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Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

Recipe: sour cherry pie

Slowly, but surely, Yuki and Neva have sorted out who is the boss (Yuki is the boss) in the four weeks since we brought our puppy home. Don’t worry, Neva has never wanted to be the boss of anyone and she seems to enjoy having someone in charge. It’s most evident on the field after Neva has chased the tennis ball a bazillion times and is ready for a big drink of water. We pour the water and Yuki, who only gave chase 2.5 times and isn’t all that thirsty, saunters over and sticks her little face into the water dish, pushing Neva’s face out. Neva will sit back, panting like crazy, patiently waiting for her little sister to finish before she even considers getting near the water dish. But more than that, Yuki and Neva have become pals. I’ve caught them hanging out together with greater frequency and sometimes in the mornings, they both hop up onto the bed with us and it feels… peaceful. It feels right.


band album cover?

chilling out after an evening fetch/chase session



This past week the girls went out for several hikes and Yuki practiced overcoming her fear of strangers and other dogs. When Yuki is uncertain, she backs up and growls or even barks. But instead of letting her cower and be antisocial, we ask the approaching hikers if it is okay for Yuki to say hi to their dogs or to them. Once she sees that these people and/or pups are friendly and not so scary, she perks right up. She’s building her confidence, which is great. We also got Yuki out on the standup paddleboard to see how comfortable she felt on the water. Yuki is a little champ with lots of hidden talents.

we think yuki is growing taller

somehow walking these two is easier than walking just neva

sitting nicely on the paddleboard

yuki is so calm that jeremy could actually paddle while standing



We are now just over a month into summer and it is starting to taste like true summer with all of the berries, peaches, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, melons, and cherries in the markets. It’s a good time for fruit pies. Now I love me a good pie, but for the longest time I didn’t make pies because I couldn’t get the pie crust right. A few years ago, my friend gave me a big bag of frozen pitted sour cherries. She said, “Make a pie or something!” I kept those cherries in the freezer until last year when I finally found a great pie crust recipe that is consistent, easy, flaky, and delicious. It’s great because I haven’t managed to screw it up yet!

butter, salt, water, sugar, flour

scatter the butter over some of the flour, sugar, and salt

sprinkle the rest of the flour over the dough

drizzle cold water over the dough mixture

fold the water into the dough

wrap and refrigerate the two disks of dough



**Jump for more butter**

yukes and neeves

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Recipe: italian marinated porcini mushrooms

If anything has become apparent in the last week, it is this: Neva gives Yuki courage and Yuki helps Neva relax. When Yuki is uncertain or confused, she sits down or gets to a safe place. This is how she has learned to deal with stress and it’s a pretty good coping mechanism.

On a hike last week, we crossed a narrow footbridge that spanned a raging mountain stream. Jeremy and Neva led and then Yuki and I followed. Yuki was doing just fine until we got to the middle of the footbridge and she happened to glance down at the frothing white water below. She froze and crouched low, backing up until she was safely off the bridge. I tried to encourage her, but she wouldn’t budge. I didn’t want to pick her up and carry her across because she needs to learn how to cross bridges. [Note: Neva also had issues first crossing bridges as a puppy – she barked at the bridges, too.] I whistled to Jeremy and had him come back with Neva. Yuki watched as Neva gracefully trotted across the bridge to her. They touched noses and then Jeremy slowly led Neva back onto the bridge, just a few feet in, and waited. Yuki really wanted to be with Neva. You could see her mustering up her little puppy gumption as she placed her front paws on the first boulder step leading to the bridge, tail wagging. She paused, and then went for it! She clambered up onto the footbridge and followed close behind Neva, never looking back. We were so proud of her and proud of Neva for leading by example.


my sweet girls



We brought Yuki out to Crested Butte for the first time this week. It’s a 5+ hour car ride from house to house, and we didn’t know how it would go down. When we packed the girls into the car on Monday morning for our road trip, they each settled into their dog beds. Neva usually cries for a few hours then paces about in her dog bed as prey drive kicks into gear with every vehicle on the road or field of cattle we pass. This time, Neva sat quietly, sniffing the air when the windows were open, and even lying down for a quarter of the trip. Yuki snoozed most of the way. It was by far Neva’s best road trip. My friend, Ellen, says Yuki is Neva’s stable goat. I had to google what a stable goat is, and she’s absolutely right!

yukes and neeves resting on a hike

little pups, big views



Even though it’s early season for porcini, I keep my eyes peeled when I’m on the trails in summer. There are always some early bolters. I recently managed to spy a handful despite wrangling a puppy who is low to the ground and likes to pick up all sorts of things with her mouth. It was nice to introduce Yuki to the porcini because “porcini” is her release word (“raspberry” is Neva’s release word).

