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archive for April 2014

tastes like purple

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Recipe: violet syrup (and soda)

There’s a slow-moving storm with its haunches resting squarely on Colorado right now. It doesn’t feel much like a spring storm, but more like the storms of winter – cold, very windy, and horizontal snow. I’m hoping some of it sticks in the high country because everything around my house seems to be in a rush to get to Kansas. Right before the snow and winds arrived, the weather was pleasantly sunny and I heard the first hummingbirds of the season zipping around in the yard. I knew this storm would keep Kaweah inside for most of the coming week, so I let her lounge about on the deck more than usual while it was nice out.


her blanket to keep the chill at bay and the grill (her favorite) nearby for company



Just over a week ago I was riding the trails on the flats with Wendy, dropping our bikes to check out asparagus sites and crawling about in the bushes so I could learn more edible plants. The plums were in bloom and the apple blossoms were just starting to bud. It was hot under the sun which Wendy and I both dislike, but the plants apparently love.

plum blossoms on a bluebird day

happy buzzy bee



At one point, we walked our bikes into a little shady corner of the woods where Wendy stopped and turned to me. “Okay, what do you smell?” she grinned. I took a deep breath and parsed the scents on the air. Lots of green and wood and… “Purple! I smell purple!” It’s what I had been wanting to forage since last year and Wendy promised this season that she would lead me to some. Her eyes lit up and then she gazed down where violets (Viola sp.) daintily dotted the leafy mats at our feet.

green and purple

we gathered a half cup in a few minutes



Now, when I say purple, I really mean that the scent of violets is like a sophisticated floral grape flavor. In fact, the smell of violets is so dreamy and soothing that just opening the container and breathing in the perfume is an addiction of which we are both guilty. Violets tend to bloom in spring. According to Wendy, our violet season is a few weeks into spring proper. There are white violets too. They won’t turn things purple, but they do have the flavor and scent of their purple brethren. If you want to forage violets, here are a few things to note:

1) AFRICAN VIOLETS ARE NOT THE SAME AS VIOLETS. AFRICAN VIOLETS ARE NOT EDIBLE. So just… don’t do that.
2) Make sure the violets you forage are in an area that is not sprayed with chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, whatnot). If you don’t know, then don’t pick.
3) Your best bet is to forage for violets on a sunny day after the violets have had time to open up in the morning under the sun. Mid to late morning is a good bet.
4) Pick the blossoms that are fully open as they have the best flavor and odor. Leave the closed buds to open later.
5) Place the violets in a hard-sided container with a lid. This prevents crushing the delicate flowers. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 or 5 days, although using them right away is best.


all the pretty

and a white one for contrast



**Jump for more butter**

this is your brain on woohoo!

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Recipe: chocolate caramel ice cream

If you are looking for a great all-body workout, backcountry skiing may be your answer. It is one of my favorite activities in spring when the winds are a little less antagonistic than in winter, the temperatures are comfortable enough that your pack isn’t bursting with tons of high-loft layers, and the snow feels good when you sit in it. Unlike resort skiing, in backcountry skiing YOU ARE THE SKI LIFT. That means you earn your turns and then some. But the solitude and beauty of our beautiful mountains are worth it. Jeremy and I skin up for hours, talking with one another, sometimes just listening to all of the different bird calls, inhaling that glorious forest smell, and noting any natural slides on the high peaks. We usually break for a late snack at the high point. That’s where we rip (climbing) skins, get some turns, and then ski back (which is super fast!).


gearing up in the parking lot

this frozen alpine lake has lots of beautiful wildflowers in summer

jeremy admires the indian peaks as he skins up

bacon in the backcountry – does it get much better than this?!

hoofing it to take a few more laps



It’s like hiking, but on skis and in the snow. Backcountry skiing is a lot more exertion than hiking, but I just love it so much. We bring snacks with us – nothing heavy. Neither of us likes to eat much food while skinning up – just enough to keep the stomach from getting gurgly and grumpy. Typically we’ll devour half of our snacks in the car on the drive home. As soon as we get home we somehow manage to simultaneously address the dog’s pee/poop clock, unpack our gear to dry, and cobble together a meal that is supposed to make up for the three we haven’t eaten yet. But this time, there was homemade ice cream in the freezer for dessert. Jeremy was excited for the new experimental flavor because it combines two of his favorites: chocolate and caramel.

chocolate, vanilla, milk, cream (divided), eggs, sugar (divided), flake sea salt

chop the chocolate

heat cream and sugar in separate pans



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grills and thrills

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Recipe: honey barbecued chicken

How awesome is it to ski tour the Rocky Mountain high country one day, trail run in slush and mud the next day, and bike through lush shady trails the day after that? VERY. It is that magical time when you can take your pick of outdoor fun based on elevation and your choices don’t involve five different kinds of skiing (although there’s nothing wrong with that either). Last week was my first real trail run of the season that wasn’t entirely on snow and it felt good… and bad… but mostly good! I guess all of that winter skiing has paid off. MY QUADS ARE TREE TRUNKS, PEOPLE! I hope your weekend was as awesome as mine.


the view from my trail run

a dazzling sunset

bike foraging on the plains with my pal wendy

letting kaweah soak up some sun before her bath

homemade temaki (hand roll) for dinner



I haven’t said much about Kaweah lately because she’s been in a pattern of declining health for a week, then holding steady for 2-3 weeks, then repeating the cycle. We keep thinking her time is near and then she bounces back to a slightly lower level of health, but stable. She wobbles and stumbles and trips over her own feet all the time now. She can’t stand upright for more than a few minutes before her hind legs give out into a tangle under her. We have to hold her up when she potties lest she fall into her own puddles or poopies. But she’s the cutest, sweetest girl in the world and we love her so much. She’s still happy, obsessed with food, keen to sniff all the smells outside. We love on her, sing to her, talk to her, rub her belly and ears, give her massages, scratch the itchy hard-to-reach places, feed her all manner of goodies, and try our best to keep her safe and comfortable. It’s been a good week for her, and that’s all we can ask for at this point.

cuddling with the clean puppy sunday morning



Jeremy and I spend a good deal of time outside throughout the year such that we are tuned into the finer fluctuations in our weather. That means seasonal shifts are enormous changes to our routines. It rained on Saturday for hours and hours – the first substantial non-frozen precipitation we’ve had this year. Ski helmets were swapped for bike helmets and the heavy winter jackets that lined our mudroom walls have been replaced with lighter waterproof spring gear. And even though we grill year round, there is something about warmer weather that makes one crave barbecue. It just puts you in the mood. So let’s get some chicken on the grill!

chicken quarters, olive oil, kosher salt, brown sugar, chili powder, black pepper, paprika, chipotle powder, thyme, garlic

mince the garlic and chop the thyme

pour the olive oil into the spices



**Jump for more butter**