fried brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette baked huckleberry doughnuts matsutake soup slow-roasted tomatoes


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i spoke too soon

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Recipe: baked huckleberry doughnuts

Remember when I was rejoicing over the cooler weather last week? I went shopping for all manner of ingredients to make soups and stews only to learn that this week is going to be hot as hell (again). Well, I made my soups and stews anyway, because I’m stubborn like that. I put some in the freezer as a favor to Future Me, but it’s nice to eat with a spoon again! Even with highs hitting the lower 80s (don’t laugh – we’re at 8500 feet above sea level!), the days are shorter which means the house has more time to radiate its heat away at night. This is good. I’m ready for the autumnal equinox!


the leaf litter gets prettier by the day



Amazingly, the wildfire smoke has kept away for over a week. This means more time outside for the pups to hike and for us to verify that we need not expend any more energy mushroom hunting. And we saw my folks off this weekend as they left for Virginia. I feel as if the winding down of summer’s hectic demands means I can focus a little more. I’m reining in our eating habits, putting regular exercise back on the schedule, and setting training goals for Yuki so we can all be ready come ski season.

pausing off trail

neva waits patiently as jeremy investigates a potential mushroom

dinner out with mom and dad before they flew home



While taking inventory of the chest freezer, I was delighted to see I had collected a good many huckleberries this summer. It’s enough to get me through next summer just in case it turns out to be a bad year. I often seek out recipes that don’t require a lot of huckleberries, but still deliver the essence of the huckleberry. Huckleberry cheesecake ice cream is a great example of such a recipe. Another is baked huckleberry doughnuts. I think we can all agree that baked doughnuts are not the same as fried doughnuts. Baked doughnuts are more like cake in doughnut form with glazes or sprinkles or dustings. It’s all good in my book.

huckleberries, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, sugar, vegetable oils, baking soda, salt, buttermilk

mix the dry ingredients

mix the wet ingredients

stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients



If you are lucky enough to make these doughnuts with fresh huckleberries, you can fold the berries into the batter straight away. If you are using frozen huckleberries, I would recommend tossing the frozen berries with some flour so that they all get coated, then folding those into the batter. The flour helps to prevent the juice from bleeding too much as you fold in the fruit. If you don’t care about potentially turning the batter purple, then go for it. Same applies for blueberries if you choose to substitute them for the huckleberries.

fold in the berries

fill the greased and floured doughnut pans

baked and possibly overfilled, but i rarely miss the hole in a doughnut

cool on a rack



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september, i feel ya!

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Recipe: matsutake soup

Ah, September! If ever there was a month I love most, it is September. When I was a kid, September was special to me because it was my birthday month and it meant a new school year, which I really looked forward to. I outgrew the birthday thing at the age of 16 and thankfully the school year didn’t matter so much once I was done with coursework in graduate school. But September remains my favorite month because it represents a sigh of relief. Summer, with her nonstop crush of things to do and the incessant heat that makes me borderline homicidal and the long days that limit a good night’s rest to 6 hours at best – it is finally over, at least here in the mountains. Normally I would be planning for the fall shoot, but there is a puppy to train and some projects I’m working on. I am okay with not trying to cram every possible thing into my schedule and running myself ragged in the process. This might be called “getting older”, but I like to think of it as deliberate sanity.


these two napping in the sun after their morning hike

the colors are starting a tad earlier than usual



We were in Crested Butte over the holiday weekend and everything was going just fine until Yuki got a little territorial and aggressive with Neva one evening. It made me sad because Neva, while completely crazy, is the sweetest dog who doesn’t consider herself the boss of anyone. We suspect Yuki, at 7 months, is testing the boundaries of her “authority” in her adolescence. After keeping a close eye on the two pups for a couple of days, they seem to be back to their normal goofy selves. The following morning, Yuki was cuddling with Neva on their favorite perch by the window. We continue observing their interactions to make sure this doesn’t evolve into a real problem. The dynamics of two dogs is certainly different from the dynamic of one dog!

