sashimi salad roasted cherry bourbon swirl ice cream morel bourbon cream sauce fried morel mushrooms


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splish splash

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Recipe: roasted cherry bourbon swirl ice cream

Despite having grown up fishing, sailing, and spending my spare time playing on the James River, I don’t consider myself a water girl. Clearly, having mountains underfoot and snow underski is my preferred modus operandi. Lately however, I have returned to the water while remaining in the mountains, thanks to our standup paddle boards (SUPs). It’s possible to kayak some white-knuckle rapids in the area, but I’m not looking for new ways to kill myself. SUPing can be as mellow or as insane as you want, provided there is a body of water to serve your purpose. We like flat alpine lakes with fish safaris below and mountain views above. Even a small lake can pose risks, so we ordered Neva a personal flotation device (doggy life preserver) because she doesn’t have enough sense to stop swimming when she’s too tired.


teaching a friend to sup in crested butte

neva test drives her new life jacket

she doesn’t seem to mind it

and when she isn’t on the sup, she’s jumping into the lake to fetch tennis balls



You can watch Neva’s running jump into the lake in slow motion on Instagram (click the link). Another risk is that water doesn’t mix well with most electronics, like my smartphone. The week before, Jeremy and I were paddling around to watch about twenty large carp chilling out among some downed logs. I always keep my phone in a ziploc bag in a waist pack or pocket, but this time… I was paddling forward to get a better shot of the fish and had zipped the phone into the pack without sealing it in the ziploc. Dumb, I know. Especially dumb because the next thing I knew I fell backwards off the board and *SPLOOSH* into the water. 48 hours in a bag of rice and then a day at the repair shop, I have a semi-working phone again. The touch screen is a little wonky which results in unintended actions – like calling random contacts, opening one app when I pressed another, or liking images when I was trying to navigate to my Instagram feed. This past week has been a little vacation away from my phone other than using the camera and I actually like it that way.

enjoying the glorious aspen forests

crimson columbines in bloom

a marmot sunning itself on a snowmobile on the side of the road

our state flower, the blue columbine, is starting its season



We’re taking a break from morels. I can’t tell you how many miles of trail I have scoured in search of morels the past three weeks. It isn’t so much the need to HAVE and EAT morels, because aside from a few big hauls, I have been leaving them in place where I find them. It’s my obsession with documenting where, how, and when they grow that drives me to study maps and satellite images and crawl through the forest at a snail’s pace. I finally drew the line last week because it was interfering with my trail running schedule. Besides, it’s going to be porcini season soon enough – and those are much easier to spot while trail running! Since Monday is the first day of summer and the weather over the southwest is set to BROIL, I decided fruity ice cream was the way to go. Also? There is bourbon, and you really can’t argue with fruity bourbony ice cream. But if you do object to bourbon, it’s easy enough to just leave it out of the recipe.

cherries, bourbon, cream, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla bean, more sugar, salt, lemon (juice)



If you cringe at the thought of roasting anything in the summer heat, then it’s possible to pit the cherries and whir them up in a blender with the sugar and bourbon. Roasting does concentrate flavors and the caramelized sugar adds a nice dimension to the cherry swirl, too. Use a pan that is just big enough to fit all of the cherries in a single layer, because I used a much larger pan and the extra space results in burnt juices. I wound up removing my cherries from the oven early to avoid further burning of said juices.

wash the cherries

sprinkle sugar and bourbon over the cherries

roasted



**Jump for more butter**

the mountains’ good tidings

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Recipe: black olive tapenade

Amidst the bustle of de-winterizing our house, we realized last week that it had been one year since we brought Neva home (May 23). The day she entered our lives isn’t as big a deal to us as the fact that she’s made so much progress in the past year. Neva is still a lot of work, but the past year’s training is definitely paying off. Most important of all, our girl is a sweet and happy dog.


i made a last minute celebratory snack of beef, egg yolk, and a strawberry

waiting for her release word

it was gone in 2 seconds



De-winterizing actually involves both homes since they are both in the mountains. En route to Crested Butte, we encountered a good bit of snow falling on two of three mountain passes and wondered aloud if we were mistaken in bringing the SUPs (stand up paddle boards) rather than our skis? But alas, winter is ever so slowly passing the baton to spring. I know this because I’ve been watching the signs of spring around the mountains where we live. And I’ve been watching for those signs because I set my mind to finding the elusive black morel mushroom this year – less for the eating and more for the hunt and the mushroom photography.

