porcini tagliatelle s'mores rice krispies treats crab porcini mac and cheese pan pizza


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roller coaster

December 2nd, 2020

Recipe: porcini tagliatelle


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Hello my dearest readers! As many of you know, our lovable goofy Yuki came to us through the good people of Rezdawg Rescue. They are currently holding their Rezdawg Rescue Pawliday Auction through 8 pm MT, December 6, 2020 to raise funds so they may continue to rescue unwanted dogs and cats from the Four Corners region, educate the community, and run spay and neuter clinics. I have donated three fine art photographic prints to the auction. Two have already sold, but there is one still accepting bids: https://www.32auctions.com/organizations/48054/auctions/90182/auction_items/2590041. I encourage you to browse the auction’s selection of artwork, jewelry, services, and other great offerings to help support this wonderful nonprofit organization that saved our sweet Yuki. Thank you! -jen


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In the past three months, the leaves turned green to gold and stayed for a longer than usual season of beautiful fall colors. But a pall of smoke hung over our local mountains as wildlands burned around the state. October was our month of burning despite a summer of fires. Severe drought, warm temperatures, lack of precipitation, and windy conditions drove multiple wildfires to record-breaking sizes in a period of 24 hours. The East Troublesome Fire even jumped the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park. Two fires sprang up in our local foothills. Evacuation zones came within a few miles of our home in Nederland. We had our essentials, including our ballots, packed and ready to go for a week while others were forced to evacuate their homes. I wept over photos and web cam footage of wildlife fleeing the flames, homes left in ruins, and the most dedicated fire crews working through a pandemic under apocalyptic red skies.

We are not unaccustomed to wildfire threat, but this was surreal.


aspens reflected on the lake

a window of blue sky between periods of hazy smoke

a setting sun paints the underbelly of smoke plumes from the east troublesome fire



We waited impatiently for snow, and not just because we wanted to ski. The two largest wildfires in Colorado recorded history (East Troublesome and Cameron Peak) were separated by a mere 10 miles and on the brink of merging. Relief arrived in late October and we were able to unpack our evacuation bags. [NOTE: We always have an evacuation box ready.]

Meanwhile, Neva had developed an odd growth on the side of her back foot and we asked our vet to check it out. It was melanoma, but not invasive and most likely benign. Because Neva is so active, we agreed it was best to have it removed. As I type, Neva is sleeping off the anesthesia at the vet and we are scheduled to pick her up in an hour. Her procedure went well and she had her teeth cleaned and nails trimmed to boot!


everyone rejoiced in the arrival of snow

a mellow backcountry ski over thanksgiving

thanksgiving plates for the pups



I had grand plans to share a recipe celebrating summer’s last hurrah and maybe a couple of autumny dishes. But now we’re barreling toward winter and it feels like this year is flushing down a whirlpool headed for the sewer, where 2020 belongs. And for those who were concerned over the prolonged silence on the blog, you can always check my Instagram (@jenyuphoto) to see if I am indeed alive.

At the start of the pandemic, a friend inspired me to make porcini pasta. I don’t mean pasta served with porcini mushrooms, but ground up dried porcini or porcini powder mixed into the pasta dough. I may not have foraged many porcini this summer (I think we may have found five in total – a meager showing for what has been a craptastic year), but I do have a solid supply of dried porcini from previous seasons. Even if you don’t have your own private stash of dried porcini, they can be found in grocery stores and gourmet food shops.


olive oil, salt, eggs, dried porcini, flour

a coffee grinder or spice grinder works well to powder dried porcini

blend the flour, porcini powder, and salt together



**Jump for more butter**

outdoor snacks

September 1st, 2020

Recipe: s’mores rice krispies treats

Goodbye, August. And good riddance. It was brutally hot, dry, and smoky here last month. The mushrooms fizzled. The berries are few and best left for the wildlife who need them. Wildfires sprouted around the state – some caused by lightning, others most likely started by careless or ignorant campers. But as we’ve learned in pandemic life, you make do. Sometimes you can make do pretty well if you’re vigilant. Anyone catch the Perseids meteor shower in mid August? We were at our place in Crested Butte where we managed a couple of clear nights and witnessed a beautiful show.


composite of several meteors dropping behind whetstone mountain

paddling with the dogs before the smoke got bad

back home in nederland, where the smoke got bad



Within the last week, Colorado has received some rain and a cool down – enough to improve our air quality and make temperatures bearable. You don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone, but when it comes back you should definitely make the most of it! We sincerely hope that we have turned the corner from summer and can look forward to a gentle slide into autumn, pandemic notwithstanding.

it’s green chile season!

