Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Truffle Butter & Parmesan Popcorn

The sweet, the savory, the salty, and the cheesy all in one can't even begin to describe the delicious Truffle Butter & Parmesan Popcorn I crave!

I first tried this concoction at Bar Louie when I wanted to save a few bucks on food during a girls night out. It was less than $4!  It was worth every penny, and more. 

After realizing I couldn't just pop into Bar Louie's on my at-home movie nights, I knew I had to find a way to make this myself.

I have been popping my 'own' popcorn by purchasing kernels at Target.  I love the Midnight Blend.  However, my husband had never loved them as much because they weren't coated in butter and didn't have any of the same salty flavors of conventional microwave buttered popcorn. 

The combination of butter, truffle oil, Parmesan and thyme was exactly what I needed to make a popcorn that both my husband and I loved.

It is VERY simple!  Anyone can do it! 


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 Tablespoon truffle oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon thyme (fresh thyme would be better) 
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil***
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fine sea salt to taste

  • ***I like coconut oil, but you can substitute other high heat cooking oil such as almond oil, palm oil, sunflower oil, hazelnut oil, avocado oil or "light" or refined olive oil
    1. In a small sauce pan, melt your butter on low and add in the truffle oil and thyme. Keep this off the heat to not burn and set it aside.
    2. Get a large pot with a lid. Heavy bottomed is better.  I used a large non stick with a lid.  Add your coconut oil and 3 popcorn kernels to your pan and put on medium heat.
    3. Once your kernels start to pop, take the pan off the burner and add the remaining popcorn kernels.  Cover your pan with the lid slightly ajar (unless you have a vent on your lid) and place back over the heat.
    4. Shake your pan occasionally until kernels have popped and you can’t hear them moving against the bottom of the pot which should take about 3 to 5 minutes.
    5. Remove the popcorn from heat and drizzle with the thyme truffle butter, grated Parmesan and sea salt to taste. Simply place your lid back on snug and shake, Shake, SHAKE.  Now the popcorn is coated in deliciousness!
    *The inspiration for this came from my treat at Bar Louie and a few online recipes I found and altered to use ingredients I had at home.

    Neal and I highly enjoyed this treat last night as we watched Red Tails (what a great movie!!!). 

    I love that I can see all my ingredients and not question what is actually in the yellow powdery substance on my microwave popcorn.

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Climbing the Grand Teton with Exum

    Challenge accepted and concurred!

    One small step at a time, I hiked, scrambled and climbed to 13,770 feet up the side of the Grand Teton.  My endurance, patience, mind and sanity were all tested.  My body beaten, bruised, burnt and scratched was constantly defying everything my mind was telling me not to do.  A sore body and two days with very little rest due to my anxieties was all worth finally reaching my goal of getting to the top of the Grand Teton.
    We spent two days on this beautiful mountain.  It was hard and fun, but like I said after finishing my first half marathon, I am not sure I want to do it again anytime soon.

    Day 1
    The first day started with nice hike up and through Garnet Canyon and the Meadows. 

    Although, as we were warned, we saw bears!  We came across a Momma bear and her 2 cubs.  These were black bears, not grizzlies.

    We started topping the tree line where we did a little scrambling over rocks in the Moraine area before reaching the Exum camp at the Lower Saddle. 

    You can clearly see where the Moraine area starts and the meadows end.

    We had such great views on this hike of the Middle Teton.  The large black line on the Middle Teton is caused by magma deep in the earth that has moved up the rock and hardened.

    We stopped between the Meadows and the Moraine to enjoy a beautiful view the canyon and fill up on fresh mountain water.

    Reaching the Lower Saddle was such a joy!  The views were great of Idaho and Wyoming.  You can see for miles. 

     The mountain looks less intimidating from this point and you can see most of the areas where we will be climbing early on day 2. See this link for a view of our climb.

    This is what the huts we slept in looked like.

    After getting situated, I helped myself to so much needed yoga.  I went through sun salutations and moving asanas.

    As the sun set, there is an absolutely stunning view with shadows cast in the valley of the mountain range. 


    Day 2
    Waking up at 3am wasn’t very hard for me since I didn’t sleep a wink!  I got into the hut at about 9:30 and had to get up to pee 4 times due to a ‘Sleepy Time’ tea we consumed around 9.  I highly recommend eating food you are used to and not over hydrating.  As the Exum website states, dehydrated meals are not so great if you are not used to them.  My stomach was cramping and hurting some after eating a Pad Tai dehydrated meal.  If I were to do it again, I would bring pasta or a burrito in two ziplocks, that way you can put boiling water in the outside ziplock to heat the meal.

    We started climbing in the dark at about 4am with our headlamps on and stomach churning.

