7 Bridges in 7 Miles with Joshua

I went hiking yesterday morning with my 6 years old great nephew, Joshua. We did the urban hike to 7 bridges in 7 miles and had a great time taking our picture at each bridge.

Bridge 1 - It is Georgia Street, crosses University Avenue. This used to be a redwood-truss bridge built in 1907 but the current concrete bridge was built in 1914. Its design is very pretty.

Bridge 2 – Built in 1995, Vermont St. bridge crosses Washington St. This one is very cool; it has many quotes written on it providing inspiration and enjoyment. The original bridge was a wooden-trestle built in 1916.

Bridge 3 - From 1912, the Spruce St. suspension bridge crosses over Sessions Canyon. To walk across while it sways is fun and exciting!

Bridge 4 - Quince St. wooden-trestle bridge was built in 1905. It spans Maple Canyon between 2nd and 4th Ave. This one is my favorite!

Bridge 5 - Built in 1931, the First Ave. bridge was shipped to San Diego to be reassembled in place. It also spands Maple Canyon. This is the only steel-arch bridge in the city and it is beautiful!

Bridge 6 - The Laurel St. bridge dates from 1914 and was the first multiple-arched cantilever bridge built in California. The side view of the arched bridge is spectacular and looking up from under it, lets you admire its amazing architecture!

Bridge 7 - This is the bridge that crosses Park Blvd. from the Rose Garden toward the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. When crossing this bridge, you can enjoy the rose garden and part of the cactus garden, both gorgeous!

We started at the Georgia Street bridge but most people start at the Rose Garden in Balboa Park and work their way to end with Georgia Street bridge. Here is a map:

Map from The San Diego Historic Streetcars Blog

We finished our hike climbing up the big fat pipe from the bottom of Florida Canyon up to Morley Field Park. Joshua did an amazing job hiking 7 miles in 2. hours - what a big boy, I'm so proud of you!


I'm Back! / ¡Ya Volví!


It has been a while since I last posted a recipe, I think it’s time to come back. 

I have been away from my blog because I’ve been busy renewing a long passion of mine; hiking. I love walking and used to hike all the time but because of other priorities I stopped doing it. On February 2, 2015, I went on my first hike after being away from the trails for about 10 years. It was hard but it felt great!

My first hike was only a mile long and it took me a long time to do it. I could only hike during the weekends, which was fine because in the beginning, I was so out of shape that I needed the whole week to recover from any short hike. Now, after a year, I can climb mountains and can go on more than one hike per week. I can walk long distances much more easily and have taken a few backpacking trips, which I never did before but have discovered that I love it.

I’ve done the Mission Trails 5-peak challenge and found a #52hikechallenge on the web and decided to do it. The challenge is to go out and walk 52 hikes in 52 weeks; one per week. However, I’m working on a personal goal this year. I want to walk at least 52 hikes before August. My husband and I, together with other family members, are planning a big backpacking trip to the Sioux Hustler Trail in BWCA Wilderness, Northern Minnesota and I’m using my weekend hikes as training. I have done 21 so far…I have a lot more to walk.

Do you make New Year resolutions? I don’t but this year is different. I have set a couple of goals I want to be able to achieve this year; to be more active and to eat better. I really need to work on these so I can improve my overall health. With these goals in mind, I’m going to start doing a lot more cooking so, I guess this could mean posting more often…I’ll try. Here is a recipe for a healthy lunch or a light dinner. I found this soup in the book that came with my blender and adapted it to my taste. It is easy to make and it is delicious.

Hummus Soup
(for 4 portions)

3 cups of vegetable broth (chicken broth can be used)
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini paste 
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)

Combine all ingredients into the jar of a blender and secure the lid. Blend for a couple of minutes at a high setting or until everything is smooth. Pour into a pot and bring soup to a simmer over a medium-low heat and cook for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot with croutons or pita chips and enjoy. 

