Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hiking, S'mores & Shut your pie holes

For spring break our family made a trip down to Zion National Park for some good hiking, playing in the mud, roasting hot dogs and marshmellow fun. Despite twisting my ankle the first day of our vacation and not on a hike mind you... just walking to the bathroom with my girls... we did a few good hikes as a family. We went on the "Canyon Overlook" hike with all the kids which Eric and I tried to do about 6 years ago with my parents when Finn and Annie were 4 and 2. We ended up turning around because I kept freaking out about the drop-offs and I do remember envisioning my two children plummeting to their deaths off the narrow trails and into the canyon crevices. Here is a picture of us at about the point we turned around last time.

So needless to say I was a bit hesitant to try it again with 2 additional children that were about the same age. But this time we made it to the end of the hike. When we got to the actual "Canyon Overlook" I decided that the hike wasn't nearly as bad as I had remembered it. Plus the view at the end was definitely worth it. I was remarking about this to Eric and off-handedly said, "I must have mellowed over the past few years." He said, without hesitation, "Uh... yea!" He also offered this theory as to why I wasn't as worried about my kids this time. He said it was because the first time I only had 2 children and they were both precious to me. But now that I have 4, a few are dispensible. That makes sense too!:) Either way it was a hike we all enjoyed. I also noted to Eric that the supposed "scary" drop-offs I experienced the first time basically stopped at just about the point where we had turned around. Oh well, live and learn! Here we are at the end of "Canyon Overlook" where if you go just a few feet past where this picture was taken you would plummet to your death into the canyon!Another fun part of our trip was roasting marshmallows for s'mores. While watching my family enjoy this time-honored camping tradition, I couldn't help notice that there are two schools of thought when it comes to the actual roasting of the marshmallow. The first is to haphazardly stick your marshmallow into the flame and either expectantly hope it will catch on fire or ignore it until it bursts into flames and someone has to tell you that your marshmallow is on fire. This produces a "blackened" still chewy marshmallow that lends a charred flavor to the entire s'more once the flames are blown out. Not surprisingly it is the under 12 set that enjoy or embrace this method of marshmallow roasting. I also witnessed a peculiar subset of this school of marshmallow roasting thought that strangely only occurs to boys ages 9-12. It is to completely abandon any pretense of using a marshmallow for the purpose of a s'more and just throw it into the middle of the fire. And of course what follows is a barrage of "Wow"s and "cool"s and "Did you see that"s by all the "blackened" marshmallow devotees as they watch the marshmallow burn then expand then burn and expand over and over until it shrivels to its non-s'more fire ash death. Although its fire dance performance was enjoyed by all those under 12, I'm not sure it felt it meet the measure of its creation, not being in a s'more and all.
Of course the more mature s'more consumer adheres to the second school of thought when it comes to roasting a marshmallow. This thing of beauty consists of gently placing the marshmallow just above the flames reach and slowly rotating. You could also place the marshmallow in the sweet spot of the fire where the wood has stopped producing flames but is still smoldering a bright red. But this spot only comes after the fire has been burning for awhile. This method requires patience as the marshmallow slowly roasts turning a golden brown but the end result is a gooey, smooth lava flow of sugary goodness that compliments the chocolate and graham cracker much like a fine red wine compliments a steak... not that I know, but from what I've heard. You know the marshmallow is ready when it droops down from the roasting stick. Then you know your patience is just moments away from paying off. Of course once the 1st school of roasting participants taste the sweet nectar that results from the 2nd school of roasting they are easily converted.
And if you took the time to read a post mostly devoted to s'mores then you are worthy of receiving the following recipe. This recipe, courtesy of the previous post's subject, kicks a s'more up to a whole new level that they can't even be called s'mores anymore. These are deservedly called "Shut Your Pie Holes" and once you taste them you won't go back to a plain old s'more again! The trick is after you put a marshmallow on your stick to roast it, you then slide it down a little further and add a caramel. Roast the two together, preferably using the above-mentioned second method, then when you slide the droopy, golden brown marshmallow off it envelopes the caramel. Proceed to make a s'more like you normally would and then savor this sweet little campfire ambrosia.
Happy "Shut Your Pie Hole" season!