WHAT’S ON YOUR BACK BURNER?

SALADE LYONNAISE (Frisée Salad with Bacon, Egg and Garlic Toasts)

Count on it. The day I drive back to Aspen, after a winter absence, it is always snowing. My last Thursday’s arrival didn’t disappoint, a real blizzard. But after picking up my keys at The Gant’s office and corralling Dan, who drew the short straw, we got my car unloaded. Home, very sweet Home.

JIMMY CARTER PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY & MUSEUM, ATLANTA

My friend, Ardyth Sohn, and I spent a week in Atlanta seeing this library and other historic sites before my returning to Colorado. It was a 2-mile walk from our hotel to the library so Ardyth and I spent some time relaxing in a beautifully landscaped area of the 35-acre park.

This past week of unpacking and resettling gave me pause to kick around my gypsy-esque lifestyle. Let’s just admit it. Are there many women, enjoying their seventh decade, who load six-months of Life into a car and hit the road each year? Seriously? Even I am realistic enough to realize this is not a long-term lifestyle. But while I can, I will. I do not yet have a Plan B.

We walked The Freedom Trail to The Martin Luther King Historic Site which included a museum, his home, Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Kings’ resting place with an eternal flame.

This exhibit commemorated the 5-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.

Ever find yourself thinking, “When I have time, I want to read this or go here or do so-and-so.” Those musings usually wander to the back burner and are sometimes never realized. Although Bucket List is not my favorite term, since Jack Nicholson’s and Morgan Freeman’s 2007 film with that title, many of us seem to have one. Bravo for us.

My favorite museum was Atlanta’s new Center for Civil & Human Rights which opened in 2014. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is among those honored on the “DEFENDERS” WALL. Opposite this wall is the “OFFENDERS” WALL filled with tyrants and oppressors. This Center very accurately shows the challenges we face today.

On display at the Center, this bus shows all the Freedom Riders arrested in 1961.

“Those ‘back burner’ thoughts, the ones the brain isn’t quite sure about yet, may cook the slowest yet they often manage to be the tastiest when they come out.” Criss Jami

Since I like to eat, Ardyth made reservations at some wonderful restaurants. In Columbus, where her daughter, Cody and son-in-law, Trent. live, we had inside info and our two dinners were memorable. Here, I am having Cuisses de Grenouille while another frog, legs intact, looks on.

Today’s post is about realizing three of my back burners that have percolated to reality:

BB #1 – READING with EMMA

Last Christmas I discussed with Emma, a high school sophomore, my reading along with her the literature she was assigned in her second-semester English class. I’ve been wanting to re-visit some classics. She was game and that’s why this winter I re-read Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Night by Elie Wiesel and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Seeing these three books through the lens of a 15-year old teenager is an exquisite gift. Reading her essays, especially her thoughts about Night, entitled “Silence” will always remain with me and is another bond to be continued despite our 900-mile separation.

Andersonville National Historic Site: The largest and most famous of 150 military prisons of the Civil War, Camp Sumter, commonly known as Andersonville, was the deadliest landscape of the Civil War. Of the 45,000 Union soldiers imprisoned there, nearly 13,000 died. At its most crowded, it held more than 32,000 men.

BB #2 – PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY Project

In the early Sixties, while attending summer school at the University of Iowa, I went to nearby West Branch to see the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, one of four managed by the National Archives & Records Administration. I remember being so enamored I promised myself I would visit all four. Although the number of libraries has grown to thirteen, in 2013 I decided, if not now, when. Many of you readers have shared this adventure with me. Just before returning to Aspen, I flew to Atlanta with my Colorado friend, Ardyth Sohn, to visit Jimmy Carter’s library, my 12th. I’m sharing our week-long adventure through photos in this post. Last stop, Grand Rapids, TBD.

The Prisoner of War Museum at Andersonville is a brutal reminder of how cruel war is.

BB #3 – COOKtheBOOKFRIDAYS: SALADE LYONNAISE

Ten years ago I flew to Lyon, France, for a week-long seminar on La Résistance. Lyon was a major centre of the French resistance during WW II. Besides this extraordinary learning experience, I also was shocked to realize Lyon, home to renown chefs Paul Bocuse and Daniel Boulud, is underrated as a gastronomical paradise. Quite often Parisians will even grudgingly admit it’s #2 to their #1. Famous for their bouchons, “gut-busting restaurants where food is brought to the tables in big earthenware bowls and rustic terrines,” says David Lebovitz, my favorite meal was Salade Lyonnaise. I promised myself I would return home and re-create this delicious frisée salad with bacon, egg, and garlic toasts. Now, ten years later and merci mille fois to Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen cookbook, I am doing just that.

During our return to the Atlanta airport, Ardyth decided I should see Montgomery’s historical sites and the Rosa Parks museum. A detour, to be sure.

We also toured CNN’s Center’s national headquarters in Atlanta, found our way to Margaret Mitchell’s house where she wrote Gone With the Wind and spent a day in Warm Springs at FDR’s Little White House. A busy week.

