March 23rd, 2013 – Ethiopian Adventure in My Kitchen

I fell in LOVE with ethiopian food since the first time I tried it with Lauren. I couldn’t believe someone could actually make beans and veggies taste so yummy! Sometimes I even feel like ethiopian food makes me run faster!!! This weekend was my unicorn sister Shama’s birthday, unfortunately I couldn’t be in Hawaii for her. She LOVES ethiopian food too, but Hawaii doesn’t have any. If you ask me what I’d miss the most of Denver when I move home, I’d say the mountains and ethiopian food. Moving around all these years, I learned to adapt and be more adventurous with my taste buds. I no longer have deep cravings for food I can’t have, mostly by getting hooked on other kinds of food I can easily get or recreate. SO I recreate, an ethiopian meal at home!

INGREDIENTS!

INGREDIENTS!

After creating an xcel spreadsheet of shopping list, I realized there weren’t much spices I needed to get. The main ingredients of ethiopian food are: butter/oil, onion, garlic, turmeric and berbere. There are a lot of ethiopian grocery shops around my house so it wasn’t hard to find them. Total spent on the spices and hard-to-find ethiopian ingredients: $7.

2-1/2 hour later..

2-1/2 hour later..

I made 5 dishes: Misir Wat (Lentil), Gomen (Collard Greens), Fosalia (Green Beans), Atkilt (Cabbage) and Shiro Wat (Chickpea). They taste just like the restaurant kind!!! The cooking was not hard but with so many dishes all together it was a bit stressful to figure out which one to start and multitask with multiple pots on the stove. I burned the collard greens a bit.

I got all my recipes from: http://www.godwilladd.com/p/mondays-menu-ethiopian-recipes.html. Next time I’ll cut down the oil a little, but overall the recipes were pretty easy to follow. I didn’t make the Injera, it was $6 for a bag of 10 at the store!

Vegetarian Combo

Vegetarian Combo

I can now confidently say that I’m ready to host Ethiopian party at home for my unicorn sisters when I move back! YAY!

 


March 20th, 2013 – Yin Yang Fried Rice

I’ve been doing A LOT of cooking lately. I always loved cooking, especially testing new recipes. However I am not a good planner. On average, I stop by the grocery 3 times a week. I have tons of recipes I want to try, but never have the ingredients on hand for it. Trips to the grocery isn’t the biggest pain of awful planning, it’s the fact that I end up having to use an entire onion or the whole tray of meat since I got them specifically for ONE recipe. Which, leads to overspending. Beginning of this month I decided to take up on a challenge – to plan a whole week worth of cooking and shop in bulk once. 3 weeks in, the grocery bill has been $100/week for 2 including all meals and desserts! I was quite impressed, just as much as making this dish – Yin Yang Fried Rice.

I first had a taste of this fried rice last time visiting Hawaii. It was served at my favorite Dim Sum restaurant Legends. As a native Chinese, I’ve never heard of it and am totally convinced that it is a southern thing. At first I was hesitant about eating it, I mean it was wayyy too saucey for my liking. But I’ve always loved adventures, so I took a bite, then another bite, then another. It was AMAZING. The creamy white sauce with shrimp,combined with sweet and sour red sauce made a perfect mixture on top of warm white rice. I was curious about the ingredients, because Asian cooking rarely involves cream or butter to create such texture.

So I googled and found a recipe I liked. Then of course I executed it and made this amazing fried rice I never thought I could make.

LOTS of Prep Work

LOTS of Prep Work

Recipe can be found here: http://gourmettraveller88.com/2009/12/29/yin-yang-fried-rice/

Finish Product

Finish Product

It tasted SO YUMMY, just like the real thing! I spent a lot of time creating the Yin Yang sign, even looked it up on google first! Does it look Yin Yang enough?

This coming weekend is supposed to snow hard, I guess I’m trading some mountain fun with cooking in – Ethiopian is on the list!!!


March 17th, 2013 – Waterton Canyon

Due to some schedule conflicts recently I have not been able to do a good trail run with the Boulder Trail Running and Breakfast Club on Saturdays. I was itching, seriously itching for a good run! Luckily, Colorado Runs posted a new meet-up at Waterton Canyon for a 12-mi/24-mi/50-mi out and back run on a beautiful Sunday morning. I was indecisive. I picked out a 14-mi Boulder Trail early in the week but the weather turned stormy. Last time I tried to run after a storm, the trail was icy and muddy, it was almost a hike. Being too good at trail blazing and getting lost, I decided to join the group that is familiar with the trail instead.

