shrimp and vegetable tempura posole huckleberry panna cotta chanterelle toast

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archive for confections

wild about roses

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Recipe: wild rose petal jam

Memorial Day may mark the start of the summer season for most parts of the country, but the fourth of July is when the season kicks into high gear in the mountains. So many people come to the high country because it is beautiful and wild and peaceful. Except a lot of the visitors can’t seem to leave their suburban trappings and behaviors in suburbia, turning paradise into a circus of bad manners. Jeremy and I tend to lay low during the holiday crush, because I believe in the minimization of unnecessary stress. So we drove to Crested Butte, passing through the mountain corridor just a couple of hours before it clogged up with holiday weekend travelers. We are currently enjoying the summer rains and the wildflowers as the town prepares for Independence Day festivities on and around the mountain. This is when everything starts growing and showing off.

nothing like hiking through fields of purple lupine

a hall of aspens that seems to go on forever

prairie smoke blossoms

tiny, brightly colored jelly alpine fungi

Last week in Nederland, the wild roses were in full swing, painting our local yards, trails, and hillsides with splashes of pink among the lush bushes. They were so fragrant that we couldn’t help but notice. I had been waiting for them to blossom, but the late spring meant the wild roses growing in front of our house were a few weeks behind schedule. Jeremy and I spent a couple of hours last weekend foraging wild rose petals for a few recipes. You can always use commercial roses as long as they are unsprayed, but wild roses are particularly fragrant and wonderful.

wild roses

There’s no need to pluck the entire flower, just the petals. It’s easiest to do with the flowers that aren’t flat open, but somewhat concave. You merely close your fingers over the top half of the petals as if to close the blossom. Give a gentle tug and most if not all of the petals should release with a light snap. I leave the center of each rose – the reproductive parts – on the stem and make sure to touch each stamen with my thumb in the hopes that I’ll help to pollinate each flower to produce rose hips for wildlife in the fall. If you find a good bundle of wild rose bushes in bloom, it doesn’t take much time to collect a few cups of petals.

i store them in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator

Of course, we humans aren’t the only ones fond of roses. There are plenty of little crawlies who like to hitch a ride on the rose petals back to your place. To reduce the number of new friends, I gently flick the blossom before I pluck it. This usually evicts 80% of the hitchhikers. Back home, I empty the petals into a large mesh colander covered with a splatter guard, and shake the petals over a table until no more little bugs fall out. It takes me about 10 minutes until the bugs run clear, but that’s easier than rinsing the petals with water, which you can do instead of or in addition to the shaking to clean your rose petals.

toss the petals in a colander

While researching wild rose recipes, I came across this simple, yet delightful wild rose petal jam. It’s rather quick to whip up and it makes for a charming homemade gift. Best of all, it’s delicious. The rose flavor is delicate without being overpowering in that way that makes you think you’re eating lotion or soap. It comes out a brilliant pink color which is all natural.

rose petals, pectin, water, lemon juice, sugar

**Jump for more butter**

spring, is that you?

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Recipe: passion fruit meringues

I knew it would snow again. How awesome for us that we could backcountry ski fresh snow in our local mountains one day, then go for a trail run in these same mountains the next day. The weather is a spring mix bouquet – it’s got a little bit of everything going on right now. We are rolling with it, because staying indoors is not an option.

sunrise clouds revealing new snow

a fast-moving thunderstorm at sunset

Jeremy and I have been waiting for a window of good weather all month when the snow is still decent in the high country. Active storms, cooler weather, and work obligations finally cleared this weekend. We pounced on the opportunity to get Neva out for her first ski backpack. It was an overnight trip into our local backcountry and we kept it simple for our own sanity as well as Neva’s safety. Unlike summer backpacking, early season backpacking involves more bulk and weight to account for cold nights, camping on snow, potential storms, and ski equipment. Although the forecast thunderstorms never materialized, we camped below treeline to be safe. Of course, Neva had the time of her life romping in the snow, getting extra food and snacks (she burned a lot of calories), catching the scent of a bazillion wild animals, and hogging our sleeping bags all night.

