Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Places to Visit: Steadfast Coffee in Nashville Tennessee

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Interview with Jamie Cunningham of Steadfast Coffee

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

About Steadfast

Steadfast Coffee in Nashville, TN is known for hospitality and quality.

“While we do everything in our power to roast and serve the best coffee possible, coffee itself isn’t actually the core of our company. It’s our guest.”

Jamie started Steadfast with two other founders. The partners met while working for local coffee companies around the city of Nashville, helping these businesses grow and succeed. The trio had a dream of their own, to create a unique coffee culture, different from anything around the city of Nashville. Together they dreamed of creating a new kind of coffee experience and revised details until they had a plan for Steadfast. The team looked for investors because these passionate young adults didn’t have capital to establish a brick and mortar restaurant. Steadfast Coffee opened in April 2015, hiring a new staff and began building what is a now thriving business.

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[photography by Elana Staroselsky – @elanastar]

What is your favorite Steadfast drink? It depends on time of day, I may be reaching for something black and hot or iced. After lunch it may be a cappuccino or coffee soda. 

Steadfast is quickly becoming know for their proprietary coffee soda. Matchless coffee soda is brewed in large batches, 500 gallons of coffee at a time, flash chilled, sweetened with demerara sugar, carbonated and kegged. This innovative coffee soda is best served with a sliver of fresh orange peel. The Steadfast team is working towards canning and possibly shipping Matchless coffee soda around the country… I simply can not wait!

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

Jamie and I

Some of my fondest college memories involve Jamie, he really was the best of friends. Together we traveled across the country in a 15 passenger van performing with our theatre troupe, 26 weeks on the road. We attended so many concerts, ate great food and had adventures that will never be forgotten.

Each friend you meet in your life leaves a little mark on your heart. Jamie taught me that is was ok to be me, to be silly, to be different and to be passionate about what I love. He remains to be one of the most dedicated individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing and his passion shines through in his love for coffee and most of all people.

About Jamie

How did you start to cultivate your passion for coffee? I moved to Nashville in 2009. 7 years ago. I enjoyed coffee but didn’t know the difference between what was good or bad. I needed a job and found one working with my two friends, who were similarly excited about coffee. This fueled my passion. I allowed this passion to cultivate and grow as my friends and I brewed lots of coffee and studied coffee together outside of work. It really was about community. 

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

Brewing coffee at Steadfast: Overall, the Fetco company makes commercial brewers called the extractor series and this is what we use in our shop. These machines are highly programmable. In the hands of the right person, these brewers make perfectly extracted coffee EVERY TIME. Most people think it tastes better than coffee from other shops brewed using hand methods. Our machines are programed perfectly, they never mess up, they never get distracted, they never feeling tired or have a bad day. 

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[photography by Elana Staroselsky – @elanastar]

Quality coffee in every cup. Steadfast does not use any pour over methods in their shops. However, I wanted to know how Jamie brews coffee at home…

How do you  brew coffee at home? There are so many different types of brewers and types of brands on the market. The Kalita Wave is the pour over type which I believe results in the perfect pour over cup, other brands have flaws. The design of this particular pour over brand makes consistency and great extraction possible.

The only way to brew really good coffee at home is to invest in the right equiptment. If you are not grinding fresh whole bean coffee, you will struggle. The Capresso Infinity is a reasonably priced grinder and a great entry level burr grinder with conical burrs. The rpms of the Capresso are slow enough that it doesn’t heat up the coffee and the grind particle distribution is very consistent.  

Once you have a great grinder you need to look to your recipe. What is the water to coffee ratio? There are all kinds of recipes out there, the ones that work well measure ingredients in grams. I use the Escali kitchen scale to measure coffee and water. The best recipes use a specific ratio, anywhere between 1 to 16 – 1 to 18. For example, for every gram of coffee you need between 16-18 grams of water. At Steadfast we brew at 1 to 16.9 grams, at home rounding to an even 17 grams. These two things alone, grind and recipe, will make your coffee infinitely more better, you will taste the increase in coffee quality. 

Any other at home brewing tips? Yes, temperature control. Electric at home drip coffee brewers rarely heat water hot enough, 195-205 degrees, for proper coffee extraction. If you are brewing by hand and using a kettle, start with water directly off the boil, 212 degrees is boiling. In between pours place your kettle back on the heat to maintain the proper water temperature. 

