MAPLE SYRUP and MUSTARD BRUSSELS SPROUTS by DORIE GREENSPAN, EVERYDAY DORIE
Everyone has a brussels sprouts story. This is mine.
When we moved to Aspen from Des Moines in 1988, we bought a house that wasn’t grand but situated on lovely property abutting Red Butte Mountain and surrounded by 40-some evergreen trees. Along with moving too many belongings, we also packed up our shovels, pitchforks and Iowa gardening skills.
BAY LEAF POUND CAKE with COINTREAU GLAZE by DAVID LEBOVITZ, MY PARIS KITCHEN, PERFECT TREAT for VOLUNTEER WORKERS on ELECTION DAY.
Understatement: Mother Nature looks askance at cocky Iowa farmers who tilled their luscious black soil at 955’ and believe that still works with a 4-month growing season at 9000’ altitude. We immediately planted Burpee’s Big Boy tomatoes, harvesting only one which was rock hard and barely red. Michael, a bit frugal, calculated that Big Boy cost $37.35.
ON ELECTION DAY I COULD BE MOST HELPFUL TO MY FRIEND, DONNA GRAUER, an EAGLE COUNTY PRECINCT COMMITTEE PERSON, by BEING the CHIEF COOK and BOTTLE WASHER as SHE COORDINATED HER DAY’S ACTIVITIES. (No one left hungry.) THE VEGETARIAN SQUASH LENTIL CHILI from the KITCHN WAS DELICIOUS. A LINK TO THE RECIPE IS BELOW.
Eventually we struck a bargain with Colorado’s High Country climate and grew leafy greens and nightshade vegetables. A friend shared her hardy rhubarb roots which yielded a never-ending supply of tangy stalks. My son-in-law loved strawberry/rhubarb pie. Every year I tried to curry favor by hand-delivering one to him in California. However, we were most successful with starchy, tuberous New Potatoes, hosting tater parties every fall.
THIS PAST WEEKEND I MADE A RACK of LAMB, A PERFECT COMPLIMENT TO DORIE’S BRUSSELS SPROUTS.
We rejoiced in our Hits and lamented Misses. One year I spotted brussels sprouts plantings at the local nursery and purchased six. The plants, neither pretty nor luscious, are statuesque. Throughout the summer I lost five but daily monitored the one stalk standing. Its edible buds, mini-cabbages, grew from nubs to walnut-sized nuggets. One evening I decided it was “time,” and excitedly announced to my husband that ‘5 brussels sprouts would be on the menu for tomorrow’s dinner.’
Brussels Sprouts Plant, Cedar Circle Farms
The next morning I walked outside to reap the harvest. The stalk was still standing minus the edible nubs. I cannot over-emphasize my total shock and dismay, taking a double- and triple-take. Apparently a wily deer had been stalking my stalk. He quietly crept into our yard and nibbled the motherlode to extinction!
ON ELECTION DAY WHEN I WAS WORKING IN THE KITCHEN AT DONNA’S, A HERD OF MULE DEER STOPPED BY.
It was spaghetti night at Little Annie’s restaurant. That’s where I licked my wounds, along with a super-sized margarita. I never again planted brussels sprouts.
A LAST SUPPER with FRIENDS BEFORE I CLOSED DOWN MY KITCHEN FOR THE WINTER. THEIR HAIR ORNAMENTS ARE MY NAPKIN RINGS!
Next week I’m very, very excited about traveling to Grand Rapids. You heard right, Grand Rapids. Michigan.
PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY WRAP-UP
EVERY TIME I VISIT A PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY I GET MY PASSPORT BOOKLET STAMPED.
In 1962, the summer I graduated from high school, Herbert Hoover’s Presidential Library opened in nearby West Branch, Iowa. Enjoying an ongoing love affair with history I visited the library before heading to college at Florida State. During that visit I vowed to visit every single Presidential Library administered by the National Archives (there were four).
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, HYDE PARK, NEW YORK.
