OCTOBER IS MY FAVORITE COLOR

OCTOBER IS MY FAVORITE COLOR

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

My sentiments exactly…

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

SAVE & SAVOR

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

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

Bean & Tortilla Soup, Fully Loaded

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

OUR HILLS ARE STILL ALIVE

Hunter Creek Valley
A Sunday Morning Hike with Jessica Salet.

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

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

VOTE

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

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

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

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

BREAKING MY RULES

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE LAST WORDS

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

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

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

COOK THE BOOK FRIDAYS

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

BEAN & TORTILLA SOUP

SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS:

For the Soup

1 large Spanish or Vidalia onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1½ tbsp olive oil

2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp sea salt

pinch of sugar

¾ tsp cumin

½ tsp chili powder

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

15 oz canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes

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

For the Add-Ins

Sour Cream or Greek yogurt

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

Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack

Chopped fresh clilantro

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

Tortilla Chips

Hot sauce (optional)

PREPARATIONS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A HOT-FUDGE SUNDAE & SQUID MEET-UP

A HOT-FUDGE SUNDAE & SQUID MEET-UP

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

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

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

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

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

So-Good Miso Corn with Squid

My Hazmat Suit

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

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

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

“Hi Melissa.”

“Hi Mom.”

“I just bought a Hazmat Suit.”

“Why?”

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

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

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

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

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

Rest In Power, Justice Ginsberg

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

This week’s New Yorker Magazine Cover

CookTheBookFridays

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

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

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

MISO

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

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

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS:

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

DIRECTIONS:

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

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

FROM a SIDE DISH to a MAIN COURSE:

The Squid Tubes & Tentacles are from Whole Foods.

ADD SQUID:

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

SALTED-CHOCOLATE HOT FUDGE SUNDAES


SALTED CHOCOLATE BITS:

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

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

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

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

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

HOT-FUDGE SAUCE:

INGREDIENTS:

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

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

SUNDAE:

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

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

Cooking is Love Made Visible.

Cooking is Love Made Visible.

Do you remember that August 2020 is officially National Women’s Suffrage Month, a month-long celebration honoring the history of our fight for the vote? While mourning the loss of 180,000 American lives, with the country in a bit of a mess, it’s understandable if what began at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 isn’t on your radar.

I am purposely writing this post the evening of Wednesday, August 26th, which is National  Women’s Equality Day. It marks the day in 1920 when white women in the United States got the equal right to vote. (Most Black women waited 50 more years to gain that right.) August 26th was the 100th anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, giving women the constitutional right to vote.

Amusing myself with a theme week, every evening I’ve been raising a glass or two to honor and learn more about a suffragette. My picks are Anthony, Paul, Stanton, Stone, Wells, Lampkin, Truth, Tubman and the Iroquois women.  In a moment of serendipity, last Sunday the incomparable Dorie Greenspan featured Chocolate-Flake Raspberry Ice Cream in her NYT’s EAT column. Our CooktheBookFriday’s choice this week is her Blueberry-Buttermilk Bundt Cake. With ice cream, cake and flags resurrected from July 4th it’s a week-long hen’s party for me and those stalwart suffragettes.

VOTE

MENTALLY STRONG WOMEN DON’T…..

In the spirit of suffrage month (you all know I love Lists) this is worth a share. And to all you guys who receive my blog, please read this also. It’s from author Amy Morin’s book entitled 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do.” Is counterintuitive the right word here?

BLUEBERRY-BUTTERMILK BUNDT CAKE

1.They don’t compare themselves to others.

2.They don’t insist upon perfection.

3.They don’t see vulnerability as a weakness

4.They don’t let self-doubt stop them from reaching goals.

5.They don’t overthink everything.

6.They don’t avoid tough challenges.

CHOCOLATE-FLAKE RASPBERRY ICE CREAM

7.They don’t fear breaking the rules.

8. They don’t put others down to lift themselves up.

9. They don’t let others limit their potential.

10.They don’t blame themselves when something goes wrong.

11.They don’t stay silent.

