The Road Less Traveled

August 16, 2008

Yesterday was certainly a day of unexpected obstacles!

It started with our trip to Damascus where the Virginia Creeper Trail begins. Somehow we found ourselves in the middle of the mountain countryside with the fuel needle on E. It seems the roads on our map weren’t the same as the roads on the earth. Luckily we came across a mountain man, who let us know we were 4 miles from our destination road – and a service station. He warned us "But the gas there is $3.61 a gallon!" Guess he doesn’t know how much we’re used to paying in the city.


Once we arrived at the bike shop where we’d be renting, we were told we’d lost our reservation for being so late! We tried another with no luck, and then a third, which had space but we had to leave RIGHT THEN. No time for lunch!!! Since I’d learned my lesson about packing snacks the day before, thankfully I had a nice selection to serve as lunch: Larabars, a Luna bar, Mary’s Gone Sticks + Twigs, Brothers All Natural dried fruit. And my dad had two plums.

The guys also bought Snickers bars for their fuel:


My base:


Plus I had about 1/3 of each of these bags. I received these as a sample to try from Mary’s Gone Crackers . They are perfect for packed lunches and tasted awesome. The nutritional profile is awesome as well – around 200 kcal per bag with ample protein and fiber. I thought I’d like the sea salt the best, but the chipotle tomato were my favorite:

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And lastly a bag of Brothers-All-Natural dried bananas and strawberries. I like these, but they are strange in texture. They are just fruit though, so they also make a great little snack. Would have been great in yogurt.


So for an emergency lunch, I think we did quite well. Nutritionally it was fine to get me through the bike trip, but volume-wise I was still kind of starving. Luckily that subsided as we got underway.


The Creeper Trail is divided into 2 sections, each about 17 miles . The first half, which we did, is almost 100% downhill, with some flat at the end. We had plans to do half of the second half, which is more challenging, but Mother Earth disagreed (see below!). It took us about an hour + 45 to do the 17 miles back to Damascus. I wish there had been more hills to get more of a challenge – maybe next time we’ll do it in reverse!


The trail is gorgeous.



With about 6 miles to go, we got caught in a huge downpour, which left us soaked and muddy. We were really booking it in the end to get back as fast as possible, but the rain just kept coming. We decided to head to a nearby winery instead of continuing on in the rain. I have a tendency to melt in rain, but thankfully I did OK :mrgreen:



Of course we were thrilled to go to a winery :) BUT, the husband didn’t have his wallet and they wouldn’t serve him! He was so bummed. Dad and I tasted about 12 different wines (maybe 1/2 an oz each?) and he liked them so much he bought a case and gave us 3 bottles to choose for ourselves. Thanks Dad!



After an hour drive back to our cabin, we opened a little wine and the husband and I started on dinner.

Yummy Sauvignon Blanc –


Here’s the menu we made for the weekend :)


Friday’s Dinner:

  • Seared Pork Chops with a Peach-Fig Compote
  • Baked "Fried" Blue Cornmeal Okra
  • Blue Cheese + Mushroom Risotto
  • Shelton North Carolina Merlot
  • Canadian Cabernet Franc Ice Wine

The pork chops came out delicious – but the peach-fig compote was the all-star. We basically just chopped 2 peaches, about 6 dried figs and put them in a saucepan with some sugar, while wine and water. We also added a little vanilla and simmered until it was thick and saucy, about 20 minutes. Add more liquid if needed. (I had half a pork chop – about 3-4 oz?)


For the okra , we just tossed them in a little olive oil and cornmeal until coated and baked for about 30 minutes. Egg would have been nice for a better coating (they were a little dry), but we didn’t have any.


Lastly for the risotto , we made it by the package instructions with Imagine Vegetable Broth (amazing stuff) and a pint of mushrooms , which we browned before adding, and a package of blue cheese (crumbled) stirred in at the end.


With a glass of red (and I think I had a third glass in there somewhere…)


My plate –


We ended the meal with……. more wine. An ice wine that our Canadian friend brought us. I just had about an oz –


A little later we all dug into some ice cream while Olympic watching –


And then I had some more 😳


It was quite the night of consumption!

