huckleberry cheesecake ice cream coconut shrimp spruce tip syrup and the muir cocktail cherry (ice cream) bombes


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the convergence of great and awesome

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Recipe: soy sauce braised wild mushroom noodles

Last Friday when I left the Boulder County Justice Center, my head was pounding from countless hours of listening to lawyer-speak. Right before I stepped out of the building, one of the security staff shouted at me. He ran over to thank me for the blondies I baked for them and wished me a happy weekend. I had brought some for security, for my fellow jurors, and the courtroom. Who couldn’t use a cookie on a Friday? A friend of mine has pondered aloud why I bake and give away sweet treats. Like, what’s the dealio, Jen? It’s a simple gesture that goes a long way to elicit a smile, brighten someone’s day – a small gift made with love (and butter).


chocolate chip toasted pecan sea salt blondies



Driving up the canyon at the end of the day Friday, my shoulders relaxed and I let the cool mountain air wash over me, my mind turning to our weekend plans. I was looking forward to spending time with my puppy, catching up on work, and maybe even getting outside for some fun with Jeremy. Check. Check. And check! On a lark, Jeremy and I went to do a little reconnaissance and we each found a few morels, kicking off our second season (at least the first season wasn’t a fluke!). On Sunday morning, we threw the bikes on the roof rack, loaded the skis in the car, and set off on a bike-hike-ski. We rode in with our skis strapped to our packs, stashed the bikes in the woods where the snow started, then hiked up a little way before switching over to skis and skinning up the rest of the way. There is still plenty of snow in the backcountry and we’re slated to get another foot or more in the high country this week! Ski season isn’t over, kids.

i love this goofball

first black morel of the season!

skinning up

skiing out

pausing as we look east toward the plains (where it’s hot – too hot for my tastes)



One of the best things about finding black morels in the mountains is that I can stop looking for blonde morels on the flats. You see, foraging for black morels means staying in the mountains where I don’t get ticks (I’m still careful though), it’s much cooler, and it’s where I want to be. Foraging for blonde morels on the plains is an exercise in paranoia because I have to worry about ticks and poison ivy AND the hot weather makes me irritable, there’s tons of trash, and there are too many people. I know, I know… I’ve become that weird-ass mountain person. At least my searches on the plains resulted in some good hauls of oyster mushrooms. The good news is that I don’t have to return to lower elevations to forage those because their cousins, the aspen oysters, should start flushing in the mountains any day now.

oyster mushrooms are welcome in my kitchen



The first time my buddy, Erin, and I found oyster mushrooms this season, I told her to take them home. I wasn’t ready to deal with wild mushrooms just yet. One of my great fears is to forage some beautiful edible wild mushroom, take it home, then not have time to deal with them and let them rot. That’s just plain wrong. So once I knew we could find oyster mushrooms, I did some research on recipes I wanted to try and went to buy the ingredients. I’ve seen oyster mushrooms at Whole Foods, but I didn’t realize (or didn’t register) that you could purchase fresh oyster mushrooms at the Asian market. I went ahead and bought some just in case our foray the next day was a failure.

Luckily, it was not a bust and I went home to make some soy sauce braised wild mushroom noodles. My friend, Kelly, had posted a link to this recipe on Facebook and I thought, “How timely! Oyster mushrooms are flushing.” In addition to oyster mushrooms, this dish calls for beech mushrooms and shiitakes. The only complaint I have about the recipe is that I had to go buy Yet. Another. Bottle. Of. Soy. Sauce. I have six different kinds of soy sauce in my refrigerator right now, the newest addition being the Mushroom Flavored Superior Dark Soy Sauce. If you can’t find the mushroom dark soy sauce, then I imagine dark soy sauce (which is different from regular soy sauce) should work.


for your soy sauce reference

beech mushrooms, chinese wheat noodles, oyster mushrooms, dried shiitakes, mushroom dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, green onions, shallots, sugar, salt, vegetable oil, sesame oil



The dried shiitake mushrooms are rehydrated in boiling hot water and the soaking liquid is reserved for braising the mushrooms. Ever since one of my aunts sent an email around to the family with unverifiable information about chemicals in the soaking liquid of dried shiitake mushrooms from China, I’ve harbored this paranoia in the back of my brain. So I went out of my way to purchase certified organic shiitake mushrooms for a small fortune from Whole Foods. Welcome to my head.

rehydrating shiitakes (save the soaking liquid)

trim the stems and slice

ingredients prepped



**Jump for more butter**

at last the april showers

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Recipe: chinese shrimp and sizzling rice

When I hear a weather forecast on the radio for “a beautiful day”, I already know they mean sunshine and warm temperatures, because our society has got something against rain and snow and cold. But I have lots of good reasons for loving precipitation! The most obvious is the skiing, but recreation aside, our snow pack and rainstorms provide much-needed insurance against out-of-control wildfires in the mountains as well as water for all of the flat-landers downstream. Other bonuses include mushrooms (oh, the mushrooms!), wild berries, and wildlife that rely on moisture to survive and thrive. Don’t forget those stunning wildflower displays at the height of summer, or refreshing waterfalls and alpine lakes that are a joy to hike. Besides, rainy days make sunny days all the more delicious.

