Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunday Supper Series #8: Braciole for beginners

I've never made braciole (Italian meat rolls braised in tomato sauce) before. Heck, I don't even know if I have eaten it before. I just know that I always see the neat, pre-rolled packages of braciole at Whole Foods, ready prepared for the pan. And began to wonder, what do they taste like? Are they worth that price? Can I make them myself? I set out to try.

Menu: Polyface beef braciole with spaghetti, steamed young brocolli, beets with balsamic vinaigrette, fresh bread and salad.

First I had to figure out how to make braciole. I read a few recipes online and consulted my Italian cookbooks. I came up with a recipe and plan in my head and got to work. Most recipes called for flank steak or top round roasts. And although my Polyface meat inventory taped to our freezer stated that I had two top round roasts, I couldn't find them. I could only find bottom round roasts and flank steak. But I like using flank steak in stir fry, so I decided to try it with the bottom round.

I sliced the bottom round roast into seven thin slices and then pounded each one out.

Then I spread each piece with some olive oil, laid on a piece of proscuitto and then covered it with a mix I made of bread crumbs, garlic, basil, parsley and parmesan.

That was the other reason why I wanted to make braciole. I am desperate for anything that uses bread crumbs. If you made bread every week and refused to eat sandwiches like I do, you'd have a lot of bread crumbs and croutons laying around too, believe me. So it was probably the bread crumbs in the ingredient list that got me interested.

Here are my rolls, waiting for the next step, the browning.

While I browned the rolls in a shallow Dutch Oven braiser (one of my Christmas presents this past year from T), I made a simple marinara sauce with olive oil, garlic, crushed tomatoes, basil and oregano. Multitasking is key to an efficient kitchen.

After the rolls browned, I removed them from the pan and added a chopped onion to  deglaze the pan. I added about a 1/2 cup of red wine to help it along. 

Then I mixed the tomato sauce with the wine and onions in the braiser and added the rolls. I poured in more wine for good measure. I put it in a 350 oven for two hours and left it alone. This was the result.

It was pretty good. I think the addition of the proscuitto was an important flavor component, and I preferred not having gooey, melted cheese in the rolls, so am glad I didn't add provolone. The beef itself was tender, not dry and very flavorful. I don't know that it made a difference that I used bottom round vice top.

I didn't have any Italian red wine, so I just drank a basic Castle Rock Pinot Noir from Sonoma County. For some reason, it reminded me of Lapsang Souchong tea. Twiggy, smoky and a tad bit acidic. Hell if I could find the purported "rich, crisp fruit flavors" or the plum and cherry. It was just okay. Perhaps my inability to appreciate the wine can be attributed to the fact that I was getting sick and my body was telling me I needed tea and orange juice and not alcohol. Regardless, it was a good dinner.

And for good measure here is a photo I took on Saturday of Mei Ping.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sunday Supper Series #7: A chicken hater's favorite chicken

I don't much like chicken. A lot of times, I find the taste and texture to be revolting. But, if raised right and prepared properly, chicken can be ok. Never as good as beef or lamb in my estimation, but above innards. I guess it is a good thing T isn't a poultry fan either.

If there is one personal behavior that buying meat from Polyface Farm has changed, it is the fact that I have multiple whole broilers in the freezer and actually use them. Polyface does sell chicken by the piece, but it is more cost effective to buy the whole bird and cut it up. And so that is what I usually do. I have all of four recipes for chicken that I find acceptable. Most involve strong sauces that enhance the flavor, or lack thereof, in chicken. The Polyface pasturing process takes care of the texture issue.

On Monday night I made what is probably my favorite chicken recipe.

Menu: Coq au Riesling, sauteed kale, salad, rice, bread.

The recipe I use is adapted from a book I bought in Alsace last fall, Recettes d'Alsace. It is in French, but between my Mom and Google translator, I managed to figure it out.

