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the best part of summer

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle ravioli with sage brown butter

School is starting and summer is winding down even though we have a good month of it left before we can officially declare autumn’s arrival. We spent the beginning of last week getting outside with Neva to explore and play and continue “training” her – whatever that means. Our neighborhood lake in Crested Butte had some strange water biochemistry going on, so we took little Neva to a nicer lake with cleaner water. This required a much longer drive on bumpy backcountry roads, but instead of puking or drooling or crying, Neva had her nose out the window and she was quite excited about our destination. Our little girl may have finally (finally!!) turned the corner on the car ride! I don’t know what we’re going to do come winter when we can’t open the window if it is -20°F outside, but I’ll take what I can get.


sometimes neva’s life jacket looks like a superhero cape from the front

the happiest, dorkiest dog



Jeremy and I also spent our final morning in Crested Butte hunting for chanterelles as they were starting to flush. Normally I would wait to forage after more time had passed so they would be larger, but we were leaving and I wanted to bring some chanterelles home to make a special birthday dinner for my mom. I only took the biggest ones and left the littles to grow and spore and do their happy mushroom thing. If you’re wondering how I prepared them, I sautéed the chanterelles and fresh local sweet corn in butter and served them alongside a small hash browned potato with two seared scallops on top (drizzled with pan sauce, natch). That was the second course of four.

neva likes to sniff chanterelles

a perfectly mossy home

clean and beautiful

toasting mom’s birthday with some bubbles



I hadn’t planned on trying a new recipe with the chanterelles, but we managed to forage enough that I could make some chanterelle ravioli. I’ve always wanted to make ravioli from scratch and by hand. My mother-in-law gave me some ravioli stamps and a ravioli pasta cutter last year, so I really had zero excuse to not try this. Start with the ravioli pasta dough.

flour, eggs, olive oil, salt



Most pasta I’ve made from scratch involves flour and eggs, but this one had a little salt and olive oil added to the dough. The flour doubled as an ingredient and a bowl because all of the wet ingredients went into a well in the flour. I thought that would be terribly messy, but it was actually rather tidy as long as you didn’t breach the well wall. The recipe called for four cups of flour, but you don’t use all of that flour in the pasta dough. I incorporated as much as needed and then sifted the remaining unused flour and kept it around for working the pasta.

make a well in the flour and add the rest of the ingredients

stir flour into the eggs until the mixture is too thick to stir

then work more flour in with your hands

when the dough won’t take on any more flour, knead it

it’s ready when you poke it and the dough bounces back



**Jump for more butter**

uphill from here

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Recipe: handmade pappardelle

The last ski resort for which we had access to has closed for the season here in Colorado. But the season isn’t done. At least not today it isn’t. It snowed at our house (along with rain, graupel, sleet, and sunshine) and I’m pretty sure the clouds dropped a few quick inches in the high country. From now until the start of the 2016-2017 ski season, it’s only backcountry skiing for us (skinning uphill and skiing down). Actually, we’ve been doing that exclusively since early April. Here’s what May looked like in our backyard last week.


skiing the powder before the sun turns it to slush

a nice 360° view was had

token selfie before skiing out

…aaaaand the snow is now mashed potatoes



Daytime temperatures soared well above freezing and the snow didn’t freeze overnight at higher elevations. Days like these leave us choosing between running wet, muddy, and patchy trails or skiing slop. We chose both. On our last ski tour, Neva was off leash the whole way down to the trailhead and she was incredibly good. She didn’t run off, she didn’t cross in front of our skis, and she always kept an eye on where Jeremy was (I bring up the rear in case little pup decides to run off).