12. They don’t feel bad about reinventing themselves.

13. They don’t downplay their success.

EVERY FRIDAY I’VE STARTED VOLUNTEERING AT THE SENIOR CENTER TO BAG VEGETABLES WHICH ARE LATER DISPERSED TO SENIORS THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY. WE PUT TOGETHER ABOUT 60 BAGS OF PRODUCE DELIVERED TO US FROM TWO ROOTS ORGANIC FARM. THE VOLUNTEERS ARE FRIENDLY, THE SENIOR CENTER IS SAFE AND I AM SO HAPPY TO BE DOING THIS.

WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING?

I’ve been watching MasterClass which is an e-learning platform that features classes taught by well-known celebrities, industry leaders and masters of their crafts who give curated lessons. I just finished author Doris Kearns Goodwin’s excellent class on U.S. Presidential History and Leadership. I’ve moved on to NYC’s pâtissier Dominique Ansel’s French Pastry Fundamentals. It’s happy. and calorie-free. Fundamental to Dominique is professional to me! For more info, click on this Link.

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

LtoR: The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris (a do-over, I like McCullough); The Lost Girls of Paris (a good read); The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu (HR); Writing Wild, Women Poets, Ramblers, & Mavericks Who Shape How We See The Natural World (loving these short essays); The Overstory (Pulitzer Prize Winner) HR; White Fragility (Discussing this small but weighty book with a friend via Facetime); Not pictured: Year of Wonder, A Novel of the Plague (our bookclub’s August choice – worth reading); One of Ours (Cather’s 1923 endearing Pulitzer Prize winner). HR means I haven’t yet read.

ICE CREAM SOLVES THE WHOLE SHEBANG

Pull out your ice cream maker (borrowing is good) and make this fabulous raspberry ice cream. Pour on Dorie’s version of Magic Shell, a glossy, glorious-tasting hard topping that works…..like magic. Now smile.    

THE SAME FRIENDS, THE OVEREYNDER’S, WHO SHARED THE LARGESSE FROM THEIR CHERRY TREE ALSO HAVE RASPBERRY BUSHES. I PICKED ENOUGH TO MAKE DORIE’S SPECTACULAR ICE CREAM. I SHARED BACK THE FINISHED PRODUCT AND THEY WERE APPRECIATIVE TASTE TESTERS.

CHOCOLATE-FLAKE RASPBERRY ICE CREAM by Dorie Greenspan, EAT, The New York Times

INGREDIENTS:

The Chocolate Topping:

12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

3 tablespoons coconut oil

The Ice Cream:

8 ounces  fresh (or frozen) raspberries (if using frozen, don’t defrost)

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup buttermilk (shake well before measuring)

½ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons powdered milk

3 tablespoons vodka

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

CHECK OUT THE CHOCOLATES FLAKES THAT ARE DISPERSED THROUGHOUT THE ICE CREAM. A SMALL AMOUT OF CHOCOLATE MIX IS WARMED AND SLOWLY DRIZZLED IN THE LAST FEW MINUTES OF CHURNING.

DIRECTIONS:

1.Make the chocolate flake and topping: Mix together the chocolate and oil in a heatproof bowl fitted over a saucepan of simmering water. Gently heat and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is glossy and smooth. 

2. Set aside 1/2 cup to use as the flake and the rest for the topping. You can make the flake and topping up to 5 days ahead and keep it covered in the refrigerator. Warm to melt before using.

3. For the Ice Cream, working with a stand or immersion blender, blend all the ingredients, scraping the container occasionally, until smooth. (Pay attention to the powdered milk; it has a pesky way of clumping.) 

4. Cover, and refrigerate the mixture for 6 hours or up to 1 day. When you’re ready, pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.

4. Just before the ice cream is ready, open the top of the machine and, with the blade spinning, gradually drizzle in the reserved 1/2 cup of warmed chocolate flake. Churn for another 1 or 2 minutes to fully incorporate the flakes. 