SALADE LYONNAISE (Frisée Salad with Bacon, Egg and Garlic Toasts) by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen

(Serves 4 to 6)

INGREDIENTS:

Salad-Ingredients for Garlic Croutons:

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1 clove garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
1 1/2 cups cubes or torn pieces of bread, about 3/4 inch in size
Sea salt and kosher salt

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

4 tsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons water
2 teaspoon peeled and minced garlic

Salad Ingredients:

8 to 12 new potatoes
sea salt and kosher salt
2 cups diced, thick-cut bacon, smoked or unsmoked
8 cups loosely packed frisée or escarole leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or fresh chives
Freshly ground pepper
4 poached eggs or 4 hard-cooked eggs (the French prefer a softer yolk than most Americans do), peeled and quartered

DIRECTIONS:

1. To make the croutons, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook until it’s deeply golden brown. Be careful not to burn it. Remove the garlic. Add the bread, stirring the cubes in the oil, turning them frequently. Add a sprinkle of salt and a dribble more oil if necessary, until the bread is brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve. (NOTE: May be made 1-2 days ahead and kept in tin container.)

2. To make the salad, put the potatoes in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Add some salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to a low boil and cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. (NOTE: If done in advance, cook them slightly less, and let them rest in the warm water for up to 45 minutes.)

3. While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until just starting to crisp. Drain the pieces on a plate lined with paper towels.

4. In a large salad bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, 1/4 tsp of salt, the oil, water and garlic. (NOTE: This can be made 1-2 days ahead and kept, refrigerated, in a glass jar.)

5. To assemble the salad, slice the potatoes and add them to the bowl along with the bacon and toss gently. Add the frisée, parsley, and some black pepper. Add the croutons and hard-cooked eggs (if using) and toss very well. Divide among four salad bowls. If using poached eggs, slide one on top of each salad and serve.

VARIATION:

Although it’s not traditional, I sometimes add 2 cups of crumbled blue cheese to the salad at the last minute, omitting the eggs.

TIP: If you’d rather not make the salad, still try the croutons or the salad dressing sometime. Both are wonderful.

CooktheBookFridays is an international food group cooking its way virtually through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen cookbook. If you’d like to join or see what my colleagues are making, go here.

Comments

  1. says

    I was so excited when I saw your post in my email box Mary. Another fabulous adventure you share, I loved reading about your interesting trip to Atlanta and the many stops along the way. Nice to see you are happily settled back in to the Gant. Love Reading with Emma, the movie: The Bucket List, and the lovely Leibovitz Salade Lyonnaise!
    Welcome home and have fun!

  2. Donna Grauer says

    Mary, for someone in their 7th decade you are inspirational. This was a great blog. You were everywhere doing everything. I do want to follow in your footsteps. How could you do it at your age?
    Hugs and love, from Rocks.

  3. Ardyth Sohn says

    Loved every minute—thanks again for letting me tag along on your visit to the 12th Presidential library/museum of the U.S…… Plus other wonderful historic sites!

  4. says

    Thank you, my dear Mary,

    Another wonderful and full to the brim posting! I enjoy the journey, adventure and lesson (into American history) with each and every one of your CtBF posting! See you again in a fortnight!

  5. Marysue says

    The first time I hit a market in France, I buy a giant head of frisée. It is always spectacular, my favorite treat! Inspired to make this salad, I’ll settle for the center leaves of curly endive, the closest
    I can find here.

    • Mary says

      Marysue (remember, you were my first French cooking instructor), I used escarole because, unfortunately, I could not find frisée. Looked at three grocery stores. Whole Foods didn’t even have it.

  6. says

    Haven’t been to any of these places or Lyon that you mentioned in this post. But I’m seeing myself at these places, vicariously. Keep on writing and I’d keep reading and be inspired. The salade Lyonnaise is very good indeed. Your plating is exquisite. No frisée anywhere around here. Not even Whole Foods.

    • Mary says

      Whole Foods may order it for you. That’s what the produce people told me. And, maybe it will be at the stores in the summer.

  7. J Battaglia says

    Welcome back! We just arrived yesterday. Really enjoying the evening and morning cool Temps. As soon as we unpack and get organized, let’go on a patrol hike.

  8. says

    Mary, You are such an inspiration – your blog posts are always so interesting and aspirational! I loved hearing about your time in Lyon – having just been there, I can tell you it’s a hot bed of gastronomic innovation today! This salad is honestly one I could eat every day!

  9. says

    Mary, I hate to break it to you, but you are actually enjoying your 8th decade… That doesn’t change the fact that your continuing adventures in this current chapter are inspiring. It sounds like your trip to Atlanta was as action-packed as your East Coast trip. You know how to pack it in! I was in Atlanta once but didn’t hit any of the spots you visited. I think it’s time to go again and use your itinerary. I’m so glad that you’re home safely, snow and all. And that this perfect salad nourished you after you unpacked!

  10. says

    Welcome home! I love that you have been reading along with your granddaughter. I have been thinking about revisiting some of the classics I read in high school. This salad was delicious, and lucky you having tried the real thing in Lyon!

  11. Cathy O'Connell says

    Madame, Writing this from Paris. Always glad to see what is going on in your world and travels. Keeps me informed. I’m sure you are as glad as this writer that the French elections turned out the way they did. Bisous and see you soon!

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