Summertime in Colorado

It’s a beautiful day in Brooklyn, and my shoulders are sore from carrying a watermelon home from the greenmarket in a backpack. At this time last week I was munching on peaches from a farmers’ market in another beautiful place, Aspen Colorado. Been there? You should go.

Wildflowers

The Best Wedding Menu Ever

Brad and I went to Aspen as guests of the newlywed Jay and Lindsey Hafemeister (Jay and the rest of the H. clan being long time family friend of Brad’s) for what I can only describe as a fairy tale wedding on the top of a mountain.

I'll have the Elk, please

The setting was epic, the band was awesome, the dance floor was hot, and I’m not exaggerating about the food – I stuffed a copy of the menu in my purse for the delicious memories. Sweet pea and ricotta ravioli in citrus herb butter? Yes please! Halibut with a summer ragout of peas, fava beens, wild mushrooms and black truffles? Oh my! And what’s an awesome seasonal menu in Colorado without some perfectly seared Elk tenderloin atop an heirloom bean, tomato and leek cassoulet – don’t forget the watermelon radish. We washed everything down with some beautiful wines and it’s a good thing I hit that dance floor hard.

Time to loosen that tie...

I’m not really one for cake, but I love me some biscotti. The ladies of Lindsey’s family sent us down the gondola at the end of the night with a box of their homemade traditional Italian wedding cookies and milk.

The Condo and the Entertainer

The entertainer would be my mother-in-law, Caryl. We headed to Aspen a few days early for some family time with Brad’s mom, sister and cousins (who had recently visited us in Brooklyn). The condo that Caryl rented for us turned out to be a huge, comfortable home full of sunlight and a big wooden table that easily sat 12 for dinner (or a long night of Apples to Apples).

A family hike

It was during our second day there when I started overhearing Caryl on the phone with her girlfriends saying, “Well we’ve got this fabulous condo, and I’ve got my little chef here…” – she was planning a party, and volunteering me to cook for it.

I recruited Brad and Amanda (sister-in-law) into the kitchen for help with chopping and prepping as I busted out double quantities of some of my go-to recipes like sundried tomato orzo and this salad with peaches and prosciutto. Cooking in a rental kitchen is like camping – you never quite have what you need, so don’t get too fancy and plan to improvise. I also hacked some pretty successful Italian sausage and peppers with an improvisational oven to stove-top method.

Dinner at the condo, a buffet for many

Sometime between passing over my grocery list that morning and setting out the dishes to be served, the number of guests shrank from 18 to 10 – so much for the party I cooked for, but at least the meal was a hit. Plates were licked clean, seconds were had, and there sure were a lot of leftovers.

Roadside Jerky

The drive from Aspen back to Colorado Springs was a long one. We took the scenic (and somewhat frightening) “shortcut” through Independence Pass and we stopped at a farmer’s market in Buena Vista to load up on some produce for dinner. I thought Jersey was the place for sweet corn, but apparently Colorado’s high altitude and cold nights are good for making sugars. Gosh darn was the corn tasty and sweet and I loved seeing all the varieties of squash and peppers that are native to the southwest.

Above the treeline on Independence Pass

As we were driving through green pastures surrounded by mountains, I found myself thinking, “this is ranch country where we ought to be stopping for some steak”, and then I saw a sign for Jerky: Beef, Buffalo and Elk – good enough! The man selling the jerky from a van on the side of the road asked me about my preferences and I tasted a few things – teriyaki or spicy? Elk vs. Buffalo? I bought some Spicy Buffalo and some Red Chile Beef that was hot as all hell and we carried on, gnawing on that tasty jerky for the rest of the ride home.

Red, Green or Christmas

The last few days of our trip were spent in Colorado Springs where Brad and his Dad, Marv, took me to Rudy’s Little Hideaway, a restaurant, formerly located in a motel, that I had been talking about since we arrived 2 days earlier. Rudy’s serves breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros smothered in chili (red or green – but I’m not one for choices, I always go Christmas). It’s a great little family-owned join where I can get my chili fix and it didn’t disappoint.

Not the most attractive photo, I know, but that's what we call smothered

Our last supper was spent with Brad’s cousins Kristi, Matt, Tarah and Jolie, who returned our Brooklyn hospitality by having us to dinner at their log cabin on Cheyenne Mountain. We sat on their deck overlooking Colorado Springs, eating watermelon and laughing as we tossed our rinds out into the aspen trees.

Colorado Sky

The Condo and the Entertainer

The entertainer would be my mother-in-law, Caryl. We headed to Aspen a few days early for some family time with Brad’s mom, sister and cousins (who had recently visited us in Brooklyn). The condo that Caryl rented for us turned out to be a huge, comfortable home full of sunlight and a big wooden table that easily sat 12 for dinner (or a long night of Apples to Apples).

A family hike

It was during our second day there when I started overhearing Caryl on the phone with her girlfriends saying, “Well we’ve got this fabulous condo, and I’ve got my little chef here…” – she was planning a party, and volunteering me to cook for it.

I recruited Brad and Amanda (sister-in-law) into the kitchen for help with chopping and prepping as I busted out double quantities of some of my go-to recipes like sundried tomato orzo and this salad with peaches and prosciutto. Cooking in a rental kitchen is like camping – you never quite have what you need, so don’t get too fancy and plan to improvise. I also hacked some pretty successful Italian sausage and peppers with an improvisational oven to stove-top method.

Dinner at the condo, a buffet for many

Sometime between passing over my grocery list that morning and setting out the dishes to be served, the number of guests shrank from 18 to 10 – so much for the party I cooked for, but at least the meal was a hit. Plates were licked clean, seconds were had, and there sure were a lot of leftovers.

Roadside Jerky

The drive from Aspen back to Colorado Springs was a long one. We took the scenic (and somewhat frightening) “shortcut” through Independence Pass and we stopped at a farmer’s market in Buena Vista to load up on some produce for dinner. I thought Jersey was the place for sweet corn, but apparently Colorado’s high altitude and cold nights are good for making sugars. Gosh darn was the corn tasty and sweet and I loved seeing all the varieties of squash and peppers that are native to the southwest.

Above the treeline on Independence Pass

As we were driving through green pastures surrounded by mountains, I found my self thinking, “this is ranch country where we ought to be stopping for some steak”, and then I saw a sign for Jerky: Beef, Buffalo and Elk – good enough! The man selling the jerky from a van on the side of the road asked me about my preferences and I tasted a few things – teriyaki or spicy? Elk vs. Buffalo? I bought some Spicy Buffalo and some Red Chile Beef that was hot as all hell and we carried on, gnawing on that tasty jerky for the rest of the ride home.

Red, Green or Christmas

The last few days of our trip were spent in Colorado Springs where Brad and his Dad, Marv, took me to Rudy’s Little Hideaway, a restaurant, formerly located in a motel, that I had been talking about since we arrived 2 days earlier. Rudy’s serves breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros smothered in chili (red or green – but I’m not one for choices, I always go Christmas). It’s a great little family-owned join where I can get my chili fix and it didn’t disappoint.

Not the most attractive photo, I know, but that's what we call smothered

Our last supper was spent with Brad’s cousins Kristi, Matt, Tarah and Jolie, who returned our Brooklyn hospitality by having us to dinner at their log cabin on Cheyenne Mountain. We sat on their deck overlooking Colorado Springs, eating watermelon and laughing as we tossed our rinds out into the aspen trees.

Colorado Sky

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