The Hills

This morning the husband and I set out on a run before breakfast. Our cabin was on a small mountain and there were some killer hills. We ran/hiked/walked about 4-5 miles . After all the wine last night, I wasn’t feeling my best :(

For breakfast we made a batch of fruited oatmeal (banana, peach, blueberry) with some Grape Nuts on top!


Plus hot tea –


I was still feeling hungry afterwards (I think in retrospect I was really dehydrated) but I had a handful of trail mix (which I wish I’d put on top of my oats!) and that helped –



Despite the fact that I was totally wined-out after 2 nights of overdrinking (for me, it was way too much), the husband and I HAD to seize the opportunity to visit some Yadkin Valley wineries when we realized we’d be driving right past them. I’ve done the Swan Creek Wine Trail before, but he never has and we’ve been meaning to come up for a visit for a while now. We ended up going to all 5 wineries in the trail – it was a long dehydrating day! But we had so much fun. Especially with the memories of our Sonoma honeymoon, I’d say wine tasting is our all-time favorite couple activity.

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We packed a picnic before we left the mountains and planned to enjoy it on the grounds.

We had a spread of:

  • Homemade rye bread
  • Turkey slices
  • Cheddar slices
  • Peach + grapes
  • Tomato + jalapeno from our garden
  • Mustard packets
  • A half eaten jar of pickles
  • A split glass of wine from the tasting room

I pretty much ate half of what you see – maybe less turkey/bread/tomato and more of the fruit.


Instead of packing sandwiches, we decided to keep everything loose so we could assemble on the spot. It turned out perfectly.


My husband is so gross – he ate a jalapeno raw out of hand and drank the pickle juice

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Vegetables Gone Wild

We came home to an empty fridge minus the CSA veggies we picked up right before we left. We toyed with biking to Dean & Deluca for salads (I was craving a big salad) but we decided we were too lazy to bike that far (and were only allowed to go by bike). So instead we came up with this mixture that ended up being fantastic. I’m not sure what to call it!


We roasted tomatoes , green beans, parsnips, carrot , a few bell pepper pieces, 2 slices of bacon (cut into small pieces), an eggplant and some really buttery smelling garlic from the CSA in a little EVOO .


We roasted a spaghetti squash for a base and boiled some speltberries to mix in –


Assembled, drizzled with some sriratcha hot sauce and oregano , and topped with greek yogurt


I was so stuffed when I finished I could barely get in some water. This was too much. I should have stopped eating 3/4 of the way through, but it just tasted too good.


WHEW! I did a little too much drinking this weekend and am feeling the effects (dehydrated, water retention, etc.). I’m always excited to get back to my normal ways after a vacation. I’ve got my Boston trip coming up this Thursday, so I’ve only got a few days of downtime before the last hurrah of the summer!

We’re going to read and/or watch the Olympics and have a relaxing wine-free evening :mrgreen:

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 VeggieGirl August 16, 2008 at 7:59 pm

My oh my, what an adventure you’ve had this weekend!! I’m exhausted just reading about it, haha! 😀 Relax tonight, for sure!!

I see a Larabar!! A VeggieGirl favorite :-)


2 BethT August 16, 2008 at 8:04 pm

Looks to me like that’s a summer ratatouille of sorts! 😀 Love thos NC wineries too….almost as good as Northern CA.


3 Ryane August 16, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Oooh I had a salad bar dinner myself! But your Roasted Salad concoction looks yummy too!

Nothing wrong with being a little wino every now and then!!


4 hk August 16, 2008 at 8:15 pm

SO FUN! looks like a great weekend of fun and fam :) I’m also so excited to try this new dinner concoction of fresh veg. and spelt/wheatberries- total yum!


5 caitlinbo (see bride run) August 16, 2008 at 8:50 pm

your vacation looks really fun! and i love grape nuts on oatmeal… too delicious for words 😀


6 ModelBehavior August 16, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Wow what a vacation! Looks like you had tons of fun, enjoy the rest of your weekend.


7 zoe August 16, 2008 at 9:10 pm

hey kath i was just wondering around how many calories on average is your oatmeal in the morning?


