huckleberry crisp porcini mushroom lasagne fig and brandy jam fried vietnamese spring rolls (cha gio)


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little piggies

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Recipe: porcini mushroom lasagne

We have somehow worm-holed into autumn this week because the weather turned cool, windy, and stormy in the mountains. I rather like it. I mean, I LOVE IT! But I know summer will return this weekend just in time for the Labor Day holiday. I suppose that is a good thing. Actually, it has all been very good. Rains this late in summer mean that our wildflowers at the highest elevations continue to crank out their colors. Combined with good sun exposure, it also brings the huckleberries! Erin and I discovered the MOTHERLODE on a hike and picked beautiful, fat, dark purple, ripe huckleberries for hours through rain, sun, more rain, and more sun. The mountain streams look healthy and full (as opposed to dangerously full or sadly low) and the risk for wildfires reduces with all of this lovely moisture. Most of all, we get some beautiful moments from the volatile weather.


sunrise double rainbow from my deck!

bull moose chillaxing in the willows (he’s lying down – he’s huge when standing up!)

two of my favorite hiking buddies: erin and banjo

my favoritest hiking pal: jeremy (and stormy weather on the divide)

star gentian in full bloom streamside



In addition to all of this mountain goodness, we recently found porcini. Typically I would expect them to be wormed out and mushy this late in the season, but porcini like the rain. Actually, they like a combination of different things: rain, humidity, the right soil, sun… Given a choice, I choose huckleberries over porcini. But if the porcini (porcino means piglet in Italian) are recently flushed and solid, the worms are less likely to have begun their buffet and the stipes will be solid and crisp like a raw potato. In my mind, those are perfect little piggy jems.

many perfect piggy jems



I absolutely love finding porcini. It is such a thrill and a rush akin to an adult Easter egg hunt – but way the hell better! Yet I am not unlike the way Kaweah was with squirrels. Once she caught one (she caught plenty in her youth) she didn’t know what to do with it. For me, the hunt is the best part. I don’t particularly love cleaning them, which is why I always seem to give some away. But this time I only gave a few away. The rest I kept for making some new recipes to share. I always thought a porcini lasagne would be a lovely dish to try. This pretty much works with any mushroom you can get at the store, but the porcini are especially meaty with a beautifully delicate earthy flavor.

lasagne noodles, parsley, sage, thyme, prosciutto, parmesan, asiago, olive oil, flour, onion, garlic, white pepper, salt, butter, black pepper, milk, porcini (not pictured: nutmeg)

clean the porcini with a mushroom brush or damp paper towel – don’t wash them in water!

slice about 3/8-inch thick



**Jump for more butter**

diversions

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Recipe: california hand roll (temaki)

Despite being the summer high season in Crested Butte, our time here has been pleasantly quiet and peaceful. Colorado mountain towns have long winters and short summers, but boy are those summers exploding with color, activity, beauty at every turn – both in the backcountry and in town proper.


the town of crested butte is simply charming



Our neighborhood is filled with the sounds of people greeting one another in the street while walking or heading out for a bike ride, children laughing and playing, and the jingle of dog tags as pups get their walkies in the fresh mountain air. Several of our wonderful neighbors have told us how sorry they were to hear of Kaweah’s passing. This is – as many mountain communities are – a dog-loving community.

our dear next-door neighbor even sent flowers



Jeremy and I took a few days to visit his folks in Pagosa Springs – a lovely mountain town in the-middle-of-nowhere, southwest Colorado. We got up early one morning for a trail run before everyone else had risen and greeted the sunrise as we paced through scrub oak and sticky mud from the previous day’s thunderstorms. Afterward, we sat on the porch with his parents watching throngs of hummingbirds spar over the hummingbird feeders. The Rufous hummingbirds are especially territorial and aggressive which made the bird watching all the more entertaining. It’s really quite spectacular.

