PASTA PERFECT

PASTA PERFECT

I’m in a bit of a mood today, dear Readers. This is a very short blog post. It’s CooktheBookFriday, time to join my virtual cooking group as we work our way through “Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook.” This week’s deliciousness is Pasta with Cabbage, Butternut Squash and Toasted Walnuts. If a pasta dish can be healthy, this one is. Try it.

Although this blog is anchored by food and recipes, it’s been more about my rebuilding a lifestyle after Michael died and having the audacious idea that others might like to read about that. It’s my safe space and a joy to write. Besides recipes worth trying, I do know it’s been encouraging to some, helpful to others and just fun to read. Today I can’t do fun.

Boulder, Colorado – Wear Your Mask

JANUARY 6

Wednesday afternoon Emma, my 19-year-old granddaughter texted me,

“Grandma, are you watching this?”

I don’t watch television. When I turned it on and saw what was developing in D.C., well, there are no words. I spent the rest of the day on the phone and texting with Emma, a first-time voter, and her 17-year-old sister.

They talked. I listened. And if you’re listening, you know young people see the world quite differently. Emma was born a few months before 9/11 and voted for the first time just before this failed coup. What bookends to her young life.

Our elected officials were traumatized and understandably so by the capitol’s lockdown. Kids can relate. Emma’s been locked down four times. In 2018 at least 4.1 million American kids experienced that and in 2019 there were more than 6,200 school lockdowns. Yet Congress can’t get a gun bill passed. Maybe now?

As the scene unfolded you’d have to be blind not to notice the security response to a basically white mob was noticeably different than responses when people of color are involved. And in case we forget, the world was watching.

Last year I volunteered at an Aspen Institute conference. About 60% of the participants were people of color. The Institute’s president/CEO Dan Porterfield gave the welcoming address. “People like me” he said, “who are white in America, have to decide what kind of white people we’re going to be…we have to make the active effort to level the playing field and promote justice.”

God Bless America. Stay Safe this month.

KELLY ANGELOVIC

COOK THE BOOK FRIDAYS

PASTA with CABBAGE, BUTTERNUT SQUASH and TOASTED WALNUTS

by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook

Serves: 4
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 pound winter squash, such as Delicata, Kabocha, acorn or butternut, scrubbed and peeled, if necessary
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pinch fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 pound Fettuccine, Linguine or other long pasta
1/4 cup dried cranberries, cherries or dried fruit of your choice
1/2 pound (about 2 lightly packed cups) green cabbage, trimmed, cored and shredded
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/4-1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for sprinkling

A BOULDER BEAR

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and strings
  2. Thinly slice or cut into cubes. You’ll have about 2 lightly packed cups.
  3. Warm 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large high-sided skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Toss in the squash, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until it is almost tender, about 8 minutes.
  4. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and cook until it is absorbed by the squash — this is quick. Add the honey and stir to coat before scraping the squash into a bowl. Set aside.
  5. Cook the pasta according to package directions. About a minute before the pasta is ready, toss the dried fruit into the pot. When the pasta is cooked, scoop out 1/4 cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta, leaving a little water clinging to the strands.
  6. Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil, toss in the cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Pour in the reserved pasta water and cook for a minute, then add the pasta and cranberries and stir it all around. Mix in the squash and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Taste for salt and pepper. You may want to add a bit more oil.
  7. Transfer to a warm bowl or leave the pasta in the skillet to serve, topped with the walnuts and Parmesan.
  8. STORING: The dish is really best served as soon as it’s made.
LET’S BE SILLY
MOLASSES COFFEE CAKE. MORE, PLEASE.

MOLASSES COFFEE CAKE. MORE, PLEASE.

Thanksgiving is over. (Check)  One holiday down, more to follow. Take a deep breath, buckle up and grab whatever gaiety you can muster to make December happen. The goal here is to find a reason to pull your Joy lever everyday.

 

Molasses Coffee Cake

Alone for Thanksgiving, first time ever, I was determined to flip my favorite holiday from the anticipated sad to happy. Needing to save the Ski Season, our Colorado governor and Aspen mayor issued Stay-At-Home-orders. So for days prior to the holiday I did just that. Baking was my comfort buffer. 

