WHAT 70 YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP LOOks LIKE

WHAT 70 YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP LOOks LIKE

On most days I consider aging a privilege, not a predicament. Remember Andrew Rooney who spoke his mind on CBS Sixty Minutes? “It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone,” he said.

Since it’s gotten warmer, early every morning I walk to this landing, just 100 steps from my condo, to feast on the view.

I deal with my aging-a-privilege chromosome month by month. Being especially joyful during the peak moments. Determined to work through the predicaments. Fixing pesky problems if they are fixable and being accepting if they aren’t. Seems to work.

Nixon’s Presidential Library in Yorba Linda

Last week I spent an amazing day, one-on-one, with a friend of 70 years. Growing up together in Manchester, Iowa, Judy and I had seen each other only 3-4 times since high school graduation. She was our class math whiz and stuck with that until her last year in college when she switched to Special Education. A graduate degree and countless years in the classroom later, she became a Resource Specialist for Special Education in the San Diego school system. At times during our day together, we were finishing each other’s sentences. Scary, right? During the Pandemic I joined a monthly Face Time conversation with her and four other school chums. Now, more than 2 years later we’re still going strong.

Judy and I planned to walk on Moonlight State Beach , a beautiful sandy spot in Encinitas, but angry, windy and rainy weather had other ideas. Where’s the beach? Even with hiking boots, the small rocks were wobbly, slippery and wet, reminding us with each careful step we were dealing with a hip (Judy) and a knee (me) that were man-made and not original!

Tuesday I drove to Yorba Linda to revisit the Nixon Presidential Library. I was first there in 2013 but it’s been totally renovated since then. Besides wanting to see this updated version and acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords (January ’73), I needed to deliver my Passport which verified my visiting all 13 libraries managed by the Archives.

I met Juan Ugarte who helped me fill out the necessary paperwork. (That’s him in a suit and me wearing jeans with frayed cuffs. Totally mortified. Sorry, Mom.) The staff seemed happy I celebrated this occasion at their library, looking on as Juan give me my medal. Several guides gave me tours proudly showing off their new “digs” with upgraded more realistic and factual exhibits.

Many presidential libraries have replicas of the Oval Office. I’ve seen them all but never sat behind the desk which Ginny, my guide, suggested I do. Well, okay. This is a replica of the Wilson desk which Nixon used during his presidency.
This art work which sits near the Nixon’s grave site celebrates the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Note the bear, the fox and the blue butterfly sitting on the bear’s back paw.
New tour guide. Suggested a photo with the helicopter four presidents had traveled on was a must do. I appreciated their enthusiasm.

Because it’s tucked in a corner of the library, few visitors walk on the moon with astronaut Buzz Aldrin. I didn’t want to miss my moon walk so found my way to it. Since Aldrin, 93, got married last week, I walked on the moon in his footsteps to honor him and his bride. Way to go, Buzz.

What began in the summer of 1963 at the Hoover Library in West Branch, Iowa, ended in March 2023 in Yorba Linda. I’m very pleased.

WINTER READING

WINTER READING: Birds is the updated edition of Rebecca Weiss and Mark Fuller’s outstanding book about Roaring Fork Valley birds. “”Presidential Temples,” which I just finished, is excellent if you’re into presidential libraries!!! Help me here, Readers. I like Geraldine Brooks and have read all her books but I just can’t get into “Horse.” It’s my book club’s choice for March so is a must read. Any thoughts? These are the two cookbooks I’m using this winter. If you’re single, borrow “Cooking for One” from your library. Then buy it.. Slagle is genius at making cooking simple. Check her out.

SHORTCUT CHILI CHICKEN adapted from I Dream of Dinner (so you don’t have to) by Ali Slagle

While I can’t feed the world’s hungry children, I can be more responsible about the food I buy and more efficient in handling it. I recently purchased I Dream of Dinner (so you don’t have to) by the multi-talented Ali Slagle.

Slagle’s book in not a conventional cookbook but may be the book you need to reignite your cooking chops following the drudgery of cooking 3 meals a day during the Pandemic. She can help you put a delicious dish on the table using fewer than eight ingredients in less than 45 minutes. Her recipes are spicier than I usually like but I either adjust the spices or, if I’m feeling daring, adjust my palate.

