crested butte: supper at sunflower chanterelle-stuffed pork tenderloin bourbon vanilla bean paste kalbi meatballs


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you plucky huck

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Recipe: huckleberry panna cotta

We returned home to the Front Range this evening after winterizing and buttoning up the house in Crested Butte. The next time we return will be with multiple pairs of skis! Between now and then, there is plenty of work to get done. I haven’t had a chance to really sift through my photos from the fall shoot, but here are some quick ones I’ve been sharing.


the castles with fresh snowfall

west beckwith mountain

the slopes on snodgrass

just another gorgeous aspen-lined road

last minute surprise sunset colors



In addition to shooting fall colors around Crested Butte, I spent time working with Neva on her leash skills on the nice paths in our neighborhood. She’s already amped up as it is, but there are fewer distractions on these paths than on hiking trails, so she’s slightly (ever so slightly) more responsive to commands, corrections, and praise. In the backcountry, Neva acts like a drug addict, losing her mind over every sound, smell, and movement – she even refuses her favorite treats. I should revoke her lab license! But each day she made a little improvement such that after a week away, Jeremy said Neva was better on our hike Saturday. I’ve also noticed that she is becoming more cuddly. At 18 months, I hope that Neva will outgrow her adolescent stage and become a dog we can enjoy rather than remain a ridiculous amount of work any time we choose to do anything.

neva likes down comforters and human beds

hiking in the west elk wilderness

neva tries to creep away because she doesn’t like posing for pictures



Earlier last week, I went to shoot sunrise only to wind up with a cloudless fizzle. Instead of wrapping things up and heading back home I decided to scout out a trail that had been good for huckleberries at the start of September. Most of the good patches were bare now, but the patches that didn’t have fruit before were loaded with blue orbs that had frozen solid overnight. But mountain huckleberries are tough little berries, surviving the frosts and snows of early autumn above 10,000 feet. I picked about a half cup while examining The State of the Huckleberry along the trail. I found some chanterelles, too, but they don’t weather a frost nearly as well as their huckleberry neighbors do, so I let them be. The frozen hucks tasted like deliciously slushy purple huckleberries – slurpleberries.

slurpleberries (frozen huckleberries)



There are plenty of things you can make with frozen huckleberries, which is a good thing since most folks will only ever get their paws on frozen huckleberries (you can buy them online) as the season for fresh hucks is relatively short. I recently had a craving for panna cotta (translates to cooked cream), because I love the silky smooth texture without all of the work of say, crème brûlée or flan. And everyone knows that berries and cream are a match made in heaven. Use blueberries if you don’t have huckleberries, but promise me that one day… ONE DAY you will try a huckleberry.

huckleberries, almond extract, vanilla paste, milk, cream, sugar, gelatin, water (not pictured: pinch of salt)

sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let soften

bring the milk, cream, sugar, and salt to a boil



**Jump for more butter**

oh yes it did

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle toast

Happy autumn, everyone! Fall has arrived to our beautiful Colorado mountains. The colors go off in patches across the state with certain areas turning before others – they always follow a schedule more or less. After shooting fall colors in the mountains for the past 12 years, I know the general timing for my favorite locations. Waves of weather overlay these bursts of gold activity in our Colorado Rocky Mountains, ranging from cloudless bluebird skies to raging winds and rain to snow.


sunrise on an early morning start

thimbleberry (yellow) and huckleberry (red)

neva had a blast hiking through the colors

and hiking more local colors

jeremy and neva pause above a beautiful expanse of gold aspens



At the end of last week, Jeremy and I set out in a caravan for Crested Butte. We drove through toasty temperatures in the Upper Arkansas River Valley then climbed into clouds and falling snow over Cottonwood Pass. From there, the weather remained cold and snowy all the way to Crested Butte and beyond. We pulled into our driveway, teeth chattering and mud caked to our cars (we drive some dirt road short cuts which become mudfests when there is precipitation). Fall colors are great and all, but snow always makes for more interesting viewing. Plus, it was snowing on my birthday, which I think is the best kind of birthday present! We quickly unpacked the cars, got Neva settled into her bed, grabbed my photo gear and off we went to leaf peep for the two remaining hours of daylight.

