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archive for dinner

chowder time

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Recipe: chanterelle bacon corn chowder

I want to thank all of the folks who shared advice on puppy pukiness on car rides. We gave Neva a ginger chew 30 minutes before driving to Crested Butte last weekend and she puked about 20 minutes into the drive. I’ve become an expert at catching her puke in a plastic grocery bag, but sometimes she pulls away at the last minute and so I’ve also developed expertise at cleaning up puppy vomit. Our next step is to try dramamine per our vet’s instructions. On the drive back home, Neva kept it together until we neared Cottonwood Pass (the dirt road up is curvy and bumpy), but that time I caught it all in a bag! Once at the pass, we decided to take her out for a little hike, which made her VERY happy.

life with puppy is not all rainbows, but in crested butte it kinda *is* all rainbows

looking back at the collegiate peaks from cottonwood pass

fuzzy seeds

jeremy walks neva to the view east

Neva is about five and a half months old now and we suspect she’s entering that adolescent stage. She walks nicely on the leash when she feels like it, but when she wants to run around with Snickers (a little chihuahua-doberman mix) or anything else, she pulls like a maniac. So I got out Kaweah’s old Halti collar, also known as the gentle leader. It’s supposed to reduce pulling and render your dog obedient without hurting them, but most dogs I know really dislike it until they get used to the collar. Kaweah would melt when we put it on her. My in-laws’ dog merely sees the Halti in the room and he settles down. Kaweah’s Halti was big on Neva, so she was able to wriggle out of it a few times (Jeremy bought a smaller size after work today). We used to think Neva would surpass Kaweah’s weight and size, but now it’s looking that she will be the same size or smaller than Kaweah. Eventually, it appeared to work and we were able to walk peacefully, until Snickers came by…

at first she struggled

then there was demoralized acceptance

after much pawing and squirming, she managed this

This week marks the end of foraging for me. I’m done with the chanterelles and the huckleberries – or rather, they’re done. It feels good to be able to hike normally again without constantly scanning the ground and stumbling forward tripping over rocks and tree roots. My favorite part is the hunt. I love finding mushrooms and hucks. My next favorite part is the photography. I like shooting the pretty specimens I encounter. Then there is the actual collection which can be backbreaking and/or dirty work. My least favorite part of the whole process is cleaning the mushrooms (sorting hucks can be a lot of work, too). So when the season ends, I’m sad but I’m also glad.

more pretties off the trail

When September rolls around I find myself in the mood for some kind of corn chowder before the wonderfully sweet local corn is done for the year. Seeing as I had some chanterelles, it made sense to have the two ingredients share the stage. And then there’s bacon…

bacon, onion, garlic, chanterelles, chicken stock, pepper, wine, cream, potatoes, lemon, celery, corn, salt, thyme, dill

coarse chop the mushrooms

mise en place

**Jump for more butter**

love thy long weekend

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Recipe: mongolian beef

Labor Day weekend marks the close of the busy summer season. It’s when the visitors return to normal life and leave the mountains to the locals, as if the mountains have closed for the year. But the mountains don’t close, ever. They march through the seasons regardless of you or me. Despite the fact that summer is my least favorite of all the seasons (I love them all, I just love the others more), it is indeed a glorious time when trails are easy to access, wildflowers scatter across the hills, and the fruits of the earth spring forth. We hopped out to Crested Butte for the long holiday weekend so we could take care of house maintenance and get on the trails with the puppy. I also wanted to scope out what the aspens are up to because I’ve noticed yellows appearing earlier than usual in the Front Range – not big swaths, but patches here and there. Even though I won’t be doing a dedicated fall shoot this year (because of Neva), it’s hard to shut off the constant monitoring of the aspen stands right about now.

evidence that a few of the leaves are showing off early

The weather on the Front Range had been mostly hot and dry the last few weeks and our trails had few signs of the mushrooms that graced them only a month prior. But Crested Butte was getting more consistent relief in the form of rain. When we arrived at our place, the lawn had big, healthy, (poisonous) mushrooms sprouting up. That was a good sign. My hope was that the chanterelles would have a second flush, but I wasn’t sure that it would actually happen. We hiked out to some patches over the weekend and lo and behold – chanterelles. Some were dried out and old, others were fresh and just coming out of the ground. I surmised that this wasn’t a second flush, but a continuation of the original flush – stoked on by healthy doses of rain and sun. What an amazing season it has been! I used all of the August chanterelles to shoot recipes, but these will be sautéed in butter and frozen for our enjoyment in winter.

hello, beautifuls

neva waits for jeremy to fill her water dish while i forage chanterelles

not a bad haul for a morning

Of course, the weekend wasn’t just about foraging mushrooms. We got Neva out on the trails for lots of exercise and visited the neighborhood lake to let her get her swim on. As we approached the water, she began to pull on the leash as if her life depended on it. At first I thought there was a dead, rotting carcass near the shore that she smelled. But soon it became clear that this dog wanted to SWIM. So we chucked stick after stick into the water and watched as this once chunky clumsy puppy now gracefully and athletically leapt into the water – a strong and beautiful swimmer.

go neva!


