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archive for fruit

we return to our regularly scheduled program

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Recipe: peach pâte de fruits

People refer to September as if it is actual fall, but the reality is that only the last week of September is officially fall. Sure, we can feel that precious cooldown overnight in the mountains as August winds down and September steps up. Still, the daytime highs are HIGH and sadly breaking new records. Those of us loyal to seasons outside of Burn-Your-Face-Off-Hot summer are ready to move on from bug bites, sunblock, and waking at 5:00 am to beat the sun. Children’s laughs echo from the schoolyard. Morning frost crunches underfoot in the high country. Time to resume our non-summer schedule. I hope you all had a great summer. We sure did.


variety and abundance

yuki inspects one day’s haul of porcini

a morning spent foraging chanterelles

adventures with wingus and dingus

happy pups (that’s yuki’s happy face, same as all of her faces)

beating the heat on an alpine lake



In summer, Colorado relies heavily on monsoonal moisture coming from the southwest to stoke our mountain thunderstorms and deliver rain. Prolonged absence of precipitation means the flowers begin to wilt, the mushrooms shrivel up and disappear, berries stall or die, and the threat of wildfire rears its ugly head. August was awfully dry in contrast to the start of the season, but this past weekend we were able to catch some wild berries, the last of the alpine wildflowers, and even hints of the golden glory that will soon wash over our beloved aspen forests.

thimbleberries

there’s always that one tree who has to start early

yuki on her labor day hike

resting above treeline in the flowers



It’s time. It’s time. I’ve spent several weeks this summer foraging, cleaning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating, and pickling wild mushrooms, but now we are getting down to brass tacks. Time to can tomatoes, freeze corn, roast and freeze green chiles, forage late summer goodies (if any are to be had), and of course, freeze peach pie filling. I used to make peach jam every summer from luscious Colorado Palisade peaches until I realized I am not much of a jam person. Gifter? Yes! Consumer? Not so much. But peach pie in January is pure magic – hence the freezing of (a lot of) peach pie filling.

Last week, I had a dental appointment and wanted to bring a homemade sweet to the office. I know, who brings sweets to their dentist? I wanted something that could be easily shared, but my dentist is vegan and gluten-free. You may be asking where I find these people, but when you live near Boulder, Colorado, you get very used to these culinary obstacle courses. Peaches are happening now, so why not peach pâte de fruits? I adapted my strawberry pâte de fruits recipe by reducing the sugar and pectin, bumping up the lemon, and omitting the butter. I know there are a variety of pectins out there that behave differently from brand to brand, so I’m using Certo brand liquid pectin here. I haven’t invested brain cycles into how you convert between liquid and powder pectin, but it’s on that long to-do list of mine.


sugar, lemon, peaches, pectin (not pictured: pinch of salt)

peel, pit, and chop the peaches; juice the lemon

purée the peaches until smooth



**Jump for more butter**

flowers gone wild

Monday, July 8th, 2019

Recipe: brassica poppy seed salad

Everything happens in summer. Jeremy and I sat down with our calendars last month to map commitments and schedule those “want to do” things that will never get done unless you cordon off the dates well in advance. Even then, a good percentage is usually punted to the next year because stuff invariably comes up. Since my last post, my parents have returned to Colorado for the summer, we celebrated Yuki’s one year Gotchaversary (the day we adopted her), and the high country snow has begun to melt, leaving wildflowers in its path of retreat.


out for sushi with the parents

yuki and her gotcha cake (which she shared with neva)

hiking through verdant forests

still easy to get to snow in july

stopping for flowers and a view

amazing fields of wildflowers on my trail run

colors on the ground and in the sky

dandelion and larkspur carpet the hillslope

lupine at peak bloom



With my parents in town for the summer, we are dining out a lot more than we usually do when left to our homebody tendencies. It happens every summer because getting together to eat is the de facto way Chinese people hang out. At home, I’ve been sticking to exercise, simple meals, and lots of salads to counteract the effects of indulgent restaurant food. One of my favorites happens to be a homemade take on a prepackaged salad. They look so tempting, but I never buy them because I start calculating how much it costs to make it myself. Plus, this kale and cabbage salad never has enough dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds for my taste.

the salad: kale, cabbage, red cabbage, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries

the dressing: apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, canola oil, poppy seeds, salt, sugar, mustard, onion



**Jump for more butter**

coming in cool

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

Recipe: strawberry crisp

Summer arrives even if the weather isn’t letting on. Sure, it has stopped snowing, but the temperatures have remained relatively cool and aspens have only recently begun sporting that gorgeous peridot-green. Late-onset summer isn’t such a bad thing in my mind because I dread oppressive heat. But what if winter comes early? What if summer is only two weeks long this year? Sometimes you need to let go of what you can’t control and appreciate what you currently have.


the greening of the forests

getting the pups out for hikes and runs and playtime

the snow is hanging on in the alpine



It’s been an abnormal year with an extremely productive (snow-wise) winter and spring, which had us constantly second-guessing our morel spots. Are we early? Is there such a thing as too much moisture? Did we miss it? Is it a bust or will we see a boom season? Is it so late that the heat will clobber everything? Dutifully, devotedly, we checked, made observations, took notes, discussed. Foraging isn’t about free food (because free is never free, folks). For me, it’s a science and an art. And our diligence has paid off.

little treasure

erin and banjo found a big one



Aside from countless hours spent scrutinizing shadows, dead leaves, and every inch of forest floor for mushrooms, I’m also trying not to neglect my own fitness. Foraging morels is not exercise, it’s prolonged eye-strain. Jeremy and I squeeze trail runs in between hiking and fetch sessions with the pups. Ultimately the goal is to make everyone tired. Seems to be working!

The good news is that Neva has been gradually sticking up for herself when Yuki bullies her, which actually makes their play sessions far more equal and fun for both of them. Their dynamic is shifting and they are getting along better each day. I wasn’t sure we’d ever get here, but here we are. It’s wonderful.


cuddle buddies: tired dogs are good dogs



Strawberries are abundant once again in markets and I start thinking of vodka infusions, jams, syrups, pastries, ice creams, and straight up fresh, juicy berries. But what about something quick and irresistible and great for sharing at parties? Fruit crisps make great, easy desserts to serve guests or to bring to potlucks. I think of them as lazy pies with fiber. But I rarely ever see strawberry crisps – it’s usually peach, apple, blueberry, pear.

filling: strawberries, vanilla, cornstarch, sugar

topping: rolled oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar



**Jump for more butter**