Make this incredible Lebanese bowl featuring Tabbouleh, hummus, falafels & so much more.
Let’s be clear. Blogs are blogs. Power Point Presentations are not. According to my more seriously-minded techie pals, PPP are something else entirely. They are more, well, seriously minded. Humph!
After watching a PPP listing ten potential benefits of them, we seemed almost on the same page. I especially honed in on (1)Broadening visual impact; (2)Improving audience focus; (7) & (8) Building Spontaneity & Interactivity and (10)Increasing Wonder.
Traditionally Lebanese Tabbouleh is a green herbal salad with a touch of spices and a dollop of grains.
Call me crazy but I think it’s all about those Bullet Points. This week’s post screams for bullet points, emoji style. So let’s do it. Give it a read… seriously.
👩🍳 GRAND RAPIDS was GRAND
Shortly before Thanksgiving, as usual, I bid farewell to Colorado. While it’s a 650-mile drive through Utah and Arizona to Henderson, Nevada, where I’ll be for the holidays, it’s no chore. The iconic landscapes of sandstone buttes, arches and mesas visible throughout my drive are gloriously breathtaking.
In 1976 I was in Kansas City for the Republican Convention when Gerald Ford was nominated. That’s why I saved his library for last. As you can see, I am on the floor of the Convention and rather awestruck by Dan Rather.
After arriving in Henderson, I grabbed my bag, boarded an Allegiant jet and flew to Michigan. Where. It. Was. Snowing. Gerald Ford’s Presidential Library is located in Grand Rapids. His was the last of the thirteen libraries administered by the National Archives for me to visit. It’s been a five-year project which has taken me and friends accompanying me to California, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, New York, Massachusetts and Michigan. (Hoover. West Branch, Iowa 1962.)
This statue is at the Ford library entrance.
Suffice it to say, it was thrilling to visit Ford’s museum, not only to reach my goal but also because in 1976 I attended the Republican Convention in Kansas City when he was nominated. Even better, the Library’s staff supervisor and her cohorts were excited for me.
I’d filled out all the appropriate forms and we’re just getting ready to put the last Presidential Library stamp in my Passport Booklet.
I am the 75th person to visit all 13 libraries. There were gifts, an engraved crystal paperweight with a commendation to follow from the Archives. Who knew? Next stop: Chicago, 2020
This is the stairway ladder to the rooftop of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon which enabled 978 Americans and 1,120 Vietnamese to board helicopters and escape to American ships waiting offshore on April 29/30, 1975.
👩🍳 EYE SPY the INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
The small white dot you see below is the 360’ International Space Station that was launched in 1998. Since Year 2000, 230 astronauts have flown in this habitable artificial satellite. Only the moon and Venus are brighter in the night sky. NASA has a free App, Spot the Station, showing when it will pass over your location.
During the Thanksgiving holidays, in Bishop with my family, we saw a video of the three ISS astronauts wishing Americans “Happy Thanksgiving.” So our family (three generations) was ready, willing and looking to return those wishes when the ISS flew over at 6:04 pm last Friday evening.
Melissa spotted it first. Sounds crazy but we hollered and waved. In 1961 I remember Alan Shepherd being the first American to fly into space. He flew 116 miles high before safely returning to earth. The flight lasted 15 ½ minutes. I can only imagine what Clara and Emma will see during their lifetimes. Thanks, Jane Carey, for introducing us to this App.
👩🍳 TABBOULEH & the INCREDIBLE LEBANESE BOWL
David Lebovitz’s idea of Tabbouleh is a ‘bowl heaped with fresh herbs, a few tomato chunks, and very, very few bits of bulgur (cracked wheat.)’ He’s borrowed this recipe, our CooktheBookFridays choice this week, from highly acclaimed Lebanese chef Anissa Helou. David claims it’s not only authentic but highly addictive. I agree. Recipe below.
I substituted 1/2 cup cooked Quinoa instead of bulgar to make it gluten-free. Click this Link for the many ways to serve or enhance Tabbouleh. Using inspiration provided by the Minimalist Baker, I created this Incredible Lebanese Bowl.
