vanilla sugar boozy mississippi bourbon mud pie linguine with clams chinese fried pork meatballs


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here’s mud in your eye

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Recipe: boozy mississippi bourbon mud pie

Mud is the one thing that can get us down around here. Mud is not snow and it is not firm trail. You can’t ski it, you shouldn’t be riding it (mountain bikes really tear up muddy trails), and it kinda sucks to hike or run it. But we do hike and run in the mud because we try not to let it keep us from getting outside. Plus, the mud around here is more annoying than terrible – we have lots of rocks which makes for firmer ground. It’s nothing like what we’ve encountered in the backcountry of New Zealand. Holy hell. New Zealand mud can swallow you whole. Right now, patches of debris are cropping up along the nordic trails and the parking lot at our local hill is dirt and mud.

But this week, we discovered that not all mud is bad. At least, not mud pie. And by mud pie, I mean Mississippi mud pie. It all started because I wanted to know what a mudslide was. It’s a cocktail more akin to melted ice cream with lots of booze. But thanks to the interwebz, I was immediately diverted to mud pies. What’s a mud pie? My Crested Butte neighbor’s daughter was making mud pies with her friend one rainy day, but that was with real mud. The more I read about mud pies, the more intrigued I became. Then I found this recipe that adds BOURBON and I knew it was my destiny.


the crust: sugar, butter, salt, oreo cookies (without the creme centers)

place the cookies in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb

mix with sugar and salt



You can use chocolate wafer cookies for the crust, but I couldn’t find any and I happened to be passing through Trader Joe’s where there were boxes upon boxes of TJ’s chocolate Joe Joe’s. If you need to make this dessert gluten-free, use the gluten-free TJ’s Joe Joe’s or some other equivalent brand. Nifty. Because I prefer a slightly higher crust-to-filling ratio and because the pie dish I used is deeper than my other dishes, I increased the amount of crust ingredients by 20%. There is no baking involved, just good old melty butter.

stir in the butter

pour the crust into the pie plate

press into the bottom and along the sides



**Jump for more butter**

a little time off

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Recipe: homemade hot cocoa mix

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving was able to enjoy their holiday! Me? I remained mostly offline for the past several days and loved every minute of it. Instead of expending my energies on cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I kept the food prep simple and opted to ski. Crested Butte happily received nearly 2 feet of snow before opening day on the mountain. It goes without saying that first tracks were accompanied by the sound of hoots and hollers echoing down the slopes of untracked powder. When the powder was no more, we went skate skiing, did a little mouse proofing of the house, squealed at baby puppy malamutes (that was me doing the squealing), and worked on stuff that always gets neglected back home.


fluffy

fresh

amazing snow for november

trees plastered from snowmaking guns



It seems that once Thanksgiving has passed, the calender shifts into high gear. Suddenly everything I never wanted goes on sale in my in-box. Oh, but it IS nice to nab a deal on those climbing skins I’ve been eying for over a year. For the most part, we ignore the frenzied consumerism because we don’t do gifts over the holidays. What I mean is that we only give homemade or local gifts to people like Jeremy’s staff, my oncologist, our vet, the post office. I try to mix it up from year to year with a variety of baked goods, confections, and something like a barbecue spice rub, homemade jam, or a flavored cheese powder for popcorn. This year, I’m including jars of homemade hot cocoa mix.

bittersweet chocolate chips, sugar, powdered milk, salt, dutch-process cocoa powder

chop the chocolate

mix everything together

scoop into air-tight jars



**Jump for more butter**

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**