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this land

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Recipe: spruce tip syrup and the muir cocktail

It’s a long holiday weekend here in the States! Summer is in full swing and the mountains no longer require skis to access the high country. I have been itching to get more trail time, both hiking and trail running, without the distraction of mushroom foraging. It’s mostly past morel season and too soon for the other mushrooms I forage in my neck(s) of the woods. Soon, but not this day. Now is the time to get outside and admire the hillsides that are under snow for much of the year because that snow has given way to the most spectacular wildflowers. This is a special time in the high country – that short window of summer when life explodes with color and activity and those precious things that are so easy to overlook and take for granted.


take a hike!!

mountain bluebells and buttercups

moss campion

silky phacelia

jeremy and neva hiking the continental divide

neva waits for a snack after swimming in the lake



Hiking for us means hiking for Neva, too. We are seeing incremental improvements with her behavior on trail and especially around distractions like other dogs and hikers. But the most amazing thing has been the new car, or rather, how Neva feels about it. Neva’s cool with the Forester! We’re not entirely sure what made the difference, but she now voluntarily jumps into the back with gusto. Her enthusiasm for our destinations means we have traded nervous drooling for excited crying. I’ll take it. And since we arrived in Crested Butte last Thursday, she has been running into the garage to wait for us to open the back of the car. She used to be afraid of the garage because it had The Car, but I suppose it was really The Other Car. Who is this dog?!? Neva has also been getting more time on the water, learning to swim back to us on the SUPs (stand up paddleboards) instead of heading toward shore. Now if only we could teach her not to be afraid of the fireworks that will inevitably go off tomorrow (there are some being set off as I type and Neva is cowering under my desk at my feet).

a jewel-colored stormy sunset in crested butte

the lupine are at peak

neva rides along as we raft our paddleboards together

a happy dog on a happy hike

running down after climbing up

blue columbines lined parts of the trail

scarlet gilia being all red and racy!



A couple of weeks ago when Erin and I were hiking in to forage morel mushrooms, I pointed to the spruce trees lining the side of the trail. Just a few days earlier, Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook linked to his post on spruce tip syrup and I made a mental note to try it. The branches are typically covered in sturdy dark green needles, but in late spring, our conifers send out new growth like everything else in the mountains. The tender tips of the branches emerge a lighter green and smell of evergreens with a touch of citrus. If left alone, they will mature and darken to match the rest of the tree. But during this period, you can pluck some of the tips to make spruce tip syrup or fir tip or pine tip syrup – whatever you have got – just don’t pick yew because it’s toxic. I grabbed a ziploc bag (I always carry extra bags because you never know what you’re going to collect in the mountains) and began selecting delicate tips, taking care not to pick the tops of baby trees or pulling too many from the same branch or tree.

new growth on a spruce tree

spruce tips

spruce tips, water, sugar, and lemon (optional)



**Jump for more butter**

sometimes i do dumb things

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Recipe: cherry (ice cream) bombes

My 45 years of experience have taught me that if I don’t schedule my summers, the things I want to do will not get done. Some of those things are “need to do” items like house projects or house maintenance. Some of those things are “stuff I want to do” like hikes and Neva training (actually this is a “want” and a “need” to do item). Maybe that’s why summer is not a relaxing season for me. It’s ALL SYSTEMS GO because the mountains are calling, Neva wants to go out and play, the weather is nice enough to have people over for dinner, summer fruits and mountain forage are begging to be made into recipes, and of course, my parents are in Boulder for the summer. This is also the only time I venture down to Denver – when the roads are free of snow – to visit with good friends. But a drive to Denver once in a blue moon reminds me why I prefer to stay close to the mountains and away from the city. I am officially a country mouse.


let’s go for a hike!

