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friends with kids

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Recipe: pralines and cream ice cream

It may be spring, but snow is back in the forecast! We’re pretty psyched about this because last week our home in the Front Range got about… 40 inches of snow. We stuck it out in Crested Butte though, because we had a prior obligation, and because there are plenty of things to do here if there isn’t any powder. Although powder really is the very best thing you can ski. We took Neva uphill skiing on the mountain again and she was actually better behaved than the first time and we all had a lot of fun skiing down.


crested butte had some colorful sunsets

and it was a little windy (neva’s ears were both straight up before this snap)

this is neva having a ball



We are just now wrapping up a weekend hosting some of my dear friends (since elementary school and junior high) and their families in Crested Butte for a ski vacation. Despite the lack of fresh powder, they all enjoyed the mountain, the town, and the scenery. There were kids, too. A baby, a tweener, and a teen. I don’t really hang out with kids too much because I don’t have any by choice, but I like playing auntie. I always marvel at what incredible parents all of my friends are because my friends are incredible people. Aside from happy talk, funny faces, and bouncing babies around, I am at a loss with kids younger than 2 years. But I chuckled to myself watching the tweener and teen – two sisters – interact on the slopes, the lifts, and at our house. They are normal sisters who have their spats and know how to push buttons, but also love each other and are friends. These are good, sweet girls. I hope they recognize what an important bond they share. I know that’s hard to do when you’re that age, but a sister is one of the best things in the world.

the baby was fascinated with the lights

super sweet sisters



Even though there are plenty of great restaurants in Crested Butte for dining out, I felt the privacy and quiet of our house would be nice for a couple of dinners. I kept things simple so that I could spend quality time with my friends. For dessert, I served a couple of homemade ice creams and brownies. I think of homemade ice cream as the easiest dessert because you can make it ahead of time, you can make multiple flavors, and people can have as much or as little or as many kinds as they want. Because it is so versatile, I like to collect a variety of ice cream recipes to draw from throughout the year. I recently tried making a batch of my mom’s favorite flavor, which was also my grandma’s favorite flavor. You know those bank security questions? If there was a question that asked, “What is your mother’s favorite ice cream flavor?” the answer would be: pralines and cream.

eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean, salt, pralines (not pictured: vanilla extract)



A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for homemade pralines. They’re pretty easy to make, but if you aren’t in the candy-making mood, you can just as easily use purchased pralines. My method is straightforward: make vanilla ice cream (our favorite recipe comes from David Lebovitz) and stir chopped pralines into the freshly churned batch. Commercial varieties of pralines and cream all seem to have a ribbon of caramel swirled into the ice cream alongside the pralines. You can stir that into the ice cream with the pralines, but I just felt that sometimes it’s possible to have too much sugar.

heat milk, cream, salt, and sugar

steep a vanilla bean and the seeds in the warmed milk mixture

roughly chop the pralines



**Jump for more butter**

house of powderhounds

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Recipe: huckleberry waffles

I told someone recently that we aren’t powderhounds – the types who drive around from mountain to mountain chasing down winter storms to ski the best powder. Clearly, one could do it. I follow a lot of Western ski resorts on Instagram, and some mountain somewhere is getting the goods on any given day. We just happened to get lucky a handful of times and then the rest is tracking weather forecasts for our local mountains. After our fun (but not snowy) weekend in Crested Butte, we returned home to Nederland just as – wait for it! – a snow storm dumped 11 inches on our local hill, Eldora. Is it luck or is it constant vigilance? You can mull that over while I ski the powder.


the morning commute looking pretty good

it was hip deep (for telemark) in some places



Powder days are not limited to human enjoyment. In fact, I’m pretty sure Neva loves her powder more than we do. She is just SO happy in the snow – bouncing and pouncing and digging and rolling and running and crashing. This is why we’re working so much with her this season to get her used to traveling with us into the backcountry – so that she can enjoy the snow with us, and safely.

puppy gets first tracks on the soccer field!

a little backcountry ski training with neva

skiing out on fresh powder with longs peak in the distance



All of this outdoor activity means Neva has been taking a lot of car rides. We have been working with our vet to try different medications and combinations – slowly getting closer to a solution. She is no longer vomiting, and I think that is in large part due to dramamine – or rather meclizine (which is dramamine 2), but she doesn’t like traveling in a vehicle – period. Neva’s anxiety goes through the roof when she is in the car (aka the torture-mobile), so we have a sedative for long car rides which helps her to just sleep through it. But for short drives to local trailheads, we just give her a meclizine about an hour before we leave. As we were packing up our gear for the ski tour, we found her chillaxing in the sun, on the stairs… sort of.

feeling pretty mellow



I really like that little girl. Not only does Neva share my love of snow, but she also shares my love of huckleberries. Whenever I make something with huckleberries, she always gets a few. If I empty a bag of frozen huckleberries, I’ll turn the bag inside out and let her lick the juices. So it was when I emptied a bag of frozen huckleberries last summer for a kitchen experiment. I wanted to see if there was a difference between huckleberry waffles made with fresh huckleberries versus frozen huckleberries. But really, I just wanted huckleberry waffles.

butter, flour, buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, cornstarch, eggs, frozen and fresh huckleberries

fresh hucks on the left, frozen on the right



**Jump for more butter**

the pursuit of crispiness

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Recipe: onion rings

We’ve had a short dry spell of windy, sunny days this week which makes a powder hound whimper and cry. But lack of powder merely means it is high time to hit the Nordic trails. What I love about the network of Nordic trails at our local hill (Eldora) is that they are forested and thus protected from those notorious winds that batter us from October to May. Clouds race across the sky throughout the day, giving us a shot at some nice displays come sunset if the clouds and the sun are in the right place at the right time.


things that make you smile

skate skiing in a hall of trees



Neva had such a fun time at doggy day care on Tuesday that she was sacked out all of Tuesday night and most of Wednesday day. She curled up in her dog bed while I worked – dozing away or lazily watching me. Each time I walked past her, I would cover her with her blankie (Kaweah’s old blanket), add a toy for her to play with, or feed her a treat. Neva was feeling loungy and enjoying it. I enjoyed it, too!

she is still a baby puppy to me



I’m feeling peppier these days and I realized it’s because the sun is setting later. I know this because our living room lamp timer was last set to come on when it got dark – around 4:30 in late December. Now, it clicks on while daylight is still spilling into our house. It also means Chinese new year is on the horizon. This year, it starts February 8, requiring all of the preparation and cleaning to be done by February 7 – lunar new year’s eve. February 7 is also the Superbowl, which means very little to me other than empty ski slopes Sunday afternoon. But the Superbowl is one of those events that even the non-sportsball fans can enjoy because there are gatherings full of sportsball party foods.

One such staple would have to be the onion ring. Make that a beer-battered onion ring. I have been searching lo these many years for a good onion ring recipe and I finally found one – from the Food Lab at Serious Eats.


onions, cornstarch, beer, paprika, baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, vodka



A key to J. Kenji L√≥pez-Alt’s foolproof onion rings is to remove the thin inner membrane of each onion ring. This helps to keep the onion tender on the inside and ensures that the onion breaks with each bite instead of snaking out of the fried batter when you first bite into it. The easiest way to get rid of the membrane is to freeze the onion slices, thaw them in lukewarm water, and pull the membrane away.

separate the rings

freeze for an hour or up to a month

thaw in lukewarm water

the membrane should peel right off



**Jump for more butter**