Monday, August 30, 2010

The Joy of Cooking

There are many sources for recipes and food knowledge.   I actively read Cooking Light and enjoy searching out (the Ghiradelli chocolate fondue? delicious).    But when you're looking for the basic instructions and standby recipes, the classic Joy of Cooking is a great asset.   For instance:

Wednesday I made my first crepe at our internal career fair at work.   I thought to myself, "self, I like crepes.  I liked when my co-worker MH would invite me over for crepes with rum and sugar.   I like to go out to Crepes and Crepes in Writer's Square downtown and order the spinach and goat cheese crepe for an entree and the nutella with strawberry crepe for dessert.   This is, in fact, a pancake.  I can, in fact, make pancakes.   Therefore, I should be able to make a fancy thin French pancake in the comfort of my own home."

So which of my cookbooks will have a simple crepe recipe?  No contest.  The Joy of Cooking.
In my version, page 236 - Griddle Cakes and Fritter Variations (who uses the phrase griddle cakes?). 

Sift: 3/4 cup all purpose flour
Resift with: 1/2t salt, 1 t baking powder, 2 T powdered sugar (omit sugar if making savory crepes)
Beat: 2 eggs
Add and beat: 2/3 C milk, 1/3 C water, 1/2t vanilla
Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the liquid.  Combine them, don't worry about the lumps.
Heat a 5 inch skillet.  Use a few drops oil (or in my case, cooking spray).  Add a small quantity of batter and tip the skillet to cover the bottom of the pan.   Cook until browned underneath, then flip.

If you have mad skills, you can flip the crepe in the air when side one is done and you have loosened it from the bottom of the pan with your spatula.   I actually did this pretty well although the Chey-dog stood ever ready in case one hit the floor.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Operation Beautiful

Intrigued about a "movement" that I heard about on the radio this past week: Operation Beautiful.   The idea is simple.  Using post-it notes to put up messages of encouragement (specifically for women) in public places.  Mirrors are an obvious choice, but in perusing their website you can use your creativity.    Who wouldn't want to see a note in a dressing room that says "You look hot." 
Proof again, that small, simple, free, ideas can really make a difference. 

The summer fun update:
#54 Movie Tavern
#55 Brunch at Toast followed by Yogurt Land
#56 The spontaneous gift of a coffee grinder
#57 Fun new clothes (thinking ahead to the beach in November)
#58 Chey goes to the dog park!
#59 Making Crepes (learned how yesterday - made them at home today)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eat, Drink, Give, Take

Yesterday a lot of eating and drinking went on.  My friends and I walked to brunch at Toast in Cherry Creek.   There was the added bonus of a homemade cappuccino if I got to Capitol Hill a little early.  It was beautiful morning to walk through the neighborhoods en route to the restaurant.  We passed the restaurant for the Waffle Brothers, who I see at the farmer's market, but didn't realize they had their own place.   That will have to be another trip.   The two mile walk each way helped to justify the food madness pictured below.  I enjoyed the corn beef hash eggs Benedict with a side of nutella french toast.   The term "side" is a misnomer at Toast - they are huge.  Case in point: the gravy cakes. 

And if brunch wasn't enough, it was easy to persuade my walking companions to show me the new frozen yogurt place they've been visiting, Yogurtland on 5th and Grant.   It was a novelty to me.  They have 10-14 self-serve flavors and you pay by the ounce for your yogurt and toppings.   I tried a sample of the chocolate coconut, but selected coconut, tart peach and mango for my actually "lunch."   

Coffee.   I bought coffee beans from a coffee shop in Antigua, Guatemala, called Kaffee Fernando's.  For the past two months they've been sitting innocently in my cabinet.  I don't have a coffee grinder and was not in the market to buy one.  I thought I'd ask a friend if I happened to be going their way, or hope that the ARC or Goodwill would have one.  I had a feeling that King Soopers wouldn't approve of me bringing my beans into the store and using their commercial grinder.    So yesterday when I was heading downtown to visit friends, who I knew had a coffee grinder and were going to make me cappuccino, I actually thought ahead.  I asked if I could bring my beans and use their grinder.   Instead, they told me that they had two grinders - one that was better for the espresso drinks that they make, and a second one that would be better for the drip coffee that I make.   And would I please take it off their hands?  They also offered me one of their three unused fondue pots, but since I have two of my own, I declined.  They explained that they were actively trying to give away some of their belongings, both as the practice of giving gifts and also to reduce the amount of stuff.    Now that I have added a coffee grinder to my household, I have a pile of donations growing outside my bedroom, including towels, paperbacks, and clothes.   Who knows what I can find to give away? 