    View once the sun started to cast the shadow of the Grand Teton onto the mountains in Idaho

    We went to the Black Dike and the Chockstone Chimney and then off to the Owen Spalding route.  Even though some of the group was cleared to climb the slightly longer Exum Ridge route, we all decided to go together on the shorter, yet still challenging, Owen-Spalding route. The climbing wasn’t bad at about a 5.4, just don't look down!

    The sun was just coming up as we started to reach the peak of the Grand Teton.

    This is a great picture of the route-see in lime green where we ascended and descended
    This is an even more detailed picture of the route we took- see dotted in lime green.  My favorite part of the climb was Owen's Chimney!  I found that I really enjoyed this part becuase I did a lot of stemming while climbing Owen's Chimney.
    The view from the top was absolutely stunning! 


    While looking north towards Yellowstone, we even saw Old Faithful erupting! Do you see the white in the distance?

    The Teton Mountain Range

    A Glacial Lake

    Solitude Lake from the top of the Grand Teton

    After our 15 minutes of peace at the top, other climbers arrived.  We gathered our packs and began our descent.  We spent the next 10 hours down climbing, rappelling, enjoying a lunch at the lower saddle, and hiking back to the trail head.  This was indeed the hardest part.  My body ached and my sanity waned as we trekked over 7,000 feet back down the mountain.  Neal averaged this out to be about 770 flights of stairs.  Yikes!  Talk about your knees killing you!

    At 6pm, we were back at Exum.  We got certificates and cooled our aching feet off in the nearby waters of Jenny Lake. 
     Neal and Greg cooling off after our expedition!
    Afterwards, we each enjoyed a cold beverage and pizza at my favorite place near Jackson Hole at the Moose entrance into GTNP, Dornans!

    If I were to do this again:
    • Wear my own hiking boots up to the Lower Saddle and back to the trail head post the Lower Saddle.  The La Sportiva approach shoes provided through Exum are not comfortable hiking boots, but they are great for climbing.
    • Bring food I am more used to eating for dinner rather than a dehydrated meal.
    • Wear ear plugs while sleeping at the Exum hut on the Lower Saddle.  The loud snoring from other people was an evil taunt that kept me up. 
    • Don’t over hydrate right before bed.  No Sleepy Time tea! (My family now calls this our Pee-Pee Time tea.)
    • Do more yoga for training prior to the climb. The balance postures, strengthening poses and stretching can help when going over boulders and climbing.
    Most of all, I would trust myself more.  I will not second guess my own abilities.  I am stronger than I think. 

    Related Posts:

    I am still excited about the climb of my life!  Now challenge yourself to something 'Grand'!

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Grand Teton Multi Pitch Level 2 Class with Exum

    Longest workout ever…

    Our multi pitch level 2 with Exum consisted of almost 11 hours of learning, hiking, belaying, and about 5.9 climbs. 

    It's our Day 2 for Multi Pitch Class with Exum! Neal and I are waiting to start at the guide post!

    We arrived at about 7:30am, didn’t actually break for lunch until about 3pm and left the mountain around 6pm.  I had to snack a lot of protein bars and trail mix to keep my energy.  I was grouchy due to lack of breaking for lunch.  I now know that I need to tell my guide when I need to stop to eat.  Thankfully our guides, Susan & Micah, were great, even when I was grouchy!
    We started off bouldering and learning some techniques for down climbing on rock and testing the rock for slick spots.  Susan and Micah also taught us to smear with our foot rather than edging the foot along the rock while climbing.  Smearing is something I am not use to, but it’s very helpful when you don’t have a huge hold for your feet.  Smearing is very literal, your portion of the sticky shoes smear across the rock for footing.
    Kim climbing with her feet smearing.

    Also, we learned chimney-ing (not sure how to spell that) and stemming when you are in a crack.  Chemney-ing is when your butt and arms are on one wall and your feet are on the other wall and your shimmy your way up by pushing down with your hands and smearing with your feet.  Stemming is when your right hand and right leg are on one wall and your left hand and left foot are on the other.

    Then the belaying and climbing started.  We all were tied into each other with the rope and climbed on boulders to practice our belaying.  Then we did 2 more difficult climbs.  I freaked myself out and fell on the very first grip, Kim did the same thing after climbing a little higher, Neal slipped once, and Dad fell at the very top at the end of our last climb of the day.  Greg was the only one in our group, besides our guides, that was able to climb without falling.  He has experience climbing natural rock.  For the rest of us, this was the first time we climbed on natural rock.  I would call it very successful! 
    This is the area where we climb and a little map of the routes.

    My leg may not have liked the fall, but it was great training for my mind so not to freak out as much when I am thousands of feet above the ground on the side of a ledge.

    Climbing was slightly annoying today because we had multiple pitches (routes within a climb) where after we belayed we were waiting on a ledge to do your next pitch along with 2-3 other people.  It’s a good thing we are all family and like each other, because those are close quarters!  Our ropes would tangle a little and we would have to find a way out by ‘jump roping’ the rope of your back and under your feet or doing ‘yoga hand’ to get the rope from around your back.
    You can see the multiple pitches in this route.

