Saturday, July 11, 2020

July 10, 2020 Lunch – PPI Salad and cheese sandwiches. Dinner – New Recipe Baked Pasta Primavera with Italian Sweet Sausage and fresh Mozzarella and Pecorino-Romano

July 10, 2020 Lunch – PPI Salad and cheese sandwiches. Dinner – New Recipe Baked Pasta Primavera with Italian Sweet Sausage and fresh Mozzarella and Pecorino-Romano

Today I worked most of the day. I motion for Aaron and met with Rahim to draw up a Letter of intent for a real estate deal and filled out the paperwork for Like’s loan to purchase a house near Woodstock, NY.

I needed to get the car inspected for emissions, go to the post office, and the bank but could not figure out how to do all that and fetch a No. 21 at 2000 Vietnam, so I decided to eat lunch at home and do a more limited excursion to the bank and post office downtown.

When I looked in the fridge immediately saw the PPI salad from two nights ago dinner and decided to eat that and a cheese sandwich.

I dumped the salad onto a salad bowl and sliced a end piece of French baguette into three slices and toasted two slices and tossed the third that had a spot of mold in it.

I buttered the toasted slices and lay slices of brie on one and Gouda on the other and melted them in the microwave for 35 seconds.

Lunch was surprisingly delicious.  The salad lettuce was still crisp as were the pieces of tomato and cucumber and avocado.

 Then at 3:30 i drove to the bank, which was closed, and the post office where only one person may now wait in the lobby at a time besides those being helped at the three counter positions.

When I returned home I rested and tried to watch Mad Money but it was not on and Cramer had not been on the morning show, Squawk on the Street.  I wonder what happened to him.

Suzette arrived around 5:30 and we sequestered ourselves on the bed opinion the bed in the bedroom with the fan turned up to medium, which is now the coldest place in the house until 6:30 to wait for the heat to subside.

I then made a gin and tonic and declared myself ready to cook.

I had thawed a package of Italian sweet sausages, thinking they were like brats that we could cook in the German style with sauerkraut and cottage style potatoes , but Suzette had a brilliant idea for dinner.

We should sauté the sausages and use that as a layer in a dish of baked penne with the addition of a mornay cream sauce and mozzarella cheese.

It was genius because we had the big bowl of penne Primavera that we both thought was bland and rather dry.

I asked if a bottle of Chianti was acceptable with the dish and a Suzette said, “Lovely.” So I fetched a bottle of Aquino Reserva Chianti ($5.99 at Trader Joe’s) and placed it in the freezer section of the fridge to chill.

So I diced the remaining 9 oz. of fresh mozzarella slices (Costco) and about a cup of fresh Pecorino-Romano cheese (Costco) while Suzette made a roux with flour and butter and added milk to make the cream sauce and then added ¾ cup of grated Pecorino.  We were working like a surgical theatre, with Suzette shouting commands like “Hand me the grated cheese.”

Soon she was mixing the mornay sauce into the large ceramic bowl 2/3 full of penne and then she poured half of the penne into a large soufflé dish and then poured the sausage and then the fresh mozzarella cubes and then the rest of the penne and finally she garnished the top with the rest of the grated pecorino cheese.  She popped the overflowing  soufflé dish into the 350 degree oven and declared it should be ready in 35 minutes or when the Rachel Maddow Show ended at 8:00 in 40 minutes.

I watched the rest of Rachel and sipped my gin and tonic while Suzette worked in her new office that she has made by removing the bed and clutter that had accumulated in Willy’s old bedroom.

At 8:00 I called her and we checked the dish in the oven and the edges were bubbling so we fetched plates and ladled spoonfuls into our plates.  I found mine to be a bit cool in the middle so I microwaved mine for a minute and that was long enough to heat it to the point that the first forkful burned my palate.

Suzette opened ate Chianti and fetched glasses and poured glasses of the wine and we relished in the creamy, cheesy soft mound of cheese, pasta and bits of sausage, squash, tomato, olive, and onion.

We were amazed that we had converted a light low calorie pasta dish into a heavy, gooey, rich, highly caloric dish.  It was the consistency of a thickly sauced lasagna Alfredo.

We drank a couple of glasses of the cool Chianti to wash it down and tried to take small seconds, but could not eat more as the pasta and cheese hit our stomached.