Cut it into six pieces (two breasts, two leg/thighs, two wings) and brine it for a few hours. Put the back and neck in a stock pot with the leek tops and make a stock. I suppose you could use a package of thighs or breasts for this, but I wouldn't bone or skin them. Chicken, even the Polyface variety, needs all the help it can get in the flavor department.

Mince up one or two leek bottoms, or a big handful of shallots. Chop some mushrooms, about a boxful. Once the chicken is drained from the brine, brown it in a dutch oven pot with butter. Salt and pepper it. Put the browned chicken aside and add the aromatics and scrape up the browned bits. Add the mushrooms and somewhere between 1 1/4 cup to most of a bottle of Riesling. Yes, it has to be Riesling. Add chicken stock if you feel like having a lot of gravy (we usually do). I threw in some thyme because I like thyme.

Let this simmer for about an hour on the stove top. Open it up and continue to simmer to let the sauce reduce a bit.  Skim off the fat. Add somewhere between 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cream. If simmering has flattened the taste of the wine, add about 1/3 cup more at the end to freshen it up.

The book says to serve it with flat egg noodles, but I made rice instead. The sauce is amazingly good when soaked into still warm homemade bread.

I don't like much chicken, but I feel like I could eat this very often. And now I have made myself hungry for leftovers just in time for dinner.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Totoro: H's closet anime obsession

Who out there has heard of "Totoro?"   We have one in every room in the house, including the bathrooms, plus each of the cars.  Some are stuffed, while others are stuck to things like the 'fridge.  Then there are the food containers, key chains, pocketbooks, pens, pencils, notebooks, calenders, washcloths, and towels, all plastered with a little blue-gray furry figure which could easily be mistaken for a rather rotund rodent (or cat as some would say).  There are numerous websites devoted to the creature, and people actually collect the memorabilia.  It is all based on a movie called My Neighbor Totoro, a prizewinning 1988 Japanese anime film written and directed by Hayao Miyzaki which tells the story of a professor's two young daughters and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan.  "Totoro" is the keeper of the forest.  Keeper of the forest or not, we have been together now for nearly 7 years, yet T has never been able to figure out H's obsession for the little thing until he: 1) Went to Tokyo and visited a Japanese toy store loaded with Totoro gear (because all H wanted from Japan was Totoro stuff) and noticed that the adults-to-kids ratio was about 5-1, and 2)  Saw this video on YouTube. 

 Yea....that explains it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Couple days in the Virginia mountains

We took advantage of a three-day weekend and the extraordinarily nice weather to get away from the DC suburbs and spend a couple days in the mountains of Virginia.  When it is mid-February and the sun is out, the temperatures in the 60s, and there is no snow on the ground, one must get outside.

Our choice for a place to stay was the Widow Kips Country Inn, just off I-81 in Mount Jackson.  By "just off," we're not joking.  The 1830 Victorian house sits about a 100 yards from the interstate, which is a shame, because the hosts are great and the house and its adjacent cottages are meticulously cared for, comfortable, and inviting.  Plus, they allow pets in the cottages, which is always important to us.  We like the place and this was our third stay there.  For a closer look at the B&B, go to this link:

The first evening, we went 8 miles north up Rt. 11 (the old Valley Pike) to Edinburg for dinner at Sal's Italian Bistro ( at the recommendation of our inn hosts.  The place has been around since 1987 and is a local favorite.  Indeed, while we were waiting for a seat, some locals joked that they had tried everything on the menu and sat at every table in the place.  Pretty standard Italian fare and you can expect to eat like a king (or queen) for less than $50.   T had the carbonara, while H had grouper with spinach on linguine. H here: This is a wonderful family restaurant in the up and coming town of Edinburg. When we first started coming here, I believe it was one of the few non-chain places in Edinburg. Now there are several other restaurants, including one that offers braised lamb shanks on the menu, not standard Shenandoah Valley restaurant fare. A great value and good atmosphere.

