The winter settled in, and after weeks of snow, we begin to feel the icy flakes making their way into our bones. The sterile beauty of snow-covered everything is something with which I constantly battle. Today, the happy Colorado sun took a day off, and the strong winds blow the smell of cow manure and deep humidity. I sit in my office, coffee in hand, with the company of Mozart’s music, while my boys take a nap after a warm and hearty lunch. I turn to food for comfort, like we all do, and find the warmth of a busy kitchen soothing. One of my favorite things to cook on cold days is stews, of any kind, chicken, pork, vegetarian, but today we had lamb with root vegetables. This recipe is easy, delicious and fills every crevice of the house with smiles. Continue reading Lamb Stew with Root Vegetables
I have never been a huge fan of pancakes, too much fluff for too little flavor, unless, of course, I cover them with mounts of butter and syrup. Also, the amount of dairy they carry is sometimes more than what my lactose intolerance can take. For years I avoided making this morning treat at the expense of my husband’s happiness, who loves them, until I saw a recipe for Pumpkin pancakes on a Martha Stewart’s website. First, I substituted the moo’s milk for soy, but felt they still needed something. More spices went into the mix the second time, and a bit more pumpkin, and they were much better. However, for a breakfast item I wanted more protein and fiber, so I decided to play around with the amount of pumpkin and by adding more protein to the milk by blending it with cooked quinoa. Continue reading Dairy Free Pumpkin and Quinoa Pancakes
The living room feels empty, a funny idea since it is like that for eleven months out of the year. The tree is now gone, and with it left the holiday season. I love the holidays but I realized this year that I follow no traditions. Wait, let’s try that again, I don’t follow many traditions. Alright, try again. I follow just a few traditions for the holidays. The tree is my favorite one. I love taking the dusty box out of the basement and the multiple boxes of ornaments, I know what you are thinking “No real tree?” no, not here. In Colombia, where I grew up, the tree was a plastic apparatus kept in an attic, or if you were rich then a new one came every year carrying all the new decorations, like in fashion. But that is not the kind of tree I love. I love our tree, the one filled with memories of generations past, of places we have been lucky to visit, and of dear friends who have contributed with ornaments that tell who we were at the time and who we have become. Continue reading French Cassoulet and The Holiday Season
The roots came out of the ground like fingers trying to catch my feet. The air was heavy with the fog, so dense it sat on our shoulders like a mystical blanket. It was early morning on a Monday on our trip of the Oregon coast. My husband had arranged a camping trip to Cape Lookout, on the remote Pacific Northwest, and a hike up the 10-mile trail. Personally, I used to not be one to love this camping or hiking business, especially after a night of heavy wine drinking of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noir, but somethings are better learned late than never.
I kept my sunglasses on as even the tiny trickle of light coming through the trees hurt. But the light didn’t feel real, from the moment we stepped on the dirt path the world changed. The colors were fresh. The green had many shades, it was hard to capture through the lens of the camera their true majesty. The thick air mystically hiding the ocean behind it as we walked the muddy pathways unaware of the steep sides next to us.
It was evident that at any second a fairy was coming out of the hanging ferns to guide us to the princess guarding this land, mother earth I imagine, in hopes of getting inside information about a species irrational enough to have destroyed many other sites like this. There were no signs of civilization, it was like being in one of The Hobbit movies where the landscapes are inexplicably enchanted it makes our hearts weep a little.
Half way up the hike, as the pathway turned, we encountered a green canopy with massive roots crawling out of the earth and soft leaves hanging from the branches. Our brains, intoxicated by the smell of wet earth and ethereally clean air. Life stopped for what felt like hours as we stood there, jaw hanging, taking in the gifts we have been so blind to appreciate. I don’t know if I was still drunk or if indeed I had just witnessed a true wonder of the world – of life.
As we walked up the path, my mind kept fixating on the news of the five millions pieces of plastic clogging the oceans. The endless amounts of pollution — in the air, in our lives. The purity of this place, like a baby’s first smile, its innocence has no chance; is it here where we all come from? The path came out from the deep forest into an opening revealing the vast ocean. The sun still trapped behind some clouds, the sound of the birds flying over the waters trying to catch some lunch.
We sat at the end of the path, in a little corner covered by bushes and pee smell [a great way to ruin the romanticism of my memories] which forced us to leave and find another less fragrant spot. My hangover was gone, thankfully, as we sat on a cliff with our legs hanging over the rocks and our gaze lost in the horizon.
We landed in Portland at 10:30 am on a Friday, where the plans had us spending two days before traveling to the Oregon coast. There was no time to spare and the adventures started as soon as we got the rental car. *Columbia River Gorge: A 20 minute ride from the airport on I-84, it was the best way to start falling in love with Portland. A dear friend, who used to live in the city, told me that this was a-must-visit place, and I’m glad she did! At first the GPS couldn’t figure out where we wanted to go and kept thinking we were going to Washington State, I was a bit worried myself with the ticking clock telling us we only had two days in this city and here we were driving away from it. Once we found the sign for the scenic road the mood changed. The road narrowed and took us under a green canopy of ferns and mossy trees as we drove to Multnomah, the most popular of the waterfalls. After 20 minutes driving around looking for a parking spot lurking behind those walking from the visitor center to their cars, we began our ascend to the top of the falls. It was a solid incline full of impossibly beautiful vistas and hyperventilating visitors. There are many other falls along the road, prompting us to think of “a next time.” *Division Street: Through VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owners) we found a place two blocks away from this happening street for $100 a night. Continue reading Two days in Portland, Oregon
Traveling to Champagne allowed me to immerse ourselves in the place holding many traditions. Walking in the dark caves where it all started centuries ago took us back in time. The dusty, wet smell of earth, the dimmed lights, and the heavy history flowing through the walls. Champagne was always a mystery to me. I had many questions, and could never remember the intricate process, the history behind it, and the technicalities of an old tradition.
To see the old equipment used to make the bubbly wine and to hear the stories of the ancient Roman civilization, who initially planted the vines, and the Catholic Church monks who took it upon themselves to farm and care for the vines, and also became avid winemakers.
Continue reading Champagne, The Beginning of the Bubble
“We are running out of gas!” Were my husband’s words when we were traveling from Reims, in the Champagne region of France, to Luxemburg. We had already stopped at two gas stations in small towns along the way without a chance to use cash or our credit cards. The scenic route was a great way to avoid the main highway’s many tolls and flying trucks. The foggy morning kept following us with a light sprinkle of rain, making the already green and yellow landscape endlessly breathless; I was, however, not ready to spend the day hitchhiking in the middle of rural France. It was the Sunday before labor day, if only we had realized earlier that most countries celebrate labor day on May 1, which yielded us the pleasure of finding entire towns closed down for the weekend. Many gas stations along the highways have attendants who help with foreign credit cards or cash payments, but they were all closed and the payment machine took only French credit cards. Continue reading Champagne, The Place and The Wine
Early in the morning the town of Salento sits quiet, at 9200 ft., overlooked by mountains. The green air flows through my hair and leaves a chill on my skin like cool vapor. I walk down snapping pictures of the houses. Pink and white; blue and green; red and yellow, and down main street each house wears its best suit, like tropical birds smiling at the camera. Continue reading Salento, Colombia
The ten minute ride from Salento makes Cocora Valley a destination for peace lovers unaware of the stream of tourist along the only parking spot available at the end of the driving road. My family, eager to get on the horses,jump out of the car like the most wonderful adventure awaits them. Continue reading Cocora Valley, Colombia