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archive for March 2016

happy birthday, neva

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Recipe: doggy birthday cake

This weekend, we celebrated Neva’s first birthday! Can you believe it? She’s now one year old. Such a big girl compared to that silly little puppy pup she once was. Neva has learned so much since we brought her into our home. She still has a lot more to learn, but we’re so proud of how far she’s come.


the little munchkin seeing snow for the first time



Neva has had a lot of time on snow in the ten months we’ve had her, and every single time she acts like it is the very best thing ever. How could I not love this girl? I guess this is why I love dogs in general – they have this undying genuine enthusiasm for living. Jeremy and I decided that we’d take Neva on a nice backcountry ski for her special day. She got lots of snacks on the way up and tons of running on the way down.

neva wagged the whole way up

waiting patiently for more treats

skiing out with a view east toward the flats (great plains)

sufficiently tuckered out that she had fallen asleep on the ski boots



After all of that exercise, we made sure Neva replenished those calories lost and then some. She partook of some raw beef (her favorite) and sampled a couple of strawberries (she likes those) and she had cake. Yes! She had birthday cake! I had done some quick research a few days earlier to make a nice dog-friendly cake for our puppity pup. It is mildly sweet (from applesauce and banana) and tastes like a bland, fluffy quick bread to us humans, but Neva LOVES it! Of course, Neva is a lab, so she loves pretty much anything. The recipe is simple and quick. The best part is that it is pretty well-behaved even at my elevation. Winner.

cream cheese, baking powder, egg, peanut butter, whole wheat flour, coconut oil, applesauce, banana



**Jump for more butter**

hot potato

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Recipe: chateau potatoes

Today happens to be National Puppy Day, which is great because I love puppies – especially when I don’t have to train them! Neva continues to require training, but she’s much more of a big dog than the little munchkin she once was. Her puppiness still bubbles forth when she meets new dogs and people, because she’s young and because she can’t help herself. For the most part, though, she has turned into a pretty good pup (PGP). Looking back at her early pictures, I am amazed at what a chunky little chunkster she was!


the day after we brought her home (8 weeks old)



We missed another storm while wrapping things up in Crested Butte. The weather can be tricksy like that. Back home in Nederland, they’re getting more powder days than non-powder days. Here in Crested Butte, we got shafted once again with nary a 2-inch delivery of snow overnight while 6 miles away (as the crow flies), Lake Irwin is reporting 2 FEET of blower powder. I shall stop complaining. We have had VERY good powder days this year and will no doubt sample a few more before the season ends. I’ll just repeat that over and over again… *twitch*

the joy of powder



Last week (on a non-powder day), Jeremy and I got a lesson from our friend on firearms. He actually came over the day before with charts, graphs, diagrams, and his unloaded pistols to explain how everything works. The following morning, we went to the shooting range for some hands-on practice. I am not a gun person. The only gun I’ve ever fired was a plastic squirt gun. Guns scare the hell out of me and always have, but I thought it was high time I at least educated myself on what these were about. It was a very good learning experience and we are fortunate to have had a knowledgeable, thorough, safety-minded teacher. And you know what? I’m still not a gun person, but now my fear of guns is rooted in fact rather than the unknown. However, I did enjoy the target practice, as did Jeremy. After we got home, we began thinking about trying winter biathlon: a combination of skate skiing (woohoo!) AND marksmanship with a low-powered rifle. That and archery. It’s always good to learn how to do things.

at the range



While some of you will be celebrating Easter this Sunday, we will be celebrating Neva’s first birthday! I have yet to figure out a menu for the pup pup, but I’m pretty sure it will involve beef. Since we don’t do Easter in this house, our Sunday dinner will probably be some form of cleaning out the freezer. Oh, but if you are looking for a nice side dish for holidays, Sundays, or special dinners, I want to share this lovely potato recipe with you.

baby yukon gold potatoes, italian (flat-leaf) parsley, butter, salt, pepper



When I made chateaubriand, the recipe included a mini recipe for chateau potatoes. I had never heard of chateau potatoes, but they sounded good and looked easy enough. Good and easy – always a great combination. Emeril tournĂ©s his potatoes (it’s a seven-sided football cut with truncated ends), but I find that to be annoying and wasteful in a home kitchen (well, in MY home kitchen). I have used both baby potatoes and regular (adult?) potatoes with great results. The baby potatoes can be a pain to peel because of the greater surface area of potato skin to potato volume and the difficulty in manipulating such a small object, but they look fantastic when served. Regular potatoes work just fine as long as you cut them into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

peeling the itty bitty potatoes

all peeled



**Jump for more butter**

friends with kids

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Recipe: pralines and cream ice cream

It may be spring, but snow is back in the forecast! We’re pretty psyched about this because last week our home in the Front Range got about… 40 inches of snow. We stuck it out in Crested Butte though, because we had a prior obligation, and because there are plenty of things to do here if there isn’t any powder. Although powder really is the very best thing you can ski. We took Neva uphill skiing on the mountain again and she was actually better behaved than the first time and we all had a lot of fun skiing down.


crested butte had some colorful sunsets

and it was a little windy (neva’s ears were both straight up before this snap)

this is neva having a ball



We are just now wrapping up a weekend hosting some of my dear friends (since elementary school and junior high) and their families in Crested Butte for a ski vacation. Despite the lack of fresh powder, they all enjoyed the mountain, the town, and the scenery. There were kids, too. A baby, a tweener, and a teen. I don’t really hang out with kids too much because I don’t have any by choice, but I like playing auntie. I always marvel at what incredible parents all of my friends are because my friends are incredible people. Aside from happy talk, funny faces, and bouncing babies around, I am at a loss with kids younger than 2 years. But I chuckled to myself watching the tweener and teen – two sisters – interact on the slopes, the lifts, and at our house. They are normal sisters who have their spats and know how to push buttons, but also love each other and are friends. These are good, sweet girls. I hope they recognize what an important bond they share. I know that’s hard to do when you’re that age, but a sister is one of the best things in the world.

the baby was fascinated with the lights

super sweet sisters



Even though there are plenty of great restaurants in Crested Butte for dining out, I felt the privacy and quiet of our house would be nice for a couple of dinners. I kept things simple so that I could spend quality time with my friends. For dessert, I served a couple of homemade ice creams and brownies. I think of homemade ice cream as the easiest dessert because you can make it ahead of time, you can make multiple flavors, and people can have as much or as little or as many kinds as they want. Because it is so versatile, I like to collect a variety of ice cream recipes to draw from throughout the year. I recently tried making a batch of my mom’s favorite flavor, which was also my grandma’s favorite flavor. You know those bank security questions? If there was a question that asked, “What is your mother’s favorite ice cream flavor?” the answer would be: pralines and cream.

eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean, salt, pralines (not pictured: vanilla extract)



A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for homemade pralines. They’re pretty easy to make, but if you aren’t in the candy-making mood, you can just as easily use purchased pralines. My method is straightforward: make vanilla ice cream (our favorite recipe comes from David Lebovitz) and stir chopped pralines into the freshly churned batch. Commercial varieties of pralines and cream all seem to have a ribbon of caramel swirled into the ice cream alongside the pralines. You can stir that into the ice cream with the pralines, but I just felt that sometimes it’s possible to have too much sugar.

heat milk, cream, salt, and sugar

steep a vanilla bean and the seeds in the warmed milk mixture

roughly chop the pralines



**Jump for more butter**