We rested for a few minutes watching TV but around 9:00 Suzette suggested a dessert of a scoop of ice cream on one of the chocolate chip cookies I baked last night.

I over leavened the cookies and they collapsed into flat thin cookies, sort of like a French wafer or rather flat tuile. So the large flat cookie made a perfect platform for Suzette’s scoop of vanilla ice cream.

She served the open faced ice cream sandwich in a small flattened bowl, which made the dessert seem to float in its own small lake, lovely and delicious.

Suzette sipped a scotch and I sipped a grappa di brunello.

By 9:30 we were tired and fell fast asleep.  I even fell asleep while trying to blog.  So I finished this description at 3:30 in the morning with a glass of cold water.

After we put the dish in the oven at 7:20 I checked my stocks and found that my portfolio had risen another ½%, mostly due to a rotation away from big tech and biotech and to consumer stocks like P & G and utilities, like AT&T.

I keep wondering when the Market will adjust to the economic reality the world is facing if there is no vaccine for another six months to a year and the pandemic keeps spreading.

The big news of the day was another Friday night bombshell from the WH, Trump commuted Roger Stone’s seven felony convictions for his role in creating the Wikileaks publishing of the Russian theft of the Democratic Party emails before the 2016 election and then lying to Congress to cover up President Trump’s knowledge and role in the scheme.

The implications are chilling; that you can commit crimes to affect an election and lie about it and if your crime is found out and you are prosecuted and found guilty that you can then escape punishment by a Presidential pardon by your co-conspirator who participated in the crimes with you because your illegal actions succeeded in getting your co-conspirator elected President.

I hope most rational people will realize that this not the way a functioning democracy can survive and will elect Democrats this Fall so that laws can be put in place to prevent this abusive use of the Constitution from happening again.  Of course, it was allowed to happen by a complicit Republican Senate that would not impeach the President.  If the senate swings into democratic control there is a small chance that there could be another impeachment of Trump even after he leaves office that would result in him being barred from holding political office again, a final censure for his actions of bribing women who he had sex with and his collusion with the Russians to help him win the election and then he and his co-conspiratorscovering it up by lying to the FBI and Congress and the American people.

Bon Appetit

Friday, July 10, 2020

July 9, 2020 Brunch – Lax and Whitefish on Bagel Snack – PPI Pho Miso Chicken Noodle Soup. Dinner – Chicken Pasta Primavera

July 9, 2020  Brunch – Lax and Whitefish on Bagel   Snack – PPI Pho Miso Chicken Noodle Soup.  Dinner – Chicken Pasta Primavera

I awakened at 6:15 and watched the news until 7:45, when Suzette and I walked ½ mile.

I returned and brainstormed with a client on a real estate transaction for about an hour.

I then toasted two slices of bagel, smeared them with cream cheese, and garnished them with thin slices of onion.  I then lay slice# of Gravad Lax on one and pieces of whitefish on the other and made a cup of Earl  Grey tea for a big breakfast.

Suzette and I discussed dinner before she left for Los Lunas and decided to make a pasta dish with the PPI roasted chicken.

I was not hungry until 3:00 when I heated the PPI Pho Miso Chicken Noodle Soup I had made yesterday for lunch.  Since I had stored it in the fridge I was able to skim most of the coagulated fat off the top, which made it much more edible.  It had thickened into almost a bowl of noodles as the three types of noodle had absorbed much of the liquid, so it had become a thick stew of noodles, chicken, zucchini squash, tofu and green onion.  I liked it a lot.

Suzette returned around 4:30 but I received a call from my best friend Dee Simpson who was suffering from the 108 degree heat in Austin.

I know how that feels. I lived the first 37 years of life in Fort Worth.

The Texas summer heat was the main reason why I moved to New Mexico.

At 5:30 I excused myself to help Suzette cook dinner.

Pasta Primavera

The theme of this meal and dish was to use whatever ingredients you have that have an affinity for the dish.

Part of the impetus for this meal was my ongoing desire to open the resistant lid of a large bottle of marinated artichoke hearts.  Suzette and I worked together to heat the metal lid in hot water and I twisted the lid off while she held the bottle after several tries and a fair amount of Suzette banging on
the lid with a spoon to break the seal.