Remember that ravishing Triple-Layer Parsnip and Cranberry cake from my Thanksgiving post? Using that recipe, I pulled out my favorite mold and baked mini-bundt desserts for friends who were also going to be alone for the holiday. I already had an inventory of Pandemic-proof Window Cake Boxes and Weck jars for the sauce.      

My Mini-Bundt Mold

Thanksgiving morning I put together my cargo and first headed down valley to deliver some of my 18 dessert packages. By noon, feeling quite pleased at having surprised everyone, I’d finished all my doorstep deliveries. Waiting for me, I already knew, was a traditional  Thanksgiving feast dropped off by my friends, the Overeynder’s. 

I used a 9-inch Springform pan.

After justifying those extra calories by taking a not-at-all strenuous hike, catching up with far-away family and friends and watching “Holidate” on Netflix (Yes, it was cheesy. Yes, I loved it.), the holiday was in the rear-view mirror. Not the best Thanksgiving ever but it was fine. 

There’s a special Santa’s Mailbox on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. I plan to write a letter to Santa this year and drop it in the box. Yeah, I do. If you don’t believe, you don’t receive. I have issues and I think Santa could help.

Wait, it gets better. On the next day my down valley buddies who had included me in an elaborately orchestrated and safe tailgating food exchange on Thanksgiving, brought my portion to Aspen. What can I say? There was enough food to feed a family of four!

The coffee cake, after being glazed. When you take the cake out of the oven, the cake caves slightly in the middle. That’s okay. Dorie insists it’s the cake’s personality. When you pour and spread the glaze, some of it will puddle in the middle as it should.

TIME TO MAKE A LIST

Hazel’s Beverage World is located near Whole Foods so, on either a whim or because I needed wine (take your choice), I stopped by. This huge store is dedicated to the 1,000 WW II Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) who flew U.S. military aircraft for the first time during World War II. The store pays tribute “to what these tough chicks of aviation accomplished,” they say. There are huge pictures of the female pilots hung throughout the space. Aspen’s Betty Pfister,
a revered, respected long-time local, was a WASP and received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

My Thanksgiving story is not to minimize the suffering in the world or America’s pain. Yes, we’ve experienced a rock-hard eight months with a horrendous winter forecasted. This past month I’ve seen (Thank God for Zoom.) the agonizing inner courage of a childhood friend whose daughter is doing battle with this virus and another Manchester friend who recently received a disheartening diagnosis. 

With everything reeling-out of-control I began to feel helpless again, reminiscent of trying to get home from Paris last March and being quarantined for two weeks. Full stop. I’m not returning to that dark place again. Time to Make a List. For whatever reason, Lists work for me. I cross out the uncontrollable and am always left with what I call a Plan Possible forward. 

MARCH 2020 – Melissa came to spend a week with me in Paris.

After getting through Thanksgiving, packing up, driving and getting settled in Boulder, I need to plan how to live, work, study, and entertain myself in an impermanent, unfamiliar location as safely as possible. Just having received a library card, for example, and meeting neighbors who, if they see The New York Times’ piling up on my doorstep, will come calling, helps. Decided to forego gift giving and donate to organizations feeding the hungry this year. A feel-good idea.      

DECEMBER 2020, What it’s come to…..

MOLASSES COFFEE CAKE.

After my last post’s cake, a triple-layer showstopper, it seems unfair to feature this Molasses Coffee Cake now. It’s like comparing Plain Jane to Cinderella. Don’t be fooled. While not particularly photogenic or even splashy, it’s dense, moist, flavorful and complex. As a colleague wrote, ‘It has a whole lotta zing.’

Here’s some additional thoughts because this is not only a perfect holiday coffee cake but, gussied up with ice cream or whipped cream, it will be refreshing at tea time, as a fancy dessert or the best midnight snack Santa has ever tasted. It’s all about the coffee and the spices. And, that glaze? Oh My, you must.     

