Mountain Maven here, I guess this is the little blog that could. We are slowly getting the word out and plan to kick 2019 off with regular posts. For now, we are closing in on the end of 2018, and while we did not blog a lot in 2018, we did do quite a bit of living. So, I guess as a way to say farewell to 2018 and to welcome 2019 and our hopes and dreams for this little blog, I will share our year in review.
We ended our first year and started our second year in our foothills town. The setting and the people here constantly inspire us. The Chef gets to fish quite a bit here. The river is only steps away and he has fished quite a bit, either out the door or up the canyon some. His fishing buddy from back home stopped in and it was kind of like the old says, except the river they fished was a mountain river.
I officially released my first book of poems “The Persistence of a Bathing Suit” earlier in the year at the Lyons Regional Library, our town library, and a bit later helped celebrate the town’s history in poems as a featured reader of historical poems tied to the town. I have never felt so much love for poetry from a small town. I even joined a circle of poets that publishes poems monthly on a rotating basis in one of the local newspapers. It’s a town of musicians, artists, and poets, and I feel right at home.
Music and Adventure
This year was the first year The Chef and I actually took in a day of music at a bluegrass festival and it was within walking distance of our home. We attended what was my first RockyGrass Festival. The Chef had been a few times back when he lived in Colorado some 15 years ago. Sam Bush headlined that day. We heard so much amazing music that day played by so many talented and wonderful musicians, including David Grisman and a wonderful group of women that included Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, and Allison Brown, among others. We did some other staycation stuff as well. We are fortunate to live in a place where we can find all kinds of cool stuff to do and see not so far from home. We are not that far from all kinds of wonderful hiking areas, including Brainard Lake Recreation Area. Butch, our old labrashepherd loves to hike the trails around here. He’s a happy old walking dog. We also made a few jaunts up the canyon to Estes Park. My favorite was going the day after Thanksgiving with my mom. It was a festive way to spend the busiest shopping day of the year.
Of course, we did explore other places as well. Our son trekked from San Francisco out to see us as he does about once a year. We took the whole family up to Aspen for an overnight excursion. The highlight, of course, was visiting the Maroon Bells. We took a quick peek at the town of Aspen itself, but found the Woody Creek Tavern, a rustic saloon outside of Aspen where Hunter S. Thompson was known to hang out at, to be more our speed.
As always, there is wonderful food being made here throughout the year. The Chef loves to experiment and try new things, and there is always a process involved. I always add dessert to the mix. This year, we grilled out by the river for our daughter’s birthday. He made her favorite shrimp Alfredo with shrimp grilled on the community charcoal grill. I finished it off with my version of Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar Birthday Cake. The cake itself had more of a cookie consistency, but that’s because I’m still getting used to baking at altitude. The Chef didn’t let our 14th anniversary pass by without our traditional scallop dish. I discovered the easiest and best homemade pizza dough recipe is a Giada De Laurentiis recipe I found on Epicurious. We have since made quite a few different pizzas. The Chef likes to try all kind of things from beets to caramelized onions. His visiting fishing buddy most definitely appreciated our homemade pizza. One of his big food projects for the year was making his own ramen dish. That meant an excursion to the Asian market in Boulder and a couple other places to get all of the supplies. I enjoy these little mini adventures. Another food project this year was the pork green chili sauce I did write about in the last post. Both were fantastic, though the latter I learned through word of mouth since I don’t eat pork. I spent some baking time reconnecting to my childhood through sweet foods I used to eat as a kid. Maybe it’s a turning 50 thing. Anyway, for my 50th birthday I made myself a version of the classic Sanders Bumpy Cake my grandma used to buy for us all the time. That and the Bill Knapp’s chocolate cake were delights I always looked forward to as a kid. As a way to connect with my own Sicilian heritage through food, because food was really how I always connected to it growing up, I also set about making my mother’s famous cannoli. That, too, is a process that involves spending at least a full afternoon making only the shells. I learned the gentle art of cooking them just so they are golden. I also learned to make my own ricotta because it is sacrilege to use the packaged stuff. This was yet another process that involved watching the candy thermometer carefully for what felt like a really long time. This watched pot was not supposed to boil and by golly it did not boil. Ultimately, I succeeded in making the cheese and the cannoli.
Food has become a central focus of my writing as of late. As I told the folks at a local poetry reading just recently, I am exploring the same themes I have always explored. I am just adding food to the mix. Beyond food, I have set about on a making frenzy. I acquired a sewing machine for Christmas and already have made a handy needle case for my knitting needles, and I am experimenting with wet felting techniques. I am also writing. Creativity is just something we do around here. As we look forward to the new year, I hope to fill it with more poetry, more food, and more making. Our best to you all in 2019.