I accompanied mine with warm bread topped with greek yogurt, sprinkled with zaatar and a little olive oil. It was delicious!


Letter to Nora / Carta a Nora

Nora Ceccopieri Gómez 

Dear Nora,
Wherever you are, receive a big kiss from me and I wish you peace. Here, we are very sad that you left us and your blogger friends will miss you immensely. However, your essence stays here in every one of the recipes you shared with us. From now on, every time I cook something of yours, I will think you are watching over me from where you are and I will smile. Thank you for all that time you invested sharing yourself with us. For me, it was amazing and a great pleasure to have had the opportunity to met you - rest in peace my friend. 💜

Querida Nora,
En donde quiera que estés te mando un beso y te deseo paz. Aquí estamos muy tristes por tu partida y tus amigos blogeros te echaremos mucho de menos. Sin embargo nos queda tu esencia en cada una de las recetas que compartiste con todos. Siempre que cocine algo tuyo, pensaré que me observas desde donde te encuentres y sonreiré. Gracias por todo ese tiempo invertido y compartido. Para mí fue maravilloso y un placer haberte conocido - descansa en paz amiga. 💜
Te quiero,


It's All About Sharing / Se Trata de Compartir

Kristy at the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon, 2014

Inspiration came to me early this morning so, before I lose it, I decided to write a short post.

I got up early and while I was trying to figure out what kind of pancakes I should make for breakfast, I picked up my phone and read Kristy’s Facebook post where she shared pictures of her pancakes. Kristy is my niece who lives in New York. She often inspires me to do things… like running my first 5K and trying new kinds of beer. She is an awesome marathon runner and she loves a good beer. She is also a great cook who focuses on cooking and eating healthy and nutritious food, like the pancakes she prepared this morning. They were made with teff, an incredibly nutritious grain high in protein and calcium. 

Teff is one of the earliest domesticated plants and it originated in Ethiopia but is now being raised in United States. I was introduced to teff a few years ago by my friend and co-worker, Helen, who showed me how to make injera, a traditional Ethiopian bread made with teff flour and a staple in Ethiopian cuisine. I’ve tried to make injera several times but with very poor results so I usually use teff in pancakes and I have made veggie burgers with it. I’ll share that recipe some other time. 

Today, I was inspired by Kristy to make teff pancakes for breakfast. Our time zone is 3 hours different from New York, so I was so glad that, by the time I got up, she had her pancakes made and shared in Facebook. I was inspired to make this delicious breakfast. Now, I’m sharing my recipe here and hope this will inspire someone else - it is all about sharing!

Teff Pancakes

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole teff grain
1/4 cup powdered coconut milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process first 3 ingredients in a blender until pulverized. Pour into a large bowl and whisk in baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the buttermilk, stir in melted butter and vanilla. Combine wet and dried ingredients to form the pancake batter. Cook pancakes on a hot griddle. Makes 12 delicious 4-5 inch pancakes.


Cultural Diversity, Mexican Style / Diversidad Cultural, Estilo Mexico

Cultural diversity is one of the trademarks of my office. When I started working here in 1999, this was the office which housed all the cases for customers that needed interpreters. There were employes speaking 42 different languages! I was very impressed to see that many countries were represented at the office and was excited to start my career with the County in an environment where diversity is not only welcomed but one in which we are encouraged to share our backgrounds and culture - how wonderful!

From the celebration of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, in January (the date varies depending on the lunar calendar), Black History Month in February, and the Cambodian/Lao Lunar New Year in April, to celebrating Philippines' Independence  Day in June and our own Independence day on the Fourth of July, my office fosters acceptance of all and unity among employees. Cultural diversity has been a major part of my personal and professional growth. I cherish all the things I can learn from my coworkers and also love to share my culture and traditions which is why this year, the Mexican-American employees organized a Second Annual Mexican Cultural Event this past September 10th. We were very happy to share a little bit of our culture through our exhibits, pictures, traditional vestments, music and, of course, delicious food.

