Thursday, August 27, 2015

Week 1: Empty Nesting


We've been Empty Nesters for one whole week.  Baby boy left for college a week ago.  I "liked" the University of Northern Colorado" page on Facebook which gives me a bit of insight as to what is going on on campus.  From the looks of it, the first weekend was one big "fun fest".  On Saturday, I sent a text to Zach on his cell phone to ask him if he was in the photo above.  This is the reply we got Sunday morning.  
 
Hey sorry I haven't texted.  Yeah. I'm in each of the letters wearing a gray shirt. I got a concussion last night and was in the hospital but everything is ok and I'm back on campus. I'll call you guys later this afternoon when I meet back up with my friends and they'll tell you what happened cuz  I don't remember .  I took a nasty spill and I'm having a lot of trouble remembering basic things.

Nice text for a parent to get from their freshman, right? 

Apparently Zach was at the fun fest and was playing on one of those bouncy house things in the back ground in the following two photos.  He said he jumped down the slide and missed the slide altogether, crashing into one of his new friends with his head. 
 


Scary to hear of this and difficult to be so far away and not see him in person to see if he is really okay!  So the first week was off to a rough start. 

Classes started Monday.  It's hard to not be a Mom.
"Did you pick up your parking permit?"
"Did you get your textbooks?"
"Have you unpacked yet?"
I am trying to not meddle.

While Zach is away at school adjusting to his new world as a college student, we are adjusting to our new world as Empty Nesters.  So far, so good!  My husband has been making good strides trying to lose some weight this summer so we are trying to not eat out too much.  This afternoon, we splurged a bit and we went up to Old Colorado City and one of our very favorite restaurants:  Jake and Telly's.  It's a Greek Restaurant.


We shared this appetizer which is a great way to sample many items on the menu. We also split an entrée which was a Gyro Platter.  It was gyro meat over a bed of sautéed cabbage, kale, and red potatoes.  I neglected to snap a photo of the gyro platter; we dove right in before I thought to take a photo.


We sat out on the balcony, overlooking town below. After dinner, we looked around at some of the shops in the area. It was a very nice afternoon.





Monday, August 17, 2015

A Night on the Town in Denver


WYNCOOP BREWING COMPANY 

A few posts back I mentioned our trip to the big city (Denver) over Memorial Day weekend. It's almost Labor Day and I haven't gotten around to finishing telling about it.   

After walking around downtown all afternoon, our feet were tired. We stopped at Wynkoop Brewing Company. I loved the old building (photo above) with high ceilings, detailed crown moldings, and stamped tin ceiling. 

Wynkoop Brewing Company was founded by Colorado's Govenor, John Hickenlooper, in the late 1980's.  The beer was refreshing, but drinking in the afternoon goes against my "don't drink before 8:00 pm" rule. It makes me sleepy. 


We left Wyncoop's to have dinner. There were all kinds of steak and seafood places nearby. We had eyed a steakhouse about a block away. 

"Morton's: The Steakouse" had their menu posted in the window. The first thing I read was "Filet Mignon... $62".  We made a u-turn and went back to Wyncoop's for burgers and fries. Yep, I'm a cheap date. 


Turns out walking on asphalt and concrete is tough on our legs; we walk our dogs a few miles each day on dirt paths, but are not accustomed to such hard surfaces. Our legs were tired. We found ourselves back in our hotel room at 7:30 pm.  Party animals... NOT!

We decided staying in before 8:00 pm and not taking advantage of being downtown would be really pathetic and lame. So we headed to "The Cruise Room" which is a bar off the hotel's lobby. I have never seen a place like this. 

Photo above is from the Oxford Hotel website. 

The entire room had a peachy-pink glow. There are no windows in the room. The walls were lined with these Art Deco plaster panels (below). If you did not know better, you might think you'd been transported to a swanky bar in Miami in the 1920's.  The hotel staff tell folks this bar opened the day after Prohinition ended in 1933, but it was easy to imagine this place as a Speakeasy during Prohibition. 


I have not had drinks like this before. 
The menu really is white but the room's lighting colored the menu this way. 



I went for a Red Widow which is described below if you can make it out. Yep!  Those are pickled jalapeño slices floating in my cocktail!  The ingredients include peach vodka, champagne, elderflower liqueur, and jalapeño juice. Wild, right?  It was a strong drink and quite spicy. 


I found this little tidbit on the Oxford Hotel  website:  

"We have ghosts. You may see one in The Cruise Room on a snowy night. Don’t worry they’re friendly."


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chickpea Curry









Chickpea Curry
Pretty, huh?



Oh my, where have I been?
What have I been doing?


When there is a large span of time and I don't post a recipe on this here cooking blog, my dad starts to ask me if maybe I have just been feeding my family food from McDonalds!

Yes, it's been a busy summer. I can't say it's any one thing that has had me busy, but it's been busy.  We have been eating out a little too often and I have been cooking less.  My baby boy had a full-time job this summer so it does feel like I have been cooking for him a whole lot less. 

My husband has been trying to lose a little weight this summer. I just can't muster up the motivation to change my eating habits much. I've worried about what I eat for the better part of 40 years. I am over it.  I try to eat pretty healthy and watch my portions, exercise regularly, etc.  When my husband announced that he just wanted to eat watermelon and protein this week (pretty much go on a low carb diet for a week or two), I knew I was on my own for some meals.  The Pioneer Woman had this recipe on her blog the other day and I grabbed the ingredients at the store so I could make this for myself.  I am glad I did. 




