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Chef Tom’s Thanksgiving Feast 2011

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Thanksgiving is always an amazing feast in our home, with a regular group of family and friends who have been joining us for over 20 years. In the leadup, my friend Chef Richard and I match minds over Mexican lunches at El Chubasco while paging through the Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue, debating which turkey it will be. After many years of shoveling way too much food onto the table, we’ve tried to come to our senses as of late and keep it simple. Well, maybe a bit simpler. It’s hard to keep two passionate chefs tied down when it comes to Thanksgiving.

This year’s bird was a debate between the Cajun Spiced Turkey and the Cider Brined Turkey with Star Anise and Cinnamon. Cider brined it is!

It’s Thanksgiving Day and we’re all frantically prepping in the kitchen. Checkout the photos and full review later!

Happy Thanksgiving!

2011 Thanksgiving Menu

Appetizers and Salad
Selection of cheeses, crackers, salami
Roasted Beet Salad – Hostess Carole

Main Course
Cider Brined Turkey with Star Anise and Cinnamon
Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Gratin – Chef Tom
Garlic mashed potatoes with apple cider gravy – Chef Richard (still King of Gravy)
Spinach, Fennel and Sausage Dressing (prepared gluten free and with vegetarian option) – Chef Tom
Gail’s Famous Cranberry Orange Relish

Dessert
Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake – Chef Liza (veteran of Letty’s Deer Valley Resort bakery)
Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie – Chef Liza

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Chrismas Day Pork Roast

Chrismas Day Pork Roast, originally uploaded by tomkellyphoto.

A bone-in pork roast made for a fabulous Christmas Day dinner. Checkout the holiday menu.

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It’s In the Sauce

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I call it Italian season. When the leaves have fallen from the trees and the first snows are blanketing the mountains, it’s time to stock up on pastas and tomatoes, preparing for the hearty meals of winter. The storm windows are closed and the house takes on a wonderful aroma as the pasta sauce festers on the stove.

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What Rotary Really Means

District Governor Penny Atkinson, originally uploaded by tomkellyphoto.

I’ve been a Rotarian for over 20 years. Our club is lighthearted and fun loving. Simply attending our weekly meetings is an experience you won’t forget. As program chair, I’m proud of our weekly speakers. But a few times a year there are those really special meetings – the ones that leave you with a great feeling in your heart for what we do as Rotarians in the Park City Rotary Club.

We hear about Rotary often. But sometimes the words don’t penetrate. Rotary is about eliminating polio. It’s about building schools and libraries in underserved villages. It’s providing water for kids. And it’s about making our community an better place to live.

At our meeting this week, Rotarian Larry Warren, now manager of our community radio station KPCW, decided to spice up an otherwise slow fundraising hour with a Rotary challenge between the two clubs in town. In an hour where he normally raised just $500, our two clubs pitched in nearly $7,000!

Problem is, our club was about $675 short of victory. So when Sergeant at Arms  for the day Rabbi Josh came to the podium, he did a little fundraising on his own. And in the space of two minutes, we topped another $700 from the room. Boy were we proud!

One of the more projects we undertake each year is recognizing members of our community as Citizens of the Year. Our community has a great history, as a mining town and a resort. Recently, our Park City Museum had a major facelift. It now offers an amazing trail through our past for the thousands of visitors who walk Main Street every year. But the re-creation of our heritage wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the amazing work of two Park City women who spearheaded an $8-million+ fundraising drive, Sydney Reed and Lynn Fey, our Citizens of the Year. Sydney and Lynn are examples of why this is such a great town.

A few years ago we also began honoring professional work to benefit our community. It was a very proud and emotional club member Jerry Gibbs who was able to honor his longtime colleagues Destry Pollard and Kent Cashel for their amazing work on our Park City Transit system.

Somehow we managed to find just enough time to hear from our District Governor Penny Atkinson, whose husband Kelly was governor just a few years ago. If there were any tears of pride left in the room, they were gone after hearing from Penny.

She told us about how Rotary International approached the World Health Organization in 1985 and said, ‘we want to eliminate polio.’ The WHO laughed. They aren’t laughing now. Today, thanks to Rotary’s Polio Plus program, there are only four nations in the world with polio cases (possibly dropping to three soon). And total cases are down from 300,000 to just a few hundred. Rotary made a difference.

She told the story about visiting a village in South America and seeing a young boy with a bottle of what looked like apple juice. It wasn’t. It was his drinking water. A neighboring village had had a water system installed by Rotary some years earlier. A villager stopped her and said, ‘thank you for what you did. Our children aren’t dying any more.’

And finally there was the story of the young girl from Russia – one of 22 Rotary exchange students Penny and Kelly have hosted. Each month the students got $100 from Rotary. It could be spent on clothes, electronics, fun things or daily needs. But the Russian girl didn’t rush off to the mall. And she didn’t say much about what she did with her $100 each month.

What she did was save it. After all, it was more than her parents made in two months. And her father was dying. She saved it all and took it home to help pay for surgery – a surgery which gave her father five more years to live. Today, she’s emigrated to Utah to be with the friends who helped to make that possible.

