Blazed through the Chicago Farmers Market in search of this Port Pear Pork Duck Sausage Concoction that I had the pleasure of Grilling for Old Money on my first Lake Shore Rooftop and I wanted to broil them today for New Money.
Couldn’t find it,…Cabbed it to the Aon Center, the radio tuned to a Nigerian Sermon on Having Faith in the Present and Hope for the Future… close enough to work but closer to CVS because I needed a pack of 15 dollar Camel Lights…I bounced down Steps made for Giants; the Skyline sinking behind the Big Buildings as I bobbled quickly down to the soundtrack of “Ole Ole Ole” being shot through an Alley straight at me from Grant Park….Maybe.
I weaved through pots of Banana Plants, Bright Pink Roses, and Indian Paintbrush…past fancy fountains and through the revolving door where the impermeable-eyed doorman looked at me softer today…handed me the keys and proceeded to ask me for a cigarette…(I knew he was up to something)…Now I’m up here over the lake about to get cooking and get prepping for the Pride Parade….enjoying the Present…and hoping for the future.
Heat your oven to 415 degrees and broil your sausages until skin is golden brown and sizzling. While they are cooking toss all of your other ingredients in a bowl and set to the side. Once your sausages are finished and cooled, slice them and toss with your quinoa. Toss your squash in olive oil and salt and pepper and grill until soft, or roast at 415 until soft but firm enough to keep shape. Place the squash on a plate and spoon your sausage and quinoa mixture into the hole of the Acorn Squash flower. Top with a soft boiled egg, or a bit of fig jelly for a refined taste.
When it was -10 degrees at 9,000 feet in Crested Butte Colorado, you could guarantee my former roommate, Ms. Nancy Wicks of Round Mountain Organics had the perfect taste of summer in her Greenhouse. The Solar Powered Greenhouse sat on the side of a mountain, was kept humid by a wood burning hot tub that sat below Hot red Tomatoes that Spindled down from hangers up high. The zucchini was as big as a Bread Loaf, and oftentimes I used them as the vessel for the perfect grilled cheese. You could walk in there after a long day on the Back Bowls, pick your dinner…and pair it with a crisp Microbrew (before they were cool). This morning…after a few hot days….I walked out back where the vines have crawled up over the porch,,,,almost into our home to find that everything had popped! We have been staring at green globes with Chicago cynicism….thinking that this strange summer was going to keep us frying green tomatoes till December….Nope, thanks be to tropic air, we now have to think of arranging a giant tomato crushing ceremony to pickle and prepare the bounty for fall. One swipe of these red orbs off the vine and into my mouth puts me right back where I began…this time with a few more tricks up my sleeve and a web of chef allies to hopefully help me along in figuring out what to do with all this bounty. Order your jar of summer while you can….
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the tomatoes, jalapenos, and garlic in olive oil and salt and pepper. Place them on a baking sheet and roast them skin side up until browned, bubbly and fragrant (about 20 min). Place in a blender along with the rest of your ingredients blend until slightly smooth…season with salt and pepper to taste, serve with corn chips or toss with shredded chicken and serve as tacos!
I am doing the “best I can”….but what the Hell does that mean? Target just spit me out with bags of Minion Shirts and Minecraft socks in hopes that you may meet a friend with similar interests, packages of Pringles and Scooby Snacks because Lord knows that those Organical lunch boxes on the cover of Parenting magazine have become a distant dream; not only because you would not touch it with a ten foot pole…but because there is hardly enough time to get the hairs on your head (or mine) in order in the morning.
You are going to be blasted by the eight o’clock bed time that is coming your way in two days, you will not be happy that I am finally putting my Apps back on my phone that I have deleted to make room for your Star Wars everything, I know the little area in the dining room I have arranged for your homework time is not going to blow your mind…but these little things are be done as my best effort to start you off right…to assuage my guilt that I cannot be there for every moment…to give you a sense of security as you grow into another year….you will hardly notice.
I hardly noticed how big my parents love was until I had you. So with that truth in my mind and your back pocket, along with your Star Wars lunchbox, a new pair of shoes, the experience of one solid summer behind us, and a bright beautiful future ahead of us, and the fact that everything I do is because you are mine, I send you out…and that is the best I can do.
So somewhere between dropping out of college to begin what was unknown to me then as my Culinary Career that included early mornings working next to a man named Jose at a crazy café in Boulder where I met many of you ….gave you free coffee, drank microbrews before they were cool with on the rooftop. Hired you, fired you….became your best friend. And between when Cooper came along, I lived some lost time here. The parent’s of the woman who built this farm had perished in a plane accident, she took the insurance money; went to Nepal and studied sustainable living…came to Crested Butte, built a farm and taught us how to LIVE. The home was solar powered, and inside that there greenhouse was a wood fired hot tub that brought moisture to the biggest baddest veggies you will ever see. She had chickens, one day she suggested I stay our late (which was not a problem…still isn’t) because the neighbor was coming over to turn the chickens….into well….chicken meat. She said I might want be gone as it was sad to see Feathers and Clucky meet their demise…When I came home tired and tipsy after snowboarding my ginger behind off and rewarding myself afterward…the home smelled of every memory that your mother makes when she serves you the glistening bowl of goodness on a snowy day when you are sick at home. There pot was full of the deep greens and burnt oranges of the greenhouse, along with Clucky and Feathers cooked to perfection…it was the best soup I ever had. I am going to try to recreate it today, though I bought my bounty at the local Organic Superstore….I am going to put that memory and energy into the pot…bring some home for someone special, and hope to one day- create that very paradise for my own family.
Back in Baby Cooper years I had a long haired hippie friend who would bring Big Bags of Bright Green Beans to our door….Cooper would pop them like popcorn…his chubby cheeks dripping with green juice….We would take trips to the Farmer’s Markets…Meek Mannered Real Deal Farmers who looked like the sun had made them wise would hand us frosty blueberries, sweaty tomatoes, fresh cool cheeses…Cooper seemed to endear himself well into the Organical Community.
Now I can hardly get him to touch anything that grows from the ground…I was thinking about those days today because Outside a finally open window at work I can hear Sea Gulls, I see a few teeny tiny tulip buds….and although I am still staring at a frozen lake-I am holding on to the hope that the winter that may have mimicked things of a more personal nature is about to crack open…and all this water that we were so mad at has no where to go but down….to build stronger roots, bring richer color, and taste to a summer I do not think any of us will take for granted. I am ready for it, I am signing off from setting of smoke alarms, I am ditching the Dutch Oven, I don’t want to see a Butternut Squash until August…So on this teaser of what’s to come….I am going out to Grill.