PIE, PEACHES, PEPPERS & RICOTTA

PIE, PEACHES, PEPPERS & RICOTTA

Hello Readers,

SPOONABLE RICOTTA

Here we are together again. May I ask, on a scale of 1 to 10, how be you? Do you still stand tall at a strong, solid 7-8 or after a bumpy week, did you take a deep dive and are just now resurfacing? To date, August has sent my meter wagging between 5 and 8. That’s why I’ve tried especially hard to make this week’s Post a delicious one.

TART CHERRY PIE

If every decision is a risk and every risk, a decision, I prefer to be savoring TART CHERRY PIE à la MODE to nourish my decisiveness. When I must make difficult choices and then own them, I’m fine with a glass of French Rosé and a dollop of RICOTTA SPOONABLE slathered on a toasted baguette slice. One night I grabbed a chunk of crusty artisan bread and carried my plate – a piping hot cast iron pan of SEARED PEACHES and SHISHITO PEPPERS with HONEY – straight to the table. Etiquette be damned. Spirits raised.

SEARED PEACHES AND SHISHITO PEPPERS with HONEY

I’m still committed in my version of a ‘hard-core coronavirus stay-at-home quarantine mode.’ What I’ve needed most and received in this strange, uncomfortable time is for friends as well and family to support me so I can support myself. I hope you all have a support system in your corner.

THIS OBVIOUSLY WAS NOT ONE OF MY BETTER DAYS. MIDWAY THROUGH A HIKE, I NOTICED.

And, Readers, I never underestimate, especially during this wildness, the joy I get from writing this blog for you. Stay safe. Please find something good in each day.

FARM to TABLE: YOU CAN TAKE the GIRL OUT of IOWA but YOU CAN’T TAKE IOWA OUT of THE GIRL

THE CHERRY TREE
CHERRIES MUST BE PITTED
Each cherry season approximately 24 billion individual cherries are plucked separately, every one of them by human hands.

MARTHA STEWART’S TART CHERRY PIE

Click on this:

https://www.marthastewart.com/1162976/marthas-sour-cherry-pie

(NOTE: 2 pounds of sour cherries equals about 7 cups)

RICOTTA SPOONABLE by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook

Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese made from sheep, cow, or goat. Whey is leftover from the production of other cheeses.

Makes about 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese, drained if there’s liquid***
1 large lemon, or more to taste
3 tablespoons minced shallots, rinsed and patted dry
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
About 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup minced mixed fresh herbs, such as dill, parsley, tarragon, thyme, cilantro and/or basil

THE MIXTURE

DIRECTIONS:

***If there’s liquid in the container it’s best to drain the cheese. Line a strainer with a double thickness of damp cheesecloth, place it over a bowl, spoon in the ricotta, pull the cheesecloth around the cheese and weight it with a plate or a can of something. Put it in the refrigerator and let it drain for at least 30 minutes or up to a day

  1. Put the ricotta in a medium bowl. Finely grate the zest of lemon over it, then halve and squeeze the lemon and blend in the juice.
  2. Stir in the shallots, scallions, olive oil, salt and a healthy pinch of pepper. Taste for salt and pepper, then stir in the herbs.
  3. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before adjusting for salt, pepper, and lemon juice and serving

Serving Options: A dollop of this on a cracker or sliced baguette makes a delicious appetizer. For a tartine (an open sandwich) spread the ricotta mixture on toasted dark bread and top with roasted tomatoes, sliced cucumbers or the topping of your choice. For dinner, add to your pasta, stirring and blending. I roasted some orphan veggies languishing in my fridge and added them to the pasta. With a green salad, a nice dinner. Spoonable Ricotta is even tasty being stirred into scrambled eggs.

Storing: Spoonable is best the day it is made, but you can keep it for up to 2-3 days, tightly covered, in the refrigerator. Stir well before using.

SHISHITO PEPPERS Photo by Amazon

SEARED PEACHES and SHISHITO PEPPERS with Honey by Rachel Kulchin, The Blue Heron Project

Visit the Blue Heron Project by clicking this link. Environmentalist Rachel Kulchin’s blog spotlights a collection of unique seasonal recipes using ingredients currently being harvested from her garden or by wild harvesting in the Eastern Sierra area where she lives.

