I consider myself a fairly open-minded kind of gal.
Okay, sure–there are a few things that I tend to stereotype about. Whenever somebody says that word “Texas,” I immediately imagine a plump southern lady carrying a homemade batch of hush puppies and telling “y’all” to try a bite.
Anyone who seriously uses Twitter to update more than once a day is uncool. Anyone who still has an active Neopets account, on the other hand, is quite awesome.
And people from Idaho?
All 1,584,985 of them.
Okay, maybe 1,584,984 of them. I’m sure there’s got to be at least one kid who’s broken free from the tater chains and become a yam farmer.
I kid. I won’t deny that the thought didn’t cross my mind as I crossed into Idaho this week, though–oh yeah, did I mention that I was in Idaho? Wyoming, too. And Utah. And Montana. Doing what, you might ask?
Having a grand old family vacation!
And looking at sights like these day in and day out:
Does this photo look as insanely unreal to you as it does to me? Because this is the real deal. Midway Geysers in Yellowstone National Park. (Remember, I’m an amateur photographer who couldn’t do that sort of photo editing even if somebody set a giant grizzly on me and commanded me to do it.)
I love, love, absolutely love the feeling of being away from civilization and all of its busy buzz.
I love knowing that I can round a corner and not be bombarded by zillions of senseless advertisements telling me how a miracle detox plan is going to change my life.
I love getting in touch with my inner wolf/coyote/fox/bison/elk/whatever-the-heck-I-feel-like-being.
I love knowing that all of my cardio work on the treadmill and elliptical actually amounted to something when I descended (and climbed) the equivalent of 40 flights of stairs to see this view:
I also love the feeling of standing in the middle of the world’s first national park and feeling just the tiniest bit smug that I’m not running around with my head buried in insignificant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things things like deadlines, grading, and life concerns.
Two things I do NOT miss about this vacation:
Thing that will remain unmissed #1: People in the Midwest really, really love their meat. Especially in Idaho, land of the oh-look-at-these-potatoes-they’re-vegetarian-so-I-think-we’ll-put-some-BACON-in-them.
True story. Halfway through my bowl of mashed potatoes from the fair (the only “vegetarian” main dish available in a 5-mile radius), I found a gigantic slab of bacon.
They also endorse things like these.
(How they manage to swallow any of it after passing by all the displays of cows and pet pigs for sale, I will never fathom.)
Thing that will remain unmissed #2: The most high-tech piece of cooking equipment to which I had access was the miniature honeypot I bought myself. Another true story.
I did, however, run into this clever cute sign at one of the mud geysers that absolutely warmed my heart:
Whoever wrote this sign was either a genius or a little wacko in the head giggling at his/her witticism and thinking everyone else reading it would find it equally witty. I’m going to go with genius.
I did, however, miss my oven very much, and I was consoled only with the knowledge that I’d be posting a stellar recipe when I got home, to internet, my oven, and all of civilization’s glorious mind-sucking technology.
Did I mention that autumn is here?
No, I didn’t. Because it’s not here, and I refuse to believe all reports that say otherwise. Even though I made these amazing pumpkin pie squares that you absolutely need to try.
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Yield: 9×9-inch baking pan
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin (you can increase this to as much as 30 ounces if you prefer a more pumpkin-y taste)
- 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup white sugar, melted butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon until mixture is completely moistened. Press evenly into a lightly-greased 9×9-inch baking pan. Bake crust in preheated oven for 7-8 minutes, or until golden and mostly firm. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs and 3/4 cup white sugar. Add pumpkin and evaporated milk, and beat in thoroughly. Mix in salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Pour pumpkin mixture over slightly cooled graham cracker crust.
- Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, or until filling is set. Cut into bars and serve while denying the arrival of autumn!