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
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.
It’s time to take up arms. If Influenza A H3N2 heads your way, Just Say No.
Shot or Not is the question. (Still time.) Vaccination is a personal decision. Our family always takes the needle because Michael, who was a doctor, said so. He also said, “There’s no simple surgery, just simple surgeons,” and “If it’s a foreign object it belongs in a jar.” He also said, “Never buy a second house until you’ve sold the first.” But, I digress…..
Easily found Vitamin C-filled fruits for your smoothies: strawberry, lemon, guava, kiwi, grapefruit, lime, cantaloupe, orange, pineapple and papaya.
Seriously, readers, this is a particularly virulent monster. Ironically it’s the 100th anniversary of the 1918 global influenza pandemic that killed between 50 to 100 million victims. The Center for Disease Control is warning us that babies and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Curiosity led me to check what CDC meant by “elderly.”
If you’re sick, stay home. Do a puzzle. Amateur geologist Donna Grauer finds a project for her down time.
Here’s a shocker. I am, uh, elderly. And, if you’re over 65 you are also. Indignities aside, tinker with your winter’s lifestyle habits to protect yourself and those you love. To encourage healthier eating, here’s a delicious hack to consuming more fruits and vegetables. Colorado food blogger/author Tieghan Gerard created this Immune Boosting Winter Smoothie which she says is “jam packed with vitamin C and plenty of nutrients like fiber and antioxidants.”
I know, I know. These roses are over. The leaves are brittle. But I thought they were quite lovely. Another week, perhaps?
In the early 70’s as a single mother raising two girls, I won a generous Gannett Fellowship which helped bankroll my graduate degree at Iowa State. The University offered me an instructorship, structuring it to include health insurance. I also worked 2 days a week as an assistant magazine editor in nearby Des Moines, 36 miles from Ames. I loved my editorial work.
One day while working in Des Moines, a young woman walked into our office. Her travel agency had erroneously ticketed my boss’s flight plans. He was angry. She went into his office and, when leaving, was visibly upset. As she headed out the door, he walked into the front office and said loudly, “There goes further justification why men should be paid more than women.”
She was humiliated. I didn’t say a word in her defense. (Brave Mary, huh?) No one did. Please understand my male boss was a good guy and well-respected in the community. But he didn’t think twice about that statement. I, on the other hand, never forgot it. Despite the fact that I desperately needed that job, I needed to walk away. During my Iunch break that day I began looking for another job and soon was working elsewhere.
This week’s Time’s cover to honor the one-year anniversary of the world-wide women’s march.
When I asked my over-65 women friends if they’d suffered some level of verbal abuse in the workplace, most said yes and worse. Although, like me, they don’t ever revisit or discuss those painful workplace encounters it remains part of our fabric and armor. That’s why we find these #TimesUp revelations so distressing. For the past 40 years we’ve been consciously trying to level the playing field. #NotEnough
Although International Women’s Day is more celebrated worldwide than in the United States, I usually gather female friends for dinner.
Have our efforts counted for anything? More importantly, will this present-day crusade move the needle? “It’s hard to see when you’re in the middle of it,” says presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. “But it feels like something is happening, a fervor, an excitement, an optimism.”
The March 3, 1913 National American Woman Suffrage Association parade in New York City.
As a reminder just how long women have struggled for equality, consider this: “The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1920, giving the right to vote to women took 72 years and required 56 referendum campaigns, 47 campaigns to get state constitutional conventions to write women’s suffrage into state constitutions, 480 drives to get state legislatures to hold those referendums (5 referendum campaigns in South Dakota alone), 277 campaigns to get state party conventions to include women’s suffrage planks and 30 campaigns to get presidential party campaigns to include women’s suffrage planks in their platforms.”
1 cup frozen mango chunks
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 small raw cooked or red beet, chopped (I used canned beets)
1 cup frozen Antioxidant Blend of Strawberries, Dark Sweetened Cherries, Pomegranate Seeds and Raspberries (OR) 1 cup of any mix of these frozen fruits
1 orange, blood orange, or grapefruit, peeled and segmented
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 Tbs honey
1. In a blender, combine the mango, lemon juice, turmeric, cayenne, ginger, orange juice and honey. Blend until completely smooth, adding more honey if needed to sweeten. Pour into a tall (frosted) glass.
2. Rinse the blender out. Combine the beet, raw or cooked, “red” fruits, orange, and pomegranate juice. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding more pomegranate juice if needed to reach your desired consistency.
3. Pour over the mango mixture and stir gently to swirl. Top with toasted seeds or chopped toasted walnuts, if desired. Enjoy!
