The Thursday of Spring Break had the adults in our party heading back into the Yosemite Valley for a Valley photo shoot, the kids worn out from the adventures of the prior day's tour. Along with us, our hosts in Oakhurst having literally hundreds of days in the Valley and a neighbor who is a Yosemite Volunteer, who could ask for better guides?? Packing 3 DSLR's of varying levels of wonderfulness, numerous lenses of differing lengths, 3 tripods and 1 Canon pocket camera (my husband's!) we set off in hopes of that much sought after crystal clear cerulean blue sky highlighting the granite monoliths of El Capitan and Half Dome amongst the gushing waterfalls.
|Boulder from a rock fall|
My husband was a trooper and he kindly pulled over at a seconds notice without complaint when one of us yelled "Stop! I need to take a picture of that!". Pulling quickly to the side of the road and chuckling as Tom and I hopped out of the car running to some remote site we noticed he often trudged along behind us to take a few of his own. One such stop provided this shot of what I call the "Ice Tree", one of my favorite shots of the whole trip. The tree, set amongst the rocks and waterfall, just seemed to gleam with the spray of the water freezing on its branches. Set against the green of the other trees it was simply stunning.
|The Ice Tree|
|Snow at Yosemite Falls - that's Tom in the background!|
Freezing our fingers out of our gloves snapping photos we deemed it time for a hot drink at the Ahwahnee. Just around the corner from the falls we found a perfect spot in the bar area and thawed ourselves in the warm surroundings. After my average meal the prior day in the Ahwahnee main restaurant I was somewhat hesitant to order much off the menu. With assurances from our hosts though, I chose the chili and was more than pleased with the hot, cheesy bowl that arrived quickly.
|Chili and a Firefall - Lunch at the Ahwahnee|
The others ordered hot drinks including the Firefall (Hot Chocolate with tequila and a hint of cinnamon) and Keoke Coffee. Again, the drinks were somewhat aggressively priced at $9 a piece, but with the snow falling outside the large windows and the warm fires burning in the hotel I was completely content so spend a bit of time enjoying the chili and drinks. Definitely one of the high points of our day in the Valley, simply a lovely location to warm your bones and rest your feet a bit.
After more touring we left our snowy winter wonderland and headed for home. Liv had spent the day with her brother and Tom's wife, Fran, and lucky for us Liv and Fran had been cooking for a good part of the day. Walking into the house we were greeted with aromas of roasting pork and rosemary, artichokes that had been prepped for the grill along with other veggies and a salad ready to be tossed. What a treat to have such a meal prepared for me. Fran wouldn't let me do dishes either, talk about a true (and much needed) vacation!
Artichokes have not really been high on my list since I was a kid, but with urging from everyone at the table I gave these gorgeous grilled beauties a taste and found myself promptly reaching for seconds. Marinated with a simple mixture of oil, balsamic and crushed garlic these little guys couldn't have been much easier to put together and the flavors were out of this world. Sipping a glass of '08 Zin from Tom and Fran's personal vineyard we relaxed near the fire, content and warm, the memories of the day filling our conversation as we sipped our wine and drifted towards a good nights sleep.
|Grilled Artichokes and Veggies!!!|
Marinated Grilled Artichokes
Fran's recipe isn't particularly exact... It is adaptable and changes based on ingredient availability and mood, but here we have a general direction for the tasty little guys. I also found this site and this site showing photos of the artichokes and describes the trimming and marinating processes.
salt and pepper, if desired
Combine oil, balsamic, crushed garlic, and oregano in desired amounts (Oil and balsamic about a 1 to 1 ratio, more or less to your preference) and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While warming the water, trim leaves from the top of an artichoke. Remove the outer layer(s) of leaves from the stem end and snip all remaining spiky tips from the outer leaves. Trim an inch off the bottom of the stem and use a vegetable peeler to remove the fibrous outer layer.
When all the artichokes are prepared, drop into the boiling water, cover the pot and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the base is tender and the leaves are soft enough to pull off easily. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes
Slice the artichokes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the choke (purple leaves and spiny hairs in the center) being careful not to remove the heart. Brush each half generously with oil/balsamic mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper, or alternatively, place into a zip lock bag and pour oil/balsamic mixture over and refrigerate to marinate for an hour or so.
When read to grill the artichokes, heat the grill to a medium high heat and grill the artichokes until tender and lightly charred, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.
Note: I have not eaten artichokes since I was about 9 and have avoided them at all cost. These however were simply fantastic and I can't wait to try making them myself!!
|Let it snow!!!|