Home-made turkey burger. Healthy turned unhealthy with use of cheddar cheese(s)
Now, now let’s not get too ahead of ourselves there. The turkey burger came after the hike during dinner, which made it possible to come back home fatter than pre-hike.
Mount Tammany: 1,526 ft.
Location: Northern New Jersey, southernmost peak of Kittatinny Mountains
View/Waterfalls: Ridiculously awesome.
A few weeks back, Neha emailed me about the possibility of hiking around Lake George. I was super excited only to find that it’d be a 5 hour drive, which is pretty much out of the question for a day trip. Then, another friend suggested Mohonk, but that’s a bit over a 2 hour drive (not to mention, it’s like $15/person to get in). Finally, I found the Delaware Water Gap, which is roughly a 1 hour 40 minute drive. So, kids, if you’re feeling in touch with nature and want to escape from your busy civilization-seeking lives AND you live in central Jersey but don’t want a long drive, this is your place to go.
For someone who’s really REALLY bad at directions, this was such an easy drive (Angela was a great navigator too, beating out my gps). All you have to do is drive until the end of I-80 and the trail begins. So here are some basics about hiking Mt. Tammany:
- There are two trails to hike Tammany- Red and Blue. The red is not a “la-di-da” stroll. It’s labeled as strenuous on many hiking sites and I’d have to agree. But for a group of 20-22 girls, it was definitely do-able. Sure, there are steep passages that got our heart racing, but as long as you have a strong foothold, you should be able to make it to the top. The blue trail is fairly easier. Actually, alot easier because there are no steep climbs. The trade off? The red trail is 1.5 miles and the blue is 2.5 miles. So take the red trail up and the blue train down. And contrary to what a passerby hiker thought, yes, they both take you back to the same parking lot.
- To get to the red trail, there’s a sign that has the red dot. It’s located on the far right end, where the mouth of the parking lot is. It’s a bit obscure but you can see steps. Many people enter into the wide opening (with no sign) thinking that they’re hiking the red. If you see a bridge within a couple of minutes, you’re on the wrong trail. If you’re not climbing a steep slope, you’re going the wrong way. If you see white dots instead of red, then you’ll eventually hit the blue trail. We made that mistake but turned back within minutes.
- The blue trail has some awesome water-fall/stream action, so I’d suggest saving that for after the summit.
- This is a carry-in, carry-out area. So whatever you carry in, make sure you carry out because you’re stuck with it. There are no trash bins (who the heck would want to climb up on a bi-weekly basis to empty out trash?!).
We were really nervous about the weather since it was forecast to rain for the whole day, but when we woke up yesterday, it said it’d be cloudy/partly sunny for the duration of our trip. Score! But when we got up to the summit, we actually saw a chunk of rain in the near distance. Even though there were all these dark, looming clouds over us, there was this one patch that was distinctly hazy and we could actually see the rain. At first we laughed, but then we realized- “Oh shi-, that’s moving toward us, really fast.” It caught up to us within half an hour (and then drizzled).
Before I go any further, I’d like to introduce you to Neha and her music blog, Neon Notes. It’s a super-cool blog with coverage (though not limited to) of up and coming artists in the NYC area. She goes to concerts, takes tons of cool pictures, and links their music. If you’re into indie, hip-hop, or just some chaotic but awesome ear-candy, check out her blog. It’s a great escape from the top-40 that most are only exposed to.
The “thing” from the Adams family + Angela’s shades. That stump had the best 2 minutes of its life there, said Gurpreet.
Back to the hike. We started a bit before 10am and reached the summit around noon. Two hours seems like alot, given that it’s only 1.5 miles, but we took lots of pictures along the way (as the path winds, there are several great views of the Delaware Water Gap). And seeing as how a guy who was training to climb Mt. Hood in Oregon told us that we were going at a decently fast speed, I’d say that we didn’t do too bad!
Stopping for a breather and some good pictures. It’s not everyday that the number people with DSLR’s outnumber those with point-and-shoots in a group. So we took full advantage of the views.
When you get up to the summit, you see this jagged edge that gives a spectacular glimpse of the view below. If you miss that (which you’d honestly have to be blind to do so), you’ll start seeing blue dots on the trails, indicating that you’re at the top. Anyway, don’t be shy about venturing out to the edge of the rocks, because it really is a spectacular view. Besides, if you’re going to climb all that, you might as well. Looking back, having an overcast sky was great because it made the photos come out alot better than the bright sun would have.
Over the river and through the rocks…
This is the beginning of the blue trail, climbing down. Other than these rocks that essentially formed a flat plane, you don’t really climb over any other rocks. At this point, we were trying to beat that ominous rain cloud, but then suddenly, the sun came out and so, we figured it’d be a good time for lunch.
Wawa wraps, all under $3!
