passion fruit meringues salmon poke handmade pappardelle soft-shell crab spider roll


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spring, is that you?

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Recipe: passion fruit meringues

I knew it would snow again. How awesome for us that we could backcountry ski fresh snow in our local mountains one day, then go for a trail run in these same mountains the next day. The weather is a spring mix bouquet – it’s got a little bit of everything going on right now. We are rolling with it, because staying indoors is not an option.


sunrise clouds revealing new snow

a fast-moving thunderstorm at sunset



Jeremy and I have been waiting for a window of good weather all month when the snow is still decent in the high country. Active storms, cooler weather, and work obligations finally cleared this weekend. We pounced on the opportunity to get Neva out for her first ski backpack. It was an overnight trip into our local backcountry and we kept it simple for our own sanity as well as Neva’s safety. Unlike summer backpacking, early season backpacking involves more bulk and weight to account for cold nights, camping on snow, potential storms, and ski equipment. Although the forecast thunderstorms never materialized, we camped below treeline to be safe. Of course, Neva had the time of her life romping in the snow, getting extra food and snacks (she burned a lot of calories), catching the scent of a bazillion wild animals, and hogging our sleeping bags all night.

neva cools off in the snow – it was a scorching 70°f

skinning uphill with a heavy pack and a dog that likes to pull every which way is hard work

clouds building on the divide

home for the night



When Jeremy first introduced me to backpacking in March of 1993, he explained that it is “the endeavor of a thousand little discomforts”. But with experience, we learned to minimize, ignore, or accept those discomforts in exchange for the freedom of the hills. Ski backpacking with a one-year old crazy dog definitely adds more complexity and even pain. An outsider might regard this activity as recreation, but Jeremy and I definitely classify it as fun #2. Worth it? Absolutely. Will we take Neva again? We’ll see.

pre-dawn colors in the east

breaking down camp at 6:30 am

hiking the last couple of miles out



As the sun lingers in the sky for a few more minutes each day, my mind turns to tropical flavors. If anything tastes like sunshine, it is passion fruit. I’ve gone to great lengths in the past to procure fresh passion fruit, but sometimes I have to suck it up and buy some at outrageous prices here in Colorado for a shoot. Never let it be said that I have ever allowed a passion fruit to go to waste. Actually, I hate waste in general, which is why I wound up making these passion fruit meringues – because I always have an excess of egg whites in my refrigerator!

eggs, sugar, passion fruit

precious pulp and juice



**Jump for more butter**

a bear walks into a (sushi) bar

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Recipe: salmon poke

We rounded a corner this past week – hiking and running more days than skiing. I washed the late season mud off our nordic ski boots and packed up all but our backcountry telemark boots to store in the basement until October. Instead of four ski bins in the great room, we now have four bins for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, plus one holdout for backcountry skiing – at least for another week! Spring is dawdling. Rain and snow flirt in the high country and we expect another week of cool, wet weather around here, which means a few more days before I can swap out our flannel sheets for something cooler. Chilly mornings still require snuggy sheets.


morning reflections

scoping out the trails without skis *sniffle*

dashing through icy cold snowmelt streams



I used to regard shoulder season as a time of outdoor exercise limbo, but this season I’m embracing the coolish weather, squishy mud, and sporadic snow patches on the trails. It’s a good time for me to build up to higher mileage in what I consider comfortable temperatures. This way, I also scope out plants in bloom around my neck of the woods. To start trail running for the season when it’s already hot means there are two hurdles to deal with: the heat and trail running.

sunny and cool trail runs are just fine by me

so many pasque flowers in bloom!

neva perfects her jump-catch



Winter is good for me, I think, because it allows me to focus on snow and being a somewhat normal person. Summer is officially Crazy Time because so many wonderful mushrooms grow where I run or hike or bike – one can’t help but notice them and maybe forage a few and probably obsess over finding more because that’s the addictive property of wild mushrooms. But you all know that my true love is the tiny purple huckleberry. Erin and I have spent a few lazy winter days pondering where a good patch might be based on satellite imagery and our knowledge of the mountain trails and what our local huckleberries like. As the mountains shed their snowy mantles, we make note of healthy huckleberry plants and when they flower and when those flowers become green peas that will hopefully emerge as ripe huckleberries.

I make tons of sweet recipes with huckleberries – that’s easy to do as they play nicely with sugar, butter, flour, cream, and eggs. I’m exploring more savory recipes now that I have enough huckleberries in my freezer and I’m feeling comfortable with what the berry can and cannot do in a dish. Earlier this month I decided to make salmon poke, the salmon version of the more popular and ubiquitous tuna poke, but I didn’t want it to taste like tuna poke with salmon swapped in for the tuna. What I eventually came up with blends a little bit of Japanese cuisine with Hawaiian cuisine with the Pacific Northwest: salmon poke with huckleberries.


avocado, green onions, soy sauce, furikake, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, huckleberries, tempura crunch, salmon, sesame seeds, lemons



Think the combination of salmon and huckleberries will taste odd? Let me point out that salmon run where the huckleberries grow in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and that both foods are favorites of the locals – the bears. (If I were a bear, I would eat salmon and huckleberries and huckleberries and salmon all dang day.) When choosing a dressing for my poke recipe, I didn’t want the typical sesame oil in the mix because I feel it can and does overpower both the salmon and the huckleberries. Instead, I opted for ponzu sauce – a combination of soy sauce, lemon juice, and rice vinegar. I like that the lemon works especially well with the salmon and the hucks. You can purchase ponzu sauce from an Asian grocery store, but I find it’s pretty easy and tastier to make your own at home. If you are gluten-free, then definitely make your own ponzu sauce at home – just use tamari instead of soy sauce.

pouring rice vinegar and lemon juice into the soy sauce



A note about the salmon. You really do need to use sashimi-grade salmon in this recipe. Sashimi-grade means that the fish has been frozen down to -20°C/-4°F for at least seven days to kill off any parasites that might exist in the fish flesh. Salmon is particularly prone to parasites. While I always purchase wild salmon, in this instance my fish monger only had farmed Norwegian sashimi-grade salmon, so that’s what I bought. Creamy avocado is a no brainer for salmon poke, but I keep it separate from the actual poke because it puts a green film on everything when mixed in with the other ingredients. If you don’t care, then by all means, mix it in. My preference is to serve the poke on a bed of the avocado to preserve the aesthetics.

dice the salmon

avocado at the ready



**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**