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we return to our regularly scheduled program

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Recipe: peach pâte de fruits

People refer to September as if it is actual fall, but the reality is that only the last week of September is officially fall. Sure, we can feel that precious cooldown overnight in the mountains as August winds down and September steps up. Still, the daytime highs are HIGH and sadly breaking new records. Those of us loyal to seasons outside of Burn-Your-Face-Off-Hot summer are ready to move on from bug bites, sunblock, and waking at 5:00 am to beat the sun. Children’s laughs echo from the schoolyard. Morning frost crunches underfoot in the high country. Time to resume our non-summer schedule. I hope you all had a great summer. We sure did.


variety and abundance

yuki inspects one day’s haul of porcini

a morning spent foraging chanterelles

adventures with wingus and dingus

happy pups (that’s yuki’s happy face, same as all of her faces)

beating the heat on an alpine lake



In summer, Colorado relies heavily on monsoonal moisture coming from the southwest to stoke our mountain thunderstorms and deliver rain. Prolonged absence of precipitation means the flowers begin to wilt, the mushrooms shrivel up and disappear, berries stall or die, and the threat of wildfire rears its ugly head. August was awfully dry in contrast to the start of the season, but this past weekend we were able to catch some wild berries, the last of the alpine wildflowers, and even hints of the golden glory that will soon wash over our beloved aspen forests.

thimbleberries

there’s always that one tree who has to start early

yuki on her labor day hike

resting above treeline in the flowers



It’s time. It’s time. I’ve spent several weeks this summer foraging, cleaning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating, and pickling wild mushrooms, but now we are getting down to brass tacks. Time to can tomatoes, freeze corn, roast and freeze green chiles, forage late summer goodies (if any are to be had), and of course, freeze peach pie filling. I used to make peach jam every summer from luscious Colorado Palisade peaches until I realized I am not much of a jam person. Gifter? Yes! Consumer? Not so much. But peach pie in January is pure magic – hence the freezing of (a lot of) peach pie filling.

Last week, I had a dental appointment and wanted to bring a homemade sweet to the office. I know, who brings sweets to their dentist? I wanted something that could be easily shared, but my dentist is vegan and gluten-free. You may be asking where I find these people, but when you live near Boulder, Colorado, you get very used to these culinary obstacle courses. Peaches are happening now, so why not peach pâte de fruits? I adapted my strawberry pâte de fruits recipe by reducing the sugar and pectin, bumping up the lemon, and omitting the butter. I know there are a variety of pectins out there that behave differently from brand to brand, so I’m using Certo brand liquid pectin here. I haven’t invested brain cycles into how you convert between liquid and powder pectin, but it’s on that long to-do list of mine.


sugar, lemon, peaches, pectin (not pictured: pinch of salt)

peel, pit, and chop the peaches; juice the lemon

purée the peaches until smooth



**Jump for more butter**

don’t fritter it away

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Recipe: corn porcini fritters

August is the Sunday of weekends. It’s still summer, but the school year is right around the corner and you realize that Endless Summer is a lie. I begin each August in remembrance of Kris, as her birthday falls on the first of the month. Her personality was the epitome of summer, and so I like to celebrate her with flowers. I took my photo and then drove the flowers down to Mom because she loves flowers, misses Kris, and well – I just thought it would be nice to see my folks on Kris’ birthday.


tulips on kris’ birthday



My parents’ summers in Boulder have become progressively more relaxed over the years. I don’t mean THEY are relaxed, but the way they treat our time together has fallen into a less urgent pattern. In the beginning, I would receive texts for every little thing and they would constantly ask when I was coming down to Boulder next. I think they treated their 2 month stays like a 2-day vacation in that they needed to see me as much as possible. It really stressed me out. With time, Mom and Dad have found a comfortable routine. They make friends easily and now when I ask when we should get together, I am presented with an obstacle course of a social calendar because they have so much going on with other people. I think that’s wonderful.