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBSP Butter
Peaches, ( 3, if large and 5, if small), pitted and sliced
2 Cups Shishito Peppers  (thin-skinned little green peppers) 
Juice of half a Lemon
Honey, for drizzling

DIRECTIONS:

1 Get a cast-iron or frying pan hot, hot, hot hot on the stove. Add the butter and immediately add your slices of peaches and shishito peppers.
2. Spread around evenly. Leave untouched at least two minutes until nicely seared.

  1. Flip your peaches and shishitos over to sear for another 2 minutes on second side to caramelize and darken.
  2. When finished, immediately scoop your mixture into your serving dish. (I like to serve them right from the the cast-iron pan.)
  3. To finish the dish, squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with salt. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, and enjoy.
EARLY MORNING, NORTH STAR PRESERVE, ASPEN

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

CELEBRATING SUMMER: COBBLER

CELEBRATING SUMMER: COBBLER

Drop Biscuit Peach/Blueberry Cobbler

Before today’s delightful baking adventure plus a pasta salad like no other make an appearance, I must ask. As we wrap up Week #19 of you-know-what, How Are We? Personally I’m uncertainty-averse but about 5 weeks ago I re-booted from When? to Who Knows? to Not Anytime Soon.

Lemony Pesto Pasta Salad with Avocado and Arugula

While Joy sits quietly on my shelf, I’ve settled on This is a one-day-at-a-time, stay in your own lane and make good choices rollercoaster because the only way out is through. I still wake up grateful, go to bed thankful and make the most of each day. It helps.

SINCE LAST WE MET …..

Recently, early one morning I was walking the East Maroon Trail. I didn’t spot this bear until I was uncomfortably close. I stopped, walked backwards and got off the trail.
He turned around and slowly ambled back towards me. I was hiding in plain sight as he passed by. He looked at me, was totally uninterested, and went on his way. As did I. (If I had been more heads up, alert to the scene, I would never have interacted with the bear. I was wrong and lucky.)

Some great free advice, don’t ever rent a storage unit. Whatever your living space won’t allow, can’t be stowed in your garage, left outside or stashed in your car trunk, needs to go. Sure, a credit card can rent you space ‘to be dealt with later.’ And yes, it’s a great place to pitch snow tires, lawn equipment, luggage and sports paraphernalia. But that’s real baggage when later becomes now.

Needing a short-term place for overflow, I rented a large storage space in nearby Carbondale when I returned to Aspen in 2013. That was 8 years (ninety-six months) and you don’t want to know how much rent ago. My mild-mannered accountant of 30 years does know. “You getting that storage rental emptied, Mary?” he often asks.

Wild Buckwheat (Sulfurflower)

Each summer I’d make the empty storage unit effort but summer activities always won over drudgery. However since my quarantine did allow driving privileges, emptying that unit has become my day job since April. The good news, with primarily Christmas decorations and photographs left, my storage nightmare should be over by September.

There’ve been road blocks, of course. Those 20 dusty, haggard-looking boxes were stuffed with objects precious to me, not so much to others. I offered, cajoled and begged friends, family and people from off the street (that’s an exaggeration) to take my priceless objects. Quite honestly, dear Readers, my friends and my own family aren’t even particularly gentle any more about saying, “No.”

Our Aspen visitors often forget to wear their masks even though it’s a Colorado Order and City ordinance.

I have stacked up some Wins. I took several large bins of arts and crafts materials to a friend who dispersed them to teachers, artists and grandma’s entertaining grandchildren this summer. Here at The Gant a young man with culinary training who cooks for most of the front office crew appreciates my extra kitchen equipment. Of our many employees here, someone always needs dishes/household equipment. My catering friend put my large silver trays to use. A young Aspen Institute friend who’s building his library takes my books. And as charity thrift shops re-opened up and down our valley, I added to their inventory.

An empty storage unit. Check. No more whining. Check. The End

A Great Blue Heron, hanging out in a conifer in North Star Preserve, Aspen

COOK the BOOK FRIDAYS COBBLER

What’s not to adore about Cobblers, Crisps and Crumbles? Each involves bubbly, cooked fresh fruit with a tasty topping. The primary difference is Crumbles and Crisps have streusel-like toppings. Cobblers have a dropped biscuit topping which when baked, gives it an appearance of a cobbled road, thus the name.

