A BERRY, BERRY DELICIOUS PIE

A BERRY, BERRY DELICIOUS PIE

It was a balmy April evening, my three-month visit to Washington DC about to end, when I went to the Kennedy Center. Although I’d taken an extensive Center tour in March, this was a live, evening performance with the National Symphony Orchestra performing Fauré’s Requiem & Mozart’s “Paris Symphony.”

At intermission I stood by the aisle and watched people roam, mix and chat. As the crowd dispersed, walking back down the aisle looking for their seats, I spotted Bob Woodward. You know, that Bob Woodward. Journalist. Watergate. PulitzerPrizes(2). No, dear Readers, I didn’t embarrass myself. I just savored the moment.

The National Symphony performing at the Kennedy Center.

So when you ask what is one of the best things I saw and experienced during my three months in DC, that would be my answer…..Bob Woodward.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

As I mentioned in my last blog post (March 6th), during my time in DC I lived in nearby Bethesda. On most mornings I walked the three blocks from my condo to catch the Metro. Thirty minutes later I stepped off the Metro, climbed 3 sets of stairs and was at the National Mall, a two-mile stretch of green space spreading from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. It is home to and nearby some of the city’s most famous monuments, memorials and museums. I visited most of them.

On April 8, 2024, the National Air and Space Museum and other Smithsonian museums hosted a solar eclipse festival on the National Mall. The eclipse was visible from 2:04–4:32 PM, with maximum eclipse at 3:20 PM. In DC, the moon covered 87% of the sun during the maximum eclipse,

What would become one of my favorite visits was to the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, two buildings but one museum and now officially named the National Museum of Asian Art. Whether you’re interested in Asian art or not, the Freer Gallery is worth visiting if only to see “Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room” a spectacular work of interior decorative art. Created by James McNeill Whistler between 1876-1877, he painted the paneled room in a unified palette of blue-greens with over-glazing and metallic gold leaf. When visiting, quietly sit in the bedazzling room and be mesmerized by its beauty.

The Peacock Room, National Museum of Asian Art

Karaoke, never done it. But given the opportunity as happened at Planet Word, the world’s first interactive, voice-activated museum of words and language, I stepped up to have my moment with Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” My time at the mike was short. When you have three sets of teenagers waiting their turn and you’re the adult in the room, it’s time to move on. (See photo below.) Planet Word, imagined, created and partially-funded by CEO Ann Bucksbaum Friedman, is a private, non-government museum that opened its doors in 2020. When Lisa Wilkinson, an Aspen friend, mentioned she’d be in DC and wanted to visit ‘that new museum about words,’ we made a date.

‘The Planet Word Chandelier is a 12 foot diameter sphere covered in 4,860 individually controlled light elements. These distributed lights create a spherical screen, displaying interactive content about the world’s languages. At night, to make room for events, it automatically rises to the ceiling, transforming into a unique and massive chandelier.’ (Created by Hypersonics)

Planet Word is located in the historic, newly renovated Franklin School, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark. While its mission is to stay “focused on sharing the power, fun, and beauty of language with the world,” it’s a heck of a lift to equate grammar, syntax, and semantics with merrymaking. But Planet Word is ‘an imaginative magnet, attracting all of us, regardless of age, to its linguistic wonderland.’ Truth.

‘The 22-foot-tall talking wall of words shares the story of the English language, exploring the many forces that shaped the words we use today.’
If it weren’t for these five young men, I might still be at Planet Word singing “Sweet Caroline.” It was clear, however, they wanted a go at Karaoke. But in deference to me, they stayed with “Caroline” until the song’s end!

Throughout the summer, if you indulge me, I plan to share some of my most memorable times during my DC winter. I always realized spending 3 months in our nation’s capital city would be a gift. After being home, having time for deep breaths and reflections, I’m understanding at this point in my life it’s become more an opportunity.

moon rock collected by Apollo astronauts during the first moon landing is enshrined in a stainedglass window – known as the Space Window – at the Washington National Cathedral.

My most enlightening experience was at a week-long program entitled “Inside American Diplomacy with the Foreign Service.” The FS, its 16,000 highly educated professionals scattered to more than 200 worldwide locations, serves as our eyes and ears on the ground. Established in May 24,1924 by Congress and a part of the State Department, they are celebrating their 100th-year Anniversary.