sunrise on the trail

a lone rufous monitors the bird feeder from a nearby branch

then thwarts the attempts of an aggressor

and shows the other guy what’s what



We returned to Crested Butte in time to meet my friend Irvin and his partner who were road tripping through Utah and Colorado this summer. We spent 48 hours giving them a quick sampling of Crested Butte: checking out Mount Crested Butte, dining in Mountaineer Square, coffee and pastries at Camp 4, hiking to a great 360° view in the high country, pizza at Secret Stash, mountain biking, dinner at our place, browsing the farmers market.

a.j. and irvin on our hike

irvin grabs a slice of “the woodward” pizza at secret stash



Our multi-day non-stop schedule kept us rather busy and preoccupied such that we weren’t dwelling too much on the little black dog that was missing from our lives. Of course, we miss her terribly. But when people tell us they are sorry, I thank them and point out that Kaweah lived a very good and happy dog life. On our drive from Pagosa Springs to Crested Butte, I was finally able to verbalize how I felt about my time with Kaweah. She was a gift to us, both literally and figuratively. It was our responsibility to provide the absolute best life to her that we could and we took that task to heart. We were with her to the very end so that she was never alone, afraid, or unloved. Only now do I understand just how much of a gift she really was and will always be until my dying day. This is me finding closure.

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I know that some people consider sushi a summer food because of the raw aspect, but I maintain a year-round love affair with sushi. I crave it after skiing just as much as I crave it after (and during) summer backpacking, and we’re fortunate that Boulder has a lot of decent sushi on offer and Crested Butte has one sushi bar (they used to have two, but my favorite one closed its doors last year). We also make sushi at home. One of my favorites is the California roll – something I never order in restaurants, but often make in my own kitchen. It is a good gateway sushi roll because the crab is cooked. When we prepare California rolls at home, we tend to go for the hand rolls or temaki because they’re quick and easy to make and consume.

wasabi powder, sesame seeds, sriracha, nori (seaweed), sushi rice, masago (capelin roe), cucumber, avocado, mayonnaise, king crab legs

slice the cucumber into strips

stir wasabi powder into mayonnaise to make…

wasabi mayonnaise



**Jump for more butter**

pieces of a broken heart

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Recipe: hot smoked salmon and asparagus pasta

Jeremy and I want to thank you all for the touching comments, emails, messages, and other notes on Kaweah’s passing. We are in awe of your love for our dear pup and grateful for your kindness and well wishes. Thank you so very much. xo

The past week has been a bit of a blur as we try to resume life without Kaweah. Everywhere we turned we expected to see that cute little face staring back at us (presumably wondering if we had beef or cheese or apples to offer). And when I didn’t find Kaweah, I just sat down and sobbed. Or I stood and sobbed. I sobbed as I folded her freshly laundered towels and beddings. I sobbed as I put away her dog bowls. I did a lot of sobbing. It was hard being in the house without her – so we packed up and headed southwest. Kaweah’s absence is still felt, but it’s slightly less pronounced here in Crested Butte. Just slightly.


kaweah’s last sunset

my last photo of kaweah on the way to the vet

tags, leashes, and collars by the front door



I still miss hearing her soft snoring in the middle of the night, or watching her little legs chase bunnies in her dreams, or the funny way she would sniff sniff sniff EVERYTHING in the yard until it culminated in a giant sneeze. Getting outside has helped tremendously. Most of you know that the mountains are my therapy sessions. It’s incredibly beautiful right now too.

i spotted a gorgeous bull moose on my trail run last week

brilliant stormy sunset over paradise divide

wildflowers dot the hillslopes of the crested butte high country



While trail running alone, I can lose myself in thought for hours and think about Kaweah without crying. Occasionally, one of her nicknames will push from my lungs into the mountain air and I’ll smile at the memory of her goofy shenanigans. Cooking helps too. I went through one day of depression eating before I bounced back to a normal meal pattern. Prepping vegetables has been especially meditative. My mom told me keeping busy will help, and she’s right. I shot this pasta recipe a few weeks ago, with Kaweah at my side to catch any stray pieces of salmon. Blogging will help me find my way back to normal.

hot smoked salmon, salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, white wine, fettuccine, cream, parmesan, butter, asparagus

drizzle olive oil over the asparagus

season with salt and pepper and grill (or roast)

slice asparagus into bite-size pieces



**Jump for more butter**