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a bear walks into a (sushi) bar

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Recipe: salmon poke

We rounded a corner this past week – hiking and running more days than skiing. I washed the late season mud off our nordic ski boots and packed up all but our backcountry telemark boots to store in the basement until October. Instead of four ski bins in the great room, we now have four bins for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, plus one holdout for backcountry skiing – at least for another week! Spring is dawdling. Rain and snow flirt in the high country and we expect another week of cool, wet weather around here, which means a few more days before I can swap out our flannel sheets for something cooler. Chilly mornings still require snuggy sheets.


morning reflections

scoping out the trails without skis *sniffle*

dashing through icy cold snowmelt streams



I used to regard shoulder season as a time of outdoor exercise limbo, but this season I’m embracing the coolish weather, squishy mud, and sporadic snow patches on the trails. It’s a good time for me to build up to higher mileage in what I consider comfortable temperatures. This way, I also scope out plants in bloom around my neck of the woods. To start trail running for the season when it’s already hot means there are two hurdles to deal with: the heat and trail running.

sunny and cool trail runs are just fine by me

so many pasque flowers in bloom!

neva perfects her jump-catch



Winter is good for me, I think, because it allows me to focus on snow and being a somewhat normal person. Summer is officially Crazy Time because so many wonderful mushrooms grow where I run or hike or bike – one can’t help but notice them and maybe forage a few and probably obsess over finding more because that’s the addictive property of wild mushrooms. But you all know that my true love is the tiny purple huckleberry. Erin and I have spent a few lazy winter days pondering where a good patch might be based on satellite imagery and our knowledge of the mountain trails and what our local huckleberries like. As the mountains shed their snowy mantles, we make note of healthy huckleberry plants and when they flower and when those flowers become green peas that will hopefully emerge as ripe huckleberries.

I make tons of sweet recipes with huckleberries – that’s easy to do as they play nicely with sugar, butter, flour, cream, and eggs. I’m exploring more savory recipes now that I have enough huckleberries in my freezer and I’m feeling comfortable with what the berry can and cannot do in a dish. Earlier this month I decided to make salmon poke, the salmon version of the more popular and ubiquitous tuna poke, but I didn’t want it to taste like tuna poke with salmon swapped in for the tuna. What I eventually came up with blends a little bit of Japanese cuisine with Hawaiian cuisine with the Pacific Northwest: salmon poke with huckleberries.


avocado, green onions, soy sauce, furikake, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, huckleberries, tempura crunch, salmon, sesame seeds, lemons



Think the combination of salmon and huckleberries will taste odd? Let me point out that salmon run where the huckleberries grow in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and that both foods are favorites of the locals – the bears. (If I were a bear, I would eat salmon and huckleberries and huckleberries and salmon all dang day.) When choosing a dressing for my poke recipe, I didn’t want the typical sesame oil in the mix because I feel it can and does overpower both the salmon and the huckleberries. Instead, I opted for ponzu sauce – a combination of soy sauce, lemon juice, and rice vinegar. I like that the lemon works especially well with the salmon and the hucks. You can purchase ponzu sauce from an Asian grocery store, but I find it’s pretty easy and tastier to make your own at home. If you are gluten-free, then definitely make your own ponzu sauce at home – just use tamari instead of soy sauce.

pouring rice vinegar and lemon juice into the soy sauce



A note about the salmon. You really do need to use sashimi-grade salmon in this recipe. Sashimi-grade means that the fish has been frozen down to -20°C/-4°F for at least seven days to kill off any parasites that might exist in the fish flesh. Salmon is particularly prone to parasites. While I always purchase wild salmon, in this instance my fish monger only had farmed Norwegian sashimi-grade salmon, so that’s what I bought. Creamy avocado is a no brainer for salmon poke, but I keep it separate from the actual poke because it puts a green film on everything when mixed in with the other ingredients. If you don’t care, then by all means, mix it in. My preference is to serve the poke on a bed of the avocado to preserve the aesthetics.

dice the salmon

avocado at the ready



**Jump for more butter**

the way we may

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

Recipe: soft-shell crab spider roll

It’s already May. Jeremy sweetly remembers to wish me a happy “I’m Glad I Met You” Day the first of every month and it always brings a smile to my face. But the first of May tugs at this place deep in my chest because I can’t help but count how many years it has been since my sister passed away. Twelve. It’s been twelve years. And I wondered if I should bother posting a photo of the flowers I buy for her on this day. Does anyone care? I don’t talk about Kris much with anyone anymore except for Jeremy and my mom. My emotions will catch me off guard sometimes – triggered by a story, a song, a photograph, a memory. It doesn’t matter if anyone else cares. I still care. I still miss her. These flowers are for Kris, but they are really for me. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it. I guess I don’t feel that I have to.


for kris, for me



Spring sprouts forth down yonder in Boulder – a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors on the ground and in the trees. I feel as if I’m emerging from that long slumber filled with dreams painted in whites, greys, and shadows. All signs point to GO. The anticipation for summer is high at our house, because we have big adventures planned for the little pup. I’ve got a few pages in my pocket notebook filled with the names of mountains and trails… places to take Neva on hikes, trail runs, and backpacks. We are excited and I think she might be, too, even if she doesn’t know it yet.