neva takes a break between digging pits in the snow

skiing out under the hot sun



Jeremy took Neva on her first trail run last week, too. We’ve been slowly gauging how she takes to running on trails by running her for short distances (like 50-200 feet at a time) while we walk or hike. When she was a wee puppy, Neva would jump on your legs and try to bite your pants if you started running. That was (thankfully) short-lived. She did exceptionally well on her first real trail run (a short 5k) – cuing off of Jeremy’s pace, keeping a good distance so no one tripped, and responding to voice commands. So while Neva works up to longer distances, Jeremy and I are both concentrating on uphill climbs – because the prettiest runs are up high in the mountains and we want to be ready when they melt out.

racing a storm back to my house (i’m slow, but the storm was slower)



I regard this time of year as the uphill slog when days get longer and hotter. I don’t consider us to be over the hump until late July even though the summer solstice is in late June (it has to do with the thermal latency of the atmosphere – the same applies in winter). But there is plenty of good adventuring to be had in summer to tide us over until we can glide on snow once again.

Some of that adventuring will involve finding porcini and chanterelles in the forests. An easy meal preparation involving the mushrooms we forage is to sauté the mushrooms in butter and garlic, add white wine and cream, and serve it over pasta. My favorite pasta is pappardelle – wide elegant ribbons of pasta that hold sauces well and wrap around other ingredients. Unfortunately, I can’t buy pappardelle in our little town and I really try to limit my trips to Boulder to once a week. Mountain folk tend to be self-sufficient types and it occurred to me last summer that I knew how to make my own pasta for lasagne, so how different could it be from making my own pappardelle?


all you need: eggs, egg yolks, flour, fine semolina

beat the eggs and egg yolks

pulse the semolina and flour together in a food processor

add the egg mixture to the flour mixture while the processor is running



**Jump for more butter**

snow and blow

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Recipe: butternut squash lasagne

When my neighbor asked if I could take care of their dog, Dioji (dee-OH-gee), for a couple of days, I hesitated. My desire is to always say yes to everything. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to temper that gut reaction with pragmatic considerations and to think things through before answering yes, before committing to what I promise to do. Dioji is an easy girl – a giant fur ball, half Bernese Mountain dog, half Great Pyrenees, and one hundred percent lover. Neva is very fond of Dioji and I have to say, of all the dogs that have to put up with Neva’s ridiculous puppy antics, Dioji is the sweetest and most tolerant one. Of course, walking the two of them was quite the adventure because Neva is constantly pulling ahead and Dioji is always stopping abruptly to sniff the latest headlines.


sitting nicely for a treat, but neva thinks dioji might have gotten hers already



As much as I adore Dioji, I think I like having one dog. I hear from plenty of folks that two dogs are great because they keep one another company, but one is just right for me and Jeremy. Neva improves each day in subtle increments rather than the “one step forward, two steps back” of puppyhood. We still witness bouts of puppiness in Neva, and with the colder weather she is becoming more snuggly. Every morning Neva hops up onto the bed and cuddles between us for an hour or so until she feels it is time for what Jeremy calls her “two outputs and one input” – potty time and dinner (breakfast) – at which point she scoots closer to Jeremy and puts both front paws on his face. After she’s done eating, one or both of us will take her out for some exercise – a hike, fetch, or ski. We recently got more snow and a chaser of winds gusting up to 60 mph, but we still went out because Neva needs to learn what winter is like around here. Thankfully, ground blizzards don’t seem to bother her too much when there is a ball to be chased.

i wish all dogs could be this happy

neva in flight!

her coordination is improving

walking home after lots of good playtime



While I pride myself in enduring gale force winds to get my ski on (because it makes the calm days all the more delicious), there are times when the winds and the snow conditions combine to create so much suckage that I will resort to indoor rowing or riding. Those are also good days to tackle something like this butternut squash lasagne with its multiple components. Running the oven keeps the house warm and toasty while the big bad wolf rages outside.

onions, butter, olive oil, milk, goat cheese, flour, salt, thyme, sage, panko crumbs, butternut squash, black pepper, pecorino-romano cheese, no boil lasagne, nutmeg, garlic

start caramelizing the onions

deep brown and sweet



**Jump for more butter**