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oh joy!

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Recipe: homemade almond joy candy

The first full week of December has more than made up for the dismal snowfall of November. Not only have we received decent snowfall, but snow is slated to continue for another week! This is good news for snow lovers as well as our snowpack, which provides our water all year and is responsible for the beautiful streams and wildflowers in summer.


neva’s nose was wiggling all over as she sniffed the snow in the air

it was quite chilly for a few days – neva got bundled into a snuggy blanket

the view from indian peaks chair at our local hill



Our backcountry has a nice layer of snow, but our ski poles hit rocks and dirt at the bottom because we’ve had no base. Hopefully this series of storms will build a good base for the rest of the season. I haven’t been willing to get my skis waxed and tuned until I stopped hitting rocks! Better late than never.

our skin tracks

i spy a baby moose peeking from behind the tree

crazy little neva sports her orange booties and orange ball

happy girl with a stylish snowbeard



I am in full candy making and cookie baking mode over here. It’s a good thing the holidays coincide with the shortest days or I’d be ditching all of my gift-making duties in favor of skiing. As it is, our evenings have been filled with lots of chocolate, sugar, butter, nuts, flour, candied ginger, lemon zest, more chocolate, and piles of dirty dishes. The main recipients of my annual kitchen frenzy are Jeremy’s administrative staff. I’ve been giving them an assortment of homemade treats for almost a decade. Over the years I’ve received feedback on certain cookies such that they have become regulars in the gift bags. But I do try to mix things up a little and introduce a new cookie or confection each year. This year’s newest addition is a homemade Almond Joy, which should really be called a Coconut Joy because the almond is just a small part of it. Anyway, these are easy and delicious and I had to make a second batch because Jeremy looked so sad when I said I had just enough to distribute to recipients.

vanilla extract, chocolate, flaked coconut, powdered sugar, almonds, salt, sweetened condensed milk



There is no cooking involved in these treats except for the toasting of almonds and melting of chocolate. Stir stuff together, mold it into a desired shape, pop a nut on top and dip it in chocolate. That’s how simple it is. Joy‘s version called for unsweetened flaked coconut, but I grabbed sweetened flaked coconut instead. You know what? It worked great. I mean, it’s candy – it’s going to be sweet and you will just have to climb an extra thousand feet of elevation in your skis to burn it off. No big deal.

adding vanilla to the sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and salt

stir in the coconut



**Jump for more butter**

happy birthday, neva

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Recipe: doggy birthday cake

This weekend, we celebrated Neva’s first birthday! Can you believe it? She’s now one year old. Such a big girl compared to that silly little puppy pup she once was. Neva has learned so much since we brought her into our home. She still has a lot more to learn, but we’re so proud of how far she’s come.


the little munchkin seeing snow for the first time



Neva has had a lot of time on snow in the ten months we’ve had her, and every single time she acts like it is the very best thing ever. How could I not love this girl? I guess this is why I love dogs in general – they have this undying genuine enthusiasm for living. Jeremy and I decided that we’d take Neva on a nice backcountry ski for her special day. She got lots of snacks on the way up and tons of running on the way down.

neva wagged the whole way up

waiting patiently for more treats

skiing out with a view east toward the flats (great plains)

sufficiently tuckered out that she had fallen asleep on the ski boots



After all of that exercise, we made sure Neva replenished those calories lost and then some. She partook of some raw beef (her favorite) and sampled a couple of strawberries (she likes those) and she had cake. Yes! She had birthday cake! I had done some quick research a few days earlier to make a nice dog-friendly cake for our puppity pup. It is mildly sweet (from applesauce and banana) and tastes like a bland, fluffy quick bread to us humans, but Neva LOVES it! Of course, Neva is a lab, so she loves pretty much anything. The recipe is simple and quick. The best part is that it is pretty well-behaved even at my elevation. Winner.

cream cheese, baking powder, egg, peanut butter, whole wheat flour, coconut oil, applesauce, banana



**Jump for more butter**

boom!

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Recipe: thai firecracker shrimp

What do you know? It started snowing earlier this week! It was only a few inches at first, so we didn’t get too excited, but it made for nice conditions skinning up the mountain and skiing out. It was especially nice as it actively snowed on us when we took Neva up the mountain for the first time. While uphill skiing is permitted on designated ski routes throughout the day, dogs must be off the mountain during the hours of lift operations (9:00 am to 4:30 pm). Neva had to be on a leash because she’s still such a puppy. She wants to bound off to greet every new thing she sees: snowmobiles, other skiers, other dogs, ski resort staff, ski lifts, sticks, balls of snow, snowflakes. She’s so crazy with energy, but she did great. No one got hurt (#1 priority), Neva had a BLAST, Neva was exposed to resort skiing, and the pup was completely wiped out when we got home.


she is ready for adventure!

happy happy girl



When we are in Crested Butte, I usually bring tons of work and projects in the hopes of making headway while here. I discovered a while back that it becomes so overwhelming, I don’t manage to get much of anything finished. These days, I limit the projects that come with me and my productivity has improved considerably. This includes several baby quilts that are finally materializing under the needle of my sewing machine. With any luck, I will be sending flannel rag quilts to babies and children across the country just in time for summer – the hottest season of the year. Go me?!

my favorite stages: selecting fabrics and sewing the quilt together

the “rag” side of the quilt – the left was just cut, the right has been washed dozens of times



The snow did eventually arrive here in Crested Butte, and we enjoyed some powdery turns on runs and in stashes that the spring break crowds don’t know about. But we are on track for spring in a big way with sunshine, warm temperatures, and no snow for the next week. Don’t forget your sunblock.

jeremy rides a wave of powder

it’s best in the trees right now

ski the pow, take in the views, repeat



Last month I hosted a Thai dinner for our friends and spent some time researching appetizer recipes before I realized it was just too much for me to get done for the party. I never used to let people bring anything, as if it were some failure on my part as a host. Now, I accept that distribution of labor is not a bad thing and it allows me to enjoy my own dinner parties far more than in the past. So I asked Wendy to bring appetizers, which she did – and they were wonderful. But I still had this recipe for Thai firecracker shrimp I had bookmarked and decided to test drive it.

spring roll wrappers, pad thai sauce, thai basil, water, shrimp, peanuts, cornstarch



These are simple enough to make, but a tad messy, so have a damp towel nearby for wiping your fingertips clean. The rolling of the wrappers is probably the trickiest step that took me a few practice rolls before getting it right. You will want raw shrimp with tails on but shells off. One issue when shrimp cooks is that it curls up into a C-shape. That’s fine for some dishes, but we don’t want the shrimp to curl in this case as it might bust open the spring roll wrapper during frying. To prevent the curling, three scores across the shrimp along the inside of the “C” will do the trick. Marinating the shrimp takes all of three minutes or so. Quick.

score the shrimp

marinate all but the tails in pad thai sauce



**Jump for more butter**