This morning Ardyth initiated me into the corp at the new 210-acre Wetlands Park Nature Preserve in Henderson. She and her husband volunteer here like I do in Aspen. Our chores are identical.
If my walls could talk, their words would be sad. Last Saturday a 21-year old man lost his life while climbing nearby Capitol Peak. Among Colorado’s 58 fourteeners, peaks that rise more than 14,000 feet above sea level, Capitol, at 14,130 feet, is acknowledged as the most difficult.
JUST MARRIED and WAITING for the AUGUST SOLAR ECLIPSE
ONE OF OUR FRIENDLY ASPEN LOCALS HELD THE BRIDE’S BOUQUET WHILE SHE PUT ON GLASSES to WATCH THE ECLIPSE.
Devastating as one hiking death can be for our community, six days previously a young Aspen couple met the same fate in the same area on Capitol. That area, called the “Knife Edge” is an 1800’ ridge which includes a razor sharp 100-foot section with abrupt drops on both sides. There is one route, one route only across the “Knife Edge”. The three victims had taken what appeared to be an easier path. It is not.
PEACH CRISP, IOWA STYLE
Earlier this summer, two others died while climbing Capitol Peak. Combining those tragedies with the devastating flooding in Houston and also Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Niger, leaves me thinking of people in need, grieving and dying. Writing about our Cook-the-Book-Fridays recipe choice, a Tian of Baked Provencal Vegetables or a scrumptious Peach Crisp, Iowa Style, seems kinda inappropriate.
TIAN OF BAKED PROVENÇAL VEGETABLES
Like you, I have Texas friends dealing with this tragedy. Every summer my birding buddy, Susan Brisbois Foster, and her husband spend eight weeks in Aspen. Two weeks ago they returned to their home in Rockport which became ground zero for Hurricane Harvey. They evacuated to Laredo. While most of Rockport is devastated, without power or running water, their home is still standing. The last I heard from Susan, they were loading up on critically-needed supplies for first responders and returning home briefly to view the destruction firsthand. Because of the curfew, they have to leave by 7pm.
OUR POLICE DEPARTMENT’S FLEET FITS OUR COMMUNITY, BY DESIGN.
THE HOOD of EACH CAR HAS a DIFFERENT THEME.
MUSIC at the TENT
It’s gratifying to watch generosity and kindness rise up as volunteerism in every worthy form. Our fire station is drop-off central for essential supplies, to be hauled to Houston by transport. A local Valley businessman is already headed south with 4 flat-bottom duck boats, outboard motors and an experienced crew to “stay down there as long as we need to,” he says.
IOWA CHOPS and COLORADO CORN WERE on the MENU WHEN KAREN’S ST. LOUIS FRIENDS of 50 YEARS VISITED. WE WENT TO ASTRONOMY NIGHT at ACES AND THEY HIKED UP TO CRATER LAKE WITH ME at the MAROON BELLS.
Houston has caused me to re-think my community, the effort and safety nets put forth to keep our Valley safe. Have you thought about that at all? Although Aspen has a population of only 6,900 people and the Roaring Fork Valley, 32,200 residents, we are a resort destination with a responsibility to the thousands of visitors who come here every year. What I now realize, even more, is how we rely on the volunteer efforts of those who live here to keep this Valley’s motor running (powered by 100% renewable energy, of course).
OUR SUMMER VISITORS INCLUDED THESE TIBETAN MONKS
Our White River National Forest is the most visited national forest in the nation encompassing 2.3 million acres. It’s an overwhelming responsibility for the understaffed USFS personnel already dealing with dramatic budget cuts. Last summer we wilderness ranger volunteers who monitor our trail system contributed 9,000 service hours, an in-kind donation valued at $233,730.
THE NEW C.B. CAMERON RESCUE CENTER, HOME of MOUNTAIN RESCUE ASPEN. In 1977, a plane crash involving the C. B. Cameron family occurred in the Capitol Creek drainage. Mountain Rescue Aspen performed the rescue of the family, but unfortunately C.B. Cameron did not survive the crash. The Cameron Family recognized Mountain Rescue Aspen to say thank you for actions taken so long ago that were never forgotten. With their help and that of other donors and the Valley community, this new facility was recently dedicated.
Without question, Aspen Mountain Rescue, 50 volunteers with no paid staff and on duty 24/7, is the most valuable asset we have for backcountry search-and-rescues. Our Valley has the utmost respect, almost a reverence, for this organization. These are men and women with day jobs and families who spend countless hours training, preparing and then heading out on dangerous rescue missions. They are our friends and neighbors and often put themselves in harm’s way to pull others out of harm. This year they’ve already answered 47 calls and will likely respond to more than the 66 missions in 2016. For them, it’s been a rough week.
