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archive for June 2019

coming in cool

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

Recipe: strawberry crisp

Summer arrives even if the weather isn’t letting on. Sure, it has stopped snowing, but the temperatures have remained relatively cool and aspens have only recently begun sporting that gorgeous peridot-green. Late-onset summer isn’t such a bad thing in my mind because I dread oppressive heat. But what if winter comes early? What if summer is only two weeks long this year? Sometimes you need to let go of what you can’t control and appreciate what you currently have.


the greening of the forests

getting the pups out for hikes and runs and playtime

the snow is hanging on in the alpine



It’s been an abnormal year with an extremely productive (snow-wise) winter and spring, which had us constantly second-guessing our morel spots. Are we early? Is there such a thing as too much moisture? Did we miss it? Is it a bust or will we see a boom season? Is it so late that the heat will clobber everything? Dutifully, devotedly, we checked, made observations, took notes, discussed. Foraging isn’t about free food (because free is never free, folks). For me, it’s a science and an art. And our diligence has paid off.

little treasure

erin and banjo found a big one



Aside from countless hours spent scrutinizing shadows, dead leaves, and every inch of forest floor for mushrooms, I’m also trying not to neglect my own fitness. Foraging morels is not exercise, it’s prolonged eye-strain. Jeremy and I squeeze trail runs in between hiking and fetch sessions with the pups. Ultimately the goal is to make everyone tired. Seems to be working!

The good news is that Neva has been gradually sticking up for herself when Yuki bullies her, which actually makes their play sessions far more equal and fun for both of them. Their dynamic is shifting and they are getting along better each day. I wasn’t sure we’d ever get here, but here we are. It’s wonderful.


cuddle buddies: tired dogs are good dogs



Strawberries are abundant once again in markets and I start thinking of vodka infusions, jams, syrups, pastries, ice creams, and straight up fresh, juicy berries. But what about something quick and irresistible and great for sharing at parties? Fruit crisps make great, easy desserts to serve guests or to bring to potlucks. I think of them as lazy pies with fiber. But I rarely ever see strawberry crisps – it’s usually peach, apple, blueberry, pear.

filling: strawberries, vanilla, cornstarch, sugar

topping: rolled oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar



**Jump for more butter**

no complaints

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Recipe: morel-stuffed chicken fried steak

I have entered summer mode even though the atmosphere was several steps behind me for the last few weeks. School is out. People are on vacation. No one answers emails (apparently) and I’m letting the blog cool her heels with a reduced posting schedule of twice a month. I encourage you to get off the computer and mobile devices and engage with a carbon-based world.

Can you believe it kept snowing until last week? Snow in May happens all the time in the mountains, but a winter storm warning for the entire state in late May had all the skiers skiing and all the fair-weather folk losing their goddamned minds. That is springtime in the Rockies. We don’t fight the weather in the mountains, we live with it and enjoy it as much as we can. Some don’t have a choice like the moose who are looking for forage or the hummingbirds who arrived and can’t find flowers.


instead of hiking, we were still skiing

a young moose passing through and making the most of our wild currant bushes

aspens waiting to bud as soon as it warms up



These past few days have actually been springlike, just in time for true summer. The prolonged cold gave us a grace period to transition into summer living – installing a new screen door, tidying the garden in Crested Butte, swapping winter and summer tires, more spring cleaning (we should just agree to call it eternal cleaning, because that’s what it is). Windows are open and fresh mountain air circulates the house. Yuki and Neva receive scoldings from local hummingbirds for standing too close to their feeder. And despite being three weeks late, the flowers are coming and so are the mushrooms.

glacier lily

yuki and neva enjoy the last day of flannel sheets

i have been waiting for this (fun) guy to make an entrance



If there is one thing I eagerly await in spring, it is the arrival of our mountain morels. You must understand my anticipation is not solely stoked by the prospect of finding black morels. It is the whole experience of walking ground that hasn’t been uncovered since last October and witnessing the green blades and buds emerge, hearing birds converse through the leafless forest, smelling the earthy odor as mats of dead leaves drenched in snow melt warm under a high sun. Life. Death. And all of the rest. All at ground level and intimately so, because that’s what morels demand. Think like a morel.

I try to strike a balance between consuming the fresh morels now versus processing them and freezing for later. Jeremy’s favorite morel preparation is basically sautéed morels with steak. It’s easy, delicious, and involves a hunk of meat with good wine. I turned that concept on its ear and came up with something a little less easy, but just as delicious. How does morel-stuffed chicken fried steak sound? It’s like regular chicken fried steak but with a surprise! I break it down into three steps. First, we cook the morels.


morels, bourbon, shallots, butter, salt

chop the morels

minced shallots, diced morels

sauté the shallots in butter, then add the morels

pour the bourbon in when the morel liquid has simmered away



**Jump for more butter**