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time for a bowl of soup

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Recipe: cream of chanterelle soup

I suppose I have to just will my way into autumn if the weather won’t cooperate. While it’s no longer scorching hot, the weather is still what one would classify as Indian Summer. Sunny and comfortably warm. I no longer have to worry about Neva roasting her brains out on the deck, so she’s been enjoying the coolish mornings while the sun makes its way up into the sky. It’s also nice that she has stopped barking and whining at every single creature that moves in front of our deck – like neighbors, random dogs, bunnies, birds (so many birds…), foxes, deer, etc. Although I did see her lunging after a fly as it unknowingly entered Neva’s air space.

she loves it when i put her bed in the sunny corner

Jeremy and I took Neva up to Blue Lake over the weekend since the road leading into the Brainard Lake Recreation Area closed on Sunday for the season. I’m happy to report that despite the 32°F temperature at the trailhead, I felt downright warm. My internal winter thermostat is on track, at least. As it was the weekend, Neva got to meet lots of other dogs – some friendly, some not interested, some just plain crazy. She had a blast.

mitchell lake was as smooth as glass

autumn hiking is the best

neva even swam several laps at blue lake

That was all well and good, but every “landmark” we encountered elicited remarks from me or Jeremy regarding that section of trail in winter and spring – when snow transforms the landscape. Hiking is hiking, but on skis you think about gradients both up and down. My hope is that Neva will transition easily to ski tours into the backcountry and love the snow as much as Kaweah did. I’d love to start her training except WE HAVE NO SNOW. So I’m posting a soup recipe in the hopes that it will jumpstart some form of frozen precipitation around here. Next, I’m going to wash my car… I think the weather is supposed to turn overcast, rainy, and cooler this week. Fingers crossed.

I made this cream of chanterelle soup back in the summer when I found and foraged my very first batch of chanterelles. It was amazing back in August, so I’m confident that it will be even better now as we zip toward Halloween. Chanterelles are in the grocery stores – I’ve seen them at Whole Foods for an arm and a leg as well as at Costco. Those store chanterelles aren’t going to compare with the ones you forage yourself, but they’ll work.

chanterelles, chicken broth, shallots, eggs, butter, cream, brandy, salt, saffron, flour, more butter (yay!)

chop the mushrooms into a small dice

ingredients prepped for the soup base

**Jump for more butter**

dinner party fare

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Recipe: bourbon-glazed beef tenderloin

Fall is shaping up to be something good. Except that it’s still sunny and warm. Once the weather turns the corner, I’ll be a truly happy camper. But we are making progress on so many fronts now. Neva is no longer a fountain of drool when she gets in the car (although she makes a few quiet whimpers if we drive for more than 20 minutes). She has also started to curl up at my feet for a nap when I am working on the computer, which is a huge improvement over what she used to do (she used to go under my desk and attack the cardboard recycling). Best of all, we’ve discovered when she makes her little “mmmmm” noises at 5:30 am each day, I can reach over in the dark to open her crate door and she’ll jump up on the bed and cuddle between us for another 30 minutes. That extra 30 minutes makes all the difference to the humans.

With doggy day care once a week, Neva gets lots of playtime and socialization and then the following day is “downtime” for her, a.k.a. a really long nappy loungy day. That’s two days in a row allowing me large blocks of time to get work done, and maybe a trail run, and lunch with friends. I like the dog Neva is becoming. Do I miss the adorable little puppy she was just a few months ago? Yes and no. I miss how cute and itty bitty she was. I don’t miss the feral, high-energy, in-need-of-constant-supervision, sharp-puppy-toothed ball of destruction.

no-stress neva chilling in the back of the car

still a few torch-like aspens on my trail run

i got to have lunch with my friend’s adorable little girl

A few weeks ago when I was in Crested Butte, our good friend and neighbor, Eileen, pulled up next to me while I was walking Neva. We chatted and when she learned Jeremy would be coming out for the weekend before we headed back to Nederland, she said, “How about dinner at my house? We’ll grill steaks.” The last time we had dinner at James’ and Eileen’s house, Jeremy and I took turns running back down the street to check on Neva, who was crying and barking in her crate as she suffered from major FOMO (fear of missing out). This time, months later, she was quiet – alternating between dozing off and chewing quietly on her toys. Good girl.

Dinner was a team effort as I supplied a few appetizers, Eileen took care of the main and sides, and Wendy and Denise brought desserts. And there is always exceptional wine with these good folk. As I loaded my plate and crossed the room, Wyatt, Denise’s giant fur baby, tracked me – or rather the steak – to my seat.

wyatt wants to know if we could maybe share that steak

Wyatt had good reason. That steak was off the hook. James and Eileen often entertain large groups, so they will usually grill at least one hunk of protein to feed the masses. When last they served this steak over the fourth of July, the carving board was picked clean by the time I got back from checking on Neva. Over dinner, Eileen asked for my gougères recipe and I in turn requested the recipe for her steak. It was one of those “oh I just throw together x, y, and z” recipes, which I promptly forgot when Jeremy and I walked home under the sparkling night sky. The next day, Eileen was sweet enough to email me a recipe and I am sharing it with you – because it is TOO GOOD not to share.

