It’s been a long time and I shouldn’t have left you, left you without a dough beat to bake to, bake to.
I kid. Sorry I’ve been absent from this blogging world. A LOT has happened in my everyday life since that last post. Hi Leanne! Hope you’re smiling down. I have done some pretty wild things since February. For starters, I left my job of almost 15 years and moved to Tampa, FL with the BF. He’s in Grad school and I want to go with him. So far it’s been an adventure. Packing up all our belongings into two wooden crates, living in a house with 4 other adults for a month (thanks Family!), driving across the country from Denver to Tampa via KC, STL, Nashville and Savannah over the course of 5 days. That’s close to 2,200 miles because we took the scenic route through to Savannah, GA. Totally worth it, Savannah is gorgeous! Staying with the BF’s Grandfather for a week while we found a place and waited to move in. Making our apartment livable with a few pieces of furniture, and getting settled into the school routine.
I haven’t lived outside the state of Colorado since I was 5 yrs old when we moved from Utah to Denver. It’s an entirely new experience for me, and after about 6 weeks I’m starting to get the hang of it. I can’t help but compare the two. Colorado is open, drier, has seasonal weather, and all the places and people I grew up with and know and love. Florida is warmer (darn hot some days), humid and rainy, and the traffic lights are mind numbing-ly long.
The first culinary test was to see if following the instructions on the back of a packaged meal would result in a finished product. Turns out cooking at sea level really does make a huge difference. I followed the instructions and boom! 10 minutes later my meal was ready. It really necessitates getting your mise en place together ahead of time.
The second test; baking. Everyone always talks about Georgia Peaches They’re widely known and touted as being the best, plus it was August and they’re in season so I decided my first baked good would be a peach pie. I peeled, pitted, and sliced my peaches, tossed them in some seasoned sugar and flour, made my dough and built my pie. It looked great, even smelled great, taste wasn’t so bad, but the texture……..there’s something wildly different about peaches from Georgia than the ones I’m used to from Palisade, CO. Palisade peaches win. “Colorado-1, Georgia-0″ as a friend and fellow baker of mine put it. Georgia peaches are very firm, they hold their shape really well when you cook them, too well in my opinion. I miss the beautiful, luscious way a Palisade Peach melts onto your tongue when you eat it. I miss their flavor. Georgia peaches taste like the ones you get from a can, even when they’re fresh. The other sad part about that pie is that our apartment oven SUCKS! It’s not good. I kind of want to chop off the hand of the person who designed it. The lower heating coil is recessed into the bottom of the oven, and that seems to not facilitate the heat circulating properly to cook anything well. Peach pie, chocolate chip cookies, chicken, roast veggies, I’m not happy with it, and in all honesty I kind of wish it would break so the leasing company would need to replace it with a new one. I’m not counting on that however, so I must go back into adjusting mode. In Colorado it was adjusting for elevation, here in Florida, it’s adjusting for a crap piece of machinery. But I’m a professional, so the cooking continues.
One great part of living in the South (yes, Florida is the South in my book, I drove all the way here watching billboards along the highway) is the access to Molasses. I’m a huge fan of the stuff, and as we were grocery shopping to stock up the pantry I noticed they have it here in miniature milk jug sized bottles, for about the same price I would pay in Denver for the smaller, glass bottle. Which meant, I could make my own brown sugar!!!!!! Mix together Organic Cane Sugar and Molasses in a mixer for a few minutes and voila! homemade brown sugar for all your baking needs. That makes it CO-1, GA-1.
Eating out hasn’t happened as much as the BF and I were used to back home. When we both still had jobs and knew all the great places to eat. We’ve visited a few decent places; the Fish and Chips at Tampa Bay Brewing CO were pretty good, I had a burger at a place called Gaspar’s in Temple Terrace that was alright. We found an amazing Greek place near home, which was suspect when we showed up and it looked like a bad fast food joint. Instead we found a hidden gem. The guy behind the counter, we assume is the Owner or Manager, spoke at least 4 languages (English, French, Spanish and Arabic), knew most of his regular customers by name, and treated us like he really believed in his product and wanted our repeat business. We both had Gyros and Greek Salad and some fried mushrooms. It was all FANTASTIC. It’s the only place we’ve been back to more than once. It will be a semi-regular during our stay here. If you come to Tampa, and want some fast-casual Greek Food, go to Zeko’s on Busch Blvd.
Overall I’m glad I’ve begun this new adventure, it helps knowing the person I’m with it worth any hassles that creep up along the way. Really it’s about letting go of fear and just trying. Whatever is put in front of you, just try to go for it and see what happens. You might just be surprised at the outcome and wonder what you were waiting for all those years. Next step might be something with yeast, so see what happens when humidity is a factor, stay tuned.