double plum blossoms

our new backpacking tent is neva-approved



But winter isn’t letting go in the mountains. The recent storms of April have been slow-moving, leaving some good snow in their wake. Every week we have gotten at least one if not three storms passing through the neighborhood. This is what February should have been, but the difference is that we have less wind in the springtime, so our backcountry is currently skiing like silk. I am thrilled. Jeremy is thrilled (sort of – he’s also impatient to resume trail running). Neva is over the moon.

we know better than to put our skis away before june

jeremy carves a sinusoid in the fresh snow

well that was super fun



There’s more snow on tap for Mother’s Day weekend, which isn’t really abnormal around here. Most of the last 11 years we’ve been in Colorado have had snow fall in May. The bigger issue is where to ski it. Of course, once the ski is over, the number one priority is what to eat because we’re usually famished. Typical après ski calorie bombs include burgers, pizza, or chili, but our favorite is most definitely sushi. Back in the day, that required a half hour drive down a curvy canyon road to a sushi bar. Now, however, we are more likely to make sushi at home with our expanded repertoire. The one thing I hadn’t tried making until now is the ever popular spider roll. For the uninitiated, a spider roll is a tempura-fried soft-shell crab roll. The fried little legs stick out at the ends of the roll evoking spider imagery – or deliciousness, if you are a sushi lover.

soft-shell crabs, ice water, flour, egg, baking soda



I picked up the soft-shell crabs individually frozen at an Asian market (HMart, for the locals). I’ve also seen them on display at Whole Foods from time to time. If you live on the coast, then you probably have far more and fresher options available to you. Tempura frying is pretty easy, but I’ll warn you now that these guys make the loud scary splattering sputtering hot oil noises. Use a splatter screen, and if you don’t own one, get one. I fried mine one at a time because I was too scared to lower a second one in while the first one sounded and looked like it was erupting. You won’t use much of the tempura batter for four crabs, so if you have vegetables or other goodies to tempura fry, you might as well do it all in one sitting.

whisk the ice water and egg

stir the dry and wet ingredients together

coat the crab completely

draining and cooling the fried soft-shell crabs



**Jump for more butter**

april is a lion

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Recipe: spicy tuna inari

The other day while we were skinning uphill on a ski tour, Jeremy asked me what “in like a lion, out like a lamb” referred to. I speculated that it had to do with March starting like a lion because it was still winter, and exiting like a lamb, because it became spring in mid-late March. Jeremy wasn’t convinced, because in Colorado, the weather in March is pretty much psycho. Turns out April is too. Hot and sunny days. Cold and windy days. Snow. Thunder. RAIN. The r-word is the greatest offender, simultaneously killing off the snow pack and backcountry skier dreams. We struggle with this in-between period when the trails aren’t fully covered with snow but they aren’t completely clear either. This results in hybrid excursions like the bike-hike-ski or the ski-hike or the hike-ski or the bike-ski. We can’t let go of ski season but we don’t want to miss the arrival of summer in the high country.


jeremy ducks trees and dirt blowouts on the way up

niwot mountain summit (we stashed the skis where the snow ended and hiked)

removing climbing skins, getting ready to ski out

catching turns on the way down



I’m not sure what Neva thinks of the change in the seasons now that she has experienced all of them once. I mean, no one really knows what Neva thinks, period. At first, we figured she was smarter than Kaweah was – by a very little bit. Lately though, with more observational data to consider, we suspect that we were mistaken. That’s okay. We’re not trying to send her Caltech or anything. We just want her to heel and not jump on people and maybe stop licking everyone’s pants. As far as we can tell, Neva loves all of the seasons. She is just as energized plunging into deep powder as she is scrambling up boulders or diving into alpine lakes. I think she’s going to love this summer. We have big plans for her. I spent half of my REI dividend on a new 3-person (it’s more like a 2+) backpacking tent so we’ll have room enough for Neva to not kick our faces in the night. More little dog adventures! What’s not to love?

puppy treats to fuel puppy activities

trying on kaweah’s old dog pack

our local trails are melting out

neva loves the outdoors, just like her humans



As our outdoor pursuits change with the seasons, so too does our menu. Sure, seasonal foods make their way into our meals, but it’s temperature that has a bigger effect on my cooking. 50°F doesn’t sound very warm to most people, but it is quite warm up here in the mountains where a high of 20°F felt like a heat wave just a few months ago. Walking around in shorts I wonder how I survive summer each year if I feel like I’m melting in April? But we do adjust eventually and part of that adjustment involves making sushi. As far as I’m concerned, sushi is welcome in my pie hole any time of year. It is especially delightful when I deem it too hot (relatively speaking) to cook, like this past weekend. We didn’t want to bother with rolling sushi, so I opted for something even easier but just as tasty – if not tastier! Spicy tuna inari.

inari, sriracha, shiso, green onions, avocado, mayonnaise, seasoned sushi rice, sashimi-grade tuna



If you aren’t familiar with inari, it is tofu skin that is deep fried and seasoned in a sweet sauce. They typically come in pockets that are stuffed with seasoned sushi rice and served as inarizushi. The combination of the flavors is quite pleasing. I’ve never made inari myself, but we occasionally buy a can of it at the Asian grocery store for a quick and easy addition to our sushi nights.

the brand i buy which contains about 20 inari

gently pull open the pocket



**Jump for more butter**