huckleberry crisp porcini mushroom lasagne fig and brandy jam fried vietnamese spring rolls (cha gio)


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little piggies

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Recipe: porcini mushroom lasagne

We have somehow worm-holed into autumn this week because the weather turned cool, windy, and stormy in the mountains. I rather like it. I mean, I LOVE IT! But I know summer will return this weekend just in time for the Labor Day holiday. I suppose that is a good thing. Actually, it has all been very good. Rains this late in summer mean that our wildflowers at the highest elevations continue to crank out their colors. Combined with good sun exposure, it also brings the huckleberries! Erin and I discovered the MOTHERLODE on a hike and picked beautiful, fat, dark purple, ripe huckleberries for hours through rain, sun, more rain, and more sun. The mountain streams look healthy and full (as opposed to dangerously full or sadly low) and the risk for wildfires reduces with all of this lovely moisture. Most of all, we get some beautiful moments from the volatile weather.


sunrise double rainbow from my deck!

bull moose chillaxing in the willows (he’s lying down – he’s huge when standing up!)

two of my favorite hiking buddies: erin and banjo

my favoritest hiking pal: jeremy (and stormy weather on the divide)

star gentian in full bloom streamside



In addition to all of this mountain goodness, we recently found porcini. Typically I would expect them to be wormed out and mushy this late in the season, but porcini like the rain. Actually, they like a combination of different things: rain, humidity, the right soil, sun… Given a choice, I choose huckleberries over porcini. But if the porcini (porcino means piglet in Italian) are recently flushed and solid, the worms are less likely to have begun their buffet and the stipes will be solid and crisp like a raw potato. In my mind, those are perfect little piggy jems.

many perfect piggy jems



I absolutely love finding porcini. It is such a thrill and a rush akin to an adult Easter egg hunt – but way the hell better! Yet I am not unlike the way Kaweah was with squirrels. Once she caught one (she caught plenty in her youth) she didn’t know what to do with it. For me, the hunt is the best part. I don’t particularly love cleaning them, which is why I always seem to give some away. But this time I only gave a few away. The rest I kept for making some new recipes to share. I always thought a porcini lasagne would be a lovely dish to try. This pretty much works with any mushroom you can get at the store, but the porcini are especially meaty with a beautifully delicate earthy flavor.

lasagne noodles, parsley, sage, thyme, prosciutto, parmesan, asiago, olive oil, flour, onion, garlic, white pepper, salt, butter, black pepper, milk, porcini (not pictured: nutmeg)

clean the porcini with a mushroom brush or damp paper towel – don’t wash them in water!

slice about 3/8-inch thick



**Jump for more butter**

triple pass lollipop unicorn

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Recipe: brie fig apple prosciutto sandwich

It’s not like anyone needs a reason to come to Crested Butte, Colorado, but this past week was marked on our calendar months ago. It all began when Jeremy ran into our friend in line at a coffee shop last fall. Brad has a remarkable talent for conveying massive amounts of information in a ridiculously short amount of time with boundless enthusiasm. In the three minutes he chatted with Jeremy, Brad convinced him to take up ultra running (and he also discussed about a dozen other topics). The Summer GT (Grand Traverse) was held on Saturday starting in Crested Butte and ending in Aspen – the same 40-mile overland route that the Winter GT Ski Mountaineering race follows, but this time on foot or mountain bike. I asked Brad if he was planning to run the Summer GT, but that crazy man ran the Fat Dog 120 this weekend in British Columbia (120 miles, 29,000 feet of climb).

We’ve both been training since the local trails began melting out in April (although we continued backcountry skiing into late May – yeehaw!). Jeremy was training for the Grand Traverse, and I was just training for the heck of it. A few weeks before the GT, Jeremy developed runner’s knee. He discovered the hard way that running 20 miles on runner’s knee makes for much worse runner’s knee. He rested, iced, got a PT band, and tried to recover. Ultimately, he (correctly) determined that it would be unwise to run the GT this year. Instead, we took a week off from training and have been enjoying our time in wonderful Crested Butte.


i made chocolate mousse for our neighbors’ dinner party

great food, great wines, great friends



We’re not just wining and dining though. Summer is that magnificent ephemeral time in the mountains that should not be passed over if you can help it. The other day we went for a 17-mile hike to explore parts of the high country that were new to us. I call it the triple pass lollipop unicorn hike because it gains three mountain passes and the route in map view looks like a lollipop with a unicorn horn. Plus, the hike is worthy of a title like triple pass lollipop unicorn hike, because it’s full of All The Good Things. The views and terrain were absolutely stunning – even the parts where the trail disappeared. The wildflowers are full-on incredible above 12,000 feet right now.

climbing up out of copper creek valley

pass #1: triangle pass (12,800 ft.) with conundrum basin in the background (leading to aspen)

pass #2: copper pass (12,400 ft.)

alpine wildflowers and the maroon bells in the distance (also leading to aspen)

elephant heads standing out among the blooms

the wider view of the high country

pass #3: east maroon pass (11,800 ft.)

