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oh yes it did

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle toast

Happy autumn, everyone! Fall has arrived to our beautiful Colorado mountains. The colors go off in patches across the state with certain areas turning before others – they always follow a schedule more or less. After shooting fall colors in the mountains for the past 12 years, I know the general timing for my favorite locations. Waves of weather overlay these bursts of gold activity in our Colorado Rocky Mountains, ranging from cloudless bluebird skies to raging winds and rain to snow.


sunrise on an early morning start

thimbleberry (yellow) and huckleberry (red)

neva had a blast hiking through the colors

and hiking more local colors

jeremy and neva pause above a beautiful expanse of gold aspens



At the end of last week, Jeremy and I set out in a caravan for Crested Butte. We drove through toasty temperatures in the Upper Arkansas River Valley then climbed into clouds and falling snow over Cottonwood Pass. From there, the weather remained cold and snowy all the way to Crested Butte and beyond. We pulled into our driveway, teeth chattering and mud caked to our cars (we drive some dirt road short cuts which become mudfests when there is precipitation). Fall colors are great and all, but snow always makes for more interesting viewing. Plus, it was snowing on my birthday, which I think is the best kind of birthday present! We quickly unpacked the cars, got Neva settled into her bed, grabbed my photo gear and off we went to leaf peep for the two remaining hours of daylight.

snow dusted spruce and aspens

powdered sugar branches

a ray of sunlight peeks through the clouds



With the weekend over, Jeremy is back home while Neva and I stay the week in Crested Butte to shoot more fall colors. And if the colors finish a little earlier than is typical, then it’s an opportunity for me to tackle some work and get hikes and trail runs under my belt before the season ends. But for you, my good people, I have an indulgent little recipe to share. After my last haul of chanterelles from the mountain forests of Crested Butte, I debated whether to sauté them in butter and freeze them for the winter or to try some new recipes. Turns out, I had enough to do both. This recipe for creamed mushroom toasts is simple, yet decadent. And for my gluten-free friends, you can either use gluten-free bread or spoon the creamed mushrooms straight into your mouth. I may or may not have done that…

chanterelles, cream, kosher salt, butter, pepper, flake sea salt, brioche slices, white wine, shallot, chives

cut the mushrooms into a medium dice

prepped and ready



**Jump for more butter**

the frenzy

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Recipe: wild mushroom pizza

Here it comes. Cooler weather, I’ve been waiting for you since May. We were so used to leaving our windows open overnight to cool the house down that it came as a surprise to us when we woke up Saturday morning and the temperature inside was 52°F. That’s even lower than what we set our heat to overnight in winter (we set it to 55°F). No wonder Neva was all snuggled up between us on the bed after her 6 am breakfast. Outside we could see an impressive frost on the deck. Well alright then! The scrub in the high country has been turning red and gold for a couple of weeks now, but the leaves are finally following suit at higher elevations. My landscape photographer friends are getting itchy for the fall shoot. We’re all waiting to see if the colors will be on time (like usual) or if they’re going to bust out of the gate early.


bright red huckleberry bushes on cottonwood pass (looking west toward taylor reservoir)

dreamy sunset colors

red aspen leaves against bluebird skies



But before I could even think about the fall shoot, I had to research, test, make, and photograph recipes with my foraged chanterelles and porcini from last weekend. Oh, and I had to clean them – a time-consuming process with the chanties when you have several pounds. From the moment I cut the mushrooms off the ground, the clock starts ticking. I store them in brown paper bags in the refrigerator and they last about a week. Brown paper bags populated all of the non-freeze zones of my refrigerator while I shifted everything else around them. The rest will be sautéed in butter and frozen for winter. Any chanterelles that are too far gone to eat get chucked into a separate bag. Those will soak in a combination of water, molasses, and salt for a day or two before pouring the “spore” water out in suitable chanterelle environments.

Generally, I don’t pick the porcini that have been wormed out (the stipe or cap will feel particularly squishy), but sometimes you can pick a firm porcini and the few worms present will make Swiss cheese of the inside while you hike around, drive home, and pop it in the refrigerator. That’s why I try to dress the porcini (cut out any worms) in the field if I have the time. Porcini that are too wormed out (those itty bitty worms, they have voracious appetites) get staked under an appropriate spruce where some spores might take hold in the future.


always delightful to peer into the huckleberry leaves and find a chanterelle or two

porcini like the huckleberry plants, too



The first recipe I wanted to shoot involved both kinds of mushrooms, mostly because I wanted to take care of the porcini before the worms ate anymore of them (or any more worms escaped onto the refrigerator shelf). The reality of foraging porcini is that you will deal with worms. I’ve rarely encountered chanterelles that were wormed out, but it has happened on rare occasion. Even if your porcini have some worms, you can usually cut that section out and salvage the rest. So let’s make some wild mushroom pizza! And as always, you can substitute any combination of edible mushrooms.

chanterelles, porcini, pizza dough, parmesan, fontina, butter, flake sea salt, sea salt, thyme, garlic

melt the butter and mince the garlic

mix the garlic into the butter



**Jump for more butter**

so long, summer

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Recipe: honey sriracha japanese fried chicken karaage

I know most of you are groaning about summer’s end. The good news is that the majority of you summer lovers are still enjoying summer where you live. The even better news is that summer is fast becoming a faded memory here in the mountains! The overnight temperatures have brought frosts to the rooftops in my neighborhood and fresh dustings of snow to the high country. A crisp chill on the morning air rejuvenates me from the stupor of summer’s seemingly relentless heat. Long-sleeves are no longer optional at night. Fall is my favorite season – so spectacular and yet so fleeting in our mountains. And then comes the long winter, which is never really long enough for folks who like to glide on snow. Autumn is full of activity and colors and anticipation and acceptance.


neva and jeremy pause in front of mount neva

ducks diving for food – tails up!

the majestic moose

a leaping pika with forage for its winter hay pile

another pika with a flower in its mouth

so cute, i can’t even!



Cooler weather puts a spring in my step. I start checking my ski gear even though actual skiing may be more than two months away. The big camera lenses get shipped out for maintenance before the fall shoot. Maps are strewn about the living room for backpacking plans. And of course, recipes that have been put on hold over the summer (because it was too hot to think let alone cook) are perused with renewed interest. Shortly after our awesome trip to Steamboat Springs in January, I made a note to myself to reproduce the JFC we enjoyed at Yama. JFC – Japanese fried chicken or chicken karaage – is delicate, crunchy, juicy, and tender with Asian flavors. What I liked about Yama’s version was how the fried chicken was tossed in a honey sriracha sauce which turned the whole thing into a flavor bomb in my mouth.

make the chicken karaage: soy sauce, sake, potato starch, sugar, ginger, garlic, chicken thighs



It’s a quick marinade to make and the chicken marinates for an hour or more. While the restaurant version brines the chicken in buttermilk and miso, I opted for a recipe that was ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and sake because that’s what I had in my cupboards. To make this gluten-free, substitute tamari for soy sauce. If you can’t find potato starch you can use corn starch, but it won’t result in the same crispness when fried. You will probably have better luck getting potato starch from an Asian market, but Bob’s Red Mill potato starch is available at stores like Whole Foods. (I use potato starch when making strawberry daifuku mochi.)

grate the ginger

mise en place

combine the ginger, garlic, sugar, sake, and soy sauce

add the chicken

marinate for at least an hour



**Jump for more butter**