MOLASSES COFFEE CAKE from “Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook,” by Dorie Greenspan

Makes 8 to 10 servings

INGREDIENTS:

THE CAKE:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup uncultured molasses

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup hot coffee (can be made with instant coffee or espresso powder)

COFFEE GLAZE

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, plus more (optional) for decoration

1 teaspoon boiling water

5 ounces best-quality white chocolate, finely chopped

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces, at room temperature

Whipped cream, for topping

WORKING AHEAD

This cake is even better on the second day — the spices have more time to ripen.

PREPARTION: 

THE CAKE

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan that’s at least 2 inches high (use a springform if you don’t have a regular cake pan that’s tall enough), fit a round of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan, butter the paper and dust the interior with flour; tap out the excess.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt ginger, five -spice powder, cinnamon and pepper.

3. Working in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the molasses and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 2 minutes, then beat in the vanilla. 

4. Turn the mixer off, add the flour mixture and pulse to begin incorporating it. Then beat on low speed only until the dry ingredients disappear into the batter. With the mixer on low, add the hot coffee, again mixing only until it is incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan and swivel the pan to even it.

5. Bake for 28 to 33 minutes, until the cake is beautifully browned and has risen uniformly. It will pull away from the sides of the pan if gently tugged and a tester inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. 

6. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake rest for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the sides of the cake. Turn the cake out onto the rack, gently peel off the parchment, invert onto another rack and cool to room temperature; or, if you are using a springform, simply remove the ring. The cake may develop a little dip in the center — that’s its personality.

GLAZE:

7. Dissolve the instant espresso powder in the boiling water. Put the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.

8. Bring the cream to a boil (you can do this the microwave oven), stir in the espresso extract that you make and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds and then, using a whisk or the small heatproof spatula, stir until the mixture is smooth. /add the butter one piece at a time, stirring until it is melted and incorporated.

9. Set the cake on the rack on a piece of of foil to catch drips. Pour as much of the glaze as you want over the cake and use a long spatula or a table knife to spread it. I like it when the glaze drips down the sides of the cake unevenly; if you want to smooth it, you can, of course. 

10. Sprinkle with a little instant espresso powder to decorate, if you like.

11. Put the cake in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set the glaze, then return it to room temperature for serving. Pass any remaining glaze a the table.

Boulder’s Yurt Village located on the Pearl Street Mall

Storing: Wrapped well, the cake can keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. Wrapped airtight, it can be frozen for up to 2 months, glaze and all.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: SHORT TRIP

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: SHORT TRIP

Thanksgiving is next week. In normal times I would be loading my car with suitcases and handing my condo’s keys to The Gant. Thanksgiving is Aspen’s ski season kick-off day. Being a retired-skier, I’m happily not here for it. But these times are not normal. I won’t be spending the holidays with my family in California nor my friends in Nevada. Spending the winter in Paris is off the table. Let’s not talk about that.

Triple-Layer Parsnip & Cranberry Cake

Rather, let’s talk about this celebratory, full-on-flavorful triple-layer cake which I’m going to help you build and bake, layer by layer. Shout-out to all you bakers: Make this cake.  Recipe below.

First, make the cake.

Let’s talk about my escaping Aspen’s hearty winter. I’ve opted for a gentler one in Boulder. Yes, it’s still Colorado. Yes, it still snows there. Yes, it’s been a hot spot. Yes. Yes. Yes. Luckily the university’s holiday break coincides with my first five weeks so I’ll be able to settle in and find my way before the student deluge begins. Right now, closer to home suits me. 

Next, make the frosting

When this began last March, and quite honestly I was thinking about 3-5 months, I shelved what I couldn’t do and gave more thought to what I could and would do. Why not tinker with my lifestyle, smooth out the rough spots. Readers, do you know how much tinkering you can do in eight months?

Since March I’ve had three hiking bubble buddies who live nearby and hike with me once or twice a week. Here are the three of us on our cold and snowy last hike of the season. Wendy Weaver (L) and Connie Morrell led me on some great adventures this summer/fall.

