hamachi yellowtail crudo veg head sandwich crested butte: soupçon wild rose petal ice cream


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a bear walks into a (sushi) bar

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Recipe: salmon poke

We rounded a corner this past week – hiking and running more days than skiing. I washed the late season mud off our nordic ski boots and packed up all but our backcountry telemark boots to store in the basement until October. Instead of four ski bins in the great room, we now have four bins for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, plus one holdout for backcountry skiing – at least for another week! Spring is dawdling. Rain and snow flirt in the high country and we expect another week of cool, wet weather around here, which means a few more days before I can swap out our flannel sheets for something cooler. Chilly mornings still require snuggy sheets.


morning reflections

scoping out the trails without skis *sniffle*

dashing through icy cold snowmelt streams



I used to regard shoulder season as a time of outdoor exercise limbo, but this season I’m embracing the coolish weather, squishy mud, and sporadic snow patches on the trails. It’s a good time for me to build up to higher mileage in what I consider comfortable temperatures. This way, I also scope out plants in bloom around my neck of the woods. To start trail running for the season when it’s already hot means there are two hurdles to deal with: the heat and trail running.

sunny and cool trail runs are just fine by me

so many pasque flowers in bloom!

neva perfects her jump-catch



Winter is good for me, I think, because it allows me to focus on snow and being a somewhat normal person. Summer is officially Crazy Time because so many wonderful mushrooms grow where I run or hike or bike – one can’t help but notice them and maybe forage a few and probably obsess over finding more because that’s the addictive property of wild mushrooms. But you all know that my true love is the tiny purple huckleberry. Erin and I have spent a few lazy winter days pondering where a good patch might be based on satellite imagery and our knowledge of the mountain trails and what our local huckleberries like. As the mountains shed their snowy mantles, we make note of healthy huckleberry plants and when they flower and when those flowers become green peas that will hopefully emerge as ripe huckleberries.

I make tons of sweet recipes with huckleberries – that’s easy to do as they play nicely with sugar, butter, flour, cream, and eggs. I’m exploring more savory recipes now that I have enough huckleberries in my freezer and I’m feeling comfortable with what the berry can and cannot do in a dish. Earlier this month I decided to make salmon poke, the salmon version of the more popular and ubiquitous tuna poke, but I didn’t want it to taste like tuna poke with salmon swapped in for the tuna. What I eventually came up with blends a little bit of Japanese cuisine with Hawaiian cuisine with the Pacific Northwest: salmon poke with huckleberries.


avocado, green onions, soy sauce, furikake, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, huckleberries, tempura crunch, salmon, sesame seeds, lemons



Think the combination of salmon and huckleberries will taste odd? Let me point out that salmon run where the huckleberries grow in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and that both foods are favorites of the locals – the bears. (If I were a bear, I would eat salmon and huckleberries and huckleberries and salmon all dang day.) When choosing a dressing for my poke recipe, I didn’t want the typical sesame oil in the mix because I feel it can and does overpower both the salmon and the huckleberries. Instead, I opted for ponzu sauce – a combination of soy sauce, lemon juice, and rice vinegar. I like that the lemon works especially well with the salmon and the hucks. You can purchase ponzu sauce from an Asian grocery store, but I find it’s pretty easy and tastier to make your own at home. If you are gluten-free, then definitely make your own ponzu sauce at home – just use tamari instead of soy sauce.

pouring rice vinegar and lemon juice into the soy sauce



A note about the salmon. You really do need to use sashimi-grade salmon in this recipe. Sashimi-grade means that the fish has been frozen down to -20°C/-4°F for at least seven days to kill off any parasites that might exist in the fish flesh. Salmon is particularly prone to parasites. While I always purchase wild salmon, in this instance my fish monger only had farmed Norwegian sashimi-grade salmon, so that’s what I bought. Creamy avocado is a no brainer for salmon poke, but I keep it separate from the actual poke because it puts a green film on everything when mixed in with the other ingredients. If you don’t care, then by all means, mix it in. My preference is to serve the poke on a bed of the avocado to preserve the aesthetics.

dice the salmon

avocado at the ready



**Jump for more butter**

april is a lion

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Recipe: spicy tuna inari

The other day while we were skinning uphill on a ski tour, Jeremy asked me what “in like a lion, out like a lamb” referred to. I speculated that it had to do with March starting like a lion because it was still winter, and exiting like a lamb, because it became spring in mid-late March. Jeremy wasn’t convinced, because in Colorado, the weather in March is pretty much psycho. Turns out April is too. Hot and sunny days. Cold and windy days. Snow. Thunder. RAIN. The r-word is the greatest offender, simultaneously killing off the snow pack and backcountry skier dreams. We struggle with this in-between period when the trails aren’t fully covered with snow but they aren’t completely clear either. This results in hybrid excursions like the bike-hike-ski or the ski-hike or the hike-ski or the bike-ski. We can’t let go of ski season but we don’t want to miss the arrival of summer in the high country.


