Friday, October 14, 2011

Adventure is out there!

I love adventure. Always have. As a kid, I pretended I was mountain climbing by scaling our stairs with a clothes hanger in my hand. In my head I was always going to some grand place--a rainforest in South America (it's like America, but south!), having tea in London, on a quest in the African jungle, and on and on. It's amazing how your sense of adventure changes as you grow up. Not that it dies, but how we adapt to see the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary. When I was little, adventure seemed to require getting on a plane to some far off mystical land and taming elephants. And in all truth, I did get one "far off mystical land" experience (elephants, not included). Ireland was the trip of a lifetime. Mama dearest and I conquered the tiny country with little more than a map, a car, and the kindness of others. Adventure indeed! Life endangering at one point, but you can ask my mom about that (hehehe). I don't know if I'll get there again. Shoot, I don't know if I will ever make it out of the country again. But adventure still beckons. Life for the past two years has indeed shown me that! Job changes and getting married and moving to Arizona--not on my list of thrilling destinations from the past, but this, I soon realized, was a mistake on my part!--moving again! Now Bakersfield. I admit this did not immediately strike me as a hub of international delight. Heck, neither did Arizona. But lately I have been discovering the adventure that lies within me own home! (yes, "me" and not "my"). In my kitchen, to be exact! Which leads me to my latest quest as...........(pause for dramatic effect) Culinary Conquistador!!!...ok, the name needs work, but you get the idea. I've always liked to bake and cook. But I do believe that lately I have been falling in love. My kitchen has become my private jet, my epic ship and my beat up roadtrip car. I have ventured to the homelands Italy and Mexico, to the deep south and the deep sea, to tropical islands and dessert heaven. In the past few months, I have discovered that mangoes, basil and brie belong in chicken, that truffle oil will make anything amazing, that white wine and cream are the fairy godmother to a pasta Cinderella. Red wine and balsamic vinegar glaze over filet mignon? Seriously, TRY IT. My list of places to explore has grown with France and Japan at the very top :) (crepes and sushi? sushi crepes? hmmm) I have dabbled in France before, but I think it's time for an all out excursion and exploration. From there, who knows? Germany, India maybe. I think that each week, I am going to try to make at least two things that I have never made before, be it a main dish, side, dessert, or whole meal. Last night was just plain old leftover mom's meatloaf and mashed potatoes (despite my recent explorations, this remains Eric's favorite find. Easy enough). I had woken up the night before with an acute longing for chocolate molten cake. It was still there when I woke up, so off to the market I scampered with my ingredient list in hand. And what fun! I felt like I had ventured off to a magical place with chocolate I had never heard of before (because 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate is soooo exotic ;) And at home putting the plates together complete with vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate fudge, I was in presentation heaven. The best part is, since there's still only two of us (until a whole other adventure starts), I now have 8 little cakes sitting in my freezer (for emergency purposes, of course). *disclaimer--that is not my cake in the picture. My ganache did not have such panache.* Wonderfully enough, this has become quite a spiritual experience as well. Some say beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, but I say it's good food. It's fascinating how so many natural things can combine to make something so delicious. I mean, seriously if God didn't like us, there would be no cacao beans, no berries ( a recent thought while devouring crepes). Here I have found my indulgence for my inner child's taste for exploration and my taste buds. Perhaps the only Italy I see for a while will be in my own kitchen. If that's so, then I intend to explore it. So here it is. My new charter, my declaration of exploration. Adventure is out there! And by there, I mean literally over there in the next room over.

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