A Travellerspoint blog

In the Kitchen

I love to cook, but what I love even more is to watch other people cook. While most children spent their childhood watching Cartoon Network, my TV was permanently tuned to a variety of cooking programs where I developed a love relationship with the kitchen. I may have had a bit of OCD growing up (ok I still do) and I admired the organization and cleanliness of the TV kitchen. Here every ingredient sat pre sliced and diced in a variety of bowls as the chef moved amongst the kitchen with a sort of streamlined ease. Perhaps my fascination stemmed from the fact that growing up I consumed approximately three dishes on a weekly basis – pizza, pasta, and hamburgers. It wasn’t just that I was a picky eater, which I was, but I think it also resulted from lack of creativity and time on my mom’s part. Regardless of the cause, the kitchen became my playground and rather than run about like a normal child, I spent hours experimenting with ingredients – sometimes to disastrous results.

There were times when my poor mom, fed up with my floury messes, forced me out of the kitchen. Left to my own devices I developed a series of recipes in my sand box utilizing all sorts of twigs, rocks, and flower arrangements. I would spend hours outside mimicking the motions of James Barber while making a lovely mud pie. My obsession verged on insanity however when my mom would drag me against my will back inside due to below freezing temperatures. I just loved to cook and whether real or pretend it was all the same to me.

Although I no longer have cable TV to waste away hours in front of the Food Network, I am afraid that my new obsession is to read anything food related. From chef memoirs to gourmet magazines my nightstand has become a chef’s reference library. Two of my most favorite recent reads were Julie and Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child. Reading both gave me a glimpse into the life of Julia Child and her legacy that remains.

How fitting then that while touring the American History Museum in Washington DC I stumbled upon Julia Child’s kitchen. There it was, exactly as described in her biography. Child’s tools were varied and unique and her workspaces sweeping. I spent hours – yes hours – standing in awe of the space where such a beloved and acclaimed chef called home. The exhibit was crowded with bustling visitors who quickly took a glance of the kitchen and then excitedly announced: “That’s Meryl Streep’s kitchen from that movie Julie and Julia!” Well I could have died right there. I have yet to see Julie and Julia, I don’t doubt it would be a fun film, but I am still savoring the freshness of having just completed her biography.

I had a hard time pulling myself away from the exhibit. I was transfixed by the idea that so much of Julia’s history was worn into those tables and pans and had a hard time accepting that others could just walk in and out as though it were a fast food joint. Just as Julia spent years perfecting her French cooking, I too savored every moment at the exhibit in appreciation of her effort and devotion.

Cooking for me is an artistic pursuit. Just as the artist mixes paint to create a masterpiece, a chef mixes ingredients to create a meal. Cooking is creative, hands on, and best of all, you get to eat the results, and what could be better than that? Bon Appetit!

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Posted by Jennylynn 06:52 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (1)

Getting to Georgetown

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After a museum too many in Washington DC I thought it best to pop my tourist bubble and try my luck with Georgetown. Sitting outside the city center in Washington DC, Georgetown is a world unto itself. Isolated not only by topography, residents rallied against any subway connections, making a trek into Georgetown tricky for the average tourist. I thought I was so clever when I said… Hey, why not walk? It was only three miles there and three miles back. That combined with the two mile self-guided walking tour I had planned, well, that’s only eight miles! No big deal, right?!

I couldn’t have been more wrong and for the following reasons:

1. This was following a fabulous night consisting of approximately three hours of sleep due to my sickly diseased bunk mate back at the hostel. Every time I almost drifted off, there she was hacking up her lungs again.

2. Those mere three hours of sleep constituted my only sleep in over 60 hours.

3. I was wearing $2 flip flops. No explanation necessary.

4. It was nearing 80 degrees. Which is not usually enough to make me complain, but based on reasons 1 through 3, it definitely was a factor.

5. I was hungry, but what else is new.

So, by the time I actually made it to Georgetown, I was about ready to keel over from sheer exhaustion. But did I give up that easily? No, absolutely not. I quickly rehydrated, ate, and gave my feet a rest before heading back out on the street ready to conquer my walking tour.