REIMAGINE, REINVENT AND SIMPLIFY

Frost and spoon on cranberry filling. Layer #1

Since returning to Aspen, to my accountant’s annoyance, I still rent a storage space 30 miles from Aspen loaded with boxes of ‘precious objects.’  What I’ve found over the years is that they are only precious to me. “If not now, when?” asked Mary to Mary. It took three months but I emptied that space. Several times a week I’d drive to Carbondale and load up my Subaru with boxes. One by one, I unpacked those babies and donated, tossed and dispersed with everything. I cannot pat myself on the back enough for doing that. 

If you’re not acquainted with parsnips, here they are. Earthy but not particularly handsome. Here also is a photo from Dorie Greenspan’s Cookbook taken by Ellen Silverman. It clearly shows a beautiful sliced piece of cake. I gave my cake to The Gant office staff so couldn’t cut a piece myself.

It felt good. Less baggage. A lighter load. But it was June 1st and Covid was still hanging around. Why not simplify my Life more? How much junk could a chic chick chuck if a chic chick could chuck junk? ***  Readers, just know this. The longer I’ve sheltered-in-place, the more simplified my Life’s become.  

Triple-Layer

I decided to turn my office back into a second bedroom. A project, for sure. My beautiful office furniture found a home with a friend’s wife who’d just moved her office/business home. That felt good. Next I attacked my closets and drawers, whittled down my cookbook collection and God only knows if I tossed and shredded papers that may be needed if the government comes calling. Once you’re in the mood and time is your friend (think eight long months), one can r-e-a-l-l-y edit and purge.

My Holiday Picks: A Promised Land, On The Road with John James Audubon & Caste. On Netflix I liked Human Nature, My Octopus Teacher & David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet.

Happy Thanksgiving, Readers. Take care. Be safe.

This Colorado Rock Squirrel chatters all day as he scurries around finding and storing food.

TRIPLE-LAYER PARSNIP & CRANBERRY CAKE by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook

NOTE: You can make the filling up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate it. You can make the cake layers a day ahead and keep them wrapped airtight. The cake slices better if it is refrigerated for an hour or two. (I did all three)

INGREDIENTS

THE CAKE

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

Finely grated zest of 1 small orange or 1 tangerine

1 cup neutral oil, such as canola

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 pound parsnips, trimmed, peeled and grated (3 cups)

1 cup (120 grams) chopped pecans or other nuts, toasted or not

1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries

CRANBERRY FILLING

One 12-ounce bag cranberries (if frozen, don’t defrost)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or water)

1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger

THE FROSTING

3/4 pound cream cheese, cut into chunks, at room temperature

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature

6 1/4 cups (750 grams) confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To make the cake, center a rack or evenly position 2 racks in the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. 
  2. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, dust the interiors with flour and tap out the excess; or use baker’s spray.

3.   Whisk the flour, coriander, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Put 2 teaspoons of the sugar in a small bowl and stir in the minced ginger and zest.

4.   Working in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the oil, the remaining 1 cup sugar and the brown sugar together on medium speed for about 2 minutes. The mixture might look grainy, but that’s fine. 

5.   One by one, beat in the eggs and then continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and velvety. Beat in the vanilla, followed by the ginger-zest mixture and any syrup that might be in the bowl. 

6.   Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture all at once. Pulse the mixer to start incorporating the flour, then mix on low just until the dry ingredients almost disappear. Add the parsnips and nuts and mix to incorporate. Switch to a flexible spatula and gently fold in the cranberries. 7.   Divide the batter evenly among the three pans and smooth the tops.

8.   Bake for 33 to 37 minutes, until the cakes are golden and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pans. The tops will feel springy to the touch and a tester inserted in the center will come out clean. 

9. Transfer the cakes to racks and cool for 5 minutes, then run a table knife around the sides of the pans and turn the cakes out onto racks to cool to room temperature.

10. To make the filling: Put all the ingredients in a medium saucepan, stir and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture bubbles, many of the cranberries pop and the sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. The filling will thicken more as it cools. Scrape the filling into a bowl and cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate if you’re not using immediately. 

11.To make the frosting, working in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt together on medium speed until very smooth; scrape the beater and bowl down frequently. Add the vanilla and beat to blend.

12. TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:  If the tops of the cakes have mounded (these usually bake pretty at), you can slice away the crowns to even them. Place one layer bottom side down on a cake plate. Using an off set spatula or a table knife, generously cover the top of the layer with frosting. Spoon half of the cranberry filling into the center of the frosting and spread it so that it comes to about an inch or two shy of the edges of the cake. Place the second layer on the cake, top side down. Cover with frosting and spread the remaining filling over it. Finish by placing the last layer on the cake, bottom side up. Cover the top layer with frosting, adding some swirls and whorls, if you’d like. 

NOTE: If some of the cranberry filling oozed to the edges or maybe even spilled over a little, celebrate it! I love the casual look of this cake.You’ll have frosting left over, so you can frost the sides of the cake, if you’d like. I like to leave the sides bare or run just a very thin layer of frosting around them, a layer that looks almost sheer, kind of naked, but not quite. The cake can be served as soon as it’s assembled, but it’s easier to slice if you give it an hour or two in the fridge.

SUGARED CRANBERRIES

For an even more festive cake, crown it with sugared cranberries — finishing it like this is beautiful for the holidays. Make a simple syrup by boiling 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water together, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, drop in as many fresh cranberries as you’d like and roll them around to coat with syrup, then lift them out with a slotted spoon or mesh spider and transfer them to a rack. Let them set for about 1 hour — they’ll be sticky and tacky, and that’s what you want. Roll the cranberries around in a cup of sugar and then let them dry on a clean rack for another hour. Sugared berries are meant for the last minute — they’ll get syrupy in the refrigerator and won’t survive freezing.    

STORING: You can keep the cake at room temperature (not hot or humid) for a couple of days or, wrapped, in the refrigerator for at least 5 days. You can also freeze the cake. Freeze it, then wrap airtight; if you can manage it, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator.

+++Tongue-twister created by a Martha Beck-wannabe

OCTOBER IS MY FAVORITE COLOR

OCTOBER IS MY FAVORITE COLOR

“Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it.  This makes it hard to plan the day.”  E. B. White

My sentiments exactly…

Bean & Tortilla Soup, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook

SAVE & SAVOR

Unlike Oprah, I’ve experienced very few AHA moments but have approached Enlightenment, those lightbulb moments, gradually. Call me a Slow Learner. I plead guilty. But about 20 years ago as we moved into the 21st Century, I AHA’ed bigly. I decided that Joy is a choice with resilience and attitude, the survival tools. But, most importantly, I realized women must be Brave.

My AHA moment has successfully guided me through the past 20 years but it’s been a total lifesaver the last 7 months – a time like no other, bouncing between status quo to terrifying. And yet, despite the barriers, restrictions and mis-managed Pandemic, I have been not joyful exactly, but very content. Admittedly, some days I’ve had to pull on my big girl pants and just be Brave. 

Bean & Tortilla Soup, Fully Loaded

Here’s to sharing some of the past month’s joyful moments and hoping you’ve had some of your own. It’s chilly in the Colorado High County so soup is on the menu. Need comfort food? This Bean & Tortilla Soup smells heavenly and carries some heat (or not, your choice.)

OUR HILLS ARE STILL ALIVE

Hunter Creek Valley
A Sunday Morning Hike with Jessica Salet.

By mid-September it’s always a quiet time in the mountains. 

I was hiking Lower Lost Man and ran into these guys who were pulling in trout like crazy. It was mid-morning, they started fishing at 7:30 am and had already caught 10. They are part of the cooking staff at Plato’s, one of Aspen’s fine dining restaurants at Aspen Meadows.
While we were watching, he caught two fish on the same hook. His friends accused him of showing off but even he was amazed.
Max and his buddies were having such a great time.
I was feeling sorry for all those fish. What a lousy Sunday morning for them!

VOTE

The women’s suffrage movement was a decades-long battle to win voting rights in this country. It took 100 years to make that happen for white women and longer for black women. Suffragettes were brave. Other brave Americans have fought and died so we can vote but only 56% of us cast votes in 2016. Don’t ask me to understand that.

Photo from “Decade by Decade: Aspen Revealed,” a current show at the Aspen Historical Society which focuses on a comprehensive view of Aspen History from 1870-1970.

