huckleberry syrup grilled brie porcini and caramelized onion sandwich thai sweet chili sauce arnold palmer slushie

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summer approacheth

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Recipe: peanut butter caramel sauce

All signs point to summer: the blazing sun, rising mercury, pine pollen, afternoon thunderstorms, open windows at night, wild strawberry blossoms along my trail runs, and the impending solstice. Oh, but the best is yet to come when the snow in the high country finally recedes and the huckleberries and porcini emerge alongside colorful alpine wildflowers. It’s weeks away and yet I can already anticipate it will be here before I know it because everything seems to take place in these short summer months. Earlier in the week we enjoyed a lovely happy hour at The Flagstaff House with my parents. I have a feeling summer will kick into high gear very soon.

my rocky mountain cucumber cocktail (sans alcohol)

tuna tartare

fried oysters on polenta (if you go there, order this – so good!)

my queen of the night bloomed (symbolizes good luck!)

our aspen stands have turned lush and green

Before my parents arrived in Colorado, I had lunch with my friend, Ellen of Helliemae’s Caramels. She gave me a bag of her jasmine caramels to welcome my parents, a box of coffee caramels for Jeremy (the coffee fiend), and a bag of peanut butter caramels. It’s a sort of ritual among certain friends of mine that whenever we see each other, we bring gifts like pickled okra or organic adzuki beans or a little box of Maldon sea salt or a jar of homemade kimchi or a bottle of homemade foraged elderflower cordial – but Ellen is the master of caramels. It’s her thing.

creamy, smooth peanut butter caramels

I enjoy the first couple of caramels for what they are and then by the third, I start imagining how awesome they would be in other recipes. One of Jeremy’s favorite items from Helliemae’s is the Chili Palmer caramel sauce. He puts it on ice cream like it is going out of fashion, which got me thinking about peanut butter caramel sauce and the awesomeness that would be a sundae with said sauce. I didn’t have enough caramels left (oops!) to make a sauce out of them, so I made it from scratch.

sugar, cream, peanut butter

**Jump for more butter**

chin up

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Recipe: ginger peanut asian slaw

Jeremy has been on travel for the last 8 days and so it has been me and Kaweah. It’s been tough – tougher than usual. Jeremy checks in each morning and evening to see how she’s doing, but this hasn’t been a great week for her. As I was loading the washer with her dirty towels and dog bed covers, the tears spilled down my face and I wondered if this would be the last time I washed her doggy things. [The answer is no, because the following morning at 5 am, she unwittingly dropped a few turds on a freshly laundered towel in her sleep... yay.] She made it to May, but I’m not sure she’ll make it past May.

The first of May is the anniversary of my sister’s death. 2014 marks a decade. My brain has been grappling with that measure of time. Ten years. All of the things that happened in the last ten years happened without Kris and that gives me a sick feeling in my gut. I started blogging in 2004 as a way to cope with my heartache, as an attempt to unravel the emotions all wound up inside my chest. She still enters my thoughts daily and on rare occasion, she’ll appear in a dream. For that brief waking moment, it’s like Kris never left.


radiant, like kris

Because of this anniversary and because I know each day that passes brings us closer to saying good-bye to Kaweah, my feelings have been tender of late. That, and my appetite has diminished somewhat… or maybe I’m just tired from all of the 5 am poop surprises. I figure it’s partly because cooking for one is a lot less exciting than cooking for two. That will surely change when Jeremy gets home this week, but one of the recipes I’ve been enjoying this week is a cabbage slaw with an Asian twist. My inspiration came from a particularly busy day a few weeks ago when I picked up a prepared salad at Trader Joe’s – the Asian slaw salad.

for the dressing: sesame oil, chili oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, creamy peanut butter, honey

It was so much better than I expected it to be. Being the huge fan of cabbage that I am, I set about making my own version at home. TJ’s skimps on some of the good stuff like cilantro, celery, and carrot, so I made sure to bump the quantities. And instead of the crispy fried wonton strips in their salad, I used a healthier crunchy substitute: jicama.

grate the ginger and garlic

add rice vinegar

pour some chili oil (more if you like)

whisk it all together

**Jump for more butter**

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**