snow dusted spruce and aspens

powdered sugar branches

a ray of sunlight peeks through the clouds



With the weekend over, Jeremy is back home while Neva and I stay the week in Crested Butte to shoot more fall colors. And if the colors finish a little earlier than is typical, then it’s an opportunity for me to tackle some work and get hikes and trail runs under my belt before the season ends. But for you, my good people, I have an indulgent little recipe to share. After my last haul of chanterelles from the mountain forests of Crested Butte, I debated whether to sauté them in butter and freeze them for the winter or to try some new recipes. Turns out, I had enough to do both. This recipe for creamed mushroom toasts is simple, yet decadent. And for my gluten-free friends, you can either use gluten-free bread or spoon the creamed mushrooms straight into your mouth. I may or may not have done that…

chanterelles, cream, kosher salt, butter, pepper, flake sea salt, brioche slices, white wine, shallot, chives

cut the mushrooms into a medium dice

prepped and ready



**Jump for more butter**

the frenzy

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Recipe: wild mushroom pizza

Here it comes. Cooler weather, I’ve been waiting for you since May. We were so used to leaving our windows open overnight to cool the house down that it came as a surprise to us when we woke up Saturday morning and the temperature inside was 52°F. That’s even lower than what we set our heat to overnight in winter (we set it to 55°F). No wonder Neva was all snuggled up between us on the bed after her 6 am breakfast. Outside we could see an impressive frost on the deck. Well alright then! The scrub in the high country has been turning red and gold for a couple of weeks now, but the leaves are finally following suit at higher elevations. My landscape photographer friends are getting itchy for the fall shoot. We’re all waiting to see if the colors will be on time (like usual) or if they’re going to bust out of the gate early.


bright red huckleberry bushes on cottonwood pass (looking west toward taylor reservoir)

dreamy sunset colors

red aspen leaves against bluebird skies



But before I could even think about the fall shoot, I had to research, test, make, and photograph recipes with my foraged chanterelles and porcini from last weekend. Oh, and I had to clean them – a time-consuming process with the chanties when you have several pounds. From the moment I cut the mushrooms off the ground, the clock starts ticking. I store them in brown paper bags in the refrigerator and they last about a week. Brown paper bags populated all of the non-freeze zones of my refrigerator while I shifted everything else around them. The rest will be sautéed in butter and frozen for winter. Any chanterelles that are too far gone to eat get chucked into a separate bag. Those will soak in a combination of water, molasses, and salt for a day or two before pouring the “spore” water out in suitable chanterelle environments.

Generally, I don’t pick the porcini that have been wormed out (the stipe or cap will feel particularly squishy), but sometimes you can pick a firm porcini and the few worms present will make Swiss cheese of the inside while you hike around, drive home, and pop it in the refrigerator. That’s why I try to dress the porcini (cut out any worms) in the field if I have the time. Porcini that are too wormed out (those itty bitty worms, they have voracious appetites) get staked under an appropriate spruce where some spores might take hold in the future.


always delightful to peer into the huckleberry leaves and find a chanterelle or two

porcini like the huckleberry plants, too



The first recipe I wanted to shoot involved both kinds of mushrooms, mostly because I wanted to take care of the porcini before the worms ate anymore of them (or any more worms escaped onto the refrigerator shelf). The reality of foraging porcini is that you will deal with worms. I’ve rarely encountered chanterelles that were wormed out, but it has happened on rare occasion. Even if your porcini have some worms, you can usually cut that section out and salvage the rest. So let’s make some wild mushroom pizza! And as always, you can substitute any combination of edible mushrooms.

chanterelles, porcini, pizza dough, parmesan, fontina, butter, flake sea salt, sea salt, thyme, garlic

melt the butter and mince the garlic

mix the garlic into the butter



**Jump for more butter**