Next Friday, 56 years later, I will realize that goal by visiting President Ford’s (there are now 13). Five years ago I decided ‘if not now, when.’It has been a fantastic journey of learning, made even richer by the friends who encouraged, supported and traveled with me.
Leaving Aspen for the Winter. Next stop: Grand Rapids.
COULD THIS BE A DESCENDANT OF MY BRUSSELS SPROUTS NOSHING- MULE DEER?
Thousands of Leaf Peepers flooded into Colorado’s High Country the past two weeks to enjoy Mother Nature’s dazzling performance. Watching our quaking Aspen leaves transform their green into golden yellow is a magical time here. From the moment we spot the first yellow leaves until they begin to turn crispy brown, it’s an ongoing conversation.
FOR WHOM THE MAROON BELLS TOLL
“Have you driven to the [Independence] Pass. It’s gorgeous now?”
“The Crystal River Valley is phenomenal. Don’t forget to stop for BBQ at Slow Groovin’ in Marble.”
“Be sure to visit the [Maroon] Bells now. Go early and go often.”
For the Break-Fast Celebration following Yom Kippur, I was asked to share a cheese board.
In 30 years of watching these leaves change, I’ve never seen it more beautiful. Then again, it might be that after a summer of drought and a devastating fire, it’s a relief to know Mother Nature can right herself with this extraordinary display of color.
More Break-Fast fare, Donna’s Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese frittatas
We’re now pivoting into our two-month off-season of Mad Dashes. Contractors with their construction teams dash into town to do what can’t be done during the tourist season. While the downtown area is being “refreshed,” at The Gant complex we’re installing a new AC/Heating system. It’s complicated! Crews are busy with road, bridge and trail repairs, all anticipating the upcoming ski season.
This is also a time, as you see in my pictures, when we dash here and there to break bread with friends we don’t often see during the busy summer. Weary locals take time from work for mad dashes to Moab, Santa Fe or Denver. Some plan longer adventures. When my friends leave for several weeks, I often keep an eye on their houses, watering plants, picking up mail, doing an occasional walkabout.
I made Lady Hélène’s Apple Cake especially for Philip Salet’s 90th birthday dinner. He’s quite a guy with memorable experiences to share. We were good listeners.
Meredith (R) contributed her Atlanta-version of Red Beans & Rice. Jessica Salet (L). As a little boy, Philip was interned at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manilla so his story started there.
Unfortunately September is also the time our local black bears turn frisky, wandering down from the mountains to hunt for food. Needing to put on weight to prepare for hibernation, they eat (acorns, berries, insects, small creatures) and drink constantly, 12 hours a day. Unlike Grizzlies, black bears are harmless unless challenged.
Last Tuesday I woke up before sunrise and headed for the Maroon Bells. Brrrr It was dark and cold. I wanted to see the beautiful Bells wrapped in full-on color just one more time but without being surrounded by crowds. About 100 photographers who had staked their claim long before I woke up were patiently waiting for sunrise. So much for solitude.
Twice recently I’ve encountered a bear, maybe a two or three-year-old, 100-150 pounds, who has claimed the trail behind The Gant that I hike frequently. It’s a quiet secluded trail and yesterday we actually startled each other. Bear meets Me. He quickly scampered away and after waiting 5 minutes I scampered down the trail myself. I am sufficiently wary enough (and, scared) to deed the territory, for now, to this hungry wild animal.
Last month my son-in-law, Stephen, was appointed by Gov. Brown to be a Superior Court judge in California. He was sworn in on September 12th. Although separated by 850 miles, that evening Linda and David Stein, who actually know Stephen, celebrated this proud family moment with me.
There’s more. Yesterday, following my bear encounter I received a call from my friend whose house I am watching. “Hey Mare,” she said. “A bear broke into the house. He tore apart the framing and came in the smaller dining room window. My yard guy found it this morning.”
I had just been there the day before. There’s a sophisticated alarm system on the windows/doors that was installed last year after a bear break-in. I just knew I’d set the alarm properly. It should have gone off and scared the heck out of the bear.
This abandoned and forlorn-looking bird nest evokes memories of a summer well spent.
