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Archive for September, 2008

Mug Cake

You might have seen this recipe on the loops recently.

5 MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE
1 Coffee Mug
4 tablespoons flour(that’s plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
Small splash of vanilla

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to share!)

I decided to try the cake and hubby and I both enjoyed it for our dessert, served with yoghurt.
It’s quite a dense cake because there’s no baking powder, but it definitely rises. A little too well. If you make it, put a plate under your mug when it’s cooking in the microwave to save on cleanup. Also make sure you clean your plate and mugs straightaway because the mixture adheres rather well! I mixed the egg, oil and milk in a separate mug and added to the flour mix. Hubby and I also decided that one mug cake was enough for two.

I decided I’d try a variation:

Leave out the cocoa and chocolate chips. Grate in the rhind of half a lemon and add a handful of berries. I added raspberries because I like them but blueberries would work. Mix in the same way with all the other ingredients. Once your mug cake is cooked – squeeze half a lemon into a cup and mix in two teaspoons of sugar. Stir and spoon over your cake before eating. Serve with cream, ice cream or yoghurt. This was yummy!!

A third variation would be replacing the chocolate and chocolate chips with instant coffee and a few chopped walnuts.

Enjoy!!

National Parks in America

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen National Parks I Visited Recently

1. Yosemite, California – just beautiful. I’d visited before but it was much quieter this time due to both the petrol prices and a recent fire that had scared visitors away. We had a perfect day with excellent visibility.

2. Grand Canyon, Arizona. This canyon is awe-inspiring.

3. Petrified Forest, Arizona. My husband and I both enjoyed our first visit to this park. The petrified forests were fascinating.

4. Mesa Verde, Colorado. Hot and dry. Busy but well worth a visit for the peek into the cliff dwellings of the Puebloans.

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5. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado. I didn’t know anything about this park until I visited but I loved the black rock and the deep canyons. It was stark and beautiful.

6. Rocky Mountains, Colorado. We didn’t have the best weather here. At the top of the pass it was freezing and sleeting. Ranger Michelle answered some of my many questions while I was here and we saw lots of animals at the lower levels before it started raining. A lot of trees are dying here after being attacked by the pine beetle.

7. Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. We walked around the base and saw our first snake here.

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8. Little Bighorn Battlefield, Montana. An interesting place to visit although, man was it hot on the day we visited!

9. Yellowstone, Wyoming. This is a huge park and you need to spend a few days to explore it fully.

10. Olympic, Washington. This park covers both forest, lakes and mountains as well as part of the coast. Crescent Lake was gorgeous and we also enjoyed exploring the coast.

11. Mt. Rainier, Washington. I loved my visit here. The spring flowers were in full bloom and it was really pretty.

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12. Lewis & Clark, Oregon. We didn’t know much about Lewis and Clark and after visiting Fort Clatsop we came away much wiser. This pair of explorers had great people skills and seemed well liked by everyone.

13. Crater Lake, Oregon. One of my favorites. It’s so pretty here. I could look at the lake for hours.

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Crater Lake National Park

Our holiday is almost over and I won’t post again until we’re at home. We’ve had such a great time and seen so many wonderful places.

Yesterday morning we wandered around the gardens at our hotel. Here’s a sunflower shot. I like sunflowers. They always make me smile when I see them.

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Crater Lake is beautiful. Mr. Munro and I have visited before and this time we stayed at the lodge. A forest fire made the air hazy but it was still very pretty. We wandered along one of the trails and relaxed, soaking in the views. It’s a lovely place to chill out.

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Mr. Munro has caught the flu and spent all night (or what felt like all night) coughing, sneezing and blowing his nose. He’s a little better today. Hopefully he’ll shake the worst of it off after a good night of sleep. We’re driving back to San Francisco tomorrow to catch a flight home. I can’t believe how quickly the last six weeks has gone.

Covered Bridges and Lava Fields

Another short post today. Yesterday we drove from Prineville to Cottage Grove, passing through lava fields and in the afternoon driving around to see covered bridges. We’re staying the night at a lovely resort called Village Green. We have our own private garden plus there are 14 acres of garden for resort visitors to wander around. It’s really lovely and deserving of a post of its own.

Here’s a shot of the lava fields. You can see where they have flowed around some trees, leaving them standing while the rest of the area was destroyed.

