Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Colorado Part 2

The past week has gone quickly and better than expected. I’ve been eating like a king, seeing old friends and enjoying a lot of time to myself. On Monday we started the day by heading up Buffalo Pass to shoot guns for a few hours. I’m not sure if I’ve shot a riffle before but this is what I learned, they’re heavy.

We drove a winding, rocky dirt road for twenty minutes toting three riffles, a 6 gauge (I think); a 30 ought 6 and a 22. My last gun shooting experience was in Savannah, GA with Lauren and Brian Newton at a shooting range so naturally I wore skinny jeans and flats. We hiked in about five minutes over natural springs and snake holes to set up some targets putting to use a few old beer cans. This is the closest thing I’ve seen to recycling since arriving. I shot the 30 ought 6 first. It was the heaviest, the loudest and had the prettiest bullets. I don’t know how old any of these guns were but they were beautiful. I’ve always had a fondness for firearms, their strength and the craftsmanship of the gunsmith. So, now I want one.

After a couple of hours we were hungry and had been eaten alive by all sorts of flying insects so we headed homeward and grabbed some lunch, a margarita and a nap, resting up only to enjoy one of my favorite activities as of the past month which is going to the theater to see Harry Potter. I think I have a problem. This was my third time seeing this movie and I cried (again) practically the entire time, which is really embarrassing.

We left the movie theater starving and remembered that the amazingly wonderful Paula and Steve (Jesse’s parents) had left two trout that they had caught that morning in the fridge. There are many things that I love about Jesse but his ability and willingness to make me a beautiful feast in the middle of the night tops them all. So this is what was on the menu: fried trout, grits, biscuits and collards. All cooked to perfection. Unreal.

I think that’s been the best day so far. Here are some pictures and videos of the drive up Buff Pass, Jesse and Nale (pronounced Na-lee). I didn’t tell you about Nale, she’s my friend Joe’s daughter and she’s absolutely perfect. I only got to spend a couple days with her but she totally blew my mind.


Buff Pass Drive:


Friday, September 2, 2011


When I was eight years old my mom got a job as the Costume Designer at a performing arts camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. June would roll around, we’d pack up the Jeep with our backpacks, and later our beautiful dog named Star, and hit the road. This was a privilege that I didn’t understand until much later in my life. At the time it seemed like an inconvenience. I’d have to leave all of my friends and miss out on any summer things that were happening to go to one of the most beautiful places in the world. What a brat.

During my first summer in Colorado I met three boys who have turned out to be the most important people in my life. I didn’t have any siblings and I’d always wanted older brothers. Brandon Buckles, Nick Handloff and Jesse Rapp immediately filled that void. They loved me unconditionally and treated me like the annoying little sister they never wanted. They were also incredibly protective and kept away any interested party (as much as they possibly could) once I entered my teenage years.

A week ago I got in my car in Portland, Oregon and began to drive west to Steamboat. Although the wedding isn’t for another week this will give me some much-needed catch up time with Jesse. Now that Nick is getting married and Brandon is engaged (with a baby!), we’re the only ones left. Besides that, I tend to romanticized my love for all three of these boys until I spend some good solid time with them and am reminded that we all drive each other completely nuts (as families do). This way I’ll be ready to leave when the wedding is over but back to the drive…

When Dawn (my mom) and I would make our annual voyage we’d come from the North East driving through Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, yada yada until finally reaching the last stretch from Denver to Steamboat. This was always the best part of our drive partially because I knew I only had to spend another four hours in the car with my mother but mainly because this was the part of the trip that we really knew. When you’re in the car for endless hours and days things start to blur together. This part of the trip was ours. We noticed roads being paved, houses being built, even growing birds nests. We would stop for a gas/bathroom break in Kremmling which, in 1997, only had a gas station but is now an actual small town. Finally we would come to Rabbit Ears Pass. For those of you who have driven into Steamboat you know there is a certain turn where you suddenly catch a glimpse of the entire town. It was always the most exciting and excruciating thing. Every turn I would lean over my mom and kneel on my seat hoping that it would be the bend that would show me the only place that I always felt was home. As the years went by the town got bigger and bigger, we’d drive down Lincoln Street and comment on the new condominiums and shops then we’d reach camp and things would be exactly the same.

Perry Mansfield is a special place. Everyone who has spent time there feels like it’s his or hers. Every single landmark moment in my life has happened there or was in someway connected to it. From the first time I drove stick shift, shaved my armpits or dyed my hair to the first time I fell in love and had my heart broken. When I go there I’m overwhelmed with all of those feelings. They flood my senses. There is no way I can ever explain to anyone how much I love it unless that person loves it too. Since I’ve been in Steamboat and had time to myself I’ll go there and just walk around. I know every path, when to duck from a branch and when to step higher to avoid a tree root. I know it better than I know myself.

