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keep your skis on

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Recipe: vietnamese grilled beef salad

It got positively balmy last week. I think Colorado was taking that whole Spring thing seriously for a few days, but only for a few days. The walls of snow that line our sidewalks and roads shrunk by feet under the blazing sunshine and warm winds. We got out to noodle about above our house on some of that fine afternoon corn snow for fun. Of course, two days later we were getting turns on the mountain in 14 fresh inches of powder. That’s how Crested Butte rolls.

jeremy navigates spring conditions

aaaaand we’re back to winterlike powder!

Late Friday night, Jeremy and I went back to the mountain to watch the start of The Grand Traverse. It’s an unmarked backcountry ski race that starts at midnight in Crested Butte, climbs 7800 feet, and ends 40 miles across the Elk Mountains in Aspen. Due to that nice 2 foot dump of fresh snow over the mountains, the race coordinators decided the avalanche risk was too high for the 300+ racers (teams of two for safety) and re-routed the course to loop back to Crested Butte – what is known as The Grand Reverse. The Denver Post had a nice article on the race here. I thought it was extremely awesome that the mayors of Crested Butte and Aspen skied as a team. Finish times typically range between 8 and 16 hours.

spotlight on the summit of mount crested butte

racers taking warm up runs

countdown to midnight at the starting line

a blur of headlamps, skis, and colorful gear as they charge up the mountain

That was fun and inspiring to watch! On the drive back to the house, we talked about those beautiful places in the backcountry we’d like to see or revisit. But we only allow ourselves to talk about it, not make plans. And that’s okay. We can’t plan as long as Kaweah is with us. We would not (could not) trust her geriatric care to anyone else at this stage. I don’t doubt that a lot of people might have put her down by now with her severely limited mobility, her accidents, the amount of time it takes to care for her… Sometimes she does well and other times not so well. Jeremy and I agreed that as long as her good days outnumbered the bad days, we’d do what we could to make her happy and keep her safe. This is why I’m fine with hand-waving discussions about places to explore instead of my usual insistence on making concrete plans. But the talk of summer backpacks and trail runs had me craving summery fare like salads and grilled things. Thankfully, this Vietnamese grilled beef salad isn’t limited to summer. You can totally make this now.

for the beef: flank steak, limes, thai bird chile, garlic, brown sugar, fish sauce

minced garlic, sliced chile, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, beef

mix the garlic, chile, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice together

**Jump for more butter**

winter’s end

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Recipe: korean barbecue pork lettuce wraps

Spring is just around the corner. In fact, I can see it from where I stand. The R-word is even in the forecast… RAIN. That kinda kills the snowpack, but then it is supposed to turn to snow. Whatever form of water falls from the sky, we have promised ourselves to enjoy this time – the end of winter. It’s been such a lovely season that we thought it fitting to say farewell to winter from Crested Butte.

mount whetstone

paradise divide and the slate river

blowing snow on mount emmons at sunset

The last time I was about to leave the Front Range for Crested Butte, I had a grocery date with Wendy at the new HMart in Westminster. It’s a Korean/Asian grocery store that is closer to me than its Aurora branch in southeast Denver. We wandered around checking out all of the products on offer, catching up on all manner of gossip and cooking and life stuff. As we passed into the meat department, a little Korean woman was grilling marinated pork samples. We each tried it and smiled at one another. Good stuff. The woman placed her hand on a stack of packaged marinated pork and said, “For sale!” Since I was leaving town soon, I declined. Walking toward the fish tanks, Wendy and I leaned into one another and whispered, “I could totally make that at home!” And so I eventually did.

pork shoulder, black pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, pear, onion, green onions, garlic, ginger, sugar (not pictured: gochuchang)

chopping the pear

pear, onion, garlic, ginger


**Jump for more butter**

pounce forward

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Recipe: beef porcini pot pies

Spring forward. Spring forward. I rather think of it as pouncing forward. It’s a bit jarring, the darkness in the morning and the extended daylight in the evening and whoa, when I sit down to work on the computer I have one less hour than I thought I did. Jeremy is a fan of Daylight Saving Time. He said he feels like he’s in fog all winter until the clocks jump forward. He loves the stacking of extra daylight on the other end of the day. Kaweah, we discovered, does not care for Daylight Saving. We tried to coax her awake Sunday morning, but she was having none of it. She’d open one eye, look at me, and then plop her head back onto her soft, warm bed. So we let her sleep until her little appetite clock said it was time to eat.

spring wha?

We had a nice wallop of snow Friday (great powder at our local resort) and then the snow clouds gave way to bluebird skies and the mercury soared into the 50s this weekend. Jeremy and I got out to ski tour Saturday, but the backcountry snow was already turning to mashed potatoes under the power of the sun and warm air temperatures. But it was gorgeous and my brain is already transitioning to spring skiing mode.

i never get tired of the colorado high country

It’s March, and I’m starting to poke about in the corners of my freezers and pantries to see which treasures I squirreled away last summer are still around. I have heaps of roasted green chiles, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, jams, summer corn, peaches, huckleberries, pickled things… and dried porcini. Those porcini are such a labor of love. Wendy and I slog many miles in the mountains searching for these gems of the forest. Then she cleans every single mushroom (and sometimes there are a lot of them) that very evening, breaks them down, and begins dehydrating them. No small feat. To let them spoil or go to waste is to beg the tree gods to animate and smack you upside the head for being such an ungrateful douchecanoe. When I flipped the calendar to March, I set about making some beef porcini pot pies.

olive oil, red wine, salt, pepper, dried porcini, onion, potatoes, flour, rosemary, thyme, garlic, tomato paste, boneless beef short ribs

rehydrate the porcini

strain (and reserve) the porcini liquid

**Jump for more butter**