Beer.  I don't drink beer, or even think of it on a regular basis, but yesterday on KYGO, my favorite country station here in Denver, they said "Think of any situation in your life.  Add beer.  You now have the makings of a country song."   Instead of adding beer, I'll think sangria or margaritas.  The result is the same.

I will now try and compose a lyric or two of a country song about my former lack of a coffee grinder:
"It was a hot summer night - we were feelin' right - We was sitting on the patio drinking sangria - me and the girls.  Thinking of the rough mornin' to come - after havin' so much fun - I was in a bind.  I will have coffee, but no way to grind."

Pick your life situation.  I anxiously wait to hear your lyrics.

Eat Pray Love

Last year I read the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Not surprising that this book would appeal to me given my love of travel and self-discovery. Last month I got called out at World Market 'living the eat pray love' lifestyle.   This was specifically because my hat was very similar to one in the posters in the store.  I'm okay with that.  On Friday night we had girls night at the Movie Tavern here in Aurora.  I'd never been before, but it seemed that fruity drinks and snacks would be a good combination with the movie.  The three countries featured in the book are Italy, India and Indonesia.  All places that I've never been, but would like to go.   The food.  The color.  The adventure. 

If I was going to spend a year in three different countries, where would I go?  Asia holds a lot of appeal.  I would go back to Thailand in a heartbeat and spend more time in the north.  India also is on my radar screen, but not so much for the religious reasons featured in the book.  And Bali, like in the book?  Fantastic.  Spain would have the added bonus of letting me improve my Spanish, a colorful country with easy access to other parts of Europe.  

One of the reader guide questions seems to relate to recent thoughts and conversations:  Gilbert writes that “the appreciation of pleasure can be the anchor of humanity,” making the argument that America is “an entertainment-seeking nation, not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one.” Is this a fair assessment?  

I tend to agree.  A lot of money is spent on things, including entertainment, but as many others have already found out, things don't necessarily give you pleasure or happiness.  Pleasure can be a good book, sitting in the sun, a rich dessert, meals with friends, coffee, a pretty view, a drink with a flower as a garnish, a pedicure, or playing with the dog.  Somehow I don't think a new car would give me the same satisfaction as drinking hot chocolate in New Zealand did. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pursuit of Ice Cream

There are many things that you can be dedicated to.   Trying new ice cream might be my calling.  Once as an ice breaker the question was what job would you have if you could be anything in the world.  My decision:  International Ice Cream Taster.  Combining ice cream and travel....what more could I want.  This summer I've been seeking out local ice cream parlors and have enjoyed Liks, Bonnie Brae, Pajama Baking Company, and today I tried Sweet Action. It wasn't intentional.  I was on my way to Spicy Basil for dinner and passed Sweet Action.    It wasn't just coincidence that it started raining after dinner.  I could walk to my car or walk for ice cream.  Tough choice.  And they had a fun flavor selection so I enjoyed Cinnamon Cannoli and Ginger Lemon Cookie.  Yum. 

Summer Fun Update
#51 Another Rockies Game - sadly we lost
#52 My first Holy Smokes Church BBQ
#53 New Eats including: JW Marriott in Cherry Creek, Spicy Basil and Sweet Action (all in one day)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Suitcases with Missing Feet

A friend forwarded me an article from the NY Times called "But Will It Make You Happy?"  The article references that how you spend your money, on things or on experiences may determine how happy you are.  One of the people in the article decided to start get rid of stuff and actually worked her way down to 100 personal possessions.   I'm not sure if I want to go that far, but I am a big believer that spending money on experiences, rather than things, is the way to go.   This may explain why I have a 11 year old car and an old (no flat screen, no high def) TV, while traveling extensively.   I told my friend that explained why all my suitcases are beat up and missing feet.  For the longest time, my mom has been an advocate of gifts that don't require dusting.   She'd rather try new restaurants, travel, go to a  festival or even get help around the house, than one more thing that requires cleaning.   She downsized two years ago from the big house we lived in during high school, so a smaller condo that requires no lawn mowing.  She has been in Europe the past three weeks, guilt tall weeds in her yard making the neighbors wonder.  One of the people in the article also pared her kitchen down to 4 plates and 2 pots.  But since I like to cook, and when you share it with others, it's an experience, I don't think that's where my downsizing will go.   It was a great article and I encourage you to think on what you could minimize in order to maximize happiness.

