roasted cherry bourbon swirl ice cream morel bourbon cream sauce fried morel mushrooms black olive tapenade


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Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Recipe: roasted cherry bourbon swirl ice cream

Despite having grown up fishing, sailing, and spending my spare time playing on the James River, I don’t consider myself a water girl. Clearly, having mountains underfoot and snow underski is my preferred modus operandi. Lately however, I have returned to the water while remaining in the mountains, thanks to our standup paddle boards (SUPs). It’s possible to kayak some white-knuckle rapids in the area, but I’m not looking for new ways to kill myself. SUPing can be as mellow or as insane as you want, provided there is a body of water to serve your purpose. We like flat alpine lakes with fish safaris below and mountain views above. Even a small lake can pose risks, so we ordered Neva a personal flotation device (doggy life preserver) because she doesn’t have enough sense to stop swimming when she’s too tired.


teaching a friend to sup in crested butte

neva test drives her new life jacket

she doesn’t seem to mind it

and when she isn’t on the sup, she’s jumping into the lake to fetch tennis balls



You can watch Neva’s running jump into the lake in slow motion on Instagram (click the link). Another risk is that water doesn’t mix well with most electronics, like my smartphone. The week before, Jeremy and I were paddling around to watch about twenty large carp chilling out among some downed logs. I always keep my phone in a ziploc bag in a waist pack or pocket, but this time… I was paddling forward to get a better shot of the fish and had zipped the phone into the pack without sealing it in the ziploc. Dumb, I know. Especially dumb because the next thing I knew I fell backwards off the board and *SPLOOSH* into the water. 48 hours in a bag of rice and then a day at the repair shop, I have a semi-working phone again. The touch screen is a little wonky which results in unintended actions – like calling random contacts, opening one app when I pressed another, or liking images when I was trying to navigate to my Instagram feed. This past week has been a little vacation away from my phone other than using the camera and I actually like it that way.

enjoying the glorious aspen forests

crimson columbines in bloom

a marmot sunning itself on a snowmobile on the side of the road

our state flower, the blue columbine, is starting its season



We’re taking a break from morels. I can’t tell you how many miles of trail I have scoured in search of morels the past three weeks. It isn’t so much the need to HAVE and EAT morels, because aside from a few big hauls, I have been leaving them in place where I find them. It’s my obsession with documenting where, how, and when they grow that drives me to study maps and satellite images and crawl through the forest at a snail’s pace. I finally drew the line last week because it was interfering with my trail running schedule. Besides, it’s going to be porcini season soon enough – and those are much easier to spot while trail running! Since Monday is the first day of summer and the weather over the southwest is set to BROIL, I decided fruity ice cream was the way to go. Also? There is bourbon, and you really can’t argue with fruity bourbony ice cream. But if you do object to bourbon, it’s easy enough to just leave it out of the recipe.

cherries, bourbon, cream, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla bean, more sugar, salt, lemon (juice)



If you cringe at the thought of roasting anything in the summer heat, then it’s possible to pit the cherries and whir them up in a blender with the sugar and bourbon. Roasting does concentrate flavors and the caramelized sugar adds a nice dimension to the cherry swirl, too. Use a pan that is just big enough to fit all of the cherries in a single layer, because I used a much larger pan and the extra space results in burnt juices. I wound up removing my cherries from the oven early to avoid further burning of said juices.

wash the cherries

sprinkle sugar and bourbon over the cherries

roasted



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you knew it was coming

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Recipe: fried morel mushrooms

Two weeks away from the technical start of summer and the mountains are just beginning to sport their spring green. But what a lovely spring green it is – so brief and yet dazzling like little jewels under the intense spotlight of the high sun. After reading about all manner of “indicators” for black morels in the mountains, I’ve come to the conclusion that it basically means “when spring arrives and things start growing”. Makes sense. I’m seeing tiny pink calypso orchids, pasque flowers (still!), aspen leaves, oregon grape in bloom, false morels (toxic) and on and on and on. It’s wonderful in part because it isn’t terribly hot yet, which means foraging is more bearable when I’m crawling through forest debris. Come chanterelle and porcini seasons, I get a little cranky when the mercury rises.


