hamachi yellowtail crudo veg head sandwich crested butte: soupçon wild rose petal ice cream


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racing the sun

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Recipe: hamachi yellowtail crudo

We’ve lived in the mountains of Colorado for eleven years now. When we first arrived, a week of truly hot weather was about all one could expect of the summer months. Over the years, those temperatures are trending hotter and sticking around longer in summer. I should note that we are particularly observant of hot weather because WE HATE IT. So it was with great joy that we welcomed the return of the monsoon last week. That stupid high pressure cell that was sitting on top of us (and fanning the flames of that wildfire) shifted east so that moisture from the Gulf of Mexico (south of us) could deliver the goods in the form of rain and thunderstorms.


composite lightning strikes

lightning at sunset

rainbows, the marriage of sun and rain



Oddly, after a few good soaking rains, the clouds have been building up and then fizzling out. We can see rain over neighboring canyons and ridges, but there seems to be a giant sucker hole (blue hole in a sky of clouds) over our neighborhood at any given time. We don’t have air conditioning at our house, so we work hard to cool it at night and keep it as cool as possible during the sun’s march across the sky. Just today, Jeremy and I discussed the logistics of getting an evaporative cooler installed before next summer. It is most efficient in arid climates and it’s much cheaper to run than air conditioning.

For now, we are sucking it up and continuing with our summer schedule of trail runs, hikes, and paddles. The higher you climb, the cooler it is – at least if the atmosphere is adiabatic, which it kind of is (Jeremy says to disregard water vapor). The high country is beautiful right now. Lush, green carpets splattered with colorful wildflowers and lingering snowfields paint these rocky mountains above the dark mantles of conifer forests. We are running farther and climbing higher, racing against the season and racing ourselves. Actually, that’s only half true. Jeremy is racing against himself. I’m not racing anyone. I’m noodling along and stopping to look for mushrooms or checking on the progress of the huckleberries, snapping selfies and photos along the way, shouting hello to Mr. Rabbit so I don’t go startling Ms. Moose. This is why we run separately. But it’s nice when our two routes overlap and we can say hi.


after a steep climb, i wait for jeremy to arrive from the other side of the ridge

off days are meant for hikes with neva

jeremy refuels on the trail during his 17-miler

hiking with erin and banjo

paintbrush come in so many beautiful colors

lunch with a view at king lake



We still have two months of summer remaining, and yet it’s already impossible to do all the things we had hoped to accomplish before the next season moves in. I suppose you could say that just leaves more for next summer. Something I did manage to check off my list was making hamachi (yellowtail) crudo with finger lime pearls. I’ve been waiting until I could order some from Shanley Farms when the season started at the end of June and I finally got some!

radishes, orange oil, togarashi, vegetable oil, orange, flake sea salt, finger limes, hamachi (not pictured: ponzu sauce)



I first heard of finger limes when a friend in Australia asked if I had seen them here in the States. I hadn’t. These were originally discovered growing wild in Australia and have since slowly made their way to the U.S. To open the finger lime, I scored the rind around the middle and broke it open. Rolling the end of one half between my finger tips, the little pearls tumble out of their tight-packed quarters. It’s incredible, really. Each little pearl bursts with the tart juice of a lime when bitten. I figured these would be great with hamachi crudo because I wanted the acidity of the lime without the raw fish cooking on contact as it would with lime juice. Obviously, finger limes aren’t everywhere available (yet), so if you don’t have any, then just use a regular squeeze of lime juice just before serving.

score the rind around the middle and break the finger lime open

roll one end between your fingertips and watch the caviar fall out

completely empty!

pink pearls (sometimes they are other colors like green or yellow)



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you knew it was coming

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Recipe: fried morel mushrooms

Two weeks away from the technical start of summer and the mountains are just beginning to sport their spring green. But what a lovely spring green it is – so brief and yet dazzling like little jewels under the intense spotlight of the high sun. After reading about all manner of “indicators” for black morels in the mountains, I’ve come to the conclusion that it basically means “when spring arrives and things start growing”. Makes sense. I’m seeing tiny pink calypso orchids, pasque flowers (still!), aspen leaves, oregon grape in bloom, false morels (toxic) and on and on and on. It’s wonderful in part because it isn’t terribly hot yet, which means foraging is more bearable when I’m crawling through forest debris. Come chanterelle and porcini seasons, I get a little cranky when the mercury rises.


