ours is not really made for hiking. I'd like to get a new one. But I shouldn't complain; Sam's the one that carried our picnic food, which was probably heavier and definitely less cute.) It was sunny and beautiful as we hiked up, and then some light cloud cover moved over as we had our picnic up at the top. Just as we drove home, there were a few light sprinkles of rain. It was beautiful.
We did the Cecret Lake hike, which was great for everyone---even Daisy made it up on her own two feet. There were a few steep switchbacks at the end, but nothing too bad. It's a great trail, going through beautiful flower-filled meadows all the way up. We had our trusty wildflower book and identified everything we saw.
Our picnic spot. Can you see tiny Sam and the children?

When she was finally freed from the backpack, Junie got very dirty, and kept trying to dip rocks into the apple dip. She only succeeded a few times.

Elephanthead! Our favorite flower.

Cecret Lake

Sebby has a paper plate under his shirt. Just in case you were wondering.

Sebby scurried around finding rocks until he had a rainbow of colors