One of our field trips was to Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. Directed by former Yemen Ambassador Barbara Bodine, one of its missions is to train future Foreign Service candidates to go out into the world and, well, “diplomat.” It’s called diplomatic statecraft.

Ambassador Barbara Bodine was among the first female ambassadors to Middle Eastern countries. Called a battle-worn general as well as a career diplomat, she knew firsthand the wrath of Saddam Hussein and is still standing. I’m glad she was on our side.

Ambassador Bodine, whose career was spent primarily in Southwest Asia and the Arabian Peninsula, was Ambassador to Kuwait for 137 days during the Gulf War. One of the first female ambassadors to Middle Eastern countries, she was then appointed to Yemen. Her career was not without controversy (the USS Cole bombing aftermath) nor without peril (her plane was once hijacked, by an Iraqi Hussein supporter, mid-flight and diverted to the Djibouti before being released.)

My favorite speaker from my winter in DC, she spoke of her life, her career and the various jobs, responsibilities and opportunities she’s been given. Quite impressive.

Thomas Jefferson, America’s founding father and primary author of the Declaration of Independence

JOY the BAKER’S STRAWBERRY OAT CRUMBLE PIE Adapted from: Joy the Baker

Made with fresh strawberries and a buttery oat crumble topping!

1   9-inch pie

INGREDIENTS

CRUST:

Make your favorite homemade pie crust or pick up a store-bought pie crust from your favorite grocery. Roll your pastry dough into a 13-inch round. Lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in a deep 9-inch round pie dish. Place in the fridge.

STRAWBERRY FILLING:

6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half (if the strawberries are large, cut them in thirds or fourths)
1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup instant tapioca
large pinch of salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

OAT CRUMBLE:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
large pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. To make the strawberry pie filling toss together strawberries, sugars, tapioca, salt, lemon juice, ground ginger and nutmeg. Toss until all of the tapioca is dispersed throughout the strawberries and let rest for at least 10 minutes. The strawberries will begin to produce juice and the tapioca will begin to soften slightly.
  2. To make the oat crumble, whisk together flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter chunks and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the mixture until well incorporated. Some butter bits will be the size of peas and smaller.
  3. Toss 1/4 cup of oat filling into the strawberry filling and stir to combine. Spoon strawberry filling and its juice into the pie dish. 
  4. Spread crumble topping over the strawberry filling in an even layer. Trim the pie crust to about 1-inch larger than the pie dish, fold the crust under (tucking it inside the pie dish a bit) and crimp with your fingers.
  5. To finish, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Allow the pie to rest in the refrigerator while the oven preheats.
  6. Place pie on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake the pie for 30-35 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the strawberry filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving – 4 hours or so will help the pie cool and set.
  7. NOTE: I used 1/4 cup LESS of granulated sugar for the filling. I baked my pie 10 minutes longer. So begin checking your pie after 30-35 minutes. It may not be done.

Served best with whipped cream but vanilla ice cream comes in a close second. Wrap tightly and store leftovers, if there are any, in the fridge.

HOME AND SO GLAD TO BE HERE:


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WASHINGTON D.C. UNACCOMPANIED

WASHINGTON D.C. UNACCOMPANIED

Presidents Day Weekend, My Neighbor’s Porch, a Native American and our flag.

Six weeks and halfway through my deep dive into visiting Washington D.C’s cultural, historical, and artistic treasures, the stars and stripes are still flying, the cherry blossom florets about to burst and I am still standing.

INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM

https://www.spymuseum.org

While our capital is known for its magnificent monuments, excellently curated museums and the occasional political scandal, one of the town’s hottest ticket is the International Spy Museum. Before you jest, just know my Code Name is Earthquake. I am somewhat successful with codebreaking but possess limited surveillance skills. The museum’s popularity after recently moving into its $162 million new digs with its 1,000 artifacts enhanced with the razzle dazzle of videos and interpretive copy, skyrocketed.

Aston Martin Vanquish “Die Another Day” film, 2002 and the Mercury Cougar XR7 (Red) “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service film, 1969

Then along comes the martini, shaken-not-stirred guy. Bond. James Bond. The first day I was in DC, I grabbed a Metro and found my wandering way to the National Mall. Although I’d never heard of the Spy Museum, the hubbub, crowd and classic cars caught my eye. The museum was pulling together an exhibition of iconic vehicles used on-screen by 007, his many allies and adversaries. Bond In Motion is a celebration of six decades of 17 iconic 007 vehicles, props, scale models and clips from the films alongside motorcycles, submarines, and more from the Q Branch garage. It opened last week and will run through April 2025.