“Oh the alarm was on when my guy went into the house,” she said. “You set it. It just didn’t go off when the bear climbed in the window. It didn’t work. ”
There was nothing to attract the bear, no food on the counters. Bears have good memories/instincts. The same bear? He made a mess, dented the Sub-Zero and caused considerable damage. If caught he’ll be relocated or, even worse, euthanized.
All of us who live here realize we’re in bear habitat, a Fed Bear is a Dead Bear. We’re actually educated and very diligent so these encounters won’t happen. So I’ll hike other trails this fall and, after a call to the alarm company, I’m hoping next time that window will be wired properly.
Such is Life in a mountain community and pretty common throughout the West.
In anticipation of the upcoming holidays I put together a dessert board that looks and tastes like Autumn. Maple Syrup. Apples – cake, turnovers and dried. Caramel, as in chocolate brownies. And, a holiday bundt cake that can turn into small loaves, mini-bundts and cupcakes.
MARIE-HÉLÈNE’S APPLE CAKE by Dorie Greenspan, Around my French Table
A favorite recipe for many bakers, I make it several times each fall. It is also featured in FOOD52’s Genius Recipes, 100 Recipes That Will Change The Way to Cook cookbook, page 220-1
ALL-IN-ONE HOLIDAY BUNDT CAKE by Dorie Greenspan, Baking from My Home to Yours cookbook
This is a tried-and-true recipe and can be used for smaller-sized individual bundt cakes, small loaves or cupcakes. (See my pictured Sweet Board.)
1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup cranberries, halved or coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
6 TBS confectioners’ sugar
2 TBS Maple Syrup
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Butter or spray a 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and ginger powder, if you’re using it instead of the grated ginger.
3. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the butter and both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
4. Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, apple and grated ginger, if using it. Don’t be concerned if the batter looks curdled.
5. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. With a rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries and pecans. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
6. Bake directly on the oven rack for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
7. Transfer to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool to room temperature on a rack with wax paper underneath.
8. For maple icing, sift 6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons maple syrup, little by little, until you have an icing that runs nicely off the tip of the spoon. Let the icing set for 3-4 minutes after dripping it onto the cakes.
9. If you wish, sprinkle more pecans on top before the frosting sets. Or, just sprinkle cake with confectionary sugar.
TIPS: Feel free to substitute with dried and chopped raisins or apricots.
Wrapped well, the cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, at which point it’s good for toasting; or freeze for up to 2 months. As always, it’s best when served the same day.
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
Call me crazy, but I’m wondering if the 24-hour day has declined into 21- sixty minute cycles. The world’s in a twirl, spinning a bit faster, can’t you tell? If Jupiter can claim ten more moons, bringing its number to 79, I can suggest each day seemingly three hours shorter.
Almond, Blueberry with Berry Sauce Dutch Baby
Now this isn’t a whine nor am I complaining. Summer has been kind to me. I’m grateful for every moment, relish the opportunities I’m offered and grateful for the many friends who share my passions. While I don’t know all you readers personally, I have to believe and hope your hearts beat with that same gladness. However, there’s no harm in wishing each day was a bit more elastic, stretching to fit our needs, plans and desires.
This week’s blog not only features photos fueled by those passions but also gives you a terrific you-can-absolutely-not-fail recipe. It’s fun to bake, and can adjust to any scenario – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or just because. You’ll recognize the “framework” as a Dutch Baby, an American creation of a batter-driven cross between a pancake and a popover.
the Dutch Baby “framework”
Although I’ve made Dutch Babies before, they’ve always been a bubble off – not enough pouf, too much puff, soggy bottom. For whatever reason, the recipe for this Baby responds to those risks and provides a structure to build your flavor. The recipe is below.
We moved to the tiny town of Aspen more than thirty years ago and I’ve been fortunate to collect a wonderful group of friends. Last week Dale Hollinger and I took lunch out to one of my “first” friend’s, Frances Ginsberg, who is finally on the road to healthy. It took years of Frances’ grit and determination coupled with medicine’s miracles to get there. Those smiles are genuine.
