During the past many decades, The Washington Post has published more than 10,000 online recipes.  This year they asked readers to pick their all-time favorites. On October 26th they published the winning 30 of those recipes. I chose three of them to make for a mid-week dinner, PORK CHOPS & MINI-GNOCCHI with MUSTARD CREAM SAUCE (2020), FAST FOCACCIA (2019) and Dorie Greenspan’s CUSTARDY APPLE SQUARES (2015). But first…


Last week we celebrated our first major snowstorm in the High Country. Even those of us who don’t love snow, icy roads and anything below zero are relieved to watch those serious flakes cover our peaks. For the past ten years this is when I forsake my condo in search of temps that don’t include wind chill advisories and blizzard warnings. Although packing up my digs is not a choice but a necessity, it’s become easier. Less is more.

Pine Squirrels, Hurrying, Scurrying to bury cones/seed caches. G. Oliphant photo.

For me it’s mostly been an adventure. I’ve spent the early winter months in  California, Las Vegas or Maui. Later, in February, I’d fly to Paris or London. During Covid I was relieved to hunker down in Boulder near good friends. Over a lifetime I’ve learned to bloom where I’m planted but during my travels there always are some “What was I thinking moments.” That’s when I remind myself this was always and only MY idea.

A Birthday(s) Luncheon on a chilly and snowy winter day. Gracie Oliphant Photo

This year I’m spending winter in the tropical paradise of Washington D.C. (Honestly, dear Readers, six months ago this seemed like a brilliant idea!) Summer in Aspen does not play nicely in the sandbox with completing my writing project. I’m hoping the upcoming winter in Washington will. Although the deadline is self-imposed, it’s still a deadline. 

For Linda’s birthday I baked a Double Chocolate Kahlua Bundt. Because it had snowed the night before, a light snowfall that didn’t hang around, I tried to frost the cake to resemble the hit-and-miss, remaining snowfall. One side of the cake was perfectly frosted and then there’s the sunny side you see where snow melted quickly. Sun/No Sun. I really didn’t pull that off. Me being clever. My Bad.

Balancing work and play, the many to see-and-do’s, will not be a chore. D.C. is an embarrassment of riches and sometimes, yes, an embarrassment. Wanting to sometimes leave logistics to others, I’ve enrolled in a week-long foreign-service/American diplomacy program and another about the capitol city itself. I will admit to being apprehensive. 

Emma and her bestie, Katie, bonding over matching Anatomy Class uniforms.
Author Walter Isaacson, former President/CEO of the Aspen Institute returned “home” to sign books and talk about Elon Musk.

I want to re-recommend Beaverland by Leila Philip. Our entire book club was unanimously and enthusiastically all in. Author Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk, a New York Times best-seller for the past seven weeks, is a must-read. Really, you must. Called ‘a fascinating and controversial innovator’ and ‘rule-breaking visionary,’ by the author, this is brilliantly researched and Isaacson-readable.

Our book group went to Ashcroft to explore a fully exposed, abandoned beaver lodge, the victim of a breached dam. We also spotted the small lodge where our furry friends had moved, we think. Beavers are a keystone species due to their ability to shape freshwater habitats.

I just picked up Jamie Beck’s gorgeous An American in Provence,  Art, Life and Photography.  She was an unknown to me. Not anymore.   

Duck Confit with Crispy Herb Potatoes


In the Top 30, The Post also featured Dorie Greenspan’s Custardy Apple Squares (2015) from Baking Chez Moi which I baked for my blog. Here’s a Link to that recipe: https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/dorie-greenspans-custardy-apple-squares/

Custardy-covered apple slices for Dorie’s Apple Squares

The pork chops and fast focaccia recipes are below in the Link of reader favorites.


For an Iowa girl who grew up in a small farm community, cracking an egg open to discover two yolks was a thing. Eggs with two yolks are fairly rare. You might find them in 1 of every 1,000 eggs. And that’s no yolk!