AMC Hornet “Die Another Day” 1974

I went to opening day. Full disclosure, I’ve never seen a Bond movie. However the exhibit is stunning, the museum spectacular and, unable to see it all, worth a return visit next week when my code name will still be Earthquake.

This was my primary destination for the past six weeks when I would take the Metro from Bethesda to D.C.

ME, MYSELF and MUSEUMS

On Valentines Day I walked around the White House .
I thought this exhibit looked interesting and opened the door before realizing I was in the Canadian Embassy. The exhibit was interesting. So was the tour! And our neighbors to the north were most gracious.
My Valentine’s Day lunch. Established in 1856, Old Ebbitt Grill is Washington’s oldest saloon  and just steps from The White House. The fish is branzino.

In addition to the Smithsonian Institution with 17 of its museums located in D.C., more than 200 museums, historic homes, small art museums and headquarters of patriotic organizations are contained throughout the DC area.

One photo. Two Marys. The outdoor sculpture terrace of the I.M.Pei-designed East Building of the National Gallery of Art.
From 1909-1910 Theodore Roosevelt and a group of Smithsonian naturalists collected 12,151 natural history specimens including this lion. This lion went on display in April, 1913. Natural History Museum.
These Owl Butterflies love their fermented fruit. Butterfly Pavilion, Natural History Museum

Although it will be impossible to see it all, I rely on the many available policemen and Metro officers for help and advice. Witness the Circulator, a bus with a route on the National Mall going to 14 museums and 13 monuments over and over again. Early into my visit I asked a bus driver for directions. Having no riders, he offered to take me which he did but not before giving me a full on tour with his spiel to include the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and nine other monuments..

Oprah National Portrait Gallery
Civil Rights Icon and U.S. Congressman John Lewis RIP
President Obama
The National Portrait Gallery hosted a family celebration on February 10th for the Lunar New Year. It was wild in a kids-having-fun-sort of way.

RIDING the RAILS, MONOCACY and KRISTIN HANNAH

My French Fridays friend, Betsy Pollack-Benjamin and I visited Monocacy National Battlefield with its exceptional Civil War Museum. The crucial Battle of Monocracy delayed Confederate forces sent to capture the Nation’s Capital and ultimately forced them to withdraw to Virginia.

I spent a long weekend in Durham with my granddaughter, Emma, who is a grad student in Duke’s School of Medicine. To get there I took my first Amtrak trip from D.C.’s Union Station and thought it was fine.

Durham’s Saturday Farmer’s Market
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens.at Duke University.

Of the 10 things AI suggests I do while visiting a grandchild in graduate school, we did eight. 1)Explore the campus; 2)Sample local cuisine; 3)Stroll through the city; 4)Visit nearby attractions; 5)Share stories/ memories; 6)Help with errands (Hello, Hokas!); 7)Take photos; 8)Enjoy quality time/catching up.

We didn’t 1) Attend a research presentation; 2)Attend a graduation-related event.

At Emma’s book store I picked up The Women by Kristin Hannah to read while traveling back to D.C. I’ve only read guide books this winter. It is beautifully written, more historical reality than fiction. I also lived but lost during the Vietnam era. Thanks to Kristin Hannah for highlighting those brave nurses who saved lives to bring more of our guys home.

CHIMICHURRI  MAKES IT BETTER

CHIMICHURRI MAKES IT BETTER

Souvlaki-Style Chicken Breast with Crema and Arugala Feta Salad

Rainy Sunday Morning Greetings from D.C.

For the past twelve years of my wanting a respite from Aspen’s high-alpine and occasionally bone-chilling winter climate, I’ve escaped for four months to warmer winter destinations.

Jose Andres’ Spanish Diner located in Bethesda
Betsy and her husband, Howard, recently moved from Boston to the DC area. We were in “French Fridays with Dorie” together.

This winter I’m in Washington DC, renting a one-bedroom condo in nearby Bethesda. While DC doesn’t promise Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine and hangs between a humid 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, it’s immersed with cultural and historical charm. Flying, as I did, during the weekend of January’s major snowstorm, there were issues. Instead of flying non-stop from Denver to DC, I was re-booked to Orlando with the Disney World crowd.