Chickpea Curry by Ree Drummond (www.thepioneerwoman.com)


2 cups Basmati rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced fine
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons curry powder, any variety (next time I'll double the curry powder)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup vegetable stock (I used chicken stock)
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk (I opted for lite coconut milk)
1 tablespoon honey, more to taste
1 tablespoon Sriracha or hot sauce (I left this out, my Sriracha expired in 2013... doh!)
lime wedges, for serving (optional)... I had none
cilantro leaves, for garnish


Cook the basmati rice according to the package instructions.



Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions, season with salt

and pepper and cook for a few minutes, until the onions are soft and starting to turn

golden. Sprinkle in the curry powder and garlic and stir, cooking for another minute or

so. Pour in the vegetable stock and stir to scrape up all the brown bits in the pan. Add

the coconut milk, honey and a squirt of sriracha. Bring to a boil, add the chickpeas,

reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding

more salt, honey, or Sriracha (or lime juice, if using).



Serve the curry over the rice. Garnish with the cilantro.


************
I ended up thickening up my sauce at the end with a little slurry of cornstarch and water.  Maybe my sauce needed a bit of thickening since I used lite coconut milk instead of regular.  Next time I make this, I will use at least 3 (maybe 4) teaspoons of curry powder.  Also, I think this would be really good with chicken thighs in place of the chickpeas). I used organic chickpeas in my recipe and I found the chickpeas to be a little too firm. 




Sunday, June 14, 2015

Saturday Drive


I keep meaning to post a bit more about our trip to Denver a few weeks back but I think the pretty weather we are having is keeping me from doing that.  We decided to take a drive yesterday (Saturday). It's been a rainy spring here so things here are VERY green. We drove from Canon City, Colorado, to Salida, Colorado.  We mostly took unpaved roads on the way to Salida, but on the way home back to Canon City, we stayed on Highway 50.  Both routes are beautiful.  Highway 50 between Salida and Canon City follows the Arkansas River though a canyon known as Big Horn Sheep Canyon.  No big horn sheep spottings for us on the drive, but I took a few photos of some beautiful alpine wildflowers and the pretty scenery along the way.






Doh! Photo bombed by a Labradoodle.




Above:  The aspens are still looking a little scrawny, but I liked the blue sky in this photo. 






Above:  Looking sort of west.

The snow-capped Collegiate Peaks are in the distance. I don't know which peak is which, but they are named Mt. Harvard, Mt. Yale, Mt. Princeton... you get the idea.




Above:  Looking sort of south (and playing with the filters on my iPhone).

Below:  Looking sort of north.









Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Oxford Hotel, Denver, Colorado




I mentioned in a prior post that my husband and I took a quick trip to Denver, Colorado, over Memorial Day Weekend.  My husband suggested we use www.hotwire.com to get a room at a good rate. I've been hearing Hotwire advertisements for years but did not understand how it worked.  You input where you want to stay, you can read the hotel reviews, but you don't actually know where you will be staying until you book it.  It also appears you can't cancel your reservations, nor can you get your money back, but the perk is that you get a really reduced rate on your hotel.  We made a reservation and were told we'd be staying in The Oxford Hotel.  The reviews were good and the place had a rating of 4 1/2 stars so I wasn't too worried.





Let me tell you... we lucked out! This place was fantastic! 



The Oxford Hotel was built in 1890, and is located right by the Union Station (old train station) in lower downtown Denver (also referred to "LoDo").  The area is within walking distance of Coor's Stadium where the Denver Rockies play (baseball).  There are great restaurants and brew pubs in LoDo. We were just one block from the 16th Street Mall area in Denver.  The 16th Street Mall area is a pedestrian-only area where folks can walk from shop to shop. There are lots of sidewalk cafes and it's great for people watching.  Comic Con was going on in Denver over Memorial Day Weekend, so the people watching was especially fun! 






I never imagined I would get such a kick out of an old historic hotel. Above, you can see the room key.  Yep, and old fashioned room key with a fancy tassel attached.




Above, you can see Charlie, the yellow canary in the hotel's lobby right by the front desk.  The hotel has always had a yellow canary in the front lobby, according to the hotel staff.  Years ago, miners took canaries into mines to alert miners about carbon monoxide in the mines.  The Oxford Hotel had a canary in the lobby of the hotel for the same concerns.  Now Charlie sits by the front desk to carry on the tradition.  The hotel staff also told me that when miners came to stay at the Oxford Hotel years ago, the miners' canaries and the hotel canary were allowed to socialize.  Sweet!

Below, you can see a photo of all the key rings with tassels.  This is the area right behind the lobby's front desk.  When you come and go from the hotel, you leave your key with the front desk staff. I have a few more fun things to share about the Oxford Hotel but I'll save that for another day. 



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Denver Botanic Gardens






 
We took a quick trip to Denver this past weekend. It felt as if we were gone for days since we packed in so many things. 


I will share a bit about our trip in no particular order. We visited the Denver Botanic Gardens for the first time. It's quite nice. Last year, at the Botanic Gardens, they had a Chihuly Art Glass exhibit and I heard it was spectacular (you can see photos of that exhibit by clicking HERE).  Above is a photo of a Chihuly piece which is now a permanent exhibit at the Botanic Gardens. 




By the time we got to the Botanic Gardens, our feet were pretty tired. I snapped a just few photos indoors in the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. 














The photo above looked like a plant from a Dr. Seuss book!






Friday, May 15, 2015

Backyard Flowers




We added some flowers to the pergola in the backyard there's a tomato plant out there too. Our lawn is looking lovely. We've had a rainy spring.