Bash Bish Falls State Park

In the same area as Mt. Everett (the Mount Washington State Reservation), there are multiple state parks.  The day we hiked Mt. Everett, we didn’t have time to check out any of the surrounding parks, but we were pretty curious about Bash Bish Falls State Park.  According to the website, Bash Bish Falls is the largest single drop waterfall in Massachusetts (yes, I know – not saying much).  While the falls were nice, we also really loved some of the surrounding trails.

There are two parking areas – one in MA and one in NY.  These parking areas are only about a mile apart, and I highly recommend checking out both areas.  The hike down to the falls from the MA lot is very steep and strenuous, but there is also a short, steep hike UP from the parking lot to a scenic viewing area.  We liked the view so much that we went back again just after sunset to take another look.

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Same view, but sunset!

Same view, but sunset!

There was also a small trail off to the side of the parking lot that led down to the river (not sure what it is called, but it’s the one that feeds into the Falls).  No one else was down there, and we really enjoyed the quiet!  There’s nothing like the sound of rushing water for stress relief – plus, the dogs liked swimming in the calmer areas.

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After a couple hours hanging out by the river, we drove over to the NY parking area and hiked about a mile uphill to the falls.  It was a nice, relaxing hike with a wide and smooth trail.  We had to cross the state line (back into MA) to get back to the falls, and were excited to find that we were the only people there.  Apparently, the falls are very crowded in the summer, but it was quiet when we were there – likely because it was 7 p.m.!

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All-in-all, we had a great day!  The hiking wasn’t overly strenuous, which was relaxing (in a way), but we were rewarded for our efforts.  Plus, the dogs had a great time, and I had some fun playing with my camera!

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Snagged Some Sun

It has been raining here lately… a lot!  Normally, I like a bit of rain (hell, I used to live in Ireland – if you don’t like rain there, you’re screwed!).  I’ve also appreciated that there haven’t been too many oppressively hot days yet this summer. And, every day hasn’t been rainy (just most of them!) – we got in a hike on Sunday (during a quick reprieve from the rain), and have been less distracted by outdoor adventures enough that we’ve found time to go to the movies.  We saw Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness, and liked them both.   BUT, I’ve been lame and have not been running in the rain.  

Now, don’t get me wrong – I often really enjoy running in the rain, but I haven’t been feeling it (or any of the hassles that come along with wet clothes and gear!) and am really trying to keep things simple this summer.  So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been focusing on my lifting (cross-training) and yoga.  

Today, though, we had sun for about 4 hours (yippie!), so Wendy and I scooted out for an easy 3-mile run around the neighborhood.  It was nice.  Lifting is really helping with my running.  While my calves were screaming (as they always do when I take a break from running – even if only for a week), the rest felt great.  The same pace requires less effort – so, what would have been a really tough gut-busting workout has now become a relaxed run.  Why, oh why, did I put off getting back under the bar?!?!

When we got home, I had a nice glass of chocolate milk and read a magazine on the deck until the clouds came back!  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon! 🙂

Smoky Grilled Pizza

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Now that we’re really into summer, we’ve begun our annual grilling extravaganza!  Jeb has always loved to grill, but I only started last summer (I’ll admit, I was a little intimidated).  We’re pretty good at the traditional grilled meats, but I’ve always wanted to try grilled pizza – and, believe me, it is DEFINITELY worth a try.  Since it makes four pizzas (around 9-10 inches each), this is a perfect recipe for casual entertaining.  We made ours on the charcoal grill, but it would also work fine on a gas grill.

The crust takes about two hours to rise, but that allows plenty of time for prep work… and a glass of wine.  Because the crust will be grilled, it is different than most other pizza crusts (more water and more salt).  This adaptation calls for the use of a smoke packet during cooking – it is definitely worth the time/effort and gives the pizza a great flavor!  See the bottom of the post for in-process photos.  🙂

Smoky Grilled Pizza
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 cup water, room temperature
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1.75-2 cups all purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (optional)
2 teaspoons sugar
1.25 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast

Sauce:
1- 28oz. can of diced tomatoes (with Italian seasoning if desired)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Spicy Garlic Oil:
1/3 cup Olive Oil
6 cloves garlic
Red pepper flakes

Cheese:
2 cups whole milk mozzarella
1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese

How to make it:

Make the crust:

  1. Combine the water and olive oil in a liquid measuring cup.
  2. Pulse 1.75 cups of flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the food processor until combined.
  3. With food processor running, slowly add water/oil mixture to the flour and process until dough forms into a soft ball (about 1.5-2 minutes).
  4. If the dough is still not formed into a ball, add flour 1-2 TBS at a time and process briefly until soft ball forms.
  5. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap (also lightly greased).  Let rise for 1.5-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

 

Make the Spicy Garlic Oil:

  1. Combine oil and garlic in a small skillet.
  2. Heat over medium heat until oil just starts to sizzle.
  3. Add red pepper flakes to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp).
  4. Cook for an additional 30 seconds (do not let the garlic toast).
  5. Allow to cool and transfer to a small bowl.

 

Make the sauce:

  1. Put diced tomatoes in food processor and pulse until coarsely crushed.
  2. Pour into fine mesh strainer (over a bowl) and allow to drain for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Pour drained tomatoes into a bowl, and mix with sugar and salt.