Whole bean coffee purchasing? I tend to think through two things when purchasing whole bean coffee; first, what kind of values does the company have; where their money is going and two, what kind of quality am I pursuing. It is my goal to purchase the highest quality coffee. There are two major kinds of coffee sold in the world, commodity vs. specialty. Coffee is a commodity traded on the stock market, the second largest only to oil. As well, coffee prices fluctuate similar to oil based on future need, politics, ect. Only a very tiny part of the coffee market is composed of specialty coffee. The lower quality commodity coffees can be found on the shelves of big chain supermarkets. People who are buying specialty coffees are generally local or regional; for example, Counter Culture, Stumptown, and Intelegista. What makes them difference other than how they are farmed produced and bagged… is at the hand of the roaster. A badly roasted coffee can turn even the best quality coffee bad. Once purchased whole beans need specialized hands and plenty of care to provide the best possible products. These kinds of coffee are our best shot as consumers. Taste the subtle nuances of a specialty coffee, roasted to perfection. Check your local or regional grocer to some of these speciality blends. 

[ My suggestion is that you grab a pound of Steadfast coffee for yourself! Whole bean Steadfast coffee can be purchased at http://steadfast.coffee]

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[photography by Ethan Covey – @ecoveyphoto]

Tips on Flavoring your coffee at home?  Stay away from flavored creamers and syrups from the grocery stores because the people making them don’t care about you. Make your own simple syrups at home. Coffee is complex and tastes really great with anything you could imagine, take your blinders off and have fun! Even if a particular flavor sounds crazy, it could taste incredible. Home made syrups will be infinitely better than what you purchase at store. Most things tastes good with coffee, sometimes you have to tinker and get a bit creative. In the past we have held competitions in the shop to create new, innovative flavors. One flavor that most surprised me was a cucumber simple syrup, it was simple and delicious. Another time, inspired by Thanksgiving, I made ginger and sage simple syrup with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Believe it or not, I have even made a cheese syrup, throwing in the rind of a hard cheese like parmesan, into the mix… just the right amount in a cortado is magical. 

Even at Steadfast we steer clear of mass produced vanilla syrup. We us demerara, which is a single origin sugar that has lots of vanilla notes in it. Quality products make all the difference.

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[photography by Kenzie Maroney – @kenzie.maroney]

Friends, if you are in the Nashville area, stop by Steadfast Coffee for a one of a kind experience. Great coffee. Great food. Even better people!

Pumpkin Patches, Costumes and Fall Granola

Friday, October 31st, 2014

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Our visit to Elliot Farms in Macon, GA was dreamy this year. The weather was perfect, sunny with a gentle fall wind. Rows and rows of fresh Zinnias lined the pumpkin patch. I brought an armful of colorful flowers home. This year was unique at the farm, there were so many HUGE 100 lb.+  pumpkins in the field. Jude had to work hard to climb to the top of these giants. They were big and beautiful, so many shades of orange and green. The reason I love Elliot Farms pumpkins is because of their Cinderella Pumpkins. These magical pumpkins look like they jumped straight off the pages of a fairy tale. Cinderella pumpkins are not great for carving but make perfect decorations and are great for cooking. Our home feels like fall now!
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Our second pumpkin patch adventure was with Jude’s school and his sweet little classmates. We traveled to Alabama to visit Jack-O-Lantern Farms. This trip was a great opportunity for me to connect with many of the parents of Jude’s friends. We shared stories of our silly littles, had picnic lunches and even got to hold baby bunnies at the petting zoo. I love seeing Jude interact with his friends. He is has such a soft heart, one that wants to hold hands with the littlest kids to guide them towards the fun, a heart that offers to share his water bottle (despite my concerns), a little heart that always holds the door open for his mommy. I see how God is shaping him in a special way. Jude picked out our perfectly round, perfectly orange pumpkin head… he had to have just the right one and was so very proud to show his dad.
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Our church Fall Festival was so much fun this year! Complete with bouncy houses for the kids, funnel cakes and a petting zoo. Jude and my little brothers had a blast. My silly little Jude debated his Halloween costume for weeks, such important decisions for a 4 year old. He had two ideas in mind; one was this very ambiguous super villain named “Eagle Claw” (dun, dun, dun) from the show Aquabats or “Jack Frost” from the movie Rise of the Guardians. I’ll admit I was a bit concerned that my son was interested in becoming a villain. However, Jude informed me, “villains are good too mom.” In the end he chose the side of good… and so Jack he was.
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With all this pumpkin picking I was inspired to once again come up with a recipe starring PUMPKINS. I just can’t get enough of this crunchy pumpkin granola. Once prepared I had fun adding different mix-ins; white & dark chocolate chips, pecans, dried cranberries and dried apples. This granola was perfect with yogurt, though I ate most of it as a sweet, crunchy evening snack.
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Pumpkin Patch Granola
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbs. Pumpkin pie spice (you can find my recipe here)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
A pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients ensuring the oats are completely coated. Spread the oat mixture in a single layer onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, turning the oats about half way through. The granola should be dry and crunchy.