    Think of 3 people, each with two 50 foot ropes attached to them, each person having one rope attached securely to a wall with very little slack, the extra rope in piles around their feet, all on a 3ft by 1 ft space, all a few hundred feet above the ground.  That’s terrifying and exhilarating!

    Thank goodness we have a day off to recuperate before climbing the Grand on Wednesday and Thursday!

    Have a great day and try something new! (No, you don’t have to stand on a 1 foot ledge 100 feet in the air!)

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Grand Teton Multi Pitch Level 1 Class with Exum

    We are training to climb the Grand Teton!!!

    The level 1 class with Exum was exciting, enlightening, adventurous, and absolutely perfect!  My friends and family are well aware of my obsession with Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park (GTNP).  Today increased my passion for this absolutely stunning area.
    I cannot believe how close I am to climbing the Grand Teton!  I posted about this exciting adventure here, and there are only 4 more days until this dream is a reality and we summit the Grand!  I am so glad we chose Exum Mountain Guides to help make this happen.
     Greg is pointing to the top of Teewinot, just below where we will be climibing in a few days!

    We bouldered, belayed, climbed, hiked, and repelled all around the Jenny Lake area near Hidden Falls in GTNP.  This was such an exciting 8 hour day!  There was never a dull moment.

    We started off getting our bags situated.  Our guide, Bill Anderson let us know we had overkill, so I consolidated some items.  By the end of me taking out rain pants, long pants, a fleece, and warm gloves, I was left with trail mix, rain jacket, 2 liters of water, as well as the helmet, harness & approach shoes provided by Exum.

    Bill taught us to cautiously boulder by starting a series of bouldering.  First he watched us without any instructions and then taught us to hover our foot for a few seconds over where we wanted to step.  This helped us to balance, watch our foot placement, to find a hold that’s not too high, and to slow the pace for when we are being belayed.  We passed with flying colors!  Then we played “hot lava” to our next location.  Hot lava is when you can only put your foot on rocks or fallen wood.  This was also for coordination and balance. 

    We then practiced leaning slightly forward while down hiking so that your head is in a position that if you were to drool, the drool would be in front of you.  This keeps your knees safer, taking smaller steps, and getting your weight in the right area.

    Bill taught us our basic knots for climbing:  bowline, figure eight, and the overhand knot.  From there, we practiced belaying with both hands so that we could be ambidextrous on the mountain. We did this seated with our feet bolted down on a rock to stay put, keeping the most strength on the foot with the same side of your climber.  The rope goes behind your back for strength and friction.  Your body acts like a clip in the mountain.

    Neal belaying Dad
    We all were then hooked together with the ropes and practiced some more hot lava over to Hidden Falls.  During this, we put our excess rope around us in a Kiwi Coil so as not to have the rope tangled in our hands.  At Hidden Falls, we broke for lunch to enjoy our turkey sandwiches, chips, & homemade rice crispy treats.

    That's Neal, Greg, Kim and Dad all getting thier Kiwi Coils ready so we can walk in our line. 
    Post lunch, we did 5 pitches of climbing and belaying in our group formation.  This was semi-challenging and really enjoyable.  Though I was on the climbing team in high school, I have never climbed real rock, only the man made climbs at climbing gyms.

    Bill said we were far ahead of schedule since we all caught on really well to the lessons, so he decided we would cover repelling.  This was the most intimidating part for me.  We belayed ourselves a little over 100 feet.  We each did this two times before heading back to the Exum station, using our down climbing skills we learned earlier.
    Kim repelling

    Dad repelling

    The view from where we were repelling was incredible!  That's Jenny Lake.

    The middle peak is the one we are climbing, the Grand Teton.  To the right is Mount Owen and to the left of the Grand sits Teewinot.  Mount Owen has more snow becaus it's not as steep as the Grand...yikes!
    This class was very insightful!  I am so glad we had Bill as our guide!  He would have us each teach each other the knots, belaying or repelling techniques as he was setting up the next exercise or simply watching us instruct. 

    Bill also told us we should eat all that we want and as much as we want!  Yay!  Tonight, I feasted on an amazing spinach salad with rotisserie chicken, chickpeas, olives, feta, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and a dressing of balsamic and truffle olive oil.  Right before that, Neal and I downed a free muffin from Pearl Street Bagels.  I love Pearl Street Bagels, so I picked up a half dozen for breakfast tomorrow!  Post dinner, I devoured a Chocolate Cabernet Sauvignon homemade ice cream in a waffle cone from Moo’s on the Northeast corner of the town square!  It was PERFECT! 
    We are off to another class that starts at 7:45 am!  Have a great Monday!!!