West side vs. downtown

Look, I have a lot of ambivalence about the west side. On the one hand, I can appreciate its history as a rough and wild gold-rush town, saloons and brothels and gunfights. Spitting distance to the more genteel and dowdy Colorado Springs proper. Yeah, I can get behind that. I can also get behind the beautiful Victorians and mountain views.

And in a way, I can even appreciate its fierce independent streak, but that means chain-link fences. It also means that property owners are free to do whatever they want, which includes barking pit bulls; cars in the yard; trampolines; additions to buildings that would be an insult to even the roughest turn-of-the-century pioneer. Oh, and that couch and broken refrigerator? Just put those right there on the porch.

History is a hard thing to manage. What’s left of it in OCC is threatened, and if nobody comes along to save it, it’ll be gone. But it takes dedication (and a good deal of money). And the bottom line is that the people who live there really probably don’t mind that large sections have become trashy and disgusting. You can’t force people to care about historic preservation.

So we waffle. Sometimes we think: Look at these beautiful homes! We should live here. Then in the next block, it feels like the Ozarks (and I don’t mean that in a good way). Call me a snob. Fine. Try asking Adrienne about chain-link fences, and you’ll see just how reasonable I am.

Downtown Colorado Springs is in a little better position for some reason. I guess it’s always been this way: OCC has always been a little rougher around the edges than COS. Downtown Colorado Springs seems vibrant and healthy, while OCC is more touristy. But OCC has a more neighborhood feel to it. They each have their allures and drawbacks.

Still, the west side calls. The gorgeous old homes. Maybe someday we’ll be true capital-w West-siders. For now, though, we stay downtown.

Camping at Deckers, CO

We recently went camping at Deckers which is about an hour to an hour and half from Colorado Springs. Lone Rock Campground to be specific. It was awesome. It’s not a very big campground and it wasn’t crowded on the day we went.  I reserved in advance online at ReserveAmerica so we got a site right on the river.  There were a few kids splashing around so Mike couldn’t fish right from the campsite. But they were very well behaved so it was fine.

Our campsite at Lone Rock Campground, Deckers, CO
Our campsite at Lone Rock Campground, Deckers, CO
Our campsite at Lone Rock Campground, Deckers, CO

Our campsite at Lone Rock Campground, Deckers, CO

Mike’s mom, step-dad, and uncle came out for the day bt it was so nice out there we convinced them to stay for the night.

Lone Rock Campground, Deckers, CO
Lone Rock Campground, Deckers, CO
Our new rock band! Me, Uncle Joe, Mike, Mike's mom Linda at Lone Rock Campground, Deckers, CO

Our new rock band! Me, Uncle Joe, Mike, Mike's mom Linda at Lone Rock Campground, Deckers, CO

Linda supervising the tent assembly

Linda supervising the tent assembly

It's under control!

It's under control!

I don’t like grungy old musty sleeping bags so I insist on bringing real bedding when we go camping and it is NICE.

So cozy inside the tent.
So cozy inside the tent.

After the tent went up Linda and I put our feet int he water. Mike’s step-dad Paul actually went for a swim. We just watched.

Hanging out on the river.
Hanging out on the river.

Mike got in a little fishing before dinner. Paul took these pictures.

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

Fishing on the South Platte River at Deckers, CO

When we first got there it was raining. We weren’t sure if it would keep raining so we unpacked everything and put it under thw canopy. It did eventually stop raining and was beautiful! But we didn’t really bother to move the stuff. It wasn’t very organized!

OMG we're so trashy!
OMG we’re so trashy!

Mike’s parents brought their cute little dog with them. They also had a tent and a sleeping bag in the back of their car like true Coloradoans, so when they decided to stay the night, it was pretty easy.

Barney and Paul
Barney and Paul

So I know it’s the big trendy thing to cook big, elaborate fancy meals when camping these days, and I’ve done that. But now I’m more into a retro thing — hot dogs, hamburgers, s’mores, that sort of thing. I did make some marinated feta before we left, tho. Just a block of feta, olive oil to cover, and some herbs from my garden. It was super good.

Marinated feta with crackers.
Marinated feta with crackers.

Mike is always dismayed when I want to bring the cast iron camping. But it’s the only way you can do this! Like oldey timey cowboys or pioneers or something.

