I’m back from the holidays. I mean this in the most literal sense of the word, as in “I’m back from our holiday trip in Colorado,” as well as in the figurative sense of “every moment spent in Colorado is like walking in a winter wonderland with roasting chestnuts, Lexus sedans with big, red bows, reindeer coming up and snuggling you while you sip spiked hot chocolate by a roaring fire, compared with every moment in Texas being like sitting on Santa’s lap only to find out he’s actually a smelly homeless burglar who has, incidentally, developed an erection that is poking you, and when he asks you what you want for Christmas, he interrupts you with a burp that reeks of $5 whiskey to tell you that you get jack and shit and the end is near.” So it’s been great to be back!
Honestly, though, our trip was awesome. Colorado is every bit as beautiful as I had remembered it being. It seems stupid, since I’ve only been gone for six months, but I was really afraid that I had built it up in my head, and I would arrive to find that, sure, it was pretty, but it certainly wasn’t the birthplace of hope and love surrounded by purple mountains fruiting excitedly all over the plains. Not so! Why, I could see plains being fruited on from the plane before we even landed. Not that I was in much shape to see anything, given the pre-flight “snack” I consume in mass quantities before I so much as view a picture of an airplane, let alone board one:
Sure, I’m shamelessly bragging about our new macro lense and showing off the clarity of a picture I just took out of this book (even though it’s shaky because I was holding it without a tripod): I don’t know why he lets me do this. He’s very indulgent.
The point is, I have to get fuuuuuuuuuuucked up to get on a plane. And still, I’m a wreck. I had THREE klonopin and an ambien on the flight back, which is technically enough to knock out the San Diego Chargers, and was still coherent enough to be shaking my leg and burrowing my head into Chris’s chest, asking if we might die. I also think I may have made some frivolous religious promises to God that I can’t remember. That makes me nervous.
But we got there, had some really great family time, and enjoyed the visual beauty of a place that is in actual possession of sheer GOBS of beauty, like someone dipped a paintbrush in a bucket of awesome and splatter-painted the whole state, allowing excess beauty to just kind of dribble down the canvas and pool in certain EVEN MORE attractive places (like Vail). Sadly, this frivolous use of awesome meant that the artist ran out completely by the time he got down to places like Pueblo, meaning he had to hope that by using a frame covered in pictures of coyotes wearing bandanas (New Mexico) that nobody would notice the oversight. It was great.
Let the record state that running at altitude is NOT GREAT, and it felt like someone had set a small-but-tenacious fire in the place where my throat attaches to my chest. It’s funny, because you never run out of breath, but that FIRE. It BURNS. Lactic acid in the lungs, I’ve been told. We spent our first morning in 10 degree weather running at altitude in shorts. Because we’re from Colorado, dammit, not some sissified Texans. Ah, memories.
We had two Christmases and a wedding shower, so I’ll spend the rest of the week debuting the toys I got. Also, while the following pics were taken before we unpacked the macro-lense, keep an eye out for macro pics in future posts. They should make a difference.
So today I will share my gorgeous blue Le Creuset dutch oven, and how much goodness it is capable of producing in the hands of someone who has never owned a dutch oven. The thing gets SO DAMNED HOT, so I just heated some olive oil in it, then seared the soul out of a half-dozen beef country ribs. The crust on those suckers, and on the bottom of the pan, was enough to bring a grown-ass man to tears. Or almost. I certainly was moved. I added a bottle of red wine, some all-purpose greek seasoning, a container of kalamata olives, some cherry tomatoes, quartered button mushrooms, a sliced red onion, and a pinch of minced garlic. I closed the lid, stuck it in the oven, and waited for it to waft magic throughout the house. And so it did. The smells were so potently delicious that it was hard to concentrate on anything else, so I just kind of sat and waited. Chris made some Israeli couscous to throw it over, and after about 4 hours of braising, the meat shredded just by me looking at it, and kind of started mosh-pitting with the thick and flavorful liquid at the bottom of the pot.
I would happily write a book called “Braised Beef for the Soul,” and it would kick the crap out of “Chicken Soup,” I’ll tell you that for free.