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a quarter century

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Recipe: roasted chanterelle mushrooms

I remember the first Halloween we spent in our Colorado house, I watched with great anxiety as a 3-foot tall Yoda struggle up the driveway in the failing light of day. The ferocious winds whipped his ancient Jedi robes this way and that. I think I gave that little kid 5 pieces of candy for his sheer determination and unbroken spirit. There was no truer Jedi than he. Back then, our neighbor’s children were little and would come by to trick or treat more as a courtesy call. We always told them to take two handfuls because so few kids came around to our house (it’s a short trek from the main road). As the kids got older and went away for college, we still held out for a year or two. I made sure to buy the kind of candy that Jeremy likes so that I could tuck one into his lunch after no one came by for Halloween.

These days we turn off the porch lights in the hopes that no one will ring the doorbell and send Neva into a tizzy of territorial barking. There were no trick-or-treaters to worry about this Halloween. As the winds gusted to 85 mph around our house, we were inside with friends eating Chinese hot pot and discussing climate science, the CDT (Continental Divide Trail), winter biathlon, Greenland, and chocolate.


neva loves to look out the window

dinner prep for chinese hot pot

a windy halloween sunset



That night, after our friends had driven off into the darkness and we finished washing dishes, the clock struck midnight. Jeremy turned to me and said, “Happy I’m Glad I Met You Day!” November 1st is our smoochiversary, but this November 1st was our 25-year smoochiversary. These “milestones” happen in the same year: 20th wedding anniversary in March, 25 years together in November. Numbers aside, it’s the quality of this relationship – this partnership – that means so much to me. Here’s to our ongoing grand adventure, my dearest Jeremy.

strawberry peak in 1994

crested butte in 2017



After our mid-week dinner party, I had the blahs for a couple of days. Blahs as in feeling tired, tummy out of whack, unable to focus, aches and pains. It was as if all of summer and the first half of autumn had caught up to me, knocked me down, left me in the dust. Ever since my cancer treatments, I’ve learned to listen to my body instead of running it into the ground like I did in my teens and twenties. I let myself sleep and recuperate from my weird fatigue and I was back to my old self in no time. Jeremy could tell I was feeling better one morning because I took the dog out to potty, shot sunrise, and rattled off a list of house maintenance that needed to be completed before the next snow storm as I practically rolled him out of bed. We got it all done and more, plus I’m back to a regular exercise regimen which always *always* makes me feel better.

lovely sunrise colors in the west

a windy hike with neva (note the ears flapping in the wind)

my parents arrived in town sunday night, so we picked them up and went to dinner



I’ve noticed when I walk through the produce section of Whole Foods, I linger by the fresh mushrooms and inspect them carefully. I caress them to see how fresh they are, turning them to admire the structures, smelling them to see if they have a strong perfume. I’m searching for a hint of the tangible characteristics of the mushrooms I foraged. It’s even worse at Costco right now where they have fresh chanterelles in stock. These are sealed in plastic with tiny air holes so the mushrooms don’t turn to mush. I tried sniffing them through the little holes, but I couldn’t catch the slightest sign of that signature chanterelle smell. I’m not buying any, I’m just a little bit in mushroom withdrawal. I imagine I will continue to be that strange girl acting weirdly around the mushrooms until next spring. But since fresh chanterelles are in the store, you might want to take advantage and get some. Here’s an elegant, easy, and tasty way to prepare the queens of the mushroom world. Let’s roast them! I made this dish back in September at the end of my chanterelle season.

shallot, olive oil, butter, chanterelles, salt, pepper, fresh thyme

slice the chanterelles thick or in half if they are small

sliced, melted, stripped, and ready



**Jump for more butter**

back in the saddle

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle-stuffed pork tenderloin

Just when I thought I was ready to kick that cold in the hoohoo, I came down with pink eye. Or I *thought* I had pink eye. Dr. Eye Doctor told me that I did not in fact have pink eye, but dry eyes. Apparently the combination of our dry mountain air, my excessively long days wearing contacts, and lots of computer time has caused great irritation and distress to the insides of my eyelids. I was instructed to take a break from wearing contacts to give my eyes a rest lest I not be able to wear contacts in the future. Trying not to sound like a brat after my scolding, I inquired how long “a break” was. He gave me the side-eye and said, “Until your eyes feel better.” Before I could ask another stupid question he continued, “That might be a day or it might be a week. You will have to gauge, but don’t push it – be kind to your eyes.” I gave it a day and another day and a third day and I’ve noticed considerable improvement.

