spiced plum jam red chile (enchilada) sauce huckleberry shrub and huck gin fizz cocktail salmon corn chowder


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plum delicious

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Recipe: spiced plum jam

I’m rained out at the moment, trying to get work done and taking periodic peeks out the window for a break in the weather. The giant mountains that typically tower over town are completely obscured by thick layers of clouds, but they can move out as quickly as they move in. Stormy weather can be a blessing and a curse. Photographers love when snow and fall colors mingle – it adds new dimensions and moods. But to get that secret ingredient, you need to endure the rain and cold and zero visibility and deep mud and fallen trees. Tap tap tap tap. Tappity tappity tappity tap tap tap! That’s the rain on the roof of the motel. I traveled south for a couple of days to catch this very storm when it lifts.


we got snow in crested butte a few nights ago

then we got more snow

snow!!!!



You can never hit all of the great places for fall colors at just the right time, but with today’s connectivity, you can get color reports from your network of photography pals as they scout across the western half of Colorado from late September to early October. Text messages, Facebook comments and posts, emails, forums, and face to face. There is a lot of flipping through mobile photos. Of course, when you meet in person, it’s practically a requirement that you grab a meal together.

jimmy and mike ready for pizza after camping in the pouring rain

stash pizza (pinhead pesto)

jimmy is very happy



On my drive south, I listened to a David Sedaris audio book and laughed my way up and down the back roads, pausing to gauge colors or take photos or to slowly make my way through cattle congregating on the road. The skies were a little moody, a little mixed, a little rainy. And even if the aspens were still green or completely stripped bare, the smell of the forests and soil after the rains was invigorating.

every so often the sun would poke through the clouds

i love the white trunks of aspens

spotlight on the aspens

stormy sunset



It’s been less than two weeks, but I’m feeling just a little burned out. Not so much burned out on the fall colors – I don’t think I would ever tire of autumn’s glory – but burned out on not cooking in my kitchen and not eating fresh, seasonal, and delicious food. And because sunrise and sunset are always dedicated to shooting, it really derails my trail running schedule. As the weather cools, I want to cook and bake! I did get a little of that action before the fall shoot, because the end of summer offers so much in the way of late season fruits.

italian plums

let’s jam: plums, lemon, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pectin



**Jump for more butter**

red

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Recipe: red chile (enchilada) sauce

What a lovely first week of fall! Jeremy drove out to Crested Butte to join me for the weekend. We’re not very good about celebrating our birthdays on time because September is typically a very busy month for both of us. We don’t buy presents for one another, we rarely throw birthday parties, we don’t even exchange cards. So the agreement was that we’d postpone our birthday dinner until we could be together. I took Jeremy to Soupçon, a truly special and exceptional restaurant in the heart of Crested Butte. You’ll hear more about it in a later post. The following evening we hosted several of our wonderful friends/neighbors for a New Mexican feast at our place. And of course, we chased a lot of fall colors both figuratively and literally – it’s the reason I’m here in Crested Butte!


dessert at soupçon

a toast before digging into the feast

goofing off while working

autumn trail run selfie



It’s been a big mix of colors this year which is far far better than anything we had last year (a total dud of a season). Aspens are predominantly golden come autumn, yet I can’t recall seeing so many brilliant stands of reds in the ten years I’ve been shooting fall colors in Colorado. I’m still waiting for a lot of the big stands to come online as they are still green. My hope is that they’ll weather these cold storms and then put on the magic show when Indian Summer returns. Even if the aspens finished tomorrow, I would still be quite pleased with the season we’ve had thus far.

handsome stands

bathed in golden light

canopy

impressive reds

daydreaming

tall and magestic aspens

lake reflection



Fall is also that amazing time of year when New Mexico’s green chiles are harvested and roasted. It’s one of the reasons we decided to host a New Mexican dinner – that and the fact that New Mexican fare is addictively good. We had three current or former New Mexico residents at dinner (Jeremy is the former) who could school us on red and green chile. If you are asked, “Red or green?” in a restaurant in New Mexico, it means “Would you like red or green chile sauce on your order?” You can answer red, green, or Christmas (both). I love green chiles so very much, but I must admit that I am a red girl. I love the red sauce. LOVE IT. I’m always annoyed when I have to buy canned enchilada sauce, because Colorado has a fear of hot enchilada sauce. It’s even a chore finding medium heat sauce. But really, you should just make it yourself because it’s ridiculously easy and – as always – far superior in quality and flavor to what you buy in the store.

red chile powder, salt, garlic, oregano, vegetable oil, onion, beef broth (or water)

minced garlic and diced onion

prepped



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welcome autumn overlords

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Recipe: huckleberry shrub and huck gin fizz cocktail

I love that autumn in the Colorado Rocky Mountains starts on time according to the calendar. Much of the country is still tapering off from summer. When I was growing up in southern Virginia, I was quite put out by fall’s tardiness. It was supposed to arrive on or around my birthday, and yet it was still hot and miserable riding home on the school bus in late September. It’s like waiting for a guest to arrive who is beyond fashionably late. Or perhaps more appropriately it was me wishing summer would get the hint and leave already. Here in the Rockies, I feel that summer is just the right amount of time. I know this isn’t the popular sentiment regarding summer, but I’m good with that. Fall is even shorter than summer despite having two acts. The first act (in my mind) is the fall colors. It is that wondrous period of two to three – and possibly four – weeks when the aspens transition from green to fiery hues and the mountains strut their stuff on the runway. That’s going on right now and how!


mist and clouds, big mountains, golden aspens, and spots of sunlight

how many aspen leaves, i wonder

sunrise on the autumn equinox

sunrise rainbow over the town of crested butte

quintessential colorado fall



The second act involves tree trunks and branches stripped of leaves, winds, and sometimes rain. It’s a good time for trail running in tights, cooking stews and roasting vegetables, and changing to flannel sheets. And then fall ends when it really starts to snow – which we (all of the snow enthusiasts) hope will be as early as possible. I actually like that second act too, despite its visual dreariness, because it means I can stop obsessing about where the wildflowers are blooming and where the aspens are nearing peak and whether the huckleberries are ripe. But I shall still obsess about huckleberries… I periodically open my chest freezer in the basement and run a loving hand across the several bags of frozen huckleberries from this summer’s bounty. Huckleberries rank fairly high on the happiness scale for me. They are up there with Kaweah, Jeremy, the mountains, skiing, sushi. One of my favorite ways to preserve the fruits of summer is to make a shrub – an acidulated beverage made of three ingredients: fruit, sugar, and vinegar.

my number one all-time favoritest berries in the world

huckleberries, sugar, and champagne vinegar

place the berries in a food processor

pulse the blade a few times to chop them up



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