as if nothing had happened

pretty views on the drive home

sitting for a treat – yuki feels this is the best way to get both treats



A year ago I was finding more matsutake than I had energy to deal with. Matsutake, that prized mushroom of Japan, translates into pine mushroom and fetches top dollar in circles that recognize its value. The brown matsutake is found in Asia. The white matsutake is found in parts of North America – including Colorado. This year, I have yet to see signs of the subterranean gems in the usual places. But even if I did find some, I’m not sure I would be gathering too many as there are bagfuls of them in my freezer from the crazy flush of 2017 (what a season, folks, I mean REALLY). With cooler evenings, I have begun to contemplate making soups and stews of all kinds. But the days remain warm, so I’m partial to soups that are not too heavy. Last September, I tried a lovely and simple matsutake clear soup that allows the pine mushroom’s unique flavor to shine among a handful of ingredients.

bonito flakes, dried kelp, green onions, water, salt, matsutake, tofu, soy sauce, sake, mirin



The kelp and bonito flakes are used to make dashi. If you don’t want to make dashi from scratch, you can find Hondashi brand granules (instant dashi – just add hot water) at most Asian grocery stores or well-stocked Asian sections in supermarkets. If you are making the dashi from scratch, wipe the kelp with a wet paper towel without removing the white residue – it contributes to the umami of the broth. Start soaking the dried kelp in water 3 hours before you’re ready to make the soup.

wipe the dried kelp with a wet paper towel

soak the kelp in water for 3 hours



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let this be the cooldown

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Recipe: huckleberry daiquiri

The weather took a turn this weekend, bringing cooler temperatures, clouds, and even some rain. The smoke is still present and we find that the intensity of the smoky odor doesn’t always correlate with the opacity of the air. But I’ll take a cooldown any way I can get it right now. We get out when we can, although being confined indoors means we are getting more work done.

We celebrated my mom’s birthday last week. At first my Dad had grand plans of going out for dinner at one of Boulder’s many fine dining establishments, but more and more my parents prefer eating with us at home. I think we all enjoy dining out, but when you are a good cook you understand the value of what you are getting at a restaurant versus what you are getting at home. There are plenty of times when dining in wins. Dad executed a fabulous feast including the traditional noodles for long life. I contributed a Colorado Palisade peach (the best peaches!) pie because my mom loves peaches and she doesn’t bake.


birthday girl and lots of special dishes

chinese beef and beef tendon noodle soup in 3-day broth



I’ll be honest with you, this has been a shitty summer as mountain summers go. Our monsoonal rains fizzled before they even got started, the smoke from the fires has kept us from exploring much of the high country (I’m allergic to smoke and suffer from allergy-induced asthma), and it appears that the mushroom season to date has been a mere token at best. We are skipping straight ahead to roasting green chiles, picking apples from friends’ trees, and mentally engaging ourselves with what we hope is the arrival of autumn in the mountains. We spy many random aspen branches flaring their gold colors around the neighborhood and on the trails. Most are still green, but I feel ready for fall, and then… precious winter.

the understory of our local woods is turning

there aren’t many out there, but we find them

time to roast and restock the freezer

apple picking with this sweet little girl and her pup, kumba



Considering our poor snowpack and meager summer rains, Erin and I were astonished that this year’s huckleberry crop was 1) early by a month and 2) phenomenal. This was not the case everywhere, because my secret huckleberry patches outside of Crested Butte had so few berries that I left them all for the local wildlife to eat. Back on the Front Range, I have a huge stash cleaned, sorted, and frozen. There were so many berries that we hardly put a dent in them. I saved a few fresh ones to make some recipes, including a huckleberry daiquiri cocktail.

ice, huckleberries, limes, sugar, water, rum



I had never had an actual daiquiri before. My knowledge of daiquiris came from the daiquiri ice sherbet at Baskin Robbins, which you could argue is no knowledge at all. But whenever I want to try a cocktail recipe, Jeremy always volunteers as tribute. To make it huckleberry, I merely steeped crushed berries in the simple syrup. And while I typically use organic cane sugar that has a brown tint to it, I opted for white granulated sugar to avoid any adulteration of the true huckleberry color. After you strain the berries out, don’t throw them away! These are great on pancakes, waffles, French toast, or ice cream. Huckleberries should never be wasted.

make a simple syrup with water and sugar

mash the huckleberries

add the berries and let steep for 30 minutes

strain the syrup



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