This widely popular chicken chili, the first recipe I made from this book, is from her Mom. Ali and everyone who knows Ali’s mom love it.

Serves: 4-6

INGREDIENTS

1 Medium Yellow Onion, coarsely chopped
2 pounds of Ground Chicken
1/4-1/2 cup Ketchup
1 24 or 28 ounce can of Tomato Puree
1 12 to 16 ounce jar of medium-hot jarred salsa
2 15-ounce cans of pinto, black or any beans of your choice for chili
2 teaspoons any Hot Sauce (Optional)
2 Tablespoons of ground Cumin (start with 1 TBS)
2 Tablespoons of EVOO
Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high before adding the coarsely chopped onion, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes until they are softened but not yet browned. Push to one side of pot.
  2. Put in the ground chicken. Season generously with S&P. (Yes, in addition to the S&P you’ve already used.) Cook, without stirring, for 5-8 minutes. Break the chicken into big pieces, stirring in the onions and cook until opaque, 2-5 minutes.
  3. Stir in 1/4-1/2 cup of ketchup. If you are adding hot sauce, do it now. Stir into the mixture until it is mostly absorbed. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened and flavorful. If it gets too thick, add water.
  4. Drain and rinse 2 15-ounce cans of the beans of your choice. Stir in the beans and cook until heated.
  5. Coarsely chop 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and stems and stir in just before serving.
Cornbread makes any meal better.
If someone makes it better, let them! I added 1 cup of crumbled crispy bacon, 1 cup of a grated Mexican cheese assortment, an ample tad of diced green chiles and roasted corn kernels (from a can) that I had left over. Cornbread makes any meal more special. Fleischmann’s get a WOW.
LET’S MAKE 2023 Shimmer & SHINE

LET’S MAKE 2023 Shimmer & SHINE

Cathy O’Connell and I have broken bread in London, Paris, Aspen and El Jebel, sharing wonderful meals and experiences together. But nothing tops the hilarity and merriment of Christmas dinner at her brother Barney’s condo in Encinitas (Cali) last Sunday night.

When I walked into Barney’s condo Christmas night, these four characters were just sitting on the couch staring at me. It was perfect. And so was the evening. Thank you, O’Connell’s. (Tommy,L. Cathy, Fred, Cathy’s husband & My Boyfriend, and Barney, R)

2023, MAKE MEMORIES

Before leaving Aspen, I attended the Anderson Ranch Art Center’s Holiday Buffet and Open House with Wendy Weaver and Connie Morrell. It was a beautiful (and, chilly) night.

For the past 10 years I’ve turned my keys over to The Gant and taken a solo winter adventure to parts unknown. I plead guilty to grumbling about the pivot from home to rental each year but have settled into being more streamlined, doing with less. This winter, hoping to begin a writing project, all I needed was a quiet landing in an English-speaking country.

Cocoanut Green Curry – One last holiday meal at Free Range Kitchen in Basalt

As with everything I do, my family jumped in to make it happen. For Emma, a senior at Point Loma Nazarene U. in San Diego, it was a no-brainer. “Why not move to one of the small beach towns near me,” she suggested.

Raise your hand if you ever considered inviting your grandmother to live nearby during your college years! Following Emma’s suggestion and after Grandma signed on, her mom (that’s my daughter), Melissa, jotted down a few communities they thought I’d like. Recalling that I once almost rented a flat with no kitchen, Missy also pulled up VRBO and began searching herself.

Shortly after I arrived, Emma’s Christmas Break began.

And that’s how, following a 1,000-mile drive from Aspen, I just settled into a lovely townhouse, with a fully-stocked kitchen, 80 stair steps from the Pacific Ocean in Solana Beach. What makes it especially fortuitous is Emma was just accepted into the Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program in Duke University’s School of Medicine so, like her sister Clara, who is in Terre Haute, both are enrolled in year-round programs. I am lucky to be here with her this winter.