Outside of getting away from the DC area for a few days, the highlight of the weekend was our Saturday hike.  We decided to tackle Signal Knob, the northern most peak of Massanutten Mountain, which comprises several sharp ridges dividing the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley and forming a separate valley (Fort Valley) to the east.   At 2,106 feet, it may not sound like much, but Signal Knob provides a commanding view of the surrounding area.  The view is so good that the knob was used by Confederate--and to some extent Union--forces during the Civil War to monitor troop movements in the Shenandoah Valley and as a communications site.  Troops atop the knob would use flags to signal messages to other signaling stations or local military headquarters.

Back to the hike.  The trail head is easy to get to.  From Rt. 55 between Strasburg and Front Royal, take State Road 678 (Ft. Valley Rd) south towards the historic Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area.  678 enters the narrow northern neck of Fort Valley and follows the winding Passage Creek.  Look for the ample parking area for Signal Knob and Bear Wallow on the right.

Passage Creek.  Popular waters for fishermen.
Looking south towards the mouth of Fort Valley.
The 10.4-mile trek combines the Signal Knob trail with the Little Passage Creek and Bear Wallow trails for a return loop to the parking lot.   At only 1600 feet of elevation gain, it is not an overly taxing climb, but it is strenuous enough to generate a good sweat and burn a few calories.  It is 4.4 miles and 1,200 feet of elevation gain to the Knob, then back down a bit, then back up 400 feet on the 6-mile backside of the loop before making a long descent to the parking lot.  Besides it being a very windy day (with gusts of up to 40mph at the top), the only negative part of the hike was the footing.  The Massanutten Mountain range is very rocky, so if you plan to hike any of its many trails, wear high-top boots and prepare for long periods of rock-strewn and potential ankle-twisting walking.

A unique aspect of hiking in the winter is that you can actually see the lay of the land!  East coast mountains are covered in hardwood trees, and while beautiful in the spring, summer, and fall, they also limit one's view.  Notice too, the lack of February.
One of the many rock-strewn portions of the trail.  In T's younger years, he ran and mountain biked this trail.  Yea, it's a wonder he did not crack his skull.  Those days are probably over.
The northern entrance to Ft. Valley.
Fort Valley (looking southeast).
Another view of Ft. Valley as it opens up towards the south.  An interesting side note is that General George Washington during the Revolutionary War thought about using Fort Valley as a "last stand" area because it was thought to be a natural fortress.   The 23-mile long valley is only three miles wide at its widest point and accessible only through a few narrow gaps.
Signal Knob from the trail.
The knob continues to be used for communications today.
Signal Knob dominates the country to the west, north, and east.  The curving ribbon of water in the photo is the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.  Beyond the river is I-81, the Shenandoah Valley, and fields that were once the site of a major Civil War action, the Battle of Cedar Creek.  Confederate troops crossed the river in the early morning hours of 19 October 1864 and surprised a Union army camped in the fields beyond.  After an initial Confederate success, Union forces rallied and drove the Confederates from the field in the last major battle for the Shenandoah Valley.

Looking towards the north.  The town of Winchester is on the far horizon.
The town of Strasburg and the Shenandoah Valley.

Maybe one day we will place a similar marker on a favorite trail.

Smoke plumes from a fire over on the Blue Ridge range to the east.  The fire, driven by gusts of up to 40mph on Saturday, closed down Skyline Drive for a period.
Probably not so evident in this photo, but the walk down off the ridge took us through an area with evidence of old charcoal hearths and iron-ore mines which furnished  materials for the nearby Elizabeth Furnace when it operated in the 1800s.
A good bit of the Passage Creek part of the trail is an easy walk along a forest road.