My friend, Dipika Rai, makes the most delicious falafels. To be honest, every delicacy she makes is delicious. We haven’t yet made falafels together so I improvised.
Sometimes it’s all about the box, the box, the box. Of the two, I prefer Knorr.
TABBOULEH by Anissa Helou, from A Paris Kitchen cookbook
(TIP: This is a large amount of Tabbouleh. I halved the recipe and adjusted the other ingredients to my taste. Even so, I added a 1/2 to 2/3 cup of Quinoa, more than the recipe specified.)
1/3 – 1/2 cup of fine bulgur (I used Quinoa but any grain will work))
3 medium firm ripe tomatoes, diced into small cubes
2 spring onions or scallions, trimmed and very thinly sliced
14 ounces flat-leaf parsley, most of the stalks discarded, leaves washed and dried
2 cups mint leaves, washed and dried, no stems
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
salt to taste
juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Using a grain of your choice, prepare it according to its directions.
2. Put the diced tomatoes in a bowl to drain and set aside while you prepare the herbs.
3. Using a sharp knife, grab as much of the prepped parsley and mint as you can handle in a bunch, and slice them very thin, to end up with nice, crisp slender strips.
4. After draining the tomatoes of their juice, put in a large bowl. Add the spring onion or scallions and herbs.
4. Sprinkle the bulgur all over. Season with the cinnamon, allspice and pepper. Add salt to taste.
5. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings (you may need more) if necessary.
6. Serve immediately. (I ate this salad for 3 days. Of course, “immediately” is the best.)
Over the holidays we enjoyed the company of 9-10 Wood Ducks at Stephen & Melissa’s pond. They are among the most stunningly beautiful of all waterfowl. They are also very secretive and skittish. We kept a low profile so they would hang around. They did. Two males and one female (L).
My Newest Gougères, our first recipe choice from Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook. Served for lunch (yeah) with Butternut Squash Soup topped with toasted coconut shreds.
Who doesn’t keep some kernels of wisdom tucked into their hip pocket to pull out when needed. For me, my pocket runneth over with pithy tips. Here are just two:
1. PEOPLE LIKE TO BE THANKED. (My mother) While growing up, I knew whenever someone gave me a gift, a thank you note was to follow and I was going to write it. That has trickled down through three generations. My teenage granddaughters have yet to persuade their mother that e-mails count.
My parents, generous to a fault, were simply teaching me gratitude and appreciation. Ingrained in my DNA is knowledge my father, a kid of the Great Depression, got to college because of a baseball scholarship. He had no money, an athlete’s appetite and was kept fed only through the generosity of a local Catholic family who lived near campus. He never forgot that nor do I.
Dorie Greenspan’s newest cookbook, Everyday Dorie, the Way I Cook
2. After giving the keynote address at a Seattle food blogging convention and being asked the secret of her success, she replied, “I AlWAYS SAY YES.” (Dorie Greenspan)
Several years ago I was sitting in the audience with many of my French Fridays with Dorie blogging colleagues when Dorie answered this question. It was a shocker for me because I had always believed there was great value and discipline in being able to say, “No.”
October is a month for birthdays. Local author Cathy O’Connell and I always celebrate together. This year we’re also jubilant about the recent publication of her latest novel, The Last Night Out. Don’t miss it.
This was an uncomfortable moment. Having just lost a husband who suffered through an unforgiving disease for eight years, I was trying to redefine my Life. Dorie, who I had grown to admire and respect, was suggesting my “rules of engagement,” might need tweaking.
You know what I did, Readers? I began to tweak, deciding to keep the good guys, Strengthand Resilience, while shelving the more negative “No.” By paying attention I soon realized the charismatic Dorie’s “Yes,” is more a compromising Getting-to-Yes. Now that philosophy was explained in the innovative 2011 book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.” Ironically Dorie’s built her phenomenal 40-year career by saying, “Yes,” but left it to authors Fisher, Ury and Patton to write a book explaining it.
