Monday, December 13, 2010

Bing Travel

I haven't actually used Bing travel, part of Microsoft's Bing search engine, but I've had it recommended to me lately by some of my friends. Bing Travel searches for airfare and hotel reservations online and predicts the best time to purchase. It looks like this feature is only available for the US and Canada, but it's worth a look when doing your travel planning.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter Park, Colorado

I was catching up on my reading this morning and saw that Budget Travel magazine recommends  Winter Park as one of their 'Great Ski Deals.'

A few years ago my uncle talked me into heading to Winter Park for a ski trip with him and my cousin, Seth. I had never been on skies before, but it seemed like a great way of breaking up the monotony of the Midwestern winter. The two of us took Amtrak's California Zephyr overnight to Denver and then on up to Fraser the following morning. 

I wouldn't say I acquired any great skill on the slopes, but it was still a nice getaway. I didn't break my neck or my bank account. There were plenty of places to eat in Winter Park within walking distance from our hotel. And we even managed to catch a lift to some hot sulfur springs that were nearby.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Easy Minestrone

Tis the season to be on the go: Christmas parties, shopping, work, school activities. Last weekend I turned our kitchen into a bakery, cranking out one loaf of rye bread after another. But while time may be short, and your nerves near the breaking point, you can still make healthy and quick meals. Minestrone is a piece of cake, so to speak, and it's good for you too.

1 leek (or onion)
2 carrots chopped
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
4 oz whole green beans halved
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (14oz) tomatoes
6 cup of vegetable broth
Fresh basil if you have it
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 can of cannellini or kidney beans
1/3 cup of small pasta or maccaroni
Fresh Parmesan cheese, finely grated
garnish with parsley

In a large saucepan add oil and the vegetables, heating them until they sizzle. Cover, lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes. Don't let them burn though.

Add vegetable stock or water, tomatoes, herbs, and seasoning. Bring to a boil, replace the lid and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

Add the beans and the pasta and simmer for another 10 minutes. Check the seasoning. Sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley and serve.