This year our theme was food, so we had a representation of a Mexican mercado (market) in which we wanted to showcase produce from Mexico. We included fresh fruits and vegetables as well as herbs, spices and grains. Everyone could get an idea of what kind of foods can be found in a traditional Mexican mercado. The room decorations were traditional in Mexican festivities and the center pieces were also food inspired. We all wore with pride our traditional attire which is also part of our cultural heritage.

Above the mercado, we had a photo gallery of mouthwatering Mexican dishes prepared with ingredients from the market. Employees were able to browse through the pictures and see how many of those dishes they could recognize. We invited everyone to find something interesting and to make sure they look for it in their next visit to a Mexican restaurant or their next trip to Mexico.

Our menu was a delicious taco trio that included birria de res, a beef stew made with a red sauce of dried chili peppers and spices used since Pre-Hispanic times; second, a chicken stew made with a green sauce from fresh peppers and tomatillo, also legendary ingredients in Mexican cuisine; and the third choice was a vegetarian option, made with fresh zucchini, corn, onions and tomatoes. To enrich the flavor, we add herbs and top with queso fresco, a ranch style  Mexican cheese that is something you'll find in every Mexican kitchen. If people wanted to keep it strictly vegetarian, we suggested not to add cheese. As side dishes we had beans and the real pico de gallo made with fresh fruit. And to wash it all down, we had aguas frescas, a typical every day drink made with fruit and/or vegetables. This time our drinks were made with three different flavors; spinach, hibiscus flower, and rice - all very delicious! After the meal, everyone enjoyed a Mexican style rice pudding – it was the perfect dessert!

In Mexico, we celebrate the day of the dead. Every year in November, we invite our departed loved ones to come back and celebrate with us. We build an Altar de Muertos in their honor. The altar is made up with pictures of our loved ones, with artifacts, flowers and the food they used to enjoy when they were alive. This is  another great tradition in our culture that we shared in one of our exhibits.

We also had displays showcasing the crafts and materials used in the different states of Mexico; copper, wood, silver and others. Also, a display representing influential people of Mexican descent and another one with the Aztec, the Mayan and other great civilizations of Mexico. And, of course, a display with pictures of our closer ancestors and of us. This year we have about 50 Latin-American employees in the office. Most of us are from Mexico but we have representations from Chile, Honduras, Cuba, Argentina, Peru and Dominican Republic. They were our special guests - everyone was!

We had other exhibits; a table showcasing toys that are enjoyed by kids and grownups alike throughout Mexico - most of us played with these toys while growing up. Another fun thing we had was the table with Mexican candy. These are favorite treats for Mexican kids but I know of one or two adults in the office who will kill for these treats! 

We displayed the history of chocolate, which was a gift from Mexico to the world and an inspiration for our offerings and dessert contest. This year the invitation was to submit a dessert that included Mexican chocolate in the preparation. We counted several delicious entries which were carefully rated and we handed out prizes to the winners.

While everyone enjoyed their meal we had a demonstration on how to make corn tortillas which was another gift native Mexicans brought to the world. This exhibit consisted of explaining the process of turning dried corn into masa and then into the wonderful homemade tortillas everyone loves. It was a fun thing enjoyed by many who had never seen this process before.

Then we allowed a little time for everyone to enjoy the food while we showed a video with music and pictures from Mexico. And later we had a live performance delighting everyone with a traditional Mexican song.  We welcomed everyone at the photo booth where they took pictures with their unit or by themselves.

Overall, our Second Annual Mexican Cultural Event was an amazing representation of our food and traditions that everyone enjoyed. And I couldn't be happier to share this with my coworkers. I am also very proud of my compatriots who help put this celebration together. They showed pride in our heritage and were eager to share with everyone, plus, they all looked amazing in the traditional vestments of our country - they are beautiful, talented and wonderful exponents of our culture. Thanks to all who made this a fun and exciting event!

Many thanks to Lorraine and Ericka who provided me with some of these pictures.