Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
Meander and Meet....designed by George Peters and Melanie Walker of Airworks For more information contact Susan at

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - September 24, 2006

Mary, Christie and I had a vigorous walk yesterday - one of our oldies but goodies. I had to hustle to keep pace with them! We walked around that neighborhood just east of 36 between Baseline and Table Mesa - Sioux, Mohawk, etc. Lots of "Brady Bunch" style houses. Chris did meet us for coffee but we sure did miss the rest of you.

We had no book discussions yesterday but I did finish Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott on tape. She has such a quirky sense of humor - if you haven't read anything by Anne Lamott, I do think you would enjoy her writing. Some of her other books include:

Hard Laughter, 1980
Rosie, 1983
Joe Jones, 1985
All New People, 1989
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, 1993 (nonfiction)
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, 1994 (nonfiction)
Crooked Little Heart, 1997
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, 1999 (nonfiction)
Blue Shoe, 2002
Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith,

I just started another book on writing called Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal by Alexandra Johnson.

From Publishers Weekly
Leather-bound five-year diaries were once popular gifts at children's birthday parties, sometimes providing the first taste of a lifelong pleasure. While an estimated 12 million journals are sold annually, Johnson, a teacher of creative nonfiction at Harvard and Wellesley, has found that people also record their lives on dinner napkins, menus, slips of paper and, increasingly, the computer. In her follow-up to The Hidden Writer, for which she won a PEN Award, she proffers advice for journal keepers who want to develop material for later books or who simply enjoy logging life's events. Commiserating on diaries abandoned as "joyless collections of grievances," she offers tips on how to "break the deadlock of introspective obsession." She advises perfectionists on how to silence their censorD"that dark, icy whisper of the confidence thief." Apt remarks by Virginia Woolf, Tobias Wolff, Annie Dillard and others add to her perceptive and often humorous insights on unearthing the interior life, improving observation skills and finding images that reveal significant motivations. The transformation of a factual log into a creative work requires investigating essential patterns: disclosing what has been left out of memory, charting periods of great intensity and connecting the dots between events and influences to develop a true narrative. Because a journal is usually a private affair that offers little opportunity for discussion, people seeking direction on keeping a successful one should welcome this thoughtful guidebook.

Recipes of the Week:

From Giada DeLaurentiis, The Everyday Italian on the Food Network:

Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce -,1977,FOOD_9936_34586,00.html - flavors are wonderful and pork chops stayed very moist - always tricky with boneless pork chops but worked really well.

Ricotta Cappuccino - a rich and elegant dessert - very easy! - A small serving goes a long way! -,1977,FOOD_9936_34588,00.html - I used part-skim ricotta - next time I might try the fat-free ricotta but that could be risky!

Tonight I made a quick and easy Roast Chicken that I've made several times before - just butterfly a whole fryer or roaster (depending on how much you need) - separate the skin from the breast and legs/thighs and "smear" pesto (homemade or store-bought) under the skin. Rub skin with a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a shallow pan at 425 degrees for an hour or so, depending on size of bird. Very yummy! I served it with rice pilaf and sauteed green beans, toasted pine nuts and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

A reminder about upcoming events:

One Book/One Boulder - lots of activities throughout the next month related to When the Emperor was Divine - films, discussion groups, exhibits, suggestions for other books about the Japanese internment during World War II.

The play Parallel Lives at the Dairy - in case you missed my earlier invitation to join us for the matinee on Sunday, October 1 and you'd still like to go, check out the website about ticket availability. There are no reserved seats so just let me know if you're able to come and we'll save you a seat!

Once again, I extend an invitation to everyone to share what they've been reading and eating - just send me an email and I'll include it on our emails or visit the blog at and leave a comment.

Ooops! I realized that I never reported on the dinner I made for my book group a couple of weeks ago:

From Giada De Laurentiis - Everyday Italian - Roman Chicken -,1977,FOOD_9936_33365,00.html
and Roasted Potatoes and Onions -,1977,FOOD_9936_33366,00.html

Both of these recipes come from a show about make-ahead dishes - they're terrific for a large group and really do work out well for cooking a day ahead and then re-heating at the last minute.

Our appetizer was a Late Summer Bruschetta from Michael Chiarello - Easy Entertaining on the Food Network -,,FOOD_9936_27543,00.html.
I also served Grana Padana cheese with honey, fig preserves, walnuts, and strawberries.

The picture at the top of this post is a really fun centerpiece that I made using wonderful colorful vegetables like eggplant, rutabaga, yellow and red peppers (the small ones), squash, zucchini - you could use whatever you want. This was inspired by a centerpiece that Linn Green made using fresh fruit. I'm going to put a picture of it on my blog.