The Aspen Skiing Company has purchased 34 3-bedroom units, 400 square feet, to provide affordable housing for the seasonal workers during the winter ski season. Located at the former KOA Basalt Campground which Skico now owns and is upgrading, the monthly rent will be $450 per person. That’s a bargain, for sure.
While our thoughts will be with Houston and Texas for the many perilous months ahead, just a reminder to remember those who are minding the store in our own backyards. And, aren’t we lucky?
Who doesn’t decorate their bear-proof trash cans? The bears are hungry. In July there were over 70 reports of bears trying to get into homes.
This week’s recipes are delicious and self-explanatory, dishes for you to enjoy during the holiday weekend. Happy Labor Day, Everyone. Be safe.
8-10 fresh ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
A few grates of fresh nutmeg (optional)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (one stick or 4 ounces) cold butter, cut into cubes
1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. Mix peaches with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and place into a 9 x 9-inch baking dish or something of similar size and shape.
3.In a medium bowl, mix together topping ingredients using pastry blender or fingers until butter is incorporated. Crumble topping over peaches.
4. Place baking dish on sheet pan. Bake for about 35 minutes OR till topping is golden and filling is bubbling.
Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.
TIAN of BAKED PROVENCAL VEGETABLES by David Leibovitz, My Paris Kitchen
Ready for the Oven
Serves 6 to 8 as a side
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3 tsp minced fresh thyme
2 Japanese eggplants or 1 globe (12 ounces)
1 zucchini (8 ounces)
2 firm tomatoes (12 ounces)
Sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, Comté or Emmental
Special equipment: a 3-4 quart shallow baking dish
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. And the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until they start to wilt. Add the minced garlic and 1 teaspoon minced thyme, Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3 minutes more.
3. Spread the onion mixture in a shallow baking dish.
The Bottom Layer of Onions and Garlic. I also had some Roasted Hatch Chiles from the Farmer’s Market so threw some “heat” into the mix.
4. Trim away the ends of the zucchini and eggplant and cut them into 1/4” slices. Cut out the stems of the tomatoes and slice them thinly also. (If you are comfortable with a mandoline slicer, use it to slice the vegetables.)
5. Arrange the sliced vegetables in a overlapping, circular, concentric pattern, alternating the sliced vegetables and fitting them tightly into the dish.
6. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the vegetables and and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tsp of thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35-45 minutes.
8. Remove the foil, strew the cheese over the top and bake uncovered for 20 to 25 more minutes until the veggies are completely cooked through.
9. Serve warm or at room temperature the same day you make it. If reheating the leftovers, stick in a 325 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
Cook-the-Book-Fridays is an international group cooking its way virtually through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. To visit our home page or join our group, here’s the link.
PEACH UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE with BUTTERMILK ICE CREAM with OLIVE OIL AND FLEUR de SEL
As counterintuitive as this may seem, Summer 2017 has been wonderful, my happiest since Alzheimer’s knocked at our door thirteen years ago. That’s in spite of, maybe even more so because our country and world is in, let’s admit it, chaos. It’s darn hard these days to stay aboard that happy train. Even Joy the Baker, my effervescent blogging pal from NOLA, took up the how-to-do-happy-better theme this week.
“We all need a little spark of a reminder sometimes,” she wrote. “ A little confetti in the air. A little whipped cream on top. A little something-something.”
I’m loving going to the Cooking School of Aspen this summer. The Science of Cooking: Sweet and Salty, a combo class presentation by Rob Ittner’s Cooking School of Aspen and the Aspen Science Center. Great fun and learning with our local scientists, David Houggy (L), president of ASC and the guy who helped create it, Mike Simmons, (R) who is also a volunteer ranger with me.
We can’t expect our end game to always be handsprings and high fives but, Loyal Readers, don’t we deserve the best Life we can muster? Now as you know, I love lists. My days evolve around my to-do list. So you might expect I have an on-going “Tweaks” list which I pull out when myself needs tweaking. If yourself needs a tweak or two, I’m willing to share. If you’re doing mighty fine (and, lucky you), just skip down to the recipes for my to-die-for Peach Upside-Down Cake topped with homemade Buttermilk Ice Cream.
Five chefs and scientists participated in our class of 24.
