marj wagathaga

Marj at WaGaThaGa, charcoal on paper, 22 x 30 inches (from a photo circa 1948)


Bud’s mother, and my beloved mother-in-law, Marjorie Shark, age 101, died last week. Zoë, Bud and I flew to Minneapolis to join the family in mourning her passing and celebrating her long life. We stayed in a hotel for the week and ate many meals in restaurants.

On arriving home, I was eager to cook with the summer bounty to be found at the Zweck farm. And Dorothy at Steamboat Mountain Natural Foods in Lyons had left a message saying my box of peaches had arrived. Yeah! First though, I visited my garden, kept watered for the week by Roseanne, and found ripe tomatoes, yellow beets, shishito peppers and of course, wild arugula. I couldn’t wait to cook.

peaches and tomatoes

I decided to make a chard tart.  To go with it,  we must, of course, have corn on the cob and tomatoes and cucumbers and, and… Okay, I’ll save the eggplant, peppers, and okra for another day.

For the tart, I use a wonderfully simple recipe for the crust, devised by Patricia Wells and shared in her book, Vegetable Harvest.

Combine 1 cup unbleached flour, a heaping tablespoon of wheat germ, (my addition), and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Stir in 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup cold water.

Press the dough into a tart or pie pan, making the sides a bit thicker than the bottom. (No need to prebake but if  a recipe does call for baking blind, this dough doesn’t require weights to prevent shrinking. I use it for all my savory tarts/quiches.)  Put in the fridge while you prepare the filling.


Wash the chard, striping the leaves from the stems.  Chop the stems into 1/4 inch pieces and the leaves into 1/2 inch shreds. Keep separate.

Sauté a chopped, small onion and a minced clove or two of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil.  When the onion begins to soften, add the chopped stems  and cook until tender.  Pile the chard leaves on top of the stems and onions, cover and cook until wilted and tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the veggies cool a bit, then spread in the pie shell.

In a measuring cup, beat together 1/2 cup of milk or half-and-half and 3 eggs, then stir in  1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan.  (Other cheeses to use include cheddar, goat cheese or gruyere.) Pour this evenly over the chard mixture.

ready to bake

Bake at 375° for 30 – 40 minutes or until set and brown.  Cool for 10 minutes or so before cutting into wedges.  This is good hot or at room temperature.


To accompany the tart I made a tomato and Colorado peach salad, duplicating a not great one I had ordered in a restaurant.  Both fruits must be ripe and flavorful.

peach and tomato salad

Chop the tomatoes, slice the peaches and dress with olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped basil.

And then the cukes – Kirby cucumbers are not just for making pickles.


I chopped them with some sweet onion, added a splash of olive oil, a dollop of nonfat Icelandic yogurt, a little salt and some chopped cilantro.

cucumber salad2

With corn on the cob, this made a delicious welcome home dinner, eaten on the front porch with a view of our valley and Mt. Audubon. Ahh, home.


And cheers to Marj – Mom – Grammy!

Ben and Marj

In the Fall, 1990, oil on canvas, 22 x 30 inches (Marjorie Shark and her grandson Ben Frisch)



Summer on Blue Mountain Road 2002, charcoal on paper, 20 x 30 inches

Friends Sherry and Jamie with Bud and I hosted a party on Blue Mountain Road for Teresa Booth Brown in honor of her beautiful exhibition just opened at Michael Warren Gallery in Denver.  Twelve of us friends sat around the table and had a grand time laughing, drinking wine and eating.  Bud smoked two salmon fillets on the Weber, Sherry made a tomato/avocado/basil salad and a mixed greens salad, we had fresh green beans from Zweck’s, and Jamie prepared grilled peaches for dessert, served with my almond macaroons and ginger cookies.

I like to include one complicated dish in a celebratory dinner so I made sopes as a starter.  These little masa harina boats are a treat, crisp and savory with a filling of beans, cheese and salsa, but do take a bit of work.


For the masa preparation, I use a recipe in Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayliss.

Combine 2 1/4 cups of masa harina with 1 1/2 cups of hot tap water.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1/3 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Mix until smooth then divide into 12 balls.  Flatten these into disks about 1/2 inch thick.


