Realistic Cooking Ideas

for Busy People! And sharing our life adventures along the way!

After our visit to the AMC Highland lodge , we started our hiking experience by going to the lower part of Gibbs Falls. It is an easy hike to get started with before tackling more challenging terrain. In Western New York we do not have many areas where the terrain is similar to New Hampshire. Chestnut Ridge, a local park, has a couple of more difficult trails. But to really hike in a similar terrain you need to travel to the Adirondacks mountains which is several hours from our house. Check out their website for a beautiful video on autumn in the Adirondacks that last from last September through October.

During our New Hampshire vacation in 2011 we were not able to enjoy these beautiful waterfalls. This part of the mountain was closed due to damage from Hurricane Irene. Prior to our trip, Greg spent a lot of time researching the locations and hiking information about the waterfalls. This allowed us to better plan our time each day as to what we could accomplish. We only had 4-days and did not want to lose any time because we were trying to find the waterfalls and understand the time required to hike them.

We were looking forward to finally visiting these areas. So we set out on our first hike to find our first waterfall! On the lower part of Gibbs Falls trail there were school-age children on a field trip and they were busy with a project. I do not remember having any fun field trips like these kids were enjoying! It is great they have these programs to introduce children at a young age to hiking and respecting nature. We passed them and hiked to an area we thought was the Gibbs Falls. Afterwards in looking at the map Greg realized that this was not the main falls but is part of Gibbs Brook and is about a .4 mile hike. Below is a video of that smaller falls.

Not too far from Gibbs Brook, we saw another small waterfall that we believe to be part of the Gibbs falls. Since we are learning the area it is easy to mistake a smaller falls for the falls you are hiking to. Good thing Greg bought a book on waterfalls allowing us to get acclimated with the area and what some of these smaller falls look like. The larger 100 – 200 feet falls are hard to miss!

The next day we went back to finish our hike to Gibbs Falls. It is a beautiful waterfall and we were glad we went back to see it! Greg and I like to finish what we start – especially when it is an easier hike! Gibbs falls is 35-feet in height. It is about a 20-minute hike with a 300-feet altitude gain.

During our first day of hiking, we proceeded to Crawford Cliff since it splits off the Gibbs Falls trail. We thought this was going to be an easier hike since Gibbs Falls is rated as easy side of moderate. However, this trail was a more rugged hike for us. We had to be careful with our footing as we got closer to our destination we were walking along a ledge that went straight down! There were a lot of rocks, boulders, and intertwined tree roots. At first you are shocked because you forget how challenging the terrain is – but after a hike or two you get reacclimated. Then climbing over boulders become second nature. Funny how quickly we can adapt to our environment!

Once we reached the top we forgot about the difficult hike as the view is just breathtaking! This ended up being one of my favorite desintations! Standing on that cliff I felt such a sense of peace and the air was so fresh and pure! For those of us who believe in a creator, I believe this is how we were meant to live. Not breathing in polluted air, but filling our lungs with pure air and being surrounded by a peaceful environment.

Afterwards Greg realized the hike had 3 exclamation points next to it as a dangerous hike! Glad we did not see that or we would have missed a beautiful sight! It was amazing how far we could see! New Hampshire is a beautiful state!

This trail is not well-maintained and does not appear to be used like other trails we hiked. Honestly, it was a tough hike, but once we got to the cliff and saw the beautiful landscape I forgot all about the hike. We cannot find the exact elevation but we estimate around 750 to 1,000 feet.

Below is Greg’s video of Crawford Cliff where he asks me questions about the hike and provides different information than I did. Our hike was basically a vertical, upward climb and I am sure we burned some major calories! You will also hear in the video my priority about not wanting to miss lunch!

Below is a picture of Greg by Crawford Cliff, which is pretty close to a ledge that goes straight down! With the damage from Hurricane Irene last year we were not sure how stable that ledge was so we did not get too close to the edge!

After we enjoyed the view for a while, we knew it would take us some time to get back to the AMC Highland Lodge for our lunch. You can see the lodge in the below picture from the cliff.

Returning to the AMC Highland lodge was not too difficult as we were careful with our footing and did not rush the return journey. From the lodge we could see Crawford Cliff and it looked so small from the distance. But it sure felt like we were pretty high in elevation when we were on that cliff! In a prior picture you can see Greg on this same cliff. It was strange to think just an hour ago we were on that cliff and now we were on the ground! Can you see the cliff? It looks like a white boulder towards the lower left hand side.

Check out my other New Hampshire hiking videos and pictures – they are located under “Fun Stuff”. You can find that link on the left hand side of my blog.

Posts include:
Glen Ellis Falls
Mount Washington Tour
Hiking Trip to Arethusa Falls
NH Hiking Trip to Ripley Falls
NH Hiking Trip to AMC Highland Lodge
NH Hiking Trip
New Hampshire Signs from our Fall Hiking Trip

At Stonehurst Manor we had some wonderful dinners. Potato Gnocchi is one of my favorite meals my mother made when I was growing up. For the most part I do not like gnocchi in restaurants because it is more flour based than potato. So I rarely order it as I am usually disappointed. The night we arrived at Stonehurst Manor I had their Potato Gnocchi made with marinated artichokes, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, roasted garlic and olive oil. And I have to admit I really enjoyed it! The gnocchi was good and I liked the olive oil dressing. When we got home, I made my own version of Potato Gnocchi, which includes purchasing several ingredients premade to save time. My mother never used any shortcuts. She made everything from scratch and her potato gnocchi is delicious!

Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Garlic Olive Oil

Gnocchi ingredients
2 cups mashed potatoes*
1-cup flour

Olive Oil
Roasted Garlic*
Fresh Basil
Dried Basil
Roasted Tomatoes*
Parmesan Cheese, shredded*

* I purchase these ingredients premade, shredded, or roasted from Wegmans. This saves me a lot of time so I can make potato gnocchi semi-homemade!

I like to start with mashed potatoes that I purchase from Wegmans to save the time of preparing the potatoes. If you can find a good brand of pre-made potato gnocchi that will save you even more time. I like a 2:1 ratio of mashed potatoes to flour. I add just enough flour so they will not fall apart when boiling while still maintaining the potato base. Also add enough flour to the mashed potatoes so the mixture does not stick to your hands. I mix my flour with cold mashed potatos and then work quickly so the mixture does not get too warm.

Before mixing my potato mixture, I prepare my topping ingredients. I mash down the roasted garlic using a fork.

Prepare your potato mixture and form into a ball. Divide into equal parts. Take one part and roll into a rope.

Continue to roll the remaining parts into ropes. Then with a fork press into the ropes to get the “gnocchi” look.

Cut the potato gnocchi ropes into bite size pieces and place on a flour tray. At this point your potato mixture might be getting warm so it is important to flour your tray so they do not stick. And remember to work quickly and have everything out that you need to boil the gnocchi and a frying pan.

Cover a pan bottom with olive oil and add roasted garlic. Simmer. I used stainless steel but you might want to consider a non-stick pan for easier clean up.

Carefully place the gnocchi in boiling water so you do not burn yourself with splashing hot water. Cook the gnocchi in batches of about 20. When they come to the top they are done. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Place them in your pan with the olive oil mixture adding the fresh basil. Just before serving add roasted tomatoes and top with dried basil. When plating add Parmesan cheese and a few fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately so they do not get cold! I like to serve them with chicken.

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Susan Call Hutchison

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