Often I find myself thinking of my next blog post and looking for opportunities all around me to share with you guys. When we returned from our drive down south for Memorial Day weekend, I was almost overwhelmed by all of the things I could write on this blog, so I'll just get into it. But first, I will disclose that I come from an Italian family that LOVES food (hmm, I wonder where I got it from!), and this was indeed a family trip, so our days were centered around what to eat next. Going into this trip it should have come as no surprise that I would have plenty to talk about!
About the weekend
Denny and I drove down to my Aunt KimAnna & Uncle Mikey's ranch in Del Norte, Colorado. It is a 4-5 hour drive from Denver and the scenery is completely different than it is here in the city - her ranch lies in a valley surrounded by agriculture and amazing rock formations at the foot of the San Juan Mountains. Driving into town consists of about 6 blocks of local merchants and a single traffic light. "Quaint" is almost an understatement :) On the ranch, which is about 7ish miles outside of town, we always have a great time camping, hiking, mountain biking, visiting my dad, and visiting the family's organic grocery store/restaurant - The Organic Peddler and Peace of Art Cafe. (If you are ever driving along Highway 160 in Southern Colorado, they would love a visit from you! The food is not only amazing and good for you, but the architecture is also very cool. Many in our family, including myself and my brother, helped build the restaurant with our own bare hands!)
One of my favorite things about visiting the ranch is the constant exposure to something new and unusual, whether it is staying in the Mermaid Cottage (which KimAnna and Mikey built by hand!), impromptu art projects with my aunt, or trying a new food we haven't tried before. This weekend was no different - we were exposed to so many new and LOCAL foods, like duck eggs (?!) which I'll get to in a second.
Upon arrival we were greeted with a beautiful platter of "snacks" that my aunt put out for us after our long, late night drive to their house. Veggie sushi, olive tapenade and cantaloupe were all part of the spread and we went to bed with happy bellies.
The next morning, we made a trip to the "neighbor's" house. This ranch is the closest you can see at about 1/4 mile away my my aunt's ranch. Lynne and Russ own this property and have been good family friends of ours for many years...heck, we even got our German Shephard, Winston, from them during our last visit! Lynne is a master gardener and even has a small greenhouse on her ranch (my dream!!). But what's even more cool than that is that everything that looks like grass or weeds growing around the corners of the yard, or up against their house, is all EDIBLE. Chives, green onions, garlic, mint, you name it!! Whenever we go to visit them we leave with amazing produce. Lynne literally takes out a small knife and starts hacking away at all of this "stuff", almost thankful that someone is there to help her eat it all. This time we left with all of the above mentioned items (except garlic, which hers is the BEST) as well as homemade salsa she made just minutes before we arrived. This salsa was no joke, I'm going to have to ask her for the recipe. Although, because most of the ingredients came from her yard, and I am stuck with the grocery store, mine will probably suck in comparison. Still worth a try!
Aside from the great food we brought back, our visit with them was really entertaining because Winston's mom and brother live with them. We got such a kick out of seeing Osha (the mom) and Jake (the brother), and they got a kick out of seeing Winston now 11 months old (when we got him he was 11 weeks). At almost 80lbs and under a year old, we have always thought Winston was a big dog (he towers over some of his other, older dog friends), but his brother, Jake, makes Winston look like the runt! They believe he will top out at 120lbs. and is a huge ball of fluff!
Our Sunday breakfast was particularly special (you know how I feel about Sunday breakfast - it needs to be special!) My aunt taught us how to blow duck eggs! (I laughed at first too.) This was very cool though! If you have not seen a duck egg before it is much larger than a chicken egg and has a much thicker shell. By using a small power tool to drill a small hole in the top and bottom of the shell you can then preserve the shell to paint or decorate later (we have not done this yet, I am trying to find just the right idea for these eggs). After we drilled the holes (a smaller one in the top, and a slightly larger one in the bottom), we blew (yes, with our mouths) from the top hole, letting the egg white and yolk come through the bottom whole and land in a bowl below. One tip: If you are doing this at home, blow each egg into its own bowl just in case you get a bad egg.
The eggs tasted delightful. They were very similar to regular eggs, with a great texture. They were also super hearty, only 2 duck eggs yielded about as much as 6 or 7 regular eggs. We scrambled these, topped them with cheese, and served with bacon, toast, and some of Lynne's salsa. Yum!
On our last night there, my dad and step-mom brought dinner up to the ranch, which was awesome. Earlier that week, I was telling Denny that my step-mom makes Indian Tacos, which I thought he would love. She must have read my mind because she made those for us this night. An Indian Taco is essentially a taco filled with a pork or beef chili with beans. The tortillas are handmade (!) and are a thicker, flour tortilla which is fried. You can top your taco with all of the essentials: cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, etc. For dessert, there were two bags of cookies waiting for us. This was a great way to end our trip!
Now that I babbled on and on about our Memorial Day, what did you do for yours?