My friend, Karen Kribs, celebrated my birthday by hosting an afternoon High Tea. Aranzazu (pictured) enjoyed the fun also and we all loved it.
It doesn’t hurt to have one of our Valley’s most talented musicians and a dear friend, Charlotte McLain, amongst us to play Happy Birthday tunes during tea time.
That’s why we’re here today. Seven years ago, merci to an Oprah’s article, I joined French Fridays with Dorie, an international group devoted to cooking through Dorie’s Around My French Table cookbook. Many of you subscribers know my oft-repeated story about connecting to this group and committing to a weekly blogging schedule. That provided me with structure and a social community, props to re-build a lifestyle.
Avoir, Mon Ami. My bruised and battered FFWD cookbook got quite a workout the past 7 years. The binding is even separated from the content pages. Retired, with love, on a shelf of honor but still making the delicious recipes.
Our FFWD group retired two years ago, after cooking 300 recipes together. Some of us continued blogging. Many pursued other interests. The one thing we did, however, was keep in touch with each other. We clearly could not break up the group. Nor did we want to lose touch with our Dorie, the author of 13 cookbooks, winner of five James Beard and two IACP Cookbooks of the Year awards, who had showered us with interest and support.
An international meet-up: Frankfurt, Germany, meets Aspen, Colorado, in Vail. Rose Heda and I have been French Fridays with Dorie food blogging colleagues for 7 years but had never met. Knowing she would be in Boulder this week, we’ve had a lunch planned since last February. Last Wednesday it happened: a 3 hour lunch, lots of chatter, a wonderful “real” friendship now.
When Dr. Katie Baillargeon, a FFWD alum and administrator of our Cook the Book Fridays blog, discovered Dorie was writing another cookbook, she asked if we could cook through it like before. Dorie was delighted. As were we. Can you hear the drumrolls? This is our first post from her amazing new “Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook.” Gougères are a classic French appetizer. We chose this recipe because Gougères were the first recipe we posted from AMFT in 2010.
Readers, I promise you are going to love this new adventure showcasing Dorie’s recipes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Just out of the oven.
MY NEWEST GOUGÈRES by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook
Makes about 60 gougères
From Dorie: “Gougères are French cheese puffs based on a classic dough called pâte à choux (the dough used for cream puffs). It’s a testament to their goodness that I’m still crazy about them after all these years and after all the thousands that I’ve made. Twenty or so years ago, when my husband and I moved to Paris, I decided that Gougères would be the nibble I’d have ready for guests when they visited. Regulars chez moi have come to expect them.”
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1⁄2 cup water 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
11⁄4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (preferably French)
2 cups coarsely grated cheese, such as Comté, Gruyère and/or sharp cheddar
2⁄3 cup walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
From Dorie: My secret to being able to serve guests gougères on short notice is to keep them in the freezer, ready to bake. Scoop the puffs, freeze them on a parchment-lined baking sheet or cutting board and then pack them airtight. You can bake them straight from the oven. Just give them a couple more minutes of heat.
1.Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
2. Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat and immediately start stirring energetically with a heavy spoon or whisk. The dough will form a ball and there’ll be a light film on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring for another 2 minutes or so to dry the dough. Dry dough will make puffy puffs.
3. Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or work by hand with a wooden spoon and elbow grease). Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one, followed by the white, beating until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. The dough may look as though it’s separating or falling apart but just keep working. By the time the white goes in, the dough will be beautiful. Beat in the mustard, followed by the cheese and the walnuts. Give the dough a last mix-through by hand.
I used a small 2-Teaspoons cookie scoop, available on line, to form the balls of dough.
4. Scoop or spoon out the dough, using a small cookie scoop (11⁄2 teaspoons). If you’d like larger puffs, shape them with a tablespoon or medium-size cookie scoop. Drop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each mound. (The dough can be scooped and frozen on baking sheets at this point.)
5. Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F.
6. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the Gougères are puffed, golden and firm enough to pick up, another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately—these are best directly from the oven.
S T O R I N G: The puffs are best soon after they come out of the oven and nice (if flatter) at room temperature that same day. If you want to keep baked puffs, freeze them and then reheat them in a 350-degree-F oven for a few minutes.
Stuffed Eggplant Parm – Turn either Globe, Italian, Graffiti, or White eggplants into boats and stuff them full of crispy, cheesy, tomato and eggplant goodness.
Not long ago, when walking to a music concert with my friend Wendy, she asked, “Do you miss your garden?”
That question, out of the blue, had nothing to do with our ongoing chatter and was rather innocuous. “Yes,” I answered. “Yes I do.”
Although we quickly moved on to more important topics – her upcoming trip to Papua New Guinea, my Emma’s college visits and where to get the best haircut – that question gave me pause.
Le Grande Aioli with Crudités Board for Two
A big chunk of Michael’s and my springtime/summer revolved around gardening – planning, preparing, planting and harvesting. From the moment the rhubarb tips poked through the lingering spring snow until the frost polished off my herbs, we tended our “crops,” sharing the wealth with neighbors. Admittedly, after picking the last of our raspberries and digging up the potatoes in the fall, we were farmered-out, ready to put it to bed.
Apple Crumble – In anticipation of Rosh Hashanah, I participated in another cooking class, A Taste of Honey, at the Jewish Community Center – Chabad of Aspen. We also made Honey Cake which I had never made before.
As you readers know, determined to bloom where I’m planted, I don’t often dwell on the past. I can’t bring back what was and I’ve pretty much depleted my well of sadness. What I do know is those were joyful moments despite the ruined manicures, my outrage at a deer nibbling the edible buds off my only (ever) brussels sprout stalk or Michael’s constant tracking dirt onto our white carpeting. (That white carpeting drove me bonkers.)
Treat Time as if it is precious because it is.
Since we’re talking about farming !?! Donna Chase and I encountered this herd of goats while walking recently on the Rio Grande Trail. They are on-the-move throughout the county, munching, on the weeds.
While I may no longer reap the fruits of our labor, many friends, who still garden, are graciously sharing their bounty. They know their food gifts to me aren’t wasted (I send photos.) In fact Wendy, who maintains a huge garden, is now in New Guinea for three weeks and has left me her key.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to those of you who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah on Sunday evening. And, thank you to Leiba and the Women’s Inner Circle at the Jewish Community Center at the Chabad of Aspen for sharing your Rosh Hashanah memories while we baked our sweet desserts.
This week’s recipes spotlight the veggies gathered from local gardens and our farmer’s market.
1.Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
2.Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Leaving a 1/2-inch border, use a paring knife to cut around the insides of each half, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon, creating boats out of the shells. Coarsely chop the flesh and set aside.
3.Brush or rub the insides of the hollowed eggplant shells with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
4.Place the shells cut-side up in a 13×9-inch baking dish. Roast until tender (there should be no resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife), about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the eggplant. Set aside.
5.Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of the oil, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl; set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped eggplant flesh, garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
6. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is tender, 7 to 9 minutes.
7. Stir in 1 cup of the marinara and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the 1 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and stir to combine.
7. Heat the broiler to high. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Transfer the eggplant shells to a work surface. Pour the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce into the baking dish and spread into an even layer.
8. Return the eggplant shells to the baking dish. Spoon the filling evenly into the shells. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and reserved breadcrumb mixture.
9. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the breadcrumbs are browned, 2 to 4 minutes. To serve, top the eggplant shells with marinara sauce from the baking dish.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Use any raw vegetables you wish. Be creative. Jicama? Beets? Cherry Tomatoes? Blanch the green beans in salted water for 2 – 4 minutes and cook the small potatoes for 10-12 minutes. Cook the beets also if you are using them.