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Enjoy!

Apple Picking

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

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Last weekend Michael, Jude and I set out on our 3rd annual adventure to Ellijay, GA to go apple picking. We love the scenic drive and winding roads to the mountains of North Georgia. Reminding us of our autumns in Colorado… Of home. Holding hands with my love and singing silly songs with Jude, I couldn’t think of a better weekend adventure.

We have visited several apple orchards in Ellijay, our favorite continues to be B.J. Reece Orchards. Fresh, warm apple cider doughnuts and apple hand pies are just the start of the festivities. Reece’s small farmer market was full of fresh produce. Jude picked out a large basket of ripe red tomatoes. I couldn’t resist picking up a few mini pumpkins and dried Indian corn to decorate the house. After our bellies were full of treats from the bakery, we headed into the orchard to pick a whole peck of apples, about 10 lbs. Apples picking remains one of my favorite family adventures of the year. Cool crisp air, Jude running free and helping to pick apples that will provide time together cooking in the kitchen. B.J. Reece invites you to ” come and show your kids that apples really do grow on trees!”

On our visit Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples were in season.

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We purchased a gadget that peels, cores and slices apples with a simple turn of the handle. I am in love, each apple turns out like a tasty apple slinky! I brought this fancy contraption to Jude’s preschool where the kids got a chance to peel and slice their own snacks!

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With fall in the air and piles of apples, I will be sharing some of my favorite apple inspired recipes.

Enjoy!

27 Crosses

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

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I’ve always loved history in general, and in particular, European history. So, when I made my first visit to the Czech Republic 10 years ago, I was naturally enthralled. It’s a beautiful, small, land-locked country in the heart of Europe. The rolling hills are dotted with medieval castles and fairy-tale like cathedrals, and a wall of forest-covered mountains create a natural border for the nation.

The history of this region has always inspired me. I don’t know about you, but I want to leave a legacy for my family, but it’s not always clear to me how to build that.

The pearl of the Czech Republic, it’s capital city, Prague is dotted with statues and buildings that stand as an army of monuments across the city, reminding others of a legacy that was left. One of the most popular tourist sites in Prague is a 600 year old operating astronomical clock. All during the day at the top of the hour, people from nations all across this world gather at its base to watch little statuettes of the 12 apostles begin their parade through little doors as a statue of a skeleton strikes the bell while little sculptures personifying vanity, greed, and pleasure shake their heads from side to side, unwilling to acknowledge their time is waning.

While the clock is interesting, what has always caught my eye is the thousands of tourists each day that walk across 27 white crosses inlaid in the intricate stone sidewalk. These 27 crosses are for Christian martyrs who were beheaded after the battle of White Mountain in Prague.

It serves as a periodic reminder to me that some have paid a costly price and today I stand on the shoulders of giants -some that I’ve known personally, like my father, mother, grandparents, pastors, and friends, and others that I’ve only known through the pages of  history books, like C.H. Spurgeon, John Huss, the Moravians, and those 27 – that have invested in me, it makes me consider the kind of legacy I want to leave my son.

Suddenly, in light of cost that has been paid, I am no longer as interested in leaving a legacy of wealth and influence for my son, but teaching him how to love Jesus, his wife, and people well.

-Michael

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Czech Linden tea

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

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The Lime or Linden tree is the Czech national tree. Linden Trees grow abundantly throughout Europe, as well as in North America. These beautiful trees produce pale yellow flowers often called, lime flowers. Upon arriving in the Czech Republic, I met my friends picking lime flowers in blossom. My Czech friends use the flowers for tea which are dried before steeping. This wonderfully sweet tea has several heath benefits;  helping with digestion, to treat cold and flu symptom, used to reduce fevers and also to calm anxiety. As a farewell gift my friends surprised me with a large paper sack filled with dried Linden flowers to take home to my family.