That's all for now!


See you soon and have a great week!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - September 18, 2006

Hi everyone,

Sorry I missed a lovely walk on Saturday but I did enjoy my weekend in New York with Jexy, Libby and David - plenty of walking and good eating! Not much reading going on this week. I finished Writing Down the Bones before I left and now I'm reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, another book on writing. I have started doing writing practice - trying to write at least 10 minutes each day - it really is a wonderful process to sort out all the random thoughts floating around in my head.

Amazon.comThink you've got a book inside of you? Anne Lamott isn't afraid to help you let it out. She'll help you find your passion and your voice, beginning from the first really crummy draft to the peculiar letdown of publication. Readers will be reminded of the energizing books of writer Natalie Goldberg and will be seduced by Lamott's witty take on the reality of a writer's life, which has little to do with literary parties and a lot to do with jealousy, writer's block and going for broke with each paragraph. Marvelously wise and best of all, great reading.

Here's a brief report on my weekend in New York:

Friday night - dinner at The Blue Ribbon Bakery - it is a local restaurant just up the street from Libby's apartment in the West Village - -
I had a terrific burger and we all shared a luscious chocolate chip bread pudding for dessert. David introduced me to black coffee with a bit of Sambuca (licorice flavor) - really takes the coffee up a few notches! I loved it and the next night I had it with a double expresso.

Saturday - Lib, Jex and I walked down to Ground Zero - it is a profoundly moving experience to be there - there was a photographic exhibit that was pretty remarkable. David met us there on his motorcycle and took Jex for a ride. We all met for lunch at Cafe Esquina in Nolita (north of Little Italy) - I had great tortilla soup! After lunch, the girls and I poked around the lower East Side. We made a stop at the Tenement Museum gift shop - that museum is a wonderful out of the way spot to check out if you're ever in NY.
On the way to dinner that evening, we had drinks at David's apartment in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn - actually we had the drinks in a beautiful park just across the street from his place. Libby is going to be living there for the next several months as she awaits the completion of her new home in Manhattan. We had an outstanding dinner at an Italian restaurant (I think it was in Williamsburg - now a hot, trendy section of Brooklyn - wasn't always that way - my mother would have been shocked!) called Aurora - check out the menu - - I had the Raviolini con Crema di Asparagi e Tartufi.
Sunday - Bialys and lox from Kossar's Bialys - - on the Lower East Side - if you've never had one, you must give them a try - I think that Mickey C's makes them here in Boulder - they're just a little bit more interesting than a bagel. This breakfast really feels like home to me! Every Sunday morning when I was growing up on Long Island, I would go with my father to the Meadowbrook Delicatessan in Merrick, New York to pick up our ritual breakfast of bagels, bialys, lox, cream cheese and seven layer cake - my special treat was when I got the "wing" of the salmon to chew on - I called it "fighter lox" - I think they now use that part to go into lox spreads. Of course, the New York Times and the Sunday N Y Daily News was part of the ritual, as well.
After breakfast, we went all the way uptown to the Cloisters Museum - none of us had ever been there before. It houses the Medieval collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and especially features beautiful tapestries and architectural features of Cloisters found in Europe in the Middle Ages. The setting is just beautiful overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades of New Jersey.
From there, back to Brooklyn for a street festival called Atlantic Antic - great food, music and fun people-watching! Jex and I shared paella and grilled sardines - so yummy! We ended the afternoon at a very trendy cookie shop in the Cobble Hill section called One Girl Cookies - .
Ended the day late that evening back in Libby's neighborhood (for the moment) with pizza from John's - can't have a trip to New York without pizza!

Have a great week!


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - September 11, 2006

Hi everyone,

Its been a non-stop weekend following a week of not a lot of reading and not a lot of cooking but I'm sure I can come up with something.

Since we anticipated a rainy Saturday morning, we walkers met for coffee at Caffe Sole. The rain didn't come so some of us did do a turn around Viele Lake.

Jackie shared a book with us - The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig - he's one of the great writers of life in the West.