Spending the afternoon at Frances (seated) and Bob’s lovely Woody Creek home by the river is a treat.
For 27 of the past 30 years that Linda and David Stein have summered in Aspen, the “Delta Girls” have been spending a week here each summer. Linda and all these women, who now are scattered throughout the country, worked for Delta Airlines. For many of those years, Luky Seymour, the first person we met after moving to Aspen, and I have been invited to spend an evening with the Delta Girls.
Manee (L) made a delicious Thai-inspired dinner for us. Linda & David (the couple), Luky (middle). The Delta girls – Joanie, Janice, Darnell & Claudette
My favorite dish of Manee’s was this Tom Yum Seafood soup.
The Aspen Insitute, an international nonprofit think tank founded in 1949, is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. This week has been the Aspen Security Forum, an annual affair convened to discuss the key security issues of the day. In the past these forums have been quiet affairs. This year with Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray on the docket, it was not. After listening to these men it’s my opinion that they are pretty straight shooters who believe in the rule of law and keeping Americans safe. Very reassuring.
FBI Director Christopher Wray and NBC New Commentator Lester Holt are ready to take the stage for a Conversation at the Aspen Security Forum.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: “Exposing schemes to the public is an important way to neutralize them. The American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda.”
Although we do get some smoke from the fires here in Aspen, our birds seems to be flourishing.
a Cooper’s Hawk chick who has not yet fledged
Mallard Ducks, early morning at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
This Ruby-crowned Kinglet is trying to hide but his rising red crest is giving him away.
FIRE UPDATE: While all the evacuees of the 6,283-acre Lake Christine fire which was 43% contained returned to their homes, they were cautioned to ‘keep their bags packed.’ As I write this the fire has flared again in a particularly northern steep section of the backcountry to 8315 acres and forced pre-evacuation notices to down valley residents.
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You can just sprinkle almonds and powdered sugar on your Dutch baby or you can add any combo of fruit and sauce and even ice cream to the shell.
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp almond extract
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup of toasted or roasted sliced almonds
Compote: (using blueberries)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp blueberry “juice”
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1.Preheat oven to 450°.
2. While oven is heating, combine all dutch baby ingredients EXCEPT the butter in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Once oven is heated, add the butter to a 10″ cast iron or oven-proof skillet and place the skillet in the oven. As soon as the butter has melted, remove the skillet from the oven, brush butter evenly all over the skillet including the sides, then pour the batter into the skillet.
4, Bake dutch baby for approximately 20 minutes, or until it has puffed up and is golden brown on the edges/top.
5. While dutch baby is baking, make the compote and glaze/saucesauce. Heat blueberries (of, fruit of your choice) and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to break down the blueberries. Simmer on low for 5-10 minutes, then pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer, removing any blueberry chunks. You should be left with just the liquid.
5. For the glaze/sauce, add 2 Tbsp blueberry juice and powdered sugar to a bowl and whisk. If you prefer it to be thinner, add an additional 1 Tbsp blueberry, and if you want it thicker, add 1/4 cup powdered sugar.
6. After taking the dutch baby out of the oven and letting it cool a bit, sprinkle on powdered sugar and sliced, toasted almonds before adding fruit and glaze/sauce.
Since it was Emma’s 17th birthday yesterday, I added whipped cream, sprinkles and a candle to my morning Dutch Baby snack. Happy Birthday, sweet Emma.
Since the mid-1990s, with a time out for Michael-care, I’ve been a volunteer wilderness ranger in the Colorado Rockies. During those 25-some years my life has changed dramatically but the one constant has always been my ranger gig.
UDON NOODLES, ARUGULA & RED PEPPER SALAD
Hitching myself to Smokey Bear’s wagon was a bit of a stretch. Never considered a rough-and-tumble outdoorsy girl, our 1988 move to Aspen was a reach beyond my bubble. What I soon developed, however, was an affaire de coeur with these mountains that’s never waned.
Today’s post is an abridged answer to the question I’m most often asked, “What do you really do?”
