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


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crested butte: supper at sunflower

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Sometimes it takes a little nudge to discover something wonderful that is right under your nose. In the heart of downtown Crested Butte, The Sunflower has always been a great place for us to grab a spinach and feta croissant or a good sandwich to go. For some reason, I assumed it was breakfast-lunch only because their menu lists breakfast and lunch. I was half correct. The Sunflower is a communal kitchen – a cafe/deli in the daytime and a restaurant at night. Two separate businesses that share one space. I only learned about Supper at Sunflower this spring when Rob, the best painter in town and fellow mushroom foraging enthusiast, mentioned it to me.


sunflower is located on elk avenue



Indoor seating in this cozy, rustic establishment maxes out at 32, but in summer the pleasant patio easily doubles the restaurant capacity. Reservations are highly recommended and there are generally two seatings each night: early [6:00 pm, 6:15 pm, 6:30 pm] and late [8:00 pm, 8:15 pm, 8:30 pm]. Every time we have dined at Supper at Sunflower, the place has been packed with regulars and newcomers alike. Their staff is warm and friendly, and every server was quite knowledgeable about the menu and the extensive wine list (and what pairs well with what). Sunflower also offers a huge number of wines by the glass as well as a dozen beers by the bottle. Be sure to ask about their porrons.

a cozy interior

patio dining with my folks on a fine colorado summer evening



Small bites and small plates dominate the menu at Supper at Sunflower, although there are large plates in the traditional sense of a meal. I feel that the quantity on the small plates offers the best value. Supper at Sunflower encourages sharing and sampling – a fun way to enjoy and explore more of their Spanish-influenced farm to table cuisine. Start with a selection from their Nibbles, an assortment of cheeses, cured meats, olives, and nuts. There is usually a tempting seasonal soup and a couple of salads, all incorporating fresh, local ingredients.

some nibbles: olives, manchego, finocchiona



Admittedly, we get so excited about the appetizers that it wasn’t until the third visit (on my birthday) that I ordered the heirloom tomato salad with ricotta cheese, watermelon, and pickled cucumbers. That salad embodied what I enjoy most about the food at Supper at Sunflower. A thoughtful and exciting balance of textures and flavors exists in most of their dishes. Best of all, I love their use of homemade pickled and preserved toppings to accentuate and enhance the plates. They add zing and zip to an already exceptional combination of flavors. Of the many (so many) small plates we’ve tried, my favorite was the rabbit escabeche. The tangy stewed rabbit and vegetables arrived along with an amorphous piece of charred dough – some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted!

albacore tuna poke

rabbit escabeche with grilled bread

house burrata

pork sausage with fava beans



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back in the saddle

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle-stuffed pork tenderloin

Just when I thought I was ready to kick that cold in the hoohoo, I came down with pink eye. Or I *thought* I had pink eye. Dr. Eye Doctor told me that I did not in fact have pink eye, but dry eyes. Apparently the combination of our dry mountain air, my excessively long days wearing contacts, and lots of computer time has caused great irritation and distress to the insides of my eyelids. I was instructed to take a break from wearing contacts to give my eyes a rest lest I not be able to wear contacts in the future. Trying not to sound like a brat after my scolding, I inquired how long “a break” was. He gave me the side-eye and said, “Until your eyes feel better.” Before I could ask another stupid question he continued, “That might be a day or it might be a week. You will have to gauge, but don’t push it – be kind to your eyes.” I gave it a day and another day and a third day and I’ve noticed considerable improvement.

As dull as it was to exercise on the indoor bike trainer (the only place I could work out and not hurt myself when my glasses steamed up), it was a much needed opportunity to get a lot of computer work done and organize my freezers – woohoo! And I let my body truly recover from the cold and not relapse by heading out into frigid winds and blowing snow. Of course, now that I’m healthy again, I’m going to do exactly that – go straight into the frigid winds and blowing snow. Hey, it’s ski season on the Front Range! It is what it is. Besides, there’s nothing like being sick to make you appreciate being healthy.

