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september september

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Recipe: huckleberry semifreddo

September’s arrival means it is time for me to resume posting twice a week now that my parents have flown home to Virginia, our sweet little Neva appears to be happy with her daily routine, I have heaps of recipes to share, and it looks as if the huckleberries are nearing the end of their season. My huckleberry partner in crime, Erin, is on a 12-day subsistence canoe trip in Alaska. She expressed great concern over missing the height of huck season here, so I assured her if the berries looked to be ending before her return, I’d pick some for her.

when this happens, we know she is done chasing tennis balls

sushi lunch with mom and dad the day before they flew home

finally the rains came – some nice relief

Last year was the first year Erin and I really foraged huckleberries, and it happened to be a long and fruitful season starting in early August and lasting deep into September. It was almost 2 straight months of precious, beautiful huckleberries. They were growing everywhere, so we were able to canvas miles and miles of trails in our mountain range to determine where there were a few hucks, where there were decent hucks, and of course – the motherlode. If you think foragers are jerks about not sharing their mushroom spots, don’t even *think* of asking where my huckleberry patches are.

snurple as snurple can be

Before you can pick a huckleberry, several events have to take place. First, there have to be huckleberry plants. Luckily, huckleberry plants carpet the mountains where I live. Next, they have to produce flowers – tiny bell-shaped, light pink lanterns that hang from underneath the leaves. Then the flowers have to be pollinated. Once pollinated, the flowers eventually shrivel up and a green berry will grow in its place. Erin and I call these green peas. And if all goes well – the right amount of sunlight, rain, and proper temperatures – those green peas turn red, then purple, then SNURPLE. But lots of things can derail the process. We monitored the huckleberries along several trails this summer, reporting to one another on flowers and green peas. It was looking promising until we began to notice some ghosts (dried up white berries that are essentially dead green peas), and then more ghosts, and then a lot of ghosts.

But the motherlode had purple hucks dangling like cute little earrings that you could only see if you really looked, albeit there were about a quarter as many as there were the previous year. And then we discovered motherlode 2 (ML2), which has supplied the bulk of my huck harvest this season. I went back to check on the original motherlode (ML1) this morning and discovered the berries were done – or had gone ghost. My heart broke a little as I walked the perimeter patches and then headed back down the trail. Hopefully next summer will be a better berry season and I’ll have trained Neva to be a good dog while we forage. Right now, she eats the huckleberries. It’s very cute for the first minute. Maybe Banjo can teach her to be a good forage dog and curl up under a tree for a nap.

I believe this is the beginning of the end of huck season. There is a tray full of clean hucks in the freezer that I shall bag up to give to Erin when she comes home. That’s not something I would hand over to just anyone. The huckleberry sisterhood is a strong bond. I’m also going to point her to this recipe for huckleberry semifreddo, which is huckle-licious and gluten-free. Substitute any berry for the hucks (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries), but the huck is a truly special berry.

huckleberries, egg whites, egg yolks, mascarpone cheese, salt, cream of tartar, lemon juice, sugar, cream, milk

place the berries, sugar, and lemon juice in a food processor

purée until smooth

**Jump for more butter**

keeping it cool

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Recipe: mom’s colorado mountain cooler

Every morning at 5:30, I am jolted out of my slumber by the squeak of the moppy bear or the drawn out honk of the blue dragon. Neva usually wakes up around 5:15 or so and quietly – sweetly – chews on her toys in her crate. When she tires of the toys, she’ll start to chew the crate, or she’ll give a little whimper. If we try to ignore the whimper (believe me, we try), she gives a sharp little bark. Time to take the puppy out to potty. I record her potty times each day on my phone. Each day I begin tapping in the date with clumsy fingers and uncorrected vision.

How can it almost be August already? Deja vu. At the end of June I said the same thing about July. And so on and so forth. It’s been this way since the holidays last year, but summer is when we jumped ahead at warp speed grasping at the days speeding past us. There’s just too much going on all at once. The long daylight hours lull you into a false sense of having plenty of time to get it all done, and then night falls and you realize how screwed you are going to be in the sleep department… again.

