Friday, January 27, 2012

A hike along the Middle Prong Trail

Middle Prong Trail begins at the end of the Tremont Road and follows the railroad bed that carried the last logs out of the Smokies in 1939.
This area was heavily logged but has recovered nicely. It is estimated the Little River Lumber removed more than one billion board feet of lumber from this area.
The trail is a wide roadbed with rock faces on the right and the Lynn Camp Prong to the left. We are hiking 2.3 miles to where Middle Prong intersects with the Panther Creek Trail.

This stream has many cascades and small waterfalls. The sound of falling water is with you most of the way.

Most of the trail is uphill, but nothing strenuous and the beauty of this hike is worth it! My photos don't do it justice.

As the trail rises higher over the river, bigger rock faces appear, broken into great chunks with deep cracks.

Some boulders are almost as large as a small house!!

Lynn Camp Prong Waterfall

Further up the trail various falls are shorter and terraced.

This trail in spring, is rich with wildflowers but we are too late in the season for that, but found one flower to photograph.

And a few butterflies.

I had read in my hiking book about an old abandoned car that sits about 50 yards off-trail. Not really expecting to find it we kept our eyes open for a narrow trail that would lead to it. Sure enough we found a little path and followed it up over a rise and there it was.

According to the information in my hiking book, this was an old Cadillac that belonged to a supervisor of a CCC camp. One day it quit running, and camp members pushed it off the road and left it.

Of course, my husband had to take it for a spin, but we really don't have much use for convertibles here in Ohio.

At 2.3 miles we reach the intersection for the Panther Creek Trail. At this point the railroad bed ends, and the trail becomes narrower and steeper.
 Middle Prong Trail continues on to the Greenbrier Ridge Trail which eventually ends on the Appalachian Trail. From there you can walk to Maine if you like.
Panther Creek crosses the Lynn Camp Prong and meets Jakes Creek Trail and continues to Elkmont.

 Even in summer these mountain streams are extremely cold and very slippery due to algae. We watched these two girls make the crossing before heading back to the trailhead.

I highly recommend this trail to anyone who looking for an easy to moderate hike, and loves waterfalls and cascades.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Well we are back in the swing of cold weather which means what?
 It means it's soup weather.
Here is a quick no-fuss version of Chicken Tortilla Soup that is both easy and nutritious and very low in fat.
Throw everything in the pot and simmer. I have my own canned chicken breast that I use which makes it even faster to make. Sometimes I'll throw in a hot pepper if I feel it needs some heat.

Chicken Tortilla Soup 

2 cups chicken broth
1 small onion sauteed in a little butter
4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 bag frozen corn
1 can Rotel tomatoes, original
1 can stewed tomatoes or petite diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, drain and rinse
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper or cayenne
1/2 tsp. cumin optional
Mix everything together and simmer 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips,shredded cheese  and sour cream if desired.
Corn bread is very good with this as well. I'll share my recipe in a future post.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Let it snow!

Well....while I don't really care that much for snow, I admit it looks pretty when everything is covered with a blanket of the white stuff.
We had an inch or two on the ground and we were expecting to get a few more inches overnight.

Woke up to this! We got at least 5 or 6 inches overnight!
Carolyn, Are you jealous?
 That's my sister who goes to Florida to get away from this stuff. Lucky!

The birds like to perch on top of this feeder. No room today!

Bailey the snow dog!

Pampas Grass



No, this is not deer or rabbit damage. This is a ninebark shrub and it's bark peels off in the winter revealing a new layer of bark underneath.
And now I get to go out and drive to work in it...Yea:(

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Breakfast Pie

Occasionally when my husband and I both have the day off, we enjoy making something a little more special than the ordinary breakfast fare.
Today we made this delicious breakfast pie. This is a recipe I've had for years but don't make very often, so we never get tired of it. I change up some of the ingredients to whatever I happen to have on hand.
 Today I had a little bit of bacon to use up but not enough, so I added some ham as well.

First, press thawed shredded potatoes into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9 inch pie plate. Drizzle with butter.

Bake at 400 for 25 minutes.

In the meantime combine your meat, cheese, onion and bell pepper in a bowl....

and in another bowl combine beaten eggs, milk, salt and pepper.

After your potatoe shell is baked, let cool for 10 minutes.....

then spoon your meat and cheese mixture into the shell.  Pour the egg and milk mixture over the top.
Bake at 350 25-30 minutes or eggs have set.

Let it cool 10 minutes before serving.

Breakfast Pie
3 cups frozen shredded potatoes
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup diced meat... bacon/ham/sausage
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 Tbsp finely chopped onion
2 large eggs beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teas salt
1/4 teas pepper
Thaw potatoes on paper towels to absorb excess moisture.
 Press potatoes into bottom and up sides of ungreased 9 inch pie plate.
Drizzle with butter.
Bake 25 minutes at 400 degrees or lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes.
Combine meat, cheese, peppers and onions. Spoon into the baked potatoe shell.
Combine beaten eggs,milk, salt and pepper. Stir well and pour over meat and cheese mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes or until set.
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
You can assemble this the night before, omitting the egg mixture and refrigerate.
 In the morning let set at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pour egg mixture over, then bake like normal.
Linking to:
Mealtime Monday

Friday, January 13, 2012

Outside My Window

Today was a great day to stay inside and make a pot of chili and birdwatch.
It starting snowing last night and snowed lightly most of today. I'm guessing 3-4 inches. It's hard to tell with the wind blowing it around.
What a feeding frenzy the birds had today!! Most of the feeders have been emptied and I put out the second block of suet.
 I counted at least thirty just out of my kitchen window where these pictures were taken. I have another feeder behind the house and one in the front.
Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The Yellow-Shafted Flicker showed up very briefly. It doesn't come to the feeders often but finds food the other birds have hidden. This one is a male. Female's don't have the black "mustache".

Downy Woodpecker

And the Downy's look-alike but larger cousin, Hairy Woodpecker. The Hairy also has a longer bill.

Female Cardinal

The Cardinals appeared in big numbers today. I was starting to think I didn't have a lot anymore.

The one-legged Cardinal??  Not really. He kept tucking his other leg up in his feathers. Must have been cold sitting on that ice.

American Goldfinch

Birds use an incredible amount of energy to stay warm on cold winter days and can eat their own body weight of food per day.

Hey, this little feeder is just my size!                    Carolina Wren

Birds also stay warm by fluffing their plumage. This traps air, creating an insulating layer.

The Blue Jays make sure they get their fair share. Or more. Usually it's more. Actually, I would go even further and say it's always more.

Tufted Titmouse

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Nuthatches can be quite agressive at the feeders for their size. This one is spreading it's wings to try to keep the other birds away.
The House Finches don't look too concerned, and keep right on eating.

And the last photo is a Black-Capped Chickadee. These are very common in our area, but for some reason or another, I'm not seeing as many this year. So I was happy I managed to get a picture of one.