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archive for December 2014

sugar sugar

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Recipe: vanilla sugar

I’m up to my elbows in butter, sugar, flour, and chocolate. Yes, it’s that time of year again – the cookie frenzy. Thanks to a back muscle spasm over the weekend that kept me from standing or walking, I had to rush getting all of the baked goods and confections out the door in one very long and exhausting day. But they’re done and you can stick a fork in me!


these went to jeremy’s staff



In addition to the cookies, marshmallows, and homemade hot cocoa mix, I included a jar of homemade vanilla sugar. It’s such an easy do-it-yourself project and it makes a great gift with a personal touch. Use vanilla sugar in place of regular sugar for that extra vanilla oomph. Even if you can’t think of a use for it, just open the jar and get a whiff of that floral, sweet, and heady perfume.

you’ll need whole vanilla beans and sugar

slice the bean lengthwise

scrape out all of those beautiful little seeds



**Jump for more butter**

here’s mud in your eye

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Recipe: boozy mississippi bourbon mud pie

Mud is the one thing that can get us down around here. Mud is not snow and it is not firm trail. You can’t ski it, you shouldn’t be riding it (mountain bikes really tear up muddy trails), and it kinda sucks to hike or run it. But we do hike and run in the mud because we try not to let it keep us from getting outside. Plus, the mud around here is more annoying than terrible – we have lots of rocks which makes for firmer ground. It’s nothing like what we’ve encountered in the backcountry of New Zealand. Holy hell. New Zealand mud can swallow you whole. Right now, patches of debris are cropping up along the nordic trails and the parking lot at our local hill is dirt and mud.

But this week, we discovered that not all mud is bad. At least, not mud pie. And by mud pie, I mean Mississippi mud pie. It all started because I wanted to know what a mudslide was. It’s a cocktail more akin to melted ice cream with lots of booze. But thanks to the interwebz, I was immediately diverted to mud pies. What’s a mud pie? My Crested Butte neighbor’s daughter was making mud pies with her friend one rainy day, but that was with real mud. The more I read about mud pies, the more intrigued I became. Then I found this recipe that adds BOURBON and I knew it was my destiny.


the crust: sugar, butter, salt, oreo cookies (without the creme centers)

place the cookies in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb

mix with sugar and salt



You can use chocolate wafer cookies for the crust, but I couldn’t find any and I happened to be passing through Trader Joe’s where there were boxes upon boxes of TJ’s chocolate Joe Joe’s. If you need to make this dessert gluten-free, use the gluten-free TJ’s Joe Joe’s or some other equivalent brand. Nifty. Because I prefer a slightly higher crust-to-filling ratio and because the pie dish I used is deeper than my other dishes, I increased the amount of crust ingredients by 20%. There is no baking involved, just good old melty butter.

stir in the butter

pour the crust into the pie plate

press into the bottom and along the sides



**Jump for more butter**

happy as a clam

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Recipe: linguine with clams

No new snow for nearly two weeks has actually granted me the opportunity to take care of ski stuff that I would normally neglect on powder days. For one thing, we finally took our skis in to have the bindings swapped. A little bird told me that I could bring in a six-pack of craft beer and the ski shop fellas at the local mountaineering store could turn those around for me in a day. So I did. And they did! And they waived a bunch of labor fees too. When someone does you a solid like that, you return a few days later with homemade cookies. We also took care of our skate skis and I convinced my buddy, Erin, to do a nordic ski clinic with me. Even though there’s no new snow, skiing is completely on the brain.


pet the local mountaineering store pup while you’re there

erin and i having fun on the nordic center trails

our instructor showing us how to wax



I lost my photo mojo for a little while there, but that might have been because I was under the weather with a weird 24-hour bug that knocked me off my feet over the weekend. A stunning, colorful sunrise presented itself to the east Monday morning, but I felt so terrible that I just pulled the blinds down and crawled back under the flannel covers. Blarg. Tuesday morning promised to be a repeat of Monday, except that I was filled with pep and energy! I scouted a new location for shooting sunrise and managed to witness a beautiful progression unfold from this vantage point.

so many colors

mesmerizing textures in the sky



Being sick is one thing, but having cotton-brain runs my motivation straight into the ground. My mind floats in a heavy fog of pain or dizziness until I kick whatever it is I’ve got. I can tell when it’s gone because my perpetual mental to do list comes back online. Jeremy can tell when it’s gone because I start saying things like, “Help me make the bed,” or “The pastry brushes belong over there,” or “What would you like for dinner?” One category that consistently delights him is seafood. It is probably my greatest regret about moving to Colorado from the coast. We do have access to good quality seafood, but it’s not the same access as when you live a few miles from the ocean. That and the fact that seafood is a somewhat spendy indulgence here. So the other night, I had a craving for linguine with clam sauce – except I wanted fresh clams.

olive oil, linguine, wine, pepper, butter, garlic, salt, clams, parsley

minced garlic

chopped parsley

prepped



**Jump for more butter**