we went to see “the farewell”, an excellent film

lunch at corrida in boulder



I learned from my neighbor that our public schools start this week. That means the summer crowds will soon thin around the state, and locals – like cooler weather – will creep back into the mountains. Actually, we’ve been in the mountains the whole time, we merely maintain a lower profile during the busy season in true wamp (weird-ass mountain person) fashion. Still, we get the pups out for their exercise and we continue to take in the glorious wildflower sights. I’ve stopped fretting over the fact that our “want to do” summer list is never achievable in a single or even a couple of summers, because we make the most of it and I’m grateful for whatever we can do.

hike, swim, play

exploring our backyard

magenta paintbrush and elephantella

a skittles combo (purple, red, and yellow flowers)



In addition to the stellar wildflower displays in the mountains this summer, our generous snowpack and the return of our southwest monsoon have spurred a rather strange, yet prolific mushroom season. Seasons are crashing into one another as the spring mushrooms are tapering into mid-summer and the late summer mushrooms decided to get the party started a month earlier than usual. It’s mind-blowing and amazing.

the king of the rockies – boletus rubriceps (porcini)

i love the chubsters



Not all mushrooms are interchangeable in recipes. The delicate taste of a fresh porcini can be masked by stronger, bolder ingredients. If I’m hiking all over the mountains to harvest these little beauties, I’ll be damned if I prepare them in a way that masks their buttery, earthy, nutty flavor. The original recipe is for corn and shiitake fritters, but I had a hunch that fresh porcini would elevate this fritter recipe to new levels. And I was right.

vegetable oil (for fry and sauté), kosher salt, pepper, flour, milk, egg, baking powder, sweet onion, fresh porcini, corn



Slice the kernels from the corn cobs and divvy the kernels into two equal halves. Don’t compost those cobs, though! After you’ve sliced the kernels off, use a spoon to scrape the remaining pulp from the cobs. I do suggest scraping with the spoon concave down (it catches stray bits), unlike the way I did it in the photo. I managed to get about 2 tablespoons from three cobs. Aaand, if you don’t want to bother with that step or decided to go with corn that comes without a cob, I think you’ll be fine.

slice the kernels off

scrape any extra pulp from the cobs

ingredients prepped



**Jump for more butter**

coming in cool

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

Recipe: strawberry crisp

Summer arrives even if the weather isn’t letting on. Sure, it has stopped snowing, but the temperatures have remained relatively cool and aspens have only recently begun sporting that gorgeous peridot-green. Late-onset summer isn’t such a bad thing in my mind because I dread oppressive heat. But what if winter comes early? What if summer is only two weeks long this year? Sometimes you need to let go of what you can’t control and appreciate what you currently have.


the greening of the forests

getting the pups out for hikes and runs and playtime

the snow is hanging on in the alpine



It’s been an abnormal year with an extremely productive (snow-wise) winter and spring, which had us constantly second-guessing our morel spots. Are we early? Is there such a thing as too much moisture? Did we miss it? Is it a bust or will we see a boom season? Is it so late that the heat will clobber everything? Dutifully, devotedly, we checked, made observations, took notes, discussed. Foraging isn’t about free food (because free is never free, folks). For me, it’s a science and an art. And our diligence has paid off.

little treasure

erin and banjo found a big one



Aside from countless hours spent scrutinizing shadows, dead leaves, and every inch of forest floor for mushrooms, I’m also trying not to neglect my own fitness. Foraging morels is not exercise, it’s prolonged eye-strain. Jeremy and I squeeze trail runs in between hiking and fetch sessions with the pups. Ultimately the goal is to make everyone tired. Seems to be working!

The good news is that Neva has been gradually sticking up for herself when Yuki bullies her, which actually makes their play sessions far more equal and fun for both of them. Their dynamic is shifting and they are getting along better each day. I wasn’t sure we’d ever get here, but here we are. It’s wonderful.


cuddle buddies: tired dogs are good dogs



Strawberries are abundant once again in markets and I start thinking of vodka infusions, jams, syrups, pastries, ice creams, and straight up fresh, juicy berries. But what about something quick and irresistible and great for sharing at parties? Fruit crisps make great, easy desserts to serve guests or to bring to potlucks. I think of them as lazy pies with fiber. But I rarely ever see strawberry crisps – it’s usually peach, apple, blueberry, pear.

filling: strawberries, vanilla, cornstarch, sugar

topping: rolled oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar



**Jump for more butter**