Lentejas Guisadas, Spanish lentils stewed with carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, artichokes & piparra pepper
Patatas bravas, Fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and garlicky alioli

Miraculously, in my two days of travel with cancellations, delays, packed airports and horrible weather, I only witnessed good behavior. United was doing its best. Its customers weren’t complaining. When United personnel kept apologizing because of the extra time needed to de-ice planes, I was not the only one who said, “Take all the time you need.”

My landlord had recommended using a small, locally-owned shuttle service to meet me at Dulles. Landing in a strange city, after dark, at 9 pm, 4-5 hours late, was not a good look! But I had kept in touch with my shuttle service driver throughout the day and could only hope this meet-up would work. As I walked out of the airport, having collected my bags, voila, there he was. It was snowing, the roads were slick and our drive took twice as long, an hour, to get to Bethesda. But the house was lit up, Erika, my landlord, walked out to meet us and Gerald, as relieved as I was to be there safely, carried my bags to the door. The End

I Live Here.

LIFE in BETHESDA

Like all my winter adventures, I’ll try to take advantage and make the most of every opportunity I’m given. They’ve all been wonderfully successful adventures but this will be my last. I miss my friends, my book club, my Gant family, my life in the mountains. I’ll still travel but just differently, One of those long-time friends, Cathy O’Connell

Although I’ve been in Bethesda for two weeks, I haven’t visited DC yet. Next week I plan to visit the International Spy Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and weather permitting, walk to the Vietnam Memorial and other outside statues and monuments. There are 21 Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo.

During my first five to six days here, the weather was brutal. In between snowstorms, I had lunch at Jose Andres’ “Spanish Diner” with Betsy, my French Fridays with Dorie colleague, shopped at Trader Joe’s, purchased my Metro SmartTrip card, registered for a library card and joined Home Chef Meal Delivery Service, a top meal kit delivery service.

A meal service??? These services are reputed to be time-saving options for an over-scheduled public and are more than a 5 billion dollar business. Since I’ve always been curious about them, this is a opportune time for me to sign up and easy to cancel.

To purchase my Metro Smarttrip Card, I had to go down there!
Since I didn’t have a library card yet, Betsy loaned me three of her favorite books to read now: “The Stationery Shop,” a novel by Marjan Kamali; “Killers of a Certain Age” by Deanna Raybourn and “The Giver of Stars” by Jojo Moyes. We got my card after our lunch.

For those of you unfamiliar with how these services work, I make three meal choices every week. Once a week Home Chef delivers three meal. Each choice, packaged with all the measured ingredients, takes about 30 minutes to prepare. For me, whose cupboards really are bare, this is an opportunity to choose, prepare, make and eat a variety of meals I normally wouldn’t. This first week I’ve already prepared Souvlaki-style Chicken Breast (delicious) with Crema and Arugula Feta Salad. (pictured above). Today I’m looking forward to pulling together Turkey Meatballs and Lemon Crema with Garlicky Spinach Orzo and will finish off my first box early next week with Creamy Pesto Chicken Flautas and Tomato and Green Onion Salsa. I always have leftovers.

Below is my own recipe for Chimichurri Dry Rub. A favor, please? Make this meal.

CHIMICHURRI DRY RUB, The Spice Train

INGREDIENTS:

4 teaspoons dried parsley
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried lemon zest (see notes)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Makes 2 TBS.

Pat, dry and rub 2 6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast with the Chimichurri Dry Rub and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place on medium non-stick pan over medium heat and add 2 tsp. olive oil. Add chicken to the hot pan, SEASONED SIDE DOWN. Cook until browned, about 6-7 minutes PER SIDE. Remove from burner, transfer chicken to the plate and tent with foil. While chicken continues to cook under the foil, make the rest of your meal.

This recipe works with 5-6oz. sirloin steaks as well.

CREMA, Recipe by Lisa Bryan, Downshiftology

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces sour cream
1 lime or lemon, zested and juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Combine and mix together until creamy. Use immediately or tightly cover and put in refrigerator overnight. It will thicken overnight.

DELIGHTFUL. DELECTABLE. DUMP CAKE.

DELIGHTFUL. DELECTABLE. DUMP CAKE.

A SIMPLE DESSERT

Recently I was invited to a dinner party. There would be eight. I asked the hostess what I could bring. “Oh,” she said casually, “just bring a simple dessert.”