 After a stop off at the Antique Emporium in Strasburg on the way back, we decide to try another local recommendation for dinner; Joe's Steakhouse in Woodstock.  We figured 10+ miles of hiking had earned us a couple of big meals.   T tried the New York Strip, while H did the steak and crab cake combo.  H here: This restaurant was a surprise. It is much fancier than most of the restaurants out in the valley. Woodstock to some extent caters to visitors from the DC-area, and this restaurant is a part of that trend. The food and wine list were excellent and the overall experience was very relaxing after a long day on the trail. And there weren't just us city types there. Many of the tables were filled by locals, which makes me think that this somewhat out of place restaurant might just survive these lean economic times.

Joe's Steak House.
Sunday was a day of relaxation.  Before heading back to DC, we did a quiet drive along some other parts of Massunutten Mountain between New Market and Luray, including the Moreland Gap area.

An easy trail near Kennedy Peak, at the southern end of Massanutten Mountain.

From the Kennedy Peak area, looking into Page Valley.  The river is the South Fork of the Shenandoah.  Luray is off to the right (south).
Overall this was a great trip and it brought home to us, yet again, that the only way these two small town-bred folk can hope to stay sane in the urban area we find ourselves living in is to make frequent visits to places where the pace is slower and trees outnumber automobiles.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunday Supper Series #6: Low-key beef shank

A low-key dinner this past weekend as we were both recovering from a longer-than-usual run. Every winter brings more walking and less running, due mainly to the shortness of the days and our dislike of running after dark. And like clockwork, every late winter-early spring brings the struggle to get back into shape as the days grow longer again. Only these days we find the getting back into the swing of things harder and harder. Could it be age? Heaven forbid…
Anyway, I left dinner in the slow cooker while we went on our run. When we got back the smell of braising beef met my nostrils the moment I opened the door. I used a Polyface beef shank and made a traditional osso buco braise with white wine, stock, tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and herbs. I will digress and note that I was a little taken aback when I saw the Polyface beef shank. Instead of cut into small rounds, it was left whole, making it a rather large cut of meat, reminiscent of something Wilma would serve Fred Flintstone.
You can see what I mean.

Menu: Polyface beef osso buco, green beans, smashed potatoes, salad, fresh bread.

I think the highlight of this meal was the bread. I have been trying out different artisan bread recipes and I think I have finally settled on one that I really appreciate for both its flavor and texture. It is 75% whole wheat and requires a four-hour sponge. In order to improve the overall flavor, each week I take a small chunk of the risen dough, put it in a clean container and store it in the fridge for a week. The next week I add it in as I am mixing the sponge. I think it makes for a more fragrant and yeasty loaf.
For some reason I felt like drinking white wine on Sunday night. Usually I am all for reds with my beef, but not this time. Instead I opened an Alsatian white blend, Rene Sparr’s 2008 One, which according to the bottle, is 28.5% Muscat, 20% Sylvaner, 20%Edelzwicker, 10.5% Pinot Blanc, 10.5% Riesling, 10.5% Gewurztraminer. Not bad. Crisp, on the dry side, but still perfume-y in a raspberry sort of way, light on the oak, vanilla that doesn’t overwhelm. It actually complemented well with the beef. We drove by the Rene Sparr winery on our whirlwind tour through Alsace. I wish I had made my brother stop.
 Instead of saving the big bone for stock, T took it down to the basement and whacked it into two pieces for MP. So we all had a good meal to start the week.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dicken's book report: Barnaby Rudge and his times

