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dinner at andrew’s

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Recipe: apple cider ice cream with apple cider caramel swirl

Last year, my friend, Andrew, went from owning 16 things that all fit in a backpack to owning a beautiful canyon home outside of Boulder. After traveling the world for over a year, he finally had a place to hang his hat. I visited, got the grand tour, and we agreed that we would have to cook dinner together in his new kitchen. That was 18 months ago. Every few months we’d touch base and our schedules just didn’t jive until last week. Andrew has hosted a lot of dinners at his house in that time, so his routine is dialed in. Except this time, he let me call the shots because I was guest cooking. I suggested a menu, prepared a few dishes in advance, and then we set to work Thursday afternoon.


which grocery store?

some kale, some apples…



Once at the house, Andrew tidied up (and sanded his deck – industrious fellow) while I took over the kitchen. As the sun dropped behind the canyon wall, guests began arriving. Some of my friends, his friends, mutual friends, and my mom! I usually try to take my mom out to dinner when my dad has poker night, but this time I was cooking at Andrew’s house, so we invited her to join us. Andrew led a few tours of his beautiful home as people trickled in.

miso butter roast chicken ready for the oven

the host with the most



We started with hot chorizo sweet onion dip (from Todd and Diane) and tortilla chips before sitting down to roasted carrot ginger soup, Oak’s shredded kale salad, miso butter roasted chicken (from Kathya), and a steamed rice blend with extra miso butter roast garlic sauce on top. Dinner was lively, fun, and I could finally relax since all of the cooking was done!

andrew serves up the miso butter chicken

dinner is served

my plate full of yum



For dessert, I served an ice cream I had made ahead of time at home. I’ve been feeling the love for apples of late, and that includes apple cider. A few weeks ago I was testing and tweaking an apple cider ice cream with apple cider caramel swirl. Instead of forcing apple cider caramel swirl on everyone, I decided to serve the caramel sauce on the side. Turns out everyone wanted the caramel anyway – I mean, who wouldn’t? The ice cream was declared a success and now that I’ve field tested it, I can share it with you. First, let’s get crackin’ on the ice cream.

eggs, apple cider, sugar, vanilla bean, sea salt, heavy cream, whole milk (not pictured: vanilla extract)

split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out

warm 1 cup of cream with the milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean

reduce the cider in a saucepan



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beat the heat

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Recipe: arnold palmer slushie

It got hot again.

This is not unexpected, but I was hoping that we were done with the crazy hot. Erin and I set off for the mountains again in search of our treasures (that would be huckleberries, and you knew that because you know I have a problem an obsession). We spent 13 hours on the trail and in the hucks, picking and chatting and straightening our sore backs and picking and stretching out our cramped legs. Squatting to check for purple berries, I squinted up at the clear blue skies and blazing sun. Our normal afternoon thunderheads did not develop that day – we only got cloud relief around 4 pm and they were puny little clouds at that! Sometimes when I stood up to stretch my old lady muscles, I would spy Banjo, Erin’s pup, sleeping in the shade. It’s okay to envy a dog, right? Colorado mountain dogs have the best life. Banjo never showed any interest in the hucks, whereas Kaweah would have been all up in my business trying to eat them… that or she would have zeroed in on the nearest animal carcass or poop pile in which to roll. Good times.


he’s thinking “you don’t have anything good to eat, do you?”

banjo is an incredibly well-behaved dog



Actually, that day wasn’t so bad in terms of heat. Wednesday was bad, I mean hot (thus bad), because I had a chocolate shoot. I consume a good bit of water on a daily basis, but especially on hot days. It is my beverage of choice. But on special occasions I will spring for an oh-so-refreshing Arnold Palmer, which is half lemonade-half iced tea. The last few times we hosted dinner parties, I made lemonade and iced tea for non-alcoholic beverage choices to offer our guests. And no one wanted iced tea or lemonade! They all opted for the Arnold Palmer. My friend, Luke, taught 3-year old Felix how to make an Arnold Palmer. When Luke took a sip, he said, “Mmmm mmmm mmmm!!!” We made one for Felix in a juice glass and when he tasted it for the first time, he mimicked his father and grinned, “Mmmm mmmm mmmm!!!” Another fan of the AP has been added to our ranks! But for those extra hot days, you need to take it one step further.