With the holiday season in high octane I decided my s-i-m-p-l-e indulgent contribution would be a CHERRY DUMP CAKE. What can be easier than dumping three to five ingredients in a 9×13” cake dish, baking it for 50-60 minutes and topping it with a slab of ice cream before serving. Apparently this recipe was in community and church cookbooks beginning in the 1960s. The official name came from a Duncan Hines recipe published in 1980 but I remember making this in the late Sixties, probably picked up from a dessert my Mom made for bridge club..

With its five chairlifts and 600 acres of steep challenging terrain peaking at 12,392′, welcome to Aspen Highlands. Thanks in part to a hundred or so intrepid volunteer boot packers working the past few weeks, Highland Bowl, this mountain’s crown jewel, is open. Holding on to ropes, each armed with avalanche rescue beacons and working 8am to 4pm days, they packed down terrain for safety’s sake where machines can’t reach. Whether for bragging rights or earning skiing vouchers, with a 48-degree vertical climb, it’s a brutal task. Two of our very fit Gant guys, Aaron Watchmaker and Aaron Lee, on a windy day last week.
Last week I joined a group invited to see the stunning holiday decorations and lights at Eagle’s Rise Ranch in Old Snowmass. The 70 acre ranch is a world class training facility for dressage horses. This big boy, Ziggy, a world-class competitor, now retired, liked my fur more than his oats.
Emma (L), a first-year in Med School at Duke and Clara, a junior at Rose-Hulman, will be glad to spend the holidays together at home in California. (2023 Thanksgiving in Durham, North Carolina)

During this sugary and candy-coated season if you hit the holiday wall or want to detour from traditional seasonal treats, surprise your guests or family with a Dump Cake. Need to entertain kids or grandchildren? What sounds more fun than baking a Dump Cake. Or, during the cocktail hour at an adult party, put the non-cooking guests in charge. If they can dump, they can pull this dessert together, bake it during dinner and add a slab of ice cream before serving. Voilà. That is kinda joy-to-the-world merrymaking.

This is what off-season looks like at The Gant, never-ending log deliveries to be dropped off at each condo.
This young moose pays one last visit to The Gant before heading for higher country. Gant Photo

As I write this, another “modest” Dump of the white variety is forecast in the mountains on Christmas Eve. It’s been a beautiful fall season followed by some glorious snowfalls to kick off the skiing season. I’ll be spending the winter living in Bethesda and exploring/working in DC. My bags are packed, my condo emptied and ‘free of me’ for the next four months. There is nothing simple about doing that and every year I vow it’s my last! In the past ten years I’ve wintered in Paris, London, Maui, San Diego, Cambria and Las Vegas and loved each destination and experience. I am admittedly apprehensive about this year’s choice, a ‘we’ll see’ four months I’ll share with all of you.


This Pine Marten may look cute and cuddly but don’t be fooled, he is not. Related to weasels, ferrets and otters, they are very comfortable but elusive in the High Country. Photo thanks to Joelle McDonough.

CHERRY DUMP CAKE

With just 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep, dessert doesn’t get easier than this Cherry Dump Cake. Serve with some vanilla ice cream for a quick but crazy-delicious treat. Need variety? The Internet is overwhelmed with variations to the basic recipe. Fun Fact: Both Comstock (available in the South and East Coast) and Wilderness (available in the Midwest and Pacific Coast) pie-filling products are owned by Duncan Hines.

Serves 12

INGREDIENTS

Cherry Dump Cake
Adding maraschino cherry juice to the pie filling.

2 cans cherry pie filling or any filling of your choice (21 ounces each)

1/3 cup maraschino cherry juice, the juice amount in a 6oz jar of cherries (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)

1 box yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines but any yellow or white mix will work.)

After pouring the cake mix into the pan, pour the melted butter on top. Do not mix.

3/4 to 1 cup butter, melted and cooled

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  1. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Pour the cherry pie filling into the baking dish.

  3. Add the maraschino cherry juice and vanilla or almond extract. Stir to combine and smooth out the filling into an even layer. DO NOT STIR THE INGREDIENTS AGAIN.

  4. Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the filling.
  5. Pour the melted butter over the top. Try to saturate as much of the cake mix as possible. DO NOT STIR.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown on top and bubbly.
  7. Let sit for 15 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

HAPPY, HEALTHY HOLIDAYS, DEAR READERS. STAY SAFE.

