I need a Time Out to serve up some Joy.
While processing the waywardness of our planet this week, it’s not disrespectful, to my mind, to search for an alternative to hand-wringing and strain. Who wants anxiety and sadness to become constant companions. Although I’m not important in that important sort-of-way nor powerful nor do I possess great wealth, the onus is still on me to step up and be counted. I try hard to do that through the avenues opened to me.
Just as important, I think, is to embrace Life and wring out the best it can offer each 24 hour day. You’ll never get a replay. I learned that rather late in life. This week’s post and photos are my version of wrapping my arms around this wobbly world and calming my small slice of turf.
In the Colorado High Country it’s Check-Clear-and-Clean-up time for volunteer forest rangers. We check the trails for missing signs and necessary safety materials, clear the trails of debris and fallen trees and clean up what winter’s cast off.
Our daily reports are beauties (we’re over-educated overachievers) with to-do directives for the USFS, noting also the flowers blooming and birds flying overhead. And, yes, we also offer suggestions and dispense some valuable advice (in our opinion). If we can nab a bear or moose photo to share, that’s icing on the PowerBar. What I wouldn’t give to watch our over-worked, underpaid professional Rangers as they sift through our lengthy reports!
There’s something about realizing your 13-year old granddaughter has your back that makes your heart skip a beat or two. This past winter I received this bracelet from Clara with a note, “Grandma, I made this paracord bracelet for you to wear when you’re a forest ranger this summer. Paracord is a durable nylon cord that can support up to 550 pounds. If you are ever in an emergency situation, just take this bracelet apart and you have 7-9 feet of paracord. Some of the many uses of this survival cord are: make a splint or tourniquet; shoe laces replacement; makeshift fishing line; create a pulley system; or, rappel down a rock face. Plus, paracord just looks cool. Love, Clara.”
I loved the thought of “looking cool” but rappelling down a rock face, not so much.
The White River National Forest is the most visited one in the nation with ‘its 2.3 million acres, 11 ski resorts, eight Wilderness areas, 10 mountain peaks over 14,000 feet and 2,500 miles of trails.’
When we’re not outside, we’re inside, learning. Every June the Forest Conservancy, our organization that rides herd over us, offers free nature and orientation classes. Next Tuesday I’ll attend a full-day course on raptors taught by an expert from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute. Later this month I’ll take a refresher First Aid/CPR class. Therefore, when I’m cleaning and adding antiseptic cream to a tourist who has slipped on the rocks, I’ll also be able to identify for him the Red-tailed Hawk flying overhead.
It’s also CooktheBookFridays. This week’s recipe, CHICKEN LADY CHICKEN, is a spatchcocked/butterflied chicken marinated for two days and browned on the top burner before baking in the oven. This is the recipe for those of us who don’t have an outside grill. Otherwise, throw this baby on your grill. Whether cooked out or in, this marinated wonder is delicious. I’ve added tips and how-to photos with the recipe.
Rhubarb-Pistachio Bundt Cake with Rose Glaze has been my cake of choice this spring and will “pivot” into summer. ( Every politician is “pivoting” right now, why can’t I?) It’s a birthday cake, a teacake or why-not-bake-a-cake cake. Just so, so special. Not being a rosewater fan, I made changes as noted in the recipe. Serve it with pistachio or vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or plain Jane.
RHUBARB-PISTACHIO BUNDT CAKE WITH ROSE GLAZE adapted from Caren Rothman, Poppy’s Catering, Epicurious, MAY 2015
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoons rose water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use FAGE Total)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw pistachios, toasted and chopped
12 ounces rhubarb (3-4 stalks), trimmed
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon red food coloring
2 tablespoons raw pistachios, toasted and chopped
12-cup Bundt pan
1.Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour bundt pan, tapping out excess flour.
2. Rub together granulated sugar and lemon zest with your fingers in a large bowl until fragrant. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream lemon sugar and 3/4 cup butter until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, scraping down sides of bowl and beating well between each addition. Beat in rose water (I used only 1 teaspoon instead of 2) and vanilla extract on medium-low speed until just combined.
3.Whisk 2 1/4 cups flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in another large bowl. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients to lemon sugar mixture in 3 additions, alternating with yogurt in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Fold in pistachios.
4.Cut rhubarb crosswise into 2 1/2″ pieces. Using a mandoline set to 1/4″ or a very sharp knife, slice rhubarb lengthwise, maintaining as much red skin on stalks as possible.
5.Pour one-third of the batter into prepared pan and smooth surface. Add half of the rhubarb, nestling pieces side by side to form a thick ring on top of batter. Pour another third of the batter on top of rhubarb layer; smooth surface. Repeat with remaining rhubarb and batter.
6.Bake cake until the surface is cracked and golden brown, springs back to the touch, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cake rest in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
7. Whisk powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Glaze should be pourable but stiff enough to hold its shape-it can be thickened with more powdered sugar or thinned with more milk if needed. (If you like the Rosewater flavoring, add 1 teaspoon.)
8. Using a spoon, drizzle rose glaze over cooled cake, holding the spoon a few inches above the cake.
9. Sprinkle remain chopped pistachio nuts on top.
Cake can be baked, cooled, wrapped in plastic, and stored at room temperature up to 3 days. Glaze can be made and stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.
CHICKEN LADY CHICKEN (POULET CRAPAUDINE FAÇON) by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or Kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons harissa, Sriracha, or Asian chile paste (I used Sriracha)
2 teaspoons Dijon or yellow mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 (3-pound) chicken
1. Put the minced garlic and salt in a resealable plastic bag and crush it with the heel of your hand until it’s a paste. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, white wine, soy sauce, Sriracha, mustard, and honey to the bag, combining the ingredients well.
2. Have your 3-pound chicken spatchcocked or butterflied (the techniques are somewhat the same) at you grocery store or butcher unless you wish to do it yourself.
3. Loosen the skin from the breast and thigh meat and spoon some of the marinade under the skin. Put the chicken in the bag, close it securely, and use your hands to rub the ingredients into the chicken. Refrigerate it for 1 to 2 days, flipping the bag over a few times as it marinates.
4, To cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop and place the chicken in it, breast side down. Drape a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the top and set a heavy weight on top of it. (David used a leftover weight.)
5. Cook the chicken until the skin is a deep golden brown, which usually takes about 10 minutes or so — check it often after the first 5 minutes. Once it’s browned, flip the chicken over, replace the weight, and let it cook for about 5 more minutes.
6. Remove the weight and the foil and place the chicken in the oven for 25 minutes, until it’s cooked through. To serve it French-style, cut the chicken into six pieces: two legs, two thighs, and cut each breast in half crosswise, leaving the wings attached.
This tastes better than store-bought rotisserie chicken. Serve with french fries and your favorite coleslaw for a wonderful summertime supper.
CooktheBookFridays is a virtual international group making their way through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen cookbook.To see what others have mixed up this week or to join our group (it’s fun), go here.