Cooking over an open fire is the best.
Cooking over an open fire is the best.

I prepped all the confetti corn stuff ahead of time so I just had to toss it into the pan and cook it when I got there. The beans were from a can. They were delish! We also roasted hot dogs over the fire. Retro!

Confetti corn and baked beans.
Confetti corn and baked beans.

Later when it got dark we had s’mores and looked at the stars. It was during a meteor shower so we had a great show!

Cooking over a campfire- fun!

Cooking over a campfire- fun!

I guess this is the Lone Rock that the campground is named after.

I guess this is the Lone Rock that the campground is named after.

We’re definitely going to go camping here again next year. We’ll make reservations in advance again (you don’t have to, they do have walkups available) so that we can get a riverside site. Maybe we’ll bring some more people- you guys want to come?

Step away from the Potatoes Dauphinois

I made this today for DM’s lunch. I felt bad because for the past two days he’s had vegetable soup and PB and J for lunch. I’ve been tired and not much into cooking. But since today I woke up with energy I thought I’d make something nice. It’s really too nice for everyday, it’s more like a party dish, even tho it’s very simple to make. It has a billion calories which is another reason it should really be for special occasions only. I adapted it from a recipe in My French Kitchen, which is an awesome book. I used ingredients I had on hand, and also didn’t follow the recipe exactly.

It was still To Die For.

Potatoes Dauphinois

Potatoes Dauphinois

Ingredients

  • 3 medium potatoes (I used yellow skinned potatoes)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 5 TBS butter
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 a cup shredded parmesan

Procedure

  • Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Slice the potatoes really thinly. I used a mandolin.
  • Place them in a bowl of cold water and rinse all the starch off of them. This took 3 changes of water for me.
  • Spin them in a salad spinner to dry them. Or you can use a towel. It’s important that they be very dry.
  • Rub a baking dish (I chose the correct size by placing the potatoes into a couple of dishes to see which one to use- they should fit and also leave room for the 2 and a half cups of liquid you’re going to also add) with butter.
  • Put the butter, half and half, and milk into a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Add the crushed garlic, the potatoes, and the some salt to taste. Gently simmer for 8 minutes.
  • Transfer the whole thing to the prepared baking dish, spread evenly, then top with the shredded parmesan.
  • Bake for an hour and a half. It makes about 4 large servings.

You can either eat these potatoes or impale yourself in the heart with a stick of butter that you’ve fashioned into a shank. I recommend eating it. Which I did.

OINK.

Tomatoes and other Gardening

So I finally got good tomatoes! This is my fourth summer in Colorado and it’s the first time I’ve gotten tomatoes. It wasn’t a bumper crop at all and I grew like 20 plants, but they did grow and they were good!

Tomato plant in August

Tomato plant in August

Green tomatoes- they're getting redder by the day, tho!

Green tomatoes- they're getting redder by the day, tho!

These little yellow ones were super tasty.

These little yellow ones were super tasty.

These are sort of roma shaped but smaller in size and darker in color

These are sort of roma shaped but smaller in size and darker in color

Some cherry tomatoes

Some cherry tomatoes

The first four little tomatoes, from mid July

The first four little tomatoes, from mid July

A few more from a few days later

A few more from a few days later

One day I got a whole bunch of them and continued to get them up till today. Now they're starting to slow down.

One day I got a whole bunch of them and continued to get them up till today. Now they're starting to slow down.

They're delicious on top of eggs with cheese

They're delicious on top of eggs with cheese

Also yummy with homegrown basil and olive oil

Also yummy with homegrown basil and olive oil

And in caprese salad, with homegrown basil and fresh mozzarella

And in caprese salad, with homegrown basil and fresh mozzarella

The little deck has some flowers but not a lot since it's so shady. The shade wildflowers worked well!

The little deck has some flowers but not a lot since it's so shady. The shade wildflowers worked well!

Just for fun I grew some beans. Next year I'll put them in the junkyard with the tomatoes so they'll get lots of sun!

Just for fun I grew some beans. Next year I'll put them in the junkyard with the tomatoes so they'll get lots of sun!

More beans

More beans

Family Visit

Last month my brothers and mom and dad came to visit. We did a bunch of things!