mom's colorado mountain cooler butter-seared porcini-crusted salmon lemon poppy seed cake chinese steamed lotus leaf buns


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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**

porcini pup

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Recipe: butter-seared porcini-crusted salmon

Wow, it’s good to be home in Nederland. While I know Jeremy prefers to be in Crested Butte (and I love it there, too), there is something extra special about this time of year in the Front Range. The pine pollen has gone away, the high country is melted out and bursting with wildflowers, and the moose happily munch away in the meadows. Neva continues hiking longer distances and steeper climbs. Her little body grows stronger, more nimble, and bigger each day, yet she is still my affectionate little pup who comes running when I call her and curls herself against my legs like I am home base. Just the other day we walked past Kaweah’s favorite rock outcrop. I directed Neva to the top, wondering if I was being silly to hope that she might recognize how special this hunk of weathered granite was to Kaweah and in turn, how special Kaweah was to me. Dogs are not deep thinkers… at least the two shallow-thinking dogs I’ve had aren’t, but Neva did oblige me and it tickled my heart.


queen of the hill

she is finally fetching

moose sighting after our hike the other day

here’s a closeup of that good-looking boy



One of the reasons I’m so jazzed to be home is that the porcini are flushing. Okay, they are flushing in Crested Butte as well. I know this because we found some on our hikes last week. We even trained Neva to sniff them out without eating them and she did a great job. But for me, the part I love most is foraging porcini (and then huckleberries) with my fellow mountain pal, Erin. Erin and I share a special knowledge and love of these local mountains and this is an especially beautiful time of year. But we don’t just visit when mushrooms flush or hucks ripen – we walk or ski this land throughout the year. This is our home. We joke that we understand one another because we’re WAMPs (weird-ass mountain people – a term coined by my other WAMP friend, Andrew).

We’ve been out a few times with Neva and found some nice porcini specimens that she completely ignored. Turns out that once we climb into marmot territory, Neva turns her nose off to mushrooms and on to marmots. It’s just as well, though. There’s quite a thrill when you find your own king bolete (porcini). While gathering several perfect kings and laughing with Erin and Jeremy over Neva’s dismal performance, I demoted Neva from Porcini Pup back to Silly Little Pup and all was well with the world.


such a beauty

neva learns the scent of a porcini

the look she gave me when i asked why i found them before she did



I did not seriously expect Neva to become a porcini-sniffing pup, but she did show some promise at the start. Jeremy and I are merely having fun training her to do all sorts of things because she’s so willing to oblige. So far, we have not fed her ANY human food. That’s intentional, because we don’t want it to detract from her training for the first year. It’s important that she thinks her dog treats and kibble are the yummiest things in the world. I’ve witnessed a woman feed her dog scraps from the dinner table only to wonder aloud to the rest of us why the dog won’t eat its dog food – that made my head hurt. Neva’s kibble and some of her treats are salmon, which made me wonder how she would react when I prepared some fresh Coho salmon the other day. Her nose shot straight into the air when I unwrapped the fillets, but then she resumed happily defuzzing a tennis ball. Good girl.

Salmon is in season and so are porcini, but even if you can’t get your hands on fresh porcini, you can make this delightful recipe because it uses dried porcini powder. You can get porcini powder from specialty spice shops (check out Savory Spice Shop) or dried porcini from Whole Foods or other gourmet stores if you don’t dry your own. The recipe is short on time and big on flavor – isn’t that how summer meals should be?


salmon, salt, pepper, dried porcini, chardonnay, butter

put the dried porcini slices in a spice grinder and blitz

porcini powder



**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**