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archive for March 2014

keep your skis on

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Recipe: vietnamese grilled beef salad

It got positively balmy last week. I think Colorado was taking that whole Spring thing seriously for a few days, but only for a few days. The walls of snow that line our sidewalks and roads shrunk by feet under the blazing sunshine and warm winds. We got out to noodle about above our house on some of that fine afternoon corn snow for fun. Of course, two days later we were getting turns on the mountain in 14 fresh inches of powder. That’s how Crested Butte rolls.


jeremy navigates spring conditions

aaaaand we’re back to winterlike powder!



Late Friday night, Jeremy and I went back to the mountain to watch the start of The Grand Traverse. It’s an unmarked backcountry ski race that starts at midnight in Crested Butte, climbs 7800 feet, and ends 40 miles across the Elk Mountains in Aspen. Due to that nice 2 foot dump of fresh snow over the mountains, the race coordinators decided the avalanche risk was too high for the 300+ racers (teams of two for safety) and re-routed the course to loop back to Crested Butte – what is known as The Grand Reverse. The Denver Post had a nice article on the race here. I thought it was extremely awesome that the mayors of Crested Butte and Aspen skied as a team. Finish times typically range between 8 and 16 hours.

spotlight on the summit of mount crested butte

racers taking warm up runs

countdown to midnight at the starting line

a blur of headlamps, skis, and colorful gear as they charge up the mountain



That was fun and inspiring to watch! On the drive back to the house, we talked about those beautiful places in the backcountry we’d like to see or revisit. But we only allow ourselves to talk about it, not make plans. And that’s okay. We can’t plan as long as Kaweah is with us. We would not (could not) trust her geriatric care to anyone else at this stage. I don’t doubt that a lot of people might have put her down by now with her severely limited mobility, her accidents, the amount of time it takes to care for her… Sometimes she does well and other times not so well. Jeremy and I agreed that as long as her good days outnumbered the bad days, we’d do what we could to make her happy and keep her safe. This is why I’m fine with hand-waving discussions about places to explore instead of my usual insistence on making concrete plans. But the talk of summer backpacks and trail runs had me craving summery fare like salads and grilled things. Thankfully, this Vietnamese grilled beef salad isn’t limited to summer. You can totally make this now.

for the beef: flank steak, limes, thai bird chile, garlic, brown sugar, fish sauce

minced garlic, sliced chile, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, beef

mix the garlic, chile, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice together



**Jump for more butter**

delicate

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Recipe: almond lace cookies

Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the foods I liked as a kid that came from the supermarket shelves are highly overrated. I’m sure you are familiar with the situation. You’re standing in the cookie aisle of the grocery store and you see a familiar brand. You buy it with an anticipation that is stirred by nostalgia. And the moment you take a bite you think, “This just isn’t as good as I remembered.” I find that time and again, the things I make at home are ten times better than what I can get from those shelves. Surprisingly, the recipes aren’t necessarily all that difficult! Take almond lace cookies, for instance. Super easy to make, a little dangerous, and you can skip the shipping step that breaks them into tiny shards!


you will need: flour, salt, sugar, butter, vanilla, almonds, light corn syrup

grind the blanched almonds to a fine meal



These crisp, buttery, nutty wafers come together in no time flat. It’s basically melting butter and sugars together, then stirring everything else in. The resulting batter is thick and oily (from the butter) and smells fantastic. Definitely line your baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper, lest you want molten sugar to adhere to your pans.

melt the butter, sugar, and light corn syrup together

stir in the flour and salt

stir in the almonds

add vanilla



**Jump for more butter**

go go greens

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Recipe: spanakopita

March has not forsaken us! Four inches of snow preserved by overnight lows to -10°F made for some solid spring skiing this weekend in Crested Butte. Aaaand there’s more to come – yippee!!! But the season is definitely on the move. Despite the appearance of winter on the ground here, the sun and skies tell a different story. Clouds and weather are more dynamic with the increased warming of the atmosphere thanks to our sun that wants to hang out more and more each day. In the backcountry, you can smell streams and plants even though you may not see them under all of that snow. And flying insects! We’ve seen several lazily buzzing through the air as if they were trying to recover from the drunken stupor that was winter. It’s all good. It really is.


skiing toward an approaching storm

tracking up the fresh stuff

sunset on mount whetstone



Spring cleaning applies to everything for me – from closets to pantries to hard-to-recycle items to gear to computer files… I’ve been in a slow motion spring cleaning mode since October and I finally got around to culling and sorting my gabillion computer files (mostly photos) last week. I am not even close to being done as it takes a while to sift through terabytes of data. But I did unearth a recipe for spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) I have been meaning to post since I shot it a few years ago. It seems rather fitting for this time of year. Or maybe I’m just really hungry after all that skiing.

feta, spinach, eggs, farina, butter, more butter, parsley, dill, green onions (not pictured: phyllo dough, salt)



The hardest part of making spanakopita is handling the phyllo dough, but it’s not that hard. I’ve been using it since fourth grade (we learned to make baklava in 4-H) and have dealt with a lot of store-bought phyllo dough. The tricks are to: 1) thaw the frozen dough in the refrigerator for 24 hours 2) keep a damp (not wet!) towel over the sheets of dough to prevent drying out and 3) buy a reliable brand. I tried using an organic phyllo dough from Whole Foods and it made me cuss like a sailor. It stuck together, tore, and was really difficult to work with, despite following all of the instructions to thaw it properly. I’ve had mixed results with some national brands like Athens. The main thing is that you don’t want the sheets to stick together. The best one I’ve dealt with? Safeway’s brand. The point is that you’ll need to determine what works best for you.

beat the eggs, chop the green onions, mince the herbs

adding sautéed green onions to the feta, spinach, herbs, and farina

pour in the beaten eggs

mix it all together



**Jump for more butter**