From the work we do in Park City to our projects in Central America to what we contribute to the good of Rotary International, there are many reasons to be proud to be a Rotarian. We felt them deeply in our hearts this week. Rotary does make a difference.

And I’m sure that as I’m writing this this morning, our friends at Park City’s Sunrise Rotary Club are matching our own fundraising efforts for the good of our wonderful community.

Welcome to Rotary.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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Driving the Beartooth



Clouds over the Beartooth, originally uploaded by tomkellyphoto.

Red Lodge hadn’t been in our plan. Neither was the Beartooth. But as we left Teddy Roosevelt National Park for Custer Battlefield National Monument, my Facebook friends (yes, I was online) changed my mind. We headed to Red Lodge for the night and the trip over the Beartooth. Snow was not something we had in mind!

The Beartooth Highway is an amazing road. Charles Kuralt called it “America’s Most Beautiful Road.” It was not really on our radar. But it is now – one of the most breathtaking 62 miles we’ve ever driven.

Arriving in foggy Red Lodge at sunset, the Beartooth was bedecked in clouds. “Not sure it will be open,” said the front desk manager. Snow was falling in August and the plows were out. At the summit, a full mile above the Montana border village, heavy snow was falling.

We hit the Beartooth at 8 a.m., twisting and turning up the switchbacks. The sun was breaking in and out of clouds, just starting to light the tips of the peaks straddling the Wyoming-Montana line. It was cold – mid 30s – as we made our way to the summit.

Just as friends had said, it took forever – stopping for photographs at nearly every turn. Turn by turn it became more and more spectacular. The sun touched into mountain valleys, while starting to bathe the peaks in morning light.

It was the first light to touch the 4-6 inches of fresh snow, blanketing wildflowers and covering a moonscape of rock at the 10,947 foot West Summit.

Dropping over the summit to the Cooke City side, we encountered the first traffic from the west including motorcycles that had to scramble for lodging when snow kept them from the crossing the evening prior.

The descent into Yellowstone was bittersweet. The scenery turned from breaktaking above-the-treeline skyscapes to heavily forested mountainsides.

The small collection of buildings in Cooke City marked the end of the Beartooth and the beginning of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, with buffalo at every turn.

I imagine that every time you drive the Beartooth you are greeted with new scenes. And one thing’s for sure, once you drive it you’ll be counting the days to your next drive.

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Menacing Midwest Storm



Menacing Storm, originally uploaded by tomkellyphoto.

One of the things we really miss about the Midwest are the storms. A few days ago I blogged about the amazing lightning storm in Hayward. On our I-94 drive across western Minnesota, we watched a mid-morning line of powerful thunderstorms form in front of our eyes for over a half-hour. We pulled over to document the massive clouds that had formed.

In this scene, taken along a corn field on I-94 east of Fergus Falls, we watched a series of parallel, horizontal lines of layered clouds suddenly come together in this huge mass of weather.

It almost looks like a massive tornado bearing down on this small farm nestled in the protection of a grove of trees. Soon, we were wrapped in the clouds with wind and rain before it passed to the southeast.

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Fourth of July Cookout

The Fourth of July is perfect for a mid-summer cookout. The beauty for us is that if fireworks are important, we can watch them from the deck after dinner! This year’s cookout was another extravaganza, with more food than you can imagine as Chef Tom and Chef Richard combined for a fine BBQ. Checkout the lineup below. Sorry, too busy cookin’ and eatin’ to get any pix. Thanks to Carey for helping man the grill!

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Snow Jeepin’



Snow Jeepin’, originally uploaded by tkellyphoto.

What a great day, getting the Jeep out on the first big 4×4 outing of the year. Zach and I thought we would try Snake Creek Canyon above Midway, Utah. I knew it would be a bit sketchy but it was worth a try.

We had pretty good going up through the first few switchbacks. But I knew it would get touchy in the shady, north-facing run up to the ridgeline. Well, we didn’t even get to that point. The snow started just inside the U.S. Forest Service border. If we had thought to being a shovel we could have safely driven further.

It was a lot of fun, though, and nothing that could cause too much trouble. And we made the wise call to turn back at the appropriate point.

Then it was off to Soldier Hollow and the Cascade Springs Road. Not a flake of snow in sight there and we were treated to some fabulous views of Timp from the ridgeline.

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Mother’s Day Dinner

Lisa blowtorches the meringue

Mother’s Day is a very special occasion, and a perfect opportunity for an amazing meal. A couple times a year, Chef Richard and I match minds for a small plates evening. The concept is always good, but usually we bring too much food to the table. We hit it pretty well this time around, with a six-course evening with each stage being just the right amount. Small plates create a bit more work, but allow you to showcase more tastes.

We especially like to entertain small plates around our kitchen butcher block. But we had a few too many guests, so we went with the fancy eatin’ table for the ladies, while Chef Richard and I hung out in the kitchen.

It was a wonderful evening. Enjoy!

Prosciutto with Melon and Asparagus
This is a fabulous salad, albeit labor intensive, that Chef Carole loves to make. The centerpiece is melon wrapped in prosciutto, mixed with white and green asparagus, raspberries and arugula, with shaved Parmesan reggiano, balsamic and raspberry vinegar and orange juice. You can find it in Salads from Parragon Books.

