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coming in cool

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

Recipe: strawberry crisp

Summer arrives even if the weather isn’t letting on. Sure, it has stopped snowing, but the temperatures have remained relatively cool and aspens have only recently begun sporting that gorgeous peridot-green. Late-onset summer isn’t such a bad thing in my mind because I dread oppressive heat. But what if winter comes early? What if summer is only two weeks long this year? Sometimes you need to let go of what you can’t control and appreciate what you currently have.


the greening of the forests

getting the pups out for hikes and runs and playtime

the snow is hanging on in the alpine



It’s been an abnormal year with an extremely productive (snow-wise) winter and spring, which had us constantly second-guessing our morel spots. Are we early? Is there such a thing as too much moisture? Did we miss it? Is it a bust or will we see a boom season? Is it so late that the heat will clobber everything? Dutifully, devotedly, we checked, made observations, took notes, discussed. Foraging isn’t about free food (because free is never free, folks). For me, it’s a science and an art. And our diligence has paid off.

little treasure

erin and banjo found a big one



Aside from countless hours spent scrutinizing shadows, dead leaves, and every inch of forest floor for mushrooms, I’m also trying not to neglect my own fitness. Foraging morels is not exercise, it’s prolonged eye-strain. Jeremy and I squeeze trail runs in between hiking and fetch sessions with the pups. Ultimately the goal is to make everyone tired. Seems to be working!

The good news is that Neva has been gradually sticking up for herself when Yuki bullies her, which actually makes their play sessions far more equal and fun for both of them. Their dynamic is shifting and they are getting along better each day. I wasn’t sure we’d ever get here, but here we are. It’s wonderful.


cuddle buddies: tired dogs are good dogs



Strawberries are abundant once again in markets and I start thinking of vodka infusions, jams, syrups, pastries, ice creams, and straight up fresh, juicy berries. But what about something quick and irresistible and great for sharing at parties? Fruit crisps make great, easy desserts to serve guests or to bring to potlucks. I think of them as lazy pies with fiber. But I rarely ever see strawberry crisps – it’s usually peach, apple, blueberry, pear.

filling: strawberries, vanilla, cornstarch, sugar

topping: rolled oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar



**Jump for more butter**

no complaints

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Recipe: morel-stuffed chicken fried steak

I have entered summer mode even though the atmosphere was several steps behind me for the last few weeks. School is out. People are on vacation. No one answers emails (apparently) and I’m letting the blog cool her heels with a reduced posting schedule of twice a month. I encourage you to get off the computer and mobile devices and engage with a carbon-based world.

Can you believe it kept snowing until last week? Snow in May happens all the time in the mountains, but a winter storm warning for the entire state in late May had all the skiers skiing and all the fair-weather folk losing their goddamned minds. That is springtime in the Rockies. We don’t fight the weather in the mountains, we live with it and enjoy it as much as we can. Some don’t have a choice like the moose who are looking for forage or the hummingbirds who arrived and can’t find flowers.


instead of hiking, we were still skiing

a young moose passing through and making the most of our wild currant bushes

aspens waiting to bud as soon as it warms up



These past few days have actually been springlike, just in time for true summer. The prolonged cold gave us a grace period to transition into summer living – installing a new screen door, tidying the garden in Crested Butte, swapping winter and summer tires, more spring cleaning (we should just agree to call it eternal cleaning, because that’s what it is). Windows are open and fresh mountain air circulates the house. Yuki and Neva receive scoldings from local hummingbirds for standing too close to their feeder. And despite being three weeks late, the flowers are coming and so are the mushrooms.

glacier lily

yuki and neva enjoy the last day of flannel sheets

i have been waiting for this (fun) guy to make an entrance



If there is one thing I eagerly await in spring, it is the arrival of our mountain morels. You must understand my anticipation is not solely stoked by the prospect of finding black morels. It is the whole experience of walking ground that hasn’t been uncovered since last October and witnessing the green blades and buds emerge, hearing birds converse through the leafless forest, smelling the earthy odor as mats of dead leaves drenched in snow melt warm under a high sun. Life. Death. And all of the rest. All at ground level and intimately so, because that’s what morels demand. Think like a morel.