In early June we combine patrols with field trips to reacquaint ourselves with the floral and fauna. (Our memories are not what they used to be!) L to R: Deb and Phil Overeynder, Jane Battaglia who also works in Arizona’s Santa Catalina National Forest and me at the East Maroon Trail portal.
BUT FIRST, IS ANYONE HUNGRY?
The East Maroon Trail always has wonderful springtime/early summer flowers. Discovered in 1820 on Pike’s Peak by mountain climber Edwin James, the Rocky Mountain columbine (Columbine Aquilegia caerulea) is Colorado’s state flower. Do you know your state flower?
This week’s recipes, UDON NOODLES, ARUGULA & RED PEPPER SALAD and RASPBERRY ICE CREAM with TOASTED WALNUTS, could be your summer menu’s superstars.
I’m planning to share this Udon noodle salad at two upcoming summer potlucks. What works with this recipe is anything. Most veggies on hand will play well in this salad. Don’t forget to change up your noodles. Soba noodles (buckwheat) and Udon noodles (wheat) offer two distinct taste experiences. The constant here is the citrus Ponzu sauce used in the dressing.
Serving homemade ice cream to your family/guests speaks volumes: “You are special.” Today’s ice cream maker is not your grandparents’ cranky relic. Ice cream is easily pulled together. Even recipes for sorbets and granitas are simple to follow. Don’t let summer fly away without dusting off your ice cream machine. (Both recipes are below.)
GET YOUR SMOKEY ON
To score a moose sighting is a thrill that few people experience.
BUT these are depressing times for the Colorado mule deer who takes an eye candy back seat to moose, bears and elk.
Let’s start at my story’s finale. Last year, through the efforts of 40-50 dedicated volunteer rangers, our Forest Conservancy contributed 10,685 service hours which translated to an in-kind donation value of more than $278,000. We interacted with more than 60,000 trail users and 320,500 visitors to the Maroon Bells Scenic Area. That’s our job. That’s what we do.
These kids we met on the East Maroon trail are having such a good time. “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir
To keep updating our skills, every summer the Conservancy, a non-profit partner to the USFS, brings in experts from our Colorado universities/government agencies/NPOs to teach courses on flora and fauna, geology, life zones, and the like. When I’m not hiking, I’m often in the classroom or field attending these sessions. We all maintain First Aid/CPR certification but every year, like many other volunteers, I take a refresher course.
Last week the Conservancy sponsored a birding field trip. Everyone pictured here is a volunteer ranger. Birding at Aspen Music Festival’s new Bucksbaum Campus is a special treat for us. (Hey, Kay, this photo is for you.)
By mid-June, however, it’s time to get online and begin scheduling patrols to cover the 102 official trails located in our Ranger District. We communicate throughout this busy 4-month period via our website which is our lifeline to all ranger-related information, updates, bulletins and trail reports.
My office. (Liz Berg, For you and your sisters.)
Hiking with Phil, a utilities engineer who has overseen the city’s water, electric and streets departments throughout his career, is always a treat. Ask him a question, he pulls out his map and we find the answer together.
Although I patrol alone on nearby trails, we pair up for wilderness hikes. Our main responsibility is to maintain a safe, friendly environment for visitors and our wildlife residents. Of course everyone hopes to spot a moose or bear. In an odd twist, it’s often most difficult to protect the wildlife from the tourists.
I was hiking an East Aspen trail last week and was startled by this Mama and Baby Moose who were enjoying a mid-morning snack. I quietly backed down the trail and all was well. There are signs throughout Aspen’s East End cautioning residents about moose sighting and to keep dogs on leashes.
If there are illegal fire rings, we dismantle them. Signs or trees down? We report it. Trash? We carry it out. With full-on fire restrictions already in place, we’ll be on the lookout. Our backpacks are always loaded with equipment and materials to cover all possibilities. (We have a must-carry checklist.) In fact, we’re trained to do everything but law enforcement. It’s a responsibility. I’m always wary.