Porcini Dusted Scallops with Cauliflower Puree
A month ago Carole and enjoyed a fabulous small plates evening at the Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island in Florida. The highlight was a signature dish – porcini dusted scallops on a bed of cauliflower puree. We love scallops and this was a fabulous new recipe for our repertoire. It’s simple to prepare. Simply brush the scallops with white truffle olive oil, and dust with powdered porcini mushrooms (create the powder by breaking up dried porcinis with mortar and pestle), and pan sear in the same olive oil. The cauliflower puree is simply mashed cauliflower. Here’s a simple recipe from Epicurious.com.

Eggplant Rolls
Chef Richard opened with a fabulous eggplant. The eggplant was grilled, then rolled with riccota cheese and a marinara sauce inside. Exquisite!

White Asparagus Risotto
I’ve long been a fan of white asparagus since being introduced to spargel season in Bavaria many springs ago. White asparagus, which is produced by depriving normally green asparagus of sunlight, has a much creamier taste. I experimented with this dish a few months ago. It simply involves a traditional risotto with onion, white wine and chicken broth, but with about 1/2-inch pieces of white asparagus mixed in. My friend Emeril has a similar recipe if you need notes. With white asparagus, do peel the outer layer and chop off the tough bottoms.

Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb
Chef Richard wrapped up the dinner small plates with an amazingly rich herb roasted leg of lamb, which we served with the risotto. The lamb had been marinated in oil, wine and herbs, then roasted to medium rare to medium. It was a great combination with the risotto.

Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie with Pecan Crust
Every meal is simply a step-by-step path to dessert by Liza. Everytime Bon Appetit puts a scrumptious dessert on its cover, it’s time to call Liza and get her baking. We’ve had this dessert before and would welcome it again. Ice cream pies are generally pretty easy to make – simply melt ice cream into a shell. This one is a bit more complex, with the addition of lemon curd and a meringue, fired before serving with a blow torch. This is worth checking out – from April, 2007 Bon Appetit, based on a similar dish at Jamie’s Restaurant in Pensacola, FL.

Wines and Beers
Chef Richard and I went the dark beer route for the evening, focusing on our favorite Ayinger Dunkel (dark). For the ladies, we selected one of our favorite light starter wines, a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. This is one of those super bargain wines, selling in the $15-20 neighborhood but tasting more than double that price. Our next white was a bit bolder, one of our standard Clos du Bois Chardonnays.

Porcini dusted scallops
Scallops with cauliflower puree
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Follow the Light

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Puffy white clouds race over South Window in Arches National Park. (c) 2010 Tom Kelly

It was a stormy Thursday in Moab. Photographer Jack Dykinga referred to it as the kind of day when you’re going to get your greatest shots or no shots at all. In Arches today, we went from selective blue skies to raging sleet and snow within minutes. Such is life in the desert.

The Moab Photo Symposium kicked off today with a keynote from Dykinga who was inspirational in telling us to personalize the place and photograph what we felt. His slides told a story of what each one meant to him at that particular time.

I have a special connection, of sorts, to Dykinga. While I was a fledgling young newspaper photographer in Madison, WI in the early ’70s, he was winning the 1971 Pulitzer for feature photography while at the Chicago Sun-Times. He led his presentation with poignant black and white images showing gripping scenes inside mental hospitals in Illinois.

As a newspaper photographer, his images brought change. Nearly 40 years later, he is still bringing change – making us all more aware of our planet’s majestic beauty through his still photographs.

I never set out to advocate change as a newspaper photographer – just to take good pictures. I relished every assignment. My pictures told a story. And while sports was my forte, the two most vivid memories of photographs I have were quite different. One was a deputy fire chief standing in the burned out doorway of a home where several children died – an intensely sad look on his face. The other was the huge smile of an eight-year-old cancer victim as he walked around with his IV. I’ve always wondered if he made it.

Dykinga gave up the news gig to tell a different story, moving west and focusing on a different type of social consciousness. He’s made his mark as one of the world’s foremost landscape photographers, forsaking his Nikon F’s and hauling heavy view cameras and tripods to tell the world’s story.

A few months ago, Dykinga and some fellow photographers went to Patagonia in Chile on their own dime to document an amazing Rio Baker river valley that was in jeopardy of being dammed and submerged – remnants of the Pinochet era. His pictures told the story.

Today in Arches was one of those days where you just knew the light wouldn’t bless you. “Follow the light,” said Dykinga. Sometimes you have only a fleeting second. That’s the kind of day it was. One minute was low overcast around North and South Windows. The next minute the sky erupted in blue. A few minutes later, snow pellets were pounding the desert sand.

The beauty of photography is that time stands still. It’s an accurate reflection of that particular moment in time. It’s about that place, that time, that light and color.

Best of all, it’s a story to share.

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Weather wood rests in the desert sand in Arches National Park. (c) 2010 Tom Kelly

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A storm moves through the desert in Arches National Park. (c) 2010 Tom Kelly