We also had 6 or 7 marinated black olives from a Bistro snack plate lunch Suzette had brought home.  I deseeded and chopped the black olives and quartered about ½ cup of artichoke hearts.

 Suzette had brought home a fresh zucchini and yellow squash from her garden at her Center for Ageless Living, so we decided to cook them as part of the mix of vegetables.  I went to the garden and picked a handful of oregano and de-stemmed about 1 cup of leaves and chopped them a bit and

added to them about ½ lb. of diced chicken breast.  I then quartered and sliced the two squashes and
1/3 of an onion and diced two Roma tomatoes from El Super and four cloves of garlic from our garden.

Suzette started a pot of penne pasta boiling while I was chopping.

As soon as I finished Suzette sautéed the vegetables in olive oil and butter for about fifteen minutes until they were soft and then added the chicken and oregano and turned down the heat to allow the pasta to finish cooking fully.

Suzette wanted to add some greenery to the dish so she went to the garden and picked a basket full of tender arugula leaves.  While she was picking arugula I diced three slices of fresh mozzarella cheese into 1/3 inch cubes.

Suzette covered the bottom of a pasta bowl with arugula and I tossed ½ of the mozzarella cubes into each bowl on top of the arugula leaves.

When the pasta was fully cooked Suzette drained it and then mixed the pasta in a large ceramic bowl with the sautéed vegetables and chicken.

Suzette then ladled some of the pasta primavera mixture into each bowl and I grated Parmesan cheese on top of each bowl we were ready to eat.

We poured glasses of chilled 2018 J. L. Quinson Cotes du Provence rose ($8.99 at Trader Joe’s) and enjoyed a lovely dinner as we watched Rachel Maddow.

I love this time of the year when all the fresh vegetables ripen and you can cook wonderful Mediterranean dishes with the freshest ingredients.  All the ingredients except the tomatoes and onions and marinated olives and artichoke hearts came from either our kitchen garden at home or Suzette’s extensive gardens at the Center.

There is a heart warming feeling of permanence in being able to enjoy the bounty of nature  during
the chaos caused by this pandemic.

We had most of the bowl of pasta left, so I covered it with Saran and put it into the fridge.

We were down to our last chocolate chip cookie and aSuzette had bought a bag of shelled pecan halves to replenish the pecans, so after dinner I decided to make chocolate chip cookies.

I added the following ingredients to the Kitchen Aid mixer: ½ lb. of butter, ¾ cup of white sugar, ¾ cup of brown sugar, 3 eggs, 2 cups of flour mixed with ½ tsp. each of salt and baking soda, 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips and 1 cup each of toasted pecan halves and raisins.

I buttered two cookie sheets and dropped and baked about 32 cookies at 375 degrees for 10 minutes in three batches.  I finished the last batch just as our favorite Thursday TV show, Midsomer Mystery, was starting at 8:00 on PBS.  The cookies flattened out this time, which leads me to believe I added too much baking soda or not enough flour.

At 9:30 when the show ended Suzette went to bed. I watched the news and then read a bit of Speak Memory by Nabokov and then went to bed.

I awakened at 3:00 to blog this entry and then returned to bed.

Bon Appetit

Thursday, July 9, 2020

July 8, 2020 Lunch – Vietnamese Miso Chicken Noodle Soup. Dinner – Grilled Rib Steak with a Baked Potato and Salad

I awakened around 6:45 and watched news for a while and at 8:00 put in an order at El Super for 19 items.  Then I ate granola, yogurt, milk, and blueberries and then walked ½ mile.

At approximately 10:00 the order with 5 bags full of groceries was left porch.  I unloaded and stored everything.

Chicken noodle soup

I worked for a while but at 11:30 started a pot of soup.  I filled a two quart pot 2/3 full of water and added the Tandoori chicken fat and sauce from last night’s roast chicken.   Then added about 1 tsp. of dried dulse seaweed, 1 Pho seasoning cube and a tsp. of Knorr dehydrated chicken stock. Three types of noodles (buckwheat vermicelli, 40 cm rice sheets and a bundle of egg noodles) and 3 oz. of roasted chicken cubed.