In 1893 Colorado was the first state to grant white women the right to vote although the Wyoming Territory granted voting rights in 1864.

Since our Emma is a first-time presidential election voter, this is an exciting time for our family. (Well honestly, I’m the one who’s most excited.) Although Clara is a not-yet-eligible 17, she’s was a Poll Watcher in California’s last election. She wrote an extensively-researched paper on our Women’s Suffrage Movement last year which she shared chapter by chapter with her Grandmother. They both definitely needed VOTE necklaces.

BREAKING MY RULES

Self-Saucing Ginger Toffee Pudding, a sweet, gooey and delicious Australian classic (Gayle Morgan photo)

As you Readers know, I’m a Fauci follower. Realizing no one is immune to this virus, I still listen to Dr. Fauci’s suggestions, trying to stay safe and not harm others. In late September, I was asked to join six others at a dinner party to celebrate a very special birthday and another friend’s becoming an American citizen. 

The birthday boy and his wife, Cathy. Fred and Cathy are the reason I began going to Paris for the winter. Cathy is also the gal who master-minded my trip/flight home from Paris last March when I was stranded after the quarantine was announced. I seem to keep Cathy and Fred on speed-dial.

It took a few days of discussion and our knowing we’d all been like-minded with our safety protocol to make it a Go. Realizing we faced a predicted surge as well as winter (it’s already snowed in Aspen), if not now, When?

Although I volunteered to bake a birthday cake and Donna Grauer offered to make ice cream (our usual dog-and-pony show), Jonathan insisted on making this pudding for Fred. We applaud his effort and are glad he insisted. On the day of our dinner, Jonathan became an America citizen and has dual citizenship.
Gayle is a beautiful and gracious hostess. Most of us had not been in their newly built home so that was a treat also.

It was a perfect evening albeit making us realize even more how much we missed being around a dinner table with old friends. These are strange times when we are hoping for the best, planning for the worst and staying focused on what’s most important to us. That was important. No regrets. 

THE LAST WORDS

Books read this past month. Loved them all. (L) The Seine, The River That Made Paris; American Lion; Duck Season, Eating, Drinking, and Other Misadventures in Gascony; What Unites Us; and my absolute favorite, The Soul of America by Jon Meacham

This week I received the Roaring Fork Audubon newsletter written by our president, Mary Harris, who is an expert birder and passionate about protecting our Valley. What I loved most was the advice she shared from her son who has a PhD in Microbiology focusing on tuberculosis. It dittos the reminders I often receive from my daughter. Ya gotta love our kiddos.

“Mom,  Please stay safe. Don’t cave. Wear your mask outdoors when others get close, and don’t go visiting the people you miss. Hang in there.”

COOK THE BOOK FRIDAYS

It’s such a windfall to be cooking through Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook right now. These are the easy, simple recipes Dorie cooks every day at home for her family. Right now the Greenspan family is +1. Dorie and her husband Michael are grandparents for the first time…to a lovely little girl. Mazel tov.

BEAN & TORTILLA SOUP

SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS:

For the Soup

1 large Spanish or Vidalia onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1½ tbsp olive oil

2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp sea salt

pinch of sugar

¾ tsp cumin

½ tsp chili powder

3 cups vegetable, chicken or bean broth, adding more as desired

15 oz canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes

11/2 cups cooked or canned pinto or red kidney beans or black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed if canned

For the Add-Ins

Sour Cream or Greek yogurt

1-2 avocados, halved, pitted, cute into bite-sized chunks

Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack

Chopped fresh clilantro

1-2 fresh limes, Cut  1 lime into wedges and freshly squeeze lime juice from the other 

Tortilla Chips

Hot sauce (optional)

PREPARATIONS:

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, carrots, jalapenos, and garlic to the pan. Season with the salt and sugar and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 20 minutes.

2. Stir in the cumin and chili powder and cook for 1 minute. 

3. Pour in the broth, canned tomatoes, and beans. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and the lime juice from 1 lime. 