I try to strike a balance between consuming the fresh morels now versus processing them and freezing for later. Jeremy’s favorite morel preparation is basically sautéed morels with steak. It’s easy, delicious, and involves a hunk of meat with good wine. I turned that concept on its ear and came up with something a little less easy, but just as delicious. How does morel-stuffed chicken fried steak sound? It’s like regular chicken fried steak but with a surprise! I break it down into three steps. First, we cook the morels.


morels, bourbon, shallots, butter, salt

chop the morels

minced shallots, diced morels

sauté the shallots in butter, then add the morels

pour the bourbon in when the morel liquid has simmered away



**Jump for more butter**

totally normal

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Recipe: apple huckleberry pie

**First, I would like to thank every person who bid on anything during the RezDawg Rescue Spring Silent Auction. All three of my donated photographic prints sold and RezDawg Rescue was able to meet and exceed their fundraising goal! This means more kittens and puppies rescued this spring as well as continued funding for RezDawg Rescue’s education and spay/neuter campaigns in the Four Corners region to help reduce the stray population. Thank you.**

I have one foot in a ski boot and one foot in a trail runner. Spring storms are hanging around Colorado the way you keep returning to the refrigerator to sneak a bite of leftover dessert. They deliver a foot of snow, then wander off as green spring tries to take hold. And just as you get used to not wearing a jacket, the white stuff returns. This is nothing new for us. After 14 years we have learned to go with the flow – or rather the whiplash of lurching forward and backward – of spring in the mountains.


uphill skiing in rocky mountain national park

yuki and neva patiently waiting to ski out (in our national forest)

the pups are anxious to run around in another new foot of snow

jeremy enjoying his earned backcountry turns



A couple of months ago, I posted a photo of a local mama moose and her yearling. About two weeks later we saw the yearling in our yard, but solo. His mother had run him off so she could focus her energies and attention on her new baby. Make that babies, because last week she brought two beautiful, fuzzy calves by our house to feed. One stuck close to mama, but the other really enjoyed chowing down on our wild currant bushes and was willing to let its family wander pretty far before leaving the snack station. I love that spring is full of new things.

new baby in the neighborhood



Speaking of new things, Erin and I were wandering about on the plains looking for one thing when we found a different thing – wild asparagus! Actually, it’s feral asparagus because it is the same species as the one you buy from markets and stores, but it got loose long ago and has been growing on its own. I found the first stalk by pure accident, and then the two of us quickly consolidated our knowledge from asparagus gardening (Erin), reading (both of us), and growing asparagus fern houseplants (me) to identify many other patches. So exciting! We came away with some nice hauls of super sweet asparagus stalks.

hello beautiful, i am in love

spring bounty



Since it feels as if we are bouncing between seasons here, I thought I’d share a pie that also encompasses more than one season. Even though apples are available year-round at the grocery store, they tend to peak in fall and winter. As for mountain huckleberries (my very favorite absolute best most delicious berry), they are a late summer treat that I can only get by hiking into my local mountains and spending hours picking them by hand. Luckily, they freeze well so that I can access them all year from my freezer. People can substitute its suitable cousin, the blueberry, which is in season now through the end of summer. The whole reason I make this pie is because a pure huckleberry pie represents 12 hours of non-stop berry picking (it’s backbreaking work here because our huck plants and berries are small). They are simply too precious for me to throw all of them into one pie. Apples make up the bulk of the filling while happily absorbing the flavor and color of the huckleberries.

huckleberries, apples, cornstarch, sugar, more sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon

peel, core, and dice the apples

for the apples: diced apples, sugar, pinch of salt, cinnamon

combine in a medium saucepan

cook until soft and the liquid turns into a thick syrup



**Jump for more butter**