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Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Recipe: chocolate magic custard cake

There are a few things you learn about early season skiing after eleven seasons. The first is that you probably shouldn’t wax those skis just yet, because you’ll likely hit a few (or a lot) of rocks. If you were a good and proper ski fanatic, you waxed those babies at the end of last season so they wouldn’t dry out over the summer. You can wax them properly after a good base has been established. The second is that you haven’t actually forgotten how to ski after one summer. This weekend we took Neva out for her first ski tour. The very first one was more like a trial run because Jeremy was on skis and I hiked/jogged alongside the two of them just in case there were issues. It can be really difficult to manage a first timer dog while you are moving on skis. When Kaweah was a puppy, she kept attacking the ski tips (she didn’t realize they were connected to our feet) and standing on the skis when the snow was deep, and then running in front of us and sometimes stopping when we skied downhill. Even as an adult, Kaweah didn’t quite register the whole “keep clear of the metal edges” thing.

neva keeps pace with jeremy

noodling along

having a blast

You probably already know that we are not the sorts who fly by the seat of our pants. We put a lot of thought into Neva’s first ski. We wanted to make sure she had fun, but we also had to guarantee that she would be safe. We took Neva up a forest service road so there would be plenty of room for her to maneuver about without getting tangled up in the skis on a narrow trail (or driving Jeremy into a tree). She absolutely had to be on a leash. That girl is always looking off into the woods and we know why. On the two occasions we have let her off leash, she bolted deep into the forest tracking the scent of every wild animal she could pick up, completely ignoring our calls.

Well, Neva was GREAT on her first tour. She avoided the skis, but kept pace like it was no big deal (this is one of the reasons we’ve been doing a lot of leash work with her on trails). She didn’t tangle up the leash much and was incredibly sweet and happy. The next morning, we went on a right proper ski tour with Erin, Banjo, and our fatter skis. The snow and the weather were amazing for early season. And while Neva did pull a little on the climb (she was VERY excited), she was really well-behaved. Neva had fun hanging with Banjo, who loaned her two of his spare booties when her back paws got balled with some ice. We wondered how she would do skiing out, because when we run, she sometimes gets excited and jumps up to bite our pants. Jeremy and I took turns skiing out with her and she was PERFECT! I posted a video of it on my Instagram. I think Neva is going to be a great little ski dog.

climbing up in the morning

skiing with dogs = best thing ever

The third thing that I apparently haven’t learned about early season skiing for two years in a row, is to remember to switch my skis to tour mode on the uphill climb. I felt I was struggling to keep up with Jeremy’s pace on the way up and chalked it up to being out of ski shape. But when we turned around to ski out, I bent over to lock my bindings into ski mode and noticed they were already there. Doh! I did this exact same thing on my first ski tour last year. It was funny, and I laughed. But my quads and butt were not in the mood for laughing. Still, it felt heavenly to be gliding on snow again. It was doubly so because our little pup seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

Perhaps if more people discovered how amazing it is to ski in the backcountry, winter wouldn’t get such a bad rap. For the folks who hate winter, I think you’re doing it wrong. After a good and exhilarating workout, it’s nice to come home and reward yourself with some delicious calories. I usually opt for something savory, but Jeremy almost always makes a beeline for the latest sweet thing on the counter or in the refrigerator. This weekend, we had chocolate cake – but this was special chocolate cake. This was chocolate magic custard cake. I think it was all the rage a few years ago, but I was too distracted with Kaweah’s geriatric care to try it out. I bookmarked the recipe from Todd and Diane’s blog a while ago, and dug it up just last week.

cocoa, melted butter, flour, espresso, white vinegar, eggs, milk, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract

warm the milk and separate the eggs

whisk the flour and cocoa together

whip the egg whites to stiff peaks

**Jump for more butter**

from one year to the next

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Recipe: bourbon bacon cacao nib brittle

It’s taken me well over a week to try and get this post together and I’m still not certain it will publish in a timely manner. All the while, Neva continues to grow and improve and discover more ways to get into trouble. But at last, as of two nights ago she is now sleeping through the night for just over 7 hours. We are ecstatic, elated, and emerging from our zombie state. If you want more than a weekly update on the pup, your best bet is to follow my instagram feed (@jenyuphoto) which typically has daily pupdates.

