Drool-worthy. Potato, Feta and Basil Tortilla by David Lebovitz, Cook-the-Book-Fridays

Did I ever mention my appointment with a Des Moines, Iowa psychologist. In my mid-thirties, I was needing counseling and advice. After talking to me for 30 minutes he remarked that ‘I would hit my head incessantly against the wall to get something done.’

Heck, I smiled broadly, got all puffed up, considering that a compliment. NOT. What he meant, he patiently explained, was that I didn’t know when to ‘give it up.’

Fifty dollars for what I already knew. That fact was not a revelation. For better or worse, flaw or strength, it’s packed into my genotype. I proudly own it. ( Memo to female readers: I also recognize that trait in many of you. Send $50, please.) And at this moment in time, when catastrophe, chaos and disappointment reign, I’m determined, as best one can, to trade in “Normal Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” for “Hello Happy”. Head. Wall. Hit. There’s all kinds of Happy in this week’s post but also Life is Pain.

Make My Day – I met two snowy white Rocky Mountain goats on Crater Lake Trail.


JOY – Although our season’s not over with Leaf Peepers soon arriving, we Rangers gathered at the East Maroon Portal for our annual potluck. Since we work various trails, we don’t often see each other. It’s also a once-a-year opportunity to dig into deep-fat fried chicken! Being part of the Forest Conservancy and these mountains we cherish have healed my heart. I love these people.

Our 2017 Forest Conservancy corp can hike and cook. Following our fried chicken potluck , we gathered for a group photo.

Old-timers. Judy Schramm told me we were the veterans, having become Rangers in the 1990s. In 2001, led by Judy’s efforts, the Forest Conservancy was established. Our group has grown and the USFS is quick to say they couldn’t do their job here without us.

DISTRESS – Late last Monday I texted my Atlanta friend, Meredith, to check in. Although Hurricane Irma was reduced to a Tropical Storm, losing her powerful punch, she still visited Georgia with a withering left jab. “House intact. No power. Downed trees,” my friend reported. “Oh, wait, just heard a loud noise. Gotta go.” The loud noise, she later texted was ‘a huge tree which landed 30’ from her house.’ To everyone affected by Irma, sadness.

JOY – Our Farmers Markets are in full glory with Colorado’s bounty coming from nearby North Fork Valley.

Dot MacArthur, also a friend and Forest Ranger, worked last Sunday at the Basalt Farmers Market “Register to Vote” booth. As always when we’re together, we had fun.

DISTRESS – Here in Aspen, my friend Luky woke up yesterday to spot a bear sitting in the cage trap located in her driveway. Luky’s neighborhood is Bear Central this year as these beautiful, wild creatures search for food before hibernating. Luky’s bear had come calling before, on her property and in her house.

Last night I grabbed a pizza and stopped by my friend Ann’s house to break bread (well, pizza and wine). Guess who (thought) he was coming to dinner?

JOY – Every semester I enroll in a course at Colorado Mountain College, a network of eleven college campuses in the state’s High Country. This past summer, Music Appreciation, now this fall, Greek Mythology. Many of us enjoy mixing it up with these smart, young students pursuing 4-year degrees. Our professor and Renaissance man, Dr. Thomas Buesch, is a phenomenal scholar. We kicked off the semester after class with a soup supper Chez Moi.

Following our first CMC Greek Mythology class, we kicked off the semester with supper.

To celebrate the publication of Alice Water’s memoir, Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook,” I served Minestrone Soup from her “The Art of Simple Food” cookbook.

DISTRESS – In Rockport, Texas, ground zero for Harvey, my birder buddy Susan Foster and her husband were finally allowed to return home. Their house is intact but their property, totally destroyed, wiped clean, leaving only debris and dirt. “After being cocooned in a house with no damage,” she said, “it’s like a gut punch every time we go out into the city. I just came back from a morning walk and can’t even imagine how long it’s going to take to get back to normal.”

Mise en Place, gathering all your ingredients together, makes assembling a recipe easier.

JOY – It’s COOK-the-BOOK-FRIDAYS and David Lebovitz’s Tortilla de Pommes de Terre a La Feta et au Basilic is JOY, itself. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack or dinner. Work with it.

POTATO, FETA and BASIL TORTILLA by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen

Serves 6-8


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I used Idaho)
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
6 scallions, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
9 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup very coarsely crumbled feta cheese


1. Heat the oil in a 10-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. (Make sure the pan has an over-proof handle.)

2. Add the potato cubes and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are tender and cooked through, 15-18 minutes.

3. A few minutes before the potatoes are done, add the scallions and cook until they’re wilted.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees or, if using a nonstick skillet, the highest temperature recommended for your particular pan, which is usually 375 degrees.

5. Mix the eggs in a bowl with 1/4 teaspoon salt and your spice of choice (I used smoked paprika). Stir the basil into the eggs and pour the mixture over the potatoes in the skillet.

6. Crumble the feta, not too finely over the potatoes and press the pieces down gently with a spoon. Cook the tortilla until the bottom is golden brown and well set, rotating the pan from time to time (like you do an omelette) as it cooks. Don’t check it too soon or you will break the crust.

7. When the crust is browned, slide the skillet into the oven and let it cook until the eggs are set, about 5 – 8 minutes.

When it’s cooked on top of the stove enough to form a fragile brown crust around its edges, slide into the oven for the final bake off.

8. Remove the skillet from the oven. Set a baking sheet or serving plate on top of the skillet then flip both the baking sheet and the skillet simultaneously, releasing the tortilla from the skillet.

9. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with greens and a glass of wine.

10. You can store your tortilla in the fridge for up to 2 days.

[OPTIONAL] For a more hearty tortilla, add 1 cup cubed Spanish chorizo or another cooked spiced sausage.