THE POST’S TASTY TOP THIRTY

THE POST’S TASTY TOP THIRTY

During the past many decades, The Washington Post has published more than 10,000 online recipes.  This year they asked readers to pick their all-time favorites. On October 26th they published the winning 30 of those recipes. I chose three of them to make for a mid-week dinner, PORK CHOPS & MINI-GNOCCHI with MUSTARD CREAM SAUCE (2020), FAST FOCACCIA (2019) and Dorie Greenspan’s CUSTARDY APPLE SQUARES (2015). But first…

BIRTHDAYS, BOOKS AND WINTER PLANS, 2023-4

Last week we celebrated our first major snowstorm in the High Country. Even those of us who don’t love snow, icy roads and anything below zero are relieved to watch those serious flakes cover our peaks. For the past ten years this is when I forsake my condo in search of temps that don’t include wind chill advisories and blizzard warnings. Although packing up my digs is not a choice but a necessity, it’s become easier. Less is more.

Pine Squirrels, Hurrying, Scurrying to bury cones/seed caches. G. Oliphant photo.

For me it’s mostly been an adventure. I’ve spent the early winter months in  California, Las Vegas or Maui. Later, in February, I’d fly to Paris or London. During Covid I was relieved to hunker down in Boulder near good friends. Over a lifetime I’ve learned to bloom where I’m planted but during my travels there always are some “What was I thinking moments.” That’s when I remind myself this was always and only MY idea.

A Birthday(s) Luncheon on a chilly and snowy winter day. Gracie Oliphant Photo

This year I’m spending winter in the tropical paradise of Washington D.C. (Honestly, dear Readers, six months ago this seemed like a brilliant idea!) Summer in Aspen does not play nicely in the sandbox with completing my writing project. I’m hoping the upcoming winter in Washington will. Although the deadline is self-imposed, it’s still a deadline. 

For Linda’s birthday I baked a Double Chocolate Kahlua Bundt. Because it had snowed the night before, a light snowfall that didn’t hang around, I tried to frost the cake to resemble the hit-and-miss, remaining snowfall. One side of the cake was perfectly frosted and then there’s the sunny side you see where snow melted quickly. Sun/No Sun. I really didn’t pull that off. Me being clever. My Bad.

Balancing work and play, the many to see-and-do’s, will not be a chore. D.C. is an embarrassment of riches and sometimes, yes, an embarrassment. Wanting to sometimes leave logistics to others, I’ve enrolled in a week-long foreign-service/American diplomacy program and another about the capitol city itself. I will admit to being apprehensive. 

Emma and her bestie, Katie, bonding over matching Anatomy Class uniforms.
Author Walter Isaacson, former President/CEO of the Aspen Institute returned “home” to sign books and talk about Elon Musk.

I want to re-recommend Beaverland by Leila Philip. Our entire book club was unanimously and enthusiastically all in. Author Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk, a New York Times best-seller for the past seven weeks, is a must-read. Really, you must. Called ‘a fascinating and controversial innovator’ and ‘rule-breaking visionary,’ by the author, this is brilliantly researched and Isaacson-readable.

Our book group went to Ashcroft to explore a fully exposed, abandoned beaver lodge, the victim of a breached dam. We also spotted the small lodge where our furry friends had moved, we think. Beavers are a keystone species due to their ability to shape freshwater habitats.

I just picked up Jamie Beck’s gorgeous An American in Provence,  Art, Life and Photography.  She was an unknown to me. Not anymore.   

Duck Confit with Crispy Herb Potatoes

PORK CHOPS & MINI-GNOCCHI with MUSTARD CREAM SAUCE (2020) and FAST FOCACCIA (2019)

In the Top 30, The Post also featured Dorie Greenspan’s Custardy Apple Squares (2015) from Baking Chez Moi which I baked for my blog. Here’s a Link to that recipe: https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/dorie-greenspans-custardy-apple-squares/

Custardy-covered apple slices for Dorie’s Apple Squares

The pork chops and fast focaccia recipes are below in the Link of reader favorites.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/food/2023/10/26/reader-favorite-recipes-washington-post/?_pml=1

For an Iowa girl who grew up in a small farm community, cracking an egg open to discover two yolks was a thing. Eggs with two yolks are fairly rare. You might find them in 1 of every 1,000 eggs. And that’s no yolk!