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Small town streets and Czech highways are lined with fruit trees. Travelers are encourages to stop and pick fruit to snack on along their journey. I love the idea of picking and enjoying food as a community. Never wasting even the littlest tea leaf.

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Linden tea can commonly be found in your local drug store and online.

To brew, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tsp. of linden leaves. I used a metal tea infuser. Allow the tea to steep for 10 minutes.

Grab a good book and enjoy this relaxing and subtly sweet tea!

What is your favorite tea?

The Little Mole

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Meet Krtek, the little mole.

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So the story goes, Krtek, the little mole wanted a little more from life, he wanted a blue pair of pants (well, overalls) with great big pockets. So, he made himself the perfect little pair with the help of his woodland friends, each helping out the best way they could. Teamwork helped Krtek’s dream come true. This Czech original cartoon was created in 1956 by Zdenek Miler to make children happy. As my friend Magdalena introduced me to her favorite childhood friends she explained to me that Krtek was quite “emotional.” As I watched, I quickly understood what she meant, Krtek rarley uses words, rather uses emotional sounds to tell the story. What is even cooler is that the creator uses his daughter’s voices to bring the characters to life. The addition of happy background music draws children into Krtek’s magical fairy tale world. Because language is not much of a barrier in this cartoon, this happy little mole in blue trousers has become a widely popular in many Central European countries, as well as India, China, Russia and Japan.

During my time in The Czech Republic, I collected fun Little Mole souvenirs for Jude; DVDs, books, book bag and toys. Jude eyes lit up upon being introduced to the cartoon. He was so excited to share with his best friend, Fabian. We had a little Czech inspired dinner complete with Krtek carbonated fruit juice, Krtek cartoons (and homemade pizza, of course). Fabian had already made friends with the mole on his trips to Germany and Japan. Happy memories were made.

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It is my desire to celebrate with my son cultures from around the globe and this little mole is just a start. I will be focusing on sharing with my family a new country/culture each month. This month we will be learning about the Czech Republic, of course. I want to fill my house with music, food and culture.

Will you join us?

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I found this little Krtek & radiohead “mashup” video I am sure you will enjoy.

 

The Mole and Radiohead [Mashup] from Bjarne Bakke Kvistad on Vimeo.

 

4th of July Supper

Monday, July 14th, 2014

I had the unique opportunity to spend the 4th of July in the Czech Republic. Though we were thousands of miles and an ocean away, we celebrated with a BBQ, fireworks for the small village of Postovice and the most beautiful church service set in a church built in 1330s. We brought with us tons of red, white and blue decorations, glow sticks and party blowers. A group of four of the sweetest little old ladies came to the party. When Mike gave them glow necklaces and bracelets they we enthralled, giggling, as they had never seen glow sticks before. The day was magical…


Now I am back home and still full of excitement from the time we spent with our Czech family. So, to continue the celebration, I wanted to make a special Independence Day inspired meal. However, I thought I would make something a little more fancy than hotdogs and hamburgers. Though nothing beats a Fourth of July barbecue! I challenged myself to make a dinner using three star ingredients, one red, one white and one blue. Complete with ice cold bottles of Coke we had quite the meal!

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photo 1 Potatoes, White Cheddar & Garlic

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In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to get a hold of some really great fresh ingredients. Our garden is doing well, producing loads of tomatoes and the boys and I went blueberry picking.

Red Garden Tomato Braised Chicken

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EVOO

Butter

6-8 pieces of Chicken, legs and thighs

1 small onion

3 cloves roasted garlic (see instructions below)

Fresh herbs, 4 sprigs of oregano or rosemary

4 cups diced tomatoes

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 cup white wine

Heat 2 tbs. EVOO and 1 tbs. butter on high. Season chicken with salt & pepper and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Turn chicken when skin easily releases from pan. Remove chicken from pan and remove any excess grease. Saute onions until golden brown. Deglaze the pan with diced tomatoes and white wine. Simmer tomatoes for 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes begin to break down. Add chicken, herb and cherry tomatoes back into pan. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve over warm mashed potatoes.

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White Cheddar and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4-6 white potatoes, peeled and diced

1-2 cloves of roasted garlic

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup cream cheese

2 tbs. butter

salt & pepper
Place potatoes into and a large pot of water, bring to a boil. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Potatoes should be tender when poked with a fork. Drain water from potatoes and return back to warm. Add to the potatoes the milk, sour cream, butter, cheeses, garlic and mash. I like my potatoes a bit lumpy. If you like yours very smooth, Pour ingredients into a stand mixer and mix for five minutes. Add extra milk to desired consistency. You do not want to overwork potatoes or they will lose their yummy fluffiness.

