Mountain Maven here. It’s official. We are launching this little blog. There is so much to tell from our little mountain town. We are less than a week away from the holiday extravaganza that happens here once a year. Last year was our first time experiencing the holiday parade here in Lyons, Colorado. I have never seen so many twinkling Jeep Wrangler Rubicons in my life, but this is a mountain town, so that’s how they roll. No pun intended.
We roll in many ways, and while we have a Jeep, it’s not a Rubicon. Any mountain trail stuff we do is all about hiking trails with our kids and dog and fishing. Here at home, we are busy doing some making, because this is a blog about making and living in a small foothills town of the Rocky Mountains. I am busy learning the art of wet felting and gathering supplies for my little garage studio. Soon, my busy teaching semesters will end, and I will turn to practicing the art of making throughout the holiday break.
I got my Christmas present a bit early. It’s a sewing machine. I have always wanted one that works. I grew up making, but not sewing, though I watched my mother sew so many beautiful dresses, including all my gorgeous dresses for formal dances. For her, sewing and making clothes were skills she learned as a child growing up in Sicily. I learned fractions and the art of killing time at the beach with friends. Still, all that fabric piled in the sewing machine that sat in the kitchen left an impression, and I did do a like stitch work as a kid, lots of it. I was the kid who was always using my hands to make something. If my mom gave me a needlepoint for Christmas, I finished it by spring. Making and creating has always been a part of who I am, even if I did spend more time at the beach.
While I have been busy making and creating, the Chef has been busy recreating. It goes without saying that the Chef likes food. I can’t keep him out of the cookies. His latest experiment has been to create the pork green chili sauce he tasted at a couple little dining spots in Denver. As we transition here to our new life in the foothills, we have pulled together whatever kind of work we can find at the moment. We are most definitely “gig economy” people right now. It keeps the lights on, and it offers the Chef opportunities to meet interesting people and to find the kind of little hole-in-the-wall or not so hole-in-the-wall places where he likes to try food. The pork green chili sauce obsession began with his stops at two places in the Denver area, El Taco de Mexico, where he likes the burrito topped with pork green chili sauce, and The Original Chubbys, where he tasted his first Pueblo Slopper (a burger smothered with green chili sauce). When the Chef gets something in his head, there is no getting it out until he makes it. Sometimes, I get to go on the adventures to source everything he needs for whatever dish he is curious about at the moment. Sometimes, he finds things on his own. This time, he found a place to source the Pueblo chilies he was looking for. This was all while he was planning a to brine and smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving on the side, but the oh so important University of Michigan and Ohio State football rivalry requires almost as much food prep as any holiday as far as he is concerned, so this year it was pork green chili sauce over burritos for the big rivalry.
I, too, was busy doing my part for all the holidays. The Chef and I make a good team. He’s got the meals down while I supply the dessert. This year, I took a minute to learn another tradition from my mother, the art of making her fabulous cannoli. It was a pastry that graced every childhood holiday meal I can remember. My mother’s cannoli are the stuff of legend (ask any of our old neighborhood friends back in Michigan and they’ll agree). It’s long past time I learn the fine art of making them. Most of the labor is in the making of the shells. Before my parents retired, my mother would spend an entire Saturday making 250 shells by herself so my dad could take some to work and she could take some to the school where she taught art and we could still have enough left over for the many holiday gatherings ahead. My sister and I helped her some as we got older, but mostly I just helped press and cut the dough. This time, I did some actual frying of the shells. We did about 80 shells together and I was beat. I have a new appreciation for all that my mother has always done to make our lives rich and festive.
That’s about all I have for now. It’s time to walk the dog and get my daily dose of the fresh mountain air.