jeremy ducks trees and dirt blowouts on the way up

niwot mountain summit (we stashed the skis where the snow ended and hiked)

removing climbing skins, getting ready to ski out

catching turns on the way down



I’m not sure what Neva thinks of the change in the seasons now that she has experienced all of them once. I mean, no one really knows what Neva thinks, period. At first, we figured she was smarter than Kaweah was – by a very little bit. Lately though, with more observational data to consider, we suspect that we were mistaken. That’s okay. We’re not trying to send her Caltech or anything. We just want her to heel and not jump on people and maybe stop licking everyone’s pants. As far as we can tell, Neva loves all of the seasons. She is just as energized plunging into deep powder as she is scrambling up boulders or diving into alpine lakes. I think she’s going to love this summer. We have big plans for her. I spent half of my REI dividend on a new 3-person (it’s more like a 2+) backpacking tent so we’ll have room enough for Neva to not kick our faces in the night. More little dog adventures! What’s not to love?

puppy treats to fuel puppy activities

trying on kaweah’s old dog pack

our local trails are melting out

neva loves the outdoors, just like her humans



As our outdoor pursuits change with the seasons, so too does our menu. Sure, seasonal foods make their way into our meals, but it’s temperature that has a bigger effect on my cooking. 50°F doesn’t sound very warm to most people, but it is quite warm up here in the mountains where a high of 20°F felt like a heat wave just a few months ago. Walking around in shorts I wonder how I survive summer each year if I feel like I’m melting in April? But we do adjust eventually and part of that adjustment involves making sushi. As far as I’m concerned, sushi is welcome in my pie hole any time of year. It is especially delightful when I deem it too hot (relatively speaking) to cook, like this past weekend. We didn’t want to bother with rolling sushi, so I opted for something even easier but just as tasty – if not tastier! Spicy tuna inari.

inari, sriracha, shiso, green onions, avocado, mayonnaise, seasoned sushi rice, sashimi-grade tuna



If you aren’t familiar with inari, it is tofu skin that is deep fried and seasoned in a sweet sauce. They typically come in pockets that are stuffed with seasoned sushi rice and served as inarizushi. The combination of the flavors is quite pleasing. I’ve never made inari myself, but we occasionally buy a can of it at the Asian grocery store for a quick and easy addition to our sushi nights.

the brand i buy which contains about 20 inari

gently pull open the pocket



**Jump for more butter**

boom!

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Recipe: thai firecracker shrimp

What do you know? It started snowing earlier this week! It was only a few inches at first, so we didn’t get too excited, but it made for nice conditions skinning up the mountain and skiing out. It was especially nice as it actively snowed on us when we took Neva up the mountain for the first time. While uphill skiing is permitted on designated ski routes throughout the day, dogs must be off the mountain during the hours of lift operations (9:00 am to 4:30 pm). Neva had to be on a leash because she’s still such a puppy. She wants to bound off to greet every new thing she sees: snowmobiles, other skiers, other dogs, ski resort staff, ski lifts, sticks, balls of snow, snowflakes. She’s so crazy with energy, but she did great. No one got hurt (#1 priority), Neva had a BLAST, Neva was exposed to resort skiing, and the pup was completely wiped out when we got home.


she is ready for adventure!

happy happy girl



When we are in Crested Butte, I usually bring tons of work and projects in the hopes of making headway while here. I discovered a while back that it becomes so overwhelming, I don’t manage to get much of anything finished. These days, I limit the projects that come with me and my productivity has improved considerably. This includes several baby quilts that are finally materializing under the needle of my sewing machine. With any luck, I will be sending flannel rag quilts to babies and children across the country just in time for summer – the hottest season of the year. Go me?!

my favorite stages: selecting fabrics and sewing the quilt together

the “rag” side of the quilt – the left was just cut, the right has been washed dozens of times



The snow did eventually arrive here in Crested Butte, and we enjoyed some powdery turns on runs and in stashes that the spring break crowds don’t know about. But we are on track for spring in a big way with sunshine, warm temperatures, and no snow for the next week. Don’t forget your sunblock.

jeremy rides a wave of powder

it’s best in the trees right now

ski the pow, take in the views, repeat



Last month I hosted a Thai dinner for our friends and spent some time researching appetizer recipes before I realized it was just too much for me to get done for the party. I never used to let people bring anything, as if it were some failure on my part as a host. Now, I accept that distribution of labor is not a bad thing and it allows me to enjoy my own dinner parties far more than in the past. So I asked Wendy to bring appetizers, which she did – and they were wonderful. But I still had this recipe for Thai firecracker shrimp I had bookmarked and decided to test drive it.

spring roll wrappers, pad thai sauce, thai basil, water, shrimp, peanuts, cornstarch



These are simple enough to make, but a tad messy, so have a damp towel nearby for wiping your fingertips clean. The rolling of the wrappers is probably the trickiest step that took me a few practice rolls before getting it right. You will want raw shrimp with tails on but shells off. One issue when shrimp cooks is that it curls up into a C-shape. That’s fine for some dishes, but we don’t want the shrimp to curl in this case as it might bust open the spring roll wrapper during frying. To prevent the curling, three scores across the shrimp along the inside of the “C” will do the trick. Marinating the shrimp takes all of three minutes or so. Quick.

score the shrimp

marinate all but the tails in pad thai sauce



**Jump for more butter**