Crispy Tender Pork Carnitas

If you have ever eaten AMAZING pork carnitas they were probably cooked in a large vat of lard. But I bet you don’t have, nor do you want to use, a vat of lard. This recipe, created by my personal chef, avoids lard but does use a bit of bacon fat. Just a bit. And oh my, that “just a bit” keeps it on the side of healthy but takes it to a place that makes you want to sing.


There are some diverse ingredients added to this pork dish….

Gluten Free Peach Almond Crisp

Gluten free peach almond crisp is a must in our family. Why? We love peaches and we freeze peaches and we love anything crisp. Oh, and I ADORE almonds. When you make this recipe, feel free to choose your own word: crisp, crunch, cobbler. Whatever! I just like a TON of the topping. So my recipe errs on this side, the side that has more calories. Sorry. But if it matters, this recipe is gluten-free! And even if you aren’t gluten-free you will still want to make it this way. Trust me. (I say trust me a lot.)

My daughter and her husband are coming to visit for Thanksgiving. She is gluten-free so we have been learning the art of baking and cooking without gluten in the Flanders family. (She doesn’t like it when I announce to people that she is gluten-free. Sorry Jenna.)

I decided to create a recipe using the gluten-free flours I already have on hand, trying it out again on a student of mine who is coming over for dinner. Both he and his wife are gluten-free. I often use my students as guinea pigs because students are hungry. Thus, they forgive me easily even if my recipe is horrible. But this recipe is WONDERFUL because 

Bacon Wrapped Apricots With Sage

When I invited my friend Priscilla to share a quick and easy appetizer recipe for this blog she sent to me one of her favorites: Bacon Wrapped Apricots With Sage.

She wrote, “People literally close their eyes and drool when they bite into these.”  I had two thoughts about her statement: (1) bacon is so good that of course this recipe makes people drool, and (2) Priscilla is the kind of person who is able to settle people, making them feel welcomed and at home in her home. They are so much at ease that they are willing to drool in front of her!! This is like

Thick Rich Apple Butter

I now LOVE thick rich apple butter. A couple of weeks ago on Facebook I said this in a post: Trying my hand at making apple butter. I’ve never made this before. It will cook for 24-36 hours. If it tastes bad, at least my house will smell like heaven. Why did I decide to make apple butter? Well, despite the blight that came to many Colorado apple trees this year, causing leaves to wither and dry, the apples were fine. In fact, it has been an bumper apple crop all over town. I have friends begging me to adopt their apples. But, I have a tree of my own. It was dropping apples like manna from heaven, leaving many to rot on the ground.

I don’t like wasting food so I worked hard to harvest them, using my new apple picker (wondering why I had waited so long to get one of these great tools). I did end up at a friend’s home grabbing another variety off her tree as well. I washed, peeled and froze a gazillion apples. I gave some away. But I still had apples left in my kitchen sink.

When I decided to try making thick rich apple butter I found several recipes on the web, combining three of them into one.  Then I wrote my Facebook post about my trial, one that I thought might end in error. So I said, “If it tastes bad at least my house will smell like heaven.” Several Colorado Backyard Garden members replied with encouragement saying things like, “How can apple butter be bad?” Obviously many of you knew better than I did (one reason I started this site is so I might learn from all of you — I’m selfish that way.) In case you are wondering, my house did smell like heaven. And….drum roll please…

Apple butter can’t be bad!

BUT…in some cases, I think it can be better so you’ll have to keep reading on what I think makes it better…so read on.

Late Summer Salad

It is mid September here in Colorado.  We had some really cold weather last week, so cold I had to cover up my garden goodies two nights in a row.  But this week it has been in the low 80’s and I am finding a few gems out in my backyard garden.

Finding gems.

Late summer is a time for that.  I may think my pole beans are done, but I find a few more on the vine.  And then I peek close to the ground and see a few last cucumbers.  That one more ripe tomato makes me scream with delight.  Am I being melodramatic? Yes, I am and I don’t care.  A garden is worthy of drama.

If you are a gardener,

Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Soup

I want to give you HOPE about growing things.  Growing squash is a slow and arduous process.  Growing anything in life is like this.  And we forget that there is often a gift coming in the midst of the waiting and watching.  In this case, as I watch my squash grow (or not…and I decide to run to the farmers market instead), I think about this yummy recipe that my personal chef created back in 2010.  It truly is a bowl full of fall. The garnishes take it to OVER THE TOP goodness.  Trust me.
My brother Lee and his wife Lucy occasionally test my Personal Chef’s recipes in their New York City kitchen.  With this recipe they used a beautiful squash from their local farmer’s market in the city. To make soup with your squash, read on!

Late Summer Savory Stew

Late Summer Savory Stew will stop you from asking, “Who eats stew in the summer?” After you taste this recipe, you will forever eat stew in late August, early September.  FOREVER. I promise. When it’s tomato gathering time you will think, “I must make that Late Summer Savory Stew” and off you will go to the harvest made available in your backyard garden or at the local farmers market.

So go and gather. Lose yourself in that place where the tomato clings to its vine in the sun. Even on a day when hope wanes, it is difficult to feel anything but gratitude when you pick a homegrown or local tomato. Plucked from the vine or plucked from the bin at the local farmers market, the tomato reminds us that one day all will be set right in our world. (Ok, maybe I’m being a little bit melodramatic. But seriously, look at this tomato.)

Peach Burrata

I about died on my wedding anniversary eating Peach Burrata. Yes, my personal chef and I recently had our 31st wedding anniversary. Each and every year this is a big deal. Life throws its major curve balls and still being married each and every year is a miracle to be celebrated. So, we jaunted over to our favorite Italian place.  Farro restaurant is chef owned and operated by Matthew Franklin. This chef is down to earth AND he is creative.  Matthew inspires my own personal chef. His food is rustic Italian and it is accessible and it is REAL food. He often uses Colorado’s seasonal ingredients and he always outdoes himself. But this time? I have no words. I am so glad I ordered his special appetizer: Peach Burrata. Here is a picture of our version.

Did I already say that when I was at Farro, I about died as I was eating the Peach Burrata?  I like these types of near death experiences because they are a glimpse and experience of heaven. Of course my reaction intrigued my personal chef of 31 years. So, he stole some off my plate.  He about died too. I mean honestly, we both about died on our wedding anniversary.

As is his typical fashion,