In 1913, Charlotte Perry and Portia Mansfield went into the woods and built the most magical place in the world. Although they were thought of as these crazy women who danced in the woods, they we’re beginning a legacy that is now the oldest continuously running performing arts camp in the nation. The first cabin they built was Cabeen. This is where they lived and where I had the privilege of living for a few summers as a child. Cabeen was built in 1889 and (to a 8-13 year old girl who is scared of almost everything) is the scariest place ever. I don’t know if you believe in ghosts, I don’t know if I believe in ghosts but I DO believe in Portia and Charlotte and their constant presence at camp. There have been many times in my life at and away from camp where strange things have happened to me. The only way that I’ve always been able to soothe myself is by thinking that it’s just Portia and Charlotte with me.


I never cared about the performing arts really. It was my mom’s thing; I was there for the ride (and because I didn’t have a choice). I liked to dance and ride horses and got to do both as much as I wanted but as soon as I was old enough to do my own thing I started working in the kitchen. It was my first job and I loved it mainly because Brandon, Jess and Nick worked there too.

Next weekend Nick is getting married to the most amazing girl I could’ve imagined for him. It takes a certain type of woman to be able to put up with the never-ending flow of annoyance and aggravation that all three of these amazingly wonderful and kind men provide. Jenna has certainly met and surpassed a tolerance level that I was sure only their families (and I) could reach. They’ll marry in the meadow down behind Cabeen surrounded by everyone they love in a place that brought them together. We’ll all dance, eat and sing and then say goodbye. This is the first time that we will all be together (including my Dawnie) in at least seven years. Dawnie and I will get on the road the next day and make our beloved drive to Denver and then on to Savannah, GA.

Here are some pictures of my drive out here (including a stop in Twin Falls, ID) some pictures of camp and the way I’ve set up my hammock so I can spend my days reading until the insanity begins! I can’t find the charger for my camera so these were shot with my old cellphone.

Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho
Pretty nice way to enter a state...You can't reeeally see it but on the left is me with short blond hair and Brandon circa '96? This clock hangs proudly in the camp kitchen...
Butcher Knife Park. Best hammock spot ever.
My beautiful Walter. Such a road warrior.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Well we just wrapped up a really busy and exciting weekend. I'm not usually big on New Years celebrations but I think this year it was just right.

All I wanted to do on new years eve was go out to dinner but (forgetting to plan ahead) there was no room for us at any nearby restaurant that I was interested in eating at. On Wednesday I decided I would be cooking and by that afternoon I had come up with a menu I thought Adam would appreciate.

The plan...
-Coconut Quinoa (care of The Sprouted Kitchen)
-Shredded Brussels Sprouts
-Seared Tuna Steak
All of this would be lightly topped with a raspberry glaze

But wait, let's backtrack a little...

A week before, feeling hopped up on holiday cookies, I had asked Adam how he felt about throwing together a little new years day get together. Our amazing friends Jill & Paul (and their puppy Chilton) graciously allowed us to put this on in their apartment which is larger and better suited for such things. With the space worked out and a small guest list of mutual friends, we spent Friday grocery shopping. Before I could even think about dinner I needed to make a dent in Saturday's lunch. I decided on a soup to incorporate most of the good luck foods you're supposed to eat on new years day and Jill & Paul contributed some AMAZING leftover ham and stock from their Christmas party. We ended up with ham, black eyed pea and collard green soup made with chicken stock, ham stock, a bit of water (which was totally needed because it was pretty intense and salty) a couple of sweet onions and garlic. We served it over brown rice and I made some cornbread (instructions off the box!) with peach chutney (ingredients below and it's a MUST make) to be served along side. All of this was done on Friday BEFORE I started to cook dinner.

So back to the evening feast, the quinoa took WAY longer than I thought it would and definitely called for more water than expected but (with some tweaking) it was totally amazing. For the sprouts, I steamed them for 4 minutes, grated them on a cheese grater, spread them on a baking sheet and broiled them for about 5 minutes (or until they turned a little brown). Then I tossed them with a little homemade vinaigrette (oil, balsamic,half a lemon, brown mustard and salt/pep) and laid them over a pile of quinoa to make a nice bed for my tuna. I coated each side of my tuna steaks with salt, fresh cracked black pepper and Japanese 7 Spice (upon Adam's recommendation). When the pan was super hot I gave the tuna (which was sushi grade) about a minute on each side, sliced it, and laid it over the veggie and grain. Then I ended up topping it with the peach chutney instead of a glaze. The ginger really complimented the sweetness of the quinoa. I think this meal my have made Adam's fave 5! You HAVE to make this chutney. I cannot stress this enough.

  • 1 firm-ripe peach
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped fine
  • 1 fresh serrano or jalapeño chili, seeded and chopped fine (wear rubber gloves)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped, peeled fresh gingerroot
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Here are some pictures of the weekend festivities and some from the time we've spent in Massachusetts!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Soup

It's been a lovely Tuesday. I woke up to a purring cat and a boy friend on the verge of a cold which is kind of exactly how I like him... I love taking care of people, especially Adam, so I immediately jumped on the opportunity to make some chicken soup.

