veg head sandwich crested butte: soupçon wild rose petal ice cream wild rose petal jam


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veg head

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Recipe: veg head sandwich

We waited out the Cold Springs Fire in Crested Butte as federal, state, and local wildland fire response teams accomplished the superhuman feat of keeping the fire in check during terrible conditions – high and erratic winds, dry air, hot temperatures – and put everything they had into it. After the worst of the weather had passed, these amazing crews were able to get the fire contained and put out within a week of it starting. That right there is beyond impressive considering how bad past wildfires have gotten.

Jeremy and I were glued to Twitter and other information sources for a day, but had to pull ourselves away as we realized how exhausting and futile that activity was. Our neighborhood remained out of harm’s way, but was still disturbingly close to it. We kept tabs on developments, but for the most part we resumed our work schedules and managed to get some fresh air. It comes up time and again, but you learn an awful lot about a person in times of crisis. Some people are helpful, others are useless, still others are worse than useless – they are drama queens (or kings). Thankfully the majority of our neighbors are great, keeping level heads and having plans of action. Those are the folks you want on your team during the zombie apocalypse. That one neighbor who is always drunk, stoned, or both? He’s a red shirt.


neva enjoys a nice cool stream crossing

hiking above copper lake (on the return, neva swam her brains out in the lake)

wildflowers showing off their stuff in the high country

jeremy and neva at east maroon pass with aspen in the background

cutthroat trout coming to check me out

jeremy paddles at lake irwin

rafting together to enjoy a cool breeze and a lovely view



Crested Butte’s wildflower season gets going in late June and runs through August and even into September if the rains deliver on their promise to the land. I know when the wildflowers are going strong without having to look because my allergies kick into overdrive. My nose starts running as soon as I start running. My eyes itch the minute I set foot on the trail. But it’s worth it. I just wish it would rain, because the animals need their berries, the mushrooms have yet to really flush, and wildfire season is just getting started.

We came home to Nederland a few days ago. Everything seems to be that crunchy kind of dry underfoot right now, but there is rain in the forecast that would be most welcome here. Oh, angelitacarmelita asked for a picture of the oyster mushrooms we found in Crested Butte a couple of weeks ago. These aren’t the best oysters I’ve found, but the ones we ate were certainly delicious. These aspen oyster mushrooms grow on – you guessed it – aspens (and sometimes other trees)! We found both sets at the base of dead aspens.


a single (with a really tiny mini version growing behind it which i left in place)

the older ones were more tan and dried out and ruffled (and wormed out)



Porcini (king bolete) or Kings are supposed to be making an appearance any day now. Actually, some already have, but they are being extra shy without the rain to coax them up. It’s easy to become obsessed with mushrooms, until you realize that they can dominate your entire summer. I like finding mushrooms and I have a pretty good eye for them, but for Jeremy’s and my own sanity, I try not to let mushrooms derail plans for long hikes, trail runs, or backpacks. In any case, when they do flush, I will have to revisit this sandwich which was so wonderfully packed with vegetables. I call it the veg head and you can make it with any kind of favorite mushroom.

arugula, mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, eggplant, zucchini, salt, maple syrup, butter, dijon mustard, ciabatta roll, and porcini

slice the vegetables



**Jump for more butter**

more flowers, please

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

Recipe: wild rose petal ice cream

I want to thank all of the readers who have emailed or messaged me their concerns for our safety over the weekend. We are safe. The wildfire (started by illegal campers on private land who failed to put out their campfire) in Nederland that quickly erupted Saturday afternoon a couple of miles from our home has spread in the other direction. For the time being, our house is okay and our neighborhood has not been evacuated although a large swath of our mountain and canyon communities are under mandatory evacuation. Neva is with us in Crested Butte. Our current plan is to remain here for a few days to minimize the strain on resources in that area and to keep out of the way of fire crews as they work tirelessly to battle the blaze in extremely hot, dry, and windy conditions over rugged terrain.


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Dining Out Denver & Boulder included use real butter among 11 Colorado Food Blogs You Should Read.

It’s been 2 years since we let our sweet Kaweah go. I still miss her every day.


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My parents came out to visit with us in Crested Butte this past week. The last time they were here, we had just moved in and didn’t have a good handle on the best places to eat or things to do. This time we planned a more suitable itinerary and kept the activities flexible and relaxed. Dad did a little fishing, we took some walks and hikes through the wildflowers, we dined out at some of our favorite Crested Butte restaurants, we dined in so Dad could open some bottles of his favorite wines, we attended a neighborhood party, and everyone played with Neva.