Peaches and Blueberries, a flavor-filled combination. There is no need to peel the peaches.

What’s so magical about this simply-made cobbler is, well, everything. Pull out a deep dish pie plate, one medium-sized bowl and a 2-3 cup measuring cup. No more equipment needed. Even better, don’t peel the peaches. Not necessary. Even, even better, no butter. This biscuit is butter-free.

Not in the mood for peaches and blueberries? Try these combos: Any berry/ripe mango; strawberry/rhubarb and plums/peaches or nectarines; Any fruit can stand alone, especially apricots.

A simply made, delicious and elegant dessert.

In the morning I sprinkled cinnamon and Turbinado sugar on top before wrapping the leftover cobbler in tinfoil to warm in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. After adding a dollop of yogurt, it was a delicious addition to the breakfast table.

DROP-BISCUIT PEACH/BLUEBERRY COBBLER by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook

Serves: 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

Fruit Mixture:

3 Pounds of Peaches ( 5-8, depending on size)
1/4 Cup sugar, or to taste (NOTE: I reduced to 1/8 Cup)
11/2 to 2 Tablespoons of Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice)
1 Cup Blueberries
1-2 Teaspoons Cornstarch, for thickening (optional)

Biscuit Topping:

11/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoons Fine Sea Salt
1/4 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1 Cup Cold Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Cold Buttermilk (Shake Well Before Measuring)

(NOTE: Are you out of Buttermilk? No problem. Pour 1 Cup of whole or 2% Milk into a Liquid Measuring Cup. Add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Stir. The acid will curdle the milk. Voilà.)

Ice Cream or Whipped Cream, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate or container of choice and place on the baking sheet.
  3. Cut your unpeeled peaches into bite-sized chucks or slices and toss into buttered pie plate. (Yes, you don’t have to peel the peaches.) Taste before adding sugar (Remember: I used only 1/8 Cup.) Add 11/2-2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice. Add the Blueberries and 1-2 Teaspoons of Cornstarch.
  4. . Stir together gently and set aside.

BISCUIT TOPPING:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients in a liquid measuring cup or another bowl and whisk together. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients. Using table fork, stir until the dry mixture is evenly dampened, producing a moist batter.
  2. Using a medium scoop (11/2 TBS capacity) or a Tablespoon , Dollop the topping over the fruit mixture, leaving a small space between each pouf of batter. (Note: If using a scoop, I usually spray it with a minute amount of Pam.)
  3. Bake the cobbler for 45-55 minutes or until the juices are boiling under and maybe a bit over the browned biscuits.
  4. Transfer to a rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving plain, or with ice cream or whipped cream.
This is the scoop I used for the biscuits.

LEMONY PESTO PASTA SALAD with AVOCADO and ARUGULA by Lidey Heuck, lideylikes Blog

Shortly after the July 4th weekend I was surfing the Net for something to fix for dinner. Although I enjoyed my share of holiday fare, I needed a change. Lidey Heuck, a food blogger, posted a recipe that intrigued me.

Lemony Herb Pesto

I’ve found that Lidey’s recipes work. Although I needed to sub two cups of fresh parsley for basil leaves, I had the ingredients on hand. What I loved most about this salad is its greenness. That it was so delicious in its greenness made it even better. Cannot wait to share this special dish with others at summer parties (Wishful thinking font).

Here’s a link to the recipe and Lidey’s blog. Don’t bypass her post about this salad.

This post follows my progress cooking recipes from
Dorie Greenspan’s “Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook” along with those participating in the online group  www.CookTheBookFridays.Wordpress.com
We encourage all our followers to add this book to your cooking library.

BAKE on the TART SIDE

BAKE on the TART SIDE

What screams 4th of July more than hamburgers, hot dogs, crispy fried chicken, old-fashioned potato salad, peach or cherry pie and if luck’s with you, home-made ice cream. Stir in family, friends, a corny parade down Main Street and an evening concert of John Philip Sousa courtesy of the high school band. That’s my memory of summer celebrations in Manchester, Iowa. (So you know, I was a drummer girl in that band.)

