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racing the sun

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Recipe: hamachi yellowtail crudo

We’ve lived in the mountains of Colorado for eleven years now. When we first arrived, a week of truly hot weather was about all one could expect of the summer months. Over the years, those temperatures are trending hotter and sticking around longer in summer. I should note that we are particularly observant of hot weather because WE HATE IT. So it was with great joy that we welcomed the return of the monsoon last week. That stupid high pressure cell that was sitting on top of us (and fanning the flames of that wildfire) shifted east so that moisture from the Gulf of Mexico (south of us) could deliver the goods in the form of rain and thunderstorms.


composite lightning strikes

lightning at sunset

rainbows, the marriage of sun and rain



Oddly, after a few good soaking rains, the clouds have been building up and then fizzling out. We can see rain over neighboring canyons and ridges, but there seems to be a giant sucker hole (blue hole in a sky of clouds) over our neighborhood at any given time. We don’t have air conditioning at our house, so we work hard to cool it at night and keep it as cool as possible during the sun’s march across the sky. Just today, Jeremy and I discussed the logistics of getting an evaporative cooler installed before next summer. It is most efficient in arid climates and it’s much cheaper to run than air conditioning.

For now, we are sucking it up and continuing with our summer schedule of trail runs, hikes, and paddles. The higher you climb, the cooler it is – at least if the atmosphere is adiabatic, which it kind of is (Jeremy says to disregard water vapor). The high country is beautiful right now. Lush, green carpets splattered with colorful wildflowers and lingering snowfields paint these rocky mountains above the dark mantles of conifer forests. We are running farther and climbing higher, racing against the season and racing ourselves. Actually, that’s only half true. Jeremy is racing against himself. I’m not racing anyone. I’m noodling along and stopping to look for mushrooms or checking on the progress of the huckleberries, snapping selfies and photos along the way, shouting hello to Mr. Rabbit so I don’t go startling Ms. Moose. This is why we run separately. But it’s nice when our two routes overlap and we can say hi.


after a steep climb, i wait for jeremy to arrive from the other side of the ridge

off days are meant for hikes with neva

jeremy refuels on the trail during his 17-miler

hiking with erin and banjo

paintbrush come in so many beautiful colors

lunch with a view at king lake



We still have two months of summer remaining, and yet it’s already impossible to do all the things we had hoped to accomplish before the next season moves in. I suppose you could say that just leaves more for next summer. Something I did manage to check off my list was making hamachi (yellowtail) crudo with finger lime pearls. I’ve been waiting until I could order some from Shanley Farms when the season started at the end of June and I finally got some!

radishes, orange oil, togarashi, vegetable oil, orange, flake sea salt, finger limes, hamachi (not pictured: ponzu sauce)



I first heard of finger limes when a friend in Australia asked if I had seen them here in the States. I hadn’t. These were originally discovered growing wild in Australia and have since slowly made their way to the U.S. To open the finger lime, I scored the rind around the middle and broke it open. Rolling the end of one half between my finger tips, the little pearls tumble out of their tight-packed quarters. It’s incredible, really. Each little pearl bursts with the tart juice of a lime when bitten. I figured these would be great with hamachi crudo because I wanted the acidity of the lime without the raw fish cooking on contact as it would with lime juice. Obviously, finger limes aren’t everywhere available (yet), so if you don’t have any, then just use a regular squeeze of lime juice just before serving.

score the rind around the middle and break the finger lime open

roll one end between your fingertips and watch the caviar fall out

completely empty!

pink pearls (sometimes they are other colors like green or yellow)



**Jump for more butter**

not cooking

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Recipe: sashimi salad

It is nonstop head-spinning fun over here at Butter Headquarters. I got my phone fixed after it took a prolonged underwater tour of the lake, but I haven’t had much time to get back to the social media channels because real life is in high gear! It was nice to retrieve my photos though – the ones that were the whole reason the phone and I went swimming together.


see the carp?