As dull as it was to exercise on the indoor bike trainer (the only place I could work out and not hurt myself when my glasses steamed up), it was a much needed opportunity to get a lot of computer work done and organize my freezers – woohoo! And I let my body truly recover from the cold and not relapse by heading out into frigid winds and blowing snow. Of course, now that I’m healthy again, I’m going to do exactly that – go straight into the frigid winds and blowing snow. Hey, it’s ski season on the Front Range! It is what it is. Besides, there’s nothing like being sick to make you appreciate being healthy.

This week’s recipe is offered as a main dish suggestion for holiday dinner parties or the actual holidays. If there is any time to roast a hunk of meat it would be on the darkest nights as we enter winter. Ah, but this isn’t just any hunk of meat – it is stuffed with earthy, delightful mushrooms. I’m using foraged chanterelles here, but you can use whatever fresh mushrooms are available to you in your neck of the woods: shiitakes, crimini, oysters – something with flavor and character.


wine, olive oil, black pepper, beef broth, chanterelles, sage, thyme, butter, garlic, salt, pork tenderloins

thick sliced mushrooms



Could you make this with beef tenderloin (or flank steak) instead? Yes. Yes you could. The only reason I went with pork was because these were sitting in the chest freezer back in October when I shot the recipe. The stuffing is simply roasted mushrooms with some aromatics and seasonings. Use the recipe as a guideline. If you have other herbs and seasonings that you prefer, then go for it. At this point, I just want you to be happy.

prepped mushroom stuffing

pouring olive oil over the mushrooms and herbs

toss it all together

place in a baking dish and roast

roasted, tender, and fragrant



**Jump for more butter**

the persistence of rainbows

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Recipe: roasted delicata squash

When the coasts are getting snow and rain, Colorado typically sits under a high pressure ridge which means sunshine and warm weather. Sometimes we’ll get clipped by the edge of a storm and experience a little rain, and if we’re lucky the temperatures aloft will be cool enough to give us snow instead of rain. So far, what little rain and snow we’ve received has been teasing us in the mountains.


some rain, some snow, and plenty of wind



On Saturday, we experienced some dynamic weather – low clouds racing by and sun showers popping up every which way. In the morning, there was a long-lived rainbow to the west of our house as spot showers rolled through intermittent sunshine. When we took Neva for a hike, we could see a rainbow on the far horizon, but it was mostly obscured by forest. It lasted for a couple of hours as rain clouds continually spilled over the mountains. I tried to get a photograph, but I could never see the entire rainbow because the rainbow itself was quite low due to the high sun. As we drove home through bouts of rain and intense sun, we rounded the bend and saw yet another rainbow, but this time it was in a valley below us – the perfect geometry for the afternoon sun. Wind-driven rain pelted me and everyone else who had stopped to marvel at this stunning phenomenon. “Did you find the pot of gold?” a woman shouted over the roar of the winds, smiling. “Colorado IS the pot of gold!” I answered.

a full double rainbow and my pot of gold that is colorado



This weekend, we collapsed Neva’s bedroom crate in the hopes of getting her used to sleeping in the doggy bed at night AND staying there. She loves her bed, which is currently decked out with three pillows (she’s spoiled) and a super soft blanket. However, Neva has figured out how to position herself on our bed without disrupting our sleep and thus avoiding getting kicked off in the middle of the night. Since she isn’t much of a snuggler, lying between our feet suits Neva just fine. It worked so well, I was able to get up for sunrise without that pukey feeling when you haven’t gotten proper rest.

technicolor sunrise



Between Jeremy’s travel schedule, the start of “wind season” in the mountains, and the looming end to Daylight Saving, we had some of Jeremy’s colleagues up for dinner a few nights ago. Darkness isn’t a problem, unless you’re trying to find our house for the first time. People always ask if we eat dinner party food all the time, and the answer is no. After entertaining, we enjoy simpler fare. One dish I’m digging lately is roasted delicata squash. These oblong, dark green-striped yellow squash are everywhere in stores and markets right now. Delicata squash are easy to prepare and you can leave the skin on (and eat it) unlike some other squash varieties.

olive oil, salt, black pepper, delicata squash



The preparation is straightforward, simple, and quick – the perfect dish for fall and winter. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and slice into 1/2-inch thick pieces. While delicata squash are not nearly as hard as butternut squash, they aren’t going to slice like butter. Do take care when cutting the squash – especially on that first lengthwise cut.

cut in half

use a spoon to scoop out the seeds

slice



**Jump for more butter**