remember this scent, young padawan



I don’t know if the kings (porcini, king boletes, boletus rubriceps) will flush this year like they did last year. One can only hope for two consecutive years of crazy goodness. If they do, I plan to make more of these Italian marinated porcini because I cried real tears when I polished off my last jar from the 2017 season. The recipe comes from Hank Shaw’s most excellent Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog. It’s a winner. There aren’t many ingredients, but the technique requires time. It took me about a day. Do you need to use porcini? Hank recommends meaty mushrooms, like boletes or cremini or shiitake. Meaty.

fresh porcini, salt, olive oil, vinegar, lemon, oregano, red chili

slice the porcini 1/2-inch thick



If you’ve worked with porcini before, you’ll know that the more mature mushrooms have yellow pores attached to the cap. Hank peels these off (and dries and grinds them for porcini powder) because he says they acquire an unpleasant texture during the pickling. Since I was using mostly bouchons, I left the pores – which are cream colored when young – in place and they were fine.

A large percentage of fresh porcini is water. We remove the water by laying the mushroom slices on a layer of salt, and then sprinkling more salt on top of the mushrooms and allow them to sit for a couple of hours. This draws out the water until you have mushroom slices in a salty slurry. Press each slice between paper towels to extract more moisture. If you have cuts on your hands, I highly recommend using some disposable gloves to handle the mushrooms. Because… OW!


sprinkle the salt on top of the mushrooms

let the mushrooms sit for a few hours

water is drawn out of the mushrooms

press more moisture out of the slices



**Jump for more butter**

very awesome

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Recipe: huckleberry crème brûlée

In the 12 days since Yuki joined our pack we’ve procured an extra baby gate, an extra dog crate, an extra dog bed, a Nylabone chew toy, another Nylabone chew toy (because… Neva), a puppy harness, and other things that make pups and humans happy. In some ways, Yuki transports us back to the puppy training days and in many ways she is like no puppy we have ever encountered. Yuki is a little dream girl. I’m openly glad that the few people who inquired about her flaked out, because she’s our girl now and we are so in love with her.

Of course, any dog in our household undergoes Butter Boot Camp so they are ready to hit the high country, swim in alpine lakes, and have fun in the snow! We’ve been hiking Yuki to build up her miles and strengthen her paw pads so we can take her on longer, more exciting hikes. This morning, she had her first ever swim! And we found some snow for her to romp on. Such progress. You can follow daily updates on my personal Instagram account.


this little one is gonna get used to a camera/phone

the pups resting in shade

we hike in the mornings while it is still cool out

my hike with banjo (and erin) on yuki’s and neva’s rest day

yuki, neva, and jeremy enjoying the wildflowers

splashing and playing in the water



On the days we don’t hike, we walk (it’s still a hike – everything around here is trails) the girls to the soccer field and let Neva fetch while Yuki gets training. It’s great because Neva is so focused on her tennis ball that she ignores Yuki, and Yuki is so focused on either me or Jeremy that she mostly ignores Neva with the occasional chase. Over the weekend we had some folks over for dinner and both pups behaved better than we could have dreamed! We are easing Yuki into crate training because we don’t want to traumatize her, but we also need her to be safe when we aren’t home. As of now she is handling 1-2 hour stints without much issue and we will gradually work up to longer periods. We leave the door open when we are home and she likes to wander in there for naps or to ask for food. Feeding her in the crate makes it a happy association and also keeps food-obsessed Neva from trying to eat puppy kibble. I think Yuki will get the hang of it quickly like she has everything else. I imagine she’ll transition to sweet sweet freedom in the house sooner than Neva did.

these two are getting along just fine



The pups are playing tug as I type and I have one eye on the computer monitor and one eye on them as they weave a little path of destruction around the great room. Managing puppy and everything else (i.e. life) is quite the exercise. Jeremy and I trade off who gets to leave the house for extended periods of time and who gets to work (actually work) during the active hours. When they both fall asleep, we get a few hours of quiet and concentration.

When my pal, Erin, and I went for a hike recently, we checked in on several huckleberry locations. The plants were heavy with lots of berries in the green pea stage. We used to get super excited about the green peas, anticipating a good huckleberry crop. We didn’t realize that not all green peas become purple huckleberries for various reasons (drought being one of them). Now we know better. Life in the mountains is tough. The diminutive mountain huckleberry endures much hardship to eventually ripen into the very best berry on the planet. They are precious. You only need a few spoonfuls of the purple berries to elevate something like crème brûlée into a dreamier version of itself.


eggs, cream, sugar, sugar, vanilla bean, huckleberries

heat the cream

scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod

steep the vanilla seeds and the pod in the hot cream



**Jump for more butter**