My Golden Happy Tweaks
For more of my adult years than I care to admit, I believed it possible to be joyful only when the stars lined up perfectly in my life and my family’s world. I always truly believed if one tried hard enough…well, you get it. I know, I know, what universe did I live in? When we stumbled into something that couldn’t be fixed and could only end with a bad result, I hit a wall. (Memo to the World: Walls are bad.)
When I was young my father made our ice cream in a wooden ice cream bucket. Churn. Churn. Churn. With my Cuisinart ice cream maker, it’s effortless.
More than a decade ago there weren’t many tools, books or avenues to help caregivers be caregivers. I stumbled my way up the learning curve but often didn’t do it well. Throughout those early years I just survived. Then a psychologist suggested that ‘pain was inevitable, but suffering, always optional’ so I traded suffering and sadness for laughter and a smile. Since I was slowly losing my side kick and best friend, I also became my own best friend. I still am. A Golden Tweak: Greet each day with a smile, laugh out loud and treat yourself as wonderfully as you do your spouse, partner or best friend.
After 25 years, I finally took a tour of Harris Hall, often called the Carnegie Hall of the Rockies. The acoustics in the hall are reputed to be among the best in the world. During the tour, this gentleman from Ireland volunteered to demonstrate the veracity of that statement by singing “My Wild Irish Rose.” A treat for the 25 tourists taking the tour and a bonus for me.
Now I’m not asking you to deny or normalize the challenges we face personally and publicly but recognize your limits. That doesn’t mean I don’t stay engaged and honor my values and beliefs. I gravitate towards positive and optimistic people, hanging with friends who are energized by their passions, ideas and activities. I walk the walk, quietly doing my best, but I no longer talk the talk. Stress and hurt are not my pals. A Golden Tweak: Avoid what drags you down. Learn to say no. Don’t be a martyr.
An unforgettable moment for this young lady – A gentleman from Ireland singing to her (“My Wild Irish Rose”) on the stage of Harris Hall, Aspen, Colorado.
If you’ve committed to greeting the day with a smile, why not get a head start by going to bed happy. Turn off your electronics by 8:30-9pm. Have an engaging book or two nearby or watch a fun series.Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon Prime was my summer headliner. Or, just talk, have a conversation, or call a friend. A Golden Tweak: Get good sleep. No, 4-5 hours is not enough.
This Mama Swallow is maneuvering her body into this exhaust vent area where she has her nest of babies who are hungry and squawking.
And, of course, stay physically active and eat well. If a slice of Peach Upside-Down Cake topped with homemade Buttermilk Ice Cream doesn’t lighten your load then you aren’t half-trying. That’s what Cook the Book Friday is dishing up this week. Here are the recipes and my tips.
The baby swallows are still hungry but the Mama checks that the coast is clear before leaving her babies again.
COOK the BOOK FRIDAYS
GLACE AU LAIT, HUILE D’OLIVE ET FLEUR DE SEL by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
No egg yolks. No tempering. The corn syrup (or, honey) makes it smooth and creamy for days.
Makes about 1 quart
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup (substitute honey, if you wish)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
Fruity, extra virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt
1. In a small saucepan, warm the cream over low heat with the sugar and corn syrup, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Chill the mixture in a bowl thoroughly, at least 8 hours or overnight.
2. Stir the buttermilk into the chilled sweetened cream. Freeze according to your manufacturer’s ice cream maker instructions. Once churned (about 30-50 minutes), transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container a few hours, overnight, or until firm enough to scoop.
3. Just before serving, scoop the ice cream into bowls, using a chilled ice cream scoop. Drizzle each serving with olive oil and sprinkle with a flurry of sea salt or use a topping of your choice. Since I was topping my cake with this ice cream I didn’t put anything on it.
(This recipe appealed to me because I love cooking with my 10” cast-iron skillet. If you don’t have cast iron, use any ovenproof container.)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour (If in altitude, use high-altitude flour.)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt, at room temperature
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease a seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet. Combine butter and brown sugar in skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter has melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Top with peaches and set the skillet aside.
3. For the cake, whisk together sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
4. Whisk together egg, buttermilk, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla in a small bowl; add to flour mixture and stir just until combined.
5. Dollop batter evenly over peach layer and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes, until cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.
6. Remove from oven and let the cake rest for 5 minutes in the skillet, until any juices have stopped bubbling. Use a thin spatula to loosen cake from skillet and carefully invert onto a cake stand or serving plate.
7. Let cool to slightly warm before serving.
Called the Chunnel, this is the underground connector from Harris Hall to the 2400-seat performance music tent where most concerts are given. I had never seen this before. Why does it make me think of Iowa?