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oh joy!

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Recipe: homemade almond joy candy

The first full week of December has more than made up for the dismal snowfall of November. Not only have we received decent snowfall, but snow is slated to continue for another week! This is good news for snow lovers as well as our snowpack, which provides our water all year and is responsible for the beautiful streams and wildflowers in summer.


neva’s nose was wiggling all over as she sniffed the snow in the air

it was quite chilly for a few days – neva got bundled into a snuggy blanket

the view from indian peaks chair at our local hill



Our backcountry has a nice layer of snow, but our ski poles hit rocks and dirt at the bottom because we’ve had no base. Hopefully this series of storms will build a good base for the rest of the season. I haven’t been willing to get my skis waxed and tuned until I stopped hitting rocks! Better late than never.

our skin tracks

i spy a baby moose peeking from behind the tree

crazy little neva sports her orange booties and orange ball

happy girl with a stylish snowbeard



I am in full candy making and cookie baking mode over here. It’s a good thing the holidays coincide with the shortest days or I’d be ditching all of my gift-making duties in favor of skiing. As it is, our evenings have been filled with lots of chocolate, sugar, butter, nuts, flour, candied ginger, lemon zest, more chocolate, and piles of dirty dishes. The main recipients of my annual kitchen frenzy are Jeremy’s administrative staff. I’ve been giving them an assortment of homemade treats for almost a decade. Over the years I’ve received feedback on certain cookies such that they have become regulars in the gift bags. But I do try to mix things up a little and introduce a new cookie or confection each year. This year’s newest addition is a homemade Almond Joy, which should really be called a Coconut Joy because the almond is just a small part of it. Anyway, these are easy and delicious and I had to make a second batch because Jeremy looked so sad when I said I had just enough to distribute to recipients.

vanilla extract, chocolate, flaked coconut, powdered sugar, almonds, salt, sweetened condensed milk



There is no cooking involved in these treats except for the toasting of almonds and melting of chocolate. Stir stuff together, mold it into a desired shape, pop a nut on top and dip it in chocolate. That’s how simple it is. Joy‘s version called for unsweetened flaked coconut, but I grabbed sweetened flaked coconut instead. You know what? It worked great. I mean, it’s candy – it’s going to be sweet and you will just have to climb an extra thousand feet of elevation in your skis to burn it off. No big deal.

adding vanilla to the sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and salt

stir in the coconut



**Jump for more butter**

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**