8 Megan August 16, 2008 at 9:13 pm

I love those all brothers natural fruits and their potato chips are great! Looks like you having a great time! Enjoy :)


9 Jen August 16, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Looks like a great get-away! What did you think of the Peller icewine? We’re very fortunate to live about a 30 minute drive from Niagara Falls and we love driving out on the weekends to visit the wineries – there are a ton to choose from! Enjoy the rest of your weekend :)


10 Kelley August 16, 2008 at 9:42 pm

You should come to Long Island for a good wine trail! I work at a vineyard here! I’ve been dying to try a cabernet franc ice wine how was it??

And $3.61? Sheesh! Sign me up!


11 Kim August 16, 2008 at 10:21 pm

I didn’t know that Mary’s Gone Crackers had come out with that new “sticks” item! How do they compare to the regular crackers, taste-wise?


12 Fleur August 16, 2008 at 10:45 pm

Looks like you had a very nice mini-break, with lots of activity!

Tonight’s dinner looks fabulous. Definitely going to try and recreate that one in my kitchen!


13 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) August 16, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Sounds like you had a wonderful weekend!

The roasted veggies look very good!


14 Jenn August 16, 2008 at 11:20 pm

“I have a tendency to melt in the rain”

hahaha!! I love your sense of humor Kath 😀


15 magpie August 16, 2008 at 11:57 pm

Mmm I love grape nuts. I like to prepare them like oatmeal – grape nuts + milk, cooked, then topped with a bit of honey. It’s delicious.


16 C August 17, 2008 at 7:15 am

Sounds like it was so much fun. I love visitng wineries, too!


17 Justy2003 August 17, 2008 at 9:51 am

So cute that you guys made a menu for the meals :) All the meals look delicious! And I love that pic of you and the husband with the helmets on!

Oh, and raw jalapeno + drinking pickle juice = EWE husband!


18 HangryPants August 17, 2008 at 9:56 am

Looks like your having a great time, Kath! All the food and wine looks great. I’ve never had speltberries, I’ll have to look for them.



19 Tracy August 17, 2008 at 10:13 am

Kath, where did you find the Brother’s All Natural products? I’ve been looking for the potato crisps you had the other day. They sound like a fun addition to lunch.



20 Kath August 17, 2008 at 10:20 am

zoe ,
It depends on the toppings, but usually between 350 and 450 calories.

Jen + Kelley ,
Loved the ice wine!! I used to despise sweet wines, but now I love them. It really makes a great ending to a meal. This one wasn’t too syrupy.

Kelley – We’re hoping to do some NY wineries in the future, but we’ll probably do Finger Lakes before Long Island, but I’ve always wanted to come to LI and see where Barefoot Contessa works her magic!

Kim ,
I prefer them to the flat crackers because they have more of a crunch in the texture of the stick than the flat cracker does.

Tracy ,
I got mine as a sample, but I think they have a store locater on their site. It says Whole Foods, Walmart, Amazon, and more. You can buy them directly from their site too (and I think shipping is free).



21 Rose August 17, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Kath – we strangely had very similar weekends! We also went to the mountains, hiked, ate good food, went to a winery…. the only difference between our trip and yours is that 1) you actually saw some bears on your hike and 2) you homecooked a lot of great looking food. Looks like a great time with your family + husband!


22 momonthego August 17, 2008 at 6:30 pm

That sure did look like a great weekend. Your family is such good sports. I can’t imagine my mother going on a trip like that!!


23 Ali August 17, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Your dinner looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it. It would be great to warm up for lunches during the week. I just got back from a vaca weekend and I know what you mean about the excess wine and getting back on track! Cheers to a healthy Monday!


24 Allie August 18, 2008 at 9:53 am

Hey Kath — I read your blog all the time, although I think this is the first comment I’ve made!

How were those “Mary’s Gone Crackers” — I see that they are gluten free, and have tried her regular crackers, and they’re OK, but need to be dipped in something….

I’ll have to take a look for them!

Thanks… your blog always makes me hungry for healthy eats!


25 Kath August 18, 2008 at 9:57 am

Allie ,
I liked the Sticks + Twigs a lot. They had a wonderful crunch. I like the regular Mary’s Gone crackers as well, although they are pretty different tasting. But they’ve got a great nutritional profile.



26 Lauren August 18, 2008 at 10:35 am

Wow, what a fantastic long weekend! That was so sweet of you and your husband to be ‘personal chefs’ for your parents. It looks like you put a lot of thought and love into your menus; I’m sure your parents really appreciated the food!


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