neva cools off in the snow – it was a scorching 70°f

skinning uphill with a heavy pack and a dog that likes to pull every which way is hard work

clouds building on the divide

home for the night

When Jeremy first introduced me to backpacking in March of 1993, he explained that it is “the endeavor of a thousand little discomforts”. But with experience, we learned to minimize, ignore, or accept those discomforts in exchange for the freedom of the hills. Ski backpacking with a one-year old crazy dog definitely adds more complexity and even pain. An outsider might regard this activity as recreation, but Jeremy and I definitely classify it as fun #2. Worth it? Absolutely. Will we take Neva again? We’ll see.

pre-dawn colors in the east

breaking down camp at 6:30 am

hiking the last couple of miles out

As the sun lingers in the sky for a few more minutes each day, my mind turns to tropical flavors. If anything tastes like sunshine, it is passion fruit. I’ve gone to great lengths in the past to procure fresh passion fruit, but sometimes I have to suck it up and buy some at outrageous prices here in Colorado for a shoot. Never let it be said that I have ever allowed a passion fruit to go to waste. Actually, I hate waste in general, which is why I wound up making these passion fruit meringues – because I always have an excess of egg whites in my refrigerator!

eggs, sugar, passion fruit

precious pulp and juice

**Jump for more butter**

friends with kids

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Recipe: pralines and cream ice cream

It may be spring, but snow is back in the forecast! We’re pretty psyched about this because last week our home in the Front Range got about… 40 inches of snow. We stuck it out in Crested Butte though, because we had a prior obligation, and because there are plenty of things to do here if there isn’t any powder. Although powder really is the very best thing you can ski. We took Neva uphill skiing on the mountain again and she was actually better behaved than the first time and we all had a lot of fun skiing down.

crested butte had some colorful sunsets

and it was a little windy (neva’s ears were both straight up before this snap)

this is neva having a ball

We are just now wrapping up a weekend hosting some of my dear friends (since elementary school and junior high) and their families in Crested Butte for a ski vacation. Despite the lack of fresh powder, they all enjoyed the mountain, the town, and the scenery. There were kids, too. A baby, a tweener, and a teen. I don’t really hang out with kids too much because I don’t have any by choice, but I like playing auntie. I always marvel at what incredible parents all of my friends are because my friends are incredible people. Aside from happy talk, funny faces, and bouncing babies around, I am at a loss with kids younger than 2 years. But I chuckled to myself watching the tweener and teen – two sisters – interact on the slopes, the lifts, and at our house. They are normal sisters who have their spats and know how to push buttons, but also love each other and are friends. These are good, sweet girls. I hope they recognize what an important bond they share. I know that’s hard to do when you’re that age, but a sister is one of the best things in the world.

the baby was fascinated with the lights

super sweet sisters

Even though there are plenty of great restaurants in Crested Butte for dining out, I felt the privacy and quiet of our house would be nice for a couple of dinners. I kept things simple so that I could spend quality time with my friends. For dessert, I served a couple of homemade ice creams and brownies. I think of homemade ice cream as the easiest dessert because you can make it ahead of time, you can make multiple flavors, and people can have as much or as little or as many kinds as they want. Because it is so versatile, I like to collect a variety of ice cream recipes to draw from throughout the year. I recently tried making a batch of my mom’s favorite flavor, which was also my grandma’s favorite flavor. You know those bank security questions? If there was a question that asked, “What is your mother’s favorite ice cream flavor?” the answer would be: pralines and cream.

eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean, salt, pralines (not pictured: vanilla extract)

A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for homemade pralines. They’re pretty easy to make, but if you aren’t in the candy-making mood, you can just as easily use purchased pralines. My method is straightforward: make vanilla ice cream (our favorite recipe comes from David Lebovitz) and stir chopped pralines into the freshly churned batch. Commercial varieties of pralines and cream all seem to have a ribbon of caramel swirled into the ice cream alongside the pralines. You can stir that into the ice cream with the pralines, but I just felt that sometimes it’s possible to have too much sugar.

heat milk, cream, salt, and sugar

steep a vanilla bean and the seeds in the warmed milk mixture

roughly chop the pralines

**Jump for more butter**