Despite being someone who cannot wait for winter to return, I must admit that this summer is flying past faster than I would like. It’s the puppy vortex, but it’s also wildflowers and mountains and loved ones and hikes and summer storms and night skies and hummingbirds and huckleberries and rocky streams and – all of it.

nature’s confetti

dramatic light at sunset

neva in the high country

on our way to find some mushrooms

completely wiped out and resting in the shade by the trail

having a fun play session on the snow with banjo

We appear to have transitioned from cool and rainy weather to the scorching hot and dry weather that runs my patience down to zero in 2 seconds flat. It’s a good time to pull out some frosty beverages. On our most recent visit with Jeremy’s parents, my mother-in-law served a refreshing drink that I thought was worth sharing here, for all of the melting people. It’s fruity, frosty, and you have the option of making it boozy, too. I called it Mom’s Colorado Mountain Cooler, but the more descriptive title is a sparkling lemon sorbet melon ball cooler.

sparkling water, cantaloupe, honeydew, rose water, lemon sorbet, mint

You can purchase lemon sorbet or you can make your own. If you make your own, you should start the sorbet well ahead of time (like a day ahead or the morning of). The rosewater is optional. If you aren’t a fan, leave it out. If you like it, add it to your homemade sorbet or add a drop directly into the drink. I prefer none or just a tiny hint of rose. It should be subtle, not overpowering. Ball or cube the melons and freeze them solid for at least an hour before serving.

ball the melons

a little rosewater (this is way too much – a drop is sufficient)

muddle some fresh mint

**Jump for more butter**

the continuing adventures of neva

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Recipe: white russian ice cream

Wildflower season is exploding here in Crested Butte, and it’s not even peak yet! I know this because 1) I hike a couple times a day through fields of gorgeous wildflowers and 2) I’m sneezing constantly and my eyes are red and itchy. It’s not even the sheer quantity of the wildflowers, but the impressive variety that Crested Butte boasts. Right now we’re seeing larkspur, dwarf lupine, blue and crimson columbines, prairie smoke, cinquefoil, arnica, wild rose, sticky geranium, mule’s ear, wild iris, scarlet gilia, and so many more.

mammata overhead, scarlet gilia and lupine on the slopes of crested butte mountain

prairie smoke (pink) in fuzz mode

I’ve resigned myself to not shooting the wildflowers this summer and just enjoying our hikes with Neva with occasional snaps of the iphone. Neva has been on a regimen of hiking and swimming – kinda like puppy summer camp – to get her beans out each day (one of her nicknames is Nevabean). Not only do we have to socialize her with other dogs, people, and children around the neighborhood, but she needs to become familiar with dogs, wildlife, hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers on the trails.

her checkup at the vet last week (she was super well-behaved)

she got up on this bench by herself and sat down to rest in the shade

discovering new trails together

keeping hydrated after a long walk

Shortly before leaving for Crested Butte, we hung a bell on the doorknob of our front door. We rang it before taking Neva outside to potty a couple of times, and then we taught her to ring it and sit down at the door when she wanted to go potty. She picked it up right away. When we got to Crested Butte, we hung a bell on the front door and she rang that to ask to be let out to potty. We were overjoyed! And then she started to ring the bell minutes after she had just gone outside to potty… because she just wanted to go outside. She still rings it to go out to potty, but she ALSO rings it when she’s bored and wants to hang out in the yard. Hrmmmm.

i wanna go outside, i wanna go outside, outside, outside, outside…

smelling of lavender after her (much needed) bath

It’s a gradual progression, the parts of our lives that we are able to reclaim after the shock of puppy’s arrival. Instead of waiting for her to fall asleep before we can even think of making dinner, I can now cook while she’s hanging out in the kitchen or happily playing with her toys in the living room. Best of all, Neva has been exposed to a lot of thunderstorms and they don’t faze her one bit. In fact, I was out shooting a storm as it lit up the mountains all around us the other evening and she was right there with me, playing with some neighborhood doggy friends and then calmly sitting next to Jeremy. We just want to raise her to have the happiest life possible. So far, so good.

mammata at sunset in nederland

my unicorn: sunset + rainbow + lightning (in crested butte)

lightning bolt over crested butte mountain

And for the past two weeks, Jeremy and I have been able to take shifts in the mornings so one of us can trail run while the other hikes the puppy. I had been on a 6 week hiatus because of the pup and my upper respiratory infection, so the first run felt awful, but in that good awful way. I felt free. And now I can enjoy the summer mountain views, watch deer bounding across the hillsides, make note of mushroom flushes, monitor the progress of the mountain huckleberries, and dream of the days when these slopes will be buried under feet of beautiful, skiable snow. I so love the mountains.

my morning trail run – who needs coffee? (jeremy does)

After all of that rambling, I do have a recipe. It’s appropriate for the summer season, too! Before Neva joined our ranks, I had the luxury to think of new recipes I wanted to try. I ran them past Jeremy and one in particular piqued his interest – White Russian ice cream. I did some research and immediately found White Russian ice cream floats which combine vanilla ice cream with booze. That’s not what I wanted. A little more digging brought me to the wonderful world of boozy ice creams and their paradoxical existence. You see, boozy ice creams require booze. I’m not talking about a tablespoon of liquor, but a cup or more. The problem is that alcohol doesn’t freeze, and yet ice cream is frozen. The solution is gelatin.

eggs, gelatin, kahlua, vodka, cream, sugar, milk, water, salt

**Jump for more butter**