LOWER EAST SIDE BRUNCH TART

Those memories came alive when our country’s celebration was turned inside out by the Pandemic. Even more so because next week I had hoped to join 4 other high school friends in Manchester for a long-planned mini-reunion with short stops in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids to visit others. Coordinating dates with conflicting summer schedules? What a chore. Booking flights from San Diego, Aspen, Colorado Springs, Rochelle and Sioux City, even more so. Manchester is not destination-friendly. As for now, and I suspect as for all of you, these vacation adventures are on hold.  

The Aeshnidae (also called Darners) is a family of dragonflies. The family includes the largest dragonflies found in North America and Europe and among the largest dragonflies on the planet.

AGAIN and AGAIN, THANK YOU MOTHER NATURE

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.

A baby Violet Green Swallow waiting for a meal.
The Food Delivery Service!

The USFS has sidelined the Forest Conservancy this summer. Playing it safe, protecting its volunteer corp, we Rangers are grateful for that. With apologies to author Maurice Sendak, this furlough has given me the time and opportunity to explore and discover Where (more of) the Wild Things Are in this Valley.

Fireweed is a tall showy wildflower that tends to love disturbed places. It’s a beautiful and welcomed presence on Basalt Mountain.
This week I hiked the Ditch Trail on Basalt Mountain in the Burn area. The Lake Christine wildfire started on July 3, 2018 and burned over 12,500 acres.
Butterflies are free and they are in abundance this summer. This beautiful creature is a Weidemeyers’s Admiral

A JULY PICKS DO-OVER

Am putting my July books aside to join our summer Community Read choice, “The Beekeeper of Aleppo,” a novel by Christy Lefteri. “A House in the Mountains, The Women Who Liberated Italy from Fascism,” by Caroline Moorehead is our library’s Nonfiction Book Club July pick. If you’re a nature lover, prone to the wild side, you’ll love “WRITING WILD, Women Poets, Ramblers and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the World.” It’s by Kathryn Aalto. Just published and fabulous.

COOK the BOOK FRIDAYS

Today’s recipe, LOWER EAST SIDE BRUNCH TART, a creamy custard tart filled with smoked salmon, capers, onions and tomatoes, is dedicated to the memory of the talented Ro DiDomenico, a beloved member of French Fridays with Dorie, who recently passed away.

For the past ten years I’ve cooked virtually with Ro and her daughter, Tricia, through several of Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks. Crowned our group’s matriarch, Ro started her blogging career at 78, doing the cooking, computer coding and photography herself. This Tart was one of her favorites. We miss you, Ro.

When Dorie was the keynote speaker at the 2013 International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle, many of us attended to support Dorie and meet each other. Here’s Ro with her daughter, Tricia and Dorie.

LOWER EAST SIDE BRUNCH TART by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook
 
Serves: 6-8

Mise en Place

INGREDIENTS

One 9-91/2 inch tart shell made with your favorite tart/pie dough or short circuit this step by purchasing your favorite tart/pie dough.

TART FILLING

1½ oz cream cheese, cut into small chunks
3 oz smoked salmon, chopped
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
3 tbsp capers, drained
1 tbsp chopped chives or dill
¾ cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
12-15 cherry tomatoes, halved

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a 9-inch tart pan with the dough (I first butter my tart pan), prick all over with a fork. Partially bake for 10-12 minutes until barely browned. Cool.
  3. Drop the temperature to 350 degrees F.
  4. Place the partially-baked and cooled tart shell on parchment-lined baking sheet. Drop the cream cheese chunks over the bottom of the pie crust. Top with the salmon, onion, capers, and herbs.
  5. Whisk together the heavy cream and eggs with the salt and the pepper until smooth. Pour carefully into the crust over the other ingredients stopping when you’re just below the rim. Top with the halved tomatoes.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until it is set and cooked through. The center of the tart should have risen as much as the sides.
  7. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve just warm or at room temperature with a small green salad (I like strictly arugula greens with this.)

TIP: If there are leftovers, wrap tightly and refrigerate. Reheat in oven to serve.

  • John Muir was America’s most famous, influential naturalist and conservationist.

IT’S TIME FOR TIAN

IT’S TIME FOR TIAN

Can you spare a few minutes for a Wow? Prepare to be amazed by this stunning Summer Vegetable Tian which is CooktheBookFriday’s recipe choice this week.

I dropped off a piece of this for my friend, Wendy. Here’s what she texted later, “What a treat! 1st that I had a great dinner without doing anything but heat it up. After working hard all day, it was a super treat. 2nd, it tasted delicious and very healthy. It also looked fabulous. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I rest my case.