The best part about this soup is that all of the ingredients cost $12! It's also enough food to feed 6 or a sick boy for a week. Anyway, with a little guidance from Dawn, I made it through the grocery store in 10 minutes with the following...

-a small chicken (about 2-3lbs)
-1 package of baby portobello mushrooms
-1 large carrot
-2 yellow onions
-1 package of bay leaves
-1 bunch of garlic
-1 bunch of celery
-1 bunch of parsley
-1 box of orzo

When I got home I cleaned the chicken, put it in a pot and covered it with water until it was about two inches under. I quartered an onion, halved three celery stalks and added them to the water along with 3 cloves of peeled garlic and 3 bay leaves. I also added quite a bit of salt and pepper. After the water came to a boil I turned it down to a simmer and let it cook for about two hours. During that time I finely chopped another onion, 3 large cloves of garlic, the carrot, 3 large celery stalks, 6 mushrooms (sans steam), and about 2 tbls of parsley.

After about two hours the chicken should be falling off the bone but still take a fork to it to check out the meat and give it a little taste. With a ladle, fish out every bit of chicken, onion, and celery and put it on a separate plate. All you need is the meat from the chicken. While the chicken is cooling you can add all your other vegetables to your broth as well as about a tbls of black pepper and salt. You'll probably end up needing even more salt and pepper to taste when serving. Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, use your hands to pull all the meat and give a taste to your cat if you want him to love you forever.

When you've added your chicken back into the mix let it simmer for about 45 minutes (the longer the better). In a separate pot boil water and cook your orzo but just enough for the people you plan on serving right then and there. I don't ever actually add the orzo to the soup. It just ends up absorbing too much broth and getting soggy. When the orzo is done cooking I add about 2 tbls to each bowl and then pour some broth and the soup mixture over it. Salt and pepper to taste. A little hot sauce is also a great addition.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thanksgiving In The Berkshires

I know it's two weeks late but I had an AMAZING Thanksgiving. Adam and I took the train up to The Berkshires on Wednesday, spent three hours grocery shopping, and made a beautiful dinner with my mom. There were three different pizzas. The first one was covered with sweet potato, carmalized onions and a blue cheese blend. The second, a margarita and lastly one with beets, goat cheese, pecans and red sauce. Dawn (my mamma) made a last minute contribution of mussels which she steamed with garlic and wine. This was a great way to kick off the weekend.

The next morning I woke up bright and early and started prepping for the big meal. I prepared the filling for stuffed mushrooms which I mentioned in an earlier Thanksgiving post, baked chestnuts for the brussels sprouts (also mentioned in that old post) and made the filling and crust for a pecan cobbler that I found on a blog I follow called Homesick Texan (no connection). Some changes had to be made... For starters, to make the brown rice in the stuffed mushroom a little more flavorful I cut the water in half and used a veggie stock , in the brussels sprouts I added some brown sugar to the butter to make it feel a little more Christmas like and I couldn't find sorghum syrup so I used half corn syrup and half molasses. All of theses adjustments were totally successful and I strongly recommend them.

It was a cozy evening. The whole weekend was full of warm meals, family, wine and laughter. Totally the ideal weekend in the country.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

We've been having the most amazing weekend! When I get back to Brooklyn I will upload some pictures from this heavenly time spent with the people I love and appreciate but for now I'm keeping cozy by my wood stove in the kitchen of my little Berkshire home.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Something Dear

I LOVE musical theater. I also LOVE the ballet AND the opera. I was pretty much raised in the theater. My mom was a costume designer and I spent every summer at a performing arts camp. Although I never participated in acting classes, I spent the time in dance classes and working in the kitchen. There would be a show every few weeks. A musical, something Shakespearean, and a dance concert. It was AMAZING!

So now I seek solace in the theater. No mater what show I see, I cry. Doesn't matter what it's about. The second the orchestra starts, goosebumps. It's one of my favorite feelings in the world. Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Leonard Bernstein, Noel Gay, Claude-Michel Schonberg, John Kander, Fred Ebb, JEEZ I could go on and on. The pure genius is just fucking astounding.

I have a strange urge to see The Nutcracker this season. The Nutcracker is more popular and has more seasonal productions in America than any other country. EVEN RUSSIA! I haven't seen it since I was like 6. After the show my mom bought toe shoes signed by whoever the ballerina was in the show. They were meant to be kept as a souvenir however that sort of thing would never fly with me. I insisted on wearing them CONSTANTLY.

I digress... I've never seen Madame Butterfly or Swan Lake. These are things I want to do in 2011 or 2010 if I'm lucky. I also want to see Carmen again. I remember studying Georges Bizet in a music theory course. He started studying at a music conservatory before he was 10! I'm so behind.

If you can stomach it, here is a beautiful song from Rodgers and Hammerstein's, "Carousel". The clip is from the movie which wasn't half bad. If you hate musical theater, don't bother.