refreshingly green and blue

pretty little things

a prize find



Back here on the Front Range, the morels in my area are taking their time. I’ve found a few early bolters, but that’s about it. I’ll probably miss the start of the proper flush, but I’m sharing my trail observations with my shroom buddy, Erin, because I want to know how the areas progress while I’m in Crested Butte and because I want her to get some black morels! Meanwhile, Neva is getting lots of running and playtime not associated with foraging morels. She makes it infinitely harder to concentrate on finding mushrooms and then when we do find them, she (like most dogs) will invariably and unwittingly step on at least a couple of them. I think we’re all quite happy to see the progression into spring because we know that summer will arrive like the flick of a switch. Good things happen in the mountains when the days are warm.

neva, orange tennis ball, and a big field of dandelions

sleeping (on the couch) with her tongue out

jeremy admires the view at sunset



I brought about half of my morel haul home to Nederland for recipe testing. The rest of the morels were either consumed in Crested Butte or given to devoted mushroom foragers who had never tasted black morels before. Oddly enough, when I was passing through my local Costco down on the flats, I found black morels for $8 per half pound. That is quite a good deal. I picked up two boxes out of curiosity and to supplement my supply for a morel recipe testing fest over the weekend. The store-bought morels were picked wild in the Pacific Northwest and they had good flavor, but they also came with plenty of small worms who apparently also appreciate the flavor of morels. I hate mushroom worms. Thankfully, my own foraged black morels were worm free and really clean. I used the small ones for this classic recipe of fried morels. Also, I made a half recipe (the recipe below is the full recipe) to conserve my limited supply of morels.

flour, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, milk, egg, morels



There is a wide swath of this country that insists the only way to eat morels is fried. I think morels can be enjoyed in a variety of preparations, but I’m not going to turn my nose up at a fried morel! So I went in search of a good recipe. When it comes to wild mushrooms, I find that Hank Shaw’s blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, is a great resource for solid information and reliable recipes.

i leave the small ones whole

you can see they are hollow inside

a large morel gets the chop chop

hollow inside – this is how you know it’s a morel and not a toxic look alike



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spring, is that you?

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Recipe: passion fruit meringues

I knew it would snow again. How awesome for us that we could backcountry ski fresh snow in our local mountains one day, then go for a trail run in these same mountains the next day. The weather is a spring mix bouquet – it’s got a little bit of everything going on right now. We are rolling with it, because staying indoors is not an option.


sunrise clouds revealing new snow

a fast-moving thunderstorm at sunset



Jeremy and I have been waiting for a window of good weather all month when the snow is still decent in the high country. Active storms, cooler weather, and work obligations finally cleared this weekend. We pounced on the opportunity to get Neva out for her first ski backpack. It was an overnight trip into our local backcountry and we kept it simple for our own sanity as well as Neva’s safety. Unlike summer backpacking, early season backpacking involves more bulk and weight to account for cold nights, camping on snow, potential storms, and ski equipment. Although the forecast thunderstorms never materialized, we camped below treeline to be safe. Of course, Neva had the time of her life romping in the snow, getting extra food and snacks (she burned a lot of calories), catching the scent of a bazillion wild animals, and hogging our sleeping bags all night.

neva cools off in the snow – it was a scorching 70°f

skinning uphill with a heavy pack and a dog that likes to pull every which way is hard work

clouds building on the divide

home for the night



When Jeremy first introduced me to backpacking in March of 1993, he explained that it is “the endeavor of a thousand little discomforts”. But with experience, we learned to minimize, ignore, or accept those discomforts in exchange for the freedom of the hills. Ski backpacking with a one-year old crazy dog definitely adds more complexity and even pain. An outsider might regard this activity as recreation, but Jeremy and I definitely classify it as fun #2. Worth it? Absolutely. Will we take Neva again? We’ll see.

pre-dawn colors in the east

breaking down camp at 6:30 am

hiking the last couple of miles out



As the sun lingers in the sky for a few more minutes each day, my mind turns to tropical flavors. If anything tastes like sunshine, it is passion fruit. I’ve gone to great lengths in the past to procure fresh passion fruit, but sometimes I have to suck it up and buy some at outrageous prices here in Colorado for a shoot. Never let it be said that I have ever allowed a passion fruit to go to waste. Actually, I hate waste in general, which is why I wound up making these passion fruit meringues – because I always have an excess of egg whites in my refrigerator!

eggs, sugar, passion fruit

precious pulp and juice



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