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archive for August 2015

new dog new tricks

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Recipe: huckleberry scones

I can feel summer slowly slipping through my fingers. Summer is the slog that starts to wear on me starting around July 4th. By then, the allergies and heat and mosquitoes have whittled away at me and I find myself counting the days to those crisp cool autumn nights come September. But puppies don’t care if it is summer, winter, spring, or fall. Puppies need to get their beans out. So every morning at 5:30, we wake up and brush our teeth like zombies while Neva munches away at her breakfast (which we call dinner – all meals are called dinner for simplicity), and then we grab for the usual: bag of treats, water dish, plenty of water, leash, poop bags, poop bottle (to put the stinky bags in while we hike), hat, sunglasses, sunblock, something to shove in our mouths as we usher Neva out the door. When you don’t get enough sleep and you wake up before the rest of the world… it just feels shitty. And yet the moment we set foot on the trail, it is forgotten. Until Neva lunges toward a leaf that looked at her funny.


these aspen stands are a sanctuary echoing with bird calls

the sun drops behind mount emmons in the evening

double supping (stand up paddleboarding) while neva is home asleep

puppy loves her hikes

jumping into the lake to cool off



This summer hasn’t been so terrible heat-wise for us in Colorado. We’ve actually had a rainier summer than usual, which should be good for wildflowers – and it was! But the excessive amounts of rain also promote wild grasses which compete with and choke out the wildflowers. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. But it really is good. Maybe the wildflowers weren’t the best for shooting, but we have enjoyed them for miles upon miles of hiking. They line the trails and adorn the hillslopes, dancing in the wind, nodding good-morning, playing host to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. There are a lot of amazing treasures to behold when you walk the mountains and pause to inspect the ground around you.

showy goldeneye and giant hyssop

wild alpine strawberries – tiny, but ten times the flavor of any domestic cousin

orange spindle coral mushroom

a beautiful specimen of a porcini



One morning, Jeremy and I were hiking a quiet trail with the pup when Jeremy had to stop and empty some rocks from his shoes. I continued on with Neva who reluctantly followed me, turning to look back for Jeremy every few feet. When he was about 20 yards away, Neva faced him and pulled the leash in his direction. It was a straight shot and I figured she would run right to him. So I told her to go find Jeremy and let go of the leash. He called to her as she dashed down the trail toward him. And then she darted 90 degrees to the right – straight into the forest. We chased after her, called her, waved treats in the air, but she was after a scent. Most likely it was squirrels, but we had to chase her a good bit off trail before we caught her. For a while there, I thought she was going to run straight to Wyoming. And this is why Neva is never to be let off leash… again. As we headed back toward the trail, we scolded her gently and gave her treats for not running any further until I came across something interesting. A patch of chanterelles.

beautiful little things



I had never foraged chanterelles before, but I knew just enough to realize that these might be those. And they were. We studied them and I emailed a photo to my friend to verify. Who knew? Actually, most of Crested Butte knows. I spoke with several people at various engagements throughout the week who confirmed that the flush was on – and it is a big one this year. Each subsequent day we hiked a different trail and I found chanterelles on every one of them. Jeremy was the one who spied the motherlode. People get excited and even the seasoned foragers can’t help but ask, “Where did you find them?” It’s the seasoned foragers who know the answer already – no one gives up their spots.

it’s a party!

neva lies down among the chanterelles while i harvest



My chanterelle radar is as good as if not better than my porcini radar. I can even smell them from the trail sometimes. So I’ll have plenty of chanterelle recipes for you in the coming weeks. For now though, it’s time to return to my one true love – huckleberries. They aren’t quite ready in the mountains around Crested Butte or back home on the Front Range, but they are getting there slowly. Just in case this year’s crop gets hammered by wacky weather, I’ve got several bags of frozen hucks from last year in reserve. I told Erin I wouldn’t dig into them until I knew for sure I’d be able to forage more this summer. I used frozen huckleberries for these huckleberry scones, but fresh is better if you don’t want super purple scones. As always, you can substitute blueberries for the huckleberries or maybe use raspberries or currants. But nothing beats a huckleberry.

cream, flour, huckleberries, sour cream, sugar, butter, salt, baking soda, baking powder, turbinado sugar, egg



I gave this recipe a try because it uses both sour cream and heavy cream. At my elevation, sour cream tends to give me more reliable results and I’ve had some scones spread too much during baking. But the basic steps are the same – cut the butter into the dry ingredients, add the liquid, fold in the fruit.

pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together

add the frozen butter cubes

pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal

stir in the cream and sour cream



**Jump for more butter**

better than good enough

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Recipe: fried polenta and porcini on roasted carrot purée

We had a busier than usual schedule last week because Jeremy was hosting his astrophysics retreat. This was his third one, but it seemed more harried than usual because of the additional puppy-wrangling. Without going into too much detail, the retreat is an “unconference” that eschews the traditional scientific conference format. It is a small gathering of select (young) experts in astrophysics who come together for 4 days of intense, high-powered brainstorming for the love of science. Running any sort of workshop or conference is exhausting, but for someone like Jeremy – my dearest introvert – it is doubly so. Once he had caught up on sleep and other work, I suggested we spend a relaxing evening under the stars together… with Neva… in a tent.


neva tries out the sleeping bags as the sun goes down



Actually, this was just a continuation of puppy training. The plan is to go backpacking this fall with the pup, but first we need her to get used to being in a tent. When our neighbor’s kids were little, they used to camp in a tent on their deck because the youngest would always get scared before 9 pm and run back into the house. I thought this could work for Neva, too. We could camp on the deck and if she got unruly or upset, we would bail and go inside. But there was no need to abandon ship because she was very sweet and cuddly throughout the night. She probably slept better than either of the humans. I think this backpacking thing just might work.

it’s a loungy puppy life

if we’re going to camp out, we may as well eat outside, too

blue moon rising

ready for zip up and lights out



Jeremy’s astrophysics retreat takes place in Boulder with the exception of one day held at our house in the mountains. My minor contribution is to help host the participants which includes a sit down dinner. Living outside of Boulder, we are accustomed to accommodating the restricted diets of our friends, but I got a stumper in this group: gluten-free vegetarian. In my opinion, gluten-free is pretty easy and vegetarian isn’t terrible, but the combination really whittled down my options. There were two ideals I had to balance: 1) that not serving meat to your guests is rude (per Chinese tradition) and 2) it is unacceptable to serve sub-par food to vegetarians. But I was up for the challenge, particularly because the one guest who was gluten-free vegetarian happens to be a genuinely nice and good person. Luckily, porcini are in season NOW.

here’s a pretty specimen (plus one in the background)

two buddies chilling out off trail



The idea was to serve something that everyone could enjoy and then the omnivores could have some kind of animal added to their dish. I decided to go with fried polenta cakes and pan-seared porcini. It was easy enough to hike up into the mountains to nab some choice mushrooms only because I knew they were flushing and I knew exactly where to look. For some extra color, I thought a nice roasted carrot purée would brighten the plate and lend some sweetness to the dish.

white wine, olive oil, vegetable oil, carrots, polenta, butter, thyme, salt, porcini



I started the day before, as I didn’t want to heat up the house cooking all day before dinner. I made the polenta and then pressed it into a baking dish to cool and solidify. A loaf pan works too if you want to slice your polenta that way. Once the polenta had set (about an hour or so), I popped it into the refrigerator to chill.

stir the polenta into the boiling water

when the polenta is done, stir in a pat of butter

pressed into a baking dish to cool



**Jump for more butter**

49th

Saturday, August 1st, 2015


remembering kris on what would have been her 49th birthday