Author and bird expert, Rebecca Weiss, R, who is a naturalist at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies led the Conservancy’s birding field trip.
When the day is done, we file a comprehensive online report which not only goes to Marcia Johnson, our executive director, but also to the USFS and our colleagues. Then it’s homeward bound to my next major activity: Good Night!
Why do I get up at 5am to go birding? Because this little guy, a Green-tailed Towhee, is waiting to welcome me. That stunning rufous cap just makes me laugh.
UDON NOODLES, ARUGULA & PEPPER SALAD adapted from Jessica Merchant, How Sweet Eats
If you haven’t tried Ponzu sauce (and, I hadn’t), look for it at your local grocery store. It’s ‘an intense soy-like sauce that is simultaneously sweet, tart, bitter, and salty.’
1/3 cup Ponzu sauce
1/4 cup sunflower oil or vegetable oil of your choice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2-1 tsp kosher salt
8oz. Udon noodles (options: Soba or rice noodles)
2 cups sugar snap peas, cut into thirds
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
3 green onions chopped, both white & green parts
3 cups arugula
1 heaping cup chopped cilantro
1. Mix dressing ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. Dressing can be refrigerated overnight.
2. Cook the udon noodles according to the package. Add noodles to an ice bath to chill. Then drain.
3. Toss the red pepper slices and green onions in the bowl of dressing. Add the noodles, sugar snap peas, almonds, sesame seeds, arugula and cilantro. Toss until well combined.
4. Serve cold (refrigerate for at least 30 minutes) or at room temperature with additional toasted sesame seeds and slivered almonds and freshly cut limes and avocados.
Tip: 1. For more heat, mince a small Fresno pepper into very small pieces and add to the salad ingredients.
RASPBERRY ICE CREAM with TOASTED WALNUTS, by David Lebovitz,The Perfect Scoop
Makes 1 Quart
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups strained raspberry puree (directions below)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Raspberry purée: Purée 6 cups of fresh raspberries or 6 cups of defrosted frozen raspberries in a food processor. Press them through a mesh strainer with a flexible rubber spatula, or use a food mill. Set aside.
2. Pour the cream into a large bowl, set a mesh strainer over the top and set aside.
3. Warm the half-and-half and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan.
4. Whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm half and half/sugar mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then, scrape the warmed egg yolks mixture back into the saucepan.
5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
6. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix in the raspberry puree and lemon juice, then stir until cool over an ice bath.
7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.
8. Pour it into your ice cream freezer and make it according to the manufacturers directions.
9. After making the ice cream, mix the roasted nuts into the raspberry mixture before placing it into your freezer to harden.
When Emma, now 17, was born I found and framed this vintage Smokey Bear poster. Although it was replaced by singer Taylor Swift followed by her own photography, she still is quite the nature girl.
Memorial Day is now a memory. Hopefully, a joyful one. Now it’s time to get serious about summer. That’s why I just made my first batch of ice cream. This past winter I treated myself to more scoops at Berthillon’s (Paris most famous glacier) than necessary and regretted not one lick. Missing that occasional flavor burst in a cone, I mixed together Lemon-Speculoos ice cream this week. It’s ridiculously creamy and delicious. Why not pull out your ice cream machine? Show some love to those you love.
I showed some love to the evening crew at The Gant’s front desk with Lemon-Speculoos Ice Cream Waffle Bowls.
This week’s Cook-the-Book-Fridays recipe choice is Porc Fumé Façon Barbecue. We Iowans translate that to Smoky Barbecue-Style Pulled Pork. Although I’ve made Pork chops, loin, shoulder, tenderloin, sausage and ham and bacon, I’ve never “pulled pork.”
SMOKY BARBEQUE-STYLE PULLED PORK SANDWICH with COLESLAW and SWEET GHERKINS
Ten years ago I successfully relied on You Tube for a tutorial on How To Set a Mousetrap. Perhaps, I decided, this called for another You Tube adventure. Readers, if I had viewed all the available You Tube videos on “pulling pork,” I wouldn’t have had the time to “pull” this pork. I watched three videos. I conquered pulling pork which produced perfect sandwiches for Memorial Day.