LE GRANDE AIOLI (Garlic Mayonnaise)
IN THE SPIRIT OF FULL DISCLOSURE: This vegetable platter and dips are this week’s Cook the Book Friday’s recipe from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen Cookbook. Unfortunately David’s recipe did not work for any of us. There was an error in the ingredients list, I believe, causing us to pour in 1 extra cup of oil. (Page 146 of the book.) The recipe below is easy and delicious. If you don’t like garlic, leave it out.
Makes about 1 cup
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt
3/4 cup mayonnaise
21/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Mix mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
As a kid growing up in Iowa, I knew three cheeses: Velveeta, Maytag blue and Swiss. My Mom always kept a 16-ounce block of Kraft’s processed cheese in the fridge. In Newton, located 140 miles from my home town of Manchester, Maytag Dairy Farms with its herd of prize-winning Holstein cows was producing a phenomenal blue cheese. And, my Great Aunt Iva and Uncle Jesse who lived in Belmont, Wisconsin, used to send us a wheel of locally-made Swiss cheese every Christmas.
While I cannot remember when I last purchased Kraft’s “Liquid Gold,” many Americans still do. Think Macaroni & Cheese. In any given 12-week period, approximately one-third of us eat it. Not surprisingly, half are children. Remember in the 70’s when Velveeta and RO*TEL linked up? The result: Queso Dip. Link to the recipe from Food Network.
Called a Spritz Veneziano (Aperol Spritz), this Italian cocktail and a decked-out cheese board belong together. Recipe at end of the post.
Maytag’s “Lonely Repairman” left Newton in 2007 when the Whirlpool company bought their appliance business. Although the farm still produces its iconic cheese, since leaving Iowa and for no good reason, I don’t buy Maytag’s Blue. And sadly, after my Aunt Iva and Uncle Jesse died, so did my desire for a 2# wheel of Swiss.
In anticipation of National Voter Registration Day on September 25th, I’m just making sure these shoes are made for canvassing. For the last year my friend, Donna Grauer, has been involved in voter registration efforts in our 3-county area. She is also a USFS volunteer ranger, a Master Naturalist specializing in geology and a mentor with the Roaring Fork pre-collegiate program. (In truth, she is a crazy person!)
When I was in Paris last winter I lived a few doors away from cheesemonger Laurent Dubois’ flagship location. Dubois holds the prestigious and hard-won designation Meilleur Ouvrier (Best Craftsman) de France for his talent. Until I took a food tour through my arrondissement, the historic Marais district, I wasn’t brave enough to step through the door. Distinguished for his Comtés, small production chèvres and Pyrenées bribes, he also ages cheeses in caves below his shop and offers outrageous in-house specialties. After visiting Dubois during the tour I occasionally stopped by. Still, it was overwhelming in variety and intimidating to choose.
Hard at work in the French Cheese Tasting Workshop which I took last winter, offered by Paris by Mouth.
That’s why I enrolled in a French Cheese Tasting Workshop offered by Paris by Mouth to learn about cheeses, taste 10 varieties, and wash them down with 5 different wines and a never-ending bounty of baguettes. Of the many tours, walks, and workshops I did in Paris, my day with Jennifer, the Big Cheese, and seven classmates was the best.
To build the cheese board pictured above, I first started with the cheeses: Marin French Cheese, Brie Triple Crème (top); Point Reyes Toma Cheese (left); and, Rogue Creamery Organic Smokey Oregon Blue, with honey. All three were 2018 award winners at the American Cheese Society’s competition this year.
However, it was what she said to we 5 Americans after class that made the biggest impression. “You know,” she said,“they are making very good artisan cheeses in America now. Really good.”
I decided to find out.
#fromagefriday, Cheese Board for One
After choosing your cheeses, just begin building the board. More is better!
Sometimes when you know what you like and like what you know, it becomes a rut. When selecting cheese, I’m a bore. More days than not, I eat solo. And, while that’s never boring to me, I’m always eager to add a spark, to make meal time grater!