me and my mom on a morning hike

mom and dad at dinner



After the parental units returned to Boulder, we resumed our schedule of hikes, paddles, and runs. All manner of wildflowers are coming up: cinquefoil, sulfur paintbrush, Indian paintbrush, lupine, larkspur, monkshood, giant hyssop, mule ears, aspen daisies, fleabane daisies, oxeye daisies, old man of the mountain, cow parsnip, osha, sticky geranium, blue columbines, prairie smoke, elephant heads, wild roses, blue flax, and spotted coralroot – to name a few of the ones I can identify! We have been finding various mushrooms along the trails, too. I’m not the type of person who feels compelled to eat every single mushroom I encounter, but it’s hard to turn down oyster mushrooms. The handful of aspen oyster mushrooms we foraged were mostly old and wormed out. Still, I brought them home. I was able to fry up two of them for dinner, but I took the old ones and smeared them against our aspens in the yard in the hopes that we’ll see some oyster mushrooms appear next summer. It doesn’t hurt to try!

lupine and indian paintbrush

elephant heads with a scenic backdrop

freshly foraged aspen oyster mushrooms

fried in butter and served with leftover beef tenderloin

neva’s pretty certain she would have liked some steak



Due to inflammation of my right trapezius muscle for the past couple of weeks, I wasn’t able to get out for a trail run until recently. I had assumed that all of the wild roses would have finished by now, but I was mistaken. Much to my delight, I saw and smelled hundreds of blooms for miles. Jeremy asked if I was tempted to go back and forage more rose petals. I said no. If they were mushrooms, maybe, but I was done with rose petal recipes for the season. There was the rose petal jam recipe I shared last week and now I have a rose petal ice cream for you.

fragrant, beautiful, simple wild roses

eggs, sugar, rose petals, milk, cream, lemon, salt, beet juice (not pictured: rose water)



I’ve been on a mission to find a good rose petal ice cream recipe ever since I attended a special 50th wedding anniversary celebration years ago where they served an Italian rose petal gelato. I forgot about it for a few years until I realized there was an abundance of wild roses growing around my house that I could use. Last year I managed to miss the bloom entirely, so I made sure to catch it this year. If you don’t have wild roses available, you can use unsprayed fresh roses. If you aren’t familiar with foraging wild rose petals, have a gander at the rose petal jam post for pointers.

combine most of the rose petals, the sugar, and a pinch of salt in a food processor

pulse into a purée or a really well-blended wet sugary mix

combine a cup of cream, the milk, and the rose sugar in a saucepan



**Jump for more butter**

wild about roses

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Recipe: wild rose petal jam

Memorial Day may mark the start of the summer season for most parts of the country, but the fourth of July is when the season kicks into high gear in the mountains. So many people come to the high country because it is beautiful and wild and peaceful. Except a lot of the visitors can’t seem to leave their suburban trappings and behaviors in suburbia, turning paradise into a circus of bad manners. Jeremy and I tend to lay low during the holiday crush, because I believe in the minimization of unnecessary stress. So we drove to Crested Butte, passing through the mountain corridor just a couple of hours before it clogged up with holiday weekend travelers. We are currently enjoying the summer rains and the wildflowers as the town prepares for Independence Day festivities on and around the mountain. This is when everything starts growing and showing off.


nothing like hiking through fields of purple lupine

a hall of aspens that seems to go on forever

prairie smoke blossoms

tiny, brightly colored jelly alpine fungi



Last week in Nederland, the wild roses were in full swing, painting our local yards, trails, and hillsides with splashes of pink among the lush bushes. They were so fragrant that we couldn’t help but notice. I had been waiting for them to blossom, but the late spring meant the wild roses growing in front of our house were a few weeks behind schedule. Jeremy and I spent a couple of hours last weekend foraging wild rose petals for a few recipes. You can always use commercial roses as long as they are unsprayed, but wild roses are particularly fragrant and wonderful.

wild roses



There’s no need to pluck the entire flower, just the petals. It’s easiest to do with the flowers that aren’t flat open, but somewhat concave. You merely close your fingers over the top half of the petals as if to close the blossom. Give a gentle tug and most if not all of the petals should release with a light snap. I leave the center of each rose – the reproductive parts – on the stem and make sure to touch each stamen with my thumb in the hopes that I’ll help to pollinate each flower to produce rose hips for wildlife in the fall. If you find a good bundle of wild rose bushes in bloom, it doesn’t take much time to collect a few cups of petals.

i store them in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator



Of course, we humans aren’t the only ones fond of roses. There are plenty of little crawlies who like to hitch a ride on the rose petals back to your place. To reduce the number of new friends, I gently flick the blossom before I pluck it. This usually evicts 80% of the hitchhikers. Back home, I empty the petals into a large mesh colander covered with a splatter guard, and shake the petals over a table until no more little bugs fall out. It takes me about 10 minutes until the bugs run clear, but that’s easier than rinsing the petals with water, which you can do instead of or in addition to the shaking to clean your rose petals.

toss the petals in a colander



While researching wild rose recipes, I came across this simple, yet delightful wild rose petal jam. It’s rather quick to whip up and it makes for a charming homemade gift. Best of all, it’s delicious. The rose flavor is delicate without being overpowering in that way that makes you think you’re eating lotion or soap. It comes out a brilliant pink color which is all natural.

rose petals, pectin, water, lemon juice, sugar



**Jump for more butter**