These cakes are then baked on a griddle to cook the outsides. Heat a comal or heavy iron pan until hot.  Place the cakes on the ungreased surface and cook until browned a bit, turn and cook the other side.  The interior will be soft and ready to be formed into little ‘boats’ (a coracle I think).


With a thin, sharp knife, split the cakes in half.  Mold the raw dough on each half  to form an edge about a 1/2 inch high.

ready to fry

Cover the sopes.  I sometimes prepare them to this stage in the morning, then refrigerate until time for frying and serving. You might even do this a day ahead.

Have the filling ingredients ready.  Prepare or reheat refried beans, (see Supper on a Summer Evening), grate your favorite melting cheese, make a salsa, (I used mango salsa, see blog link above), and open the sour cream.

Thirty minutes or so before serving, heat a 3/4 inch depth of safflower oil in a wok or deep pan to about 360° ─ or until very hot, but not smoking.  Fry 6-8 sope shells until browned, about 1-2 minutes.  Drain on paper towels or a brown bag and keep warm in a 250° oven while you cook the rest.


Layer the warm beans, grated cheese, salsa, and sour cream into the shells and serve. (With the filling ingredients ready, and with Sandra as a helper, filling the sopes went very quickly.)

filled sopes

Other fillings to consider are sauteed chopped onions, chorizo, and cilantro; whole beans with feta and pico de gallo; or chopped, sauteed zucchini, poblanos and onions with a melting cheese and cilantro.  Just remember to cut the ingredients into smallish pieces to fit into the little boats.


Lunch for an Artist

bob at wildflower farm

Bob at Wildflower Farm 2004, oil on canvas, 30 x 42 inches

Robert Kushner has been here making monotypes.  He collected flowers and fruits and various pieces of Betty Woodman pottery from my kitchen, as models to create lovely portraits using ink, crayons and collage.

As is my wont, I invited the studio crew and friends Sandra and Jack, for a celebratory lunch ─ a tapas style spread.


I made a salad with small waxy potatoes, first steaming the potatoes until tender then cutting them in half and marinating them in a simple vinaigrette made with Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I added halved green olives and a handful of chopped parsley. (Here in a Jane Dillon bowl.)

The green salad included radishes, cucumber chunks and arugula from my garden.  My beets have grown big enough to eat so I was very happy to add them to the menu.  After steaming I dressed the warm, peeled beet wedges with another vinaigrette, this time made with lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and a big pinch of salt.

Zweck’s farm has had the most delicious green beans so they found a place on the table. Cooked in boiling water for a few minutes and served naked ─ they are that good.


A platter of smoked salmon, a St. Nuage cheese and homemade hummus completed the lunch.  All this was accompanied by the amazing epee loaves from the St. Vrain Market Bakery in Lyons.  We have all become quite smitten with this delicious bread. (In a basket woven by my sister Mimi.  She grows the willows used in her basketry on her farm in Missouri.)

epee loaf

We even had dessert ─ cherries and ginger cookies.

Supper on a summer evening

The swimmer

The Swimmer, pastel on paper, 30 x 41 inches

At the end of a summer day, perhaps after a swim at the pond, I crave something savory with a spicy kick for supper.  I’ve made tostadas for years and never tire of their crisp, smooth, crunchy combination of tortillas, beans, cheese and salsa.  As you know from my posts, I have been receiving quarterly shipments of beans from Rancho Gordo and have  upped our bean consumption.  I cook them with a piece of kombu (seaweed) and find this prevents any unpleasant bean gas experiences.  Plus, I think the more beans we eat the more accustomed our digestive systems are to them.

Anyway, here’s what I did:

First I prepared the tortillas ─ 2-3 per person.  In a small skillet just bigger than the tortillas I heated sunflower oil ─ about a 1/4 cup ─ until almost smoking.  In went a corn tortilla, the oil bubbling and splattering (be careful). I turned each with tongs and cooked until crisp and brown. Drain on paper towels or a grocery bag cut open.

frying tortillas

I had cooked pintos in the freezer so that part was easy.  Check out my book for a method of cooking dried beans.  If you must use canned, rinse them well.  In a tablespoon of sunflower oil, I sauteed a chopped large clove of garlic until it was translucent then added the drained beans ─ about two cups.  Using the terrific wooden bean masher I had bought from RG I worked the beans to a semi-smooth paste, adding bean cooking liquid when the mixture got dry. I tasted for salt and added a tablespoon of pureed chipotle pepper.

mashing beansbeans with chipotle







Next I made the salsa. I have been loving the mangoes available in the market and imagined their sweetness against the chilés, beans and cheese in a tostada.  I make a tomato, peach or cantaloupe salsa with about the same ingredients so choose your favorite fruit.