 

Mix the cheese:

  1. Mix the cheese together and put aside.

 

Putting it all together:

  1. Soak a handful of wood chips in a bowl (submerged) for at least 15 minutes.  Use a sheet of aluminum foil to make a small packet and place the soaked wood chips inside.  Use a knife to poke a few holes in the top (only) of the packet.
  2. When dough has doubled in size, transfer it to a clean surface and divide into 4 equal sections.  Roll each section into a tight ball, place on well-floured counter, slightly flatten each ball (with palm of the hand), and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Use a chimney to heat the coals.  When they are hot, spread them across the bottom of the charcoal grill.  Place foil packet over the coals (in the corner) and replace grate.  Open the vent in the grill, and allow grill to heat for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Clean and oil grill grate.  Make sure all toppings are ready – once you start grilling, everything goes very quickly.
  5. Roll each disk of dough to 1/8-inch thickness and place on a plate or cookie sheet.
  6. Flip dough onto hot grill and allow to cook, uncovered, until bottom is nicely browned and top is bubbly – about 2-4 minutes.
  7. Repeat with remaining dough balls.  I usually cook two at a time.
  8. Brush the cooked side of each crust with the spicy garlic oil, then top with cheese and then sauce.  You can put the cheese on top if you prefer, but the pizza holds together better (and has a better flavor) when the cheese is directly on the crust.
  9. Drizzle a bit of garlic oil on top of the sauce.
  10. Return the pizzas to the grill and cook, covered, until cheese is melted and bottom of the crust is golden brown.  You may need to do this in stages.
  11. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

I hope you give this recipe a try – and I know you will love it!  The crust is just the right texture, and the balance of flavors is spot-on.  Jeb says this pizza is what Bertucci’s pizza always tries to be!  Let me know what you think!

Put the foil smoke packet toward the back of the grill - the temp over it is much lower so you don't want it under your cooking surface.

Put the foil smoke packet toward the back of the grill – the temp over it is much lower so you don’t want it under your cooking surface.

These crusts are about ready to come off the grill.

These crusts are about ready to come off the grill.

All topped, and ready to finish cooking.

All topped, and ready to finish cooking.

 

Jeb loves to grill! :)

Jeb loves to grill! 🙂

 

 

Blog Readers

Now that Google Reader is going away, I’m trying out different blog readers.  I’m not a huge fan of the wordpress one, so I’m checking out Bloglovin’ and Feedly.  Any recommendations?  What do you use?

I haven’t figured out how to link to my blog through Feedly, but if you use bloglovin, you can use the button in the sidebar to follow me. 🙂

I missed National Running Day! (and other random thoughts)

What kind of running blogger misses National Running Day?  Whoops!  When I planned my workout schedule for the week, I had a full rest day scheduled for yesterday, which means NO running.  I did go for a walk and did some stretching, so that counts, right?

I’ve been really enjoying my cross-training lately.  I’m following the program in “Strong Curves” by Bret Contreras and Kellie Hart Davis.  The program itself is great.  It focuses on glutes/hamstrings, and is challenging and fun.  Plus, it includes a lot of the work I have to do to keep my piriformis healthy (i.e. avoid injury).  To be honest, the book itself is just ok – the research is good, and it does give a basic overview of muscle development, etc.  I found the tone of the writing to be a bit off-putting (chauvinistic, maybe? – definitely generalizing what he thinks women want).  However, the book is worth picking up simply for the program and the exercise descriptions/photos.

I’ve been dragging a bit lately.  Lots on my mind (that I can’t write about here).  Suffice to say that I am working through it, and choosing self-care (like insane baking and tough workouts) to pull myself back up.

We made grilled pizza the other day.  It was amazing.  Yes, I know that “amazing” seems to be the most overused word lately, but I feel like the pizza we made was what Bertucci’s hopes to be.  I’ll post some pics later this week.

 

 

Mt. Everett

We went hiking this weekend at Mt. Everett State Reservation in southwestern MA.  It is part of a (free) state forest area, and delightfully quiet (we only saw one other couple hiking the entire time – and that was at the very beginning!).  Despite the heat (it was 90+ close to home, though the temperature dropped as we got into the mountains), we were able to get in a good workout, great views, and a little break from the craziness everyday life.  Of course, we took lots of precautions to keep our pups cool!

Duke and I at the summit!

Duke and I at the summit!

We really liked this hike.  There was a pond close to the parking area (where Jeb and the dogs took a swim), and the trail (which is part of the Appalachian Trail) was easy to follow and had lots of interesting features.  The parking area is partway up to the summit, but we took the “Guilder’s Pond Trail” the rest of the way.  The trail begins with a fire road and switches to singletrack about halfway up.  There’s an AT shelter and nice overlook (with a bench!) around the same area that the trail changes.

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With lots of stops, the entire hike to the summit (2900+ feet) only took about 45 minutes.  There is lots of vegetation at the summit, and a lovely view of NY, CT, and MA (since the mountain is situated in the SW corner of the state).  Along the trail, we saw plenty of wildlife – a turtle, frogs, mudpuppies (in the pond), and a rabbit!  There are warnings that rattlesnakes and black bears live in the area, and I am NOT disappointed that I didn’t see any of those!

All-in-all, we had a great day – there are some other natural attractions (including the largest waterfall in Massachusetts), so we are definitely planning to head back to the area and check out some other trails.

Turtle!

Turtle!

Jeb - surveying his domain

Jeb – surveying his domain

Dogs love to climb!

Dogs love to climb!

The whole singletrack section was interesting and picturesque.

The whole singletrack section was interesting and picturesque.

Duke wanted proof that he summitted Mt. Everett! :)

Duke wanted proof that he summitted Mt. Everett! 🙂