I then added four mushrooms sliced and 1 zucchini quartered and sliced and a T. of red miso  and 4 oz. of tofu.  After 30 minutes everything was cooked and I ladled a bowl of soup. I de-stemmed part of a bunch of cilantro and sliced a lime in half and added lime juice and cilantro to the soup.  It was a filling soup so I only ate one bowl. And stored the remaining bowl of soup in the fridge.

I worked until 5:00 on my new domestic case and then checked the Market and my portfolio was up another .75% after selling several of my good stocks.  My portfolio hit a new high, which is truly inexplicable.

At 3:00 I packed the painted fabric by Bruce Lee and took it to the post office and mailed it.
After lunch I had  thawed three steaks for dinner.  Suzette came home around 4:00 and we put three yams and four russet potatoes into a 350 degree oven and cooked them for a bit over an hour.


At 6:30 I made a salad for dinner with two hard boiled eggs sliced, 1 ½ Roma tomatoes diced, 1/3 cucumber peeled and sliced, destemmed and tore 1/3 head of bibb and 1 head of Romaine  lettuce and added a small avocado diced.  I refreshed the dressing by squeezing ½ lemon into it and adding about 2 T. of olive oil and 1 Tsp of chopped tarragon leaves.

Suzette salted and peppered the steak and grilled it to medium rare.
I went to the garden and picked six or seven chives and sliced them thinly.

Suzette then laid a baked potato on each plate, I sliced the steak, and put the salad on the table while Suzette put a container of sour cream and the butter dish on the table.

In the afternoon I chilled a bottle of 2014 Champ de Reves Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, California.  Those who know me know that I think Anderson Valley is the gold standard for American Pinot Noir.

We have decided that during this pandemic period to drink our better wines that we have been saving for a number of years.

This meal is a traditional meal I grew up eating as a child in Texas, steak, a baked potato and a green vegetable or salad.

Later, Suzette sliced two bananas and sautéed them in butter with brown sugar and added some Presidente Mexican brandy.

We were both tired and went to sleep at 8:30.

Bon Appetit

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020 Lunch – Enchiladas and Eggs. Dinner – Tandoori Roasted Chicken with Asparagus Couscous and Caprese Salad.

July 7, 2020 Lunch – Enchiladas and Eggs. Dinner – Tandoori Roasted Chicken with Asparagus Couscous and Caprese Salad.

I woke up a bit before 9:00 and to work on a new case that had to be filed today without eating breakfast.  I showered at 10:00 and fixed lunch at 11:30.  I needed to eat something quick because I was weakening.  I decided the quickest thing to prepare was to fried two eggs over easy and place them on top of the re-heated PPI enchiladas from yesterday’s Lunch and added some chopped tomato and lettuce to add some color and vegetable garnish.  So in approximately 5 minutes I had a delicious and filling lunch.

I drank water today and by 12:30 I was back at work.  We finished filing all the documents at 5:05.

Suzette has arrived a bit before 5:00 and had a drink in the garden as I finished working.

Roast Tandoori Chicken

We had decided to roast a chicken.  I initially considered stuffing lemon slices, garlic slices and tarragon under the skin as I had last time after I picked the garlic and tarragon in the garden I was tired and decided to sprinkle Tandoori spice on the chicken instead.  I trussed the chicken on a spandex cooking rack and sprinkled the chicken with Tandoori and placed the spandex frame in the ceramic baking dish filled to 1/3 inch with water int a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes and then reduced the heat to 350 degrees.  We roasted the chicken for 1 ½ hours but it was a huge chicken and it was red in the joint when we cut into it so we microwaved the two thighs in the microwave to fully cook them.

Caprese Salad

We bought vine ripe tomatoes several days ago and Suzette bought loaves of sliced fresh mozzarella at Costco several days ago.  Suzette sliced one of the tomatoes and sliced slices of mozzarella and picked fresh basil leaves in the garden.  She lay slices of tomato, cheese, and basil leaves on each plate and drizzled the Caprese salad  with a quick dressing made by mixing balsamic vinegar with olive oil.

 Asparagus Couscous

 Suzette snapped and diced several stalks of asparagus and placed the diced asparagus in a baking dish with the remaining Couscous and covered it with Saran and heated it in the microwave.