One of my long-term goals has been to read the lesser-known works of fiction’s greatest authors, as well as the works of lesser-known great authors. This means all of Charles Dickens obscure novels, the lesser-known works of the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy and Emile Zola, as well as novels by John Galsworthy, Elizabeth Gaskell and others.
This has been a rewarding pursuit, especially the part about the obscure works of Charles Dickens. Most recently, I read his novel Barnaby Rudge, which tells the story of the hapless village idiot (Barnaby the junior) and as Dickens is wont to do, involves itself in various sub-plots and distractions along the way. It is set during the period of the 1780 Gordon Riots.
What? Who is this Gordon and what exactly was his beef? These questions made clear, just as reading Shirley and scratching my head at the Luddite Riots did, that there are serious gaps in my historical literacy. As such, I followed the book up by reading Roy Porter’s 1982 study titled, English Society in the Eighteenth Century. I’ll get to that book in a second, but first a little more about Barnaby Rudge and its historical context. 
 The 1780 Gordon Riots, or “No Popery” riots as they are sometimes called, were an anti-Catholic uprising in response to the Papist Act of 1778. This act did away with some, but not all, of the institutional discrimination against Catholics in Great Britain at the time. Led by Lord George Gordon, a complex individual to say the least, the riots lasted about a week and were ultimately quelled by the army, Britain having no organized police force at the time. About 300 people were killed, many more injured and about 30 rioters were ultimately executed.
At its height, the mob of rioters raged across London, burning down Catholic churches, pillaging and burning the homes of Catholic citizens and ultimately breeching several jails, allowing hundreds of prisoners to go free. Homes of some Protestant citizens were also looted and burned. Basically, according to the account that Dickens gives us in the novel, everything and everyone that laid in the path of the mob was vulnerable.
Barnaby Rudge was Dickens first attempt at historical fiction. His second attempt is much more famous, probably due to the period and place involved (The French Revolution) and also to the drama and suspense involved in the storyline. In all likelihood, the fame and literary success of The Tale of Two Cities is also in part due to its being a better, more mature work. Characters are more realistic, three-dimensional and compelling. Barnaby Rudge on the other hand, rivals Oliver Twist in the shallowness of character development.
Perhaps one of the most famous members of the novel’s cast is Grip, Barnaby’s pet raven. His insightful ramblings (“Polly put the kettle on and we’ll all have tea!”) and inopportune gyrations bring life to the character of Barnaby, adding humanity to the otherwise caricature of a half-wit. Interestingly, Grip is sometimes considered to be Edgar Allen Poe’s inspiration for the raven in his famous poem, proving that someone besides me has indeed read this somewhat obscure novel. 

The novel’s depiction of the behavior of the rioters (brutal and unforgiving) is vivid, but does not quite reach the heights of the sublime that Zola manages in Germinal. As mentioned above, as Dickens is wont to do, characters are painted with a broad brush. The good people in the novel (Catholic and Protestant alike) are so good you can all but see the halos around their heads, and are rather boring as a result. On the other hand, the bad people are bestial and animalistic in their monstrosity. For a change however, Dickens does present a sympathetic and somewhat complex female character in Barnaby’s mother. The decent attention she gets in her struggle through adversity almost makes up for the tittering and unsubstantial Dolly Varden, one of Dicken’s most famous vixens.
And that is Barnaby Rudge in a nutshell. Back to the real topic of this post, Roy Porter’s history of Georgian England. Let me make it clear here that I am no expert on British history, nor do I aspire to be one. I am just telling you about this book I just read as maybe one day you would like to read it too. 