5. Pack the ice cream into a container, cover and freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.

6. Once the ice cream is ready to serve, take the container out 5 minutes before scooping. (Its texture is best after it’s had a few minutes on the counter.) Rewarm the remaining chocolate topping, and pour it over the individual servings of ice cream or the cone. It will immediately harden into a chocolate shell

THE CITY FATHERS GOT TOUGH AND IMPOSED SOME SERIOUS FINES FOR NON-BELIEVERS. THE RESULT IS MORE MASKS, SOCIAL DISTANCING AND BETTER NUMBERS.

COOK the BOOK FRIDAYS

This bundt can go plain with a powdered sugar dusting or fancy by drizzling a powdered sugar glaze on top. Ice cream? Whipped Cream? Your call. Not too sweet, this cake is summer goodness. 

BLUEBERRY-BUTTERMILK BUNDT CAKE by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook

Serves 12

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups plus 1 TBS all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 pint blueberries (2 cups)

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

Zest of one lemon

1 stick of butter at room temperature, cut into chunks

1/4 tsp sea salt

3 large eggs at room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup buttermilk

Confectioners sugar for dusting

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° Butter and flour your bundt pan – even if it is nonstick. This cake can stick. (Or coat with baker’s spray  and then dust with flour.)

2. Whisk together the 2 cups of flour, the baking powder and baking soda

3. Mix the remaining TBS of flour with the berries and set aside

4. Add the sugar and zest to the bowl of stand mixer. Using your fingers rub the sugar and zest together until the oils are released and the fragrance is released.

5. Add the butter and salt. Using the paddle attachment set on medium, mix together until light and fluffy, about three minutes.

6. Turn to low and add the eggs, one at a time for one minute each until well combined.

7. Beat in the vanilla and oil.

8. Mix in the buttermilk on low speed until combined. Turn the mixer off.   Fold in the flour mixture until combined. Turn the mixer on and beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are blended.  Using a flexible spatula, fold in the blueberries.

9. Add the batter to the prepared pan. Drop the pan on your counter a 3-4 times to allow the batter to settle

10. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 – 60 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before unmolding. 

11. Let cool completely before dusting lightly with the powdered sugar.

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

THIS YOUNG DEER IS A FAMILIAR SIGHT AT UTE CEMETERY WHEN I OFTEN TAKE A TRAIL THROUGH IT. ON THIS MORNING WE STARTLED EACH OTHER AND HE WAS WARY.
SO HE HID FROM ME!
PIE, PEACHES, PEPPERS & RICOTTA

PIE, PEACHES, PEPPERS & RICOTTA

Hello Readers,

SPOONABLE RICOTTA

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

TART CHERRY PIE

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

SEARED PEACHES AND SHISHITO PEPPERS with HONEY

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

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

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

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

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

MARTHA STEWART’S TART CHERRY PIE

Click on this:

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

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

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

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

Makes about 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

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

THE MIXTURE

DIRECTIONS:

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

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

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

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

SHISHITO PEPPERS Photo by Amazon

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

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

INGREDIENTS:

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

DIRECTIONS:

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

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

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

CELEBRATING SUMMER: COBBLER

CELEBRATING SUMMER: COBBLER

Drop Biscuit Peach/Blueberry Cobbler

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

Lemony Pesto Pasta Salad with Avocado and Arugula

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

SINCE LAST WE MET …..

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

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

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

Wild Buckwheat (Sulfurflower)

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

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

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

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

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

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

COOK the BOOK FRIDAYS COBBLER

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

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

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

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

A simply made, delicious and elegant dessert.

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

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

Serves: 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

Fruit Mixture:

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

Biscuit Topping:

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

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

Ice Cream or Whipped Cream, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

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

BISCUIT TOPPING:

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

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

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

Lemony Herb Pesto

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

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

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

BAKE on the TART SIDE

BAKE on the TART SIDE

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

LOWER EAST SIDE BRUNCH TART

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

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

AGAIN and AGAIN, THANK YOU MOTHER NATURE

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

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

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

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

A JULY PICKS DO-OVER

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

COOK the BOOK FRIDAYS

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

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

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

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

Mise en Place

INGREDIENTS

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

TART FILLING

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

DIRECTIONS:

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

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

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