Suzette then piled the Couscous and asparagus blend on a plate and added a chicken thigh beside the Caprese Salad for a good looking dinner.

I poured out the last of the Chateau Freyadelle Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle grapes.

We ate a great dinner as we watched Rachel and a documentary examining Viking Women Warriors based upon a burial site.

We watched an episode of The English Game and then at 9:00 Suzette went to bed and I blogged this entry.

Bon Appetit

July 6, 2020 Lunch – Beef Green Chili Enchiladas. Dinner – Roasted Duck Leg quarter with Orange Sauce and Sautéed mixed Vegetables

July 6, 2020 Lunch – Beef Green Chili Enchiladas. Dinner – Roasted Duck Leg quarter with Orange Sauce and Sautéed mixed Vegetables

This was a slow day as I reintegrated int wotk.  I ate a toasted slice of bagel spread with cream cheese and garnished with red onion rings and smoked white fish with a cup of chai for breakfast at 7:00 then at 7:30 I rode 5 miles with 1 sugar pill.

When I returned I rested and then showered and dressed.  I caught up on mail and then at 11:30 I was hungry.  I decided to make green chili enchiladas again. I diced 4 oz. of rib steak, 1/3 onion, I grated 1 cup of Jarlsberg cheese, and fetched the sour cream.

I softened five corn tortillas in a skillet filled with Tomatillo enchiladas sauce and olive oil.  I spread a layer of Tomatillo sauce on the bottom of a pasta bowl and then a softened tortilla.  Then diced beef, cheese, and onions, the two softened tortillas and a layer of sour cream and onions. Then finally two more softened tortillas topped with the rest of the beef, cheese, onion, and Tomatillo sauce.

I baked the dish in the oven for about 20 minutes until the edges bubbled and then I heated it in the microwave for an additional 2 minutes and 34 seconds.

I drank most of a beer with it.  There’s enough left for breakfast with a fried egg.

We thawed out a chicken for Tuesday evening and I thawed out two duck leg quarters for tonight’s meal.

In the afternoon I worked on preparation of my 2019 tax return.

Suzette came home at 5:15.

Suzette checked the vegetable bin in the refrigerator and found several bags of vegetables in varying degrees of decay.  Her response was to throw them out and clean and sanitize the Bin with Clorox water.

Vegetable Medley

Suzette decided that we should sauté 1 ½ zucchini, a potato, and a small bag of green beans after she washed off the green beans.  I halved and sliced the squashes and sliced and a potato.  She then sautéed the squash and potato pieces in butter and olive oil and after they browned a bit I added the green beans.

Roast Duck

There were only two smaller quarters so Suzette decided to cook them in the Bobby Flay manner.  First, she fricasseed them in a skillet with butter weighted down with another slightly smaller skillet filled with water for about twenty minutes.  Then she lay them on a cookie sheet and baked them in a 375 degree oven in which she reduced the heat to 275 / after five minutes and cooked the duck legs for twenty more minutes.

Orange sauce

I followed Julia Child’s recipe for Orange Sauce in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

I cut out one step and combined two steps by cooking the orange zest and chicken broth together, but otherwise followed the recipe. Also I cut the recipe in half.

I zested the peel of two navel oranges and put the zest in a 4 cup enameled sauce pan to which I added 1 cup of water and enough Knorr dehydrated chicken stock to make a strong broth and heated it to cook the threads of zest.  While the zest and chicken stock was cooking I added 1 to 1 ½ T. of red wine vinegar and 1 ½ T. of sugar. I then peeled and sectioned the two oranges and added that to the sauce.  I then blended ½ T. of cornstarch with1 ½ T. of Madeira and added it (I should have used

1 T. of cornstarch or arrowroot).  I did not want to alter the flavor of the sauce and the sauce failed to thicken properly.  We boiled the sauce but it still did not thicken, so I added 1 T. of Grande Marnier to finish the sauce and we had a runny sauce instead of a thick sauce.  The flavor was still fabulous.

Dinner - When the vegetables, sauce, and duck were cooked we served.

