huckleberry brown butter tarts roast lemon chicken with chanterelles plum ketchup peach pie cinnamon rolls

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season shift

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Recipe: huckleberry brown butter tarts

Shouldn’t we have had a good old snow storm by now? Nederland has received some rain, some morning frost, and snow in the high peaks, but the aspens in our front yard are still mostly green. What the whut? Because the weather continues to coast through Indian Summer, I keep putting off things like trimming back the yard or waxing my skis. Thankfully, the nights are cooler – almost chilly. It won’t be long before we make the switch to flannel sheets. Unfortunately, Neva’s internal puppy clock has not shifted with the sun and she still wakes up around 5:30 am which is a dark, lonely, and groggy time of day for humans.

i love the mix of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens against the blue colorado sky


fresh snow

the bed hog

Neva’s routine used to be: wake up, whimper in her crate, go out to potty, eat breakfast, go crazy. Now as an older pup, she wakes up, chews her toy in her crate until someone wakes up (usually me), goes out to potty, eats breakfast, and then hops on the bed for an after-breakfast nap. It makes for a more coherent existence, not to mention she’s a real snuggle bunny – that is until she wants you to wake up and puts her paw on your face. But we are liking the earlier starts to our days as long as we aren’t up too late working the night before.

After four months with Neva, she’s getting the hang of being a Colorado dog which includes eating wild raspberries, wild strawberries, and mountain huckleberries. Neva, like Kaweah, picks up all manner of things off the trails in her mouth. Unlike Kaweah, she spits them out rather than eating them. So when I gave her a huckleberry to eat for the first time, she was uncertain of what to do. I squished it so she’d taste the juices right away and she was eager for another. Sometimes she’d sniff them out and eat them off the huckleberry plants (which is why I leave her at home when I’m harvesting hucks). And because huckleberries have an incredible smell (sometimes I open a ziploc bag of hucks, stick my nose in and inhale deeply), Neva comes running when I make anything with huckleberries – like these huckleberry brown butter tarts.

start with the dough: butter, sugar, flour, lemon juice, salt, ice water

pulse the flour, salt, sugar, and butter together (to the little peas stage)

add the lemon and ice water

pulse until it just comes together

divvy the dough in half and refrigerate

**Jump for more butter**

ready for snow

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Recipe: roast lemon chicken with chanterelles

You can learn so much from your neighbors. At least, I have this past week. While I tried to restrain Neva from jumping on two friends and apologized for the “craziness”, one of them said her dog used to do it too, but ever since she sent her to doggy day care, she is much better behaved. Now that Neva is 6 months old and spayed, we can start giving her a few days a month at a day care more for socialization than anything else. And another friend recommended letting Neva hang out in the car without driving anywhere to get her over the fear of the car. Each day I’d spend 30 minutes with Neva in the back of the car – back hatch wide open – and we’d watch the world go about its business around us. I gave her a treat (either a greenie or part of a scoop dog treat) to make happy associations. The first day I had to lift her into the car as she struggled to run away. She drooled and foamed at the mouth for the first 15 minutes, letting out sad little cries and wails. By the sixth day, she was leaping into the back on her own, asking politely for the goodies, and feeling pretty darn happy.

The real test was driving her someplace. I waited until after 5 days of car therapy had passed. She hopped in on her own and didn’t drool or foam once! She did let out a few quiet whimpers when she realized what was happening, but then we were at the trailhead and she was able to focus on the hike instead. She did great. At 4 am this morning, we drove home to Nederland and Neva (on dramamine) did pretty well for 5 hours over mountain passes and windy roads – no puke, but a little bit of drooling. We’re working on it and at least she is making progress.

happily chewing her greenie in the back of the subaru

Neva and I were both happy to see Jeremy pull into the driveway Friday evening. He offered to take care of Neva so I could spend the weekend shooting the fall colors, but I said no. Strong winds on Friday stripped many of the leaves off the aspens around town, and I felt the time would be better spent getting some exercise and simply enjoying the last of the fall colors together rather than trying to get those money shots. Besides, I was able to grab a few decent snaps.

getting neva back on the trails saturday (plus a happy swim at the end)

a hike to a view on beckwith pass, sunday

jeremy and i got some time on the stand up paddleboards, too

thursday’s sunset before the winds picked up

even though some stands are past peak, it is still pretty gorgeous

There was a dusting of snow on the high peaks (probably above 13,000 feet) Saturday morning, but the sun made quick work of returning the snow to the atmosphere (I’m pretty sure that snow sublimated off the summits). As Jeremy and I hiked with Neva through carpets of fallen aspen leaves, we caught each other up on news of the week, angry letters we want to write to elected officials, and mushrooms. It’s hard for me to hike a trail and not point out where there was a good flush of chanterelles or porcini from the summer, or where there ought to be a good flush of chanterelles or porcini if *I* were one of those mushrooms and had a say about where I were to fruit. Friends of mine in other parts of the world have to deal with foraging chanterelles while golden leaves are falling on the ground, which makes for far more challenging visual conditions. We have it nice here in Colorado – our beautiful yellow chanties come up when most of the vegetation is green (as do our porcini).

