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Saturday, July 02, 2011

Getting to the Top

Getting to the top of a long climb is always so satisfying!
I think that's why I love long treks.
There are so many goals to set,
and when you reach them,
you feel so much better,
emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Here are a few photos of me
upon reaching the top -
Some are from 2006 and others from 2009.
It's good for me to see how out of shape I was in the beginning,
and how much better I looked and felt at the end 
of the 3 months of simply walking.

Exercise does not have to be strenuous to work.

Some great memories!
Oh wait! That's not me!
Getting to the top of the Pyranees was a great achievement for me! 
The walk, while grueling, was ethereal. 
And reaching the top felt like a great accomplishment.
At the top, beginning the descent.
The descent was worse than the ascent!
At the top of Alto Perdon

Alto Perdon is out of Pamplona. It's not so much the length of this climb, but the steepness that is difficult.  By now, however, I'm beginning to lose weight and feel less winded.

This next photo is of me in the ruins of San Anton.  This is not at the top of a hill, but me at the top of my game. After only 3 weeks of walking, I've lost a lot of weight, and am feeling healthy and fit again!

Me at San Anton

Close to Monjarin is the Crux de Ferro. At the top of this hill is a cross, where you leave stones and wishes. I missed this on my first Camino, so this little climb was important to me in 2009.

The next hill was from Monjarin into Molinaseca. The scenery was fantastic!

Next, the dreaded climb into O'Cebreiro! This is a deal breaker for many pilgrims. Beginning in Vega del Valcarce, the scenery was beautiful and the walking easy.The track was smooth, winding past villages that seemed to have fallen out of a history book:

And then, the trail became a bit more rocky
And then it became downright "stony and steep!"

Up... up... UP  we went!
My thighs burned.
It was a matter of walking 10 steps, then resting... walking 10 steps, then resting.

Then, when I thought I couldn't make one more step
TA DA!  I made it to Galicia!

A few weeks more of walking, and reaching Santiago was the biggest thrill of all! Here I am coming out of the Pilgrim's Office where I received my Compostela for walking the Camino. Can you tell I'm pleased?
I'm also 20 pounds lighter! I no longer ache in the mornings and I don't get winded.  I guess my point to this post is that a person does not have to go on a special diet or take pills to lose weight. Just get up and MOVE!

Here I am a few months before my walk. 
It's embarrassing how out of shape I'd gotten:
Here is me after returning home from my last trek:
Quite a difference, right?

The sad truth is I'm back to about the weight I was in the first photo. No excuses except menopause and inactivity. This is a MAJOR reason for planning my next walk, which hopefully will begin May 2012, if the world doesn't end    

I'm ready to get back into shape!
Are you?

For now, I'm walking in Forest Park and the Arboretum. 
Oregon offers many wonderful hiking trails 
for anyone who has the desire.

My point is... if I can do it, you can do it!
It's simple.
Get off your duff and walk!

* * *
Note:  If you are interested in walking the Camino Santiago, 
but are not quite ready to go it alone, 
consider joining Annie
on one of our small, affordable Camino walks. 
For more information see our website 
at this link: AnnieWalkers Camino

Portuguese Beans

Part of living a frugal life for me includes remembering how my grandparents lived! My maternal grandparents lost their farms in the Dust Bowl and had to begin again, working as migrant farm laborers to survive. My paternal grandmother grew up on a successful farm in the San Joaquin Valley with her parents and when asked about how she survived the Great Depression, answered, "What Depression?"

But HER mother, 
my great-grandmother Emma, 
was extremely frugal! 
She re-used everthing, 
even the giant Purina dog food bags 
she kept neatly stacked on the porch. 
She kept balls of string and rubber bands, 
and bits of foil from packaging. 
Her parents (and her husband) 
had emigrated from the Azore Islands, 
where relatives were so poor 
they kept their pigs under the outhouse!  
I learned many tips and tricks from her 
on frugal living.

One was beans.  
Portuguese Beans.  

They are cooked once a week and eaten 
for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
Simple but fragrant and delicious, 
you NEVER get tired of them!

So this week, with money tight, 
we decided to make a pot of beans.  
I gave the recipe to my son, 
and when I came home yesterday afternoon, 
the aroma of those beans hit me at the front door, 
and a fast track of wonderful childhood memories 
came flooding on the wake.

You can eat these beans for dinner, 
alone or with bread.
You can eat them for lunch.
You can eat them for breakfast 
with a couple of fried or poached eggs on top.
You'll see... they're addictive.

An added benefit is the fiber!

Here is my grandmother's simple recipe.

Portuguese Beans

Pinto or kidney beans - 1 pound
2 to 3 slices of good bacon
1 big onion
3 to 5 cloves of garlic
ground cinnamon
ground cloves
ground cumin
ground allspice

Pour 1 pound of pinto or kidney beans into a pot.
Pick out any stones you find.
Cover with cold water and soak overnight.
Next morning, rinse the beans.
Cover with cold water and put on the stove on medium heat.
Bring to a boil, then simmer.

While the beans are simmering:

Cut up 2 or 3 slices of savory bacon into 1" slices
Fry in a skillet until they are crisp
Remove the bacon and add 1 chopped onion and 3 cloves garlic, chopped
Fry until SOFT (not crisp)
Add the bacon back into the pan

Now add:
1 can tomato sauce, tomato paste, or a small can of stewed tomatoes
1 full teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

Stir the spices into the sauce and bring to a boil.

Pour the sauce into the beans, rinsing the skillet out with bean water and putting all the luscious bits back into the bean pot.

Simmer beans, covered, until they are soft.

This recipe can be put into a crockpot in the morning for your evening meal.

Once the beans are done, then salt to taste, which really brings out the flavor.
Adding salt to cooking beans makes them tough, so add the salt at the end.
Be generous - these beans like salt  :)

* * *

The beans can be kept cold in the fridge for about a week.
Just dip into them and heat up what you need.
They also freeze well.

My favorite way of eating these beans 
is with thick slices of home made bread and butter.
You can put them over rice (not traditional but good) 
to extend them.

I hope you enjoy them.
Even my granddaughter (who HATES beans) 
loved these!

Try them!

* * *

Until next time,

Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Or do without!