A few days later, Clara flew in from Terre Haute where she attends Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. I had not seen her for three years.
A Grandmother’s joy

2022, CELEBRATE MEMORIES

Last fall I stopped my world and got off. Many of you will relate to my on-going dilemma. When I moved back to Aspen in 2013 and moved into my furnished condo, I brought with me the contents of two houses. In time I’ve gotten rid of the furniture but I’ve always kept my 10’x15’ storage unit which is loaded with wall to ceiling boxes.

Before leaving Aspen, I made a trip up Ajax in the gondola .

Every year my very able CPA gets more exasperated that I don’t deal with this. Early on he was sympathetic, a difficult job, raw emotions. Running out of excuses, four years ago I explained I couldn’t bear to get rid of my Christmas decorations. That excuse, which I also used the following year, did not fly. Yes, I could understand his not understanding why I didn’t understand the wasteful co$t involved.

Last October, weighed down with too much baggage, I went cold turkey with my storage addiction. For one month I shut down my life. Literally. Four days a week I made the 30-mile commute to forage through boxes packed in 2004 and 2013. Whatever was in them, labeled or not, I obviously hadn’t needed. Although my family and friends grew tired and downright rude about my pestering them to take items, most things were too nice to ditch.

The question is, Will these trees be standing when I return home?

On the days I wasn’t in Carbondale at the warehouse, I was dispersing what I’d unpacked to charities, libraries and the like. My favorite stop was the Aspen Thrift Shop managed since 1949 by local volunteers, primarily women who are my friends. This reminded me what I was doing for one month, they do every day.

It was hot and dusty work. Even wearing gloves, brutal on my nails and abusive to my manicure! Paper cuts do hurt. I bruise easily so my arms were a eerie shading of black-and-blue. A time or two there was blood involved. Albeit longer hours/days and fewer breaks or snacks, I wondered, was this a glimpse into life as an Amazon warehouse employee?

The Resnick Art Gallery featuring work by Herbert Bayer was a well-done and fabulous addition to the Aspen Meadows campus in 2022.

Each box I broke down for recycling was a victory. I thought this would be tough emotionally, it wasn’t. I shed a tear every so often but laughed more as I was reminded of silly memories, appreciating a Life well lived and still plowing forward. When I was finished, had swept out my unit and pulled down the folding door, I don’t know who was happiest, Me, Melissa or My Friends. Probably, all of the above.

Hugs, Love and Happy New Year, Loyal Readers

These coastal rascals, Marbled Godwits, are scooting around the beach every day.

DORIE, ALWAYS AT HER BEST

Perhaps, like me, you’ve had enough sweets, drink and holiday fare…..until Super Bowl weekend or, perhaps, Valentines Day. While I don’t often include meat in my menu, when I do I want it juicy, ultra-flavorful and tender to the max. And, leftovers. A must. This is my go-to recipe for winter. A flank steak is more affordable than most cuts. The marinade is the kicker. It’s magic. And, it works with many cuts of beef and chicken cutlets.

MARINATED, PAN-SEARED FLANK STEAK adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie cookbook. (Note the pink.)

MARINATED, PAN-SEARED FLANK STEAK adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie cookbook

This marinade, with its 1-2 punch both flavors and tenderizes the steak and then is used to sauce it. (TIP: To have more sauce, I doubled this recipe which keeps nicely in the refrigerator for 4 days.)

This can also be turned into fabulous-tasting sandwiches or a delicious salad
 
2-4 servings

INGREDIENTS
MARINADE:

Two inches of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce, low-sodium preferred
2 tablespoons olive oil or neutral oil
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 large or 4 small limes
1/4-1/2 cup cilantro (including tender stems), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste

1 flank steak, 18 ounces total (or, 2 skirt steaks or 1 hangar steak or chicken cutlets, if desired)