hiking, swimming, having a blast

belated father’s day dinner (dad is happy because… good wine)

ellen being ellen at post oak hall

soup dumplings with erin



When I received a shipment of dark sweet cherries from Stemilt Growers last week, I looked at my notes to see what cherry recipes I wanted to try. There were several easy ones that involved little effort and even less time. Those would have been ideal considering how packed the days are. So of course, I chose a multi-day recipe that involved some technical unknowns (mainly because I didn’t know if it would work) with the potential for great disaster. My idea was to make a cherry bombe – cherry ice cream in a dark chocolate sphere, finished in a red mirror glaze. What could possibly go wrong?

eggs, salt, almond extract, vanilla extract, amaretto, cherries, cream, milk, sugar

pitting cherries

quartered



The cherry ice cream is the easiest part. It involves making a custard base, a cherry purée, and some chopped cherries. I added amaretto because I like boozy almond flavor with cherries, but it’s okay to omit it and stick with almond extract which is also in the recipe. I think I could have gone with more than a pound of cherries, because I like more fruit in my ice cream. So if you do decide to increase the cherries by another 8 ounces or so, just be aware that the final ice cream volume will likely approach one and two-thirds quarts or more. Then again, is there such a thing as too much ice cream? Important questions to ponder…

adding sugar to the cherries

stirring in amaretto after the cherries have simmered

reserve half of the cherries

purée the liquid and remaining cherries



**Jump for more butter**

before summer gets old

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Recipe: thai sticky rice and mango

Guys, you have to learn not to read too much into what I’m writing. I didn’t say I was going dark, I just said if I did, I think it would be hard for me to get back into blogging after realizing how great it is not to write posts at the last minute like I’m doing now. Remember, I’m not a writer. I don’t like writing. But thanks for reading and for letting me know that you read. I think all too often there is a large silent majority – both in my readership and in the world we live in – that rarely speaks up. We need to stop being silent and participate more, yes? You’re all good eggs. xoxo

Last week we returned to the Front Range to trade in our little WRX and get a new Forester XT. Listening to our very inexperienced and not especially good sales person go on about wheel hub cosmetics and how black cars show dirt and scratches more than any other color drove home how we are so unlike most car owners. Cars are not accessories or adornments for us. They are workhorses. Safety and functionality are our priorities. Can it fit Jeremy’s powder skis or a couple of bikes (we do have bike and ski racks, but sometimes we like to chuck them into the car)? Is there room for Neva and all of our gear? Can we sleep in the back in an emergency or for the heck of it? How does it handle deep snow, snow and ice, or climbing mountain passes above 10,000 feet? Will it get us there safely, reliably, comfortably? We think Neva approves, although she hates all cars…


uncertain of this new torture mobile



After we drove the car home from the dealer, we loaded up the other car and headed back to Crested Butte just in time for the start of the wildflowers and my enthusiastic allergies. The early flowers are popping up on the hillsides and in the forests, and with them come butterflies, hummingbirds, and happy bees. I love summer when she is new, but I know from experience that come August, I will tire of this mistress and my daydreams will linger on winter powder days and spring backcountry skiing. My god, the back of my neck is tingling just thinking about ski season.

willows in fuzz stage on my trail run

magical lupine and a dwindling snowpack in the distance

healthy and colorful crimson columbine in bloom

hiking with neva after fetching and swimming (she swam some more after the hike, too)

neva looking to jeremy for a treat



Today’s recipe is an easy one with a handful of ingredients – Thai sticky rice and mango. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, not too sweet, tropical, and delightful. If you have a rice cooker, it’s EVEN easier! But without a rice cooker, you merely need a way to steam the sweet rice, which is glutinous sweet rice… which does not contain gluten, but is sticky as hell. Awesome.

coconut milk, sugar, sweet rice, sesame seeds, salt, mangoes



First, soak the rice in cold water for several hours, then drain and rinse until the water runs clear. My Zojirushi rice cooker has a “sweet rice” setting, but you can also steam the rice until it is tender to the bite. And sticky.

soak the rice in water

drain the grains

place the rice in the rice cooker

cooked sweet rice



**Jump for more butter**