I trekked 1.7 miles with a group of friends and four dogs through fresh snow, pulling sleds loaded with our stuff, to spend the weekend at a cabin and celebrate my mom's birthday.
The cabin's big front window perfectly framed Denali and our first morning there we got to watch the sun rise on the mountain, starting with just a little touch of pink on the tippy-top, and gradually getting pinker and pinker till the whole thing was lit up and glowing.
We decorated cookies and listened to Christmas music, played cards and told stories.
It's been so dim and dark lately that I haven't had any good light to take photos of what I've been cooking. It's my least favorite time of year for picture-taking. Winter solstice can't come soon enough!
But I can recommend this soup (I added celery and black beans to that one and didn't bother with frying the tortillas at the end - we just crunched up some tortillas chips into our soup) and this one (I added celery to that one too because I think soup screams for celery and used green peas instead of green beans, and thickened the broth a little with cornstarch). We had the pumpkin tortilla soup one night and the keralan vegetable stew the next night, both warmed in a pan on top of the woodstove. Both soups were vegetarian because a couple of people in our group are vegetarians but I brought sliced cooked chicken breast to add to both soups for people craving a little more protein after walking so far in the cold and snow.
The view of the frozen and lake and the mountain from the cabin. So pretty!
And it was seriously cold. The second night we were there, we also rented the neighboring cabin. When it was time to turn in, my friend and I loaded only what we needed for the night into a sled and walked a short distance over to the other cabin. It was so cold outside it froze my air mattress and cracked a big hole in the side of it, which I didn't realize at first -- I kept trying to pump it up and couldn't figure out why it wasn't inflating as usual. Dammit. So instead of cuddling up that night on a nice soft mattress, I slept on the wooden bunk. It took hours for the woodstove to heat up the little cabin. We finally decided to build a bigger fire in the stove and crawl into our sleeping bags to warm up, only to wake up an hour or so later to find the cabin filled with blazing heat, so hot we threw open the front door to fill the cabin with icy cold air.
It's all part of the adventure, I suppose. We had a great time and can't wait to do it again.