A Sweet Potato
A Fancy Sweet Potato (leftover Summer Vegetable Tian)

Besides this jolt of deliciousness from Dorie Greenspan’s latest cookbook, in today’s post there are also pictures of Mother Nature’s splendor. She’s been busy. With July approaching, it time for more books. Lots to learn about and like in today’s post. Let’s Go.

LEAVE THE ROADS, TAKE THE TRAILS Pythagoras

What a lifesaver to be in the mountains during these strange and disturbing days. Since its beginning in mid-March, and here I’m talking about the Quarantine, I’ve been a Fauci follower, disciple of our Governor’s Safer at Home order and have always worn a mask ( a law in Aspen now ). For me, it’s all about keeping my eye on the ball, seeing my California kids again.

For two days last week, a Mother Deer would leave her newly born fawn near my friends’ front door. The first day the baby laid there quietly for 4 hours before her Mother returned. The second day, 10 hours. (We got a bit worried.)
Sometimes the Mama would disappear and sometimes she’d just hang out in their back yard.
On the second day, at 8pm, the Mama finally returned for her baby. They’ve spent the past few days in the nearby woods.

I’ve always appreciated the power and constant grounding that my hikes in the wilderness provide whether they be healing, reflecting or stress reducing. But this year, more than any other, Time has become my companion as I’ve literally stopped to smell the (wild) roses. Maybe we humans have hit pause but life in the natural world is constantly unfolding around us.

Mom, Dad and the kids are having a glorious early morning swim at the North Star Preserve in Aspen.
A Hungry Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
This male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird is flashing his gorget, an iridescent rose-magenta throat patch.
SWALLOWS often take over Bluebird Nesting Boxes for their own use.

READING—THE BEST STATE YET to KEEP LONELINESS at BAY William Styron

JULY BOOKS

COOKTHEBOOKFRIDAYS – SUMMER VEGETABLE TIAN

READY for the oven – 70 to 90 minutes at 400 degrees

A Tian is a plain round earthenware oven-to-table dish. It is also the name for a recipe of layered or overlapping vegetables slow-roasted in the oven and served as a main or side dish. Although this idea has been passed down from generation to generation in France, it was the renown Provençal chef Roger Verge who popularized this particular Tian recipe.

MISE en PLACE (Everything in its Place)

Don’t be chintzy with your olive oil, it’s the difference between bland and flavorful. Go big or go home with those fresh herbs. Be generous with salt, pepper and sliced garlic. Although in her recipe Ina sprinkles grated Gruyere cheese on top, No, just No. The only question should be how can something so simple be so amazing.

“The best Tians should have too much oil, enough salt and a long cooking. In other words, if your vegetables melt and border on jam, you’ve made a good tian.” Cookbook Author Lucinda Scala Quinn

SUMMER VEGETABLE TIAN by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook

Serves 4-6

SERVE with CRUSTY ARTISAN BREAD

INGREDIENTS: 

5 to 9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

10 sprigs fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, tarragon and/or basil

3 pinches fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes

1/2 pound zucchini, green or yellow, scrubbed and trimmed

1/4 pound eggplant,washed and trimmed

1/4 pound red onion(s)

1 loaf of crusty, artisan bread for serving

NOTE: Use a 9-inch pie plate or any ovenproof casserole of a similar size. If you have a bigger or smaller pan, just multiply or divide the recipe.

DIRECTIONS:

1.Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 400° F.
2.Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into the baking dish, tilting it so the oil coats the sides. Scatter over half the garlic and a little more than half of the herbs. Season generously with salt and pepper.
3.Slice the vegetables about 1⁄4 inch thick. Ideally they should all be about the same size, so if any are particularly large, you might want to cut them in half the long way before slicing them. I used an Inexpensive OXO Hand Hold Mandoline slicer for all the vegetables but the eggplant. You can also easily use a sharp knife to slice all your vegetables.
4.Arrange the vegetables in the dish in tightly overlapping circles. Try to squeeze the eggplant between slices of tomato and get the zucchini and onions to cuddle up to one another. Keep the circles tight, since the vegetables will soften and shrink in the oven.
5.Season generously with salt and pepper. Tuck the remaining slivers of garlic in among the vegetables. Top with the remaining herbs and drizzle over as much of the remaining oil (3 to 7 tablespoons) as you’d like.
6.Place the tian on a baking sheet lined with foil, parchment or a silicone baking mat. Bake the tian for 70 to 90 minutes, until the vegetables are meltingly tender and the juices are bubbling.
7.Serve the tian a few minutes out of the oven or allow it to cool to room temperature. Either way, you’ll want bread…a lot of it.