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And here’s a shot of the Stewart Covered bridge with our rental car. The bridge was constructed in 1930 and restored in 1996.

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We’re off to Crater Lake National Park tomorrow. Unfortunately there are wildfires around and some of the roads have been closed. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

John Day Fossil Beds, Oregon

The internet link is really slow today but I think I can load one photo. We visited the John Day Fossil Beds yesterday, which were really fascinating. Scientists are still discovering new species of plants and animals on a regular basis.

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This is a shot of one of my favorite beds. The minerals in the soil (from volcanoes) make the rocks look blue/green in color.

We’re off to look at covered bridges today. Guess what will be in the next blog…

A Trio of US National Parks

USA has some awesome National Parks. We’ve visited Olympic, Mt. Rainier and Mt. St Helens during the last few days.

I mentioned a little about Olympic in the last post. It’s a huge park and it covers both rainforest, lakes and mountains as well as the coast. My first shot today is of one of the tide pools on the coast. We were lucky enough to visit while it was low tide.

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Mt. Rainier National park was beautiful. The day was clear and visibility good. I was disappointed during our last visit because we missed the wildflowers. This summer seems to be later and they are in full bloom. We wandered around the portion of the park called Paradise. The name is perfect because it is indeed Paradise.

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Our final visit was to see Mt. St Helens, which erupted in 1980 causing great devastation. The area has regenerated but it’s still easy to see the damage with matchstick-like tree trunks, the lava flow area plus the side of the mountain that collapsed.

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Of the three my favorite was Mt. Rainier but I’d recommend a visit to any of the three if you have a chance. They’re all beautiful.

Vancouver Island

I enjoyed our time in Canada, and we’ve decided we’ll return to Vancouver Island at some future date to catch the places we missed. After Campbell River we traveled to Port Alberni where we stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast called Cedar Wood Lodge.

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Stamp Falls

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Our hosts were originally from Utah but were very knowledgeable about their new home. They suggested we visit a local beauty spot called Stamp Falls Park. We heard the magic words salmon and swimming and off we went. Mr. Munro swam with the salmon and took a few photos, although they were hard to catch on film because they moved so fast. The water was too cold for me. I was content to watch the salmon leaping from the water and to soak in the scenery. The fish ladder that the salmon use to navigate the falls was fascinating and we watched their struggles for a long time.

Gabriele – if you’re reading this you’ll laugh because we had dinner at the Little Bavarian Restaurant. It’s very popular with the locals and the people at the B & B booked for us. We were lucky enough to get a cancellation and had a wonderful meal. It seems quite a few Bavarian people settled in British Columbia and Washington. The food was yummy and it was easy to see why it was so popular.

On the way to Victoria we stopped at Coombs to view the Goats on the Roof. There’s a wonderful food market here where you can buy all sorts of delicious treats. The roof of the building is covered with grass and several goats graze up there during the summer, much to the amusement of the tourists. The goats were shy when we were there but I did glimpse one.

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We also visited a town where all the buildings are painted with murals depicting the history of the area. They have some very talented artists. And thanks to our B & B hosts, we stopped off at Cathedral Grove where they have some very large Douglas Fir which were over 300 feet high and very old.

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Victoria is beautiful, albeit touristy. The harbor is pretty and the parliament buildings look like a castle. At night they are lit up with hundreds of lights.

We ended up going whale watching. I’ve been fascinated with orcas or killer whales since I wrote an orca shifter story a few years ago. We spent about an hour with a Transient group of orca. They’re the ones that eat seals, whales, birds and other animals rather than fish. They travel from place to place unlike the Resident orcas. This particular family group had a new calf – about two days old, according to the naturalist onboard. Because of this they moved at a slow pace and didn’t do any deep dives. We also saw lots of fur seals and seabirds. It was a fun outing and much more rewarding than the bears!!

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At the moment we’re back in the USA at Crescent Lake in Olympic National Park. We’re staying at Log Cabin Lodge and our room looks over the lake and forest clad mountains. Before we went into dinner several deer were grazing in front of our room. It’s a real slice of heaven and you can bet the story ideas are popping. We walked into the main lodge after reading about the depth of the lake – over 600 feet in parts. I was muttering about the Loch Ness Monster and we sighted a painting and a small card about the local sighting of a strange monster in the lake. Obviously I’m not the only one with a vivid imagination!