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back in the saddle

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Recipe: chewy amaretti

I meant to take one week off from blogging as life began to (dog)pile up on me. I liked that week off from the blog so much it became three weeks. It’s a bit of an internal battle for me to give up as much time as I do to blog. Thanks for bearing with me as I reassess the balance of my time in the weeks and months ahead. If you seek the daily ins and outs of my life’s shenanigans, you can find those on my Instagram.

Life with Yuki continues to be mostly wonderful and a tiny bit frustrating. The frustrating aspects are just puppy stuff. And as puppies go, Yuki is pretty damn great. The snow has been falling this autumn, filling our high country with soft, fluffy white stuff. It’s been so good and cold that most of our ski resorts are opening ahead of schedule. The backcountry has been delightful, although there have been plenty of avalanches, so please be careful out there! Yuki went on her first ski tour over the weekend and had a blast. We think she will probably be a great ski dog if we can teach her to run forward instead of jumping on Neva’s head. I suspect much of that is the puppy in her.


yuki and neva on halloween

jeremy grabs some turns in the backcountry

moose passing through!

napping on new dog blankets i made (yuki chewed a hole in hers 2 days later)

yuki’s first ski tour – she’s a colorado mountain dog!



Today’s recipe for Italian amaretti cookies is RIDICULOUSLY simple, but took me forever to make. Why? Because I originally wanted to try a version that called for amaretto extract (not liqueur) and that amaretto extract got lost in the mail and has been touring the country for the past month. Thank you, USPS! Eventually, I settled on this recipe that doesn’t require amaretto extract (but I did add some amaretto liqueur). It packs all of the almond goodness into a tiny little cookie that is gluten-free, crunchy outside, and chewy inside. [EDIT: The bottle finally arrived 2 months after it shipped! Just in time for the holiday bakefest.]

almond extract, granulated sugar, powdered sugar (two bowls), salt, almond flour, marcona almonds, egg whites, amaretto liqueur



You don’t have to adorn your cookies with an almond (or a candied cherry) on top, but I love almonds and thought 1) it looks pretty and 2) it lets people with nut allergies know that this has nuts. Blanched almonds work well. I wanted to use marcona almonds for their extra sweetness, but all of the ones I found were flavored with truffle oil, rosemary, or sea salt. I bought some sea salt marcona almonds and rinsed them, then patted them dry with a towel. They worked great.

If you mix the dough by hand, it starts out sandy and unconsolidated, but keep at it and it will eventually turn into a sticky dough with the consistency of almond paste. If you use a stand mixer, the dough comes together in no time. I’ve tried both ways and I prefer using the mixer.


stir the almond flour, granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and salt together

add the egg whites, almond extract, and amaretto liqueur

mix until cohesive

form a 6-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate



**Jump for more butter**

winners and winners

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Recipe: lentil chicken soup

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on the previous post and took a guess at Yuki’s breeds! We had 177 comments which I’m rounding up to $200 that I will donate to Rezdawg Rescue.

Now for Yuki’s Wisdom Panel results:

25% American Staffordshire Terrier
12.5% Australian Cattle Dog
12.5% Chow Chow
12.5% Rottweiler
37.5% Mixed Breeds in the following groups: Herding, Guard, Companion

Are you surprised? We were totally surprised! Of course, the naming and classification of breeds can be utterly confounding and inconsistent between official organizations in different countries. We accepted Pit bull for American Staffordshire Terrier, but not Staffordshire Bull Terrier as that is listed as a separate breed in the Wisdom Panel listing of tested breeds. Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), Heeler, or Blue Heeler were all considered the ACD.

Only one person named three of the four breeds (American Pit Bull, Chow, and Heeler) and that was Linda, Yuki’s foster mom. It made complete sense because she knows dogs (she fosters SO many pups) and aside from us, Linda has spent the most time with Yuki.

[Another commenter named three of the four breeds, but listed five breeds which gained a statistical advantage over everyone else. I contacted all individuals who guessed more than four breeds to please revise their guess and when this commenter revised theirs, they removed one of the three correct breeds.]

I am absolutely going to give Linda a prize of her choosing, but I am also going to give a SECOND person a prize of their choosing.

Fifteen people correctly guessed two of the four breeds. We numbered them 1-15 according to the order in which they commented on the blog post. I set up a cheeseboard with 15 treats associated with 1 through 15 and let Yuki pick the winner by selecting the corresponding treat (basically the one she went to first).


the set up

the winner



Yuki picked #15 and that is Sona who listed American Staffordshire Terrier and Australian Cattle Dog.

Congratulations to Sona and Linda! I will contact you both shortly. Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and love for this special little pup. It was thoroughly entertaining reading through all of the entries!

