california hand roll (temaki) hot smoked salmon and asparagus pasta kaweah huckleberry jam


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diversions

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Recipe: california hand roll (temaki)

Despite being the summer high season in Crested Butte, our time here has been pleasantly quiet and peaceful. Colorado mountain towns have long winters and short summers, but boy are those summers exploding with color, activity, beauty at every turn – both in the backcountry and in town proper.


the town of crested butte is simply charming



Our neighborhood is filled with the sounds of people greeting one another in the street while walking or heading out for a bike ride, children laughing and playing, and the jingle of dog tags as pups get their walkies in the fresh mountain air. Several of our wonderful neighbors have told us how sorry they were to hear of Kaweah’s passing. This is – as many mountain communities are – a dog-loving community.

our dear next-door neighbor even sent flowers



Jeremy and I took a few days to visit his folks in Pagosa Springs – a lovely mountain town in the-middle-of-nowhere, southwest Colorado. We got up early one morning for a trail run before everyone else had risen and greeted the sunrise as we paced through scrub oak and sticky mud from the previous day’s thunderstorms. Afterward, we sat on the porch with his parents watching throngs of hummingbirds spar over the hummingbird feeders. The Rufous hummingbirds are especially territorial and aggressive which made the bird watching all the more entertaining. It’s really quite spectacular.

sunrise on the trail

a lone rufous monitors the bird feeder from a nearby branch

then thwarts the attempts of an aggressor

and shows the other guy what’s what



We returned to Crested Butte in time to meet my friend Irvin and his partner who were road tripping through Utah and Colorado this summer. We spent 48 hours giving them a quick sampling of Crested Butte: checking out Mount Crested Butte, dining in Mountaineer Square, coffee and pastries at Camp 4, hiking to a great 360° view in the high country, pizza at Secret Stash, mountain biking, dinner at our place, browsing the farmers market.

a.j. and irvin on our hike

irvin grabs a slice of “the woodward” pizza at secret stash



Our multi-day non-stop schedule kept us rather busy and preoccupied such that we weren’t dwelling too much on the little black dog that was missing from our lives. Of course, we miss her terribly. But when people tell us they are sorry, I thank them and point out that Kaweah lived a very good and happy dog life. On our drive from Pagosa Springs to Crested Butte, I was finally able to verbalize how I felt about my time with Kaweah. She was a gift to us, both literally and figuratively. It was our responsibility to provide the absolute best life to her that we could and we took that task to heart. We were with her to the very end so that she was never alone, afraid, or unloved. Only now do I understand just how much of a gift she really was and will always be until my dying day. This is me finding closure.

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I know that some people consider sushi a summer food because of the raw aspect, but I maintain a year-round love affair with sushi. I crave it after skiing just as much as I crave it after (and during) summer backpacking, and we’re fortunate that Boulder has a lot of decent sushi on offer and Crested Butte has one sushi bar (they used to have two, but my favorite one closed its doors last year). We also make sushi at home. One of my favorites is the California roll – something I never order in restaurants, but often make in my own kitchen. It is a good gateway sushi roll because the crab is cooked. When we prepare California rolls at home, we tend to go for the hand rolls or temaki because they’re quick and easy to make and consume.

wasabi powder, sesame seeds, sriracha, nori (seaweed), sushi rice, masago (capelin roe), cucumber, avocado, mayonnaise, king crab legs

slice the cucumber into strips

stir wasabi powder into mayonnaise to make…

wasabi mayonnaise



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picklish

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Recipe: fried pickles with green goddess aioli

I bid farewell to spring last week with a 17-mile trail run chased by an Andrew Bird concert at the Chautauqua Community House (125 seats and we were *this* close to the stage!) on Thursday. Then my parents made an awesome feast of a Chinese meal for us Friday evening including some of Jeremy’s favorite dishes. The next morning we packed the pup into the car and headed southwest to Crested Butte on the first day of summer. I wanted to catch the early summer wildflowers (which are very different from the mid-summer wildflowers) and well – it’s Jeremy’s happy place.


wonderful things: kaweah, summer solstice, crested butte

wallflowers in bloom

lupine nestled under aspen stands



Being in Crested Butte is also a nice opportunity to change up my trail runs and keep track of which flowers are blooming where. The trails I ran last month are no longer mudslides, but hardpack dirt. As I increase my distances, climbs, and elevations, I’m learning to also manage things like chafing, hot spots, fuel intake, rate of water intake, sun exposure, pacing, what to eat pre- and post run. Next up is filtering water on the trail because we are reaching the limit of what we can carry. I was completely oblivious to these issues at the start. No such thing as a simple run anymore.

green has arrived in the mountains

a quick snappy of purple larkspur with mount crested butte in the distance



One thing I don’t have to worry about as much is my caloric intake. Actually, I *DO* have to watch my caloric intake, but mostly to make sure I get enough calories to balance a 2000 calorie run. Something like that. The point is that I’m not shying away from the occasional fried snack which is why I ventured forth to make these irresistible fried pickles. The first time I had them was at Oak in Boulder, served with a side of green goddess aioli. If you love pickles and fried things, this is the ultimate combination. I suggest making the aioli first, because you’ll want to eat the pickles while they’re fresh and hot.

chives, parsley, dill, mayonnaise, lemon, garlic, salt, pepper, anchovy paste

grate the garlic

chop the herbs



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going green

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Recipe: greek salad

It’s quiet here in Crested Butte, where summer has yet to take hold in the high country. Conventional thinking says Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, but the reality is that it is still mud season in our mountains. Most trails are in the process of drying out while local mountain bikers are chomping at the bit to ride something other than the handful of trails that are “open”. There is no shortage of parking on Elk Avenue, the main drag in town. I’m ambivalent about this time of the year. We want the local businesses to do well, but we also love having the trails to ourselves when the aspens are leafing out in their yellow-green new growth and the early season wildflowers start strutting their stuff.


sunshine, blue skies, spring aspens

glacier lilies in bloom hang like little lanterns

aglow in sunlight



We’re here to de-winterize our place and do the necessary maintenance on things like the yard and the garden. Window screens are going back up and the flannel sheets have been laundered and folded away for the next four months. But we’re not just here for those things. We’ve been trail running, mountain biking, and hiking. In fact, we were tipped off to a gorgeous locals’ trail that climbs into good huckleberry and potentially porcini territory!

jeremy runs through one of several water crossings

me after a trail run: this is what they mean by mud season

crossing the remnants of a spring avalanche

running trails with amazing views

and lots of flowers!



And much to our surprise, Kaweah made it to June. May was stable for our girl, and that’s about all we could ask for. We didn’t think she’d be coming with us to Crested Butte this time, but she made the trip and has absolutely loved lounging about on the soft lawn and smelling the odors on the mountain breezes while we clear out dead flowers from last year. If she lies in the yard for long enough, the birds will land around her, picking up grass cuttings for their nests or kicking the dirt around in search of bugs to eat. It’s been tranquil.

our champion napper



Following one of our trail runs, Jeremy and I made a beeline for The Secret Stash (I wrote about it a while ago) to grab a late lunch. He was all about the pizza, but I was craving a salad in addition to the pizza. In their old (tiny) location, The Stash used to have plated salads and my favorite was the Gringo Greek. Gringo, because it had lettuce. A proper Greek salad doesn’t have lettuce. I love the proper Greek salad too, because it’s full of crunchy, briny, tomatoey ingredients. Making your own at home is so simple, so fresh, and oh so very good.

cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, green pepper, lemon, feta, olive oil, olives, capers, oregano



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