hot chorizo sweet onion dip huckleberry fudge california hand roll (temaki) hot smoked salmon and asparagus pasta


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everything is awesome

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Recipe: hot chorizo sweet onion dip

After spending a scorching day on the flats, Jeremy and I sat down the other evening to dinner and a movie in our living room. We don’t watch a lot of movies and there was a long list to choose from online. Both our brains were fried from the heat and a long day, so we agreed on The Lego Movie. We loved it. And now I have that song “Everything is Awesome” in my head. But you know what? Everything *IS* awesome.


pretty blanket flowers are blooming in our yard

mom and dad had us over for this delicious feast they prepared

toasting to life



Jeremy left for an out-of-town meeting on Saturday morning. I always worry that he’ll get stranded on the tarmac and starve, so I packed him a brie, prosciutto, and mixed greens sandwich on a baguette. And an apple. And potato chips. And some cookies. And a chocolate croissant. He departed for the airport late enough in the morning that it was already too warm for me to do a long trail run, but it was still early enough to grab a hike under wonderfully cloudy skies. So we drove in opposite directions from our neighborhood and I hiked into the high country. It’s been dry here, which would explain the utter lack of mushrooms (of any kind) on the trails of late. I’ve been scoping my huckleberries as well as the mushrooms. We need rain. They need rain. The mushrooms demand it!

I hoofed it up the trail at a good clip singing “Everything is Awesome” in my head. About an hour up, I approached a bend in the trail. My eyes are always scanning the woods around me for mushrooms, for wildlife, and for people (it’s the people you have to watch out for). I hadn’t encountered anyone all morning until a black bear stepped out of the forest onto the trail 20 feet in front of me. It had a full, healthy, black coat and looked to be an adolescent bear, slightly taller than a Great Dane and much fatter. My face lit up as I froze in place to avoid startling it. My gut instinct was to reach for my camera, but it was in my backpack. It hadn’t seen me yet. The bear was looking uphill as it strolled across the trail – doo dee doo dee doo. Then it casually turned to look around and spotted me. My presence gave that poor fellow a start and then the bear high-tailed it straight into the woods.

There was a huge smile on my face and I looked around to see if anyone else had seen the bear, but I was alone. It was my first bear sighting in our local mountains (I’ve seen them in town – sad…) and it was the healthiest, most handsome black bear I’ve ever seen. Note: black bears can be black, brown, cinnamon, even buff in color. I took a few steps forward to check if it was hanging out in the woods, but it was far away. And then I spotted my first porcini of the season. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.


i named this one miguel



Jeremy was concerned that I would be sad and missing Kaweah in the house by myself. I do miss her, but I only tear up once or twice a day now. My folks came over for dinner Sunday evening because they think terrible things will befall me when Jeremy is out of town. I greeted them with a recipe that I had been wanting to make for years. It’s Todd and Diane’s adaptation of their awesome sweet onion dip and it is just as cracktastically addictive.

mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, black pepper, chorizo, sweet onion

brown the chorizo

dice the onion



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coming home

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Recipe: huckleberry fudge

We returned to Nederland a couple of days ago only to be greeted by a furnace blast of a heat wave. Man, is it hot – even in the mountains! We usually find relief at night when we can draw cool air into the house (most mountain homes don’t have air conditioning as we usually don’t need it), but the evenings haven’t offered much of that either. I feel such ambivalence toward summer. On the one hand I cannot stand the heat and I hide from the sun as much as I can, but on the other hand it is the short time when tons of fun and beautiful things happen.

I stopped by the vet’s office on Wednesday afternoon and told the assistant at the desk that I was there to receive Kaweah’s ashes. She walked to the back and looked at four different sized boxes and picked up a medium-ish one. Instead of handing it to me across the front desk, she came around to where I stood and offered me a hug and said she was so sorry. I thought I was getting better about keeping it together when people gave their condolences, but apparently I wasn’t. Blinking back tears, I thanked her and she told me how much the office loved Kaweah and what a remarkable little girl she was. Stepping outside the office into the breeze coming off the mountains, I cradled the box in my arms. It’s so light – so much lighter than the 55 pounds of pup we were used to carrying around in her old age… 55 pounds of mostly water and carbon, reduced to carbon. I know this isn’t my Kaweah. My Kaweah is gone. But she’s also in my heart – so not really gone.


kaweah’s ashes and two framed photos – one for her vet and one for us



Thursday morning presented itself at 5:30 am. That decision, of whether or not to get up and get outside when you’re short on sleep, can be a tough one. I know from experience that I usually won’t regret getting up, but I might regret not getting up. Our dedication was rewarded first thing in the morning with wildlife sightings, colorful wildflowers strewn across the meadows like confetti, and clear views of the high country.