The summer happiness countdown continues....
#45 Wine Time
#46 Annual Yard Game Olympics (and hasta luego)
#47 Patio Parties
#48 Spontaneous road trips that include gelato and fried pickles (see previous post)
#49 Co-workers who buy you coffee AND workday visits to the Denver Cupcake Truck
#50 Other peoples kids - not going to lie.  They are cute for a short period of time. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Spontaneous Sunday Road Trip

It could become a series, "The Salisbury Sisters Spontaneous _______", because that's how it always seems to happen.  We had been idly talking about going into the mountains this summer, but it had not happened yet.  So, the conversation was maybe we'll go to Winter Park, since I'd never been there.   In pictures, here is the long and scenic Sunday trip we took yesterday.

It started with a stop in Idaho Springs a little after noon.  Maybe we'll get some ice cream, or some chocolate.  Who knows?  For fun and witty gifts, two shops in Idaho Springs get a shout-out: The Wild Grape and Margie's Place.   Don't be surprised if your Christmas gift is purchased there.   Summer in small mountain towns is not complete without stopping for fudge, taffy or ice cream.  

Our road trip in pictures

Miner's Decadence Chocolates for gelato
We continued up US 40 towards Winter Park, climbing 11,000+ feet over Berthoud Pass.   Along the way was a waterfall sighting.

After perusing lunch options in Winter Park and the towns following, we opted for the tried and true method.   Which parking lot has a lot of cars?   So we ate in Granby at Maverick's Grille.

Maverick's has award winning guacamole.  Which I enjoyed on what may now be considered the World's Biggest Club Sandwich.   So big that when then brought it to the table and my eyes got wide, a guest at another table flagged the server down just to make sure that there were small sandwiches available than what was presently in front of me.  We also enjoyed fried cactus and pickles.

After seeing the traffic heading down towards I-70 we pondered "is there another route back to Denver that doesn't involve sitting dead still on the interstate?"  The answer is yes.  So continuing to explore new areas of Colorado, we headed up to Grand Lake.

Colorado doesn't have a lot of big bodies of water, so Grand Lake was a beautiful sight.  We stopped at the Grand Lake Lodge, home of "Colorado's Favorite Front Porch" to take in the views.  
We continued on into Rocky Mountain National Park.  It was late afternoon so we had hopes of seeing wildlife.   We lucked out with a moose sighting in one of the meadows.

The moose was far away, enjoying nature, so I have no pictures.  
So, in smaller wildlife news, we saw a very cute chipmunk.

At the viewpoint on Trail Ridge Road we saw the most amazing rainbow!

The last stop on our trip was Estes Park.  EP may have more ice cream and fudge stores per capita than any other touristy town in Colorado.   I do love the cookie sandwiches at Grandma's Mountain Cookies, but enjoyed the coffee and ambiance at the Longs Peak Coffee and Paper House.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fyne Tyme

The are certain reqirements for Renaissance Festival spelling and signage.  It includes a lot of "y".  Such as Fry.  Or Tyme.  Regardless.  Saturday we went to the Colorado Renaissance Festival.   It was my first visit there.   The only other one I've ever been to is the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Wisconsin.   They are similar in the respect that the park has permanent fixtures - stages, jousting areas, food outlets, shops, etc.   You couldn't really use it for anything else other times of the year.  It is an excuse to embrace your inner wench, pirate, knight, or lord/lady of the realm.   Those in some kind of costume outnumber those in flipflops and shorts.  If you didn't wear even a renaissance accessory, you will be compelled to buy something.   We opted for flower garlands (that will serve a double purpose at the upcoming yard game olympics).  The entertainment is a lot of fun ~ audience participation, heckling and insults are mandatory.  Some of the fun shows we saw were the Washing Well Wenches, Charming & Dashing,  Flourish & Fool and the German Brothers.   We are still quoting lines from the German Brothers German Comedy Rap Show.   

Did you know that the Ren Faire caused me to meet one of my neighbors.  Sunday morning he is out in the driveway in costume (including a hat with a feather).   It started a good 10 minute conversation!

Not quite a damsel in distress
The highlight of all Ren Faires...the Giant Turkey Leg

The comedic stylings of the Washing Well Wenches

Fyne Tyme Update
#41 South Pacific at the DCPA
#42 Another farmer's market adventure
#43 Renaissance Festival
#44 a Massage!


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