I am sitting in the passenger seat of our car while we drive up to the Rocky Mountains on our way to Minnesota. We can't wait to spend Christmas up there.
We have driven this path from either Las Vegas or Los Angeles to Hanska so many times now that I have lost count. It is in the double digits for sure. It is such an amazing drive and it never gets old.
The sharp cliffs on either side of the road, carved out between the red mountains in Utah, are stunning. They look more like sculptures than mountains. Furthermore, it doesn't matter what time of year; the scenery on the Vail Pass is breath taking. The magnificent Colorado River flows alongside us in different capacities depending on the season.
On this day, the snow is so glittery it looks like it was plugged in somewhere. It reminds me of the material used to surround the bottom of a Christmas tree, which is white and fluffy like snow but has little bits of glitter in it. I always thought that stuff looked so phony. I am amazed to discover that sometimes the snow really looks like this. The view out the car window is reason enough for this road trip. Being this close to my family for three days straight, for hours and hours, without television, or Internet access, or work, or friends, is an even better reason. I know, sounds crazy.
Sure, the kids watch DVDs on their laptops and listen to their iPods occasionally. Most of the time, they are talking to us, holding their breaths through tunnels, reminiscing about all of the places we have visited in the past, recognizing any changes, and looking at the beautiful trees and rivers and mountains along with us. These times remind me that we really love being together. It reminds me of how lucky we are. We have to savor these times now before the kids get older and start doing this without us. They are going to want to take trips with their own families some day and this won't include Claud and me. Up until about a year or two ago, I had Jack convinced that he and his wife would be living in our house and we would help him raise his kids. Now, he laughs whenever I tell him that he promised he would do this. Oh well. I am just going to relish all of this time together right now while we have it.
It is now another day into the trip and I am getting worried. It seems the closer we get to Minnesota, the less snow I see on the ground. Can this be? Are we driving all the way up north and having my parents fly all of the way from Los Angeles for a brown Christmas? It seems I don't even need a coat! My parents have flown up to Minnesota for every season except winter. This is their first Minnesota winter. They are going to think we are all liars. "MinneSNOWta my foot," they might say. We shall see. I still have faith that things could change suddenly. We could get several feet of snow before Christmas. I am sure that has happened before. Wouldn't that be great? No? Okaystop cursing at me. Sorry, I like the stuff. Geesh!
Time: 45 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 cup celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 head cauliflower
3 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon sage, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
10 fingerling potatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons cream cheese (optional, or use tofutti "cream cheese")
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a pot. Saut onion, celery and garlic for about five minutes, until translucent. Add the bay leaf. Add the cauliflower and saut for about five minutes longer, until it they begin to brown. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add the sage, thyme and potatoes. Lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about twenty minutes (until potatoes are soft). Add cream cheese (or tofutti or nothing). Mix this in and let it melt. Pour small portions into a blender and blend together. Pour into a bowl. Once it is all blended, salt and pepper to taste. You can add a sprig of thyme or sage as a garnish.
Once we finally arrived at the house, I have to admit, it is quite nice to have weather like this in December. We brought everything in without gloves or hats. We didn't track snow and mud all over the house either. It's not that bad. I'll let it slide this year.
I spent the day before we left Las Vegas buying everyone new coats, boots, scarves, hats and gloves. Claud forgot to pack his. Fortunately, I don't think he'll need it. That should have been a sign. Once I had everything ready for the trip, I still had to prepare dinner. Whenever I am leaving for a trip, I plan about a week ahead of time to use everything in our refrigerator. I stop buying new food. I make sure I don't need to throw anything out. So, by the night before we leave, I have to get very creative with what is left to make our dinner. This time, remaining food was mostly vegetables: cauliflower, carrots, celery, etc... I decided some delicious, hearty, healthy soup was in order. My dad taught me a long time ago that homemade soup was the best way to get rid of a lot of vegetables. I prepared cauliflower soup. I just sort of made it up on my own. I love doing that, especially when it turns out this scrumptious. I added lots of herbs and some potatoes to make it extra tasty and thick. It was a perfect last meal before our long journey to Minnesota.