I do plan to head up into the mountains for one last forage before returning home, but I realize that some of you may be tired of the onslaught of huckleberry and chanterelle recipes. Maybe you’re looking for something that will serve as part of a weeknight meal? I haven’t blogged too many Asian recipes this summer, so let’s change things up and go with some Mongolian beef. It’s an easy and straightforward stir fry. The only obstacle might be sourcing some of the ingredients, but I assure you that all of them can be found in an Asian grocery store or a regular grocery store that has a well-stocked Asian food aisle.

flank steak, hoisin sauce, shaoxing wine, vegetable oil, oyster sauce, chili bean sauce, dried red hot chilis, potato starch, scallions, garlic

slice on the diagonal

mince the garlic

slice the flank steak against the grain

**Jump for more butter**

better than good enough

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Recipe: fried polenta and porcini on roasted carrot purée

We had a busier than usual schedule last week because Jeremy was hosting his astrophysics retreat. This was his third one, but it seemed more harried than usual because of the additional puppy-wrangling. Without going into too much detail, the retreat is an “unconference” that eschews the traditional scientific conference format. It is a small gathering of select (young) experts in astrophysics who come together for 4 days of intense, high-powered brainstorming for the love of science. Running any sort of workshop or conference is exhausting, but for someone like Jeremy – my dearest introvert – it is doubly so. Once he had caught up on sleep and other work, I suggested we spend a relaxing evening under the stars together… with Neva… in a tent.

neva tries out the sleeping bags as the sun goes down

Actually, this was just a continuation of puppy training. The plan is to go backpacking this fall with the pup, but first we need her to get used to being in a tent. When our neighbor’s kids were little, they used to camp in a tent on their deck because the youngest would always get scared before 9 pm and run back into the house. I thought this could work for Neva, too. We could camp on the deck and if she got unruly or upset, we would bail and go inside. But there was no need to abandon ship because she was very sweet and cuddly throughout the night. She probably slept better than either of the humans. I think this backpacking thing just might work.

it’s a loungy puppy life

if we’re going to camp out, we may as well eat outside, too

blue moon rising

ready for zip up and lights out

Jeremy’s astrophysics retreat takes place in Boulder with the exception of one day held at our house in the mountains. My minor contribution is to help host the participants which includes a sit down dinner. Living outside of Boulder, we are accustomed to accommodating the restricted diets of our friends, but I got a stumper in this group: gluten-free vegetarian. In my opinion, gluten-free is pretty easy and vegetarian isn’t terrible, but the combination really whittled down my options. There were two ideals I had to balance: 1) that not serving meat to your guests is rude (per Chinese tradition) and 2) it is unacceptable to serve sub-par food to vegetarians. But I was up for the challenge, particularly because the one guest who was gluten-free vegetarian happens to be a genuinely nice and good person. Luckily, porcini are in season NOW.

here’s a pretty specimen (plus one in the background)

two buddies chilling out off trail

The idea was to serve something that everyone could enjoy and then the omnivores could have some kind of animal added to their dish. I decided to go with fried polenta cakes and pan-seared porcini. It was easy enough to hike up into the mountains to nab some choice mushrooms only because I knew they were flushing and I knew exactly where to look. For some extra color, I thought a nice roasted carrot purée would brighten the plate and lend some sweetness to the dish.

white wine, olive oil, vegetable oil, carrots, polenta, butter, thyme, salt, porcini

I started the day before, as I didn’t want to heat up the house cooking all day before dinner. I made the polenta and then pressed it into a baking dish to cool and solidify. A loaf pan works too if you want to slice your polenta that way. Once the polenta had set (about an hour or so), I popped it into the refrigerator to chill.

stir the polenta into the boiling water

when the polenta is done, stir in a pat of butter

pressed into a baking dish to cool

**Jump for more butter**