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the curry paste in a medium bowl and mash it together with the ginger, garlic and sugar. Add the soy sauce, oil, lime zest and juice and the cilantro, stirring to blend. Taste, and add more curry paste or garlic, as needed.
  2. Place the meat in a dish that will hold it snugly. Pour over the marinade, then rub it into both sides of the meat. Cover the dish and either let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate it for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. (If you’re refrigerating the meat, it might be easier to just pack everything into a zip-top bag.) Remove it from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  3. When you’re ready to cook, remove the meat from the marinade, scrape whatever solids may be stuck to the meat back into the bowl and pat the meat dry.
  4. Use cooking oil spray to grease a grill pan or cast-iron skillet and place over high heat. Add the meat. if you’re cooking 2 steaks, don’t crowd them. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the meat’s thickness. (A flank steak will cook faster than a skirt or hanger – it may need just 2 to 3 minutes on a side.) Turn the meat over and cook until done just as you like.

To check on the meat, make a slight cut to the meat and take a peek, remembering that the meat will continue to cook a bit after it comes off the heat.

  1. Transfer to a cutting board to rest. Season with salt and pepper and let the steak sit for a few minutes while you reheat the marinade. Bring the marinade to a boil in a microwave (HIGH) or in a pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Cook for a few minutes, then remove from the heat.
  2. Slice the rested steak as thick or thin as you like, against the grain. Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve warm.

TIP: I suggest serving this with Ina Garten’s Sautéed Broccoli

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/sauteed-broccolini-recipe-1944683

“You’ll never get bored when you try something new. There’s really no limit to what you can do.” —Dr. Seuss

FRENCH APPLE CAKE. IT’S GENIUS.

FRENCH APPLE CAKE. IT’S GENIUS.

YEAR 2013

Years ago I flew to the Food Blogger Conference in Seattle to join twenty other French Friday with Dorie members to support Dorie Greenspan, the keynote speaker. We were part of a virtual group cooking through her latest award-winning book, “Around My French Table.”

Rosh Hashanah Dinner 2022 – French Apple Cake, Plum Cake, Mixed Fruit

At that time, it had been 30-some years since my being in a plane crash. After trying everything from pills to hypnosis to single malt scotch, I was still terrified to fly. Usually flying alone, I never chatted with seat-mates, watched no movies, didn’t catch a wink and if I’d spot a plane nearby, I’d alert the stewardess.

On the Seattle flight, shortly after taking off, my seat mate who I later discovered was a psychiatrist, psychologist or something, said, “You look like you’re a worrier.”

At that time, dealing with several issues including grief and wanting to close down the conversation, I responded, “Ya think?”

Without losing a beat, he began, “I can help you with that.”

Elaine Grossman baked this gorgeous loaf of Challah bread. It was as delicious to eat as it was to see. Baking any bread at high-altitude successfully is quite an accomplishment.

In short he correctly reminded me that worrying is not productive. “Do this,” he suggested. “Every time you begin to worry about something, write it down, park it someplace and do not think about it. Then pick a day. I would say for you it’s every Wednesday at 3pm. When you check out your Worry List every week at 3pm, I predict most of those worries would have already solved themselves and some now just seem silly.”

Readers, you just heard the short version but you get it. He finished his remarks just as we were landing in Seattle. Ironically, I sorta liked that idea although my family thought it was bonkers and my friends scoffed. Still, I tried it for a time, it seemed to work but like every How-To idea or diet, I forgot about it.

The last of our Colorado peaches. This O’Henry peach is a very large, yellow, freestone peach with red skin, firm flesh and superb flavor. My favorite.

YEAR 2022

In September I decided to dust off and tweak that old idea which had worked so well. In the past three years, since the Pandemic began, I felt I’d lost my Joy and despite what I considered ‘Herculean’ efforts, I couldn’t find it. Like each of you, I’ve been knocked down a time….or four or five, but I’ve always bounced back quickly. For the Life I’m now privileged to live, this lack of feeling Joy, if you will, is disappointing to me, embarrassing to write about and even disgusting. But what I’ve found from ten years of writing this blog, when I voice a concern or sadness or muddle and ask myself, “Should I write this?” there are always a few readers who have similar feelings but not a vehicle to share it or a confidante to tell it. 

