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spraang break!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Recipe: asian chicken salad with ginger dressing

It’s springtime in the Rockies and it also happens to be spring break for a lot of schools. We’re in Crested Butte to enjoy what remains of both the mountain and nordic ski seasons. The high, strong sun has been delivering a pounding to the snow – visibly shrinking it by inches each day. The birds are back feeding off the patches of bare ground and filling the air with the sweet chorus of bird songs. The Slate River flows faster and fuller. If we’re lucky, we’ll squeeze out a few spring storms to keep the backcountry fresh a little longer. Either way, we’re enjoying it.


bison outside of buena vista

the collegiates

sunset over the town of crested butte

cotton candy over whetstone mountain

skate skiing before it disappears

making a snowball in spring, because rocky mountain powder is too fluffy in winter



I’ve kept our menu simple since the kitchen in Crested Butte is serviceable, but not tricked out like my kitchen back home. Besides, I don’t come here to cook. Obviously. And with the warmer weather, I’m migrating towards salads and sandwiches. So, a couple of weeks ago, we drove into Denver to shop around for a new washing machine. We didn’t find a washing machine that we liked, but we did find 2 cases of wine – go figure! I swear this is related. On our way home, we popped by Souplantation (aka Sweet Tomatoes) to grab a late lunch. One of Jeremy’s favorite salads is their wonton chicken salad. Surely I could make an even better version at home, right?

There are three components to the salad: the chicken, the ginger dressing, and the salad (vegetables and such). I guess it’s four components if you count the wonton strips, but those are optional. The chicken is simple – marinate for 30 minutes then bake for 20 minutes. You might be tempted to boil the chicken and shred it, which is perfectly acceptable, but you’d be missing out. The extra flavor from the marinade is worth the itsy bitsy amount of effort.


the chicken: chicken breasts, soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper

place it all in a bag

marinate for 30 minutes

place in a baking dish to bake



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the daytime of the night

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Recipe: chinese black bean ribs

We made a quick trip out to Crested Butte this past weekend to check on our place and to sample some of the four plus feet of snow they received in the two weeks prior. It was made even shorter because we lost an hour to Daylight Saving Time. But I figure it’s all a wash – lose and hour here, gain an hour there. On the road to CB, I asked Jeremy if he liked Daylight Saving Time. A good many people rail against it each year, but I could go either way. “Oh yes, I love it,” he nodded as we drove over Monarch Pass. “I love to have enough light after work to grab a quick ski or run before sunset.”

The loss of an hour in exchange for longer evening light and changing all of our analog wall clocks is worth it to me. It’s like waking up from the long dark slumber. My mind bounces to spring skiing, trail running, HUCKLEBERRIES!, alpine hikes, wildflowers, waterfalls, and summer thunderstorms. Colorado is once again sitting under sun and blue skies, so it really feels like spring has given winter the boot. Subtle shifts in our diurnal temperature cycle means melt in the afternoon that refreezes into ice come morning. For now, it is still technically winter and so I plan to see it through to the end.


bubbles the goldfish at the copper mountain donut shop

skate skiing the lovely nordic trails in crested butte

sastrugi and shadows at sunset



For such a short trip to Crested Butte, I didn’t want to bother with cooking anything elaborate – or cooking anything at all! I decided to make it easy on both of us and bring leftovers from the week. That way we could reheat our food without having to scrub the kitchen down or do tons of dishes. One of the dishes I brought was Chinese-style black bean ribs. Despite the balmy weather, we still dropped below zero (°F) overnight, which meant it was already in the teens when we got home from skate skiing. So a hot bowl of steamed rice topped with these tender stewed baby back ribs was the perfect thing to warm our bellies.

green onions, cilantro, garlic, baby back ribs (cut)

sake, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, black bean garlic sauce, vegetable oil, oyster sauce

measured and prepped



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make my day (and night)

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Recipe: split pea soup

I knew it was going to be a long day. First there was the pre-dawn wake up to check if the sunrise was worth shooting. It wasn’t, but once I’m up, I’m up. I got Jeremy to the Park-n-Ride just as the bus was pulling in. Six hours at my skate ski program gave me my cardio workout for the day. Then there was a photo shoot to finish before heading down to Boulder to attend a 3-hour avalanche safety lecture. By the time Jeremy and I were walking to the front door of the house, we had about an hour left before midnight. I looked up at our clear night skies, sparkling with a spray of stars, and suddenly remembered, “There’s supposed to be a comet in the sky!” The excitement of the comet trumped our exhaustion and we dutifully looked up star charts and stood on the deck guessing at where the comet should be. It was too faint for us to view with the naked eye, but the camera was able to pick it up.


comet lovejoy



Astronomy makes an excellent highlight of the night. But let me tell you about my highlight of the day. My ski program involves breakfast, 2 hours of skate instruction, lunch, and then 2 more hours of skate instruction. When I did the telemark ski program several years back, you could eat pretty much anything and still telemark ski. Not so with skate skiing. Because it’s so cardio-intensive, I avoid eating much before skiing. By the time I get home at 3 pm, I am ready to eat my ski boots. However, I had leftover soup in the refrigerator just waiting to be heated and devoured. Hot and hearty split pea soup after being out in the snow is a welcome thing.

It’s easy to be a soup lover year round, but winter in Colorado is the king of soup season. Making soup warms your house, filling it with comforting aromas. Eating soup nourishes and heats your body. I have dozens of great recipes that go into rotation when the snow starts to stick in the mountains, but there exists a never-ending desire to add more delectable soups to that collection. Split pea soup appealed to me as a one-bowl meal – something wholesome and easy to reheat after hours of skiing.


split peas, onions, carrots, celery, leek, black pepper, ham, ham bone, parsley, salt, olive oil, ground cloves, cayenne, bay leaf, fresh thyme

start with water, split peas, and ham bone (or ham hock)

chop and dice the vegetables and herbs

prepped and ready



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