SUNDAY MORNING HANG GLIDING, NORTH STAR PRESERVE, ASPEN

This post follows my progress cooking each recipe from
Dorie Greenspan’s “Everyday Dorie” along with those participating 
in the online group www.CookTheBookFridays.Wordpress.com 

PART 2: READERS RESPOND

PART 2: READERS RESPOND

The Three-Pepper Burger is this week’s Cook-the-Book Fridays choice. If you don’t eat meat, an Impossible or Beyond Burger will be perfect with this flavor-filled sandwich.

Several days after posting my last blog, I received this text from a friend:
 
“Just took the last bite of Dorie’s Portuguese Cod & Beans. OMG FABULOUS. Thanks for blogging this amazing recipe this week, and fun to make. Hope you are well and staying safe!” Karen Bristol PS I am so “out of ideas” this was excellent.”

I’m pleased to hear from readers. Usually I would shoot back a thank you and return to watching Space Force . But there is nothing “usually” about these past three months of quarantine.

Why not Pay Karen’s text Forward, sending it to the lady who actually created the recipe. I don’t care how many cookbooks you’ve written or awards you’ve received, everyone likes to be acknowledged and thanked. That includes Dorie Greenspan.

Dorie wrote that the compliment I forwarded ‘lifted her spirits,’ also. I vowed to do more of the ‘spirit lifting’ thing when life returns to the new normal. In Part 1 of my last blog I wrote about responses from subscribers who I’d asked what they’ve done or not done, accomplished, hoped to accomplish or not during this time.

During last Tuesday’s snow storm this little guy hung out on the feeder all day.

Here’s Part 2, compelling responses from long-time friends who’ve followed me for years. Some have lost jobs, need to reconfigure their businesses to fit the times and managed to create a family life under quarantine. Most, however, are retirees who stepped out of the professional world and into a life of volunteerism. Call us fortunate Americans. But what I’m hearing is we all have tweaked or enriched our lives in ways we hope to carry into our future.

You definitely don’t want to miss today’s recipe, one of the best dinners I’ve made while sheltering-in-place. Comfort food. For the resulting taste and flavor, this recipe couldn’t be less complicated. Vegetarians can grab an Impossible or Beyond Burger and make this sandwich happen! Don’t forget, Readers, if you make and like this dishes, Pay It Forward ….. to me!

Dusky Grouse

PART 2: QUOTES from Readers

“This has definitely been a significant time. Our family is approaching it as a time of transformation—we are cocooning and transforming into someone new and better.”

“We bought E-Bikes and get up at 6:00 to ride because of the hot weather.” (NOTE: Many respondents said they’d purchased E-Bikes and Pelotons.)

“I have made bread and soft pretzels. Why? I don’t know. It just seemed like fun, and it was.” (Note: Axios/Ipsos poll found 45 percent of Americans said they were cooking more in April. Dietitians are seeing people developing healthier lifestyle habits, becoming more aware of where their food comes from.)

Western Red Columbine

“Reconnecting our own backyards to our own tables, and to the tables of our friends and family, has been a passion of mine since I can remember.” says Rachel Kulchin, who graduated from UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies and is a graphic artist by profession. “Being under quarantine has helped me take the time to develop The Blue Heron Project (Link here) because I believe in the power of food, because I believe that linking our own backyards to our tables and to the tables of our friends and loved ones is one of the most powerful acts of connection and because I really enjoy eating good food.” ( I’ll be interviewing and devoting a post to The Blue Heron Project in an upcoming blog.)

My goal was to maintain the discipline to make every day special. Getting up early, walking, hiking, having special meals planned, and I’ve also done daily online Mass and read the Bible a lot. Our book club book this month is This Tender Land.”

“Learning to write in cursive/calligraphy.” (Note: From a college freshman, one of many projects. Recently I’ve seen articles discussing the dearth of the younger generation’s ability to write cursive.”)

