s'mores rice krispies treats crab porcini mac and cheese pan pizza easy strawberry cake


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outdoor snacks

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Recipe: s’mores rice krispies treats

Goodbye, August. And good riddance. It was brutally hot, dry, and smoky here last month. The mushrooms fizzled. The berries are few and best left for the wildlife who need them. Wildfires sprouted around the state – some caused by lightning, others most likely started by careless or ignorant campers. But as we’ve learned in pandemic life, you make do. Sometimes you can make do pretty well if you’re vigilant. Anyone catch the Perseids meteor shower in mid August? We were at our place in Crested Butte where we managed a couple of clear nights and witnessed a beautiful show.


composite of several meteors dropping behind whetstone mountain

paddling with the dogs before the smoke got bad

back home in nederland, where the smoke got bad



Within the last week, Colorado has received some rain and a cool down – enough to improve our air quality and make temperatures bearable. You don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone, but when it comes back you should definitely make the most of it! We sincerely hope that we have turned the corner from summer and can look forward to a gentle slide into autumn, pandemic notwithstanding.

it’s green chile season!

a successful batch of non-dairy chocolate ice cream using oat milk

i made a sushi bowl to celebrate jeremy’s promotion to full professor



Schools in our area have resumed – mostly online and some hybrid. Jeremy is teaching online this semester and investing the time to create as positive and educational an experience as possible for his students. And the decision to convert our guest room into a second office dovetailed nicely with my yearslong desire to donate or recycle some large pieces of old furniture. That freed up more space which I transformed into an out-of-the-way sewing area where dogs and needles will rarely, if ever, interact. I used it the other night to make myself a pocket apron when running errands in town. A purse is pretty impractical when I need fast access to things with minimal touching, so I designed a pocket apron to accommodate the stuff I use when grocery shopping alone. It’s great!

new office for either of us to use as needed

sewing nook

pocket apron: mini spray bottles of alcohol on either end, iphone, my man wallet, notepad and pen, keys, hand sanitizer



Labor Day weekend is coming up and we are prepared to basically hunker down and avoid the onslaught of people flocking to the mountains. My hope is that no one will burn our neighborhood down, but the public doesn’t have a great track record there. Great fun can be had without giant or even small fires. Grab that extra hat and jacket if it’s going to be chilly and use a camp stove! Better yet, forget about cooking and just make these s’mores rice krispies treats ahead of time.

rice krispies cereal, marshmallows, butter, cinnamon graham crackers, dark chocolate



I am a crazy person for marshmallows, possibly because they are creamy without dairy, but also because they burn so deliciously. The original recipe inspiration uses graham crackers, but I splurged on those cinnamon graham crackers from Trader Joe’s because I knew in my heart that cinnamon and chocolate were meant to be. I opted for chopped dark chocolate here, however the original recipe calls for mini chocolate chips which saves you the trouble of taking a knife to a block of chocolate. If you’ve ever made rice krispies treats, then you’re good to go with this summer’s-last-hurrah-camping version.

add marshmallows into melted butter

combine the marshmallow with the graham crackers and cereal

stir in some chocolate



**Jump for more butter**

summer wonders

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Recipe: crab porcini mac and cheese

July and August meld together for me as one long hot month. I tend to put my head down and muddle through with a lot of ice water, watermelon, and popsicles. But August 1 always stands out as it is Kris’ birthday. She would have turned 54 on Saturday. I arranged flowers, made somen noodle soup, and called my mother to cheer her up.


miss you, love you



Our big excitement was getting out to see comet Neowise in mid-July. Skies were touch and go in the evenings thanks to a sudden influx of moisture and clouds over Colorado. But mountain weather keeps you on your toes and we were able to see the comet with the unaided eye! I photographed it from various locations with decent dark skies. I hope many of you were able to get out to view the comet, but if not, here are a couple of my captures.

close-up of comet neowise and two distinct tails (the white dust tail and the blue ion tail)

neowise reflected in the lake as it set behind the mountains



Did I mention it was hot? It’s still hot and it’s getting hotter this week. On those days that we didn’t venture out on the trails to let the pups wade through cold mountain streams, we thought they might enjoy some baby pool time. We hadn’t pulled the pool out in 5 years (since Neva was a wee pup and peed in the pool) and were curious to see how Yuki reacted to this concept. She seemed leery of it at first, then fascinated, then took to jumping in and out of the pool with an occasional pause to quench her thirst (from the pool). It was like a giant water dish she could stand in and simultaneously take a swig from.

what the hecc?

a moment of blissful stillness



When we hiked into the high country, we sought out solitude, views, wildflowers, wildlife, and swimming holes. With so many putting their typical summer activities on hold due to the pandemic, our mountain trails have been inundated with throngs of people – plenty of whom aren’t wearing masks or respecting physical distance. Instead of dealing with that idiocy, we’ve been frequenting the lesser known local trails and tackling home tasks that have been on the to-do list forever. Our guest room is now a second office since no one should visit us while the pandemic is ongoing.

yuki side-eye and a view

mountain meadows sprinkled with color

magenta paintbrush

larkspur

lounging moose

neva dives in while yuki looks on



And it looks as if it might be porcini season. Even the mushrooms appear to be uncertain about this year. I can’t really blame them as much of the state is in drought and last year’s astounding flush is a tough act to follow.

found this early bolter all alone



Still, if there are any porcini to be found and foraged, I have lots of recipes for them. I made this crab porcini macaroni and cheese last summer with my abundant haul. This rich and decadent dish goes a long way, which means you might get to enjoy the leftovers the following day. Use whatever pasta shape you like. Macaroni works, of course, but I happen to like small shells, penne, or pipe rigate (pictured below), too. I realize fresh porcini can be difficult to find, so you can substitute whatever edible mushroom you like.

pepper, milk, cheddar, bread crumbs, salt, gruyère, pasta, butter, flour

crab legs, fresh thyme, fresh porcini



**Jump for more butter**

greening

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

Recipe: easy strawberry cake

I’d like to say that social distancing has made me more aware of my natural surroundings, but that would be a lie. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the greening of our wild spaces since February, watching for every hint of spring’s arrival. And by greening, I mean the sprouting of tiny buds and leaves and shoots. I could go either way at this point: four feet of snow or full frontal mushroom flush.


morning fog condenses on mountain pasqueflower fuzz

hello wild (feral) asparagus season



As I’ve said before, I don’t mind self-isolation because I like staying in the mountains. We considered our bi-monthly trip to the flats a chore of necessity – that is until the asparagus spears started popping up. It isn’t simply the allure of finding “free food” because you should know by now that “free isn’t free”. Part of it is the thrill of foraging, but also the forensics. I don’t just pick and go, but study the ghosts of the previous year, make note of growth patterns, and recognize where stalks have been cut, torn, or chewed.

the sweetest stalks

sautéed asparagus, snap peas, morels (from last year), on homemade tagliatelle

tempura fried asparagus in a mushroom sushi roll



On the sewing front, I spent a little time prototyping a hybrid of the Olson and pleated mask designs and finally settled on one that achieved my goals of fit, function, and ease of production (because I am not a skilled sewist). I posted a 10-minute tutorial on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B__igaYlJoz/ if you are interested. That took forever, but I am hoping the effort will help others make masks for themselves and those who need them.

a recent batch of masks



There hasn’t been a lot of sugary baking going on in our house during the pandemic. It’s mostly been dog treats and cooking savory meals. But now that sweet, red strawberries are arriving in markets, I can get on board with something like a simple cake studded with those red gems.

flour, strawberries, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, sour cream, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt

dice half of the strawberries and slice the other half



**Jump for more butter**