To the peeled, sliced, diced and lightly mashed mango I added a good squeeze of lime, a minced pickled jalapeño, a chopped green onion and a handful of cilantro.

mangoonion and cilantro

mango salsa

To assemble the tostadas, I had ready some grated cheese ─ I used Catamount but Jack or another favorite would be delicious. Spread the warm beans on the crisp tortillas, topped with the cheese and warmed in the toaster oven until the cheese was well-melted.


I garnished the tostadas with salsa, avocado slices and a dab of sour cream leftover from cake baking.


A tart salad is a welcome sidekick to these savory, rich disks of deliciousness.  I combined shredded red and green cabbage from Zweck’s with julienned jicama.

cabbage and jicama

For a dressing I simply added the juice of a lime, salt and pepper, and a little olive oil.  If I hadn’t made the mango salsa I would have added a sliced peach to the salad.

cabbage slaw





Fresh peas




I usually plan my meals around seasonal vegetables.  So, as we officially enter summer, I choose preparations using the wonderful vegetables and herbs growing in my garden and available at the Zweck’s farm stand.

shelling peas

The short pea season is almost over but I scored a big bag of English peas to prepare with fresh green onions, mint and butter. Shelling peas is a pleasurable, contemplative task ─ splitting the shell, rolling out the peas clinging to one side, sampling the occasional sweet ball.

peas cooking

First, I sauteed a couple chopped green onions in butter ─ about 1 tablespoon ─ until softened, added 2 cups of peas and a little chopped mint, (saving the rest of the two tablespoons for a garnish), barely covered the peas with water (used just enough to prevent burning) and cooked until tender.  This takes only a few minutes so watch carefully to retain the lovely silky texture of the peas.  (If you only have frozen peas, cook very briefly.)


To accompany the peas, I made smashed potatoes, a recipe I devised for days when we crave the potatoes served with a roasted fish at Basta in Boulder. Our dinner also included a grilled pork tenderloin, and golden beets with anise that were lingering in the fridge. (Recipe in my April 30 post, Sunday Lunch.)

For the potatoes, cut a pound of Yellow Finn or red potatoes into pieces and steam until tender, 15-20 minutes.

potatoes steaming

In a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes, have ready a vinaigrette made with a tablespoon of coarse  mustard, two tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup of olive olive, salt and pepper, all to your taste. I used a bowl made by Janis Hallowell.


When the potatoes are tender, tumble them into the bowl of vinaigrette and smash.  Leave various size pieces, don’t get carried away!  Add a handful of green olives cut in half─ I like Castelvetranos.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

smashing the potatoes

adding olives

Pork tenderloin is delicious, and easy to cook as Bud is the grill master in our house.  I made a dry rub in the spice grinder (an old Braun coffee grinder dedicated to spices and herbs) with fennel seeds, hot red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt.  I left the meat in the fridge for the afternoon, removing it an hour before grilling. Bud cooked it to an internal temperature of 140°, about 20-25 minutes on a hot gas grill.

the meal

Buon Appetito!


Top:  Tasting, oil on canvas, 18 x 18 inches.

(A portrait of Nick Helbrun in his garden.)




Apple Pie nikon copy

During my interview with John Lehndorff last week, we talked a little about pie and our love for this delicious concoction.  The pie I tasted with him was okay but it inspired me to make my own using a fabulous recipe for the crust that can be found in my book.  (I’ll write it here for you too.)  Organic blueberries were on special at the market and I bought a few punnets for my pie.  Since June is Bud’s birthday month the pie would be part of a studio lunch celebration.

I prepared the berries and let them sit while making and chilling the pastry.