4. Remove from the heat and divide into serving bowls. Top with suggested mix-ins above, as desired.

5. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with sour cream or yogurt and the avocado, some cheese and a generous amount of cilantro. Pass the lime wedges and tortilla chips. If desired pass the hot sauce also. 

TIP:  The soup can be made ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator up to four days or packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. 

BIRDS AND ANIMALS CAN’T VOTE BUT YOU CAN…AN INFORMED ELECTORATE IS THE FIRST REQUIREMENT FOR A SUSTAINABLE DEMOCRACY…THE SECOND IS TO VOTE. 

A HOT-FUDGE SUNDAE & SQUID MEET-UP

A HOT-FUDGE SUNDAE & SQUID MEET-UP

Let’s catch up, loyal Readers. You good? Making it work? It’s been awhile. Where do I start?

Can we agree the Pandemic has been an unwelcome invitation to slow down and pay close attention? As for me, I prefer easing gently into novel or unique situations, don’t you? But this insidious Corona character wasn’t having it. It showed up unannounced as if to say, “Mother Earth, I’m here. Whatcha gonna do about it?”

We had a crazy and chilly snowstorm in late September. This little Hummingbird had not migrated south yet. He spent two days huddled behind the leaves in my flower box and would fly to the hanging feeder above to eat. But he was a trooper and survived. He’s also left Aspen.

As my food blogging colleague Joy the Baker recently wrote, “We’re just going to stay hydrated and vote and eat our salads and take our vitamins and keep it moving because the only way out is through.”

This is how I’ve kept it moving the past month:

So-Good Miso Corn with Squid

My Hazmat Suit

I bought a Hazmat Suit. It’s hanging in my closet. Here’s the deal. The one goal I’ve made regarding this epidemic is not to miss Clara’s high school graduation in May 2021.

I recently read that singer Gloria Estefan in order to be at her grandson’s small family birthday dinner, bought a Hazmat Suit and wore it to the party. There were even pictures. Lightbulb Moment: I could wear a Hazmat Suit to Clara’s graduation. Problem Solved.

After receiving my Suit, I called Melissa, Clara’s mother, to give her the good news. The conversation went like this:

“Hi Melissa.”

“Hi Mom.”

“I just bought a Hazmat Suit.”

“Why?”

“I thought if all else fails, I can wear it to Clara’s graduation and not miss it.”

Readers, the silence was deafening. Finally Melissa said something like ‘if you show up wearing a Hazmat Suit at graduation, Clara won’t be there.’

Since I expected some pushback, I had already prepared well-regarded, logical reasoning in response. Not even amused. Nothing took flight. In fact Melissa began using her most firm ‘Mom, don’t mess with me,’ voice so I cut my losses. It was a short conversation.

I’ve now moved on to Option 2. It’s peppy, as in Manchester Manhawks peppy: “Hey World. We’ve got the coaches, We’ve got the team, by Clara’s graduation, let’s have a vaccine.”

Using all the produce we bag at the Senior Center every Friday, my friend Cheri put together this platter for a garden party.

Rest In Power, Justice Ginsberg

Last Saturday night, before attending a memorial service for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I made this Salted Chocolate Hot Fudge Sundae (pictured above) and poured myself a glass of Sancerre. It was dinner.

This week’s New Yorker Magazine Cover

CookTheBookFridays

Happily the two recipe choices my CookTheBookFridays group has made this month are thumbs-up winners. I don’t suggest SO-GOOD MISO CORN with SQUID and SALTED CHOCOLATE HOT FUDGE SUNDAES pair together. Being so delicious and appealing, they both deserve their own performance.

You can serve the So-Good Miso Corn as a side dish. It’s a make-ahead dish that’s easily pulled together.

If you’d prefer, make the So-Good Miso Corn as a side dish, that works also. As an Iowa girl I’d never cooked with Squid nor acquired a taste for Calamari until I was an adult. The important ingredient here, whether made as a side or main course, is Miso. It’s a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and kōji and sometimes other ingredients like rice, barley and seaweed. It’s a paste, either light or dark, and keeps in the refrigerator almost forever! There are so many uses for Miso. If your unfamiliar with this Japanese seasoning, educate yourself via the Internet.