SweeTango (L) apples were introduced in 2009 when horticulturists from the UofMinnesota bred a Honey Crisp with a Zestar. In 1999 the UofMinnesota horticulturists had introduced the early season, hardy apple, the Zestar (L Back) that’s juicy with a light and crisp texture. The two Honeycrisps (R) were also developed in Minnesota and have become among the most popular apple in the world. Note: I may have my apples labeled incorrectly!!!
Sam, pictured here at the Senior Center and who works for Pitkin County, delivers fresh vegetables to us every week and helps us set up the displays for our veggie market. He’s a great guy and has made this year’s program even better. Sam’s from Minnesota where his family still lives and works. Returning from vacation, he brought back sacks of Minnesota apples fresh from the farm to share. I used them in my apples cakes this fall.

In the past month while thinking about this post, I’ve wondered what Joy really looks like in Year 2022. Each day I’m trying to come up with and jot down what I call “Joy Juice.” (Well, it’s better than drinking it.). Even finding $50 in my jean’s back pocket recently counts! 

OUR BEARS AT PLAY

“Mama, It’s going to be a long winter. I’m hungry,” says the little black bear.
Our bears are e-v-e-r-y–w-h-e-r-e on the hunt for food. During the fall they eat and drink nearly nonstop, needing to put on weight to prepare for winter and hibernation. This process is called hyperphagia.

DORIE’S FRENCH APPLE CAKE, A GENIUS RECIPE

I first baked Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake on December 8, 2012 when I was a member of French Fridays with Dorie. Every week we would make a group recipe choice, bake it and write up a post about it on our blogs. Every since then I’ve baked at least 10 of these cakes each year. This apple cake was my favorite recipe in the book and the favorite of many “Dorista’s.” 

Later it was celebrated in the first of the Food52 genius cookbooks, Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook.  At the time, one of its editors wrote, ‘know that apples cobbled together with gently boozed up, custardy cake are going to be well received.’

MARIE-HELENE’S (Dorie’s good friend) FRENCH APPLE CAKE

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

4 large apples (If you can, choose 4 different kinds)

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3 Tbs. dark rum

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

8 Tbs. (1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it. If you use a larger pan, it will lose some of its height.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.

3. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks. If possible, use 4 different apples of any kind.

4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish. Bang the pan on the counter 2-3 times to remove air bubbles.

5. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 to 70 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. The cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

6. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

SERVING: The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-Hélène’s served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.

Another.

STORING: The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature. It’s best not to cover it tightly because it’s too moist. Leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.

OUR BEARS AT WORK 

Although our bears are tenacious and clever, more often it’s the homeowner/business owner who is careless. A fed bear is a dead bear.
summer joy, TOMATOES & WHAT’S AHEAD

summer joy, TOMATOES & WHAT’S AHEAD

If the answer is, “Don’t know.” 

Pretty sure the question was, “Where did the summer go?”

#Summer Highlights
Facade of Aspen Art Museum

What hasn’t yet left the building is this year’s bountiful crop of tomatoes.  As long as we can still slice and salt a ripe, juicy tomato, pile it between two slices of white bread slathered with butter or mayo, it’s still summer.

Here’s another thought. If you bake Dorie’s recipe for her Simple Tomato Tart and tweak it to your liking, you’ve got a friend forever. Simple is the key word here. What cranks this tart up a notch is the two-mustard/honey mixture spread over the crust before adding the sliced tomatoes. This works served warm, room temp or cold for any meal or with drinks. 

TRAVEL TIME 

Labor Day week-end is when I pull together my winter game plan.  As many of you know,  I leave Aspen for the 4-month ski season. The business woman side of me kicks in when I turn my keys over to The Gant for winter rentals. Since many of you have asked, yes, it’s a pain to re-organize my condo for renters. 

It’s also given me the ability to not only live at The Gant but also winter in places like Maui, San Miguel de Allende and Paris. That’s why the scale tips heavily to letting strangers sleep in my bed!