Waterton Canyon was not far from town. It was a 40-min drive from Aurora located in Littleton. The trail consists of a dirt road with a river running next to it, a gradual incline (almost flat IMO) for 6.25 miles leading up to Stronita Dam. We ran a total out and back distance of 12.5 miles. The famous Colorado Trail (section 1) connects at the end of Waterton Canyon which I plan to explore in the future, but will have to plan on a 20+mi run one day.

First Reservoir

First Reservoir

South Platte River

South Platte River

Trees are turning green!

Trees are turning green!

Not as Pretty as Boulder :(

Not as Pretty as Boulder :(

Trail Map at the End

Trail Map at the End

Made it to the Dam

Made it to the Dam

OMG SHEEP

OMG SHEEP

Overall a good leisure run, wasn’t hard or a badass workout but a beautiful run on a trail I’ve never been. I sure want to extend into Colorado Trail next time I go! Ah, still itching for a good run…


February 17th, 2013 – Officially Rocky Mountain High

A couple posts ago, I wrote about my first trail running. I haven’t stopped since! Except for the weekend when Shama brought snowstorm with her, I went on 3 other trail runs!

Ever since Manitou Incline became more of a ritual and my body slowly getting used to the workout, I got tired of doing the same trail with so little challenge. I want to explore new trails and have an ass-kicking high-intensity break-your-body workout! I’ve been a member of the “Boulder Trail Running Breakfast Club” on meet-up for a while but never joined any of their runs, reasons simply because they all sounded too crazy: 10+ miles, 2000+ ft of elevation gain, let’s plan to run 2+ hours, etc. On top of the descriptions of runs, a few of my other running meet-up members had mentioned that group is “super fast”. So the little light bulb in my head lighted up.

After contemplating for a long time and a brief exchange of emails with the group leader Scott. I decided to sign up to run Button Rock Reservoir – my first run with this group. Intimidated, of course, not only I would be doubling the distance and hike from my first and only trail run, their target pace was also faster – 2.5 hours for 11 miles comparing to my 1.5 hours for 6 miles. How am I going to keep up? Signed up anyway, I’m a true believer of challenging the uncomfortable.

It was the BEST decision I’ve ever made.

Button Rock Reservoir

Button Rock Reservoir

Trail Map

Trail Map

First Stop

First Stop

Water shooting out to the reservoir, some turned into ice!

Water shooting out to the reservoir, some turned into ice!

Running In the Woods

Running In the Woods

Frozen Lake

Frozen Lake

I didn’t get to take many pictures. The run was brutal and the entire time I was just trying to keep up with everyone. They are serious runners! Fast, but extremely friendly. They make you feel comfortable with your own pace and always make sure no one gets left behind. There were lots of up and downs (that they called “relatively flat”). After the run, my entire body was beat and had to soak in bubble bath. This was challenging, but it sure did not discourage me from getting my butt kicked again!

So I signed up for another one. The second trail I did with the group was Lion Gulch – an out-and-back easy to follow trail with some homesteads to explore. On our way up, we encountered a HUGE patch of ice.

HUGE! No joke!

HUGE! No joke!

At 40 degrees and sunny, most of us did not bring spikes. NOT GOOD. We all slid around unable to go uphill and had to be guided by the guys with spikes.  So funny they kept saying “get the Hawaiian girl”, “think of Hawaii, think of surfing”, because I was so inexperienced I had no idea how to get pass the ice!

Holding tight onto the tree waiting...

Holding tight onto the tree waiting…

I was the first few that got pulled across the ice by Scott. I have never appreciated trees so much.

Anyway I was unable to take many photos since again, I was in the back of the pack trying to keep up. We did around 12 miles with 3,100 ft elevation gain, for 3.5 hours! Time passes by so fast when you explore. There were a lot of snow, I mean knee-high snow on the ground which made it almost impossible to run on. My poor road running shoes were completely soaked and dirty. I need a pair of real trail running shoes! Just like last time, I was completely beat and needed a bubble bath. I am totally in love with this new challenge!