MISO

What’s there to say about hot fudge sundaes. We’ve all enjoyed best-ever hot fudge sundae experiences at ice cream parlors, restaurants and even at home. This sundae recipe, invented by Dorie, brings its own twists of flavor to make it special. By separating its parts, the salted-chocolate bits or hot fudge sauce, even the toasted slivered almonds, you can raise the bar in other sundaes and desserts to make them even more special. Please do try the coffee/vanilla combo sometime. Can (and, must) be shared.

SO-GOOD MISO CORN by Dorie Grenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tablespoon light (white or yellow) miso
3 Tablespoons hot water
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Cups of fresh, frozen or canned corn
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Teaspoon of Za’atar or a mixture of any or 1 of ground thyme, oregano or marjoram
1/2 Teaspoon of sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Snipped chives and/ir finely sliced scallions chopped cilantro
Freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix the miso and water together to sooth and loosen the miso. You’re unlikely to be completely successful, which is fine.
  2. Place a large skillet over high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the corn and cook for 1-2 minutes without stirring. Then stir and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the kernels are charred here and there.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low , add the butter and miso mixture and cook, stirring and scraping whatever gets stuck to the pan and until the butter and miso melt and eater evaporates.
  4. Turn off the heat, add the spices and salt and stir to blend wel
  5. Scrape the corn into a bowl and stir in the chives or scallions as well as the black pepper.
  6. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Tip: The corn mixture can be made a day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature and reheat with a little water in a skillet until the corn is hot and water has evaporated. (Do not do this process in the microwave.)

FROM a SIDE DISH to a MAIN COURSE:

The Squid Tubes & Tentacles are from Whole Foods.

ADD SQUID:

  1. Cut 1/2 to 1 pound of squid into rings about 1/2-inch thick. Pat dry. (I also used tentacles which were already small and bite-sized.)
  2. Pour 1 Tablespoon olive-oil into the skillet and place over high heat. Add the squid and cook for 1 minute until the pieces are almost opaque.
    Transfer Squid to a plate and season with salt, pepper and a pinch cayenne pepper. Wipe the pan clean.
  3. Make the corn mixture (or, take it from the fridge). When the corn is ready, add and Squid and toss to reheat and finish cooking.
    Just before serving stir in some chopped sweet onion, halved cherry tomatoes and greens. Squeeze fresh lime juice on the salad mixture and toss once more.
Corn & Squid

SALTED-CHOCOLATE HOT FUDGE SUNDAES


SALTED CHOCOLATE BITS:

You can see the sundae is layered. The bottom, is salted-chocolate bits and almond. Next is a scoop or two of ice cream with hot fudge sauce, then chocolate bits and almonds added. Finish with more ice cream scoops and more hot sauce and then add whipped cream, almonds and chocolate bits. Remember, this can be shared.

Ingredients:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not chips), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt)

Preparation:
1. Line a pie plate with plastic wrap.

2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or on low power in a microwave. Add the salt, stir to blend and then, using a spatula, spread the chocolate on the plastic, making a layer that’s 1/8-inch thick (shape doesn’t matter). Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and freeze for at least 45 minutes.

3. When you’re ready to make the sundaes, chop the chocolate into bite-size bits.

HOT-FUDGE SAUCE:

INGREDIENTS:

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not chips), finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons sugar

PREPARATION:
1. Put the chocolate, cream, corn syrup and sugar in a medium pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate melts and comes to a light simmer, about 5 minutes. Still stirring, let it burble for a minute or two, then scrape it into a heatproof container. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate until needed.

SUNDAE:

When you’re ready to make the sundaes, chop the chocolate into bite-size bits. For each sundae, sprinkle some salted-chocolate bits and almonds into the bottom of a bowl, snifter or sundae glass. Top with a scoop or two (I used a mini-scooper) of coffee ice cream some hot fudge sauce, almonds and bits. Finish with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream (again, mini scoops). more fudge sauce, whipped cream, almonds and chocolate bits. Serve immediately.

This post follows my progress cooking each recipe from
Dorie Greenspan’s Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook. Check out our online group which cooks together virtually at www.CookTheBookFridays.Wordpress.com