Saturday, August 30, 2008


A good cook knows the importance of having all ingredients prepped before actually starting to cook. The French call it "mise en place" which means everything in its place, but I like to call it "ready, set, go." In the accompanying photo, you can see that we have done our prepping. Our margaritas are mixed, salted, and in hand. We've lined up in size order (Susan, Debbie, Jen). Lastly, in keeping with the much-recognized triangle work station approach to kitchen design, we play "rock, paper, scissors" to decide who stands where & does what.

A consensus by prior email is that we will pickle Mr. Green Beans and have a BBQ of ribs/grilled corn/fruit salsa/salad from the garden and a chocolate zucchini cake (most recipes need extra chocolate & cinnamon). This is my 2nd canning session, last year's having mixed results. There was a highly successful jam session that included a pear/peach/persimmon combo with rosemary & candied ginger. (So good that I cannot bear to open my last jar.) But the pickles I made on my own using the refrigerator method were mushy.

This canning session rocks. We have too much fun and plenty of canned beans. I do a couple of jars of pickled eggplant with garlic, but research tells me to simply refrigerate it as opposed to canning. If it's mushy, it'll be a dip. (Whoever heard of pickle dip?)

Maybe it's the margaritas, but we fail to prep for the ribs. There is no BBQ sauce. No ketchup. But Debbie has tomato paste & I make an amazing sauce. I'm not sure I could do it again but it sort of goes like this: Mix together in a saucepan and cook over low heat for about 20 - 30 minutes: 2 small cans of tomato paste, 1 - 2 cups of water, a cut up peeled peach, 1/2 C brown sugar, 2 T molasses, 2 T honey, 1/3 cup (or more) cider vinegar, 1/4 C (or more) teriyaki or soy sauce, 1/4 C mustard (I used spicy brown & poupon), 2 -3 T worcesteshire sauce, 2-3 tsp. hot sauce. While the sauce cooks, saute 1/2 C finely chopped onion & 2 cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil until soft and almost carmelized. Mix into sauce and add 1/2 tsp hot chili paste (or more) and salt and pepper to taste. The idea being to create a sweet sauce first and then add some heat. Don't have a peach? No problem. No chili paste. Never mind. Have a margarita or glass of wine & adjust as you go along. EZ WAY: mix together some ketchup, mustard, brown sugar & teriyaki or soy sauce.

Next up: I bake & blog cookies for Tuesdays with Dorie. Plus, the exciting results of our canning with tomatoes session.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A word about Whole Foods

Whole Foods has taken over natural food grocer, Wild Oats, which started in Boulder. There are 3 WF stores in Boulder. (Does your town have even one?) If you've seen the movie, The Blob, you have an idea what it's like when WF takes over a town. Yesterday's lunch tab ran about $23.00 and included a slice of pizza and a small sampling of salad bar items. The pesto pizza looked better than it tasted & the salad wasn't anything special. I did get a small wedge of parmegian reggiano at $19.99 per pound (note to self: are you crazy?) Going to WF is like a hangover. Fun, but you'll pay for it. So why is it that we frequent the Boulder store?


She walks by in yoga pants, brushes by, I sneak a glance,
Awed by youth, in lust perhaps, half my age, a judgment lapse;

Forgetting my intended mission, organic milk for youthful vision
Fennel, greens and cauliflower, at Whole Foods the dinner hour;

Gouda cheese and creme fraiche, arrayed before me in the case
Full of flavor, hint of spice, soft and smooth and oh so nice;

Young things in a state of undress, cruise the aisles with braless breasts
Stone fruits are on sale today, the best and ripest on display;

Whole grain breads don't add to hips, unlike pretzels and all chips
White flour is for health food slackers, make mine hummus & rice crackers;

Fair trade coffee, fava beans, Rainforest Cunch & magazines
Vegan choices, wheat free snacks, low slung pants & tatooed backs;

Natural is best for me and Whole Foods is where you will see
Mahi mahi, kale and spinach, essential oils and nutrients;

Stress and work deplete the body, why not try some Pirate's Booty
All the best is now at hand, local farms, organic land;

Avoid disease by eating right, Cruisin' Whole Foods every night

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I DECIDE TO BLOG (my first ever post)

It was the best of times and the worst of times. The peach pie was still warm and aromatic. Scents of vanilla and cinnamon filled the kitchen and a light dusting of powdery sugar floated in the air over my granite counter. As I closed my new cookbook, Baking with Dorie Greenspan, I noticed there was nary a drop of flour on Page 346 (Crunchy & Creamy Peach Pie). I'd chosen the peach pie as my first recipe because it is peach season in Colorado. Peaches are arriving daily from the Western Slope, and they are big, lush and sweet. At least 5 local farmers' markets offer them, but not for long.

I'm a good cook but not an exact one. I don't follow recipes to a "t" and often fail to adjust for high altitude. But fresh ingredients, some seasonings and a pinch of salt do wonderful things for the palate when combined with a little experimentation. My dishes may not look perfect and my photography is even worse, but the food itself may be worth a second helping (like tonight's pork stew with fresh roasted chilies, carmelized onions, cilantro and potatoes). No recipe, but lots of garlic and cumin, some broth, some corn, and you pretty much have it. Pizza on the grill works that way too. A good base and some fresh toppings, always with a slight spin. We're rarely bored with food, and we've come to the conclusion that we'd rather eat at home (a good thing given the price of gas and cost of eating out.)

On the other hand, baking is more scientific and the high altitude adds a curve. I'm following the recipe for peach pie, but see no reason why I can't skip the streusal topping in favor of a blueberry center. The outcome is more than good, but I doubt that the dog even noticed the way I detailed the pie with sliced almonds. No sir. Dugus dug right in while I turned my back. A real pie perp.

The pie went missing on Sunday and I don't have the heart to bake again. It will be another week before I join the bakers at Tuesdays with Dorie, but at least I can start my blog this Tuesday. I think I will dedicate this blog to pie lovers, peach growers, small farmers, my family and friends, including Peggy Smith who has a lot to live for and reminds me to eat organic whenever I can.