Last Wednesday evening, five of us were drinking wine and getting ready to sit down to an orzo-shrimp-salad dinner when the phone rang. I picked up the closest of my landlines in my bedroom, and a woman's voice asked, "What is the address of the emergency?"
My response was, "Duh, what emergency? There's no emergency," while the lady repeated, "What is the emergency address?" and just then my daughter Hillery came in from outside, covered with snow, and grabbed the phone out of my hand.
It took a while to sort things out, but the upshot was that Hillery had been talking to her husband, Bruce, on her cellphone in my front bedroom and had witnessed a Jeep going eastbound on Highway 82 whack a Subaru heading west, hurling the westbound car into Hillery's Toyota, which was parked in front of my house.
Hillery called 911 and went outside to investigate, while the rest of us were obliviously serving up the shrimp dish, at which the phone rang.
Cop cars, ambulance, lights flashing, tears (all the drivers and owners were women; I'm just saying), people running in and out, four dogs contributing at full yelp, gate left open, counting dog heads and closing gate and a raging blizzard adding to the drama.
In the end, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. The Subaru was badly damaged, with the driver's side caved in, but - astoundingly - no one was injured, and the ambulance went away, happily unused.
My oxygen tether doesn't reach the fence, so I stayed inside trying to sort out hurried reports ("Hillery was in her car when it happened." "No, I wasn't in the car when it happened.") The Jeep was largely unscathed. Hillery's Toyota (a recent purchase) had damage to the driver's door and bumper but was operable.
The drivers and the police departed; the crushed, empty Subaru sat out front with its blinkers on, we rehashed the event and sat down to a dinner which is good at any temperature.
Orzo Shrimp Salad
Saute one chopped onion and eight cloves of chopped garlic in a generous amount of olive oil, stirring often, for 15 minutes over low heat.
Drop two packages of cherry tomatoes into boiling water, immediately rinse in cold water and peel by cutting the ends with a knife and popping them out of their skins. If you like skins, just cut them in half. Set aside.
Cut the contents of two large jars of Reese's artichoke hearts (Clark's Market) into two or three pieces. Set aside.
Thaw one or two bags of unpeeled raw frozen shrimp. Peel and chop into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
Chop any mild veggies such as summer squash, asparagus and sugar snap peas (peppers might overpower). Chop a large bunch of basil, as fine as possible. Add to the onion mix and saute until almost done.
Meanwhile, boil half a box of Barilla orzo (City Market) in a large pot of boiling water for about 15 minutes. Drain and return to its big pot.
Add the shrimp to the onion/veggie/basil mix and cook until just done, about three minutes. Add to the orzo pot. Throw in the artichokes and tomatoes (you're not cooking these), toss, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve in bowls with Romano or Parmesan cheese. Yum.
Su Lum is a longtime local who recommends adding a squirt of basil paste to each bowl. Her column appears Wednesdays in The Aspen Times. Reach her at email@example.com.