lemons. ice, black tea, water, sugar

pour boiling water over the tea leaves

let it steep

boil sugar and water for your simple syrup



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it’s such a perfect day

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Recipe: huckleberry sorbet

It was one of those days where everything could go right, everything could go wrong, or everything could go somewhere in between. And for us, it started well before “the day” began when our alarms sounded at 2 am. The plan was to go for a hike. More precisely, we were going to hike a fourteener. For non-hikers and non-Coloradoans, it means hiking a peak over 14,000 feet high. It’s a thing here in Colorado – hiking fourteeners – because we have quite a few of them (53). We don’t actually care about bagging peaks as much as we do hiking and exploring beautiful high country. The main thing about this fourteener was getting there.


sunrise on the trail

a purplish western yellow paintbrush (castilleja occidentalis) at 12,500 feet



San Luis Peak is not remarkable for its elevation (14,014 feet, the 51st highest in the state) nor for its climb (it’s a class 1 hike), but rather for being the toughest trailhead to get to with about 2 hours travel on 30 miles of dirt road (in the dark). It is in the middle of beautiful nowhere. The biggest concern about a fourteener or any high point in western Colorado is that you don’t want to be up there when lightning strikes. The bulk of our failed summit attempts are due to being turned around by the weather. Summer afternoon thunderstorms are the norm in Colorado’s mountains and lightning deaths are not uncommon. That means you want to summit well before noon (or earlier if storms are forecast to develop earlier than usual), which translates into an early start. Early starts are what I am all about because I prefer cooler temperatures, avoiding sun exposure as much as possible, and not getting struck by lightning. That’s why we left the house at 2:30 in the morning so we could start hiking at 5:30.

pikas (lagomorphs) live at high elevations in the rocks and don’t hibernate

jeremy snacks on some homemade zucchini bread



On the 3-hour drive, we saw several bright shooting stars (it was the height of the Perseids meteor shower) despite a full moon and driving with our high-beams on. Pretty fantastic! The trailhead was empty except for one truck, which is rare for a fourteener trailhead in summer in Colorado – even on a weekday. We made our way up the valley under moonlight and headlamps until the skies brightened enough to see the trail unaided. Beaver ponds dammed much of the length of Stewart Creek and we spotted some beavers making home repairs and swimming in their ponds. Wildflowers flanked the trail for the first 5.5 miles and marmots and pikas whistled and chirped warnings to one another as we approached their habitat. Most of the climb is crammed into the last mile and a half of trail, but it was good trail with excellent scenery.

benchmark

view from the top

fueling up before heading back down

there’s a nice big drop off the west side of the summit



We didn’t dilly dally on the summit for long, mainly because there was a large dark cloud that had materialized out of thin air (literally – ha!) over the peak in the last ten minutes of our ascent. The air quality was poor compared to our typical crystal clear clean Colorado air, due to increased water vapor in the air from our monsoonal patterns (hence the big clouds popping up over the high peaks). I like summits for their unsurpassed views, but when you get to 14,000 feet the landscape is mostly rock and dirt which isn’t nearly as interesting to me without the presence of plants. On our way out, Jeremy and I paused for an early lunch break at the headwall of the basin leading to the summit. We sat in the rock-strewn meadowy slopes dotted with colorful wildflowers and particularly ambitious mushrooms, watching a herd of deer pick their way up the basin along a splashing stream of snow melt. “It’s such a perfect day,” Jeremy started softly. I turned to him, my mouth full of apple, singing, “I’m glad I spent it with you.”

It’s all relative. I realize and accept (after some friends have told me so) that my idea of a perfect day is someone else’s idea of pure hell. Just like the very thought of shopping all day in a city – or worse, the suburbs – would make me homicidal. No, I’d much rather hit the trails before sunrise and pick huckleberries with a like-minded friend who loves to hike in the mountains as much as I do.


erin picks ripe huckleberries

frozen hucks from last year’s crop



The huckleberries are taking their time ripening up, but they will get there. I picked hucks well into mid-September last year. I’m finding more and more scattered groups with red to dark purple berries, but there isn’t enough to really pick a bunch and still leave plenty for the birds and bears right now. A couple of months ago I was wringing my hands over what to do with my last 1.5 pounds of frozen huckleberries when I finally decided to make the leap and try huckleberry sorbet. It required a pound of the precious berries.

sugar, water, lemon, corn syrup, and a pound of huckleberries



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