Thursday, October 16, 2008

Breakfast at the Colorado Chautauqua

On a cold and rainy Saturday morning in Boulder, Colorado, our daughter and her friends chose an unusual venue for breakfast and a first-time meeting of their parents. By 10:30 a.m. our party of eight was seated in the Dining Hall at Colorado Chautauqua, a century-old eatery set amidst one of only three remaining 'chautauquas' in the U.S. - and the only one that still operates year-round.

The Colorado Chautauqua is a thriving remnant of the early 1900s, when more than 12,000 communities across the country hosted programs designed to foster lifelong learning, an appreciation of nature, the arts, and other cherished ideals of that time period. Today, the Colorado Chautauqua still offers 60 cottages for rent during each summer, and continues a tradition of oratory and arts presentations throughout the year.

But the Dining Hall was a true revelation. Not only did the families of three girls who have been friends throughout four years of college meet for the first time, but we enjoyed a hearty, tasty breakfast for minimal cost. Where else can you get a stellar Eggs Benedict for only $9.00?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yukon Green Chile Soup

Ever since we first tasted Yukon gold potatoes, our family has loved their soft, buttery texture and flavor. Because our grocery store only sells them by the 5-pound bag, I often have these beauties on hand.

After a recent vacation, and with little food left in our refrigerator or cupboards, I pulled together a pretty wonderful, savory soup with just a bit of heat. We ate ours on a cold and rainy night, with some crusty garlic bread and fresh veggies on the side. It should also make a great lunch, after thinning with a little water or milk.

Yukon Green Chile Soup
Makes 4-5 large servings

3 1/2 cups Yukon gold potato chunks, skin on
2 cups water
3 teaspoons bouillon powder
1 medium onion, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of butter
4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
6-8 ounces cream cheese
2-4 ounces green chiles, chopped
1/2 cup instant milk
1 tablespoon fresh Parmesan
2 tablespoons sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine potato chunks, water and bouillon powder in a large pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, approximately 40 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. While potatoes cook, saute onion and garlic in butter until onions become translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

After 40 minutes, mash potatoes in cooking water over low heat, leaving occasional small chunks. Add instant milk, bacon, cream cheese, Parmesan, sherry, chiles, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil briefly, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with crusty French bread, and a crisp salad or raw vegetables.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lunching at Mii amo

We sat down for lunch in the dining room of Mii amo Spa at Enchantment Resort, in the heart of Sedona's Boynton Canyon, and looked out on the stunning red rock canyon as kitchen staff prepared meals in the open, stainless steel kitchen. We ordered from a seasonal menu and Nicholas enjoyed hot tea with a bit of local agave nectar as we waited for our meal.

Our server brought a Bento box for Nicholas, as well as ultra-fresh gazpacho served in a margarita glass, with a dollop of guacamole and crunchy tortilla strips; Salad Nicoise that featured large potato slices with the skin on, purple-red onion slices and a whole, sliced, hard-boiled egg; and a duck breast pizza on flatbread, with caramelized onions and red peppers. We also tried several desserts - a chocolate bread pudding served with fresh berries; a margarita glass full of fresh fruit and peach cobbler served in a ramequin - also with berries as garnish.

We relaxed amidst the serene setting and quiet conversations. A sudden, but brief, torrential rain came down in sheets outside the massive windows and then ended as quickly as it began, leaving the magnificent canyon refreshed.