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Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Recipe: morel-stuffed chicken fried steak

I have entered summer mode even though the atmosphere was several steps behind me for the last few weeks. School is out. People are on vacation. No one answers emails (apparently) and I’m letting the blog cool her heels with a reduced posting schedule of twice a month. I encourage you to get off the computer and mobile devices and engage with a carbon-based world.

Can you believe it kept snowing until last week? Snow in May happens all the time in the mountains, but a winter storm warning for the entire state in late May had all the skiers skiing and all the fair-weather folk losing their goddamned minds. That is springtime in the Rockies. We don’t fight the weather in the mountains, we live with it and enjoy it as much as we can. Some don’t have a choice like the moose who are looking for forage or the hummingbirds who arrived and can’t find flowers.


instead of hiking, we were still skiing

a young moose passing through and making the most of our wild currant bushes

aspens waiting to bud as soon as it warms up



These past few days have actually been springlike, just in time for true summer. The prolonged cold gave us a grace period to transition into summer living – installing a new screen door, tidying the garden in Crested Butte, swapping winter and summer tires, more spring cleaning (we should just agree to call it eternal cleaning, because that’s what it is). Windows are open and fresh mountain air circulates the house. Yuki and Neva receive scoldings from local hummingbirds for standing too close to their feeder. And despite being three weeks late, the flowers are coming and so are the mushrooms.

glacier lily

yuki and neva enjoy the last day of flannel sheets

i have been waiting for this (fun) guy to make an entrance



If there is one thing I eagerly await in spring, it is the arrival of our mountain morels. You must understand my anticipation is not solely stoked by the prospect of finding black morels. It is the whole experience of walking ground that hasn’t been uncovered since last October and witnessing the green blades and buds emerge, hearing birds converse through the leafless forest, smelling the earthy odor as mats of dead leaves drenched in snow melt warm under a high sun. Life. Death. And all of the rest. All at ground level and intimately so, because that’s what morels demand. Think like a morel.

I try to strike a balance between consuming the fresh morels now versus processing them and freezing for later. Jeremy’s favorite morel preparation is basically sautéed morels with steak. It’s easy, delicious, and involves a hunk of meat with good wine. I turned that concept on its ear and came up with something a little less easy, but just as delicious. How does morel-stuffed chicken fried steak sound? It’s like regular chicken fried steak but with a surprise! I break it down into three steps. First, we cook the morels.


morels, bourbon, shallots, butter, salt

chop the morels

minced shallots, diced morels

sauté the shallots in butter, then add the morels

pour the bourbon in when the morel liquid has simmered away



**Jump for more butter**

transitions

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Recipe: sweet and sour beef short ribs

A solitary patch of snow remains in our south-facing yard, determined to hold on for as long as it can. I’ve had to change to shorts in the afternoons when working inside the house thanks to the sunlight that floods our picture windows. And today, we swapped out a winter’s worth of air for fresh spring breezes that flowed mild and pleasant through open windows. Still, other parts of town and sections of nearby trails remain under thick layers of snows that have thawed, refrozen, and compacted into slick, hard, uneven surfaces. It’s not quite trail running season and it’s not the end of ski season by a long shot.


yuki and neva sit atop a good foot or two of snow



I spent a few hours last week sorting through fabrics and yarns, collecting materials for donation and realistically streamlining those items I plan to use for projects or gifts in the near future. I am okay with walking away from knitting since I don’t use any of what I knit (allergic to wool and do better with clothes that are not fragile), it’s slow, and I get repetitive motion injuries when I do knit. Lately, I’ve been reacquainting myself with the sewing machine and acquiring other skills.

tea towels are always handy in our house

from my book binding class this weekend



Strawberries are showing up again, and I don’t mean strawberries from the other hemisphere. As I passed a stack of fresh strawberries on display in the store, the image jogged my memory of making and canning jam. It’s almost that time of year. Ten years ago I didn’t know the first thing about canning and now I have to prioritize what I want to preserve in jars because there isn’t enough time in my summers to tackle all of the jams, pickles, syrups, tomatoes, salsas, and fruit butters. I have several excellent resources to thank for bringing canning in to my life, but Marisa of Food in Jars has certainly been my greatest guide through her blog, her cookbooks, and her friendship. Which is why I was delighted to receive a review copy of Marisa’s latest book, The Food in Jars Kitchen: 140 Ways to Cook, Bake, Plate, and Share Your Homemade Pantry.

recipes that use food in jars



The recipes range from savory dips to sweet bakes to beverages to main dishes. Seeing as another snow storm is en route to Colorado, I opted for a decadent beef short rib braise. It’s so simple to make and the oven does most of the work. What makes it a Food in Jars recipe is that it calls for 2 cups of jam – preferably of the drupe variety like cherry, plum, or nectarine. And don’t worry if you don’t have 2 cups of homemade jam in your cupboard, because I didn’t. I bought a jar from the store. Marisa also lists pomegranate vinegar in the ingredients, but if you can’t find that you can just as easily substitute red wine vinegar. Pomegranate vinegar is on the spendy side around here, although it does lend hints of sweet and fruit to the vinegar.

olive oil, leeks, carrots, cherry jam, pomegranate vinegar, garlic, onion, short ribs, thyme, salt, black pepper, water

chopped, sliced, minced



**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**