A Menu for Stars
|The Constellation Perseus & The Milky Way|
Early August and I go dreamy for stars. The Perseid meteor shower lights up the night sky for a few days and, if the moon cooperates, the hours between midnight and dawn are full of sizzling bits of stardust.
My first encounter with them was a bit of magic. I’d escaped down the Green river into Stillwater Canyon and we’d just spent a long day padding to find a campsite after we’d missed the one our guide had marked out. We were late getting off the river, and our dinner of boil-n-bag mac and cheese was gummy and bland. But a moonless night descended and the sky unexpectedly exploded with shooting stars. I watched as one arced from horizon to horizon and ignited with shimmering light. The night briefly turned to day; I could see distant mesas and ghostly sandstone forms. Then they were gone.
Each year, I anticipate the Perseids, but their post-midnight peak gives me a bit of a pause; I usually sleep through them. Two Augusts ago, determined, I talked a fellow yogi at Shoshoni into meeting me at 2am when, I promised him, “the full moon will be gone” and we’d enjoy the show. I woke to a sky so bright I didn’t need a flashlight as I walked from my cabin to the deck of the lodge to meet Jimmy. We laughed and looked and went back to bed, starless.
This year, the Perseids will shower under a dark moon, and the city-dwelling boyfriend and I have planned a meteor picnic. 2am is too late for food, so I decide to make something commemorative the night before and take a bit of poetry and chocolate instead. Next week, Greg and I will celebrate two years together, when we’ll likely be camping, so I plan a menu with both my man and the stars in mind.
|Karen's Pizza Margherita|
The first dinner Greg and I shared was pizza made on my grill. We’d just met face to face for the first time and had spent a lovely first date in the park at the Boulder Farmer’s Market, dozing in each other’s arms. I immediately felt at home with the man with whom I’d been talking, almost nonstop, for two weeks.The pizzas were simple: Margherita made with heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella, and one made with tart apples and creamy Gorgonzola.
|Karen's Gorgonzola & Apple Pizza|
For our meteor night/anniversary celebration, I decide to repeat the Gorgonzola pizza and make another with shrimp and cilantro pesto, sliced chorizo, and sautéed onions and red peppers, topped with goat cheese.
I let the dough stretch, first on the backs of my hands, and then from my fingers as I hold onto an edge and let gravity gently pull the dough away. It takes time, making dough like this, but your patience is rewarded with a bubbly chewy crust instead of a flat, ironed out one. (FYI, this process works with relationships, too, which also take patience to reveal their finer flavors). Working my hands around the rim, I can get the dough to widen and widen until it’s the size I want. The trick to making grilled pizzas is to use smallish discs of dough, ones that they can be easily transferred from pizza board to grill. For this reason, I usually avoid making pizzas with sauce (which I don’t much like anyway); you don’t want anything that causes the contents to shift during flight. I make one pizza at a time, using the top wrack of my grill, after the grill has been heated at high for 5-10 minutes. Then I turn the grill down to medium-low and close the lid, watching the crust carefully and turning it, if necessary,to avoid burning. The cheese melts and begin to brown in about 5-8 minutes.
|Karen's Shrimp, Sausage & Cilantro Pesto Pizza|
I remove the first pizza and load the next, and serve that one with a simple arugula salad dressed with truffle oil, lemon, shaved Parmesan, and hazelnuts.
|Prosecco & Greg|
This year, after a lovely dinner with Prosecco and a little pre-Perseids sleep in the arms of the man who makes me happy, I will rise after midnight with him and take a blanket out to the meadow near my cabin where I will whisper poems to Greg and to the night sky as it explodes stars.