chinese orange beef toasted coconut custard tart cottage pie with beef and carrots apple cider caramel ice cream w apple cider caramel swirl


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archive for booze

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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the month i love

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Recipe: huckleberry crisp

Helloooooo September! There’s something wonderful about a month that means you get to add one to your age, a month which ushers in the fall colors, a month where the likelihood of an early season snowstorm is quite high. It is a particularly busy time for us, making it all the more astounding that we managed to have friends up for dinner over the weekend. It feels like all of the unfinished business of summer (or the year, for that matter) is being crammed into the few remaining weeks leading to autumn, before we begin hunkering down for winter (which I welcome with fully open arms). You never have enough time to get everything done no matter how little sleep you get.


dinner party with awesome friends, new and old

chocolate espresso cheesecake, chocolate cookie crust, whipped cream, helliemae’s chili palmer salt caramel sauce

in two days we had four queen of the night blossoms open!

starting to close by early morning



This is a magical period in our Rocky Mountains. Waking up before sunrise isn’t as puke-inducing as it was two months ago, and yet I can still find lovely huckleberries in the backcountry. Yes, the obsession is ongoing and all-consuming. Last week Jeremy and I went for a hike and stopped to pick hucks on our way back to the trailhead. After 90 minutes, I had collected three times as many berries as he had. I fired him (nicely) and he was happy for it, so everyone wins. It’s most fun to pick hucks with someone who loves picking them as much as I do, which is why my friend, Erin, is the perfect hiking and huck-picking companion. First of all, her dog is awesome. Secondly, Erin is my pragmatic, even-keeled, no nonsense, independent mountain gal pal. There is a lot to be said for a friendship that is free of drama and full of huckleberries.

lots of hucks!!!



I’m realizing that the huckleberries I foraged last year were at the very very tail end of the season. They were small and more red than purple. This year’s haul is full of choice purple-blue FAT berries that are as big as small blueberries, but taste way the hell better! So my rate of huck gathering has doubled thanks to the abundance and general hugeness of the the berries. This means I’m a little more willing to make something that requires a lot of berries as I have already got a good stash in my chest freezer to carry us through to next summer. Pies and crisps are the sort of recipes that demand high volumes of huckleberries. Twelve cups of hucks is a lot of hours of labor, but I really wanted to make a crisp – so I made a couple of individual crisps.

sugar, rolled oats, huckleberries, butter, melted butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, more sugar, almond slices, flour, port



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