porcini mushroom lasagne fig and brandy jam fried vietnamese spring rolls (cha gio) brie fig apple prosciutto sandwich

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triple pass lollipop unicorn

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Recipe: brie fig apple prosciutto sandwich

It’s not like anyone needs a reason to come to Crested Butte, Colorado, but this past week was marked on our calendar months ago. It all began when Jeremy ran into our friend in line at a coffee shop last fall. Brad has a remarkable talent for conveying massive amounts of information in a ridiculously short amount of time with boundless enthusiasm. In the three minutes he chatted with Jeremy, Brad convinced him to take up ultra running (and he also discussed about a dozen other topics). The Summer GT (Grand Traverse) was held on Saturday starting in Crested Butte and ending in Aspen – the same 40-mile overland route that the Winter GT Ski Mountaineering race follows, but this time on foot or mountain bike. I asked Brad if he was planning to run the Summer GT, but that crazy man ran the Fat Dog 120 this weekend in British Columbia (120 miles, 29,000 feet of climb).

We’ve both been training since the local trails began melting out in April (although we continued backcountry skiing into late May – yeehaw!). Jeremy was training for the Grand Traverse, and I was just training for the heck of it. A few weeks before the GT, Jeremy developed runner’s knee. He discovered the hard way that running 20 miles on runner’s knee makes for much worse runner’s knee. He rested, iced, got a PT band, and tried to recover. Ultimately, he (correctly) determined that it would be unwise to run the GT this year. Instead, we took a week off from training and have been enjoying our time in wonderful Crested Butte.

i made chocolate mousse for our neighbors’ dinner party

great food, great wines, great friends

We’re not just wining and dining though. Summer is that magnificent ephemeral time in the mountains that should not be passed over if you can help it. The other day we went for a 17-mile hike to explore parts of the high country that were new to us. I call it the triple pass lollipop unicorn hike because it gains three mountain passes and the route in map view looks like a lollipop with a unicorn horn. Plus, the hike is worthy of a title like triple pass lollipop unicorn hike, because it’s full of All The Good Things. The views and terrain were absolutely stunning – even the parts where the trail disappeared. The wildflowers are full-on incredible above 12,000 feet right now.

climbing up out of copper creek valley

pass #1: triangle pass (12,800 ft.) with conundrum basin in the background (leading to aspen)

pass #2: copper pass (12,400 ft.)

alpine wildflowers and the maroon bells in the distance (also leading to aspen)

elephant heads standing out among the blooms

the wider view of the high country

pass #3: east maroon pass (11,800 ft.)

copper lake basin

After hours upon hours of beauty, adventure, and exertion, we arrive at the trailhead and begin the drive home. The start of the hike feels like it was yesterday. In the car, I’ll notice a mixture of dirt, sweat, and sunblock is plastered on my skin. We are thirsty, hungry, tired, dirty. We smell awful, too. Once home, the trail runners get the hose and deck treatment. Our filthy, stinky clothes go straight into the laundry basket by the door to avoid tracking dirt around the house. Then we each drink a biiiiiiiig glass of water (or two) to rehydrate ourselves and our joints. If we are gross beyond what we can tolerate, a shower is in order, otherwise I head straight to the refrigerator to make something to eat. Pretty much anything will taste fantastic after a big hike, but this sandwich is guaranteed to be taste ultra-fantastic.

prosciutto, arugula, ciabatta rolls, brie, fig jam, green apple

**Jump for more butter**

this old girl

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Recipe: salmon cakes

For those of you interested in the good eats around Boulder, I wrote a little article for The Guardian that was published over the weekend in their travel section. Of course, Boulder has WAY more than 10 great restaurants (and bakeries and coffeeshops), so this is really just a sampling of the awesomeness that is the Boulder Food Scene.