After the brutal 12-mi run on Saturday, I chose to run again the next day back to my 1st run – Green Mountain Trail. Of course now it truly is pretty easy and not so technical.

Another Beautiful Day in Golden

Another Beautiful Day in Golden

Green Mountain Trail

Green Mountain Trail

Atop in 50 min

Atop in 50 min

Still breathtaking view, a good run before hitting up Manitou Incline.

Wow this weekend I did 22 miles, 6,000 ft gain in snow, ice and sun! Amazing. I LOVE TRAIL RUNNING. This is official.


February 7th, 2013 – Shama’s Visit

YAY one of my unicorn sisters has finally visited! After a very tempting ethiopian food photo and an unused United voucher, Shama booked a ticket to see me! The only two things she asked for were Manitou Incline and ethiopian feast!

The journey to Denver was a rough one. She was scheduled to land mid afternoon on Thursday, but somehow the plane had a bit of an issue and flew back to Hawaii. We scrambled another ticket for her so she could still make the trip. Long story short she made it Thursday night! Our Colorado journey began.

Ethiopian Wine Axumit

Ethiopian Wine Axumit

Our first stop was Axum Ethiopian Restaurant. I collected 3 groupons for my self-guided ethiopian food tour!

Veggie Combo for Two

Veggie Combo for Two

YUMMY is all I can describe. I don’t know the names, but the combo consisted of lentils of multiple kind, chickpea, collard greens, cabbage, string beans and a salad. OMG. How do these ethiopians make veggies so tasty?! We ended the dinner with a slice of cheesecake, and some Jean Philippe chocolates!

Friday the weather was amazing, we charged it up to Manitou Springs early to give Shama a taste of Colorado Kokohead!

Manitou Incline with My Branch

Manitou Incline with My Branch

Although the temperature was in the 40s, there was great deal of snow and oooops ice on the trail. I totally did not bring MicroSpikes and yes fell on my ass running down Barr Trail. Ouch.

The Amazing Deli Rose

The Amazing Deli Rose

After Manitou, we had some sandwiches and coffee at Mate Factor in town and went on a Colorado wine adventure.

Cheese & Wine at the Wines of Colorado

Cheese & Wine at the Wines of Colorado

We totally did not need all that food, but the concept of having all the Colorado wines at one place for a free tasting is too good to say no to! We ordered some cheese anyway!

With all that food in our tummies, we went on a journey to the Garden of the Gods. Supposedly an easy hike with well-marked trail, I still managed to get us lost in the woods. The good news is, we now have room for more Ethiopian!

Veggie Combo for Two

Veggie Combo for Two

Our second Ethiopian stop was Abyssinia Restaurant. This was where the trouble all started, because we weren’t satisfied with a veggie combo for TWO, we ordered another one. Haha and demolished it.

Cheers to the Unicorn Sisters

Cheers to the Unicorn Sisters

Temperature took a huge dip the next day, I planned a snowshoe trip for her in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Snowshoes make you walk funny!!!

Snowshoes make you walk funny!!!

Amazing Rocky Mountains

Amazing Rocky Mountains

Mysterious Trail Blazers

Mysterious Trail Blazers

Breathtaking

Breathtaking

Lots of moose-like footprints, but no moose sighting. The snow was coming down hard as we hiked up, we decided to cut the trip short to avoid being trapped in the mountains. After returning the snowshoes, we took a stroll on Pearl Street of Boulder and tried out SALT Bistro.

And then more Ethiopian.

BEST Veggie Combo for Two

BEST Veggie Combo for Two

Queen of Sheba took our hearts away. There was only 1 lady working and to be honest, she was really slow. We enjoyed our wine and chatted up a storm while waiting. The food was worth the wait! It was the best we had, and we ordered another one! HA HA the lady had the most surprised/excited look on her face and brought up another huge order. It was so amazing!!!

Sunday was super cold so we settled for the gym. Tabata was meh but we had some fun doing TKB fueled by Ethiopian food! I took her to Balistreri for lunch and some more free wine tasting.

Yummy Grilled Veggies

Yummy Grilled Veggies

The We-Are-Asian Pic

The We-Are-Asian Pic

We couldn’t help but to take the Asian girl opening our eyes wide pic for fun.