#Summer Highlights – This is what I love about living in Aspen. We all moved here in different eras. John Cooley, (R) was instrumental in planning/developing Snowmass which opened in December 1967. In the early Seventies I learned to ski at Snowmass. Michael and I moved here in 1988. Although Bill Mason (L) and his wife, Sue, lived in Seattle, and visited Aspen often, they just moved and bought a home here last year. The three of us had stories to share. Gracie Oliphant photo

This year I’m sitting tight in a (yet unchosen) tiny, beach cottage on the southern coast of California. During the Summer of 1963 while attending summer school at the U of Iowa, I drove over to nearby West Branch to visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library which had just opened. I was blown away by that library. On that day I promised myself I would visit every presidential library in the country. There were three others. 

#Summer Highlights – My hiking partner, Deb Overeynder and I “at work.”

Unfortunately/fortunately, Life got in the way of that dream. When I found myself alone ten years ago, there were thirteen libraries! Beginning in 2013, I began to fulfill that promise . I completed my journey on November 16, 2018, during a raging snow storm in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is why perhaps at last count only 99 other people have done this.

#Summer HIghlights – One evening my dinner party partner, Gracie Oliphant, and I watched this little guy, covered with pollen, savoring the bounty of our floral centerpiece. The next day I received this photo from Gracie. Love it.

I planned to write about this phenomenal adventure when I became unable to travel independently anymore. However, now is the time.  I have no end game nor know where I’m going with this. It’s not for profit, just for my personal pleasure.  I enjoy a wonderful life but it’s impossible to find quiet blocks of time when I’m gone all winter and have a busy summer /fall in Aspen.

When you visit a library, they “stamp” your Passport with the name of the President and the date you were there.

“Presidential Libraries are home to hundreds of thousands of artifacts. They’re storehouses of billions of records. They preserve legacies, offer insights (and opinions) on history and are a testament to the incredible power of the office of president of the United States.” Author Kathleen McCleary

#Summer Highlights – This was a summer of celebrations to make up for all we missed during the previous two Covid summers. Ruth Frey, the birthday girl and Donna Grauer

A SIMPLE TOMATO TART adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Baking with Dorie

INGREDIENTS:

3-5 medium and large tomatoes, depending on size of tart pan

1 Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard and 2 Tablespoons of Grainy Mustard

1-2 Tablespoons of Honey, to taste

1/2 Cup of grated cheese such as Gruyère; Comté or cheddar 

Olive Oil for drizzling

Fine Sea salt and freshly ground Pepper 

Variety of herbs (optional), basil leaves, thyme or rosemary springs, finely chopped parsley, basil or cilantro

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix together your favorite 8-x-11 inch pastry/tart dough or use store-bought pie dough. Partially bake (Blind Bake) per the recipe/package instructions, cool and set aside on your tart pan of choice. 

2. Slice your tomatoes fairly thickly (1/2-inch thick slices). Place a double thickness of paper towels on a large plate or cutting board and  sprinkle with salt. Cover with a double layer of paper towel. (I did this twice.) Allow to drain for at least 20 minutes or you can also do ahead and store in the fridge overnight.

Spread the mustard/honey mixture on top of the crust.

3. Center a rack in the oven and preheat t0 400 degrees. Place the partially baked crust on a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.

4. Whisk together the mustards and honey in a small bowl, adjust to your taste and spread the mixture over the BOTTOM of the crust. Tear and spread basil over the mustard mixture. Top with 1/4 of a cup of grated cheese. Layer the tomatoes in a single layer over the mustard. Season with pepper and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. 

The tart is ready for the oven. Roast for 20-30 minutes.

5. Bake to tart, depending on size, for 20-30 minutes or until tomatoes can be easily pierced with a knife. At that point sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and heat for another 2-3 minutes before removing from oven.. 

6. Scatter finely chopped herbs of your choice over the top. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

#Summer Highlights – The fruits and vegetables have been beautiful and delicious this year.
WHAT’S UP with GEN Z? Let’s listen.

WHAT’S UP with GEN Z? Let’s listen.

Every summer from late June to early Fall, I pick up addictively delicious Palisade peaches (and plums, apricots, pears and sweet corn) at a fruit stand pitched near the gas tanks at Roaring Fork Valley Coop in nearby Carbondale. The Coop is my year-round go-t0 for fresh eggs, their gas is a bargain and the bathroom wins my Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. (Remember how important that became when Covid hit?) There’s not much this Iowa farm girl can’t find at a Coop.