Why not, every so often, put together a cheese board for myself featuring 1-2 unfamiliar but well-considered cheeses – firm, semisoft, soft, fresh or blue-veined. And give that board a boost by adding fresh or dried fruit, cured meats, nuts, seeds, spreads, pickled and marinated foods, breads, crackers, a chocolate or two. Even better, pull out and include leftovers, odds and ends shoved to the back of your fridge and pantry.
The board on the Left is a perfect size for one or two people. With the board on the right, just go wild.
To my mind, food should be celebrated and eating it, an occasion. The process of building this board was as delightful as eating it. Whether a cheese board for one or teatime spread for 6 or holiday sugar treats for 25, the possibilities are endless. Choose your base, pick a theme, create a feast and make pretty. Need ideas? Look for Platters and Boards, Beautiful Casual Spreads for Every Occasion at your local library. The authors Shelley Westerhausen and Wyatt Worcel move the creative entertainment bar up a notch or two.
APEROL SPRITZ RECIPE:
Main alcohol: Prosecco
Ingredients: 2 oz Prosecco, 1 1/4 oz Aperol, Splash of Soda water
Preparation: Build into glass over ice, garnish and serve.
Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnish: Orange Wedge
Drink ware: Old Fashioned glass
This Slab Pie is a peach-perfect choice for the many end-of-summer potlucks you’ll be attending. This easily made Peach Crumble Slab Pie received rave reviews. Be creative and use any fruit combo of the summer’s fresh bounty.
As an amateur photographer, using a point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot which isn’t even manufactured anymore, I have one rule: Never let the picture get in front of the experience.
Happiness is baking Challah with Lieba Mintz at the Jewish Community Center.
That’s why I missed a magnificent opportunity to photograph the illusive Sharp-shinned Hawk during a recent birding field trip. We were studying the astonishing number of Violet-green Swallows feasting on the insects at Hallam Lake when suddenly they all rose up with a terrifying kik-kik-kik call and flew off. That translates to “approaching danger,” and, sure enough, in swooped a hawk.
Someone yelled, “I think it’s a Sharpie.”
Rather than bake off my bread at the Center, I brought mine home to proof in the fridge overnight. In the morning it was ready to bake.
Deb, Jane (the redhead) and I joined 25 other women at the Jewish Center to bake challah.
I won’t even attempt to explain this!
Since 90% of this hawk’s diet is songbirds it had discovered the motherlode. This was a win, however, for the swallows and the Sharpie, coming up short, flew into a bare tree to strategize. I had never seen a good visual of this bird so, for the short minute he was perched before taking off, I took a looong look. Missed the shot, got my eye on the bird.
Food & Friendship – Wendy Weaver made a pie with these gorgeous red currants and gifted me with what was left.
I made cornbread.
It was delicious.
I also opted for experience last summer with the unexpected entrance to the music tent of the Notorious RGB. With intermission just ending, most of the 2,000 people in the tent were returning to their seats for a performance by American opera singer Renée Fleming. I was seated in an aisle seat, heard commotion and turned to see Justice Ginsberg painstakingly making her way down the steps. As her surprise arrival rippled through the crowd, a wave of people began to stand up, clap and appreciate her as she found her seat. I absorbed the experience, missed the good shot.
There’s a fine line between being a visual storyteller while still being capable of re-telling the story. It’s just one of the many minor choices in a lifetime of them for me, for us all.
For me personally this has been a summer of all kinds of choices. The good news is Aspen being an amazing place to live during the summer. That’s also the bad news. It’s impossible to do all the “amazings.”
Melissa closed her office for a week and flew to Aspen to spend some time with her Mom. Pure Joy.
Although practically at my back door in nearby Grand Junction, I had never been to the Colorado National Monument before. It’s an amazing 23,000 acres of canyons, plateaus, massive towers of naturally sculpted monoliths and red rock landscapes.
While I was reading an historic trail sign this Desert Big Horn Sheep wandered near. I don’t recommend being this close to wildlife but my only option was to stand still. He was not threatening and eventually sauntered off when cars began to stop for a look.
