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running hot and cold

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Recipe: chicken tortilla soup

I’m more patient than I was in my youth, but it’s still not my strong suit. By November, we should be getting nice deliveries of snow piling up in the mountains. As it is, we have very little due to unseasonably warm weather. Well, that’s not such a terrible thing because the lack of snow meant I could spend the weekend resting my shoulder and spending time with my favorite guy instead of reinjuring myself on early season obstacles in the snow. Saturday was our 22-year smoochiversary, so we worked all day and then got out for a quick late day hike as the sun sat low in the sky.


22 wonderful years together

ice shards piled up against the shore

neat patterns

colorful sunset



We have arrived at that stage where I inform Jeremy at least once each day, but more like three or four times a day, “I want a puppy.” It’s hard for me to tell if what I’m saying is, “I want a new puppy” or “I miss my baby puppy.” I suppose in my heart, I mean both. Jeremy isn’t ready and we will wait until he is. It just feels a little empty without some fur ball wandering around the house distributing hair and putting nose prints on the glass doors. Patience for winter. Patience for a puppy. Like I said, not my strong suit.

Actually, we are due for some snow in the morning (Monday), which is a start. A late start. Some resorts have postponed their opening days because it’s been too warm to even make snow at night. In anticipation of cooler nights, I’ve been making soup – tortilla soup. Technically, any soup with tortilla strips in it is a tortilla soup. For years I made one with all manner of leftover vegetables, but decided it was high time I looked up a proper recipe. There are so many variations, but this one I settled on is a mega winner – especially if you make your own chicken broth/stock. Of course, if you’re short on time, there is nothing wrong with using store-bought broth and chicken, which makes the recipe super easy and quick.


for the chicken and broth: whole legs, olive oil, salt, and pepper

season the chicken

brown the chicken

cover with water and simmer (or pressure cook, as I did here)



**Jump for more butter**

red

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Recipe: red chile (enchilada) sauce

What a lovely first week of fall! Jeremy drove out to Crested Butte to join me for the weekend. We’re not very good about celebrating our birthdays on time because September is typically a very busy month for both of us. We don’t buy presents for one another, we rarely throw birthday parties, we don’t even exchange cards. So the agreement was that we’d postpone our birthday dinner until we could be together. I took Jeremy to Soupçon, a truly special and exceptional restaurant in the heart of Crested Butte. You’ll hear more about it in a later post. The following evening we hosted several of our wonderful friends/neighbors for a New Mexican feast at our place. And of course, we chased a lot of fall colors both figuratively and literally – it’s the reason I’m here in Crested Butte!


dessert at soupçon

a toast before digging into the feast

goofing off while working

autumn trail run selfie



It’s been a big mix of colors this year which is far far better than anything we had last year (a total dud of a season). Aspens are predominantly golden come autumn, yet I can’t recall seeing so many brilliant stands of reds in the ten years I’ve been shooting fall colors in Colorado. I’m still waiting for a lot of the big stands to come online as they are still green. My hope is that they’ll weather these cold storms and then put on the magic show when Indian Summer returns. Even if the aspens finished tomorrow, I would still be quite pleased with the season we’ve had thus far.

handsome stands

bathed in golden light

canopy

impressive reds

daydreaming

tall and magestic aspens

lake reflection



Fall is also that amazing time of year when New Mexico’s green chiles are harvested and roasted. It’s one of the reasons we decided to host a New Mexican dinner – that and the fact that New Mexican fare is addictively good. We had three current or former New Mexico residents at dinner (Jeremy is the former) who could school us on red and green chile. If you are asked, “Red or green?” in a restaurant in New Mexico, it means “Would you like red or green chile sauce on your order?” You can answer red, green, or Christmas (both). I love green chiles so very much, but I must admit that I am a red girl. I love the red sauce. LOVE IT. I’m always annoyed when I have to buy canned enchilada sauce, because Colorado has a fear of hot enchilada sauce. It’s even a chore finding medium heat sauce. But really, you should just make it yourself because it’s ridiculously easy and – as always – far superior in quality and flavor to what you buy in the store.