a black morel



Well, my homework paid off. We took Neva for a short hike to get her beans out and wound up spending 5 hours foraging for black morels after I spotted the first one off the trail. I left plenty behind and still managed a good hundred or so. These are by far the hardest to see compared to porcini or chanterelles. Every dang dead leaf or pine cone looks just like a black morel – and under dappled sunlight it can be even harder to find them. But they are so pretty and alien and magical and weird. It meant a crash course that evening in learning to store, clean, and cook fresh black morels. Cook them thoroughly. Never eat them raw because they will make you sick. Following the advice of several sources, we tasted a few that I had sautéed in butter and waited for any ill effects to follow as some folks react poorly to black morels. The good news is that we are okay eating them. So you might expect to see a few morel recipes in the near future. [I should note that it is important to know how to properly identify a morel and how to tell it apart from several kinds of false morels – which are toxic.]

found you!

little lanterns of the forest

a nice foursome

morels are synonymous with spring

two-fer

my morning haul



Now that I have mushroom fever a few months earlier than usual, I’m going to share a quick and easy recipe for black olive tapenade. That way I have more time to resume planning the next trails to scout out those honeycombed wonders. Until recently, I had only ever had olive tapenade in restaurants when we dined with other friends because Jeremy is not a fan of olives. But he doesn’t like kimchi either and I have a whole jar of that in our refrigerator… It was high time I made some olive tapenade of my own. It’s ridiculous how easy it is to make – like bzzzzzt! and you’re done.

olives, olive oil, lemon (juice), anchovies, garlic, capers, thyme



Since this is a black olive tapenade, use black olives – like Niçoise or Kalamata. Make sure they are pitted or else their trip around the food processor will be a short one (olive pits and food processors are not friends). If you want to add green olives to the mix, be my guest, but then you’ll have to call it an olive tapenade. Chop the herbs and garlic, juice half the lemon and you’re more than halfway there.
**Jump for more butter**

spring, is that you?

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Recipe: passion fruit meringues

I knew it would snow again. How awesome for us that we could backcountry ski fresh snow in our local mountains one day, then go for a trail run in these same mountains the next day. The weather is a spring mix bouquet – it’s got a little bit of everything going on right now. We are rolling with it, because staying indoors is not an option.


sunrise clouds revealing new snow

a fast-moving thunderstorm at sunset



Jeremy and I have been waiting for a window of good weather all month when the snow is still decent in the high country. Active storms, cooler weather, and work obligations finally cleared this weekend. We pounced on the opportunity to get Neva out for her first ski backpack. It was an overnight trip into our local backcountry and we kept it simple for our own sanity as well as Neva’s safety. Unlike summer backpacking, early season backpacking involves more bulk and weight to account for cold nights, camping on snow, potential storms, and ski equipment. Although the forecast thunderstorms never materialized, we camped below treeline to be safe. Of course, Neva had the time of her life romping in the snow, getting extra food and snacks (she burned a lot of calories), catching the scent of a bazillion wild animals, and hogging our sleeping bags all night.

neva cools off in the snow – it was a scorching 70°f

skinning uphill with a heavy pack and a dog that likes to pull every which way is hard work

clouds building on the divide

home for the night



When Jeremy first introduced me to backpacking in March of 1993, he explained that it is “the endeavor of a thousand little discomforts”. But with experience, we learned to minimize, ignore, or accept those discomforts in exchange for the freedom of the hills. Ski backpacking with a one-year old crazy dog definitely adds more complexity and even pain. An outsider might regard this activity as recreation, but Jeremy and I definitely classify it as fun #2. Worth it? Absolutely. Will we take Neva again? We’ll see.

pre-dawn colors in the east

breaking down camp at 6:30 am

hiking the last couple of miles out



As the sun lingers in the sky for a few more minutes each day, my mind turns to tropical flavors. If anything tastes like sunshine, it is passion fruit. I’ve gone to great lengths in the past to procure fresh passion fruit, but sometimes I have to suck it up and buy some at outrageous prices here in Colorado for a shoot. Never let it be said that I have ever allowed a passion fruit to go to waste. Actually, I hate waste in general, which is why I wound up making these passion fruit meringues – because I always have an excess of egg whites in my refrigerator!

eggs, sugar, passion fruit

precious pulp and juice



**Jump for more butter**