My book, How I Learned to Cook, an Artist’s Life, is out in the world. Published by Baksun Books, this memoir, including 85 reproductions of my paintings and 105 recipes, is available at the Boulder Bookstore and from me. There will be an artist’s talk and book release at my exhibition, About Time, at the Pattern Shop Studio in Denver on April 14, 2018, 4-6pm. Please come!
I am excited to have others read about my life, see my paintings and drawings, and use my recipes. I centered the narrative/memoir in the book around learning to cook so the recipes are a chronologic telling of this journey. There are recipes from my mother’s kitchen and from my student days as well as dishes I made as I became more sophisticated and more skillful in the kitchen.
My day-to-day cooking varies with my mood and the season. I realized that many of my current favorite dishes are not in the book and so I plan to keep a regular ‘journal’ of my cooking on this site. I hope you will join me in exploring the ups and downs of kitchen and studio life.
March 31, 2018
There was a plethora of asparagus in the grocery store and I enthusiastically bought more than we could eat this week. The last bunch went into a soup to have for dinner with a kale salad ─ a green dinner in honor of spring, fast-approaching here on the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies.
First preparations: I snapped off the tough end of each stalk of a generous pound and a half of asparagus, cut off the tips and set them aside. Then I cut the stalks into 2-inch pieces and set aside. I diced a medium onion and sliced a medium Yukon Gold potato into skinny pieces.
Next, I melted 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a 2-quart soup pot and added the onion and potato. I let them cook over a medium flame for a couple minutes then added the asparagus stalks. After tossing all the veggies together I added ½ teaspoon of salt and a quart of unsalted chicken stock. I had some left from poaching a few chicken breasts, but you could use vegetable stock or water.
Let this cook over a gentle heat until all is tender. Cool a bit then carefully whizz in the blender. Add a couple tablespoons of half and half or cream. Taste for salt.
At serving time, cook the asparagus tips in a bit of butter until tender, 2-3 minutes. Divide the hot soup into soup bowls and top with the warm tips.
This took me about 10 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes to cook, then blend after 10 minutes of cooling.
There is enough soup for our dinner for two with some leftover for lunch tomorrow.
One of our favorite restaurants is Acorn at the Source in Denver. We often order their kale salad, a decadent way to eat a healthy vegetable. I riffed on my memory of that dish and now we have my kale salad at home.
Take a bunch of Tuscan kale, or your favorite variety, and strip the leaves from the stalks. Cut into narrow slices across the leaves. Put into a large bowl.
Add a 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and a ½ teaspoon of salt and massage the kale until it tenderizes. Use your hands and really squeeze the kale for several minutes. I love the feeling and the bits easily slide off my hands when I have finished. You end up with about half the quantity.
Add a good squeeze of lemon juice, a finely julienned apple, (I use a mandolin), 1/3 cup of grated parmesan ─ or more to taste, and a big handful of caramelized pecans or walnuts.
We often finish this off between the two of us but if accompanying other dishes, probably enough for four.
The caramelized nuts:
Place a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium heat. Pour in a cup of nuts and toast for a minute. Then sprinkle with two tablespoons of sugar and let it caramelize. Watch carefully, while shaking the pan to move the nuts around. Stirring may prevent the sugar from melting. When the nuts are fragrant and the sugar melted, dump onto a board or plate to cool. Break up the clumps and store in a jar.
So with a few breadsticks, (from Italy), that is dinner for tonight. Happy Spring and happy cooking.