Whew! This has by far been the longest break that I have taken between posts. Believe me, I had every intention of posting at least a few recipes over the last week or so. I even went so far as to prepare the food and take the photos in advance, telling myself that I would find the time and inspiration every three days to write something compelling and witty about my creations.
HA! I clearly needed this vacation more than I realized.
On the 17th, Eric and I departed for Jackson Hole, Wyoming, our first big vacation in quite awhile. We had first visited Jackson about four years ago, and we immediately fell in love with the beautiful surroundings and friendly, unpretentious nature of this very un-resortlike resort town, vowing to return as soon as possible. Unfortunately, as soon as possible didn't occur as soon as we had hoped (life gets in the way, you know.) On the bright side, we found Jackson to be just as charming, relaxing, and uncommercialized as we had left it. (The picture above is of me, standing under one of four elk antler arches on the corner of the Jackson Town Square. They decorate them with lights for the holidays. I'm really cold in this picture.) As a bonus, the already fantastic culinary scene, quite unexpected for such a remote area, has only gotten better, with even more places to choose from. You didn't actually think that I would voluntarily travel somewhere unless they have outstanding food options, did you? So, if you're ever headed to Jackson and need a recommendation........
The Jackson Hole area is a fantastic place to go if you just want to "reset," as the very wise twenty-something who was sitting in front of me on the plane put it. Yes, I was listening to his conversation. It was a very small plane--what can I say? The area is full of outdoor activities, from downhill skiing to sleigh rides through the Elk Preserve. It forces you to step away from the laptop, abandon the Blackberry, and skip CNBC (this was a really tough one for Eric) for hours at a time in lieu of the fresh (but unbelievably cold) air and natural surroundings. I even discovered that I absolutely love, and am quite good at cross-country skiing, which is nice because I gave up any aspiration to be the next Picabo Street years ago. I pretty much stick to the bunny slopes on downhill since I'm not a big fan of falling face down in the snow and kamikaze snowboarders scare the you-know-what outta me.
I also found that I am quite the pool shark. Who knew? Every night before dinner, Eric and I would head over to the "World Famous" Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and shoot a few games of pool for fun. Despite the touristy feel of the name, this venue is about as legit as it gets. Oh sure, they sell the requisite logo t-shirts and mugs, and they have their own micro-brew, but the place is full of locals, and the entire staff could serve as extras in any recent Western film. Although I would like to tell you that I won every game, I generously allowed Eric to win a few, so I believe that we ended up even. That being said, someone did come up to me mid-game and asked me if I was "a local." I must have looked like I knew what I was doing. Note to self: Add cross-country skiing and billiards aficionado to resume.
While I didn't live up to my self-promise of writing a few posts over my vacation, I do indeed feel like I "reset" my brain and my rapidly decreasing energy levels as a result of our trip. I wasn't even all that affected by the fact that our luggage somehow ended up in Atlanta on our way home, even though Atlanta is a good 2000 miles in the other direction from our final destination. I mean, I was upset and all, but Eric wasn't subjected to one of my usual "I hate holiday travel" meltdowns. That, my friends, is a true holiday miracle.
I also was incredibly happy to come home from Jackson having discovered a new food product (eureka!). Now, when I find a new product that I love, especially one that is made by a small business, I want to do everything that I can to get the word out. Perhaps this is for partially selfish reasons, so that they continue to grow and produce my new find. Even so, I wouldn't recommend something unless it really got my attention (I can be quite picky), and this product did.
Every evening, when we returned to our room, the staff at the Rusty Parrot Inn (great name, huh?) left us two little sample-sized Tram Bars, instead of the typical chocolates or mints, on our pillows. I'm usually not a fan of chewy variety granola or power bars. I find them to be either too sweet or artificial tasting, and they are often loaded with sugary calories. I brought my Tram Bar on the slopes with me the second day to nibble on
if when I got hungry. One bite and I was hooked. These bars are the perfect combination of dried fruit, oats, seeds, peanut butter, honey, and a hint of chocolate, all ingredients organic. Even my little sample size was filling, and I found myself anticipating turn-down service because it meant that I would get another delicious Tram Bar treat. Luckily the folks in charge of the labels were smart enough to place their website URL front and center, so I could find out how to order some on-line. These bars, named after the tram that carries skiers up to the top of Jackson Hole Ski Resort, will be perfect for those mornings when I don't have time for a leisurely breakfast, or for just before a workout. I can't wait to get my order. When I do, perhaps I'll have a giveaway (if I don't eat them all first, that is.....).
Oh, and as for those recipes that I so dutifully started and photographed prior to my trip--the first one is featured in the post below. I'll have the second one posted sometime later this week. Glad to be back!!