Five Days in Colorado

fall bridge in colorado

Well, I’m back, as promised, with a lot to tell you about a beautiful, beautiful state I wish I could live in year-round, one that captured my heart with its larger-than-life mountains and golden aspens and friendly people and better traffic and meal after meal! after meal! of incredible food.

The truth is, after five days of bakeries, restaurants, sightseeing, walking—and, of course, the mountains! oh my gosh, the mountains!—I got pretty comfortable out west. I kept telling my friends Wendi and Michele, whom I traveled with, that with every new place we visited, Chicago became more blah. I mean, what have we got? The skyline? Let me tell you, while we were descending over the Windy City Monday afternoon, the John Hancock building had nothing on the Rockies. NOTHING.

rockies

What with the series of trips this year (Washington D.C., Wisconsin, Maine), I should be used to detaching from a place when it’s time to come home. But instead, all that’s been running through my mind lately are thoughts like, why wouldn’t you live somewhere that offers 300 days of sunshine? Near garden of the gods? Surrounded by snow-capped mountains? Where there is no end of good food or natural beauty, with less congestion and plenty of places to park downtown (as long as you have quarters)?

Oh, take me back, Colorado. Take me back.

mountains

So. While I work on remembering all the good things about This Place Where I Live, let me tell you all the amazing things about That Other One That I Love, you know, just in case you ever get to go there, and I hope you do, but more than that, I hope you BRING ME WITH YOU!

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Mae Bird: Lemon Poppy-Seed Bread

Not long after discovering Mae Bird, I realized something: I want to go everywhere Amanda takes pictures of and eat everything she cooks. Her photography and stories are truly captivating, so I am thrilled to close out our series of guest posts with this recipe from her!

I feel the transition happening outside, summer to fall, and it is so welcome. The nights are getting cooler, the breeze is coming in, and I swear I can smell it. (Yes, autumn has a smell, I can’t describe, but I recognize it.) Here comes the season of apples, squashes, hot meals and baking — when turning on the oven is actually welcomed and comforting, comforting like a freshly baked treat, cooling on a windowsill.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Speaking of baking, I have a not-so-secret confession.

I can’t get myself to follow directions when baking. Does anyone else have this problem? I’m not alone, right?

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

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Happy Jack Eats: Tomato, plain and tall

I am particularly excited about today’s guest post because Jacqui isn’t just one of my favorite food bloggers—she’s one of my favorite writers, one of my favorite eaters, one of my favorite people. She also lives very close by, so I get to hang out with her sometimes, and that’s very fine.

Before I start rambling on about food, I’d just like to thank Shannalee for inviting me into this lovely space she has. If you don’t know her personally, you probably should, because she really is one of a kind. The kind that you can meet just once and know that yes, we’ll be good friends, I can tell.

Now, about these tomatoes.

tomatoes

They were from my future sister-in-law’s garden, and as soon as I laid eyes on them, I knew we’d be friends, too. These were not your perfectly round, fit-in-the-palm-of-your-hand, flawless tomatoes that shimmer in piles at the grocery store. No, these were large and awkward, so wide that they curled up at the ends, as if trying to look like any other tomato but failing miserably.

I couldn’t help but think of someone very tall who slouches in order to appear shorter. And I thought that that’s a shame because no one should have to hold back from standing tall and proud, just to fit in with everyone else. I hate to sound cliché and tell you that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but when cutting through those tomatoes, it just couldn’t get much simpler than that. The flesh was bright and meaty, almost sighing with relief as juice spilled across the cutting board. As if they had been holding back so much and finally had a chance to give.

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Eat Make Read: Arepas

Today’s guest post comes from Kelly of Eat Make Read, a blog I’ve been loving for more than a year now! In addition to her clean layout and beautifully photographed posts, Kelly has a knack for picking recipes I want to try (case in point: apple chips, orange coconut silver dollar pancakes, homemade ketchup). I am so happy to be able to feature her here today!

emr_arepas_01

Hi there! I’m kelly of eatmakeread. I’m thrilled to be guest posting for Shannalee. I’m also pretty excited about this recipe for arepas. One of my favorite weekly activities is going to my local farmers market and seeing all the lovely fruits and vegetables local farmers have grown. I am constantly amazed at how incredible and varied produce can be. Lately I’ve been really into corn… cornbread, corn cakes, corn pudding, you name it, I want it. So when Mark Bittman wrote about arepas a few weeks ago, you can bet I got busy whipping up a batch.

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These arepas are a great recipe to make after a long day at work because they’re easy to make, super fresh and oh-so-delicious, plus chances are you’ll have leftovers for the next days lunch. Simply make the batter, let it sit for about 15 minutes (may I recommend sitting down with a glass of wine and relaxing), and then you’re ready to go.

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My First Kitchen: On Cooking

You are in for such a treat with this beautifully written post from Kendra of My First Kitchen! I don’t even remember how I first found Kendra’s blog last year, but I have read every post since, both because the recipes are so approachable and because she is a true kindred spirit. She shares a passion for the important stuff—you know, like back-and-forth e-mails discussing LOST episodes, of which we have traded many. Side note: if you are in the North Carolina area, she teaches cooking classes (!), and I envy everyone of you who goes. Kendra, come to Chicago!

kendra

I used to take myself way too seriously. Like waaaaay too seriously. I made lists about everything. I made lists about what I should make lists about. I documented how well I did on sticking with my list and berated myself if I didn’t completely follow through. Everything was quantified and justified and rationalized. Then the guilt started.

In all honesty, it’s not terribly calming to live life where you experience some measure of guilt everyday from self-inflicted tasks and self-inflicted consequences. It’s pretty exhausting actually. I got tired of being the drill sergeant to myself… and yelling in my own face proved to be quite difficult. I lived most of my life that way, and it’s a tough habit to break. I didn’t leave myself any room to fail, and anything close to not doing what I arbitrarily intended equaled failure.

The one place where I seemed to allow myself freedom to fail was in my kitchen. When I cook, I can’t go wrong. Sure, I make food that doesn’t taste as good as I had hoped, but I don’t beat myself up over it. I laugh, eat it anyway, and think about the next thing I get to cook. Why do I give myself such freedom with food? For a long time, I didn’t experience that anywhere else, but I knew that was the feeling I wanted to permeate my life.

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Sprouted Kitchen: Lemon Asparagus Risotto

I am so honored to have our first guest post be from the lovely Sara of Sprouted Kitchen! From the first moment I saw her blog, I was hooked. The recipes focus on whole, clean cooking that celebrates the purity and natural flavors of foods, and the photographs by Hugh Forte are beyond breathtaking. Just take a look at what she’s provided below, and you’ll see what I mean—oh, and, do stop over at her amazing site!

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