I didn’t get very far. My intentions were good, but my body was just not responding to my mind. I made it around several blocks of ivy clad brick buildings before I gave up. Sometimes you just have to know when to say enough is enough.

I wasn’t about to leave without getting a fair share of photos though and slowly but surely I made my way back around the neighborhood to a place where I could rest my weary feet before making the three mile walk back.

Yes, I actually walked all the way back because I am too cheap to pay for a taxi. If anything good came of the day it was that I acquired two valuable lessons: Invest in better walking shoes and learn the art of hitchhiking.

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Posted by Jennylynn 07:50 Archived in USA Tagged foot Comments (0)

I Survived a Hurricane

Flashback Photo Friday: Taking Negril, Jamaica by Storm

Five years ago I was honeymooning in Jamaica. Pause. I see your minds turning. Yes I just went on a honeymoon to Alaska. Oh wait, I forgot to mention a small insignificant detail – there was this other time I got married but he turned out to be a *choice expletive entered here* and we divorced after only a year of marriage. Honestly though, it was for the best, I deserved better, he didn’t know how lucky he was, and all those things people tell you at the time but you mindlessly ignore. Luckily I met Dan (Yay!) and life has never been better.

Jamaica was the first place I travelled to which required a passport. The only place I have ever parasailed. The place where I survived Hurricane Charley, which turned out to be the fourth costliest hurricane in the United States history and took four lives in Jamaica alone. I stayed in Negril, Jamaica at my first all-inclusive resort (still on the fence about this whole idea). Oh and the only place where Rastafarians actively pursued me in an attempt to sell me drugs.

But all in all, the trip was incredible. The beaches were beautiful and the scenery stunning. Enjoy some of my favorite photos from Jamaica while I prepare for my next beach vacation on the shores of Maui and Kauai in two weeks!

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All photos taken with a handy point and shoot Olympus compact camera. No DSLR yet!

Posted by Jennylynn 08:36 Archived in Jamaica Tagged postcards Comments (1)

How Do You Like Them Apples?

A day at the apple orchard

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Washington may be considered the Apple Capital of the World, but it is the small town of Wenatchee in Eastern Washington that truly steals the apple harvest show. Just two and a half hours outside of Seattle, Wenatchee is an ideal road trip getaway, especially during the months of September and October when apple harvesting is at its peak and dozens of orchards hold harvest festivals to lure us city slickers onto the farm. With orchard tours, apple cider pressing, barbeques, and pumpkin patches galore families will find Wenatchee the ideal kid friendly retreat.
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Dan and I made a day trip to Wenatchee on a whim (as we often do), it was late morning on a Saturday and with our fruit stocks dwindling, we thought, hey, why not? We set out ready to restock with freshly picked apples right from the orchard and enjoy a day of colorful fall foliage as we travelled east.
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The drive was spectacular as we drove through the mountain passes towards Eastern Washington. Gradually the greenish yellow foliage progressed into vibrant oranges, reds, purples, and yellows. It was like watching the season change in fast forward. Atop the mountain pass the peaks in the distance were freshly coated in a dusting of snow and the air around us was a crisp 40 degrees.
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As we steadily dropped in elevation into the arid, desert like Eastern side of the state, the landscape changed into one of rolling hills with minimal vegetation. The plants that can withstand Eastern Washington’s dry, hot summers are sparse, but in the fall their colors change into a spectacular rainbow associated with frosty nights and cool, clear days.
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When we arrived in Wenatchee our destination was Orondo Cider Works, the choice was made primarily off a Lonely Planet guide book recommendation, but when we arrived, we couldn’t have picked a better day. Cider Works was in full throttle, with a Harvest Festival, apple bin tractor rides, and fruit tastings all under way. We quickly settled into a routine of lounging in the sun listening to the live music, sampling the local bounty, and stopping for a few photos here and there.

