(Summer nights in Colorado……….)

We spent the last week at home (see end), away from our pied a terre St. Paul. So, above pic is certainly our night deck in Colorado Springs. Still! We cooked a birthday meal worthy of the rented apartment kitchen and just perfect for a summer celebration, so thought we’d share it with you and continue the Summer in the City theme—it’s just summer in Colorado Springs this time.
Somehow, summer birthdays sometimes seem to suffer. It just doesn’t seem like a big celebration when it’s too hot to cook or bake indoors…… Think Fourth of July menus–cook-outs all. The rest of summer is picnic or beach fare, nothing fancy. So whattodo when your loved one has chosen a hot July for his birthday? For all the years of our marriage, I’ve baked David’s favorite Pagliacci’s Cheesecake (from the lovely Canadian restaurant of the same name) in the wee small hours of the morning, as Sinatra would say. Escaped the heat and made the man happy. No time for all that this year; I had left the cheesecake ingredients in the apartment in St. Paul. What to do?

(Cherries almost ready while home;
Tony picked them for us…..
We’ll have them Thanksiving)

In the Springs, God is undeniably closer because he set Marigold’s Cafe and Bakery right over on the west side on Centennial, not too far down the road from my house. We hopped on over and let Dave take his pick out of the bakery case. He chose key-lime tart topped with meringue and what a light, airy, not too sweet little ditty it was for the warm night coming up. I had to really suck in my pride that day; I love to see Dave tuck into that cheesecake and watch his face after the first bite. (Another day………) While at the bakery, we grabbed a couple of baby whole-wheat baguettes, a miracle of baking Marigold’s accomplishes daily or more.

As we had not planned our trip home, we had little in the frig and did not want to stock it fully, so planned an easily shopped for and cooked 60’s birthday meal as follows (Serves 2)………………….


Fat Asparagus with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
Chalone Chardonnay
Ranch Foods Direct Filets
Baked Potatoes with Butter and Sour Cream
Fresh Green Beans with Garlic Mushrooms
Whole Wheat Baguette (bought)
Key Lime Meringue Tart (bought)
Best Cab in your cellar *(Happy Birthday)

*(Cabernet Sauvignon from CA or
Bordeaux from France)

————————Meal Plan————–
Ok, clear counters, do a few dishes and unload dishwasher before you start if you have to. (In heaven, this won’t happen; all kitchens will be ready to cook in whenever anyone enters them.)

Head for the stereo and put on the birthday person’s favorite music….
Keep it coming.

Preheat oven to 400 and place washed (Idaho) potatoes (poke 3-4 holes in them first) in the oven.
Note: You could choose sweet potatoes. Same drill. Skip butter and sour cream. I like them plain with a whisper of salt and pepper or ground cayenne and cinnamon.

If the weather is too hot, do them in the microwave while you grill the steaks. Take steaks out of frig and let them come to room temperature. Wash and trim green beans and asparagus.

Quick like a bunny: rinse mushrooms, trim and slice. Uncork wine to let it air (taste………..) and set table so that someone WANTS to sit at it. (All this. Just for me??) Set up coffee pot and put some pretty cups and dessert serving plates nearby. Slice bread and (because you’re at altitude!) cover; set on table with butter. Place a small bowl of sour cream, butter and salt and pepper on table. Ok, now you’re ready to cook.

——————————————————- STARTER———–

Fat Asparagus with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
(file under: WHAT TO DO WITH FAT ASPARAGUS BESIDES SOUP!)

1 # fat asparagus
1/2 c crumbled gorgonzola (or any blue cheese)
3-5 T milk
freshly ground pepper

In a small, heavy-duty saucepan, mix milk and blue cheese. Set heat to medium-low. Meantime, place fat asparagus on a big dinner plate with a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover with another dinner plate (or plastic wrap if you are brave). Cook on high in the microwave 2-3 minutes until al dente. Remove from microwave and drain; place on small plate. Shower with a strong dose of freshly-ground black pepper. Stir sauce well and put a dallop (a cross between a dab and a dollop) on each plate. Dig in. Good hot or cold. Could be made ahead. (Eat while cooking steak.)


——– MAIN COURSE COMPONENTS————————————

Table is set; wine is airing; starter is on table. Potatoes have been baking half an hour or so………Begin with the beans… Here goes——————–


MUSHROOM GREEN BEANS
(not your mother’s green beans)

1# green beans, cleaned, trimmed and cut as desired
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1-2 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
Salt and pepper

Bring about 2 qts of salted and well-peppered water to boil in a 3 or 4 qt. saucepan. Place beans and sliced onions in pan and lower temperature to medium. Let cook until as done as you like. I like them fairly well-done, which might take 20 minutes. Si place (do as you please in Italian.) Meantime, melt butter in a large skillet and add mushrooms. Cook until about half-way done and add garlic. Continue cooking until mushrooms are tender and smelling heavenly in your house. Drain beans well and add to mushrooms, stirring gently. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. (Return to heat and warm when steaks are almost done) Set aside while steaks cook.

——— RANCH FOODS DIRECT FILETS ———-
Meat market off Fillmore in Co Spgs

Preheat indoor or outdoor grill to medium high.Take filets and coat with canola oil on all sides. Salt and pepper them well. Sear them on both sides and outer edges. Lower heat and place in 350 oven if cooking indoors, or, close cover of gas grill and cook for around 5 -10 minutes, watching closely until 120 degrees for rare, 125 for medium rare, 130 degrees for well-done. Remove to serving plate and cover for 5 minutes. You will have steak beautifully cooked in a very even way. Goal: as little gray as possible on the meat.

Enjoy starter and Chardonnay while steak cooks………

almost a surreal steak……….

————- Meal plan continued—————————–

Re- warm beans in skillet as steak cooks. Remove potatoes from oven and check for doneness by inserting sharp knife into middle. If it goes in and out easily (and the potato “gives” when squeezed lovingly), it’s done.

Start the coffee.
Plate the meal and head to the table.

Give thanks to God for the blessings of your life, the birth of your loved one and toast the birthday person. Enjoy the meal slowly and be proud of yourself. You didn’t have to go to a steakhouse for a birthday meal, did you?


Here’s how it looked on our table… It ate just as well…..

Notice how some of the blue cheese sauce ended up on the steak——-yes!

After the meal, love that bakery dessert together………
No one cares if you didn’t make it. (except you!)

Sing a new song,
Alyce

——————————————————————————————

Lovingly written………in memoriam

Noah Robert Wilkerson

on earth: June 26-June 30, 2009
in our hearts: Forever