First of all, my apologies to Brandon for not choosing a photo of you with your new wife. Hey, you’re cool and we all love you. But this shot of Charlotte with dad was just too good to pass up!
Tour de Heartland took us from Kansas City to Dixon, IL for Brandon and Charlotte’s wedding reception. The reception was a fabulous Midwestern affair – maybe not quite as exciting as the crash-bang Key West wedding earlier in July, though!
Charlotte and her sister Emily, daughters of my sister Pat and her Lutheran pastor husband Gary, have always been favorites for us. We’ll never forget their trip to Park City and Yellowstone (with Coco) many years ago. We never knew how much young girls can eat until that trip!
This photograph was taken close to the end of the afternoon. The two of them were standing there and, frankly, I was more interested in the cool light on the sunflower on the gift table. I simply could not find an angle that really cooperated. So, composition wise, this ain’t the greatest.
But you can throw out all the composition rules in the world when you get two smiles like this. It says it all!
Tour de Heartland is underway, the annual trek to our Midwestern roots. It’s a great way to stay grounded, and the food alone will do that. Stop number one was Kansas City, where the highlight was taking Chris’ scooter for a ride.
After a few rounds in the quiet Shawnee Mission neighborhood, it ws off to the streets for a two-state tour – this year with a brave Hannah in tow.
Even with two people, you can get this baby up to 50 MPH in a heartbeat. And the best part was filling it with gas – a whopping gallon to fill the tank.
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.
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.
What a great way to end the decade with another fun New Year’s Eve bonfire in Silver Creek. Last year we wandered around First Night in Salt Lake City. This year it was back to one of our favorite traditions, a showshoe through the sagebrush in our backyard and a rip-roaring bonfire.
It’s about the only time of the year we can get away with burning in our barren desert environment. No wildfires tonight and a great way to get rid of the brush and old lumber.
After appetizers with our friends the Saloweys, we put down a smoked rib dinner, then Carole and I strapped on the snowshoes. Soon, Carole’s brother Nick joined us, along with some neighbors and dogs. It was a great time as we sat on snow benches, watched the full (blue) moon and warmed ourselves by the fire.
Zach has been very excited all week. His family is coming for graduation! He was so happy to meet Hannah and Naomi at the airport, and to show off his music to mom before terrorizing her on a Jeep ride up the back road to the house at night (in the mud). Graduation is Friday at 5:00 p.m.!
She had to be looking down and having a little laugh to see the small gathering of her friends this past Sunday at the Red Pine trailhead, high in the Uinitah Mountains. Friday, May 15, would have been Linda Johnson’s 60th birthday, and if given the choice, it probably would have been celebrated quietly, taking her pal, Sonia, on a little walk, perhaps on this same trail.
It was our intention to remember Linda in ways that reflected her life and her friendship with each of us. Faye and Marion brought cream cheese and veggie roll pinwheel wraps to share. After all, it was rumored that Philadelphia Cream Cheese Company would call Linda for recipes. Pam, Candace, Gail, Anita, Peg and Teri were not able to join us but Melinda tied ribbons on the branches of a nearby tree where Julie and I scattered bird and wildflower seeds in an area that was damp enough for them to take root. Hopefully, when we return in future seasons we will see signs of them.
Tom asked if we were going to have a cigarette in her name but we chose rather to sprinkle the tobacco in a Native American traditional way instead of smoking it.
We hiked up to a meadow that is watched over by a giant red pine, where there were signs of elk and we actually saw a small herd of deer. Two noisy Sand Hill cranes circled and squawked at us during much of the walk. They were majestic as they flew over our little group and even more impressive when they landed in our path.
As we five sat in a on a decaying log, sharing white wine, cheese, apples and stories of Linda, we hoisted the plastic cups in a toast to our buddy and you could actually feel her laugh.
Few have gotten so much out of life and brought so much happiness to those around them as our dad, Jim Kelly. His positive attitude, his ability to not worry about things and his endless conversations with anyone around him made dad very special to us. While he has passed away from this earth today, he will surely be watching over us up above – somewhere between Badger games, Cubs games, the Packers and Nascar. We miss you, dad!
James E. “Jim” Kelly, 79, passed away peacefully after an extended illness on Friday, Feb. 27, 2009. He was born November 10,1929, to Earl and Gertrude (Klein) Kelly and was a 1948 graduate of Madison East High School. He was united in marriage to his high school sweetheart, Joan Mosuch, on October 14, 1950.