Porter’s narrative is billed as a “social history,” and as such it is more accessible than political histories that dull the senses with unending sequences of dates and mundane information on undersecretaries, Bishops and Lord Lieutenants, although he gives us some of that as well, but just enough and no more. And as the eighteenth century was pretty much all about social structures and their evolution over time, it is just as well to start here. For while there were certainly important political events going on (the colonial revolt, also known as the American Revolution, for instance) what was really driving much of the change were the subtle social shifts, partially motivated by events external to Britain and partially driven by domestic happenings. Eventually, the evolving social order allowed the conditions for industrialization to coalesce and percolate. Domestic uprisings and revolts, such as the Gordon Riots, became increasingly more common as the century wore on, and increasingly the moneyed, the landed, the powerful fought back with long-term consequences that are well known by this point.
Basically, the same equation that we see all over the world is repeated here. When the poor live on very, very little and lead wretched and desperate lives while the rich are very, very rich and think nothing of excess (this is the epitome of George IV) something is bound to give. And ultimately, give it did, although it took close to another century to finally spill over.
Possibly the most interesting part of this history are those segments that focus primarily on the lives and habits of the common man. While we easily equate the Victorian era with prudish morality, I think we are less aware that the Georgian period was one of rather more open personal conduct between the sexes. To be sure, unmarried mothers were stigmatized and marginalized, but according to Porter, children born out of wedlock, especially amongst the “lower orders” were not particularly out of the norm.
The book attributes some of these social norms to a receding of overt church influence. And while the period between the Calvinists and the Evangelical movement wasn’t exactly akin to a frat party, it was more relaxed and free from church oversight as secularism spread. Porter quotes some random Lord on page 227, “Pleasure is now, and ought to be, your business.” Tell me Victoria would have condoned that.
Moreover, culture, once the exclusive fare of the church and high society, secularized as well. This was a good time for the theater, and also the birthplace and time of the modern novel. It was also the century where circulating libraries came into being, making the word written for pleasure available to hugely enlarged percentage of the population. And perhaps, most important to me, it was the century and environment that shaped people like Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and good old Charles Dickens.
So, if you go in for period fiction like I do, this is probably a pretty important book to read, or at least skim through.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Needlepoint Update

To give my eyes a break, I spent part of the weekend playing around with a work in progress (WIP) that I have ignored for a goodly time. It is a needlepoint chessboard that I am doing with silk perle. Instead of using 18 count canvas (that would be 18 canvas holes per inch), I decided to try it with 18 count linen that I heavily starched. It is certainly nicer fabric to work with (it doesn't scratch my wrists the way canvas does), but it does make it a little more difficult to accomplish those perfectly smooth and even stitches that are the aesthetic norm in true needlepoint.

Humph, no wonder they sometimes call needlepoint canvas work.

That said, I think it is coming along nicely. I am 1/8 finished and am going back to my itty-bitty French children for a few days.

Sunday Supper Series #5: Chinese New Year-Superbowl edition

Yesterday is the day that comes but once a year where I actually look forward to sitting in front of the TV for four hours. For awhile there, especially after the Colts lost, I was a little concerned that there would be no one of interest to watch, but then I decided to cheer for the Packers, simply because I am no Steeler's fan. That said, it was a good night, although for a few stretches it was somewhat of a dull game and even a bit anti-climactic at the end.

Since Superbowl Sunday fell right after Chinese New Year, I decided to combine the two, but go easy and simple so I could spend my time in front of the TV and not in front of the stove. I made shao mai (cute open faced pork dumplings) and char siu (Cantonese-style roast pork).

Here are the shao mai before the steaming.

Both came out great, especially the char siu. Only I am not sure it can be recreated unless you have parents who have become close friends with a Chinese family from Vietnam who run the local Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant, and unless those friends of your parents are willing to make you their homemade char siu sauce and mail it to you across the country in old Vietnamese chili sauce bottles (yup, the kind with the green caps and the rooster on the front).

So obviously, it is one of those special occasion things that I mostly like to look at in the fridge, but not use. I have one and one eighth bottles left and I need to be judicious in what I use it for. Last year we roasted a Polyface turkey in the sauce to rave reviews. This year, I did a Polyface ham steak. I forgot to take a photo when it came out of the oven, it smelled too good actually and I just wanted to cut into it, so this will have to satisfy.

It was a rather elegant Superbowl meal, with not a chip or pizza box in sight.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

2 down, 47 to go - and this one almost made me blind

The second of 49 Perrette Samouiloff pieces for my shadow box/printer-type tray is done. 

I struggled with this one. Or rather, my eyes struggled. First, it was on fairly tightly woven fabric (32 threads per inch) and crossed over one thread. The first piece I did was on fabric with 28 threads per inch, so this one had 4 more threads per inch, which actually works out to one hell of a difference when you are crossing each thread individually.