With my recent cache of peaches, I pulled together Dorie Greenspan’s divine Drop-biscuit Peach-Blueberry Cobbler. Her cobbler begs for David Lebovitz’ Peach Ice Cream so I’m answering the call this weekend and will post both recipes in my next blog.

AN INTERVIEW with EMMA

Last week my granddaughter made her annual visit to Aspen. Emma was born two months after 9/11 and turned 21 during the Covid pandemic. She first voted for president in 2020 and started to be politically and current events-conscious during President Obama’s terms. Emma is GenerationZ (15-25).

During the recent Aspen Institute Ideas Festival, I attended a session called “Looking Forward with GenZ.” The premise was “Lots of people are talking ABOUT GenZ. Far fewer are talking TO GenZ. That has to change.” The data in the report is eye-opening. It’s as if we live on different planets?

Prior to Emma’s arrival, I emailed a number of people, some I knew, others I didn’t. What I asked was “If you could ask a 21-year-old GenZ’er one question, what would it be?” My responses, representing every decade from teenager to folks in their 90’s, was diverse and of every political persuasion. Emma bought into my idea of a week-long casual conversation . Over the years we’ve done this before. She takes these interviews very seriously. (As do I.) Below are very abbreviated answers to some of those questions.

Hiking with Emma.

If you could ask a 21-year-old GenZ’er one question, what would it be?

  1. Q: What gives you the most joy and what makes you the most afraid?

A: Being an individual who’s still a part of something. Feeling in control. Seizing opportunity as it presents itself. I’m not afraid of anything. If I start to be scared, I just ask myself, “What part of this can I control?”

  1. Q: What three things would you need to feel secure and confident about your personal future? What would a happy life look like for you?

A:  Education, a plan. Passion and a calling. Resources + tools to get there, nothing fancy or crazy, just enough. 

A happy life? GenZ is wayyyyyy less interested in money than previous generations. Financial stability is a plus for sure, but more so, what can life offer beyond that. I want to strike a balance with work, play, joy, and where the opportunity to learn is always present.

Over the years I’ve collected Starbuck mugs wherever my travels take me. Since my “collections” have outlived my ability to store them, it’s time to do some editing. That’s why my mugs live on my mantle this summer one last time, making my morning coffee and memories even more special.
  1. Q: What is the definition of success for you? How are you prepared to handle it if it doesn’t materialize as you envision?

A: It’s not so much about achievement but your mental attitude as you do achieve. I love goals of course but I really do my best to keep my mindset focused, intentional, kind and open as I work towards them. We GenZ’ers are extremely flexible, adaptable, and innovative when it comes to change. We’ve had to be.

(Gramma Memo: Emma is a senior at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. Her major is Child and Adolescent Development. She has minors in Spanish and Pre-therapeutic Psychology.)

  1. Q: With so much current negative news, what are you most concerned about as you move into your 20s? What are the three biggest issues facing GenZ? What makes you excited and energized about the future?

A: Misinformation and polarization. Non response to environmental issues, choosing to believe since “they” are not impacted, GenZ will not be impacted. Racial and Mental Health ignorance.

We recognize what the generations above us contributed to society, both pros and cons. My generation vows to work together to create a more balanced, fair and inclusive society.

Up early for coffee and conversation. Today we’re in Madrid and the Czech Republic.
  1. Q: How would you address the fact that solely due to age, GenerationZ is continually discredited during important conversations when it will be our responsibility to clean up the mess we are left with? (asked by a Zoomer)

A: I have no doubt we will successfully be at the table, sooner rather than later. We’ve got desire. Right now we can participate in the process by voting in numbers that influence elections. I will admit that it would be nice to sometimes be acknowledged.

  1. Q: White privilege?

A: I understand I’m privileged. But realizing we’re stronger together, our generation celebrates diverse voices and accepts all stories and experiences. I have an obligation to participate in society as myself while also responding to the needs of that diversity.

If it’s Thursday, it must be Kraków and San Miguel de Allende.
  1. Q: As a member of GenZ, what do you consider the most important differences from those of older generations?