After lunch, we were still not satisfied with the morning workout so I drove us back to Manitou. It was all sunny and nice until we were close by the snow storm rolled in and we weren’t able to hike it again! Ended up spending the day souvenir shopping and went to a beer tasting for Shama.

For our last night, we had dinner at Kathmandu Kitchen. Not Ethiopian, INDIAN!

Aloo Gobi, Paneer Masala and Chana Masala

Aloo Gobi, Paneer Masala and Chana Masala

I finally learned Indian food name. It wasn’t that hard, the name basically consists of either the ingredients, or the ingredient plus sauce. So good. Indians (and Ethiopians) sure know how to cook their veggies!!! OMG. I can turn vegetarian now.

It was also Chinese New Years. We celebrated our last night along with Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day with wine, our favorite cashews and black sesame ice cream!

For her departing breakfast, I took her to Sam’s No. 3 for a heart attack skillet and some sopapillas!

Denver Skillet Smothered in Green Chili

Denver Skillet Smothered in Green Chili

Evil Sopapillas

Evil Sopapillas

This meal kept me full till dinner! Haha!

Overall an amazing staycation. I’m getting good at this tour guide thing! It sure makes me appreciate Colorado more, there are just endless things to enjoy!

Already missing my unicorn sister, hope the girls visit again soon before I move back!!!


January 27th, 2013 – A Taste of Trail Running

Since living in the Rocky Mountains, I have yet to do some REAL running – in the wild. Daylight savings and the cold have been preventing me from stepping outdoors before and after work during the week and weekends are always too short! Colorado is famous for its diverse and beautiful year-round trails whether it’s hiking, biking, running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding or just walking and wondering. As much as I miss the ocean, the mountains always remind me how lucky I am to be exploring new places every weekend. I think it was maybe a couple weeks before the Honolulu Marathon last year I got hooked on running. I was itching to run my old routines – couple times a week early 5am runs and Saturday/Sunday runs. Funny thing though I used to run for the runner’s high only, but now I actually truly enjoy running - wow I never expected to say this!! Since coming back from Hawaii last week, Denver winter had been really nice to me. Warm and sunny sure help lessen the homesickness I experienced every time post leaving the islands. This past weekend, temperature quietly climbed up to the 50s and YES I took advantage of that. I loaded my weekend up with hiking, snowboarding and trail running!

This is another meet-up group I joined for running and they organized a great 6-mile run on Sunday in Lakewood – right on my way to snowboarding. The description for Green Mountain Trail sounded beginner friendly: 6 miles, 12-13 min/mi pace, mostly smooth and not very technical. Psh, after the marathon, a 6-miler at that pace is considered short and casual in my book. NOPE, not when you gain 900 ft! It was slightly hard on the legs especially after Saturday’s spin & Manitou sessions. Overall a great run, it took us 1-1/2 hour, we ran to the two peaks overlooking East (the city) and West (the mountains).

Storm Above Denver

Storm Above Denver

Super Rocky Rocky Mountain

West of Morrison - Where the Snow is

West of Morrison – Where the Snow is

I LOVE SCENIC RUNS! This is the best way to explore ever, with running! Can’t wait for this weekend (another warm one YAY) to come so I can explore more beautiful trails and get in more runs! The natives say this is not the end of the winter yet, but fingers crossed for cold days during the week and warm days on the weekends. Thank you mother nature!!!


December 28th, 2012 – Lauren’s 2nd Visit

Lauren and I have now officially spent 2 New Years Eves together. Last one was kinda crazy so we decided to have a mellow one in CO. Plus she’s always curious about Colorado’s champagne powder (no, not exactly sticking a bottle of champagne in the snow and have a drink before hitting the slope).

I wanted to ski, but I hadn’t been practicing much since my last lesson. Lauren is on a different level than me on the slope and I didn’t want to bore her with bunny hills, so I rented a snowboard also. Not that I’m good at snowboarding, I just have better control of it.

Our first day started with a quick and cheap half day warm up on Loveland! It was SO PACKED!!! Right in my comfort zone of driving on snow/ice and difficulty of the runs, I was able to get on blue runs in 2 hours!

Our Boards

Our Boards

Up Top - Freezing!

Up Top – Freezing!

Blue Run!!!

Blue Run!!!

After 3 full hours of snowboarding, my legs were SO BURNING! We headed back in town for some amazers Ethiopian food!

Samosa!