                     As you will note, it is impossible to add too much Orange sauce to the roast duck

The wine -

I prefer red Cotes du Rhône with roast duck so in the afternoon I fetched and chilled a bottle of 2012 
Cotes du Rhône Villages produced by Pierre Henri Morel for Total Wine’s Winery direct program. It is generally of better quality.  It is produced in Chateauneuf du Pape and instead of the usual cheaper Grenache and Syrah blends it is a more full bodied blend with the addition of 5% each of  Mourvèdre and Carignan juices to 60% Grenache and 30% Syrah.  I like this wine blend a lot and often buy it as I did this bottle when it is offered at a 20% discount to its usual price of $14.99.  Its  Chateauneuf big  brother with more of the 13 grapes blending grapes allowed in Chateauneuf du Pape included in the blend starts at just under $30.00, so this the poor man’s Chateauneuf du Pape.

We have chilled every bottle of red wine we drank this summer and this one was no exception, especially on a hot day such as today when the temperature reached 100 degrees, although this wine tasted better as it warmed to closer to cool room temperature.

The duck was a bit tough but that issue was moderated by bathing bites of duck in sauce.  The sautéed vegetables were wonderful especially when paired with Julia’s traditional orange sauce r  I found it a delightful dinner in this time of less than perfectly fresh ingredients.

We all have our favorite birthday meal and mine one of two broiled lobster or roast duck with Orange sauce.  I remember the years of my childhood when Mother would ask me, “Robbie, what do you want for dinner on your birthday?”  It was hardly worth asking because the answer was always, “Duck L’ Orange.”  Mother cooked the Julia Child recipe so it is genetically embedded in my taste memories.

The only difference between then and now is the addition of a superior bottle of Cotes Du Rhône.

We watched the Women’s Addition of Antiques Roadshow as we ate, but after it ended we soon tired and went to bed.

I did manage to finish my traditional birthday meal with a bowl of chocolate ice cream doused with chocolate syrup, and my adult addition of rum and Kahlua.

I awakened at 1:30 to finish the blog.

Tomorrow, roast chicken for dinner and if Suzette’s naturalist enthusiasm is to be believed , a visit to the beaver pond at 6:00 a.m.

One extra note. If you want to follow any Julia Child’s recipe, they are all on the Internet.  Just google her name and the name of the recipe.  This one is Caneton l’Orange or Duck in Orange Sauce.

Bon Appetit


Sunday, July 5, 2020

July 5, 2020 Breakfast – Salmon and Goat cheese Omelet. Snack – Pho Noodle Soup. Dinner – Steamed Halibut wrapped in Chard with Lemon slices

July 5, 2020 Breakfast – Salmon and Goat cheese Omelet. Snack – Pho Noodle Soup. Dinner – Steamed Halibut wrapped in Chard with Lemon slices

We awakened at 6:00 again as the sun rose at the East end of the long valley that adorns our view from the front of the cabin perched high on the west wall of the valley above Mechem Rd. And the cemetery.

Suzette made a wonderful omelet with the PPI teriyaki salmon and garnished it with slices of avocado.  We drank the bottle of Sparkling wine from Saumur de Bussey, a rose of the typical style blending Cabernet Franc red grape juice with Chenin Blanc white grape juice.

After drinking the rose we usually find in America that blends Pinot Noir with Chardonnay the saumur version tastes different.  It tastes earthy from the Chenin Blanc  and more assertive from the cabernet franc.  So a different taste profile.

The omelet was superb.  It seems we had had superb meal after superb meal over the last few days.  I don’t know if it is the desire to push the envelope for my birthday with our focus on drinking good bottles of wine or just the luck of good ingredients matched with good wines, but the result has been admirable.

I also have been feeling better. It seems it has taken 1 ½ years to reach this point that I would say is 95% recovery.

For example today after we left Ruidoso we drove north and took State 55 to see Gran Quivira Pueblo, the largest and most easterly of the three Salinas Pueblos.  It was very large because it was the trading center between Pueblo settlements and plains Indians.  It is only partially restored and sits on a high mount on the eastern side of a salt playa to the north.

To make my earlier point we were greeted by a ranger who told us the leisurely path through the ruins was ½ mile long and we took off on the hike without a murmur and I made it in good shape.

So I am no longer hindered by the prospect of walking distances of less than a mile by pain.

We drove home by way of the back side of the Manzanos through Manzanos and Chillili to Tijeras
where we joined I-40.