“The biggest, trickiest lesson,” explains author Elizabeth Gilbert,“is learning how to say No to things you do want to do – stuff that matters – so that you can successfully do a handful of things that really matter. Our only hope of beating “Overwhelm” may be to limit, radically, what we’re willing to get “Whelmed” by in the first place.”
This summer I’ve tried to take Gilbert’s advice, knocking out the “Over,” settling for just the “Whelm’s.” That’s even why I’ve taken a month-long break from this blog – can we call it a sabbatical? And, no, it’s not an aging thing, why would you even think that?
Recent research has shown that ‘most of us spend nearly 47 percent of our waking hours each day thinking about something other than what we’re doing.’ *
Although I’m thrilled to be blogging again, I’m sad that Summer is waning. So, loyal Readers, I raise this Toast to you: Here’s to relishing joy in the moment, savoring that which is fleeting and focusing on the present experience.
Food & Friendship: My Gant neighbor, Meredith Bell, who lives in Atlanta, brought me a bag of her favorite, mild Shishito Peppers.
…and then we simply tossed with olive oil before heating and blistering them over high heat. Sprinkle with salt. Voila! No utensils needed.
PEACH CRUMBLE SLAB PIE – adapted from New York Times food writer Melissa Clark, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Jane Hutchison (my Mom)
If you want to make a memorable impression with a dazzling dessert for a large summer gathering, bake a slab pie. Enlist help from our available bounty of berries or stone fruit. This dessert, which generously serves 16-18, is the busy baker’s answer to quick, simple and delicious.
First, let’s talk about pie crust. In this recipe I rely on the Doughboy. Here’s why. The stars of this pie are Colorado’s Palisade peaches and the to-die-for crumble. The bottom pie crust (use both pouches in the box) is just the foundation. We need the crust to do its job so the tasty ingredients can shine. Now if you wish to make your own crust, hooray, but I’m making three slab pies next week so ready-made crusts are my friend.
As a time-saver, choose your favorite pre-made pie crust dough. Use both pouches from a box of ready-made pie crust stacked together.
12 ripe large peaches or nectarines or a mix, peeled or not, pitted and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup packed light brown sugar
⅓ cup instant tapioca
zest of 3 small or 2 large lemons
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon/ fine sea salt
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups of Quaker oats (quick or old-fashioned)
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted, COLD butter, cubed
1. Remove pie crusts from pouches. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, unroll and stack crusts one on top of the other and gently roll the two stacked discs to an 11-x-15-inch rectangle, lightly dusting with flour if dough is sticking. Fold dough in half and transfer to a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Carefully press crust into the bottom of the dish and completely up the edges so its flush with the top (no need to crimp the dough.) Refrigerate while preparing the filling and crumble.
2. Make the filling. In a large bowl, toss together peaches, sugar, tapioca, lemon zest and juice, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange one oven rack on the lowest position and a second rack in the center position. Place baking sheet on lowest rack while oven is preheating.
4. Make the crumble topping. Whisk together flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Mix in cold butter with your fingertips until mixture is uniformly moist and comes together in large clumps.
5. Assemble the pie. Remove up to one cup of liquid from the filling if it seems too soupy. (Use it in a smoothie.) Spoon filling into crust and top with crumble.
6. Place pie on pre-heated baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Move baking sheet with pie to the center rack. Continue baking until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
TIP: This dessert does not need to be refrigerated for a day or so. Just cover loosely with a kitchen towel or wax paper. If not eaten by then (and, I’m betting that won’t happen), cover it with Saran Wrap and place in fridge.
*research project of Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T Gilbert
Food & Friendship: This chard was almost too beautiful to cook. From the Overeynder Community Garden Plot
Bofinger Sauerkrat with a knuckle of pork, white sausage, Strasbourg sausage, sausage with cumin, smoked pork belly, pork loin and boiled potatoes. Brasserie Bofinger
Dear Miss Manners,
When I was in Paris recently, I attended a small dinner party with four other American friends. Our gracious host and hostess live in an apartment with a balcony view of the Tour Eiffel. During our marvelous dinner we set our Apple watches for “on the hour” alarms to catch the 5-minute breathtaking display of sparkling lights superimposed over the tower’s golden lighting.
