On Beans and Bay Leaves

 

adding chopped parsley at the end adds a welcome touch of color…

My last dispatch was about braised lamb shanks. You’ll find it archived beneath this one. We ate them with these creamy white cannellini beans simmered with a base of diced carrots, celery and leeks; with oversized wedges of fennel that softened with the beans over time, and lots of bay leaves. The recipe follows, but first— a word on bay leaves. Continue reading “On Beans and Bay Leaves”

Braised Lamb Shanks

 

If you take the bible, especially its older testament, as literal truth — if you believe that there are credible historical figures contained within its pages — then you already know that woman and man, but mainly man, as they were the priests, have been eating meat, especially lamb, at least since Abrahamic times. That’s going back to the second millennium BCE, maybe more. Continue reading “Braised Lamb Shanks”

Another winter salad

 

winter roots and leaves…

With weirdly warm weather for December in Denver you might be fooled into fixing yourself a light summer salad.

and grilled cauliflower…

But tomatoes are a sorry season now. Trucked in hard as a golfer’s balls and green as limes, held sub rosa in holding facilities on the edge of town, gassed repeatedly with ethylene, they emerge vacant and shadowless, they taste of nothing, or next to it, but at least they are red. Continue reading “Another winter salad”

Arroz con Pollo

 

Of the two most joyful meals to cook over an open fire, choosing one over the other is always the same gut wrenching dilemma. For if you favor one, the other will surely stew in a fit of jealousy and next time you cook it, be prepared — for revenge is sweet and chooses its moment to strike, whether in confab with local weather systems like winds from nowhere, a sudden shower, or mysteriously misplaced kindling — or the coincidental malfunction of a refrigerator door left unhinged and dangling overnight, and now what sarcastically seeps out is the ring of skank from questionable clams within. For there is a lot in life that we mortals will never understand. After all, it’s a thin line. Although one thing I have learned over the years for sure: do not fuck with the kitchen gods.

Whether the job site is your back patio, a roof top, a local park or anywhere in the great outdoors, you go through the same rigmarole: should I choose chicken or should I use fish? If you go with chicken, you’re making Arroz con Pollo. If you use fish, you’re making Paella. Continue reading “Arroz con Pollo”

Merguez

 

On a visit to southwest France some Junes ago, I found my all time favorite sausage: Say the word once and you’ll see: Merguez. It’ll coat a guileless mouth in Moorish mystery and unctuous intrigue.

We stayed with our good friend Martine, who returned to her native France after a 30 year stint in London. Her house sits in a tiny village an hour’s drive from Toulouse. It’s an ancient stone structure with interior walls constructed of rough-hewn wood, river sand and horse’s hair. We were there for her daughter Aisling’s wedding and the house was filled with famished folks from England and France for days upon days. Such is life in the southwest. Continue reading “Merguez”

Camp Breakfast

 

 

Sometimes when camping, especially if there’s an early morning hike involved, we’ll settle for a quick working breakfast: a slice of cold Spanish tortilla, a hunk of cheese, or just a handful of Ionah’s granola and a cup of tea and hit the trail. But, there are times when camping has nothing on the books other than to rise, pee, perform ablutions (minimal) chop wood, make fire and cook breakfast over said fire’s coals.

We had brought wood gifts for the fire from the 7,000 foot high desert home of our good friends Frank and Ruth Ann, in Carbondale, Colorado, of seasoned juniper and piñon pine.

Juniper and piñon had been sustaining and warming the Arapaho and Cheyenne people who lived in this part of the world for centuries until the unwelcome arrival of the Europeans and the subsequent land-grab. Continue reading “Camp Breakfast”

Tortilla

 

Purple potato tortilla. July 4th. La Garita wilderness, Colorado…
cut the potatoes into small chips…

By the time you read this the July 4th holiday will be over. But the smell around here from fireworks, lighter fluid and charred flesh from wannabe grillers still fogs the air. Independence from under the English thumb will have been celebrated with beer, burgers, hot dogs and fireworks galore. When the sun goes down on the great day, our neighborhood becomes a war zone — an exaggeration, no doubt, in light of what some people in the world are going through — but the blasts are sudden and furious. Some are louder than gunfire, the reverb drives our dog to the safe places behind the couch, under the table and in the closet.

fry them in a cup of olive oil…

Couple of years back, a house half a mile from here had its roof burned off from a direct hit from a misguided rocket. Supposedly, It’s illegal to set off a firework in Denver, but you can buy them in Adams county — which is just down the road — the small ones anyway, like ground spinners, Catherine wheels, sparklers and glow worms. But that’s just small potatoes. Continue reading “Tortilla”