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archive for confections

sugar sugar

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Recipe: vanilla sugar

I’m up to my elbows in butter, sugar, flour, and chocolate. Yes, it’s that time of year again – the cookie frenzy. Thanks to a back muscle spasm over the weekend that kept me from standing or walking, I had to rush getting all of the baked goods and confections out the door in one very long and exhausting day. But they’re done and you can stick a fork in me!


these went to jeremy’s staff



In addition to the cookies, marshmallows, and homemade hot cocoa mix, I included a jar of homemade vanilla sugar. It’s such an easy do-it-yourself project and it makes a great gift with a personal touch. Use vanilla sugar in place of regular sugar for that extra vanilla oomph. Even if you can’t think of a use for it, just open the jar and get a whiff of that floral, sweet, and heady perfume.

you’ll need whole vanilla beans and sugar

slice the bean lengthwise

scrape out all of those beautiful little seeds



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coming home

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Recipe: huckleberry fudge

We returned to Nederland a couple of days ago only to be greeted by a furnace blast of a heat wave. Man, is it hot – even in the mountains! We usually find relief at night when we can draw cool air into the house (most mountain homes don’t have air conditioning as we usually don’t need it), but the evenings haven’t offered much of that either. I feel such ambivalence toward summer. On the one hand I cannot stand the heat and I hide from the sun as much as I can, but on the other hand it is the short time when tons of fun and beautiful things happen.

I stopped by the vet’s office on Wednesday afternoon and told the assistant at the desk that I was there to receive Kaweah’s ashes. She walked to the back and looked at four different sized boxes and picked up a medium-ish one. Instead of handing it to me across the front desk, she came around to where I stood and offered me a hug and said she was so sorry. I thought I was getting better about keeping it together when people gave their condolences, but apparently I wasn’t. Blinking back tears, I thanked her and she told me how much the office loved Kaweah and what a remarkable little girl she was. Stepping outside the office into the breeze coming off the mountains, I cradled the box in my arms. It’s so light – so much lighter than the 55 pounds of pup we were used to carrying around in her old age… 55 pounds of mostly water and carbon, reduced to carbon. I know this isn’t my Kaweah. My Kaweah is gone. But she’s also in my heart – so not really gone.


kaweah’s ashes and two framed photos – one for her vet and one for us



Thursday morning presented itself at 5:30 am. That decision, of whether or not to get up and get outside when you’re short on sleep, can be a tough one. I know from experience that I usually won’t regret getting up, but I might regret not getting up. Our dedication was rewarded first thing in the morning with wildlife sightings, colorful wildflowers strewn across the meadows like confetti, and clear views of the high country.

that’s a moose

a big moose

don’t mess with the moose

potpourri

morning light on delicate blossoms

looking east

the indian peaks high country



It is a great time to catch wildflowers in the mountains around here. They seem to be peaking around 10,000 feet right now. Believe it or not, my whole motivation for hiking was not to see moose or the wildflowers (but both are TOTALLY BONUS!!), it was to check on the huckleberries. Oh, and to get exercise, but… huckleberries. They were green and plumping up nicely in Crested Butte on my last trail run. Here in the Front Range, they’re a little behind their Crested Butte brethren. Still, it’s coming along nicely. Hiking is my finger on the pulse of the hucks.

green hucks in crested butte



What do I plan to do with the huckleberries? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve been planning ALL YEAR for this moment in time. One of the treats I’ve been wanting to make is huckleberry fudge. If you’ve ever traveled to Montana and visited a gift shop, you will have seen and possibly sampled huckleberry fudge. I did just that (many) years ago when Jeremy and I took a 6-week detour through the Rocky Mountains on our cross-country move from Pasadena, California to Ithaca, New York. I’m not a big fan of fudge, but huckleberry fudge is something else entirely.

white chocolate, cream cheese, powdered sugar, huckleberry jam



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summer approacheth

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Recipe: peanut butter caramel sauce

All signs point to summer: the blazing sun, rising mercury, pine pollen, afternoon thunderstorms, open windows at night, wild strawberry blossoms along my trail runs, and the impending solstice. Oh, but the best is yet to come when the snow in the high country finally recedes and the huckleberries and porcini emerge alongside colorful alpine wildflowers. It’s weeks away and yet I can already anticipate it will be here before I know it because everything seems to take place in these short summer months. Earlier in the week we enjoyed a lovely happy hour at The Flagstaff House with my parents. I have a feeling summer will kick into high gear very soon.


my rocky mountain cucumber cocktail (sans alcohol)

tuna tartare

fried oysters on polenta (if you go there, order this – so good!)

my queen of the night bloomed (symbolizes good luck!)

our aspen stands have turned lush and green



Before my parents arrived in Colorado, I had lunch with my friend, Ellen of Helliemae’s Caramels. She gave me a bag of her jasmine caramels to welcome my parents, a box of coffee caramels for Jeremy (the coffee fiend), and a bag of peanut butter caramels. It’s a sort of ritual among certain friends of mine that whenever we see each other, we bring gifts like pickled okra or organic adzuki beans or a little box of Maldon sea salt or a jar of homemade kimchi or a bottle of homemade foraged elderflower cordial – but Ellen is the master of caramels. It’s her thing.

creamy, smooth peanut butter caramels



I enjoy the first couple of caramels for what they are and then by the third, I start imagining how awesome they would be in other recipes. One of Jeremy’s favorite items from Helliemae’s is the Chili Palmer caramel sauce. He puts it on ice cream like it is going out of fashion, which got me thinking about peanut butter caramel sauce and the awesomeness that would be a sundae with said sauce. I didn’t have enough caramels left (oops!) to make a sauce out of them, so I made it from scratch.

sugar, cream, peanut butter



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