chewy amaretti lentil chicken soup giveaway: guess the yuki shroomaki (japanese mushroom roll)


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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**

over the hump

Monday, August 6th, 2018

Recipe: grilled marinated chicken salad

Today we cross over the hump where we are closer to autumn than we are to spring. As good as summer is, I very much look forward to shorter days and cooler weather as the season winds down (relax, we have another 45 days of summer to go). Good things come with the second half of summer, like (more) mushrooms and huckleberries and watching our sweet little Yuki grow up. I know what life was like before we got her, but I can’t imagine life without her now. When she first came home, we noticed faint little spots all over her coat and wondered if they would fade or come in. Well, they’re coming in! She looks like an adorable walking pint of chocolate chip ice cream.

We recently taught Yuki how to catch. When we first started, the treat would bounce off her nose and she would blink in confusion. We realized that Neva could show her what we meant and from there it went rather quickly as the puppy honed her coordination. It’s times like these that I’m so glad we put the effort and energy into training Neva. She makes a great big sister because she’s never jealous, she always lets the puppy have first dibs, she likes to play, and she executes her tricks on command. We have begun to decipher Yuki’s subtle body language when she wants to go out to potty, when she’s hungry, or when she wants to play. I say subtle because her facial expression rarely changes. Erin calls it Resting Yuki Face and it is the same when she’s tired, when she’s bored, when she’s excited, and when she’s about to jump up and lick your face. It’s ridiculous, really. She brings us all so much joy.


weekend morning snuggles

neva, yuki, and jeremy on kaweah’s rock



I’ve spent nearly every morning of the past week picking huckleberries among the early morning local wildlife. Last year was a good year for hucks, but this year is better. I’ve already foraged as much as I did in all of 2017 and the big huck patches are still coming online. Anything else this season will be icing on the cake… or pie. It takes a lot of huckleberries – and hence, time – to make a pie.

loaded and snurple

about a half gallon of precious huckleberries



With everything that’s been going on this summer, I am keeping our menu simple and easy. One of the best meals we’ve added last month is a grilled chicken salad. I marinate the chicken, grill it, then keep it in the refrigerator to use as needed over the next 3-4 days. The original recipe included an assortment of dried herbs, but I omitted them because they tasted a little too medicinal for my liking.

dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, worcestershire sauce, salt, brown sugar, black pepper, garlic, lemon, parsley, chicken

prep the ingredients

combine the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag

add the chicken and marinate for 8-24 hours in the refrigerator

grill until the fat end of each breast registers 160°f



**Jump for more butter**

don’t be so certain

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

Recipe: homemade beef jerky for dogs

In my younger years, I used to make all manner of declarations. I would never do X. I will always do Y. I’m not sure if it is age or simply life that has shown me how ridiculous I sound being so rigid, so certain. Because there have been plenty of times when I was wrong. I always assumed we would be a single-dog family, and I always thought it would be a Labrador retriever in my house.

It was several weeks ago when I saw a cute little puppy cross my Instagram feed. Her name was Abbie, and RezDawg Rescue, based in Denver, was trying to find her a home. She had a very serious look about her 4 month old face and there seemed to be a hint of sadness in her eyes. So cute, I thought. She’ll be snatched up in no time. Then a couple of weeks ago, Abbie came up again in my Instagram. I couldn’t understand how she hadn’t been been adopted yet. Throughout the day, I mulled over this little girl and began to feel personally wounded that no one wanted her. For the next few nights, I would read her description after Jeremy had fallen asleep, and then I would cry quietly in the dark. I kept it to myself, until I didn’t.

I mentioned Abbie to Jeremy just over a week ago. The look he gave me was one of dread. We had only recently arrived at the point where we could live semi-normal lives with Neva. I knew Jeremy did not want a second dog, but he asked me if this was what I wanted. I didn’t know. I didn’t want a second dog. I didn’t want to introduce uncertainty and potential chaos into our delicately balanced life with Neva. But I knew we could give Abbie a good and happy home and I felt I just wanted to love her. I already loved her. Tears. What to do?

Jeremy suggested to find out if she had been adopted.

She hadn’t been.