Those of you who follow my Instagram know that Yuki gave us a scare Friday morning when she began vomiting and crying out in terrible pain several times within a few hours. A trip to the vet, some meds, rest, and eventually passing a two-foot long piece of rope toy (whaaaaat?!?!) summed up our weekend. I’m relieved to report that Yuki is back to her happy puppy self and the rope toys have been banished.

It’s hard to believe that I was wearing shorts while walking the dogs this past Sunday evening when a week earlier Jeremy and I were skiing a lovely blanket of fresh snow in our local backcountry. Colorado weather keeps you on your toes.


almost a foot on our grill

i love the early season storms

storm clouds gave way to a colorful close to the day



I try to plan my cooking with the weather. If it’s hot, there are lots of fresh salads, sushi, grilling, sandwiches, and things that don’t produce a good deal of heat. When it’s cold, I happily crank up the oven for roasting, baking, braising, or dedicate hours to simmering soups and stews on the stove. Not only does the heat from the kitchen keep our living space comfortably toasty, but it fills the house with heady aromas that are the equivalent of wrapping yourself in a cozy blanket. Right now, we are bouncing between Indian Summer and early winter. So here is a hearty soup-as-meal for the next (hopefully snowy) cold spell: lentil chicken soup.

chicken, lentils, onion, salt, garlic, tomato paste, celery, carrots, pepper, olive oil



Homemade chicken broth is superior to store-bought chicken broth in flavor, quality, and the fact that you control the sodium. My preference is to make my own if I have the time. If you are short on time, then you can easily use store-bought chicken broth and chicken meat and essentially reduce the time investment by half or more.

If you do make your own broth, you can simmer it for 3-4 hours or use a pressure cooker for an hour plus change. Either way, start that process first. Once the broth is done, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove random particles (there are always random particles). I like to de-fat my chicken broth one of two ways. The first, refrigeration, requires time. Lots of time. Chill the broth until the fat solidifies or at least clumps together on the surface to be scooped or skimmed off. The second method is in the immediate gratification camp and involves pouring the hot or warm broth into a gallon-size ziploc bag, sealing the bag and holding it over a large bowl or stock pot, cutting a slit in the bottom corner and letting the broth drain out as the fat rises to the top. The trick is pinching the outlet corner off right as the fat layer is about to drain, and discarding the bag and fat.


chicken and water in the pressure cooker

homemade de-fatted chicken broth



**Jump for more butter**

doing less

Monday, September 24th, 2018

Recipe: homemade bulk italian sausage

Summer was exhausting. I don’t know if it was the puppy, the heat, the countless smokey days (and nights), or a whole host of other things, but I am wiped out. Our fall colors came on early around here, but they’ve been trickling along at a weird pace. The aspens are changing, but in a staggered manner so that there are plenty of green, gold, and stripped stands all in one place. Considering the amount of work on my plate, I told Jeremy I wouldn’t be shooting fall colors this season – hoping that I can make it to the holidays in one piece. Maybe the whole getting older thing has taught me that I can’t do it all, nor do I need to. Autumn is a good time to reflect on what the heck I’m doing. Anytime is a good time to reflect on what the heck I’m doing. Also, if I’m doing too much and if I should perhaps do a little less.


getting some high country hikes with the pups



We drove to Crested Butte over the weekend to get our sprinklers blown out. We were there for all of 36 hours. The colors are nice right now. Not as good as most years, but Jeremy tells me I have nature photographer standards – which is true. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them. What it does mean is the quality of the aspen colors aren’t worth the trouble of bringing Neva hiking and shooting with us. There is so much stopping and waiting involved that she spirals into a complete frenzy of excitement and stress. What we didn’t know was that Yuki would simply sit down and enjoy the surroundings until it was time to move on. Yuki is proving to be the ideal dog companion for these outdoor pursuits (foraging, photography). She just might become my little buddy for photography road trips.

neva and yuki enjoying fall foliage

gold underfoot and overhead

waves of color



Part of my “doing less” so I can “get more done” is digging into my queue of recipes. I have a year’s worth that have been scribbled in my notebooks, photographed, and tested, waiting for their moment to go live on the blog. Sometimes they are in queue because they need more testing or a reshoot and other times I’ve just forgotten about them. This is one of the forgotten ones. It’s so good and I use it all the time! If you think it’s easy to ask the butcher for a pound of bulk Italian sausage, it’s almost as easy to make it yourself. For real. Let me show you.

crushed red pepper, fennel seeds, kosher salt, garlic, ground pork



That’s it! Those five ingredients go into Italian sausage AND you get to decide how spicy or garlicky you want it to be. I use a food processor to turn the spices and aromatics into a paste, but you can also chop everything by hand if you don’t have a food processor.

peeled and smashed garlic

place the salt, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a food processor

blitz into a coarse paste


**Jump for more butter**