Apricots, a parade……and cooking dinner with friends on the Fourth of July

I was so happy to have a sweet invitation on the Fourth of July to come over to a friend’s house and cook dinner with a vibrant group of people. Living in a town of about 1600 folks with  a few yearly festivals and lots of culture means that on July 4th the annual Cherry Days/Fourth of July parade takes place, complete with Shriner clowns in motorized bathtubs, horses with choreographed dance steps, farm and orchard floats, fire engines of course, bands both funky and traditional, an inflatable giant cherry being pulled in a wagon, environmental organizations, political land access feuds with banners (and a tank!), rival political parties and more!  This year I had the definite pleasure of watching the parade in front of my house underneath the big cottonwoods and black walnut tree. Living two doors away from Paonia Town Park, the parade is just about over by the time it cruises by my house. Fun! I invited everyone I know in town to come watch with me, making pitchers of frappucinos and serving up local u-pick sweet cherries and muffin bites. Here’s a few of my favorite pictures from the morning:

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After some time in the park perusing vendors, petting dogs, and talking with friends, it eventually was on to dinner….so much fun to weave in and out with friends in the kitchen, preparing a rich marinara, tasting, sauteeing chard and spinach greens with balsamic vinegar and onions, boiling penne pasta, a tender lettuce salad….

And, eventually, dessert. Which began as blossoms on a tree….

drifts of apricot blossoms….

Warm Apricot Sauce — with a treasure trove of fresh apricots right now, make more of this deliciously simple sauce, and put some up for the winter!

there is nothing like fresh apricots…!

2-3 cups finely chopped fresh apricots ~ 2 tbsp. sweet butter ~ 1/4 c. local honey ~ splash or two Cointreau or Grand Marnier

Simmer all ingredients together in small sauce pan until a beautiful, fragrant sauce is created. We served it warm over butter pecan ice cream, with grated bittersweet chocolate over the top, to “oh my God’s!” and seconds…. alas, no completed dessert photo this time, but you can well imagine!

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