chanterelle galette huckleberry lemonade bacon corn hash with chanterelles huckleberry scones


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getting there from here

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Recipe: chanterelle galette

Jeremy told me that he thinks we may have seen the last of the hottest days of the year. I hope this is true. All signs are pointing to fall in the mountains: cooler nights, tiny spots of yellow leaves emerging in the sea of green aspen stands, huckleberry leaves turning red, and the sun crossing the sky with a lower profile than before.


dendritic pattern on an aspen leaf

purple huckleberry in the morning sun



Neva currently weighs in at 30 pounds for her 5 months of age. Her growth has slowed a little and it looks like she may wind up being a smaller dog, like Kaweah. She continues to lose her baby teeth, but still acts like a baby dog from time to time. Best of all, our pup has begun to mellow out in the evenings, resting at my feet or Jeremy’s feet when we work at our computers or curling up next to us on the couch. I look back at her puppy pictures and I can barely recognize her – that chunky chubby puppy has turned into a lanky teenager. We are starting to settle into a routine which makes all of us happier. We’ll get there someday.

staring at two tennis balls in the distance, not fetching

blowing bubbles in her water dish



After a big hot and dry spell, we’ve received a few rainstorms. These days I think of the rains in terms of huckleberries. A pulse of rain, lots of sunshine, more rain, more sun. That’s what the hucks like. As long as it doesn’t get too cold too soon in the high country, they could keep going for a few more weeks. But rain also makes me ponder what the mushrooms will do. If there is enough rain, we could see another flush of porcini or chanterelles. It could happen! Meanwhile, I have spent the past couple of weeks putting my chanterelle haul into delectable recipes to share with you good people. Today we’re going to go with a galette, because it’s not a terribly finicky pastry and it tastes amazing. Don’t fret if you can’t find chanterelles, use some other mushroom that you do have access to. Crimini works, is easy to find in most markets, and won’t break the bank.

onion, gruyère, egg, water, sugar, flour, salt, butter, more butter, milk, pepper, olive oil, chanterelles, thyme

pulse the butter into the dry ingredients

add ice water

form the dough into a disk



**Jump for more butter**

first fourteener

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Recipe: huckleberry lemonade

Neva will be five months old in a couple of days. I have this mental disconnect that she is still a puppy and yet she has changed and grown so much since her first days with us. My sleeping pattern has shifted earlier because of the puppy, so I tend to go to bed a half hour to an hour sooner than Jeremy. During that time before Jeremy turns in for the night, Neva hops up on the bed and snuggles with me. Usually Jeremy will hear a series of exclamations like, “Don’t sit on the pillow!” or “Stop licking my hair!” before things settle down (and by things, I mean Neva). When both puppy and I are nodding off into Dreamland, Jeremy will gently lift Neva off the bed and carry her to her crate, which is next to my bedside. And then we sleep as much as we can before she wakes up in the morning.

But one morning last week, we were the ones waking Neva at 4 am to go for her biggest hike yet – Mount Bierstadt, a 14,060 foot mountain. Fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation) are a thing here in Colorado, because there are over 50 of them and because some have class 1 or class 2 trails to summit. Jeremy and I have mixed feelings about these mountains as they tend to attract a lot of people, something we prefer to avoid. This is especially true of mountains like Bierstadt which are fairly close to the Denver Metropolitan area and are relatively “easy” as fourteeners go. We chose it for these reasons – close to our house and not too challenging for Neva, who has been “in training” since the day we got her.

On the way to the trailhead, we stopped at the Georgetown Visitor Center to use the facilities and then Neva hurled in the car. Neva gets car sick quite often, so we usually have towels, plastic bags, and napkins at the ready. We are hoping she’ll grow out of it, but I’d love to hear if any of you have suggestions or recommendations on how to make her car rides less pukey. While Neva ate her breakfast (aka dinner) at the trailhead, she spat something out in the middle of her chowfest. Jeremy picked it up and placed it in my outstretched palm, “A baby tooth!” he said gleefully. At last, her adult teeth are coming in and those razor sharp baby teeth shall maim us no longer.


the sun clears the ridge with bierstadt in silhouette (upper right)

the view from summit

jeremy holds neva up for the token summit photo



Neva was a champ getting up the mountain, only whimpering on the last pitch when the boulders were too big for her to climb. Jeremy – the real champ of the day – carried her up and down those sections with the care and surefootedness that I’ve come to trust with my life. There were a lot of people on the summit, so we didn’t linger for very long. Plus, we discovered that Neva was scared of the thousand foot drops on either side of the peak (we consider this a healthy fear). She stayed very close to us and leaned her body against ours, trembling and making short quiet moans. On the descent, Jeremy carried her down the boulder field until they were safely on the saddle and she could resume being the crazy puppy that all of the hikers wanted to meet and pet. Not bad for a puppy’s first fourteener.