a successful batch of non-dairy chocolate ice cream using oat milk

i made a sushi bowl to celebrate jeremy’s promotion to full professor



Schools in our area have resumed – mostly online and some hybrid. Jeremy is teaching online this semester and investing the time to create as positive and educational an experience as possible for his students. And the decision to convert our guest room into a second office dovetailed nicely with my yearslong desire to donate or recycle some large pieces of old furniture. That freed up more space which I transformed into an out-of-the-way sewing area where dogs and needles will rarely, if ever, interact. I used it the other night to make myself a pocket apron when running errands in town. A purse is pretty impractical when I need fast access to things with minimal touching, so I designed a pocket apron to accommodate the stuff I use when grocery shopping alone. It’s great!

new office for either of us to use as needed

sewing nook

pocket apron: mini spray bottles of alcohol on either end, iphone, my man wallet, notepad and pen, keys, hand sanitizer



Labor Day weekend is coming up and we are prepared to basically hunker down and avoid the onslaught of people flocking to the mountains. My hope is that no one will burn our neighborhood down, but the public doesn’t have a great track record there. Great fun can be had without giant or even small fires. Grab that extra hat and jacket if it’s going to be chilly and use a camp stove! Better yet, forget about cooking and just make these s’mores rice krispies treats ahead of time.

rice krispies cereal, marshmallows, butter, cinnamon graham crackers, dark chocolate



I am a crazy person for marshmallows, possibly because they are creamy without dairy, but also because they burn so deliciously. The original recipe inspiration uses graham crackers, but I splurged on those cinnamon graham crackers from Trader Joe’s because I knew in my heart that cinnamon and chocolate were meant to be. I opted for chopped dark chocolate here, however the original recipe calls for mini chocolate chips which saves you the trouble of taking a knife to a block of chocolate. If you’ve ever made rice krispies treats, then you’re good to go with this summer’s-last-hurrah-camping version.

add marshmallows into melted butter

combine the marshmallow with the graham crackers and cereal

stir in some chocolate



**Jump for more butter**

summer wonders

August 3rd, 2020

Recipe: crab porcini mac and cheese

July and August meld together for me as one long hot month. I tend to put my head down and muddle through with a lot of ice water, watermelon, and popsicles. But August 1 always stands out as it is Kris’ birthday. She would have turned 54 on Saturday. I arranged flowers, made somen noodle soup, and called my mother to cheer her up.


miss you, love you



Our big excitement was getting out to see comet Neowise in mid-July. Skies were touch and go in the evenings thanks to a sudden influx of moisture and clouds over Colorado. But mountain weather keeps you on your toes and we were able to see the comet with the unaided eye! I photographed it from various locations with decent dark skies. I hope many of you were able to get out to view the comet, but if not, here are a couple of my captures.

close-up of comet neowise and two distinct tails (the white dust tail and the blue ion tail)

neowise reflected in the lake as it set behind the mountains



Did I mention it was hot? It’s still hot and it’s getting hotter this week. On those days that we didn’t venture out on the trails to let the pups wade through cold mountain streams, we thought they might enjoy some baby pool time. We hadn’t pulled the pool out in 5 years (since Neva was a wee pup and peed in the pool) and were curious to see how Yuki reacted to this concept. She seemed leery of it at first, then fascinated, then took to jumping in and out of the pool with an occasional pause to quench her thirst (from the pool). It was like a giant water dish she could stand in and simultaneously take a swig from.

what the hecc?

a moment of blissful stillness



When we hiked into the high country, we sought out solitude, views, wildflowers, wildlife, and swimming holes. With so many putting their typical summer activities on hold due to the pandemic, our mountain trails have been inundated with throngs of people – plenty of whom aren’t wearing masks or respecting physical distance. Instead of dealing with that idiocy, we’ve been frequenting the lesser known local trails and tackling home tasks that have been on the to-do list forever. Our guest room is now a second office since no one should visit us while the pandemic is ongoing.

yuki side-eye and a view

mountain meadows sprinkled with color

magenta paintbrush

larkspur

lounging moose

neva dives in while yuki looks on



And it looks as if it might be porcini season. Even the mushrooms appear to be uncertain about this year. I can’t really blame them as much of the state is in drought and last year’s astounding flush is a tough act to follow.

found this early bolter all alone



Still, if there are any porcini to be found and foraged, I have lots of recipes for them. I made this crab porcini macaroni and cheese last summer with my abundant haul. This rich and decadent dish goes a long way, which means you might get to enjoy the leftovers the following day. Use whatever pasta shape you like. Macaroni works, of course, but I happen to like small shells, penne, or pipe rigate (pictured below), too. I realize fresh porcini can be difficult to find, so you can substitute whatever edible mushroom you like.

pepper, milk, cheddar, bread crumbs, salt, gruyère, pasta, butter, flour

crab legs, fresh thyme, fresh porcini



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