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totally normal

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Recipe: apple huckleberry pie

**First, I would like to thank every person who bid on anything during the RezDawg Rescue Spring Silent Auction. All three of my donated photographic prints sold and RezDawg Rescue was able to meet and exceed their fundraising goal! This means more kittens and puppies rescued this spring as well as continued funding for RezDawg Rescue’s education and spay/neuter campaigns in the Four Corners region to help reduce the stray population. Thank you.**

I have one foot in a ski boot and one foot in a trail runner. Spring storms are hanging around Colorado the way you keep returning to the refrigerator to sneak a bite of leftover dessert. They deliver a foot of snow, then wander off as green spring tries to take hold. And just as you get used to not wearing a jacket, the white stuff returns. This is nothing new for us. After 14 years we have learned to go with the flow – or rather the whiplash of lurching forward and backward – of spring in the mountains.


uphill skiing in rocky mountain national park

yuki and neva patiently waiting to ski out (in our national forest)

the pups are anxious to run around in another new foot of snow

jeremy enjoying his earned backcountry turns



A couple of months ago, I posted a photo of a local mama moose and her yearling. About two weeks later we saw the yearling in our yard, but solo. His mother had run him off so she could focus her energies and attention on her new baby. Make that babies, because last week she brought two beautiful, fuzzy calves by our house to feed. One stuck close to mama, but the other really enjoyed chowing down on our wild currant bushes and was willing to let its family wander pretty far before leaving the snack station. I love that spring is full of new things.

new baby in the neighborhood



Speaking of new things, Erin and I were wandering about on the plains looking for one thing when we found a different thing – wild asparagus! Actually, it’s feral asparagus because it is the same species as the one you buy from markets and stores, but it got loose long ago and has been growing on its own. I found the first stalk by pure accident, and then the two of us quickly consolidated our knowledge from asparagus gardening (Erin), reading (both of us), and growing asparagus fern houseplants (me) to identify many other patches. So exciting! We came away with some nice hauls of super sweet asparagus stalks.

hello beautiful, i am in love

spring bounty



Since it feels as if we are bouncing between seasons here, I thought I’d share a pie that also encompasses more than one season. Even though apples are available year-round at the grocery store, they tend to peak in fall and winter. As for mountain huckleberries (my very favorite absolute best most delicious berry), they are a late summer treat that I can only get by hiking into my local mountains and spending hours picking them by hand. Luckily, they freeze well so that I can access them all year from my freezer. People can substitute its suitable cousin, the blueberry, which is in season now through the end of summer. The whole reason I make this pie is because a pure huckleberry pie represents 12 hours of non-stop berry picking (it’s backbreaking work here because our huck plants and berries are small). They are simply too precious for me to throw all of them into one pie. Apples make up the bulk of the filling while happily absorbing the flavor and color of the huckleberries.

huckleberries, apples, cornstarch, sugar, more sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon

peel, core, and dice the apples

for the apples: diced apples, sugar, pinch of salt, cinnamon

combine in a medium saucepan

cook until soft and the liquid turns into a thick syrup



**Jump for more butter**

letting go

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Recipe: gnocchi with morels and sage

Even though it’s snowing as I type, I believe it is time to say farewell to winter. I said winter, not skiing! We’re still going to ski as long as the snow is skiable. Spring skiing in the backcountry can be heaps of weird fun as we wait for trails to thaw out in the mountains.


i prefer the quiet of the backcountry to the resorts



Last week, we sent Neva and Yuki back to the kennel for Yuki’s first overnight stay and it was hard not seeing a fluffy white blur playfully bouncing about the house that evening. Both girls warmed up to playtime with other pups much faster than the first visit and they did just fine. We were asked if we wanted to keep the dogs together overnight or in separate rooms and I had to pause. I am certain Neva would have appreciated a night off from Yuki, but I think Yuki would have been beside herself without Neva, so of course we kenneled them together.

post doggy camp nap



As the house cleaning continues, we are over what I considered the crux of the endeavor. Jeremy can not only see the surface of his desk, but he has room to actually work at his desk as opposed to the dining table. He was not happy about my gentle, yet firm insistence that he clean his damn desk and the loads of electronics (cables, obsolete devices, data storage, etc.) in the office closet, but he is now delighted to have a workspace that no longer poses a physical threat to humans or passing canines.

The whole process got me thinking about stuff and things. What do we keep and why do we keep it? My own parents are in the middle of sorting their belongings as they prepare to eventually make the move to Colorado and further downsize their lives. Mom sent me a text last month that Daddy was cleaning out the attic and wanted to get rid of old home movies… movies that included Kris when she was a child. I could hear the desperation in Mom’s voice as I read her text and then it was punctuated by a sad face emoji with a teardrop. This made my heart hurt. I told her to have him pack it all in a box and ship it to me so I could digitally archive everything. Easy solution. Having the movies in my possession meant they were 1) no longer his worry and 2) not destroyed.

