Monday, August 6, 2012

NIce to see you again

Hello, friends. Guess what? I moved to Colorado!! I’ve lived in a handful of choice places in my young life – Mendocino, Portland, Santa Barbara, San Francisco – but this is my first time living anywhere so far from the West coast. I now reside in the town of Boulder, CO, and I still can’t quite believe I’m here. I'll always be a California girl at heart, but I'm going to try out being a Colorado resident, and see how it goes. I'm hoping for the best! I moved here with my sister, and we got a pretty sweet spot, if you ask me (thank you, Kyla). We even have a gas stove and loads of counter space (two things that are surprisingly hard to find). Moving was quite the ordeal, and I'm still dealing with the toll it took on me physically, but being here makes it all seem worth it. 



While it’s been challenging adjusting to the weather here, I've been having fun exploring this new place. It's funny because when I visited last November to check out the city and look for apartments, it was snowy and freezing, which everyone told us hardly ever happened (seriously?). Then when we arrived in June, it was crazy hot! And there were wildfires! Of course, everyone has been telling us it never gets this hot. Then there are these thunderstorms here that seem to start out of the blue, with lightening like I’ve never seen it before. Anyhow, the skies are very dramatic here, and it can be both disconcerting and strangely exciting at the same time. They're always changing, and often beautiful.


I started cooking about a week after we got here, and I haven’t slowed down much since, even with the heat. The farmer’s market here is great, and the size sort of reminds me of the one in Santa Barbara I used to go to. In fact, Boulder reminds me of Santa Barbara in other ways too, apart from the weather. Pearl street downtown is like Santa Barbara’s State Street, and where in SoCal you have the beach/surf culture, here you have the mountain/snow/outdoor culture. Both are food-centric, health-conscious places, and both are college towns. Both have an laid-back but upscale vibe, at least in certain areas. So it feels a bit familiar here, yet completely new - I like that. 



My first forays into high-altitude baking have been interesting, but most have been relatively successful. When I first read about all the adjustments you have to make at 3,000 feet and above (we’re at about 5,500), I got a little freaked out, but as I said I haven’t had too many disasters thus far. Recipes just require a little bit of tweaking, that’s all. The blueberry muffins I tried from the Joy the Baker Cookbook came out great, as did some oat raspberry ginger scones, and a French yogurt cake that I made exactly four years ago for my food writing class at UCSB. Once again, the center of the cake fell as soon as I took it out of the oven, but it was still delicious - intensely lemony and delicately fragrant. 


I’ve also been doing a lot of non-cooking, that is, making various frozen delights (ice creams, sorbets, popsicles, etc) and a few drinks. Let me just say that if you have yet had a Mojito in your life, you best make it happen, and soon. You need mint, limes, white rum, simple syrup and ice, so start making a list. Lemonade is always appropriate, too. As for popsicles, well, I never thought I even liked them that much till this summer; when it’s 90 degrees at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, you need something cold and/or boozy to get you through the next two hours, or you might just melt. That’s when a watermelon popsicle sounds too good to be true. Or a smashed berry-coconut pop (incredible). Have something sweet and icy in your freezer at all times, and you’ll breeze right through July, ready for whatever comes next.


Which brings me to one of my favorite times of year, anywhere – peach season. If there’s one fruit that gets me a little weak in the knees even thinking about, it’s the peach. A ripe peach feels pleasantly heavy in your palm, but soft to the touch. Though my favorite way to eat them is straight out of my hand, I love a good peach tart (made this one recently), or a baked peach with honey and a dot of butter. Peaches and cream is downright heavenly. Cherries, I should say, make a close second in my hierarchy of fruit, but to me there is nothing better than stone fruit. It takes some searching to find one truly special, which for me is always more alluring in the end. Even the prettiest specimens from the market can be dull and flavorless, but for every dud I know there is a perfect one out there waiting to be picked, then swiftly devoured. So before I ramble on some more, go find yourself a perfect peach, and tell me don’t you live for that taste each summer.

Hello, August. 
Nice to see you again. It's been far too long!

PS. I joined Instagram recently - you can find me at @acaciamichelle if you're so inclined. 
I'm also on Pinterest, you can find me at http://pinterest.com/acaciamichelle/