Friday, March 6, 2009
As our now-familiar crowd arrived at staggered intervals, storm clouds thickened and the sky darkened. Only a hint of sunset pierced the gray expanse. The dull roar of thunder accompanied sheets of rain that traveled across the distant sky.
Suddenly, a wave of wind blew across the porch fiercely, carrying the first chilly raindrops of evening. We retrived toppled wine glasses and fallen plates, held down skirt hems, and tried to steady our tables until staff members shooed us inside. A huge wind gust banged the outside door against the inside wall as everyone streamed into the lobby, followed quickly by the rolling bar. Safe inside, we watched, mesmerized, as the storm rolled along before us.
It somehow seemed fitting, given the name of the resort, and a memorable end note to our fabulous week-long adventure.
*Buffalo Thunder Resort is a cooperative venture with Hilton Hotels
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
As always, I opted for whole wheat pastry flour rather than regular white flour. I then reduced the sugar by 1/4 cup and substituted ground oatmeal for 1/2 cup of flour - hence the little white flecks in the photo. Finally, I skipped one step altogether; I didn't roll my balls of dough in granulated sugar before baking because it was another easy way to reduce the sugar content.
What I ended up with were perfectly round, slightly soft cookies that tasted as great as they looked, with enough to enjoy now and still stash a few in the freezer. See if you agree:
Makes approximately 48 cookies
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup oatmeal, ground fine
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/8 cup butter + 3/8 cup olive oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger (VOE - we'll add an extra 1/2 teaspoon next time)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Melt butter over low stovetop heat or in microwave. Combine oatmeal and flour. In a large mixing bowl, combine about half of the flour/oatmeal mixture, brown sugar, butter, olive oil, molasses, egg, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix together thoroughly and then stir in remaining flour.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets (VOE - the dough will be quite wet as you do this). Bake in a 375-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes until edges are set. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute then transfer cookies to a wire rack or foil and let cool completely. Store with a piece of bread in air-tight container; this will enhance their softness.
Monday, March 2, 2009
One of the city's most-photographed spots, this indoor waterfall and lush, terraced gardens have delighted visitors and residents since the early '70s, after the 729-room hotel opened. A large hill of natural limestone extends inside the building, providing the perfect backdrop for 60-foot-tall tumbling sheets of water; only underwater lights belie the fact that this was actually a man-made wonder. For a brief moment, city noise and activity melt away in the sight and sound of nature under glass.
But head for the lower level lobby and there's a rather surreal feeling as you step from the escalator onto multi-colored carpet, only yards away from the Westin Crown Center's signature site. As you walk towards the front desk the sound of rushing water gradually fades, conversation rises, and you return to the everyday hustle-bustle - until your next visit.