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We of course had to participate in the apple bin tractor ride. We found it quite humorous that we were the only couple not accompanied by small children (apparently most 25 year olds have other ideas of fun), but we still had a good laugh as be bumped along the orchard paths in our wooden apple bin. The highlight was when the tractor driver stopped for questions and a small child piped up, “Can you show us how fast this thing can go?”

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Following our bumpy ride we headed straight for the hard apple cider tastings, we were hoping for a stiff drink, but the hard ciders were sweet and bubbly and did nothing to promote a good buzz. Instead we found ourselves sampling the variety of homemade jams, cheeses, and salsas. The greatest taste test was of course the apples themselves. From tiny sour crab apples to the bulging and unnaturally large sweet Jonagolds, we had our fill and then some. In the end we stocked up on our tried and true favorite – Honey Crisp. Absolutely the most satisfying apple in existence, the Honey Crisp is sweet and juicy and perfectly crunchy. I have yet to meet an apple that trumps the Honey Crisp.

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As our stomachs began to resemble the bulging Jonagolds we thought it best to finish our tour of Wenatchee and begin the winding drive home. Well, not before sampling the pumpkin doughnuts and milkshakes of course…

Posted by Jennylynn 06:30 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (0)

Waiting at the White House

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Growing up I was fascinated by the White House. I was in awe of the fact that a house could have 132 rooms and a bowling alley. I bought a book that I practically carried everywhere which gave readers a behind the scenes look at America’s most famed residence. I loved reading the stories about celebrated White House pets (Herbert Hoover had two alligators, Calvin Coolidge owned a black bear), and I literally fell in love with Socks, the Clinton cat (Truth be told, I may have named a hamster or two in honor of this famous feline). Obviously, it wasn’t the building itself that captivated my attention, but the stories within the walls that I found intriguing. Perhaps it goes without saying that when I arrived in Washington DC last week I spent unnecessary amounts of time standing about the gates of the White House in similar fashion to an awkward school girl as she hovers over her phone waiting for a boy to call (oh come on… I wasn’t that girl).

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Naturally, I choose to stay in a location that allowed me to pass the White House on my daily walks through the city. So within 15 minutes of checking into my hostel I was already camped outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – or more precisely the current Obama residence. I’m not sure what my intentions were, but I can only imagine that I looked like one of those crazed teenagers hanging outside the concert hall in anticipation of the arrival of the Jonas Brothers or something. I should have brought a sign that said “Obama – I can be your Dream Girl”, that would have really completed my look. I’m surprised I wasn’t escorted off the property as I frantically searched the grounds using my telephoto lens for any indication that the Obama family actually resided there. There was no sign of the newly installed Malia and Sasha swing set, or of Michelle’s organic garden, I didn’t even catch a glimpse of the newly acquired White House First Dog – Bo. I was severely disappointed.

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On my last visit to DC I was able to walk right into the White House and take a tour of this historic home. Today men in armored vests stand guard on every corner and even dot the roof of the building watching over the crowds. This time barricades prevent passerby from coming within at least a block of the exterior of the building and tour requests must be made six months in advance through one’s Member of Congress. Visiting from a foreign country? Good luck. International visitors must speak with their embassy office in Washington DC in order to even begin the process of obtaining tickets. Oh and once lucky enough to gain entrance don’t even attempt to bring any of the following items onto the grounds:

“Prohibited items include, but are not limited to, the following: handbags, book bags, backpacks, purses, food and beverages of any kind, strollers, cameras, video recorders or any type of recording device, tobacco products, personal grooming items (make-up, hair brush or comb, lip or hand lotions, etc.), any pointed objects (pens, knitting needles, etc.), aerosol containers, guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, mace, martial arts weapons/devices, or knives of any size.” – From the White House website

Next time, rather than while away the hours in front of those ominous iron gates, I think I would rather pull out my trusty White House guide book and catch a glimpse of our Presidents in action. Although this would eliminate any potential sign making, I think it may be for the best.

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Posted by Jennylynn 09:34 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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