One ingredient Eileen mentioned was Montreal steak seasoning, which she said you can find in any grocery store’s spice section. She uses that with salt and pepper as part of the dry rub. I had never heard of it, but I was pretty sure I could make it from scratch. The recipes online vary somewhat, but overall they have many of the same components. I chose the one that uses dill seed because I have a ton of it to use up.

black pepper, paprika, granulated onion, sea salt, dill seed, cayenne, granulated garlic, ground coriander

whisk everything together

now you have montreal steak seasoning

**Jump for more butter**

the continuing adventures of neva

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Recipe: white russian ice cream

Wildflower season is exploding here in Crested Butte, and it’s not even peak yet! I know this because 1) I hike a couple times a day through fields of gorgeous wildflowers and 2) I’m sneezing constantly and my eyes are red and itchy. It’s not even the sheer quantity of the wildflowers, but the impressive variety that Crested Butte boasts. Right now we’re seeing larkspur, dwarf lupine, blue and crimson columbines, prairie smoke, cinquefoil, arnica, wild rose, sticky geranium, mule’s ear, wild iris, scarlet gilia, and so many more.

mammata overhead, scarlet gilia and lupine on the slopes of crested butte mountain

prairie smoke (pink) in fuzz mode

I’ve resigned myself to not shooting the wildflowers this summer and just enjoying our hikes with Neva with occasional snaps of the iphone. Neva has been on a regimen of hiking and swimming – kinda like puppy summer camp – to get her beans out each day (one of her nicknames is Nevabean). Not only do we have to socialize her with other dogs, people, and children around the neighborhood, but she needs to become familiar with dogs, wildlife, hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers on the trails.

her checkup at the vet last week (she was super well-behaved)

she got up on this bench by herself and sat down to rest in the shade

discovering new trails together

keeping hydrated after a long walk

Shortly before leaving for Crested Butte, we hung a bell on the doorknob of our front door. We rang it before taking Neva outside to potty a couple of times, and then we taught her to ring it and sit down at the door when she wanted to go potty. She picked it up right away. When we got to Crested Butte, we hung a bell on the front door and she rang that to ask to be let out to potty. We were overjoyed! And then she started to ring the bell minutes after she had just gone outside to potty… because she just wanted to go outside. She still rings it to go out to potty, but she ALSO rings it when she’s bored and wants to hang out in the yard. Hrmmmm.

i wanna go outside, i wanna go outside, outside, outside, outside…

smelling of lavender after her (much needed) bath

It’s a gradual progression, the parts of our lives that we are able to reclaim after the shock of puppy’s arrival. Instead of waiting for her to fall asleep before we can even think of making dinner, I can now cook while she’s hanging out in the kitchen or happily playing with her toys in the living room. Best of all, Neva has been exposed to a lot of thunderstorms and they don’t faze her one bit. In fact, I was out shooting a storm as it lit up the mountains all around us the other evening and she was right there with me, playing with some neighborhood doggy friends and then calmly sitting next to Jeremy. We just want to raise her to have the happiest life possible. So far, so good.

mammata at sunset in nederland

my unicorn: sunset + rainbow + lightning (in crested butte)

lightning bolt over crested butte mountain

And for the past two weeks, Jeremy and I have been able to take shifts in the mornings so one of us can trail run while the other hikes the puppy. I had been on a 6 week hiatus because of the pup and my upper respiratory infection, so the first run felt awful, but in that good awful way. I felt free. And now I can enjoy the summer mountain views, watch deer bounding across the hillsides, make note of mushroom flushes, monitor the progress of the mountain huckleberries, and dream of the days when these slopes will be buried under feet of beautiful, skiable snow. I so love the mountains.

my morning trail run – who needs coffee? (jeremy does)

After all of that rambling, I do have a recipe. It’s appropriate for the summer season, too! Before Neva joined our ranks, I had the luxury to think of new recipes I wanted to try. I ran them past Jeremy and one in particular piqued his interest – White Russian ice cream. I did some research and immediately found White Russian ice cream floats which combine vanilla ice cream with booze. That’s not what I wanted. A little more digging brought me to the wonderful world of boozy ice creams and their paradoxical existence. You see, boozy ice creams require booze. I’m not talking about a tablespoon of liquor, but a cup or more. The problem is that alcohol doesn’t freeze, and yet ice cream is frozen. The solution is gelatin.

eggs, gelatin, kahlua, vodka, cream, sugar, milk, water, salt

**Jump for more butter**