s'mores rice krispies treats crab porcini mac and cheese pan pizza easy strawberry cake


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back in the land of cool

We have returned from the Land of Hot, that being New Mexico. Mind you, it’s a dry heat. And despite everyone who rolls their eyes when someone discusses dry heat, 100 is definitely tolerable dry than humid. Jeremy, being a native son of New Mexico, used to wax nostalgic for his homelands all the time. But these days I think the romance has faded just a little for him. I think Colorado is what puts an extra spring in his step, not to mention the immensely long ski season. There is something to be said for coming home to 58 degrees in the mountains to have the rich smell of pine forest fill your nostrils as you hose the dog down for a bath.

It was a bit of a mental shock to go from Grandma Darling’s lack of short term memory and endless repeat of the same 7 stories (at least it was 7 and not 1) to fully engaged discussions with my aunt. I’m lucky to have her in my closest circle of friends. We talk about food, relationships, professional issues, politics, gardening, more food, our family, raising children, raising pets, cultural issues, diversity, all sorts of stuff.

Elena and family have lived in Los Alamos for almost 5 years now. We drove down 2 years ago when they were in the midst of overhauling the backyard. It used to be a bit of a mess from the previous owners and Elena had a master plan. The woman has impeccable taste – classy, elegant, unique, beautiful. It shows in her art, her clothes, her house, her garden. In two years, I’ve let my yard grow more weeds. In two years, she transformed a dirt and grass yard into this:


just half of the the fabulous garden at elena’s house



They planted a lot of natives that will do well in the Los Alamos sun and elevation. It’s so fucking gorgeous it almost makes me want to start a garden of my own! Almost… It doesn’t hurt that she is partial to the same hues that I am partial to: greens, blues, purples. However, she does have large areas of splashy deep reds, pinks, yellows. I did a couple of shots under the pergola just for fun. The flagstone path has creeping thyme growing between the stones leading up to the center of the pergola and it looks like the perfect place for an outdoor wedding. They really ought to rent it out it’s so bloody gorgeous. It will be even more fabulous when the wisteria fill in. Oh, to have a growing season.

the family with eska, trusted shepherd

elena’s not preggers, just in a goofy pose



Whenever we visit one another there are never enough meals in the visit to share all of the awesome recipes we have discovered since the last time. Elena is a marvelous cook, serving food as beautiful and delicious as one would expect from someone with such discriminating taste and abundance of talent. Needless to say, I won’t need to eat anything for the next couple of days. When we arrived Sunday, Dave pulled out some champagne glasses to celebrate. Celebrate what? I asked. Oh, just celebrate everything! my degree, Jeremy’s grant, Jeremy’s job, Dave’s lofty promotion, Elena’s consulting. Coming back to the west has been good for all of us.

the chemist at play: champagne and cassis



We had a lot of fun, but as usual, it was too short. Our requisite trip to Trader Joes nabbed us 24 jars of our favorite salsa in addition to embarrassingly large quantities of other food items we horde. By the time we hit the road though, I felt ready to get our pup and go home. Too much travel makes me a homebody despite how much I love to get out of town. Elena did allow us (me) to pick three of her clayboard pieces.

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