It’s been a girls’ weekend here at Butter Headquarters. Jeremy is in Hawai’i for a meeting, a trip I declined to join because even though Kaweah does not require high-maintenance care, she does require specific care and attention for her various medical issues. We took her to the vet a few weeks ago for a check up and her conditions (laryngeal collapse, kidney failure, canine degenerative myelopathy, deafness) continue to decline, but slowly.

those old legs have hiked many mountains

I asked Doc Clements how we would know when it is time, but I couldn’t finish my sentence as I looked at the ground and blinked away my tears. Quality of life, dignity, happiness, he answered. All the while, Kaweah was wagging her brains out because she absolutely loves being at the vet. He raised his eyebrows in a thoughtful manner as he handed Kaweah a treat, “When I first saw her symptoms a few years ago, I would have given her a few months. But it’s been a couple of years and she is doing very well, considering. So she just might surprise us yet.” He smiled and reached down to give her a pat and another treat.

she still keeps her girlish figure

Kaweah is my first dog. I mean MY first dog. I used to wonder when she was ever going to slow down because she was so full of energy and enthusiasm for over a decade. We just got used to her dragging us up and down the mountain for 18 miles and taking running leaps into icy alpine lakes and acting like every single person she met had just promised her a lifetime supply of raw beef. When it did happen, it was gradual and rather pleasant. She stopped pulling at the very end of her leash anytime we hit the trails. Kaweah began to behave herself after 10 minutes instead of 2 hours when guests came over to the house. Her apr├Ęs hike naps grew longer.

and kaweah knows how to stop and smell the roses blanket flowers

It has been bittersweet to witness Kaweah’s body finally succumb to her age. She’s more affectionate now. She can no longer outrun us. She doesn’t bark anymore when the foxes call at dusk because she can’t hear them. In the past year she has started hiding out in dark corners or under tables on occasion. Her walks are down to a quarter of a mile and her hind legs tend to slip and stumble and give out every now and again. But each morning, she’s a bouncy, waggy, happy dog who pounces on her plush toys in anticipation of breakfast. I toggle between being ready for that day when I have to let her go and sobbing at the thought of saying good-bye (like I am right now). I know some people regard aging pets as a burden, but in many ways I feel the same compassion for Kaweah in her old age as I did for my beloved grandmother in her last years. Be kind. Be patient. Be understanding. Be loving. Be caring. Spoil her.

you will always be my baby puppy

Kaweah may or may not have gotten a few chunks of salmon while I was preparing this recipe. It’s getting hard to say no to that furry little face, especially when she tilts it to the side. When my parents came out to visit us in Crested Butte, Dad kept going over the menu for their stay as if these were critical military strategies. He told me he would make salmon cakes, freeze them, and cook them for us the first night. I heard so much about these salmon cakes that I almost didn’t want to eat them… but I did, and I really liked them.

removing the skin from the filet

salmon, onion, eggs, lemon, mayonnaise, salt, flour, bread crumbs, parsley (not pictured: panko)

chop the salmon

everything prepped to make the patties

**Jump for more butter**

working up that appetite

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Recipe: banh mi

We enjoyed a slight cooldown with sporadic bursts of rain over the weekend in Crested Butte. I’m still a sniveling mess when it comes to hot weather. However, I’m slowly adjusting to the heat and that thick layer of sunblock such that I can be seen in the same place as the sun. And it’s totally amazing.

trail running along the slate river

riding the lupine trail

and always thankful for sunset – particularly the colorful ones

Jeremy and I are still getting our bearings straight on restaurants in town. We have our perennial favorites from the past several years traveling through Crested Butte, but now we’re checking out the other places to see if they’re worth the cash or just another resort town trap. One evening, we went for a stroll after dinner and came upon a cute small batch ice cream store (I’ll write about it later). Jeremy ordered a scoop of ice cream for himself and I grabbed a little scoop for Kaweah.

make that a scoop dog for kaweah

It cost as much as Jeremy’s single scoop of cowboy coffee ice cream, but Kaweah’s scoop dog was a peanut butter, maple, bacon ice cream just for dogs. How awesome, right? We have been giving her short sessions with the scoop dog over the past few days. She’s so enamored with her new treat that she’s taken to pointing at the freezer where we store it.

kaweah’s lick of approval

So far I’ve been cooking relatively simple fare in Crested Butte because our kitchen has the bare minimum of what I consider a working kitchen. The pantry is another issue altogether. Crested Butte may boast some excellent restaurants, but the groceries are another story – especially if you stock an Asian pantry. I have a long list of Asian staples to buy on my next trip to the Asian grocer back home. Before you know it, I’ll be whipping up my old favorites in the new place. Like banh mi – the marriage of wonderful southeast Asian flavors IN A SANDWICH. Be still my heart.

for the pork: pork loin, chili garlic sauce, shallots, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar

minced garlic and sliced shallots

**Jump for more butter**