Suzette drove to Corrales to pick up her painting cleaned by Ari and we arrived home at 3:00.

After a shower and a shave I ate the PPI bowl of Pho from Thursday, defrosted the Halibut steak and lay down to nap until 6:30.  When I awakened Suzette was cooking dinner.

She steamed the Halibut in the steamer oven and then divided the steak in half and  wrapped each ½ of the steak in Chard leaves with a slice of lemon on each side and baked it in the oven.  Suzette also blanched asparagus stalks and diced them and cooked them with some PPI Couscous.  Here is a picture.

I could not resist the urge to have an exceptional wine wit( dinner so I fetched the bottle of 2017 Chateau Vivonne Bandol Rose.  It gets from good to insanely great ratings that average 90 points.  We thought it was a bit oxidized because of a slightly loose plastic cork but after a few ice cubes and being open for a while we liked it a lot better.

Bandol is east of Marseilles so different grapes and a different flavor profile although technically still in Provence.

We like Le Ponte rose much better with its sublime finish of no flavor of grape.

After dinner we watched Grandchester and Beecham House. I drank a Calvados and nibbled several chocolate truffles and then when Suzette went to I drank a cup of chai and blogged.

This is the end of my birthday weekend and it has been wonderful.

Bon Appetit

July 4, 2020 Lunch – Picnic at Montjeu Overlook. Dinner – Grilled Rib Steak with Sautéed Ratatouille and Black Beans and Chard Couscous

July 4, 2020 Lunch – Picnic at Montjeu Overlook. Dinner – Grilled Rib Steak with Sautéed Ratatouille and Black Beans and Chard Couscous

We awakened at 6:00 and after watching a great sunrise at 6:18 we gathered up all our picnic supplies and food and a bottle  of 2001 Cru Bourgeois Chateau Cantegril Sauternes that I bought at Total Wine in 2015 for $29.95 less 20%.

We first drove to the upper canyon but the road was fenced well short of where I recall there being a beaver dam.  We next drove to Grindstone Lake but were turned back because it can be visited by reservation only this weekend.  We then decided to drive to the Mescalero Indian Reservation and tried to drive to the other side of the Inn of the Mountain Gods but was stopped by a gate above the stables.

We decided to get out our binoculars to see what we could see.  We soon saw about six large birds circling on air currents about 500 feet above us ¼ mile away.  As we looked we soon agreed there were three golden eagles and three turkey vultures.  We were satisfied with our bird watching for the day, month, and year.

We then decided to drive north toward Ski Apache where we saw that there was a state park with picnic tables named Montjeu Overlook on state road 117.  We turned onto it and started climbing.  After 4.5 miles of driving through a burn zone we were at about 9000 to 10,000 feet with a view of a long vista to the west.  Here is a picture.

We laid our picnic lunch of three types of salami, Gouda and brie cheeses, foie gras, butter, pepper relish, honey mustard, and olives, plus the bottle of Sauternes.

We had a lovely very much like those we ate on our trips to France, but with a better view.

After lunch we returned to the cabin and I napped for two hours until 2:45.  When I came into the living room, Suzette was watching No Direction Home, a 4 ½ hour documentary on the career of Bob Dylan.

We watched almost the whole thing but toward the end we cooked dinner.  Dinner was a perfect combination of PPIs.  Suzette Grilled a 1 ¼ inch thick rib steak and sautéed PPI Ratatouille and Black Beans and microwaved the PPI Chard Couscous we made on July 2, 2020.

I opened the chilled bottle of 2016 De Ponte Cellars Dundee Hills Pinot Noir and poured short glasses so we could drink them chilled and refill them without having to add ice.

Suzette plated a pile of Couscous and put Ratatouille and Black Beans on top.  I sliced ½ thick inch slices of steak and we took our plates and glasses to the dining table on the deck.  We watched the sunset on the valley while we listened to Dylan.

Suzette enjoying her steak

Dinner was perfect . I love the combination of beans and Ratatouille with the Couscous really well.  The steak was cooked perfectly to rare.

After dinner we watched fireworks from Washington and New York.

The Suzette watched home improvement shows and I blogged.

In a hour we sipped some more Sauternes and nibbled chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

It was as nice a 4th as we could have wished for in this Covid 19 era.

Bon Appetit