So yes, we are getting some belated April showers, at last! Sometimes it falls as snow, sometimes it falls as rain. At this point, I am happy with either one. Sure, I’d love a few more backcountry ski days, but I’m already four weeks into my trail running season. I could go either way and it’s all good. The longer days also mean more time for outdoor puppy play and training!


rain can give you rainbows

those clouds can create magic

neva wanted to show me her new favorite toy

i met an adorable 3 1/2 month old golden retriever, penny



I’ll be honest. My main desire for rain right now is so the mushrooms flush instead of petering out in another drought. Despite hitting the jackpot a couple of times, last summer was a crap season for mushrooms overall in Colorado. It was simply too dry. So you can imagine my delight when it rained for two days last week. Erin and I met shortly after sunrise to wade through freezing cold streams, carefully picking our way through mazes of branches while spotting and avoiding poison ivy. The conversation meandered from topic to topic, much like our path which wasn’t a path, but a series of points of interest that led us further into the woods and tall grasses.

plum blossoms – these will be good for plums come end of summer/early fall

picking wild catnip for the kitties (and dodging lurking leafless poison ivy stalks)

a pretty cluster of perfect oyster mushrooms

harvesting some more good finds



Despite her protests, I made Erin take all of the oyster mushrooms home. Part of the reason was because I know Jay, her husband (and also my friend), is crazy about wild mushrooms. The other part was because I had accumulated so much psychological freak out over poison ivy contamination with each hour we were foraging that my brain was about to explode. I’m just a little OCD… When we got to the cars, I told her I wanted her to keep the mushrooms as I began shedding my outer layers, turning them inside out, and stuffing them into plastic bags (to take home to wash). I wouldn’t have the time to clean and cook the mushrooms anyway.

I had plenty to get done at home like baking a batch of cookies to mail to my dad. Mom had pneumonia for the past couple of weeks and Dad took great care of her, so I felt he deserved a treat. Plus, he gave me this “recipe” for Chinese shrimp and sizzling rice. I put recipe in quotes because it was conveyed to me via phone conversation with a lot of shouting and hand-wavy quantities. A little bit of this. Some of that. Maybe some peas. I don’t want peas. Okay, no peas. I can only imagine if my parents had a food blog.


rice cakes



After some research, I did find a couple of recipes for homemade sizzling rice which involve steaming rice, then baking it low and slow, then deep frying it. I took the easy way out this time and bought Chinese sizzling rice cakes at an Asian supermarket. I’m showing you the packaging because that is the only way I can find it. It’s usually tucked somewhere among the dried noodles, but one time they moved them and I spent a half hour scouring the aisles before I located the rice cakes.

straw mushrooms, water chestnuts, baby bok choy, shaoxing wine, vegetable oil, chicken stock, white pepper, shrimp, rice cakes, egg white, salt, cornstarch, water, green onions, fresh ginger



The shrimp should first be mixed with Shaoxing wine, a half teaspoon of salt, and a little bit of egg white. Don’t use too much egg white or else you’ll wind up with a lot of cooked egg in the pan. You just want enough to coat the shrimp. The cornstarch should be mixed in last. I let the shrimp marinate for ten minutes on the counter, then I pop them in the freezer for another ten or fifteen minutes per my dad’s instructions. The freezing is just to get the shrimp cold and not to actually freeze them through. This probably keeps the shrimp from overcooking.

shaoxing wine, egg white, salt, cornstarch, shrimp (peeled, deveined, and butterflied)

add the shaoxing wine

toss with egg white

mix in the cornstarch



**Jump for more butter**

the wamp invasion

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Recipe: morel asparagus prosciutto lemon pasta

Colorado is undergoing a bout of Seasonal Confusion. It’s technically shoulder season for our two ski mountains as they both closed today until next Fall 2017. By the good graces of the atmosphere, we managed to nab a couple of powder days this past week at Eldora (thank you, upslope!) before closing day. It’s been a toggle from a snowy day to a sunny day to more snow to sun to snow. One day I’m trail running and the next I’m stepping into my powder skis. Makes my head spin.


jeremy gets first tracks in nearly a foot of powder

and it was the fluffy stuff

a half foot in the morning melted to an inch, then by day’s end it began to snow again

seeking fresh pockets the next morning



As the days get warmer, my mountain buddies and I are itching for mushroom season to start around here. Of course, if you want to speed the season up by a month or so, you merely have to drive 3000 feet down to the plains. So that’s what we did. I mean, lots of flatlanders come up to the mountains to hunt for mushrooms, so why shouldn’t the WAMPs (weird ass mountain people – that’s us) reciprocate? It’s early yet, but we were on a scouting run. There’s a reason we generally prefer to stick to our home turf in the mountains. We don’t have to worry about ticks, poison ivy, rattlesnakes, garbage, and a constant stream of people while we forage. And it’s hot on the flats. Oh man, I nearly lost my marbles when the morning sun emerged above the cloud bank to the east. My skin is still in winter mode. But the mushrooms beckon.

hello pretties! a little nursery of baby oyster mushrooms

my pal harvests some old oyster mushrooms to smear on a log at his house

these are western poison ivy stalks (pre-leaf) – don’t touch!

western poison ivy stalks with berries (again, don’t touch)



Since the Colorado high country will be among the handful of locations with the last morel flushes of the season, I’ve decided to share a recipe that I shot the previous spring for those of you with fresh morels in hand right now (or soon). It would seem that the sickness sets in earlier each year, but I like to think of it as diversifying my portfolio… of mushrooms.

there is much joy to be had in the hunt (from 2016)



Mushrooms and pasta are a no-brainer combination. Use your favorite kind of pasta. Mine is pappardelle. Because morels are the epitome of spring, I thought it appropriate to pair them with asparagus, which also sprout forth from the ground in the early season. Morels, more than the other wild mushrooms I forage, have that slight funk in flavor shared with the likes of stinky cheeses, well-aged full-bodied red wines, and cured meats. Therefore, prosciutto is a lovely companion to these delightful fungi, and hints of lemon zest brighten the whole ensemble.

pasta, morels, asparagus, cream, pepper, parmesan, prosciutto, butter, chicken stock, lemon, salt, garlic, olive oil

halve the morels

rinse and dry the mushrooms



**Jump for more butter**