buttermilk biscuits and sausage cream gravy chinese orange beef toasted coconut custard tart cottage pie with beef and carrots


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with gravy on top

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Recipe: buttermilk biscuits and sausage cream gravy

Up until a few days ago, Thanksgiving was nowhere on my radar. There was just so much going on for the past several weeks that I told myself if I could make it to Thanksgiving week in one piece, I’d be golden. It came down to the wire waiting for the final items on my checklist to come via post before we piled into the car. Two out of three isn’t bad considering it was the USPS (I keep my expectations low). Once on the road, the stress began to peel away with each additional mile. There were bighorn sheep sightings on Interstate 70, discussion of time-sensitive deadlines to address before 2015, much needed coffee to fuel the driver (Jeremy), and the question of what to eat for Thanksgiving. We agreed that we would keep Thanksgiving dinner simple: grilled rib eye steak with loads of vegetables. This week is dedicated to catching up on work and… skiing.


picking up our passes from the crested butte nordic center



The snow in Crested Butte is quite nice for shoulder season. Yes, it’s still shoulder season – many of the local businesses are closed until 2 weeks before Christmas. Town slumbers quietly before the mad rush of the holiday ski season, but I like this lull. The big mountain opens Wednesday. In the meantime, we’ve been getting our nordic muscles back in shape on fresh snowfall.

test driving my low light lenses

big snow totals make for early season avy danger

jeremy skis with mount crested butte in the distance

rejoicing in glorious winter (technically autumn, but it is totally winter)



Colorado’s high country changes so dramatically from summer to autumn to winter – green to gold to white. Winter is a bit of a hog as it eats up most of autumn and spring, but I don’t complain because I love it. It’s hard to believe that just last month I was back here in Crested Butte shooting the fall colors.

Over the years I’ve learned that I feel physically and mentally better on the fall shoot if I eat my own food rather than dining out for the duration of the shoot. It’s healthier and more economical. But there are those times after shooting sunrise in the freezing cold when you get a text from fellow photogs relaying their intention to head into town for breakfast, and it sounds like the best idea ever. One of my favorite stops in the little mountain town of Ridgway, Colorado, is Kate’s Place, which serves up quality breakfast and lunch. My friend, Jimmy, always orders the biscuits and gravy. I’d never had it before, but Jimmy always has this blissful smile on his face when he gets biscuits and gravy. This year, I decided to give it a try.

“Good, isn’t it?” Jimmy smiled, nodding at my plate of biscuits and gravy. Yes, it was damn good. Something warm and satisfying to fill my empty and cold tummy – energy enough for my drive back to Crested Butte. It wasn’t more than four weeks later when I began thinking about that breakfast. I blame Jimmy… and Brent – those two are always mooning over biscuits and gravy. Jimmy even texted me a photo of (another) plate of biscuits and gravy from elsewhere on the road. Well, let’s do this.


the biscuits: buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder, salt, flour, butter

whisk the dry ingredients together

toss cubed butter with flour mixture and freeze

cut the butter into the flour



**Jump for more butter**

cuckoo for coconut

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Recipe: toasted coconut custard tart

It’s been snowing on and off since last week. Exciting, right? But you can’t go ski just any snow. We had received several inches of fluffy, dry snow on top of bare ground, which meant there was no base to speak of. Rather than being overeager and rutting my skis, I opted for a trail run when we finally got out of single digits. I’m so glad I waited, because the sun came out and helped pack down the snow on the trails, and then we got more snow. What a lovely pair of words… MORE SNOW. Despite 11°F and nasty winds over the weekend, we got our first ski tour of the season in (rather late) and it was fantastic!


rosy sunrise

the sun is far more welcome in winter

jeremy makes his way through snowy trees

so happy that winter finally decided to show up



Snow on the ground is a wonderful thing. Jeremy and I began longing for ski season about 2 weeks after our last ski tour in mid may. Despite all of the trail running and hiking and biking and backpacking of summer, I feel like I’m stronger in winter. I burn more calories, too! We don’t feel as guilty indulging in a little dessert during the cold weather months. But even if you aren’t a ski dork like me, I tell you what – this toasted coconut custard tart is worth making and eating. Just give yourself an extra hour of walking.

for the tart crust: egg, butter, salt, flour, confectioner’s sugar

pulse the butter into the dry ingredients

drizzle in some egg yolk

the dough should clump together, but remain grainy



**Jump for more butter**

dinner at andrew’s

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Recipe: apple cider ice cream with apple cider caramel swirl

Last year, my friend, Andrew, went from owning 16 things that all fit in a backpack to owning a beautiful canyon home outside of Boulder. After traveling the world for over a year, he finally had a place to hang his hat. I visited, got the grand tour, and we agreed that we would have to cook dinner together in his new kitchen. That was 18 months ago. Every few months we’d touch base and our schedules just didn’t jive until last week. Andrew has hosted a lot of dinners at his house in that time, so his routine is dialed in. Except this time, he let me call the shots because I was guest cooking. I suggested a menu, prepared a few dishes in advance, and then we set to work Thursday afternoon.


which grocery store?

some kale, some apples…



Once at the house, Andrew tidied up (and sanded his deck – industrious fellow) while I took over the kitchen. As the sun dropped behind the canyon wall, guests began arriving. Some of my friends, his friends, mutual friends, and my mom! I usually try to take my mom out to dinner when my dad has poker night, but this time I was cooking at Andrew’s house, so we invited her to join us. Andrew led a few tours of his beautiful home as people trickled in.

miso butter roast chicken ready for the oven

the host with the most



We started with hot chorizo sweet onion dip (from Todd and Diane) and tortilla chips before sitting down to roasted carrot ginger soup, Oak’s shredded kale salad, miso butter roasted chicken (from Kathya), and a steamed rice blend with extra miso butter roast garlic sauce on top. Dinner was lively, fun, and I could finally relax since all of the cooking was done!

andrew serves up the miso butter chicken

dinner is served

my plate full of yum



For dessert, I served an ice cream I had made ahead of time at home. I’ve been feeling the love for apples of late, and that includes apple cider. A few weeks ago I was testing and tweaking an apple cider ice cream with apple cider caramel swirl. Instead of forcing apple cider caramel swirl on everyone, I decided to serve the caramel sauce on the side. Turns out everyone wanted the caramel anyway – I mean, who wouldn’t? The ice cream was declared a success and now that I’ve field tested it, I can share it with you. First, let’s get crackin’ on the ice cream.

eggs, apple cider, sugar, vanilla bean, sea salt, heavy cream, whole milk (not pictured: vanilla extract)

split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out

warm 1 cup of cream with the milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean

reduce the cider in a saucepan



**Jump for more butter**