red chile powder, salt, garlic, oregano, vegetable oil, onion, beef broth (or water)

minced garlic and diced onion

prepped



**Jump for more butter**

very lucky

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Recipe: mexican grilled corn salad

Rounding hairpin turns, blinded by the rising sun, I squinted at the clock on the dash. I was late. But you can’t step on the gas and hurry because there are all those Honda Civic-sized potholes to dodge as well as wild animals to watch for. I figured if they’re there, great. If they’ve already moved on, so be it. It is what it is, my first morning NOT dedicated to a trail run or a hike, but to photograph moose. I was in luck.


it seems all they ever do is eat

and eat



Our local moose have a feeding pattern in summer that draws the photographers out each morning like flies. They feed in the low meadows and then move on up to higher ground. It varies. Sometimes they will hang out until well after noon and other times they’ll sneak away only to return later. It’s their home. About 100 moose live in the Brainard Lake area alone, plus more in the surrounding mountains. These are my neighbors.

time to move on

way too close for my comfort



I managed to catch the tail end of the show, about 15 minutes’ worth of shooting. No biggie. I just wanted to see and maybe photograph moose and was able to do both. Chatting with a few gentlemen who were also shooting the moose, I learned they traveled a couple of hours just for this. They do it once a week. When they learned I lived nearby and ran/hiked here all the time, one fellow smiled and said with the utmost sincerity, “You are very lucky.” I nodded to confirm this statement – yes, I am VERY lucky. We wished one another well and said good-bye.

On the drive back home, I thought about luck. It would be easy to look at all of the negatives in my life (and I’ve had my share, thank you) and let that set the tone for the rest of my life, but what’s the point in that? Wallowing in self-pity has never been my cup of tea. There are so many more positives from a simple sunrise to helping a stranger to cherishing every hug from my mom to packing a lunch for Jeremy. I’m just grateful to be here, really. Sometimes I think about how much time I have left – I don’t really know how much time I have… it could be another 40 years or it could be a few days. Regardless, time is short. Life is short. There isn’t enough time in another 40 years to do everything I want let alone waste it on bad relationships, jonesing, terrible food, buying “stuff”, being unkind, not being honest, trying to be someone I am not, worrying what others think of me. It’s taken me a few decades to get to the point where I can trim away most of the “bullshit”, but it’s liberating and I think it makes my life feel lucky. It certainly feels GOOD.

The other day I went hiking in the high country with my friend, Erin (another Erin, but both of my Erins are awesome ladies), and her pup, Banjo. How nice to have much-needed doggie time as well as friend time. I love it when you find someone who doesn’t need to talk the talk, because she totally rocks the walk. That’s Erin. We spent the entire day hiking, foraging, and talking under sun, clouds, and pouring rain. When we weren’t chatting it up on the trail, I just sang “Banjooooo” in rhythm with my stride because he’s such a good and sweet boy. It made me think of my little Kaweah and how utterly bad she was on the trail (but cute!).


erin holds a mushroom (a kind i don’t eat)

banjo is such a good pup

and the wildflowers were out in force

clouds move in over the lovely alpine lake



Erin just had a major birthday and I wanted to do something nice. I thought of baking a flourless chocolate cake and packing it up to the high country to surprise her. Or maybe making French macarons to bust out at the lake. But the reality was that my schedule was overly full, so I bought her a Chuao bar (triple nut temptation dark chocolate – Jeremy’s favorite), tied a ribbon on it, wrote a card, and called it good. Jeremy commented that the old me would have stayed up late baking, lost sleep, and been exhausted and not enjoyed my hike. It’s true. The current me has a little more sense (just slightly) than the old me.

The idea of keeping things simple is a good one. That’s why this corn salad is so appealing. It’s like the Mexico City-style roasted corn, but it’s easier to prepare and way less messy to eat. I found the recipe on Kevin’s site, Closet Cooking, which is a great blog full of cheesy, melty, juicy, amazing recipes. Since summer is in full swing, we must partake of the corn.


chipotle powder, salt, garlic, green onions, jalapeño, lime, mayonnaise, corn, cotija cheese, cilantro, vegetable oil



**Jump for more butter**