That meant the five of us left the table en masse four times during dinner. Was that rude? Is an apology needed? I feel guilty. Thank you for responding ASAP.
PS – In our defense, here’s our once-in-a-lifetime view. Vive la France.
As you read this post it’s a good bet I’m boarding an Air Canada 777 making my 32-hours way to Aspen via Toronto and Denver. After more than a five months absence, my tiny 940’ condo will seem like a palace. May is always a month of construction frenzy at The Gant. That’s okay. It’s jackhammer-loud, noisy and messy with just me and the construction guys on site. As a reminder of that, I understand earplugs (free) await me.
Aspenites Karen Kribs and Cathy O’Connell enjoying the Paris Skyline with our host, Michael.
While eager to see Colorado, leaving Paris is a bit of a tug. If you’ve joined me virtually for this adventure, you already know I’ve loved my experience.
Another familiar face from Aspen, Fred Venrick.
It’s always a treat to eat white asparagus during its very short season. Aliza Sokolow, an award winning food photographer, is in the background with Dorie.
NIBBLES WITH the GREENSPANS
For starters there were oysters with gougères and salmon rillettes. The last two, which I’ve also made, were from Dorie’s Around My French Table cookbook.
In a recent post I wrote about having dinner with Dorie and Michael Greenspan who were spending time at their Paris apartment. If you recall, for more than five years I was part of a group which cooked through Dorie’s Around My French Tablecookbook. Last week Dorie called to invite me and my Aspen friends, who had just arrived in Paris, to come for drinks and nibbles. An unexpected invitation, I was very pleased as were my friends.
I had never eaten oysters before so Cathy provided a tutorial and encouragement.
Just a heads up Readers, if you’re ever invited for “nibbles” at the Greenspans, we’re talking full-fledged dinner. Let me say this about the evening…..I knocked at their door and introduced them to 3 Aspenites who they had never met before. By the end of the evening (ahem, 12:30am), we were all best friends.
Although I am being facetious about writing Miss Manners. We did bob up and down and Apple watches were involved.
All Aboard. Belgium-bound.
ANTWERP by TRAIN
At the International Market with Andrea and 3 of her 4 daughters
Paying homage to Morocco at the International Market in Antwerp
During my 8 years of food blogging many of the acquaintances I’ve known virtually are now friends. Those who live in the USA I’ve often met personally. Others who live in faraway places, not so much. That’s why last Saturday was such a treat. I finally met the very-talented Andrea Mohr who blogs as The Kitchen Lioness and lives with her husband and four daughters in Bonn, Germany.
Pomme Frites with Mayo, surprisingly delicious
Posing with Nijntje (Miffy), a storybook character
We cooked up a plan where I would come by train to Antwerp and she, Thomas and the girls would drive from Bonn, a 21/2 hour trip for us both. Miraculously, with thanks to the Europeans’ efficient train system, the day passed without a hitch. Andrea met me at the station with, what else, a bouquet of gorgeous tulips. Their itinerary included visiting the International Market and all Andrea’s favorite kitchen stores, seeing Antwerp’s historical highlights, enjoying Belgium food specialities and a hot chocolate break. Since we’re usually separated by 5,000 miles, this was a glorious meet up.
“Homeless Jesus,” a sculpture by Timothy Schmalz was installed in Antwerp in February.
Lunch – burrata and Jambon de Parme salad
Bofinger’s fish sauerkraut with haddock, scottish salmon, langoustine, sea bass, boiled potatoes and horseradish butter Brasserie Bofinger
Île flottante, Brasserie Bofinger
Memorial de la Shoah, Paris’ holocaust museum was dedicated in 2005 by President Jacques Chirac.
The Luxor Obelisk with the Grande Roue de Paris in the foreground. The ferris wheel is 2000′ high.