A: I think older generations operate in survival mode. Instead of our taking that as a “This is how it is, has been and will be,” we ask “Why can we not change it and How?”

  1. Q: What are YOU willing to give up to slow global warming?

A: I’d also like to ask that question to our older generations. As for me personally, I subscribe to multiple, helpful podcasts/blogs. I recycle and reuse. I carpool. I thrift everything I own and encourage others to join me. Eat mostly vegetarian. Volunteer. Ask ?s.

Chicago and Turkey
  1. Q: Do you believe it is worth your time to counter climate change and the wave of nationalistic authoritarian politics? Or live in indifference?

A: Of course I think it is worth my time. To be indifferent about topics and politics that affect or alter my life and the lives of many others is not productive. We are not okay with our freedoms being taken away. We are too progressive. It’s a matter of time but change will come. GenerationZ has Grit.

  1. Q: How can we engage GenZ in activism?

A: Although we have little power in the Congress/Supreme Court many of us already are engaged and pushing back. We’re more aggressive about finding opportunities. An example, this month Olivia Julianna turned being body-shamed by a congressman into raising within a week $2.2 million for 50 abortion rights organizations via social media. She’s 19 years old.

Today it’s Maui, Paris and “Grandma, if you don’t finish your coffee and take this picture, I’m going to miss my plane!”
  1. Q: Describe yourself in 5 years.

A: Healthy, Joyful, Inspired, Brave, Confident, Educated, Experienced, Creative, Passionate, Intuitive

  1. Q: Are you hopeful, why?

A: Uh, YAH! I believe in our generation. We have challenges but we have fire. I am beyond excited each day to learn, go to school, participate, and work hard. When I was at California Girl’s State, I learned how important it is to be active and engage in our government on a county, state, and national level. Hope is inspired by drive. And we have a lot of drive. At least I know I do.

When Emma was one year old and visiting us in Aspen, her Mom, Wendy and I decided to climb up Buttermilk Mountain. Not long after beginning Melissa (Emma’s Mom), sleep-deprived and hiking at high altitude, just couldn’t carry Emma. I wasn’t strong enough. Rather than quit, Wendy said, “I’ll take her.” And, off they went. As I recall, when Missy and I finally got to the top, a bit of a huff for us, Emma and Wendy were patiently waiting!
  1. Q: Is there any politician that currently inspires you to action? Who? Why? What?

A: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AOC, the U.S. representative for New York’s 14th congressional district since 2019.

She’s a badass. Not afraid to call out wrongdoings. She’s honest. Good. Young. And intense about subjects we ALL care about.

  1. Q: What does your generation stand for vs. what they are known for? 

A: Basically we stand for change, forward motion and progress. What are we known for? I don’t know. You will have ask others.

Summer Reading – If you’re already an Isabel Allende fan, you’ll relish “Violeta.” “That Wild Country” is author Mark Kenyon’s personal homage to our treasured public lands. “The North American beaver is a keystone species, a unique organism that supports the entire biological community.” After reading “Beaversprite” and “Eager Beavers Matter,” I’m in love. Just getting started with “The Ghosts of Paris.”
  1. Q: How do we get GenerationZ to vote.

A: We do vote. The 2020 election showed that. Most of us have been too young to participate in the past and voting is more restrictive in many states for us (and, everyone.) Right now we’d also like to hear from older generations that our voices matter.

16. Q: How best can we communicate with Zoomers?

A: Text, call, FaceTime. I do not not use social media. I flow between phone, text, photos and face-to-face.

We brake for bighorn sheep.
  1. Q: What role does discipline play in your life?

A: Some of the best GenZers I know practice discipline and balance in their life. For me it’s an essential practice. Aside from taking 6 classes, I am president of Phi Upsilon Omicron, the family/consumer sciences honors society, RA for an on-campus apartment complex, an aide at the Early Childhood Learning Center on campus, an intern at Kids on the Point Occupational Therapy and a virtual tutor for high school-aged students. So, I am busy and discipline is second nature to me.

It was a beautiful week in Colorado.