From Publishers WeeklyReviewed by Rick Bass - Any writer's work should be judged solely on its own merits, yet in this fine novel by Ivan Doig, one may be forgiven for marveling at the creation of such a work at an advanced stage of this writer's illustrious career. (Wallace Stegner—to whom, as with Doig, landscape was character and event in any story, and particularly Western landscapes—comes to mind with his classic Crossing to Safety.)Like many of Doig's earlier novels, The Whistling Season is set in the past in rural eastern Montana—and addresses that time and place in distinct, uncluttered prose that carries the full enthusiasm of affection and even love—for the landscape, the characters, and the events of the story—without being sentimental or elegiac. The novel is narrated by an aging Montana state superintendent of schools, Paul Milliron, who is charged with deciding the fate of the state's last scattered rural schools, and who, in the hours preceding his meeting to determine those schools' fate, recalls the autumn of 1909, when he was 13 and attending his own one-room school in Marias Coulee.Recently widowed, Paul's father, overwhelmed by the child-rearing duties presented by his three sons, in addition to his challenging farming duties, hires a housekeeper, sight unseen, from a newspaper ad. The housekeeper, Rose, proclaims that she "can't cook but doesn't bite." She turns out to be a beguiling character, and she brings with her a surprise guest—her brother, the scholarly Morris, who, though one of the most bookish characters in recent times, also carries brass knuckles and—not to give away too much plot—somehow knows how to use them.The schoolteacher in Marias Coulee runs away to get married, leaving Morris to step up and take over her job. The verve and inspiration that he, an utter novice to the West, to children and to teaching children, brings to the task is told brilliantly and passionate ly, and is the core of the book's narrative, with its themes of all the different ways of knowing and learning, at any age.Doig's strengths in this novel are character and language—the latter manifesting itself at a level of old-fashioned high-octane grandeur not seen previously in Doig's novels, and few others': the sheer joy of word choices, phrases, sentences, situations, and character bubbling up and out, as fecund and nurturing as the dryland farmscape the story inhabits is sere and arid. The Whistling Season is a book to pass on to your favorite readers: a story of lives of active choice, lived actively.

Susan's pick of the week is Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I read this book several years ago and it really inspired me to start journaling. I've been listening to a newly recorded version on tape this week. In addition to narrating the book that she wrote 20 years ago, she comments on what she wrote back then and shares insights into changes she would make today. Its a wonderful "read" and it just might inspire you to write! Audiobook Review
Natalie Goldberg's love of writing stems from her desire to connect with herself. In this audio version of her bestselling Writing Down the Bones, this is a potentially self-absorbed wish, especially considering that the author reads from her own work and interjects morsels of wisdom gleaned from a long writing career, which includes books on writing (Wild Mind, Long Quiet Highway), creativity (The Well of Creativity), and art (Living Color). However, Goldberg's relaxed narration and Everywoman sensibility help her avoid this danger. The classroom-like reading gives listeners a growing acquaintance with Goldberg and a friendly assurance of her methods as she quips: "you can hear my New York Jewish voice nagging you." The recording also includes an interview with Goldberg, focusing on her use of Zen meditation in writing and offering additional insight into her own rule-free writing habits

Recipes and Restaurants:
I didn't do a lot of cooking this week except for Sunday when I cooked "make-ahead" dishes for my book group tonight. I'll hold off on sharing the "untested ones" for now but I did make an old stand-by that is a no-fail - my Sauteed Mushrooms from The Pleasures of Italian Cooking by Romeo Salta, published in 1962. Romeo Salta ran a wonderful Italian restaurant in New York that Jack and I went to several times with my parents. It is long gone and the cookbook is pretty worn-out but it was and is a gem. Here's a review of the restaurant from a list of "most missed restaurants":

Pleasures of Italian Cooking.
Born in Italy, Romeo Salta arrived in New York in 1929 for a job as an assistant waiter. By 1953 he was presiding at lunch and dinner at his own New York City restaurant, justly called "one of the three or four best Italian restaurants in the world (including Italy)." This rare 1962 First Edition cookbook features adaptations of the classic dishes that made him famous.

Sautéed Mushrooms (great to make ahead and reheat in the microwave):

1 1/2 pounds mushrooms (not too large), leave whole (I do halve or quarter large ones)

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1. Wash and dry the mushrooms. Heat the oil in a skillet; mix in the mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano.

2. Cook over low heat about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Local Restaurant Reviews:

Martini's at Terry and 6th in Historic West Longmont - my sister-in-law, Lucinda and I had a lovely dinner there on Friday night. We both had seafood - I think Lucinda had salmon and I had tilapia - the restaurant, formerly known as Chris Saris (?) is in a charming Victorian house with a good size outdoor patio. We sat outside under the heaters and it was very pleasant.

Jerry and Drew's Deli on 28th just south of Valmont on the west side of the street - I may have already mentioned this place but Janet, Chris and I had lunch there on Friday. The matzoh ball soup was pretty good (not as good as my mother's) and Janet and Chris rhapsodized over the brisket sandwich they shared. We all enjoyed the fries - they were outstanding. We had hoped to share rice pudding but they've stopped making it - they say no one ever ordered and they took it off the menu - this may merit a letter to the editor of the Daily Camera! The word is that the most popular sandwich is the Flatirons with pastrami sandwiched between two potato latkes. Sounds strange to me but Jack loved it when he had it there.

