gougères vanilla sugar boozy mississippi bourbon mud pie linguine with clams


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a little time off

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Recipe: homemade hot cocoa mix

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving was able to enjoy their holiday! Me? I remained mostly offline for the past several days and loved every minute of it. Instead of expending my energies on cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I kept the food prep simple and opted to ski. Crested Butte happily received nearly 2 feet of snow before opening day on the mountain. It goes without saying that first tracks were accompanied by the sound of hoots and hollers echoing down the slopes of untracked powder. When the powder was no more, we went skate skiing, did a little mouse proofing of the house, squealed at baby puppy malamutes (that was me doing the squealing), and worked on stuff that always gets neglected back home.


fluffy

fresh

amazing snow for november

trees plastered from snowmaking guns



It seems that once Thanksgiving has passed, the calender shifts into high gear. Suddenly everything I never wanted goes on sale in my in-box. Oh, but it IS nice to nab a deal on those climbing skins I’ve been eying for over a year. For the most part, we ignore the frenzied consumerism because we don’t do gifts over the holidays. What I mean is that we only give homemade or local gifts to people like Jeremy’s staff, my oncologist, our vet, the post office. I try to mix it up from year to year with a variety of baked goods, confections, and something like a barbecue spice rub, homemade jam, or a flavored cheese powder for popcorn. This year, I’m including jars of homemade hot cocoa mix.

bittersweet chocolate chips, sugar, powdered milk, salt, dutch-process cocoa powder

chop the chocolate

mix everything together

scoop into air-tight jars



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that extra sparkle

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Recipe: sparkling champagne margaritas

The sight of snow on the Rocky Mountains represents “normal” in my mind. The months of brilliant snow-covered peaks outnumber those months of naked rock. So when I climbed to the high point of my trail run the other day and caught a glimpse of Glacier Ridge in full white, I couldn’t help but smile and mutter “beautiful” aloud. Sun, blue skies, and warm days have returned (again), but our mountain home gets nice and chilly at night. Our favorite neighbors are home from running their summer camp deep in the Canadian wilderness. This evening I welcomed their walking carpet of a dog back with hugs and ear rubs (she’s a Great Pyrenees-Bernese Mountain Dog mix). The older we get, the more Jeremy and I cherish having good neighbors. We look out for one another, I like to dessert-bomb them, and it’s great when we can get together over a glass of wine or dinner.


kicking off a dinner party in crested butte with eileen’s margaritas



When Jeremy and I hosted a New Mexican food-themed party at our place in Crested Butte last month, it was a team effort. Wendy made Spanish rice, spicy refritos, and brought fresh tortillas. Eileen brought a corn and avocado salad, wine, and champagne margaritas. Neither Jeremy nor I are huge fans of margaritas. I’m just not a drinker and Jeremy thinks they are too caustic. But when Eileen offered Jeremy a champagne margarita, he accepted – because… champagne (actually, it was a lovely sparkling wine). He liked it. A LOT. Eileen told me it was a Rick Bayless recipe and a nice change up from the standard margarita. I took a sip from Jeremy’s glass and had to agree. Very nice. VERY drinkable. Way to class up the old marg!

tequila, cointreau, bubbles, limes, kosher salt, sugar

zest the limes

lime juice, cointreau, tequila, lime zest, sugar



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welcome autumn overlords

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Recipe: huckleberry shrub and huck gin fizz cocktail

I love that autumn in the Colorado Rocky Mountains starts on time according to the calendar. Much of the country is still tapering off from summer. When I was growing up in southern Virginia, I was quite put out by fall’s tardiness. It was supposed to arrive on or around my birthday, and yet it was still hot and miserable riding home on the school bus in late September. It’s like waiting for a guest to arrive who is beyond fashionably late. Or perhaps more appropriately it was me wishing summer would get the hint and leave already. Here in the Rockies, I feel that summer is just the right amount of time. I know this isn’t the popular sentiment regarding summer, but I’m good with that. Fall is even shorter than summer despite having two acts. The first act (in my mind) is the fall colors. It is that wondrous period of two to three – and possibly four – weeks when the aspens transition from green to fiery hues and the mountains strut their stuff on the runway. That’s going on right now and how!


mist and clouds, big mountains, golden aspens, and spots of sunlight

how many aspen leaves, i wonder

sunrise on the autumn equinox

sunrise rainbow over the town of crested butte

quintessential colorado fall



The second act involves tree trunks and branches stripped of leaves, winds, and sometimes rain. It’s a good time for trail running in tights, cooking stews and roasting vegetables, and changing to flannel sheets. And then fall ends when it really starts to snow – which we (all of the snow enthusiasts) hope will be as early as possible. I actually like that second act too, despite its visual dreariness, because it means I can stop obsessing about where the wildflowers are blooming and where the aspens are nearing peak and whether the huckleberries are ripe. But I shall still obsess about huckleberries… I periodically open my chest freezer in the basement and run a loving hand across the several bags of frozen huckleberries from this summer’s bounty. Huckleberries rank fairly high on the happiness scale for me. They are up there with Kaweah, Jeremy, the mountains, skiing, sushi. One of my favorite ways to preserve the fruits of summer is to make a shrub – an acidulated beverage made of three ingredients: fruit, sugar, and vinegar.

my number one all-time favoritest berries in the world

huckleberries, sugar, and champagne vinegar

place the berries in a food processor

pulse the blade a few times to chop them up



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