The Beginning (The Badlands and Driving 2500 Miles in Four Days)

As promised, I’m back and better than ever with my newly focused Petite Kitchn. I just arrived at Jackson Lake Lodge yesterday and am still getting settled. Driving so much in four days is incredibly taxing even though you’re just sitting on your ass. My mom and I trekked across I-80 through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota and finally Wyoming. Our major stops were at the Flight 83 Memorial in Pennsylvania and the Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

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The Flight 83 Memorial was intense. It is easy to forget about the other two flights that were involved with 9/11. Obviously the most deaths occurred in NYC but it was meaningful to go somewhere and see the great appreciation for the other heroes of that day, the 33 passengers and flight attendants who managed to bring the plane down rather than have it hit Congress. With the ongoing construction of the memorial, I hope that their bravery is never forgotten.

The Badlands were absolutely breathtaking, but in a different way. At this point in my life I have gone to 13 of the National Parks and each time I am impressed by how diverse they are. Badlands stuck out the most to me because of its prehistoric history — parts of the park are 35 million years old. The Wall (the primary rock formation) creates an eerie skyline that seems so out of place in the flatness of South Dakota. While the Grand Tetons certainly stand out with their pure beauty, the Badlands was awing in just its existence.

I’ve added some of my pictures here from my iPhone. I’ve started using my Canon again but haven’t quite figured out what cord is necessary to get the pictures onto my laptop. When I do, I’ll add the rest of the higher res ones.

Next time I’ll talk about my arrival at the Grand Tetons and what it means to work in a National Park, having worked in one about 24 hours now.

The Badlands, featuring part of The Wall

The Badlands, featuring part of The Wall

The Badlands, featuring the Back Door

The Badlands, featuring the Back Door

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Grand Tetons National Park

The Grand Tetons National Park

Transitions

Over the past three years I’ve maintained this blog, sometimes more frequently than others, but it has always been a food blog. However, with my departure for the next phase of my life coming quickly (ten days as of May 13) I have decided to take Petite Kitchn in a different direction.

I am moving to Moran, Wyoming for five months to work at Jackson Lake Lodge, a guest resort in the Grand Tetons. My exact job title is “Corral Wrangler” which basically means I will be taking care of the horses on the property as well as taking guests out on trail rides. I will be living with a roommate, enjoying communal bathrooms, and subsisting on a meal plan. The way I see it, it’s going to be something like an adult summer camp.

While I will still blog about food, my main focus will be living in the West, working with the horses and guests, posting pictures of the Grand Tetons, and other musings about life. It has always been my plan to wean myself off social media while I’m there so starting next Sunday I will begin deleting my accounts (Twitter first, then Facebook, then maybe Instagram though I might keep this one for pictures). Thus this blog will become my main point of contact when it comes to telling people about my trip. I want to use my time in Wyoming to its max — writing short stories, tweaking my five year plan, getting in touch with nature. The less distractions the better, and social media tends to be my greatest distraction.

So while I’m at Jackson Lake Lodge let me know what topics you might be interested in hearing about. At this moment I have no idea what to expect, which is similar to how i felt about college. I ended up loving Baltimore so much and I hope to return someday. So anything could happen.

Next week I will post about my three day road trip out to Wyoming and then bi-weekly after that — I’ll decide the exact days once I get a better feel of my schedule.

So until then, prepare yourself for something a little different!

Large Scale Cooking

I’ve always been hesitant to make anything I have to separate into portions and either freeze or eat that week. There’s something depressing about it, like the fact it makes me feel old and adult-ish. But now that I am an adult I felt that I should try it again. I had a box of pre-cooked lentils in my fridge so that became the main theme of the dishes, along with soup since it’s so chilly here and I was so hopeful that Juno would actually shakes things up in Charm City (she didn’t but it’s still been plenty cold enough for soup).

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I took all the recipes from other websites so rather than go through each one here and rewrite them, I’ll just post the links and my reviews of them. First up, lentil stew with sausage, kale and sweet potatoes. This was my favorite dish of the three, based on both taste and how long it lasted. Here is the original recipe. The only changes I made were using chicken sausage instead of pork, and I chose kale instead of mustard greens because they cost half as much at Trader Joe’s. I also only used one large onion which was plenty. It tasted delicious right when it was done cooking, but also a day later. I separated it into five portions and froze one of them, while keeping the rest in the fridge. The only complaint I have is that the sausage started to toughen up. But the taste remained wonderful.

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Next I made lentil lasagna using this recipe. I was pleasantly surprised by this considering the fact that it was only five ingredients and one of them was creamy tomato soup rather than red sauce. The directions are a bit confusing so to clarify my layers went as such: Tomato soup, pasta, pesto, lentils, tomato soup, pasta, pesto, lentils, tomato soup, pasta, pesto, lentils, tomato soup, pasta, tomato soup, pesto, cheese. Sorry that isn’t especially clarifying but the original directions make it sound like you should only have two layers of pasta. I also used much more than one cup of precooked lentils, but that’s because I like meaty lasagna and because I wanted to use up the whole package. Clearly this dish isn’t dairy-free but there isn’t too much so my stomach felt alright after eating it. The slices weren’t incredibly easy to separate but I managed to cut up half and put it in the fridge while packing up the rest in one serving packets to freeze. It tasted good the whole week after but next time I think I’ll freeze more because I got sick of lasagna after about three days in a row.

Finally I made chicken noodle soup, based off the recipe of Tyler Florence’s recipe. The recipe calls for you to make your own broth but since I don’t have the patience, time, or funds to do so I just used Trader Joe’s chicken broth and that worked fine. A few adjustments I would make: the two carrots wasn’t really enough for me so I would definitely double the amount; I didn’t add the noodles because I wanted to refrigerate and freeze the soup so instead I will just make egg noodles when I want the soup and then add them, but this means that you need less broth (1 1/2 quarts instead of 2). After I made it I just froze two portions and put the rest of the fridge.

Let me know what your favorite dishes are to make ahead of time! 

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