I  combined 4 cups blueberries with 6 tablespoons sugar, a teaspoon ground ginger and a tablespoon of instant tapioca.  (James VanDyk turned me on to ginger with blueberries at his Gateway Cafe.)

The pastry:

Combine in the Cuisinart 2 ½ Cups unbleached flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 Tablespoon sugar and pulse 5 times to sift.  Add 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter cut into tablespoon pieces and pulse 5 times.

Add, in three parts, 6 Tablespoons ice water and pulse each addition twice. Dough should not turn into a solid mass.  Turn crumbly mixture onto the countertop and grab together to make a cohesive dough.  Do not overwork. It may seem a bit dry but resist adding a little water unless it really cannot be compressed.

Divide into two, one a little bigger than the other. Flatten each piece into a disk, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate ½ hour.


Roll each piece to about 3/8-inch-thick between sheets of lightly floured waxed paper.   Place the larger piece in a pie pan and fill with the berries. Cover with the second piece of rolled dough. Trim any excess and press the two edges together.  Don’t worry if the pastry breaks, you can patch with the trimmings. Flute the edges. Save the trimmings for a tiny tart or bake with a coating of cinnamon sugar for a cook’s treat.


Pierce the crust in several places, then brush with cream or half-and-half .


Bake, on a baking sheet to catch any spills, at 450° for 45 minutes until brown and the berries bubbly.

the pie

Top: Apple Pie, oil on canvas, 46 x 46 inches

(Maggie Gilboy and Roseanne Colachis, our other resident pie baker)


Every morning…

ginger flowers (2)

Just a reminder that I will be signing books at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art on Wednesday, June 20, 5:30 ’til 7:30.  Several paintings will be on display and books will be available for purchase.

A couple articles about the book came out this week.  One by John Lehndorff in the Boulder Weekly and one by Susan McCann in the Redstone Review.  Here are links: http://www.boulderweekly.com/cuisine/the-art-of-dinner/ and https://issuu.com/sdcmc/docs/redstonejunejuly2018/10

Lehndorff quotes me as saying I don’t like to repeat myself in the kitchen and that’s true.  I vary a dish each time I make it, either out of forgetfulness or boredom or the contents of my fridge. One constant in our life is a breakfast of granola, yogurt and fruit.  We take homemade granola on our travels to art fairs and on camping trips. Bud in particular even orders granola for breakfast in restaurants. I don’t go that far as I like something different every now and then such as pancakes or eggs and bacon. (Those cravings are satisfied by preparing breakfast for supper.)

This week Connie Zweck had organic strawberries at her farm stand, the perfect complement to my granola.



My current recipe for granola includes nuts, seeds, coconut and oats.  I make it without  oats for visitors preferring a grain-free dish.

I chop the nuts in my Cuisinart, almonds first as they are the hardest. Then in go walnuts, cashews, pecans and hazelnuts. I dump these into a large bowl to which I add seeds, seasonings, sweetener and oil.

Here’s the recipe:


In the Cuisinart chop with several pulses ─ or by hand:  6 ounces raw almonds, (about 1 1/4 cups), 6 ounces raw cashews, (1 cup), 6 ounces other raw nuts ─ walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, (1 cup). You’ll end up with various sized pieces from crumbs to chunks.  Don’t overprocess.

Place in a large bowl with 1 cup pepitas, 3/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 sesame seeds and/or flax seeds. If you would like to include oats, add 2 cups.

seeds for granola

Stir in 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes and 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut, 1/3 cup cacao nibs, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, (about half of a nut) and a big pinch of salt.

Over all this, pour 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup and 1/3 cup canola or your favorite flavorless vegetable oil. (Though I think olive oil would bring a fruity deliciousness.)

ready to bake

Stir until well combined and moistened. Spread in a high-sided baking pan,  9 x 13 inches, and roast in a 350° oven for 15 minutes.  Stir up and continue roasting, about 15  minutes, until browned, toasty and fragrant.  Cool, then store in a jar or tin.

This makes enough for a week of 1/2 cup servings for two. Pictured here in a bowl by Kate Villareal.

bowl of granola

Top: Ginger Flowers, oil on canvas, 60 x 40 inches

(our niece, Hilary Niceswanger Smith in the Holualoa kitchen)