Roasting garlic is simple and packs huge flavor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I usually roast 2-3 heads of garlic at a time. Cut the top 1/4 of of the head of garlic, exposing all those lovely cloves. Set the garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in the foil and bake for 35 minutes. The smell is out of this world! I use roasted garlic in dressings, soups and on crusty bread. It will store great in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

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Blueberry Bread Pudding

1 large loaf of bread, I used challah

6 eggs

5 cups of milk, or half and half

zest of 1 orange

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tbs. honey

1 tbs. brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large baking dish and add torn bread into pan. Pour blueberries over dry bread pieces. In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, zest, honey, sugar and cinnamon. Pour egg mixture over dry bread and allow to soak for 15-20 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes until golden brown, berries are bubbling and custard has set.

Custard
3 egg yolks
4 tbs. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream or milk
Whisk together eggs and sugar, until pale yellow. Heat milk in a small saucepan until small bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Remove pan from heat. Whisking very quickly, slowly add about 2 tbs. hot milk to the egg mixture in order to temper eggs. This warms the egg which will keep them from scrambling when back into the milk. Next, whisk the egg mixture back into the milk until combined and smooth. Heat mixture on low until custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, yet still thin enough to pour. Pour this dreamy custard over your warm bread pudding.

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So today, cook up a special red white and blue dinner for your family and tomorrow sit back and eat a big summer burger.

Enjoy!

Legends of Chiefs and Hippies… Oh, and Lemonade!

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

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If you take a drive down the magically windy roads through Garden of the Gods; beautiful red rock spires, which are backdropped by the majestic Pikes Peak (14,410 ft.) and you will find yourself in the small town of Manitou Springs, Colorado. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been enchanted by this little hippie town. I used to beg my great uncle Steve to tell me stories of Manitou in the 60s; love, happiness, of sleeping in the caverns of the Gardens and living the carefree artisan life. Still today, taking a walk down the main streets of Manitou is like stepping back in time… there never fails to be a hippie to great you with a peace sign and a big loving smile.

Since the 1870s, Native Americans, and later, hippies were drawn to Manitou seeking the healing properties of the natural mineral springs in the area. There are currently 10 of the 11 original mineral water fountains located around town. This fizzy, cool water is laced with such trace metals as iron, magnesium, and lithium, and runs free to the public. Each of these fountains possess a unique mineral combination, believed to treat different kinds of ailments. My favorite fountain, Ute Chief Spring, a bronze statue of an intriguing looking Ute Indian Chief, unfortunately not longer runs.  Next door, The Ute Chief bottling company opened in 1893, to bottle and send this “miracle,” mineral water around the world. When my grandmother was just a little girl, she drank soda, which  was naturally carbonated from the bottling plant. Michael and I had so much fun exploring the town to sip from each of these historic fountains.

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Ute Chief Spring                                                 Shoshone Spring, 1890s

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Navajo Spring                                                      Cheyenne Spring House

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7 Minute Spring, 1909                                     Stratton Spring, 1936

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Wheeler Spring                                                    Iron Spring Geyser, 1910

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Twin Spring, 1920s                                           Soda Spring

Folk music, mineral water and the smell of my favorite popcorn from Patsy’s all bring back memories of my childhood.

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I NEVER make a trip to Colorado with out visiting my favorite pizza dive, Maryiln Monroe’s pizza. These happy hippies sure know how to make good pie. Simple fresh ingredients and my favorite pink lemonade, made with Manitou sparkling, spring water

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Lively eccentric personalities, an old fashioned penny arcade, fresh caramel corn and funnel cakes, make this quaint little town what many call, “The Hippie Mayberry.”

Hippie Lemonade

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1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 10 lemons)

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)

3 cup water sparkling mineral water (San Pellegrino will work!)

ice

Combine 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Once sugar is dissolved, you have a simple syrup! Allow syrup to cool. In a blender combine lemon juice and blackberries, puree. Strain berry mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any small seeds. In a pitcher combine berry puree and simple syrup, chill. When ready to serve, fill a 2 quart pitcher with ice, berry lemonade mixture and top with your favorite mineral water. Or store berry lemonade mixture in a mason jar and prepare by the cup.

Enjoy!

Flying Paper Airplanes