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archive for April 2015

100 days

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Recipe: strawberry brown butter tarts

We were at the intersection of ALL THE GOOD THINGS this past weekend. It snowed 2 feet at our house which meant: 1) BIG DUMP SNOW DAY! and 2) hours of shoveling dense spring snow. Jeremy says it combats what our friend calls “professor arms”. But the whole reason for shoveling is so you can get to work or… go backcountry skiing! It’s like a warm up before you exercise some more. Plus, it justifies a little indulgence later on.


like this adorable tart



I logged my 100th day on skis this season over the weekend. Considering the paltry snowfall during our prime ski months, I’d say that’s not too shabby. It wasn’t my main goal to become a triple digit girl, just to keep active and fit through the winter. And to get outside often. It has been good for my body and mind, but most of all it has been excellent for my soul.

shoveling out from 2 feet, but it was worth it

jeremy breaks trail in the high country

an hour before sunset

sunday ski with banjo (and erin)

perfect weather, great snow, excellent friends



What I loved about our weekend storm was how it stayed cool and lightly stormy for several days after the 2 feet fell. That helps to solidify the snowpack so it will stick around longer, ski longer, water the mountains longer. It also makes for cozy evenings with warm blankets and Kevin Spacey. This weather is conducive for baking, too.

While recently digging through old photo archives, I came across a series of wildflower photographs from Big Sur about four years ago. Flowers flowers flowers and then – a strawberry tart. Actually, it was a strawberry brown butter tart from the Big Sur Bakery and it was the most heavenly pastry I had tasted in a long time. I think everyone needs a strawberry brown butter tart in their lives. This one starts with a flaky, buttery crust.


flour, salt, sugar, lemon juice, butter, ice water

place the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor

pulse until the butter is the size of small peas

combine lemon juice and ice water

add liquid until the dough is just combined

wrap and refrigerate



**Jump for more butter**

back to soup weather

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Recipe: roasted tomato soup

“Did you finish your taxes?”

I blinked at the nice fellow on the other side of the post office counter as I handed him my yellow pick-up slip. Oh, it’s tax day! Yes, yes we finished those several weeks ago. We smiled at one another and eventually wrapped up the small talk with thank yous and have-a-nice-days. My mind was elsewhere because I had a list of things to get done before our neighbors came over for dinner. Every April, they are bustling with activity doing proper house maintenance on the exterior (something we ought to do, but tell ourselves that we can wait until May when the weather is more reliable), tidying up the yard, packing gear and equipment to take to Canada for the next 6 months where they will run their wilderness camp. And every April, we tell them, “We need to have you over for dinner before you take off!”


we started with some appetizers



These excellent people are the best kind of neighbors: friendly, generous, considerate, fun, reliable, kind, genuine. Instead of our usual quick conversations in the driveway as we’re coming and going, we could relax and enjoy a few hours together over good food and wine. We miss them in summer, when our neck of the woods is at its greatest splendor. “Walk home safely!” I joked after them as they stepped into the night. The snow was just getting started after several warm and sunny days, materializing out of the darkness as it fell into our porch light’s sphere of illumination.

flowering trees on the flats just a few days ago

and now, proper snow



I’ve learned to contain my excitement about the snow until it’s here, on the ground, and accumulating. The skis are ready, but we must be patient and wait for the base to rebuild. It might be a few hours. It might have to be tomorrow. In the meantime, we opt for hot soup over a fresh salad while the world outside turns silent and white. Soup. I love all manner of soup. Digging deep into my childhood, tomato soup was the default on those rare snow days in Virginia. Of course, it came out of a can with a red and white label. It only took me a few decades to realize the beauty of making my own tomato soup, and then a few more years to discover the flavorful roasted version. It’s easy. I’ll show you.

olive oil, pepper, chicken broth, red pepper flakes, garlic, thyme, tomatoes (not pictured: salt)

chop the herbs, pick out the garlic cloves

halve the tomatoes

wrap the unpeeled garlic in foil



**Jump for more butter**

while you can

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Recipe: chocolate hazelnut sandies

This past weekend was closing weekend for our local ski hill. We considered the mobs of people trying to squeeze in one last ski day of the season and decided to head in the opposite direction. Backcountry skiing is more effort than resort skiing. In essence, you are your own ski lift. But the rewards are many and include fresh tracks, solitude, spectacular views, and a great workout. The snow is skiing the way it typically does in early May, so unless we get some promising storms, our ski days are numbered.


skinning up

pausing to admire our backyard

whoop whoop!

skiing out



I’m actually okay with the ski season coming to an end – I mean, my big toenail is okay with ski season coming to an end. I injured it in late January on a ski tour and it has since turned dark purple, doing those things that tell you it is going to fall off in 6 or 9 months. The plan is to ski as long as there is snow and just ignore any pain. So far, so good!

Now on to the recipe. As a rule, when I blog a recipe, I try to have double the amount of impossible-to-get-in-my-mountain-town ingredients needed in case something tanks. I’m happy to say that the backup ingredients are rarely (but not never!) required, which leaves me with extra ingredients. Sometimes they get incorporated into our meals, sometimes they get bumped to the next recipe. Other times, they spark new ideas – like these chocolate hazelnut sandies. It’s a pecan sandie, but chocolate with a different nut!


toasted hazelnuts, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, butter, flour, vanilla extract, hazelnut liqueur

mix the cocoa powder and flour together

chop the hazelnuts into a coarse grind

ground hazelnuts, flour-cocoa mixture, powdered sugar



**Jump for more butter**