Friday, August 12, 2011

Colorado, caprese and elusive roaming donkeys

I've been having a lovely break in Colorado that is coming to a close far more quickly than I would like to acknowledge. Every visit home makes me exponentially more thankful for all of my wonderful family and friends here. I really appreciate listening to my grandparents' recollections of my childhood, making dinner for my family, meeting a friend for dinner or just visiting face-to-face are so much more meaningful now that I live so far away.

Views like these are just an added bonus

One of my high schools besties invited me to Cripple Creek - our resident mining town turned gambling town - a little while back. I'm not big on gambling, but the Cripple Creek General Store's ice cream and company of one of my favorite person was enough to get me excited about a day of hanging out in casinos. Little did I know that I would catch the gamblin' fever. I was coaxed into sitting down at a blackjack table with my friends where I impressively turned $15 into $50 [and then turned $50 into $0]. Oops! I was still having fun, but a little disappointed about winning some money then losing it all. After some regenerative ice cream I took the last of my cash and played Roulette and some slot machines and eventually ended up [ever so slightly] ahead. The only disappointed part of the day was mine and my friend's failed attempt to find the famous wandering donkeys of Cripple Creek. They - allegedly - are the descendants of the original mining donkeys of yore. We found some donkey poo [not pictured] and some other proof that the donkeys were somewhere, but there was nary a donkey in sight - even when I left a trail of my ice cream down the town's main road.
Our Cripple Creek lunch spot. I loved the kitsch, though it wasn't as emporium-esque as I would have liked.
This town loves its donkeys.
The "approved" treats. There must be too many asshole tourists leaving ice cream trails for the beloved donkeys.
The local theater, already advertising its showing of "The Christmas Donkey."

The average age of Cripple Creek goers is probably around 65. At first I thought this was a condom machine, then I realized it was just stocked with tylenol, antacids and sinus decongestant. Though this well stocked "Li'l-Medic" couldn't prepare me for...
The readily available sharps disposal. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to hate on people with diabetes or any other serious ailment, but never in my life have I ever been somewhere that needed a designated waste bin for needles. Needless to say, me and my other early 20s friends were carded frequently.

My last topic for this rambling post is one of my favorite burger recipes. Well, it's not going to be so much in recipe form since it's just a simple burger, but I highly recommend it nonetheless. Everybody loves a good caprese salad during the hot summer days when tomatoes are at their most ripe and I love thinking of different ways to play with the classic tomato/basil/mozzarella combination.
These are great because they are simple but are a little fancier than your average burger. I got some large whole wheat buns, which definitely elevated the taste of these burgers. Simply make your burger patties as you generally do (about a pound of ground beef for four patties) and grill thick slices of onion on the grill at the same time. Spread a bit of pesto on the top bun and grill for a few minutes until the top and bottom bun are toasty. Melt sliced mozzarella on the hamburger patties and serve with the grilled onion and sliced tomato. What's your favorite way to eat a burger?

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