Monday, August 06, 2007

Travel, Canning, and Real v. Imitation

Vacation Report
Well, we are back from our vacation in Utah and have a few days until our next trip :) We had a very busy vacation, packed with six national parks in five days (Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, Great Basin -- about 2,300 miles in all of driving). It was unusally cool (only 95 degrees) for the first four days, then we got into the serious temperatures. To simulate 110 degrees, just start breathing into your hair dryer turned on high and see how it feels. Terrible!

Unfortunately, my Olympus "died" on day 2, so I don't have many pictures. My favorite park, I think, was Zion, for its' huge red canyon and varying landscape (definitely take the drive through the tunnel to see completely different scenery -- and absolutely through the Grand Staircase National Monument), and the biggest suprise was Capitol Reef, which was just completely different and "foldy" and incredible. Of course, other highlights were seeing the famous arches of Arches National Park, and the caves at Great Basin, although we missed the 4,000 year old bristlecone pines (my fault). I really got so much more of an appreciation for what our national park system does, and how incredibly lucky we are to have all these uniquely beautiful places at our disposal.

In other news, while we have been gone, Alaska is in its' final push for summer. Our garden is HUGE, the willows in the back are a good seven feet tall now, and the mint, which we thought had not survived, is now slowly plotting to take over our yard.

August is Canning Month!
The big news is the raspberries are in! That is a sure sign that we are at the very peak of summer, and it is time to start canning and preserving our harvest.

My canning adventure started with peaches. When you live up here, it's a treat to have really good fruit produce, and this year, the peaches are especially good. I made a peach and basil preserve yesterday that is out of this world. I know, because "luckily" one of them did not vaccuum properly so we get to try it :) It tastes like canned peaches but it still has that crunchy freshness and it isn't so artificial "peach" flavored. I just might have to make more before the peaches go out of season :)

Real vs. Imitation
Like the peaches, I've been interested in eating more "real" versions of sweets and it's been fascinating to realize how much we've forgotten what things taste like.

For example, we all know that the taste of an orange is nothing like the taste of an orange skittle, but we still call the skittle "orange-flavored". Why is that?

I made brownies from scratch for Frank's birthday, and it was odd to realize that 1) brownies from scratch take only about 5 minutes more than making them with a mix 2) The flavor of a "real" brownie is subtle, less sweet, and completely different than a brownie-mix brownie. "Real" vanilla pudding is the same way -- it's very easy to make if you just try it out, and the taste far superior than the pudding-in-a-box version we grew up on.

It's very freakish to realize that in our world of fast and instant, I had no idea how much I was missing from the culinary world. Does anyone else feel the same way, or is it just me?

1 comment:

subrosa said...

happy belated birthday, frank!