We spent the last week in Crested Butte, as it is a much easier environment for Neva to train and learn and have some doggy fun. It’s also important for her to get used to the long car rides. So far so good. She tends to sleep in her crate or chew on her toys when she’s awake. And she only cries when she really needs to get out and potty. Bumpy dirt roads or windy mountain roads don’t seem to bother her much. The plan is to have her graduate from her crate to a dog bed in the car – maybe in a few months.

on the way, we spotted a mama bear and her two cubs

enjoying the snow on a pit stop

sunset in crested butte

Neva has been over a week without accidents, mostly because we have learned to read her behaviors better and schedule her activities when her energy is high. We’ve been able to get her on several trails multiple times and even started playing fetch. She has also met many of the neighborhood dogs who are mostly much larger than her, but incredibly sweet and patient. Neva is growing quickly – mostly legs and body – her head is still hilariously little. Kaweah was the same way as a puppy.

she loves her hikes

neva with wyatt, the giant walking carpet (she loooooves wyatt)

We had a string of cool, rainy days before we finally got a sunny and warm one. Personally, I could enjoy cool and rainy for a long, long time, but we wanted a sunny day so Neva could learn to swim. And she did! At first she ran into the water after her toy and then the bottom dropped from under her feet. Like a trooper, she went from running to swimming. It definitely surprised her (and the water was pretty cold), but she swam a lap and came back to shore. She went in a few more times before we toweled her down and let her warm up in the sun. The second time, she didn’t want to go in on her own, so we stood in the water coaxing her over to us. Luckily, Neva is pretty attached to her humans, so despite not wanting to get cold again, she dove in and paddled out to us. She’s earning her Colorado Mountain Dog stripes!

swimming in the shadow of crested butte mountain

swimming neva!

day 2 of swimming – it wasn’t a fluke

Only after we brought the sleeping, damp puppy back into the house did I realize that it was a year ago when we took Kaweah out for her last swim in Crested Butte. Looking at the photos, I marveled at how big she looked compared to little Neva. Of course, Kaweah is never far from our thoughts and hearts. Half the time when we scold Neva it comes out as “Ka-puppy!” And there are the inevitable comparisons. Neva is better about some things and worse about others. All I can think is how lucky we are to be able to love both of these sweet girls in our lifetime.

When evening runs into night and Neva succumbs to the inevitable drowse that comes from being a puppy, she steps into the nest of my crossed-legged position and curls up affectionately in my lap. Stroking her soft downy head, I notice that her fur is coarser along her back – those signature Labrador guard hairs coming in to protect her fine undercoat. I cannot wait for her to become a dog, and yet there are moments when her puppiness is the best thing ever.

covered in dew from her morning hike

Father’s Day is coming up and my parents arrive in Boulder this week. Between preparing for their arrival and dealing with the puppy, this is my only shot at getting a recipe to you before the weekend. It’s a good one and I even messed it up the first time to be able to bring you the best version. I’ve field tested it with various friends in order to fine tune certain elements. We are talking about brittle, but not just any brittle… I figure anything with bacon, bourbon, and cacao nibs can’t really go wrong.

bourbon, corn syrup, water, bacon, cacao nibs, sugar, butter, flake sea salt, baking soda

crumble the bacon

**Jump for more butter**

out with the old

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Recipe: chocolate budino

I am routinely guilty of tackling my “spring cleaning” in October – after the fall shoot is done, but before ski season kicks into high gear. And well, if ski season gets an early start, then we boot spring cleaning until next fall. Except this year we undertook a spring purge. Call it the decadal cleaning, because it’s time to puppy proof our house. We never had to do this for Kaweah because she was already 6 years old when we moved in and so good about leaving things alone like trash, compost, food that wasn’t hers, plants – everything.

But puppy… puppy will have to learn. And while we’re puppy proofing, why not go through all of our closets, cabinets, drawers, files, and basement? Oh, and let’s rearrange the furniture, too. It snowballed into a multi-day project in which most of the house was sorted for reorganization, recycling, donation, or trash. I’m happy to report that the smallest category was trash. Our car is loaded with old retired electronics and generations of computing equipment to be recycled responsibly at CHaRM in Boulder.

jeremy replaced our uv decals on the windows so birds won’t crash into our house

I’m glad to finally get this cleaning out of the way. For the past several days the weather has toggled between rain, snow, graupel, and hail. We’ve also had some mighty fine thunderstorms roll through in the afternoons and at night. The high country is getting snow – and that is a truly marvelous thing. Perhaps if the stars align, I’ll get to ski one more time before puppy comes home. The best part about this winter holdout is that she won’t have to wait until autumn to get her first taste of proper Rocky Mountain snow.

mist and snow up valley

storm front approaching

graupel falling on our deck

Even though I don’t do requests on this blog, when I last posted about Bacchanale, people had asked me if I’d recreate the recipe for their chocolate budino. I must admit that the thought had crossed my mind, but I didn’t put it into action until we had our neighbors over for dinner last month. I spent some time recipe testing (and I loathe recipe testing) to get it right, and I think we have a winner. I started the crust with a cookie crumb base because it is just the right crumbly, sandy texture to go with a super rich, thick, creamy pudding.

vanilla, sugar, butter, salt, chocolate sandwich cookies

melted butter, cookie crumbs, sugar, salt, vanilla

mix it all together

**Jump for more butter**