When I was a kid, I used to love making hopscotch boards and checker boards with chalk on our sidewalk or in the backyard on our cement patio. I would play for hours, sometimes making more elaborate designs long after my friends had left and the fireflies had come out. There's something very sweet about seeing my own children making doodles on the sidewalk with chalk as well. And since they're big fans of making a mess (getting chalky) and art, I though they would love going back to the Denver Chalk Art Festival, which takes place annually- the first weekend in June- on Larimer Square in Denver.
We went last year and had a blast, and this year was no different. There were so many talented artists and creative ideas. I got a kick out of the Bob Ross piece in particular, but I think some of the, erm, younger viewers just thought it was just someone's grandpa with a paint brush. There was a really awesome Chuck Close portrait and some odes to Comic-Con, which was also in Denver over the weekend.
There were lots of people at the festival, so taking "the perfect" shot wasn't always possible, but I think these pictures give you a sense of what it was like...
(And please pardon those line-and-ball shadows on some of the photos- they're from the string lights that hang from one side of Larimer street to the other.)
Then we walked around the neighborhood. It was really crowded because the Colorado Rockies were also playing the LA Dodgers, and the stadium is only a few blocks away from where the festival was held. Busy, busy streets...(I love it.)
After the festival, we returned home. The boys took longer-than-usual naps, so I started working on a salad and a side dish for City Park Jazz - a free event that runs every Sunday throughout the summer. Both of the recipes come from Family Table, a truly fantastic cookbook.
Notes on the salad: The original recipe calls for escarole, but I opted for lettuce that I grew in our garden (I know, right?! I still can't believe, we have a garden!). The yogurt dressing- with maple syrup and smoked paprika- was delicious. I didn't use all of it, so you could probably adjust the measurements.
Notes on the side dish: I'm *all* about the Aleppo pepper and this is one of my favorite side dishes to make right now. The recipe elevates the standard garbanzo bean (chick pea) quite a bit and it's spicy - so it compliments garden burgers perfectly.
Lettuce & Apple Salad (Adapted ever-so-slightly from Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home)
1 cup of pecans
For the dressing
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Approximately 1 small-medium head of lettuce (Bibb-Boston-Butter is a nice choice, though the original recipe uses 1 head escarole), coarsely chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2- 3/4 red onion, halved, thinly sliced
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
Spread the pecans in a large dry skillet and toast over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring and watching carefully so they do not burn. Transfer to a plate to cool.
To make the dressing: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
Combine lettuce, apple, pecans, and onion in a large serving bowl. Toss with the dressing, sprinkle with mint, and serve.
* * *Warm Garbanzo Bean Salad with Fennel, Red Onion & Parsley (Adapted slightly from Family Table: Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home)
2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
3 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 fresh sprigs of thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cut in half, cored, and thinly sliced
1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Drain and rinse beans and place them in a large saucepan. Cover with 12 cups of water (you could probably use less, but you're going to be adding a lot of salt, so don't use too little water either), add 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes) and the garlic. Bring to a low simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes-- until the beans are tender (not mushy!) and the flavors have been absorbed.
Remove the beans from the heat (don't drain yet!), add the salt and thyme and let stand for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, the remaining 1 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes), the smoked paprika, lemon juice, and vinegar. Whisking constantly, slowly add the oil. Add salt to taste if necessary.
In a large bowl, toss the fennel and the red onion with 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette.
Drain the beans and discard the thyme and garlic. Put the beans back in the pot and add the the fennel and onion mixture. Then, on very low heat, stir the beans, fennel and onion, until it is soft-- about 10 minutes or so, being careful not to burn the ingredients. (The original recipe doesn't call for this step, but I think the softer the onion and fennel the nicer the texture-- but if you like things more crunchy, you can skip this step.) Remove from heat and put in a large serving bowl. Stir in the parsley and toss with the remaining vinaigrette.
The salad can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Roasted Broccoli & Fennel Salad with Pickled Onion Vinaigrette, also from Family Table