Have a great week - I'll be in New York this weekend with Jexy and Libby (just the girls - Jacob will be home with his Dad) - if you have any great books, recipes or restaurants to share, just send me an e-mail. I'm sure I'll be enjoying some great food on the weekend!


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - September 2, 2006

Happy Labor Day Weekend! A few books to let you know about and some cooking adventures to report:

Susan just finished a very compelling book called 102 Minutes by Kevin Flynn and Jim Dwyer, New York Times writers who recount the events that occurred from the moment that the first plane hit the North Tower of WTC until the collapse of both towers. It is an enlightening and revealing account pieced together by interviewing survivors and rescuers and eyewitnesses.

From Publishers Weekly
Drawn from thousands of radio transcripts, phone messages, e-mails and interviews with eyewitnesses, this 9/11 account comes from the perspective of those inside the World Trade Center from the moment the first plane hit at 8:46 a.m. to the collapse of the north tower at 10:28 a.m. The stories are intensely intimate, and they often stir gut-wrenching emotions. A law firm receptionist quietly eats yogurt at her desk seconds before impact. Injured survivors, sidestepping debris and bodies, struggle down a stairwell. A man trapped on the 88th floor leaves a phone message for his fiancée: "Kris, there's been an explosion.... I want you to know my life has been so much better and richer because you were in it." Dwyer and Flynn, New York Times writers, take rescue agencies to task for rampant communications glitches and argue that the towers' faulty design helped doom those above the affected floors ("Their fate had been sealed nearly four decades earlier, when... fire stairs were eliminated as a wasteful use of valuable space"). In doing so, the authors frequently draw parallels to similar safety oversights aboard the ill-fated Titanic nearly 90 years before. Their reporting skills are exceptional; readers experience the chaos and confusion that unfolded inside, in grim, painstaking detail. B&w photos.

Libby told me about a memoir she is well into and enjoying very much - The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls - after reading the description on Amazon, I realized that I saw Jeannette Walls interviewed (probably on Oprah) and it is a fascinating story.

From Publishers WeeklyStarred Review. Freelance writer Walls doesn't pull her punches. She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she's "overdressed for the evening" and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, "rooting through a Dumpster." Walls's parents—just two of the unforgettable characters in this excellent, unusual book—were a matched pair of eccentrics, and raising four children didn't conventionalize either of them. Her father was a self-taught man, a would-be inventor who could stay longer at a poker table than at most jobs and had "a little bit of a drinking situation," as her mother put it. With a fantastic storytelling knack, Walls describes her artist mom's great gift for rationalizing. Apartment walls so thin they heard all their neighbors? What a bonus—they'd "pick up a little Spanish without even studying." Why feed their pets? They'd be helping them "by not allowing them to become dependent." While Walls's father's version of Christmas presents—walking each child into the Arizona desert at night and letting each one claim a star—was delightful, he wasn't so dear when he stole the kids' hard-earned savings to go on a bender. The Walls children learned to support themselves, eating out of trashcans at school or painting their skin so the holes in their pants didn't show. Buck-toothed Jeannette even tried making her own braces when she heard what orthodontia cost. One by one, each child escaped to New York City. Still, it wasn't long before their parents appeared on their doorsteps. "Why not?" Mom said. "Being homeless is an adventure."

Janet made this wonderful chicken dish and two salsas this week - the recipe is from the current issue of Fine Cooking Magazine:

Grilled Chicken with Tomato, Lime & Cilantro Salsa
Serves 4

2 cups ripe tomatoes (2 -3 medium tomatoes) -- seeded and diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro -- finely chopped
4 scallions (white and green parts) -- thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon zest of 1 lime -- finely grated
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chipotle chile canned in adobo -- minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)

Prepare a medium-hot grill fire (you could also do this on an indoor grill pan).

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, lime juice, 1 T of the oil, 1 1/2 t sugar and the lime zest. If your tomatoes aren't perfectly ripe and sweet, add another 1/2 t sugar. Season with 1/2 t kosher salt and 1/4 t pepper, or to taste.

In another medium bowl, mix the chipotle, the remaining 2 T oil, 1/2 t kosher salt and 1/4 t pepper.

Trim the chicken. If the tenderloins are still attached remove them and save for another use. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound each chicken breast to an even 1/2 inch thickness. Add the chicken to the chipotle mixture and toss well to coat.