Then we asked if we could meet her.


meeting puppy in her foster home

puppy with her foster family



Abbie’s foster family had two of their own dogs, a cat, and a handful of foster pups. Linda, Abbie’s amazing foster mother, told me if she didn’t already have two dogs, she would have kept Abbie. I could see why. Abbie was a calm, sweet, gentle girl when we met her. A little shy, definitely puppy, and interested in people and animals. We left after our visit feeling that she was a good fit for us. It was clear that Linda loved Abbie and had provided a safe and nurturing environment for her. I was told by RezDawg Rescue that Linda wanted to make sure Abbie went to the best possible match. Suddenly I worried that we wouldn’t make the cut. Driving home, I stared ahead into the night and said aloud, “We’re good dog owners, right? I mean, we can give her a good life, right?”

The next 24 hours were a whirlwind of cleaning Neva’s old puppy crates and toys, writing down new items we needed to get for the puppy, getting the house ready for a puppy, and running through my long list of potential puppy names. It is my tendency to want to name the dog before I meet her, but with every dog we have, Jeremy insists that we get to know their personality before choosing a name. He is right, of course.

Abbie came home with us Thursday night. She took in the new surroundings cautiously, but adjusted quickly. Neva freaked out. WHAT IS THIS PUPPY THING YOU BROUGHT HOME?!?! Neva was scared of the puppy, and yet Abbie seemed to feel comforted by Neva’s (spazzed out) presence. Linda had noted that Abbie would do well with another dog to give her some confidence. We could see that right away. She would shrink from the yard the first night unless Neva was out there with her.

Over the next two days Abbie became Yuki. We tested other names, but they didn’t fit. Yuki can mean snow or happiness or courage in Japanese. We like all three. Little Yuki is the dream puppy we never had until now. At 5 months (and 32 pounds), she sleeps through the night in a crate, has a very generous (to us) potty schedule of 6-8 hours, learns quickly, and walks quite well on a leash. She likes our vet. Yuki is adjusting so well and beginning to spread her wings.


yuki at the soccer field

she looks sad, but she’s really happy

resting easy in her forever home



My greatest concern was Neva. Would a puppy push Neva over the edge? The first night seemed to stress our girl out – a little puppy jumping on her head and sleeping in her beds and dragging her toys around. If Yuki tried to squeeze into a doggy bed with Neva, Neva would immediately jump out and run away. When we took the dogs to the soccer field for a fetch session, Neva was elated to chase her ball and utterly dismayed to find Yuki stalking and chasing her every move. The two really turned a corner on their first hike. Both were well-behaved (amazing for Neva!). We could see that Yuki sought out Neva’s presence when she wanted reassurance – like when that really tall male hiker passed her – and Neva didn’t mind the little pup sidling up to her with a gentle body check. As Yuki bounded clumsily down the trail chasing butterflies, Neva patiently waited in the shade with Jeremy until we caught up.

I worried that getting a good and sweet and calm puppy, basically the opposite of Neva when she was a wee one, would make me love Neva less. But after observing the way Neva has put on her big sister pants and is helping Yuki navigate this new mountain life, I love her more than ever. I think the addition of Yuki to our family has been good for her, for Neva, and for us. Just a few weeks ago I was certain that we’d always be a single-dog family. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.


we are now a pack of four

yuki in the flowers, ready for a treat



Training Yuki has been easier than training both Kaweah and Neva at the same age. The number one priority on our list was house training Yuki because she wasn’t housebroken when we got her. She knew how to use potty pads, but we needed her to be able to potty outside and to let us know when she needed to go. That involved a combination of crate training, constant vigilance, and positive reinforcement. That first 24 hours we took Yuki out to the yard almost every hour because of our very stressful experience with Neva as a puppy. But Yuki only needed to potty every 6-8 hours – the rest of the trips she spent sniffing the yard and lazily walking around, sometimes lying down and turning her belly up to the sun. We were amazed and impressed and overjoyed. When she did actually potty, we immediately praised her (“good potty!”) and gave her a treat. Our favorite treat to work with happened to be a homemade beef jerky I made for Neva back in May.

Unlike many of the other treats or kibble, the homemade beef jerky wasn’t oily or sticky or crumby, which made it particularly easy to carry around in our pockets. It didn’t have a strong odor and broke into small pieces easily. And both dogs absolutely love it because… beef. I started making beef jerky because I recently acquired a dehydrator for preserving wild mushrooms. I typically purchase 3-4 pounds of eye of round at my Costco because it is lean and relatively inexpensive compared to other cuts they carry. You can also use flank steak or sirloin – as long as it is lean because fat reduces the shelf life of the jerky.


eye of round

trimming any excess fat



**Jump for more butter**