If Laughter is the best medicine and an apple a day keeps the doctor away, I’m looking at healthy. This has been a week carbo-loaded with Life’s joys and nature’s wonder. It’s also been days of peeling Granny Smith apples, tossing them in the crockpot and producing enough hunky applesauce to feed the populace of Colorado.
It’s because of joy, wonder, and, yes, even applesauce, that I am tardy in posting this week’s French Friday with Dorie recipe, a scrumptious Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes ( I used Dates).
Let me explain. First, the applesauce. My philosophy, which I have finally come to regret, is that if more is better, more, more, more is best. Granny Smith apples were on sale this week and, not wanting to miss out on a great price, I overbought. Peeling apples gulps up chunks of time.
As for Mother Nature’s wonder, she dumped it here last week. It’s called snow and Coloradans are ecstatic. As they should be. This state cries for moisture and its ski resorts beg for the white stuff. Having evaded such nonsense for the past eight years while living in Nevada, I found myself ill-prepared. No boots. No mittens. No car snow scraper. You name it, I didn’t have it. I declared myself a snow emergency and took a time-out to regroup.
The joys have been in bringing closure to the journey of a good man and a life well-lived. For the past three months my family and I have been discussing how best to honor Michael with a memorial of some type. Although we wanted it to be meaningful and significant, we are not a family of great wealth, charitable trusts nor much discretionary income.
As our friend, Lloyd, said in his eulogy to Michael, “He never confused his self-worth with his net-worth. Getting rich was not his goal in life. His life’s goal was taking care of his patients and he did that very well.”
There are all kinds of tiny, hand-to-mouth organizations in every community and Aspen is no exception. But it was a no-brainer to choose the Forest Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the White River National Forest and serving the community (that’s all of you) who enjoys it.
The FC was established in 2001 by four Aspenites concerned about the lack of government-paid personnel (Rangers) available to protect and monitor the 2.3 million acres of the WRNF. What began with four, quickly grew to fourteen (when I joined), and now is well over one-hundred volunteers who serve as Wilderness Rangers, Forest Ambassadors and certified Master Naturalists.
The FC collaborates with the USDA Forest Service and thirteen other partners to hike and monitor our trails. Today, more than a decade later, the FC is an indispensable arm of the Forest Service and BLM and…………always strapped for cash.
What better way to recognize a man who not only skiied these mountains for fifty straight years but also grumbled his way through three to five-mile hikes every summer with his wife. Once decided, my brother and sister-in-law made a very, very generous contribution to the FC in Michael’s name which I will match. Happily, we’re in business. A win-win for everyone.
Last Friday night, three FC friends, all FC volunteers, joined me for dinner to celebrate, thus having the opportunity to sample Dorie’s FFWD recipe choice. Once again, this week’s recipe, Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes, was fabulous. Luckily, you can find the recipe here. I served this one-dish meal with Yotam Ottolenghi’s Beet, Orange and Black Olive Salad (recipe here) saffron risotto and crusty bread. Needing a light dessert, we enjoyed daughter Melissa’s crockpot applesauce (warm) over Dulce de Leche ice cream.
Donna, who coincidentally, is the FC treasurer, loved this tagine’s spices – saffron, cinnamon, cayenne, star anise and bay leaves. “There are no sharp edges to this dish,” she remarked, “it’s just round and mellow.”
Her husband, Bernie, who is a Forest Ambassador at our beloved Maroon Bells, brought bottles of well-regarded Chateau De Paraza red wine from the Minervois AOC region of the Lanquedoc. It was fruitier than a Bordeaux with an earthy, rustic taste that complimented the tagine.
My only tagine suggestions which I offer are:
1. For fuller flavoring, steep the saffon threads in the 1/2 cup of warmed water needed in the tagine.
2. Because it is topped with toasted chopped walnuts, I substituted walnut oil for the plain olive oil.
3. I chose Dates over Prunes.
To see what the Doristas, my colleagues who did meet the Friday deadline cooked up, go here.