Of course, no road trip and hike is complete without grub from Wawa. For anyone who doesn’t live in the burbs on the East Coast, Wawa is possibly the best grub you’ll get from a gas station/convenience store. Their wraps are made fresh each morning, their breakfast foods are a greasy but more gourmet take on McDonalds (not really, but it tastes and looks better), and they have these giant sausages/hot dogs that come off the grill like at a baseball park. I L O V E Wawa. Plus, they also have cheap gas!
JLee’s Banana-brownie bread
Anddd… no hike is complete without some sweet grub that’ll guarantee to melt away any remaining hunger. A few weeks back, I blogged about Nigella’s Banana Bread. There are few recipes that I’ll use more than once (I like to experiment around) but this was seriously such a winner that I wanted to make a full loaf for the trip. Of course, just as I finished making the batter, I realized that the bread pan was being used to house that Strawberry Ice Cream I made last weekend. Then, I remembered Jerry telling me how I just had to mix banana bread and brownie mix, so why not. I’ll name it after you too, Jerry!
I took out a square pan, filled it up with the banana bread batter, and got out some of that Kodiak Cake Brownie Mix I got in the mail. It’s this really wholesome chocolaty mix with chocolate chips. I followed the directions (added butter, egg, and oil), and layered the brownie batter on top of the banana bread batter. Then, I took a toothpick and swirled it around to make that marble effect. Looking back, I would have reversed the order of the batter so that there’d be more yellow peeking from the brown. Any brownie cake mix would suffice, but for anyone out there who can get access to Kodiak Cake products at their local store, I’d highly recommend trying some (you can also order online, but I heard it’s a bit expensive).
All of my friends agreed that the Southern Comfort in the dried apricots made the cake a winner. It’s super-filling and so satisfying. I wouldn’t recommend making it on a normal day because a stick and a half of butter did go into that…
Top– Successful attempt at a long exposure, taken with my beloved 100mm; Bottom– Neha’s on the edge one of the smaller falls, taken with my new 50mm (which came just in time for this trip!)
After lunch, we continued on the trail. Twenty minutes in, we heard running water and then came across this gorgeous waterfall with little waterfalls surrounding it. You could hear the rush of the water and the splat splat that all the water made. We spent at least half an hour taking photos.
The top of the fall IS accessible, but of course, both my feet fell into the water as I was trying to navigate across the mossy rocks. Lesson? Avoid moss on rocks if you want to stay dry.
Photo by Angela Zou
That’s me, before I got wet. This was a whimpy jump, but Angela can make any jump look good. I look super-excited though.
Nearing the end of our hike, we found a fallen tree that made for a great bench. It was another 5-10 minutes before we reached the parking lot. The blue trail look two and a half hours, but only because we stopped to take so many pictures. It’s a breeze to walk down though.
We got back home around 4pm and I started on dinner. I made some guacamole and chips for them to nibble on as dinner took two hours. Neha came into the kitchen at one point and said, “Oh, you’re actually making the burgers? I thought you bought frozen patties and were going to deep fry them.”
Neha, I would never do that to anyone- subject them to frozen food. YUCK.! (Just kidding, I eat frozen foods too- when I’m desperate)
This was my first attempt at making any burger, much less turkey burgers, but I was really happy with they way they turned out. I realized that it’s difficult to overcook a turkey burger, but maybe that’s because of all the stuff I put into the patty that made it so juicy. Embarrassingly, I expected to them to turn dark brown like the way beef burgers do and almost shot myself in the head when I realized that, “Duh, turkey meat is white!”
Jessie’s Turkey Burgers
The following recipe makes around 10 burgers, depending on how thick you make them. I got my inspiration from here. I even made this red pepper mayo, which though a bit runnier than regular mayo, turned out quite well! All I did was mix a slice of red pepper (I’d use roasted next time), salt, chili powder, and mayo in a food processor.
1.5 lb lean turkey meat
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium sized onion
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Slices of cheddar cheese for topping (optional, but recommended!)
In a food processor, pulse the onion and garlic until it becomes very fine (you don’t want chunks of onion and garlic in your burger). Incorporate that into the ground turkey. Add the egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Mix until everything is finely incorporated. Form the meat into inch thick patties and set aside.
On a grill or pan set to medium heat, lightly spray it with PAM (although you can honestly get away with not spraying it). Place your patties, making sure they don’t touch each other, onto the surface and cook for 3-5 minutes before flipping over. Once flipped over, lay a slice of cheese, and continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes.
Toast your buns, slather on some mayo, mustard, whatever you want, more cheese, and lettuce. DONE! Serve with beer.
Note- The original recipe did not call for an egg, but I like the way the egg holds everything together. The resulting meat mixture was a bit more “wet” but it still cooked fine.
Later, we had that strawberry ice cream. Jenny asked me how I made it.
“So, did you melt ice cream and then add in the sliced strawberries and then refreeze it?”
Ohhh, Jenny! HAHA!
Photo du jour: I’ve been told this almost looks like a painting?