When the grill is ready, lay the chicken on the hot grill grates and cook, covered, until the chicken has grill marks and the edges turn opaque, 2 -3 minutes. Flip the breasts and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, 2 - 3 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice each breast crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange the chicken on a platter and top with the salsa.

Serving Ideas : This dish is also declivous served cold or at room temperature over salad greens. You can also make it ahead: Grill the chicken, let it cool for 20 minutes, refrigerate (for up to 8 hours) and slice just before serving with the salsa. The salsa ingredients may be prepared up to 2 hours ahead, but mix them together just before serving.

NOTES : An alternative salsa is the Summer Corn Salsa ( see recipe below).

Janet served the chicken with a lovely, light salad featuring butter lettuce, fennel, and radishes with one of those light refresher dressings - you could just do a light lemon vinaigrette. She also served this with Spanish rice. Dessert was a recipe for fresh grilled peaches featured in this past week's Daily Camera -,1713,BDC_2517_4951824,00.html - I'm not wild about the flavor and consistency of goat cheese but would try this again with cream cheese - it is quite an elegant and simple dessert.

Serving Size : 6

1 cup corn kernels -- stripped from cob
1 cup cherry tomato -- halved or quartered, depending on size
1/2 cup red onion -- chopped
1/4 cup basil -- chopped or very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon mint -- chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and let sit 20 minutes before serving.

Hors d'Oeuvre idea from Janet and Susan: create a platter featuring fresh figs (Janet used 3 different varieties - Costco has beautiful ones right now, got the others at Whole Foods) and cantaloupe wrapped in proscuitto (she used an American made (would you believe Iowa?) proscuitto with lime juice and fresh mint to sprinkle over the figs (really adds the right spark). Also on the platter was a hunk of Grana Padana cheese (same cheese as Parmesan Reggiano, not aged as long nor priced as high), walnuts, honey, balsamic reduction - Janet did take a picture which I will ask her to send to me and I will insert it on my blog. It was lush and gorgeous looking. Janet really is so creative and artistic in her presentation. The inspiration for this came from my description of feasting on figs, proscuitto, melon, cheese and wine at the house we stayed at in Lucca, Italy - now that's heaven on earth!

I made two recipes this week - definite keepers:

Giada's (The Everyday Italian) recipe for Sausage and Peppers - way beyond the ordinary and relatively healthy using turkey sausage -,1977,FOOD_9936_33168,00.html - I didn't have Marsala wine on hand so I used red wine instead - worked just fine

Ina Garten's (The Barefoot Contessa) recipe for Shrimp Scampi with Linguine - I used regular spaghetti -,1977,FOOD_9936_32175,00.html

Oh, one more thing - Jan was looking for a dressing for a pasta salad - I mentioned my Tortellini Salad which I'll share with you here - it is not a creamy dressing but it sure is good!
This recipe actually originated with an old girlfriend of Rae's brother Ralph - it goes back a ways! Great for a potluck!

Tortellini Salad
1 pound meat filled tortellini -- cooked al dente
1 pound cheese filled tortellini -- cooked al dente
2 bunches scallion -- sliced
1 medium red onion -- diced
2 green pepper -- diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes -- halved
few slices proscuitto -- diced
any other diced fresh veggies you like:
artichoke hearts
red pepper
pitted black olives

Dressing Ingredients:
1 scant teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
t teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 2-3 cloves
crushed fresh garlic
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
juice of 3 lemons
1/4 cup wine, tarragon or balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
a splash of white wine
a splash of Worcestershire sauce

1. Mix dressing ingredients - use whisk or shake in a jar.

2. Add to tortellini, veggies and proscuitto in large bowl - toss and serve.

Really, just one more thing -

Barb Lamm's Pepper Steak Salad for 6 (from Colorado Cache)- very yummy main dish salad

3 cups rare roast beef, cut in thin strips (about 3/4+ pound)
2 tomatoes, cut in wedges (I used cherry tomatoes)
1 green pepper, cut in strips (I used yellow peppers)
1 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup sliced green onions (I used a chopped red one)
1/3 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
4 cups mixed greens

Marinade dressing:
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (I used soy sauce)
1/3 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup salad oil
3 tablespoons white vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine beef, tomatoes, pepper, celery, onion and mushrooms. In a screw top jar combine ingredients for marinade. Shake well & pour over beef/vegi mixture. Toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or more. Drain, reserving the marinade. Place greens in large salad bowl, top with marinated meat and vegetables. Toss adding more marinade to taste.

Looks like we did a lot more cookin' than bookin' this week - hard to resist the last of the summer season's fresh wonders.

Until next time.......

Love, Susan