May 18, 2011

The Art Of Racing In The Rain

When you get to know me (if you don't know me already) you'll realize very quickly that I absolutely LOVE to read. I never go anywhere without a book to read stashed in my purse or backpack. I used to use this as an excuse for why I carry around a huge purse (that my friends have dubbed the Mary Poppins bag) but now that I am the proud owner of a Kindle I need a new excuse... I'll think of one later...

Anyway, I thought that a great way to write about something other than Alaska and meaningful addition to my blog would be recommendations of books that I have finished and found absolutely superb. So, without further ado, I present to you the first book to grace Teaching With A Northern Exposure's bookit list:

This sweet and candid book is a quick read, it only took me about three days to finish reading on my lunch break at work. I picked up The Art of Racing... on a whim, not really knowing anything about it other than that it was told by a dog, because I was yet again inspired by the continuous rain that is keeping the Colorado blue sky hidden. For once (and probably never again), thank you rain. I truly enjoyed this book!

May 15, 2011

Cloudy Days and Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

The past few days in Denver have been uncharacteristically un-Coloradoan... it has been rainy, cold and overcast. Absolutely unacceptable in the land of perpetual sunshine (not even kidding, more blue sky days than Hawaii here)!

After afternoon Mass and a few errands I had some time to kill before I headed out to meet up with my brother and his girlfriend, so I decided that this was the perfect kind of day to bake something. I asked Sadie, my trusty side-kick dog, what we should bake and she replied by licking her chops- which is code for Apple Pie because she gets to eat some apple slivers while I prep. 

I vetoed that and opted for one of my favorite dessert recipes: Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie. The recipe is super simple, it takes maybe 15 minutes to throw together and about an hour to bake. 

Now, before we start I should warn all of you wonderful readers that baking is not really my thing. I'm much more of a buy-it-in-a-box-and-add-an-egg kind of girl which explains why I went all out and purchased my pie crust =) 

This recipe is about 10 times easier than making chocolate chip cookies, unless you subscribe to the break and bake mentality that I do. Preheat your oven to 325 and start by beating a couple of eggs until they are nice and foamy.  

Add in some sugar and a little flour... brown and white sugar, the more sugar the better if you ask me. Note: if you want baking to feel like a workout, refuse to buy a new set of beaters after the ones you inherited from your Grandma Rachel stop working because after more than 30 years of heavy use and then two years of very light use they decide that enough is enough.

When everything is all nice and smooth, mix in some butter. Use REAL butter, not margarine since margarine will make your pie very runny. It’s important that your butter is soft.  Not melted, but not soft-ish. Sort of you-can-stir-it-in-with-a-spoon soft. Once everything's smooth add in chocolate chips and some nuts. If you are not nuts about nuts (or you have a kiddo with a nut allergy) just go ahead and skip them. I use chopped pecans because they are AWESOME but toasted almond slivers are also pretty delish.

By now, your pie filling should have the consistency of kind of runny cookie dough. Go ahead and spoon the dough into your crust. When your oven is done preheating, toss your pie in for about 55 minutes. You'll know when it's done when you can stab it with a fork about half way between the edge and the middle and still pull out a clean fork.  Note to all of you high altitude bakers out there: it will most likely take your pie about 65 minutes to bake. 

Take this moment to do a small victory dance around your kitchen and then set about cleaning up the few dishes that this recipe dirties up. When your timer/ fork test duo tell you that the pie is ready for consumption, set it out to cool and go to your freezer for the secret last ingredient: vanilla ice cream. One scoop on top of each slice will truly make everyone you give this to think they've died and gone to cookie pie heaven. 

Serve to all of your friends and become the most popular baker in town, and don't tell them it's a generic Nestle recipe =)

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup real butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1 cup Nuts

Please forgive the poor photo quality in this post. Although Sadie is an awesome side-kick dog she lacks opposable thumbs, so the chef had to take all of her own pictures while trying not to let her buttery, sugary fingers contaminate the camera.  Edit: Thanks to the Mormon Kitchen Moms at Our Best Bites for letting me substitute my sub-par photos with their awesome ones. 

May 09, 2011


When I told a few of the girls at work that I would be moving to Alaska in a few months they were full of questions: when would I be leaving? where exactly was I going? what would I be teaching? ...all of the standard questions one expects when announcing that you're moving about 3,000 miles away. My trusty adventure encourager, K8 (who has adventured to many new places herself), asked me the most thought provoking of all questions: what would I miss most about Colorado? And it made me think so much that I just had to write about it. 

I've lived in Colorado my whole life and I am proud of that. I had one of those tacky NATIVE stickers plastered to my car until it nearly disintegrated and I can sing Colorado Girls at the top of my lungs while chilling in I-70 end-of-a-ski-weekend traffic without feeling even a tiny bit embarrassed.

The first thought to cross my mind was, in true Colorado style, THE MOUNTAINS! Holy Moses on a Matzoh, the mountains! Forget all of you ocean lovers- the mountains are where it's at. Hiking, camping, fishing, rafting, skiing, snowboarding, spelunking, backpacking,  collecting 14-ers-in-the-summer amazing-ness! I-70 traffic aside, nothing can ever top the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. No winter is complete without hitting the slopes, snowshoeing in for a fun weekend of yurting or grabbing a wonderful cup of hot coffee in a tiny mountain town... and summers are even better! If you're not in the mountains hiking, camping or backpacking every weekend during the hot Colorado summer then you better be heading up to Red Rocks for summer concerts at the very least. 

Then I thought to myself: Self, what about Denver? and I couldn't help but think of the wonderful city I call home. A big city with such an amazing vibe that you never feel like you're in a major metropolitan hub. From fantastic brunches at Snooze to hole in the wall tea shops and Italian restaurants there is no better place to put down some roots and grab a tasty bite to eat. I'll miss being able to just jump on the train right outside of work and head downtown for a drink with friends, Japanese class at the World Trade Center, or a show at The Ellie with old theatre friends. Zombie Crawl in October, 5280 week and Kegs & Eggs will always be on my list of favorite Colorado things, right up there with The Blue Bear.   

Moving away is going to be tough, but I can't wait to start a brand new, totally awesome adventure. It's impossible to pin point what exactly I will miss about Colorado just like it is impossible to articulate what exactly makes me so excited about moving to Alaska. I guess you'll just have to stay tuned to see what I really do miss and what really awesome things I discover.