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archive for September 2014

red

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Recipe: red chile (enchilada) sauce

What a lovely first week of fall! Jeremy drove out to Crested Butte to join me for the weekend. We’re not very good about celebrating our birthdays on time because September is typically a very busy month for both of us. We don’t buy presents for one another, we rarely throw birthday parties, we don’t even exchange cards. So the agreement was that we’d postpone our birthday dinner until we could be together. I took Jeremy to Soupçon, a truly special and exceptional restaurant in the heart of Crested Butte. You’ll hear more about it in a later post. The following evening we hosted several of our wonderful friends/neighbors for a New Mexican feast at our place. And of course, we chased a lot of fall colors both figuratively and literally – it’s the reason I’m here in Crested Butte!


dessert at soupçon

a toast before digging into the feast

goofing off while working

autumn trail run selfie



It’s been a big mix of colors this year which is far far better than anything we had last year (a total dud of a season). Aspens are predominantly golden come autumn, yet I can’t recall seeing so many brilliant stands of reds in the ten years I’ve been shooting fall colors in Colorado. I’m still waiting for a lot of the big stands to come online as they are still green. My hope is that they’ll weather these cold storms and then put on the magic show when Indian Summer returns. Even if the aspens finished tomorrow, I would still be quite pleased with the season we’ve had thus far.

handsome stands

bathed in golden light

canopy

impressive reds

daydreaming

tall and magestic aspens

lake reflection



Fall is also that amazing time of year when New Mexico’s green chiles are harvested and roasted. It’s one of the reasons we decided to host a New Mexican dinner – that and the fact that New Mexican fare is addictively good. We had three current or former New Mexico residents at dinner (Jeremy is the former) who could school us on red and green chile. If you are asked, “Red or green?” in a restaurant in New Mexico, it means “Would you like red or green chile sauce on your order?” You can answer red, green, or Christmas (both). I love green chiles so very much, but I must admit that I am a red girl. I love the red sauce. LOVE IT. I’m always annoyed when I have to buy canned enchilada sauce, because Colorado has a fear of hot enchilada sauce. It’s even a chore finding medium heat sauce. But really, you should just make it yourself because it’s ridiculously easy and – as always – far superior in quality and flavor to what you buy in the store.

red chile powder, salt, garlic, oregano, vegetable oil, onion, beef broth (or water)

minced garlic and diced onion

prepped



**Jump for more butter**

welcome autumn overlords

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Recipe: huckleberry shrub and huck gin fizz cocktail

I love that autumn in the Colorado Rocky Mountains starts on time according to the calendar. Much of the country is still tapering off from summer. When I was growing up in southern Virginia, I was quite put out by fall’s tardiness. It was supposed to arrive on or around my birthday, and yet it was still hot and miserable riding home on the school bus in late September. It’s like waiting for a guest to arrive who is beyond fashionably late. Or perhaps more appropriately it was me wishing summer would get the hint and leave already. Here in the Rockies, I feel that summer is just the right amount of time. I know this isn’t the popular sentiment regarding summer, but I’m good with that. Fall is even shorter than summer despite having two acts. The first act (in my mind) is the fall colors. It is that wondrous period of two to three – and possibly four – weeks when the aspens transition from green to fiery hues and the mountains strut their stuff on the runway. That’s going on right now and how!


mist and clouds, big mountains, golden aspens, and spots of sunlight

how many aspen leaves, i wonder

sunrise on the autumn equinox

sunrise rainbow over the town of crested butte

quintessential colorado fall



The second act involves tree trunks and branches stripped of leaves, winds, and sometimes rain. It’s a good time for trail running in tights, cooking stews and roasting vegetables, and changing to flannel sheets. And then fall ends when it really starts to snow – which we (all of the snow enthusiasts) hope will be as early as possible. I actually like that second act too, despite its visual dreariness, because it means I can stop obsessing about where the wildflowers are blooming and where the aspens are nearing peak and whether the huckleberries are ripe. But I shall still obsess about huckleberries… I periodically open my chest freezer in the basement and run a loving hand across the several bags of frozen huckleberries from this summer’s bounty. Huckleberries rank fairly high on the happiness scale for me. They are up there with Kaweah, Jeremy, the mountains, skiing, sushi. One of my favorite ways to preserve the fruits of summer is to make a shrub – an acidulated beverage made of three ingredients: fruit, sugar, and vinegar.

my number one all-time favoritest berries in the world

huckleberries, sugar, and champagne vinegar

place the berries in a food processor

pulse the blade a few times to chop them up



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the little chill

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Recipe: salmon corn chowder

Life always comes to a head before the fall shoot. There are piles of things to wrap up and it feels like an impossibility that everything in need of getting done before I leave for the shoot will actually get done. But it gets done, somehow. Jeremy is stocked with meals to last him 2-3 weeks and I’ve got my own meals prepped or planned. I finished all of my shoots, cleaned and stored ALL of the huckleberries in the chest freezer, and squared away financial records. The drive to Crested Butte was quick with one stop to shoot some colors for reference. I took mental notes on the state of the aspens for the length of the 200-mile route to send my photog pal the color report. Once here, it was as if I had slammed on the brakes and life came to a halt.


on the way to cottonwood pass

lots of reds and oranges this year

confetti

that lovely kind of afternoon

deep fluffy stands of golden aspen

conifers peeking through the aspen canopy



I like this shift in gears. I spend a lot of time alone with the trees and the trails and the road – thinking about weather, colors, mountains, trees, sky, light. Right now, I’m in scouting mode, but there is a calm that settles over me when I’m scrambling up a slope or gaining a ridge to check out the view’s potential. I’m all in my head, thinking to myself, talking to myself. The colors are building, though still this side of peak colors. Lots of greens juxtaposed with big splashes of vibrant golds, oranges, and reds – the color of fire. It’s been warm and sunny, until this morning when I woke to hear rain tapping away at our metal roof.

from our deck, rainy and misty over the mountain



Overcast and foggy, I’m fine with shooting. Drizzle, that’s tolerable. Steady rain, not so much. The temperature hung at 48°F for much of the day while I worked on the computer. The forecast was for two days of rain, but by afternoon the weather broke and we had blue skies, puffy clouds, and sunshine. I gave it a few hours (to let the trails firm up) and then grabbed my trail runners for a much needed run. You have to grab the opportunity when it comes! This doubled as a trail run and scouting run to see what the leaves are up to.

hello cow

view from the climb

i love running into the aspens



A couple of days of rain is nothing to worry about as the weather should bounce back to Colorado sunshine. The leaves are fine and doing their thing. There may be some snow getting thrown into the mix this coming weekend, which makes things very exciting for both the photographer and the skier in me! But any cool down at the tail end of summer is an excuse to make soup in my book. In my efforts to clean out the refrigerator before hitting the road, I wanted to use up the last few ears of local corn… some sort of corn chowder? Perhaps a salmon corn chowder?

cream, lemon, corn, green onions, celery, white pepper, olive oil, chicken broth, onion, potatoes, dill, salt, coho salmon

removing the pin bones



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