Samosa!

A combination of YUMMINESS

A combination of YUMMINESS

Ended the night with some Ethiopian red wines and cheesecake, we went to bed quite early for a long snowboarding day ahead!

Beautiful Drive to Breckenridge

Beautiful Drive to Breckenridge

Tourists!!

Tourists!!

Although a MASSIVE ski resort, this place was packed! Both being unfamiliar with the runs, we decided to try on a green run, which resulted in 30+min long wait just to get on the lift! We tried the green runs a couple more times, that was a horrible idea. I was sure we both had a meh time.

Bread Bowl with Chili

Bread Bowl with Chili

We had a short lunch by the fireplace and decided to hit up the blue runs. The day changed since then. The lines to get on the lifts for blues were super short. We had loads of fun on all the different runs!! There were literally so many runs we only got to try each one once at a time!

BLUE Runs at Brecks

BLUE Runs at Brecks

We played till the lifts closed, then headed in town for a quick touristy walk to avoid traffic. Breckenridge has a cute town, very snowy, wintery and christmassy. Hot chocolates were served and some souvenir shopping was done. Amazing snowy night. I’ve also learned why despite traffic, people still tried to drive home before sun goes down. Driving in the pitch dark mountains was SO FREAKY! I could barely see the pavement markings or much of anything ahead of me! It took us a bit long to get home since I was driving slower. We bought some hot pot ingredients from the Asian market and made HOT POT!

Homemade Hot Pot

Homemade Hot Pot

I was truly amazed by how sore I was on New Years Eve! Since working out so much, I haven’t felt sore for a while and snowboarding finally got me! We decided to have a mellow day trying out the most famous restaurant of Denver – Sam’s No. 3 and doing some wine tasting before checking into the hotel for New Years Eve party!

Sam's No. 3 Mexican Breakfast

Sam’s No. 3 Mexican Breakfast

No kidding. Sam’s No. 3′s Colorado Pork Green Chili was OMGYUMS, although all their menu items include a side of heart attack.

Balistreri Winery

Balistreri Winery

With all the wineries there are in Denver area, this was the only winery that opens on a Monday. They have 20 wines ranges from whites, reds to sweets to try, ALL FOR FREE!!! They also offer wine tours to check out where they make their wines. It has got to be the cutest winery I’ve ever been, even beat Sonoma or Napa. We didn’t get a chance to have lunch, but just by looking at what other people were having, it looks like they serve great wine tasting food as well.

Complimentary Cheese Station

Complimentary Cheese Station

I’m so glad I discovered this place! It’ll definitely be one of the must-go places I’ll take future visitors.

New Years Eve at the Grand Hyatt

New Years Eve at the Grand Hyatt

I must admit the New Years Eve at Grand Hyatt was kinda meh, mostly because the crowd was so old. They had 2 rooms of music and casino night. Lauren and I both agreed it felt a lot like a wedding – mixture of all ages trying to enjoy the “latest” music (by latest, I meant the songs were played at New Years Eve in Vegas 2 years ago).

After a night of drinking, I was able to convince Lauren to hit up Manitou, at 20 degrees!!!

Brrrrrrr COLD

Brrrrrrr COLD

The trail was covered in SNOW and ice! We shared a set of cleats. It was so cold, my sweat turned into ICE!!!!

Beautiful Trail

Beautiful Trail

We made it home without frostbites! Her last night ended with leftover hot pot, wines we bought from the winery, Taiwanese pineapple cake and pistachios. OH PISTACHIOS. She also taught me how to use my fireplace, which I’ve been scared to do because I didn’t want to burn the house down.

Her visit has changed a lot on me. I picked snowboarding back up and am now loving the winter. So here’s what happened…

Snowboard!!!

Snowboard!!!

New addition to the family – snowboard & boots! I want to get good at this and stop tumbling down mountains as much!

And my new obsession….

I want to be like this everyday...

I want to be like this everyday…

My fireplace (and the Coloradoy blanky I bought at Manitou with her) is so cozy! It truly makes me happy and a great way to end a cold day. It motivates me to get out in the cold during the day so I know this fire at night with hot tea and dinner would be a treat!!! Loving, LOVING Colorado. And yes, I’m currently writing this blog (on a cracked computer) in front of the fireplace, with Jazz playing and a hot green tea. <3


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