that’s a moose

a big moose

don’t mess with the moose

potpourri

morning light on delicate blossoms

looking east

the indian peaks high country



It is a great time to catch wildflowers in the mountains around here. They seem to be peaking around 10,000 feet right now. Believe it or not, my whole motivation for hiking was not to see moose or the wildflowers (but both are TOTALLY BONUS!!), it was to check on the huckleberries. Oh, and to get exercise, but… huckleberries. They were green and plumping up nicely in Crested Butte on my last trail run. Here in the Front Range, they’re a little behind their Crested Butte brethren. Still, it’s coming along nicely. Hiking is my finger on the pulse of the hucks.

green hucks in crested butte



What do I plan to do with the huckleberries? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve been planning ALL YEAR for this moment in time. One of the treats I’ve been wanting to make is huckleberry fudge. If you’ve ever traveled to Montana and visited a gift shop, you will have seen and possibly sampled huckleberry fudge. I did just that (many) years ago when Jeremy and I took a 6-week detour through the Rocky Mountains on our cross-country move from Pasadena, California to Ithaca, New York. I’m not a big fan of fudge, but huckleberry fudge is something else entirely.

white chocolate, cream cheese, powdered sugar, huckleberry jam



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diversions

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Recipe: california hand roll (temaki)

Despite being the summer high season in Crested Butte, our time here has been pleasantly quiet and peaceful. Colorado mountain towns have long winters and short summers, but boy are those summers exploding with color, activity, beauty at every turn – both in the backcountry and in town proper.


the town of crested butte is simply charming



Our neighborhood is filled with the sounds of people greeting one another in the street while walking or heading out for a bike ride, children laughing and playing, and the jingle of dog tags as pups get their walkies in the fresh mountain air. Several of our wonderful neighbors have told us how sorry they were to hear of Kaweah’s passing. This is – as many mountain communities are – a dog-loving community.

our dear next-door neighbor even sent flowers



Jeremy and I took a few days to visit his folks in Pagosa Springs – a lovely mountain town in the-middle-of-nowhere, southwest Colorado. We got up early one morning for a trail run before everyone else had risen and greeted the sunrise as we paced through scrub oak and sticky mud from the previous day’s thunderstorms. Afterward, we sat on the porch with his parents watching throngs of hummingbirds spar over the hummingbird feeders. The Rufous hummingbirds are especially territorial and aggressive which made the bird watching all the more entertaining. It’s really quite spectacular.

sunrise on the trail

a lone rufous monitors the bird feeder from a nearby branch

then thwarts the attempts of an aggressor

and shows the other guy what’s what



We returned to Crested Butte in time to meet my friend Irvin and his partner who were road tripping through Utah and Colorado this summer. We spent 48 hours giving them a quick sampling of Crested Butte: checking out Mount Crested Butte, dining in Mountaineer Square, coffee and pastries at Camp 4, hiking to a great 360° view in the high country, pizza at Secret Stash, mountain biking, dinner at our place, browsing the farmers market.

a.j. and irvin on our hike

irvin grabs a slice of “the woodward” pizza at secret stash



Our multi-day non-stop schedule kept us rather busy and preoccupied such that we weren’t dwelling too much on the little black dog that was missing from our lives. Of course, we miss her terribly. But when people tell us they are sorry, I thank them and point out that Kaweah lived a very good and happy dog life. On our drive from Pagosa Springs to Crested Butte, I was finally able to verbalize how I felt about my time with Kaweah. She was a gift to us, both literally and figuratively. It was our responsibility to provide the absolute best life to her that we could and we took that task to heart. We were with her to the very end so that she was never alone, afraid, or unloved. Only now do I understand just how much of a gift she really was and will always be until my dying day. This is me finding closure.

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I know that some people consider sushi a summer food because of the raw aspect, but I maintain a year-round love affair with sushi. I crave it after skiing just as much as I crave it after (and during) summer backpacking, and we’re fortunate that Boulder has a lot of decent sushi on offer and Crested Butte has one sushi bar (they used to have two, but my favorite one closed its doors last year). We also make sushi at home. One of my favorites is the California roll – something I never order in restaurants, but often make in my own kitchen. It is a good gateway sushi roll because the crab is cooked. When we prepare California rolls at home, we tend to go for the hand rolls or temaki because they’re quick and easy to make and consume.

wasabi powder, sesame seeds, sriracha, nori (seaweed), sushi rice, masago (capelin roe), cucumber, avocado, mayonnaise, king crab legs

slice the cucumber into strips

stir wasabi powder into mayonnaise to make…

wasabi mayonnaise



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