The true meaning of Robin Egg Blue

“First of all, I am now retired from retirement! Just think about that for a moment…we work all our lives so that when we retire, we can have time to do all the things we’ve wanted to do…like travel and expand our horizons. Well…now I have even retired from that and have all the time in the world to do…what? Hmmmm.” ( Note: She went on to list about ten activities on her plate.)

“I happily live in 600 square feet, so every spring I scrub and purge and organize — it’s like living on a boat! But during this shelter-at-home time, I took my time and listened to the informative, entertaining BBC Reith Lectures online (LINK here) as I worked through closets, cupboards, shelves and photo albums. I’ve enjoyed Hilary Mantel talking about writing history as fiction; Jonathan Sumption discussing law versus politics; Eliza Manningham-Buller lecturing on securing freedom; and the outrageous Grayson Perry explaining contemporary art and the ravenous art market.” (Note: #metoo)

“I have not done my gel manicures and shockingly  the world has not come crashing to an end. No in person meetings lightened much of the overhead of activities. Not having to drive someplace has added hours to my week.”

“I started doing yoga. To my total surprise and delight my husband even decided to join me!!!” (Many responders have begun Yoga.)

“I had been wanting to read more during Quarantine but studying and tests filled my time. I created a reading challenge for myself for 30 days. I wanted to read at least 20 minutes per day. I have now passed my 30 day mark and am continuing reading this summer.” ( Note: from a high school senior)

“Communication with my family and friends has broadened and multiplied. Instead of a quick “how are you doing” or being riddled with guilt because I don’t have time to call, there’s been Zooms at cocktail hour, FaceTimes with the grandchildren and long, warm and comfortable telephone conversations with many who might have thought I’d dropped off the earth.”

 “I know that when I go back to ‘working normally,’ I will not live the same way that I used to. I’ve learned an incredible amount… just by being still.” Chef Kristen Kish, Radio Cherry Bombe

COOK-THE-BOOK FRIDAYS

THREE-PEPPER BURGERS

Servings: 4

These burgers have lots of goodness packed inside, which helps to keep the meat juicy and flavorful. Cook these burgers on the grill, in a grill pan or in a cast-iron skillet. To help keep the burgers from sticking, heat the pan first and then add oil or Pam Sauté and Grill Spray.

Make Ahead: The burger mixture needs to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day in advance. The uncooked patties can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 1 month.

INGREDIENTS:

BURGERS:

1/2 large home-roasted or store-bought roasted red bell pepper, patted dry (about 3 ounces)
6 sweet and/or hot jarred Peppadew peppers, patted dry ( 1/2 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 pound lean (80/20) ground beef
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 soft hamburger buns, plain or toasted (I used brioche buns.)

CONDIMENTS:

Arugula or other lettuce leaves
Sweet and/or hot pickle slices finely chopped
Red or Vidalia onion slices
Tomato slices
2-3 Avocados, cubed and mashed
Lime (squirt on mashed avocados)
Mayonnaise
Grey Poupon mustard Country Dijon (mix into mayo, if desired)
Hot sauce (optional)
Ketchup (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Finely chop the roasted pepper, Peppadews, jalapeño, basil and cilantro and transfer to a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, cheese and ground beef.
2. Use your clean hands to blend and lightly mix the ingredients until just incorporated. Don’t overdo it not knead the ingredients. Shape into 4 equal patties, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.

Although I’ve never weighed my burgers before, I wanted them all to be exactly the same.
  1. When you’re ready to cook, heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat — cast-iron is great for this. Add the oil or Pam Grill and Sauté, swirling the pan to coat the bottom evenly.
  2. Add the burgers. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook to the doneness you like. Four minutes per side over medium-high heat should give you medium-rare burgers. They’ll be seared to a crisp darkness on the top and bottom, and visibly juicy on the sides.
  3. Build the burgers on the buns (toasted, if desired) with lettuce, avocado, mayonnaise with or without mustard, chopped pickles, sliced tomato and sliced onion.
  4. Serve with a small green salad, cole slaw, french fries, potato salad or your choice.
Eeyore was my favorite character. What was yours?

This post follows my progress cooking each recipe from
Dorie Greenspan’s “Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook” along with those participating in the online group