A GRATITUDE ATTITUTE
We first moved to Aspen in 1988. Each morning when I can wake up in this beautiful place, I never forget or take for granted how fortunate I am to live here. My photos in this week’s post especially offer a glimpse into why this is so. I dusted off my gratitude journal last month and plan to express visually what I often express with words. Where does it say that a gratitude journal has to be loaded with lists?
Hopefully you feel that same joy living in your chosen homeplace. Imagine what photos you might take to represent the gratitude of that. “Life is like ice cream, enjoy it before it melts.”
On Memorial Day I always walk through Ute Cemetery, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and located a few minutes from my condo. Of the 175 people buried there, 39 are the Civil War veterans memorialized on this stone.
After the war, many Civil War veterans settled in the West. These 39 veterans are buried on the crest of a ridge in the cemetery, one row above another. Our local war veterans always place flags at their stones every Memorial Day. Honor. Respect. We never forget.
On Memorial Day Donna Grauer and I also visited Aspen Grove Cemetery where many of Aspen’s early community movers and shakers and 12 more Civil War veterans are buried. Donna spotted this broken, discarded statue leaning against a ponderosa pine.
Ever the volunteer Ranger whether in or out of uniform, Donna climbed down into the woods to check out the statue. She found the head and we managed to put it together so we can safely secure it later. St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecologists, rises again to watch over his flock.
The WONDER OF WILDLIFE
Thanks to advice and assistance from my new Gant neighbor, Nancy Ferrillo, I now have a balcony filled with five flower boxes and four hummingbird feeders. First time ever. Six years and a very-determined-neighbor later, the hummers are deliriously happy and I have the balcony of my dreams.
Besides completing that project this week, I also began my USFS volunteer ranger duties. The highlight of my week, however, was a full-day Spring Migration Birding Trip led by Rebecca Weiss, the naturalist specializing in birds and botany at the Aspen Center of Environmental Studies and photographer Mark Fuller, newly retired after 37 years as director of the Ruedi Water and Power Authority. Although I’ve been on countless day-long birding excursions, this was an unbelievable and beautiful day with 53 different species sightings. I’ve only honor and respect for these wondrous creatures.
We started our day e-a-r-l-y at Rock Bottom Ranch in Carbondale. Our leaders, Rebecca and Mark.
For the past two years Rebecca and Mark have collaborated on this long-anticipated book which will be published in mid-July.
We looked up and saw a raptor flying overhead. It turned out to be a Golden Eagle. Not one. Not two. But, three. Three majestic eagles flew slowly by and disappeared over the ridge. Amazing. Dale Armstrong Photo
Look carefully to find the three eagles flying over our Rockies. (Whoops, one eagle has “flown the coop,” and gone over the ridge. My bad. This is a correction.) Dale Armstrong Photo
A raccoon at rest…..in a Cottonwood tree.
A warbling vireo sits on the nest. Dale Armstrong photo.
A peacock. Chickens. Rock Bottom Ranch. What can I say?
LEMON-SPECULOOS ICE CREAM by David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop
3 large lemons
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups crumbled Speculoos or gingersnap cookies
1. Zest the lemons directly into a food processor or blender. Add the sugar and blend until the lemon zest is very fine.
2. Warm the milk with the lemon-scented sugar, 1/2 cup of the heavy cream, and the salt in a heavy saucepan. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for one hour.
3. Rewarm the lemon-infused mixture.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour warm lemon-infused milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
5. Pour the remaining 1 1/2 cups cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
6. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Discard the lemon zest and stir until cool over an ice bath.
7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in your refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours or overnight.
8. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As you remove it from the ice cream maker, stir in the cookie bits and put in a freezer container.
9. Put into freezer until ready to serve.
TIP: Speculoos is A biscuit-like cookie made popular in Belgium. It’s very similar in flavor to a gingersnap. If you cannot find Speculoos in your grocery store, gingersnaps are a fine substitute.