copper lake basin



After hours upon hours of beauty, adventure, and exertion, we arrive at the trailhead and begin the drive home. The start of the hike feels like it was yesterday. In the car, I’ll notice a mixture of dirt, sweat, and sunblock is plastered on my skin. We are thirsty, hungry, tired, dirty. We smell awful, too. Once home, the trail runners get the hose and deck treatment. Our filthy, stinky clothes go straight into the laundry basket by the door to avoid tracking dirt around the house. Then we each drink a biiiiiiiig glass of water (or two) to rehydrate ourselves and our joints. If we are gross beyond what we can tolerate, a shower is in order, otherwise I head straight to the refrigerator to make something to eat. Pretty much anything will taste fantastic after a big hike, but this sandwich is guaranteed to be taste ultra-fantastic.

prosciutto, arugula, ciabatta rolls, brie, fig jam, green apple



**Jump for more butter**

very lucky

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Recipe: mexican grilled corn salad

Rounding hairpin turns, blinded by the rising sun, I squinted at the clock on the dash. I was late. But you can’t step on the gas and hurry because there are all those Honda Civic-sized potholes to dodge as well as wild animals to watch for. I figured if they’re there, great. If they’ve already moved on, so be it. It is what it is, my first morning NOT dedicated to a trail run or a hike, but to photograph moose. I was in luck.


it seems all they ever do is eat

and eat



Our local moose have a feeding pattern in summer that draws the photographers out each morning like flies. They feed in the low meadows and then move on up to higher ground. It varies. Sometimes they will hang out until well after noon and other times they’ll sneak away only to return later. It’s their home. About 100 moose live in the Brainard Lake area alone, plus more in the surrounding mountains. These are my neighbors.

time to move on

way too close for my comfort



I managed to catch the tail end of the show, about 15 minutes’ worth of shooting. No biggie. I just wanted to see and maybe photograph moose and was able to do both. Chatting with a few gentlemen who were also shooting the moose, I learned they traveled a couple of hours just for this. They do it once a week. When they learned I lived nearby and ran/hiked here all the time, one fellow smiled and said with the utmost sincerity, “You are very lucky.” I nodded to confirm this statement – yes, I am VERY lucky. We wished one another well and said good-bye.

On the drive back home, I thought about luck. It would be easy to look at all of the negatives in my life (and I’ve had my share, thank you) and let that set the tone for the rest of my life, but what’s the point in that? Wallowing in self-pity has never been my cup of tea. There are so many more positives from a simple sunrise to helping a stranger to cherishing every hug from my mom to packing a lunch for Jeremy. I’m just grateful to be here, really. Sometimes I think about how much time I have left – I don’t really know how much time I have… it could be another 40 years or it could be a few days. Regardless, time is short. Life is short. There isn’t enough time in another 40 years to do everything I want let alone waste it on bad relationships, jonesing, terrible food, buying “stuff”, being unkind, not being honest, trying to be someone I am not, worrying what others think of me. It’s taken me a few decades to get to the point where I can trim away most of the “bullshit”, but it’s liberating and I think it makes my life feel lucky. It certainly feels GOOD.

The other day I went hiking in the high country with my friend, Erin (another Erin, but both of my Erins are awesome ladies), and her pup, Banjo. How nice to have much-needed doggie time as well as friend time. I love it when you find someone who doesn’t need to talk the talk, because she totally rocks the walk. That’s Erin. We spent the entire day hiking, foraging, and talking under sun, clouds, and pouring rain. When we weren’t chatting it up on the trail, I just sang “Banjooooo” in rhythm with my stride because he’s such a good and sweet boy. It made me think of my little Kaweah and how utterly bad she was on the trail (but cute!).


erin holds a mushroom (a kind i don’t eat)

banjo is such a good pup

and the wildflowers were out in force

clouds move in over the lovely alpine lake



Erin just had a major birthday and I wanted to do something nice. I thought of baking a flourless chocolate cake and packing it up to the high country to surprise her. Or maybe making French macarons to bust out at the lake. But the reality was that my schedule was overly full, so I bought her a Chuao bar (triple nut temptation dark chocolate – Jeremy’s favorite), tied a ribbon on it, wrote a card, and called it good. Jeremy commented that the old me would have stayed up late baking, lost sleep, and been exhausted and not enjoyed my hike. It’s true. The current me has a little more sense (just slightly) than the old me.

The idea of keeping things simple is a good one. That’s why this corn salad is so appealing. It’s like the Mexico City-style roasted corn, but it’s easier to prepare and way less messy to eat. I found the recipe on Kevin’s site, Closet Cooking, which is a great blog full of cheesy, melty, juicy, amazing recipes. Since summer is in full swing, we must partake of the corn.


chipotle powder, salt, garlic, green onions, jalapeƱo, lime, mayonnaise, corn, cotija cheese, cilantro, vegetable oil



**Jump for more butter**