Happy New Year! It’s January first and I already feel as if we’ve accomplished something wonderful over here in our snowy little corner of the world. As many of you know, Neva is on a leash outside of the house 99% of the time unless she is fetching her orange tennis ball. Most of the dogs we meet are roaming free because the dogs are reliable on voice command or because their owners are irresponsible jerks (this is the truth). Off-leash dogs get lots of exercise because they can run and explore and cover so much more distance than their people do. But our sweet Neva has a nose that overrides all brain functionality and she will bolt after the first thing she smells – which is pretty much anything – and follow it until she is lost, hit by a car or snow mobile, or trampled by a moose. We keep her on leash for her safety, because we love her. And because we love her, we want her to get outside for the exercise she needs and enjoys.
In summer, Jeremy will trail run with Neva in addition to the fetch sessions, swim sessions, and long hikes. In winter, we would take her on short walks, ski tour, or backcountry ski with her. All of those are sloooow for a little rocket like Neva (except when we ski downhill). I mean, she’s all legs! But last week, Jeremy and I gave her a trial run on a skate ski. Skate skiing is fast. It’s like the trail running of winter. Here in Crested Butte, we have groomed Nordic trails right out of our neighborhood that are dog-friendly. Some of the trails in the Crested Butte Nordic trail system are also designated as dog-friendly, allowing ski pups access to miles of running with their ski person, as long as the pup has a Nordic pass. It costs $40 for the season for each dog, but it’s incredibly nice of CB Nordic to accommodate dog owners as our other Nordic center prohibits dogs, period. The reason we test drove Neva on our neighborhood trails was to determine if we wanted to spring for a dog pass. Why waste $40 if she’s a nightmare and can’t have fun?
neva on her first skate ski
First, Neva LOVED it. Second, Jeremy wasn’t dragged to his death. Third, Jeremy worked out a system with her leash, harness, and no poles. Neva can run even faster than on summer trails because Jeremy skate skis faster than he runs. And while she’s full speed ahead for the first few miles, she gets into a nice groove and eventually gallops along happily. We decided to pull the trigger and get her a pass, taking her out to our favorite stretch of trail – Mike’s Mile, up the Slate River Valley – which is simply beautiful and serene and fast!
neva sports her doggy nordic pass
We do try to mix things up for us and for Neva. On New Year’s Eve morning, we took her on an uphill ski on the mountain (yes, we’re trying to train her to do that, too). She basically pulled, cried, and whined at every skier, snow mobile, ski patrol, lift chair, or leaf blowing by. But she had a blast on the way down because Neva likes to run FAST.
at the top of our uphill ski – neva promptly destroyed the headband after this photo
new year’s eve fireworks and torchlight parade on the mountain (neva safely at home)
This morning we lay in bed debating what to do – ski uphill, telemark on the mountain, or skate ski? With snow in the forecast all week, this was probably our last opportunity to skate for several days, so we roped up the little doggy and headed for the Nordic trails. We never thought it would be possible to skate with Neva on leash, but she’s good about not crossing the skis and she isn’t trying to run away from them either (she is scared of our fat skis on the mountain). The other nice thing about skate skiing with Neva is that these skis don’t have metal edges, so there’s far less danger of cutting her. The things we do for our pup… but she’s so worth it.
New year, fresh starts. I wasn’t going to post some crazy butter-rich dish the first day of the new year. No, I’m sharing something easy, healthy, and delicious because everyone needs to eat their vegetables. Beets are one of those vegetables that I can never get enough of – they taste like corn with the texture of carrots and they are good for you. Save the greens for a nice sauté! Turn your fingers bright pink for days! Pickle the beetroot for a most delightful snack or the starring role in a salad. Yes, please!
cider vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, dry mustard, beets
roast the beets in foil
Pickled beets are one of those food items I loved to eat, but never considered buying until I saw those pretty jars of MM Local pickled beets lining the shelves of my grocery store. That didn’t make me want to buy them, but it did make me want to pickle some of my own. It’s so easy I could punch myself for not doing this since the beginning of time.
adding cider vinegar to the mustard and sugar
whisking in the olive oil
season with salt and pepper to taste
You can roast or boil the beets – I prefer roasting – then whip up the dressing, and combine them in a jar. How you slice your beets is a matter of personal taste. I like mine chunky, but thick slices, batons, or whatever floats your boat are all fair game. Toss the beets with the dressing and allow them to sit for at least 30 minutes on the counter. I like to let mine hang out in the refrigerator for at least a day after the counter time.
peel and slice the beets
place the beets and the dressing in a jar and give it a shake
sit for 30 minutes at room temperature
voilà, pickled beets
Pickled beets are so satisfying to eat straight up. I’m a bit of a sucker for pickles in general. They also add a more substantive dimension to salads without making them too heavy. My favorite combination involves beets, greens, chèvre, toasted hazelnuts, orange, and a citrus vinaigrette. Who doesn’t love a fresh start to the year? This is one way to do it.
a favorite salad
the pickled beets are the main attraction
don’t miss a beet
4 or 5 beets
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste
If the beets have their greens attached, cut them off close to the top of the beet (but don’t throw them out – they are great sautéed). Scrub the beets clean.
Method 1: boil the beets: Place the beets in a medium saucepan and fill with water to an inch above the beets. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 35-40 minutes until the beets are fork tender. Drain the beets and rinse with cold water.
Method 2: roast the beets: Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub the beets with a little olive oil or vegetable oil. Wrap the beets in a foil envelope and roast for an hour. Remove from oven and let cool.
Pickle the beets: Peel the beets and slice them into quarters, thick slices, or batons. In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk the cider vinegar, sugar, olive oil, and dry mustard together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place the beets in a jar. Pour the dressing into the jar. Seal and shake to coat the beets. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.
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