stopping for treats

taking a break and refueling

a nice cool stream crossing in the afternoon sun



The next few days were spent checking on huckleberry patches. It’s an odd season with lots of what Erin and I call “ghost” hucks – dead, dried up, white hucks that didn’t make it to their glorious purple potential. Was it due to late freezes or perhaps long stretches of hot weather with no nurturing afternoon rainstorms? We were concerned because this seemed to be happening to most of the patches that had been loaded with purple berries the previous season. Thankfully, the motherlode had lots of snurples (the really dark, sweet, purple berries – another term we coined), although a good fraction had gone ghost. Erin and I went foraging over the weekend to another spot that Jeremy and I had scoped out on a trail run last year. It had looked okay when Jeremy and I took Neva up there to check it out in the failing light of dusk, but when Erin and I arrived Sunday morning, there were so many snurples we couldn’t even make our way through the patch without stepping on some berries. Hot damn! We named this patch ML2 (motherlode 2) and by the time we headed back to Erin’s truck, our fingers, pants knees, and pants seats were stained purple.

jeremy captured me picking huckleberries at sunset

what a couple of hours will get you



It’s been hot and dry here such that the mushrooms have all but packed up and left, and our air quality has been abysmal due to smoke from wildfires in California and Washington. It makes me sad because this is typically a lovely time of year in Colorado and because California and Washington are both states that are dear to my heart. After several hours of picking huckleberries under the sun, I couldn’t wait to get home and pour myself a glass of huckleberry lemonade. That’s where it’s at for me. Lemons and hucks make a great team – why not drink them?

lemons, huckleberries (frozen), water, more water, and sugar

simple syrup: add water to the sugar



**Jump for more butter**

enchanterelles

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Recipe: bacon corn hash with chanterelles

School is starting or has started for a lot of students this week as evidenced by the uptick in dorm room bean bag and laundry basket purchases at Target. Heavier than usual traffic clogged the roads last week heading east from the mountains. No one heads east (toward Denver) from the mountains unless they have to… the school year commenceth. Our last few days in Crested Butte were a whirlwind of activity as we wrapped up summer in our special mountain hamlet. Truth be told, I think it’s normally a windstorm of activity, but Neva turns everything into a whirlwind.


dinner with good friends

puppy was so tuckered out, jeremy carried her the last 50 feet

finding more gems on and off trail

i see you!



The day before we returned home to the Front Range, I was picking my way along a deer trail that was lined with chanterelles. Jeremy and I refer to it as the Trail of Happiness. I had watched the mushrooms grow over the past week and was ready to harvest some to take home. The rains in and around Crested Butte had been stoking the chanterelle (and everything else!) flush and they just kept coming. I’m careful to only harvest a fraction of what is growing, cutting rather than plucking (it’s better for the preservation of the patch and continued fruiting throughout the season). Besides, there were so many that I couldn’t put a dent in the mushrooms even if I wanted to. Looking back up the slope I had just foraged, I couldn’t tell that I had picked any at all! Just then my phone buzzed the side of my leg. Mom texted me and asked what I was doing. I replied that I was foraging chanterelles for her birthday dinner.

quite a few chanterelles and a handful of porcini to boot



Since my parents spend their summers in Colorado, I get to celebrate my mom’s birthday with her and that means a lot to me. My mom always puts everyone else first. She takes care of others before thinking about her needs or her wants. This birthday wasn’t a special number – 16, 21, decadal, or whatnot – but that doesn’t matter. It’s a birthday. It was my mom’s birthday and I wanted to do something nice for her because I can… Something to ease the pain of Kris’ birthday just 2 weeks prior. Something to let her know how much I love her. I learned that my friend’s mother had passed the morning of Mom’s birthday and my heart ached. Loss is never easy, but it always reminds me to cherish the relationships I have while I can.

mom and dad upon arrival

a toast to the birthday girl (sparkling rosé of pinot noir)

light appetizers

lobster and chanterelle vols au vent

mom’s favorite: shredded kale salad

crowd pleaser: cioppino

lime cheesecake for dessert

i hope she made a good wish!



At one point, Mom came into the kitchen to watch me plate the vols au vent. She asked about the chanterelles and I showed her one of my many brown paper bags of fresh chanterelles in the refrigerator, pulling a particularly beautiful and delicate one out for her to smell. People say they smell like apricots, but if you close your eyes, I find they smell more like almonds and ever so faintly of bayberry candles – the kind you found in the 1980s in Colonial Williamsburg gift shops around the holidays. I think the gorgeous color is what prompts that whole apricot notion. They say if porcini are the kings of the mushroom world (they are called king boletes) then chanterelles are the queens. Finding a king in the woods is akin to a high-stakes Easter egg hunt. Porcini are heavy and hefty in your hand – solid and stout. Thrilling. Stumbling across a chanterelle patch is essentially striking gold. Delicate and frilly as if they came from the sea – chanterelles are especially coveted by me because they don’t have worms. Super bonus awesomeness. I am enchanted.

Mom asked what on earth I was planning to do with all of those chanterelles. Funny she should ask. I spent the 5 hour car ride home from Crested Butte brainstorming recipes to make and shoot with chanterelles. I even had a container of one recipe for her to take home. So in addition to the leftover party food, Jeremy and I have been wading through chanterelle recipe after chanterelle recipe. Jeremy tells me this is a hardship he willingly endures. This bacon corn hash recipe comes from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, because I can’t resist the sweet ears of Colorado Olathe corn that are in season right now. I just modified it with chanterelles fried in bacon grease, because it was the right thing to do.


corn, potatoes, salt, green onions, thick-cut bacon, pepper, chanterelles

chopped and sliced



**Jump for more butter**