Seasonal living and the sensual, sensate life.

Month: August 2013

Making Hay

Making Hay

South Park, CO As summer burns its last here in the Rockies, sending temperatures pushing triple digits for the season’s final hurrah, I’m waxing nostalgic about newly discovered heat-beating recipes, all the while fanning myself furiously and wondering when it’s going to cool off. My […]

Make Me Blush

Make Me Blush

Listen, I am old enough to remember the days of Sutter Home White Zinfandel with its sweet, sweet taste and lovely salmon color. I will confess here that in spite of myself and the food devotee I would become, I drank my fair share of […]

A Menu for Stars

A Menu for Stars

The Constellation Perseus & The Milky Way
Early August and I go dreamy for stars. The Perseid meteor shower lights up the night sky for a few days and, if the moon cooperates, the hours between midnight and dawn are full of sizzling bits of stardust. 
My first encounter with them was a bit of magic. I’d escaped down the Green river into Stillwater Canyon and we’d just spent a long day padding to find a campsite after we’d missed the one our guide had marked out. We were late getting off the river, and our dinner of boil-n-bag mac and cheese was gummy and bland. But a moonless night descended and the sky unexpectedly exploded with shooting stars. I watched as one arced from horizon to horizon and ignited with shimmering light. The night briefly turned to day; I could see distant mesas and ghostly sandstone forms. Then they were gone. 
Each year, I anticipate the Perseids, but their post-midnight peak gives me a bit of a pause; I usually sleep through them. Two Augusts ago, determined, I talked a fellow yogi at Shoshoni into meeting me at 2am when, I promised him, “the full moon will be gone” and we’d enjoy the show. I woke to a sky so bright I didn’t need a flashlight as I walked from my cabin to the deck of the lodge to meet Jimmy. We laughed and looked and went back to bed, starless.
This year, the Perseids will shower under a dark moon, and the city-dwelling boyfriend and I have planned a meteor picnic. 2am is too late for food, so I decide to make something commemorative the night before and take a bit of poetry and chocolate instead. Next week, Greg and I will celebrate two years together, when we’ll likely be camping, so I plan a menu with both my man and the stars in mind.
Karen’s Pizza Margherita
The first dinner Greg and I shared was pizza made on my grill. We’d just met face to face for the first time and had spent a lovely first date in the park at the Boulder Farmer’s Market, dozing in each other’s arms. I immediately felt at home with the man with whom I’d been talking, almost nonstop, for two weeks.The pizzas were simple:  Margherita made with heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella, and one made with tart apples and creamy Gorgonzola.
Karen’s Gorgonzola & Apple Pizza
For our meteor night/anniversary celebration, I decide to repeat the Gorgonzola pizza and make another with shrimp and cilantro pesto, sliced chorizo, and sautéed onions and red peppers, topped with goat cheese.
I let the dough stretch, first on the backs of my hands, and then from my fingers as I hold onto an edge and let gravity gently pull the dough away. It takes time, making dough like this, but your patience is rewarded with a bubbly chewy crust instead of a flat, ironed out one. (FYI, this process works with relationships, too, which also take patience to reveal their finer flavors). Working my hands around the rim, I can get the dough to widen and widen until it’s the size I want. The trick to making grilled pizzas is to use smallish discs of dough, ones that they can be easily transferred from pizza board to grill. For this reason, I usually avoid making pizzas with sauce (which I don’t much like anyway); you don’t want anything that causes the contents to shift during flight. I make one pizza at a time, using the top wrack of my grill, after the grill has been heated at high for 5-10 minutes. Then I turn the grill down to medium-low and close the lid, watching the crust carefully and turning it, if necessary,to avoid burning. The cheese melts and begin to brown in about 5-8 minutes. 
Karen’s Shrimp, Sausage & Cilantro Pesto Pizza
I remove the first pizza and load the next, and serve that one with a simple arugula salad dressed with truffle oil, lemon, shaved Parmesan, and hazelnuts.
Prosecco & Greg

The first dinner I shared with Greg, I knew we’d stumbled upon our own cosmic event when I felt so comfortable with him that I put my bare feet in his lap as we sipped Prosecco and waited for pizza. As he took my feet in his strong, capable hands and massaged them, I felt rooted to the porch, the earth, the man touching me, while simultaneously, as the poet Pablo Neruda says, “my heart broke loose on the wind.”

This year, after a lovely dinner with Prosecco and a little pre-Perseids sleep in the arms of the man who makes me happy, I will rise after midnight with him and take a blanket out to the meadow near my cabin where I will whisper poems to Greg and to the night sky as it explodes stars.