An 8.4km Walk, and a Burger to Balance.

It was a beautiful day today, and Katt has tonight off–so we decided to go for a longish walk up to Nay Aug park this morning.

We probably left shortly after 9 a.m., and I have to say: still not used to the pleasant (but kinda eerie) calm on Sundays around here. We had debated driving up to Nay Aug instead while we were still walking around downtown, but about the time we hit Mulberry (depicted in the map to the left as the longest straight highlighted blue line), I mentioned that following this particular road would take us all the way to the park.

I warned that it was 1.5 miles uphill, but Katt had been wanting to try it–so we did. When we got to the park, we ended up exploring it thoroughly, heading to the ends of the blazed trails close to I-81. There was a really interesting trestle with a stationary train just sitting on it. We wanted to cross into the far side of the park by walking along it, but after exploring the hill, we realized we were on a ridge, and the train tracks actually ran through a tunnel beneath where we were standing.

Having already gone two miles, we didn’t persist long in trying to find a way down to the tunnel entrance. Everything was pretty steep, and we really weren’t prepared to do the kind of careful scaling it would take to get to the tracks. (In the full-size version of the map, the arrow depicts the top of the ridge; below, the elevation cross-section shows the sharp change in the slope.)

We ended up winding about the back of the park and exiting on Gibson, finding our way back to Mulberry via Colfax. By the time we went back down the hill, we’d walked four miles. Now we were STARVING, so we headed across downtown to Kildare’s for an impromptu Sunday Brunch.

Service was a little sleepy the moment we walked in, but to be fair–we arrived just at the stroke of 11AM when the restaurant opened. We were certainly their first customers today. Once we were finally seated by our hostess, we were promptly attended to. (I’m notoriously over-patient in a restaurant setting, but thankfully Katt drinks a lot of water, so her refills are generally a decent litmus test of how well the waitstaff is doing.)

We had drinks at Kildare’s a couple of weeks ago when we first moved in, but this was our first meal there. I ordered a mushroom swiss burger, and Katt had a skillet of eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, peppers and onions. Both dishes were pretty incredible, as was our calamari starter (easy as calamari is to get right, I’ve eaten impossibly chewy, tasteless squid enough to offer credit for perfecting simplicity).

Mushrooms were plentiful, small, juicy and tender–burger was a good medium rare, as requested. An ample slice of swiss and a slightly toasted wheat bun topped off what might tie for the best burger I’ve had since we moved. Katt was happy with her skillet, but it was hearty enough that we had to bring the rest home in a clamshell.

After stopping by the apartment quick to drop off the leftovers, we headed back out for a coffee. Criss-crossing downtown one more time, we added another kilometer and a half to our path, topping us out at 8400m (5.2 mi). And all before noon on a perfect spring Sunday…

Oat & Amaranth Mocha Cookies

These oaty, multi-grain coffee cookies–like many of my other concoctions–were an experiment. Katt and I are getting ready to move, so I wanted to try and use up some odd and “open-bag” ingredients that we have around. I had some amaranth flour, oats, and some sweetened instant coffee mix that could be substituted for its own volume in sugar. I added rice flour for a smoother texture and xanthan gum to thicken the mixture and help bind the dough.

The cookies baked nice and evenly on parchment paper. They had a soft, chewy consistency, a rich, understated sweetness that paired well with the dark chocolate topping, and they were fantastic for dunking in a hot cup of coffee.

I started with this stuff:

3/4 cup – brown sugar
1/2 cup – white sugar
1/4 cup – instant coffee powder
2 tsp. – cocoa powder

3/4 cup – butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. – vanilla
1 tbsp. – water

1 & 1/2 cup – oats
[1 cup – amaranth flour
1/4 cup – rice flour
1 tsp. – xanthan gum]
[1 & 1/4 cup – wheat flour]

1 oz. – chopped 60% cacao chocolate

And then I did this:

-1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
0. Prepare cookie sheet with parchment paper.
1. Mix sugars, instant coffee and cocoa powder with soft or melted butter.
2. Beat in eggs.
3. Add vanilla and water.
4. Stir in oats.
[5a. in separate container, sift or mix amaranth, rice flour and xanthan gum.
5a-2. slowly add mixture to other ingredients while folding]
[5b. slowly add wheat flour to other ingredients while folding]
6. Spoon onto parchment in heaping teaspoons – leave 2″ or more between cookies.
7. Top each with a large pinch of chopped chocolate.
8. Bake @ 325 F for [10-13 min. w/ amaranth & rice; 8-10 min. w/ wheat flour].

Makes about 2 dozen 3″ cookies.

The most balanced coffee cookie.

What if I told you you could have a moderately sweet but otherwise flavorless cookie with which to enjoy coffee? How much, you ask? Hold on, friend. There’s more. This cookie won’t fall apart in your coffee.

How much would you pay for a well balanced semi-sweet yet bland coffee cookie? Twenty dollars, you say? Ten? Well, I’ve found this cookie for the same price as a bag of oreos. Two dollars and ninety nine cents. I can’t tell you the name of the company that makes them though. That would just be selling out.

this is an audio post - click to play