well, how beautiful are you, little chanterelle?

frilly and delicate

Now that I’ve had my fix of fall colors (they’re still going and I still enjoy them, but now I don’t feel compelled to photograph them once peak is over) and it has snowed a few times in the high elevations, I am ready for ski season to start. No really, I am. Sooooo, any day now, Nature! In the meantime, I’ll get some trail running in since Neva no longer requires constant supervision and I’ll start roasting things like chicken and oh hey – chanterelles. Roasting is an easy way to make a dinner packed with flavor. Use any (edible) mushroom, but I happened to have fresh chanterelles when I shot this recipe last month. I don’t have fresh chanties now, but I did sauté several pounds of chanterelles in butter for freezing. If you have frozen cooked chanterelles, they will work just fine in this recipe.

chicken, carrots, parsley, thyme, pepper, olive oil, chanterelles, potatoes, onion, lemon, salt, garlic, bacon

mise en place

**Jump for more butter**

an easy one

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Recipe: plum ketchup

This past July, I was interviewed via Skype by Gabriel Soh for The Dinner Special podcast. Despite being in the depths of puppy training sleep deprivation, I am moderately coherent. If you’d like to have a listen, hop on over to the interview, but do come back for the recipe!

I suppose that whole adolescence regression episode was bound to happen when I would be alone with Neva. Things that used to not bother her now bother her. Trying to put her harness on has become quite an ordeal – like bargaining with someone who doesn’t speak your language. It’s come down to manhandling her to put the harness on so we can go outside to do the thing she loves most… which is to go outside. Once outside, Neva acts like she’s never seen a human being, a dog, a cat, a leaf, a car, a bike, ANYTHING before in her life and she flips out like she’s going to die if she doesn’t run up and jump on its head. I found myself wondering if Kaweah had been this difficult as a puppy because my memory of her is dominated by the sweet, gentle, and calm senior dog she was most recently. I’m pretty sure Kaweah made me crazier than Neva makes me – just in different ways. I’m also thinking that it may be the 10 days of heavily reduced activity. Maybe she’s gone off the deep end without her regular exercise? I get that way, too.

she’s probably ready for longer walks

The colors that I can see from the walks around the neighborhood are on their way out, or rather, the leaves are falling. Swaths of gold mantling the hillsides are giving way to the silent gray stands that will last us through May. Most of my photographer pals migrated south to the San Juans earlier this week (but not before I fed some of them peach pie cinnamon rolls!). I’ll not be in on that action this year. It’s just me, Neva, and whatever I can snap when I have a random moment.

a cathedral of gold

fingers of color intermingled with conifers

This week appears to have a common theme in my recipes – fruit at the end of its season. On the same trip to the farm store when I got those peaches and my second batch of tomatoes, I picked up something else on impulse. While waiting for the tomatoes to be loaded into a box and weighed, I walked over to the table that had the peaches. As I picked out four pounds of peaches, I smelled what can only be described as candy. Putting a peach to my nose, I took a whiff, but it wasn’t the peach. Looking around at the baskets of fruit, I flew in low and inhaled, eventually honing in on a basket of tiny golf ball-sized plums. The fellow sorting the tomatoes told me that the plums not only smelled like candy, but tasted like candy, too. I bought 2 pounds. I knew I wanted to make plum ketchup, but I made sure I had extras for snacking on straight up. Once in the car, I rubbed one clean on my shirt and took a bite – which was half of the plum, but could have easily been the whole fruit. It was like no plum I had ever tasted before.

these are bubblegum plums

I emailed the farm to find out what variety of plum I had stuffed into my pie hole and they responded that these are bubblegum plums from the western slope – western Colorado – where our luscious peaches are grown. My intention was to make plum ketchup with the Italian plums that my Costco carries around now, but they had yet to show up. Short on time, I used my bubblegums on the ketchup recipe while popping a couple of the extra plums for a snack. This plum ketchup is much easier than my tomato ketchup recipe. You can use most any variety.

brown sugar, ginger, plums, cayenne pepper, black pepper, onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, salt, cider vinegar

dice the plums

ready to purée and cook

**Jump for more butter**