This week’s recipe is offered as a main dish suggestion for holiday dinner parties or the actual holidays. If there is any time to roast a hunk of meat it would be on the darkest nights as we enter winter. Ah, but this isn’t just any hunk of meat – it is stuffed with earthy, delightful mushrooms. I’m using foraged chanterelles here, but you can use whatever fresh mushrooms are available to you in your neck of the woods: shiitakes, crimini, oysters – something with flavor and character.


wine, olive oil, black pepper, beef broth, chanterelles, sage, thyme, butter, garlic, salt, pork tenderloins

thick sliced mushrooms



Could you make this with beef tenderloin (or flank steak) instead? Yes. Yes you could. The only reason I went with pork was because these were sitting in the chest freezer back in October when I shot the recipe. The stuffing is simply roasted mushrooms with some aromatics and seasonings. Use the recipe as a guideline. If you have other herbs and seasonings that you prefer, then go for it. At this point, I just want you to be happy.

prepped mushroom stuffing

pouring olive oil over the mushrooms and herbs

toss it all together

place in a baking dish and roast

roasted, tender, and fragrant



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the spicy side of life

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Recipe: posole

Autumn in the mountains is a love affair with Indian Summer and early season winter snow storms. The trajectory of the sun across the sky incorporates a more horizontal component in the fall rather than shooting straight up high by 6 am in summer, which makes for cool morning trail runs that don’t require sunblock. Chilly nights mean we welcome Neva snuggling between us on the bed, but daytime temperatures remain pleasant enough that windows and deck doors let mountain air flow gently through the house. If we’re lucky, precipitation comes in frozen form. We were lucky this week.


we measured three inches at home

it got up to 6 inches in the backcountry



On our hike, Neva bounded and pounced in the snow for quite some time. I wonder what that little puppy brain remembers from last winter. She loves the snow so much, but does she understand that this happens each year or is every day a surprise for her? I suspect the latter. We saw a moose at one of the lakes, running away from us or the crazy windy horizontal snow, or both. Neva lost her mind, but she was leashed (this is why we keep her on a leash!), so she lost her mind in a 6 foot radius around Jeremy. She gets really excited when she sees horses, moose, elk, deer, cattle, people, grass blowing in the wind… pretty much anything. You can see the short video on my Instagram and hear Neva crying like a nut at the end.

But within 24 hours, the sun was back and the snow in town had melted away. Our local trails are crunchy underfoot with brown and yellow leaves that used to adorn the aspen trees above. The smell of autumn hangs on the air – musty and a little sweet. It smells wise to me, like it knows something that we don’t. Now is a good time to process photos from the fall shoot, because the majesty of autumn in the mountains is so fleeting that I sometimes forget what I saw.


sunset on the beckwith mountains

aspen leaves light up in the sun



I recently went through our chest freezer to take inventory of what has been lurking deep in the corners all year. I didn’t roast any green chiles at the end of this summer because I knew I had several bags adrift in the freezer sea as well as a new shipment of several pounds of gorgeous roasted red and green chiles from The Hatch Chile Store in New Mexico. Well, let’s just say we are going to be having a lot of green chile dishes this winter, which is perfect because one of my favorites is posole.

a pound of diced green chiles (skinned and seeded)

hominy, limes, garlic, green chiles, pork shoulder, dried new mexico red chiles, salt, oregano



This recipe, which I believe my mother-in-law gave me years ago, was posted way back in the day such that I felt it needed an update – especially since I now use my pressure cooker! I’ve doubled the recipe in the photos here, but the written recipe below is for a single batch. If you love posole, you’ll want to double it, for sure. I list instructions for both conventional stove top cooking and pressure cooker (you can also use a crock pot/slow cooker). If you don’t concern yourself with steps like de-fatting the broth or starting with dried hominy, this is relatively quick and easy to make. I include those steps, too – but they are all optional. While I had planned (and prefer) to make posole from dried hominy, I couldn’t find it in the three grocery stores I checked in Boulder – so ultimately I had to go with canned.

There are several bags of dried New Mexico red chiles in my pantry. Much like the state of my chest freezer, the chiles have not been properly labeled or organized. I grabbed the best looking whole chiles and discovered later that these were from the bag of HOT chiles. Use what heat level suits your tastes. I typically work with medium chiles because hot can be a bit too spicy for Jeremy and I find mild to be boring. A quick rinse with water renders the chile pods pliable so that you can lop off the stems and scrape out the seeds.


scraping the seeds from the chile pods

mincing garlic



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