Saturday, June 12, 2010

Three days in Yosemite National Park

S joined us for a wonderful three-day camping trip to Yosemite National Park. It's very fun going to such a fantastic place with a geologist. Since this is a food blog, I'll illustrate the day-by-day just with food pictures — the 300-picture slideshow is at the end.

On Tuesday we left Berkeley after an early breakfast and drove the four hours to Yosemite. We stayed at the very nice Summerdale Campground, about a mile from Fish Camp and about a mile from the south entrance to the park. After pitching camp, we drove into the park. There are two seasons in Yosemite — winter and road construction — and we were stuck in traffic for a while. We took a lovely three-mile hike leaving from Tunnel View and climbing up to Inspiration Point. That evening we had grilled snapper and a potato salad that I had made the day before.

Wednesday morning we had toast with poached eggs and cherry jam.

We then drove into the Valley, and as we got down from Tunnel View, we realized that we didn't really have enough gas to get out. No matter. After a brief stop at Bridal Veil Falls, where we were completely soaked, we drove to El Portal, which is completely down-hill from the valley along the Merced River, and so required almost no gas. (Getting from the valley to our campsite requires climbing two thousand feet, twice.) So we didn't have time for a long day hike, but nevertheless got a five-mile walk: we saw the meadow, and climbed a mile (and one thousand feet) along the Upper Yosemite Falls trail to the first lookout.

Dinner that night was sweet potatoes, baked in the fire, and bean burgers with ketchup, mustard, red onion, gruyere, and home-made sweet pickles.

I normally do dinners on the fire but breakfasts on the camping stove, but at the end of breakfast Wednesday morning we ran out of propane, preventing only a second pot of coffee. Since the gas station store at El Portal didn't have the right kind of propane for my fancy little backpackers stove, on Thursday and Friday we did breakfast on the fire. Thursday's breakfast was blueberry pancakes with maple syrup and cherry jam.

Thursday was our big hiking day. We started in the Valley, at four thousand feet, and walked the "Four Mile Trail", which is actually almost five miles each direction, to Glacier Point, a thirty two hundred foot climb. I like to run — S says "scamper" — up mountains, and winded myself near the top. But the views were fantastic: Yosemite really is beautiful. For dinner that night we wolfed down penne with tomato sauce, made from onions, garlic, a red bell pepper, home-canned tomatoes, dried tomatoes, herbs from our garden, and a fresh bay leaf from the laurels that we found growing along the hike.

Friday was our last day, but we forgot to take any photos. For breakfast we had scrambled eggs, and then we tried to walk around Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, but got stymied by a lack of parking. Instead, we got on the road, took a short walk in the national forest that surrounds the park, and had a good time at the California Mining Museum in Mariposa. Then a long drive home.

All together, the trip was fantastic. And finally, the slide show of the hikes:

As always, click on the slide show to go to the Picasa web album.

Prawns and mushrooms sauteed with onions and garlic

Pizza with onions and herbs


S, B, and I went cherry picking at Enos Family Farm, the one organic u-pick in Brentwood. After about twenty minutes of picking (and fifty minutes or driving) we had picked more than twenty pounds of cherries. They turned into ice cream, preserves, jam, and we canned some halved in syrup. The recipes were all very successful, from Blue Ribbon Preserves, by Linda J Amendt. We mixed some of the extra cherry syrup with club soda, making the best cherry soda ever.

Mushroom tortellini

S came over, and the three of us made tortellini. The pasta dough was a part-whole-wheat, and the filling was mostly cremini mushrooms, with some grana padano and garden thyme.

Between shaping the tortellini and eating it, the three of us went on a walk in Tilden Park with our friend JB. The slideshow:


B made this beautifully plated, and delicious, salmon. He baked the fish and served it with a red wine reduction. On the side we had garlic mashed potatoes and braised beet greens, and we paired the dinner with a merlot, if memory serves.

Clams cooked in white wine, with onions, garlic, and parsley

Pizza with sauteed onion and asparagus

For the pizza, saute onions in salt and olive oil until very tender, and use as the sauce. Then top with cubed fresh mozzarella, asparagus that you have broiled with some oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle over everything some grated romano.

For the salad, add some mashed blackberries to your balsamic vinaigrette.

Breakfast: poached eggs on toast, berries, and cappuccino

Our standard breakfast consists of two poached eggs each, served on either toasted whole-wheat bread or toasted english muffins, and cappuccino. It's not the fastest breakfast, because we have to wait for the water to boil — it takes B about 15 minutes total to get breakfast on the table, most of which is spent while I'm in the shower. (On rushing days, we scramble the eggs: B says it takes him four to six minutes to scramble six eggs and make two cappuccinos.) But occasionally we go slightly fancier. Pictured above: one poached egg, served over toast with parsley-and-garlic butter, and cappuccino and strawberries and blackberries from the farmers' market.

Strawberry mousse

The strawberry preserves are from last year, made from u-picked berries from Swanton. The fresh berries are from the market, and the mint is form our garden. The mousse — made by B, who makes most of our desserts — was excellent.

Homemade whole-wheat linguini with morels and cream