Tuesday, October 16

Leadville or Bust

I was talking to a friend the other day and we were lamenting the fact that we don't travel nearly as often as we'd like.  She said, "I guess this is just our season for exploring Colorado."  I think she's right.  Luckily there is a lot of Colorado to explore.  The mountains are just minutes away, Denver is an hour, and nearly each bordering state is only a three hour drive.  We live in the heart of ski country, and though I'm not a skier, I love to visit the resort towns during the summer months when the crowds are light and the prices are reasonable.  The condos are luxurious, there are hidden five-star restaurants tucked into the shadows of the mountains, and an abundance of high quality, gourmet food markets can easily be found.  Wi-fi and cell phone service is available and reliable.  Yet at night, when every star in the sky is shining down on you and the ancient lodgepole pines rise to meet them, when the coyotes and wolves howl in the not-so-distant forest, you feel like you've finally escaped the frenzy of this crazy world.  It's a magical place high in the mountains in the middle of the night.

There is, however, one other reason why I love to visit ski towns in the summer.  One that I often keep to myself, hidden deep inside - a calm reassurance for when the nights are long and I'm up with worry.  One that only a parent of a severely allergic child can appreciate.  Ski resorts have hospitals.  In a place where there are so many injuries, how can they not?  It's an incredible sanity-saver to know that there is a hospital just a few miles away if our worst enemy, anaphylaxis, should come rearing its angry head.  For that reason alone I choose to visit ski resorts when we need to get away from it all.

Another mother told me that when she travels with her severely allergic son, she plans her route by the location of the hospitals along the way.  Isn't this just the incredible length that we all, as parents, will go to keep our little ones safe?

Leadville, Colorado - once a rowdy mining town, rich in silver and poor in morals, a strike-it-rich-or-die-trying kind of place - is now a sleepy little mountain village cradled at 10,200 feet between the two highest mountain peaks in Colorado.  A place I hadn't been in years but, as trains seem to be the obsession of all six year old boys, mine included, I was dying to take my son on the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad which travels along the continental divide.  Being just 9 miles from the nearest ski resort there are plenty of mountain cabins and condos for rent in Leadville.  I looked for one with a fully equipped kitchen, and planned to prepare all our meals there rather than eating out.  I was excited to discover Grand West Village Resort, which far exceed my expectations both for a simple ski cabin and for a fully equipped kitchen.  It made for the most relaxing trip we've taken in a long time.  It's so refreshing to not have to worry about every meal eaten at a restaurant.

We prepared the majority of our food at home, froze it, and brought with us a large slow cooker.  The garden this year was plentiful in green beans and zucchini which we incorporated into every meal. The menu looked something like this:

Day 1
Dinner: Rotisserie Chicken, nut-free French bread, and Cinnamon Green Beans.

Day 2
Breakfast: Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread (baked at home and warmed in the oven) with eggs and bacon.
Lunch: Caramelized Onion Tartines
Dinner: Savory Beef Stew with root vegetables and left over Cinnamon Beans in the crock pot.

Day 3
Breakfast: Pain Perdue with cinnamon and vanilla made with the leftover French bread.
Lunch picnic: Sandwiches, chips, and fresh fruit
Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, made with the leftover rotisserie chicken and Cinnamon Beans, also in the crock pot.

Day 4
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with the last of the toasted zucchini bread.
Lunch: out at a safe restaurant

I know it seems like a lot of work, but with just a little forethought it's absolutely possible to have a wonderful, relaxing vacation with your food allergic children.  And it's worth every bit of work to see their eyes light up as they take in this marvelous world.   If you'd like to know more about how I travel with my children's food allregies, here is a guest post I wrote for Food Farm Health.

Since I've already shared my grandmother's Cinnamon Beans recipe, I'll leave you with the recipe for my Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread.  It is so moist and delicately spiced, no one will ever know that it's whole wheat.  Good straight from the oven, and even better toasted the next day.  This is one of my favourite travel recipes.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread 
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup organic beet sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 1/2 of a medium zucchini)
Preheat your oven to 350 F (177 C).  Butter and flour an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.  Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl whisk the butter and sugar until blended.  Whisk in the eggs and then the vanilla.  Stir the flour mixture into the butter and eggs.  Then fold in the grated zucchini.  Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 - 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 20 minute before removing from the pan.  Wrap leftovers well and store in the refrigerator.

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