refreshingly green and blue

pretty little things

a prize find



Back here on the Front Range, the morels in my area are taking their time. I’ve found a few early bolters, but that’s about it. I’ll probably miss the start of the proper flush, but I’m sharing my trail observations with my shroom buddy, Erin, because I want to know how the areas progress while I’m in Crested Butte and because I want her to get some black morels! Meanwhile, Neva is getting lots of running and playtime not associated with foraging morels. She makes it infinitely harder to concentrate on finding mushrooms and then when we do find them, she (like most dogs) will invariably and unwittingly step on at least a couple of them. I think we’re all quite happy to see the progression into spring because we know that summer will arrive like the flick of a switch. Good things happen in the mountains when the days are warm.

neva, orange tennis ball, and a big field of dandelions

sleeping (on the couch) with her tongue out

jeremy admires the view at sunset



I brought about half of my morel haul home to Nederland for recipe testing. The rest of the morels were either consumed in Crested Butte or given to devoted mushroom foragers who had never tasted black morels before. Oddly enough, when I was passing through my local Costco down on the flats, I found black morels for $8 per half pound. That is quite a good deal. I picked up two boxes out of curiosity and to supplement my supply for a morel recipe testing fest over the weekend. The store-bought morels were picked wild in the Pacific Northwest and they had good flavor, but they also came with plenty of small worms who apparently also appreciate the flavor of morels. I hate mushroom worms. Thankfully, my own foraged black morels were worm free and really clean. I used the small ones for this classic recipe of fried morels. Also, I made a half recipe (the recipe below is the full recipe) to conserve my limited supply of morels.

flour, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, milk, egg, morels



There is a wide swath of this country that insists the only way to eat morels is fried. I think morels can be enjoyed in a variety of preparations, but I’m not going to turn my nose up at a fried morel! So I went in search of a good recipe. When it comes to wild mushrooms, I find that Hank Shaw’s blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, is a great resource for solid information and reliable recipes.

i leave the small ones whole

you can see they are hollow inside

a large morel gets the chop chop

hollow inside – this is how you know it’s a morel and not a toxic look alike



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the mountains’ good tidings

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Recipe: black olive tapenade

Amidst the bustle of de-winterizing our house, we realized last week that it had been one year since we brought Neva home (May 23). The day she entered our lives isn’t as big a deal to us as the fact that she’s made so much progress in the past year. Neva is still a lot of work, but the past year’s training is definitely paying off. Most important of all, our girl is a sweet and happy dog.


i made a last minute celebratory snack of beef, egg yolk, and a strawberry

waiting for her release word

it was gone in 2 seconds



De-winterizing actually involves both homes since they are both in the mountains. En route to Crested Butte, we encountered a good bit of snow falling on two of three mountain passes and wondered aloud if we were mistaken in bringing the SUPs (stand up paddle boards) rather than our skis? But alas, winter is ever so slowly passing the baton to spring. I know this because I’ve been watching the signs of spring around the mountains where we live. And I’ve been watching for those signs because I set my mind to finding the elusive black morel mushroom this year – less for the eating and more for the hunt and the mushroom photography.

a black morel



Well, my homework paid off. We took Neva for a short hike to get her beans out and wound up spending 5 hours foraging for black morels after I spotted the first one off the trail. I left plenty behind and still managed a good hundred or so. These are by far the hardest to see compared to porcini or chanterelles. Every dang dead leaf or pine cone looks just like a black morel – and under dappled sunlight it can be even harder to find them. But they are so pretty and alien and magical and weird. It meant a crash course that evening in learning to store, clean, and cook fresh black morels. Cook them thoroughly. Never eat them raw because they will make you sick. Following the advice of several sources, we tasted a few that I had sautéed in butter and waited for any ill effects to follow as some folks react poorly to black morels. The good news is that we are okay eating them. So you might expect to see a few morel recipes in the near future. [I should note that it is important to know how to properly identify a morel and how to tell it apart from several kinds of false morels – which are toxic.]

found you!

little lanterns of the forest

a nice foursome

morels are synonymous with spring

two-fer

my morning haul



Now that I have mushroom fever a few months earlier than usual, I’m going to share a quick and easy recipe for black olive tapenade. That way I have more time to resume planning the next trails to scout out those honeycombed wonders. Until recently, I had only ever had olive tapenade in restaurants when we dined with other friends because Jeremy is not a fan of olives. But he doesn’t like kimchi either and I have a whole jar of that in our refrigerator… It was high time I made some olive tapenade of my own. It’s ridiculous how easy it is to make – like bzzzzzt! and you’re done.

olives, olive oil, lemon (juice), anchovies, garlic, capers, thyme



Since this is a black olive tapenade, use black olives – like Niçoise or Kalamata. Make sure they are pitted or else their trip around the food processor will be a short one (olive pits and food processors are not friends). If you want to add green olives to the mix, be my guest, but then you’ll have to call it an olive tapenade. Chop the herbs and garlic, juice half the lemon and you’re more than halfway there.
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