I know where Dad was coming from. He was thinking about how many more years he’s going to be around and decided he could live without this stuff. But he didn’t think about Mom’s feelings and how throwing those home movies out meant one more piece of Kris that she would lose forever. It didn’t matter if she never watched those movies again, she just needed them to be in safe keeping. I get it. I know Dad is able to part with these things and it doesn’t mean he loves Kris any less. I also know that Mom will never be able to part with them. I am my father’s daughter. As I cleaned my office, I was able to let go of mementos from Kris’ funeral – a terrible time filled with awful memories. I recycled all of my chemo logs and calendars, letters and cards from people I’ve removed from my life, and all of my dissertation-related paperwork. Good riddance, baggage.


focusing on what is important in life



While running errands last week, we drove past a ranch house on the flats that had a large fenced grassy front yard. Because I am immediately drawn to brightly-colored objects, I noticed about a hundred pastel eggs scattered throughout and gasped out loud. These weren’t just any eggs, but some were as big as my dogs! I turned to Jeremy and excitedly described what I saw. We couldn’t figure out a reason for the giant eggs, but maybe it’s for really little kids, or maybe it’s for vision-impaired kids? While we don’t celebrate Easter, we both think Easter egg hunts are awesome because they are a gateway activity to foraging.

patiently awaiting morel season in the mountains



Morels have been popping around the country, and the blonde morels are starting to show up in the southern part of our state, so I think I can drop another morel recipe for those of you with access now and those of us who hope to see the beloved mushroom coming online in the near future. I made and photographed this recipe at the end of last season, but I promise it will be every bit as delicious now as it was then. Shall we make some gnocchi with morels?

start with russet potatoes, egg, and flour



**Jump for more butter**

a cake for all seasons

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Recipe: almond cake with blood oranges (gluten-free)

Someone turned the dial to Spring this week. In winter, we used to wait for the temperatures to warm up before we could hit the Nordic trails. Now, we have to go as early as possible before the temperatures get too warm and the snow turns to slush. It smells like spring outside in the mountains – like melted snow and warmth and a barely perceptible hint of damp wood. Coyote tracks in the snow don’t get blown away or covered up so much as amplified by the sun’s rays. And Yuki gets her dog stink on after a few minutes on the deck. It’s lovely. All of it.


skate skiing with two happy pups

crested butte mountain towers above the fog



Wednesday was Neva’s fourth birthday and we had a little party for her with Yuki in attendance. We are settling into a nice routine with the pups and I think we have Neva to thank for making Free Range Yuki a reality. When we used to leave the house, Yuki would be nervous and would not play with her toys. She remained at Neva’s side until we returned. But Neva is very chill and good when we are not home. She mostly takes naps, sometimes looks out the window, and occasionally barks her head off at the UPS or FedEx trucks. She let Yuki know that everything was okay. Now, Yuki naps, checks the perimeter (she is many breeds of guard dogs), looks out the window, plays a little with Neva, and even grabs a toy for a few minutes.

happy birthday, neva!

beef, cheese, apples, carrots, and orange



As if on cue, our local mama moose and her yearling (you can see his antler nubs coming in) came by one morning to nibble away at the aspens and currant bushes like she does with each calf every spring. They hung out for a couple of hours in our and our neighbors’ yards. Everyone kept their dogs inside for as long as possible to avoid disturbing the pair until they wandered off to another part of the neighborhood. I managed a few photos from the safety of our deck. Such magnificent creatures.

touching noses

nuzzling with mama

so sweet and affectionate



Today’s recipe is good for spring, summer, fall, winter, because you top it with any seasonal fruit you like. I was looking for a reliable gluten-free cake since most of my gluten-free dessert repertoire consists of non-cake items. The problem with gluten-free baking is that I’m also dealing with high altitude baking. I spent two months working through some version and variation of this cake – sending moderate successes to my neighbors and trashing a couple of outright disasters. But I figured out the tweaks and now have a winner.

eggs, almond flour, sugar, coconut flour, more sugar, baking powder, salt, almond extract, vanilla extract



This cake is baked in an 8-inch springform pan, so smaller than your standard 9-inch cake. The original recipe calls for buttering the pan (or use melted coconut oil), but I line the bottom with parchment paper first and then butter the pan. I’ve become a huge fan of parchment paper for ease of release because I’ve had too many disappointing releases without parchment. I also suspect you could bake this in a standard round baking pan, but I haven’t actually tried it yet.

butter the pan

sprinkle some sugar over the base



**Jump for more butter**