Second there was a fair bit of white in the design, and while I thought I had chosen a fabric that would provide enough contrast, the white simply disappeared when viewed under my stitching lamp. Stitching it was like trying to find the lines on the road while driving in a snow storm.

But it is done and I think that given all the little screw ups that you all can't see, it is darned cute.

Details. Done with HDF silk threads on Sassy's Lugana Winter Winds 32 count, over one.

A woman on a forum I visit posted the link below earlier today. It is the online portion of an exhibit by the London Foundling Museum. From the page below, click on the "online exhibition" link and it will take you to a slide show with some very amazing and sobering photos. Each photo shows a snippet of cloth that was worn by a foundling when delivered to the old foundling hospital in London. Some photos also offer biographical information on the abandoned child. You will see that many of them date from the Georgian period, in the 1700s. I find it amazing that they were preserved for so long. 

It is a very moving and meaningful exhibit and I wish I could go to see it in real life. One more place added to my, "next time I go to London" list of things to do.

I actually found the timing of this to be fortuitous as I just finished reading the book, English Society in the Eighteenth Century, by Roy Porter. One of my weekend goals is to write a book review. You can hold me to it on Monday.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lakes of the Cabinets and Selkirks

In an earlier post, we made the case that the lakes of the Cabinet and Selkirk mountains were special.  Not only are they beautiful and pristine, they are also all reachable in day hikes.  Although some of those days may be quite long and difficult, we think these lakes make fantastic destinations and are worth spending the time to reach.  This blog entry, covering a goodly sampling of those lakes, has minimal commentary because in our view the photos tell the story.  

Geiger Lakes, Cabinets
Upper Geiger.  The "U" shape in the center of the photo is Lost Buck Pass.
 Upper Geiger from Lost Buck Pass

Lower Geiger

Harrison Lake, Selkirks
Harrison is easily one of the most popular lake destinations in the Selkirks.  The drive to the trailhead is long and rough, but the trail to the lake itself is just a little over 3 miles and an easy 1400-ft. ascent.

The tall peak in the left background is Harrison.

Two Mouth Lakes, Selkirks

 Pyramid and Ball Lakes, Selkirks

Beehive Lake, Selkirks
This shot was taken in the middle of a summer ice storm.

 Engle Lake, Cabinets
From the top of  Engle Peak.

Hunt Lake, Selkirks

 Cedar Lakes, Cabinets
Lower Cedar.

Upper Cedar.

Cliff Lake, Cabinets
Chicago Peak in the background, so named because it resembles a city skyline.
This shot was taken from the top of St. Paul Peak.

 St. Paul Lake, Cabinets
Taken from the flank of St. Paul Peak
From the lake shore.
Heart Lake, Bitterroots

 Sky Lakes, Cabinets

Hanging Valley Lakes, Cabinets
The Hanging Valley lakes are just across a rugged ridge from Sky Lakes.

Rock Lake, Cabinets
When we started this hike on a fall day, it was 45 and raining lightly.  By the time we reached the lake at the end of 4-mile, 2000-ft climb, it was very cold, windy, and snowing heavily.

Almost the same view on a beautiful summer day.  That's St. Paul Pass on the other end of the lake.

On the way up to Rock Lake, one passes through Rock Creek Meadows.

Roman Nose Lakes, Selkirks

Fault Lake, Selkirks

Leigh Lake,  Cabinets
These photos were taken by H when she and her brother climbed up near the top of Snowshoe Peak, which towers above the lake, forming a magnificent 3,000-ft. cliff face.  At just  over 8,700 feet, Snowshoe is the tallest mountain in the Cabinet Range. 

Wanless Lake, Cabinets
From Lost Buck Pass.  Wanless is the largest lake in the Cabinets.

Little Spar Lake, Cabinets

Snowshoe Lakes, Cabinets

Bull Lake, Cabinets

Granite Lake, Cabinets