Before we came home to Nederland, we took Neva out on the lake once more to practice climbing out of the water onto the stand up paddle board (SUP). It’s quite easy with her new life preserver because it has a nice low-profile handle on the top. Actually, it’s ridiculously easy as long as her tennis ball is on board. Neva is a lithe and lean 43 pounds now. Float her in the water with a life vest and I can practically lift her onto the board with two fingers. We had her diving off and climbing back on several times so she could get used to it. While Jeremy was inflating the board (we have inflatable SUPs) Neva’s friend, Bella, came bounding down the hill to play with her. Bella lives in Crested Butte and she is an adorable, chunky 2 year old black lab who happens to belong to a friend of mine. Neither Bella nor Neva care to be dominant or the boss of anyone, they just want to run and swim and play and be best pals. One day I’ll get a picture of the two together, but Bella and Neva are rather impatient for me to throw the ball.

up out of the water

and she gets her orange (must be orange!) tennis ball



We returned to the Front Range at the height of a heat wave the day before my parents arrived in Boulder for the summer. I got their condo ready with dinner, groceries, flowers, and my mom’s plants (the ones that suffer my care for 10 months of the year). Even though I just saw them in April, I took note of their health as I picked them up at the bus station. My parents are in remarkably good health for their ages, and yet I can’t help but observe that they are slowing down. It’s gradual. Very gradual. They are still machines when it comes to social engagements – they love a good party – so I threw a party over the weekend for my folks and a bunch of my friends.

dim sum with mom and dad



Party prep is a logistically involved endeavor for us in the high country because we have neither easy access to good groceries nor air conditioning to battle the heat of summer. I try to keep all oven use limited to nighttime. While waiting for meringues to bake, I set a large measuring cup of chocolate ice cream custard base out on the deck (well, on the grill shelf) to cool at 1 am. It was covered in plastic to avoid floaty or flying things from jumping in. Since our deck is on the second floor with no ground access, we’ve always set hot liquids out on the deck. In three short hours, Neva would be waking Jeremy up to go out to potty (what is it with this dog?), so I asked Jeremy to transfer the chocolate custard from the deck to the refrigerator when he took her out.

I mumbled into my pillow at 4 am asking if he remembered the chocolate custard. “Well, something happened.” I imagined he had dropped it. I imagined Neva licking it up. I asked, “WHAT HAPPENED?” Something about a hole and how much was there to start? I said four cups. Now there were two. “WHAT?” There were some footprints. “FOOTPRINTS?” I’m blinking into the darkness calculating how much cream, milk, and eggs I had on hand to start a new batch. I didn’t have enough eggs. “Not footprints, PAW prints,” he said. Bear? Squirrel? Someone who can climb a tree or a wood post. “Chocolatey paw prints. Too small to be a bear, maybe a squirrel or a raccoon.” In the breaking light of dawn, I looked at the chocolatey paw prints and Jeremy came out onto the deck with our book of animal paw prints. Raccoon. Apparently, our furry friend climbed onto our deck, found this cup of heaven sitting on the grill shelf, poked a hole in the middle of the plastic wrap and then shoved its schnoz into said hole and had the dessert of a lifetime. TWO CUPS! I envisioned a raccoon with a terrible tummy ache or worse somewhere in the forested foothills. Chocolate can be toxic for a lot of animals, not just dogs. It made me sad for the raccoon and anxious for my ice cream making schedule.


i guess the raccoon started the party early

i also made strawberry daifuku mochi

the most beautiful bouquet of flowers from kitt’s garden

and glowsticks – don’t be jealous



Great fun was had by all and we’ve been noshing leftover party food for the last few days. It’s nice to not cook when the sun turns your house into an easy bake oven. In summer, sushi and sashimi get more frequent rotation on our menu. But sometimes, even the thought of cooking rice can be too much to bear. It’s simple enough to swap out the rice for lettuce and have yourself a sashimi salad. There is absolutely no active heat transfer involved! Of course, passive heat transfer is always occurring – you can’t beat entropy, kids. The nice thing about salads is that the guidelines are quite loose. Choose the vegetables you like most. Omit the lettuce if you want. Pile on more carrot and cucumbers! It’s all up to you.

vegetables: mixed baby greens, shiso leaves, carrot, cucumber, red cabbage, daikon sprouts

for the dressings: neutral flavor vegetable oil, soy sauce, mirin, salt, sugar, lemon juice, sesame seeds



**Jump for more butter**

a bear walks into a (sushi) bar

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Recipe: salmon poke

We rounded a corner this past week – hiking and running more days than skiing. I washed the late season mud off our nordic ski boots and packed up all but our backcountry telemark boots to store in the basement until October. Instead of four ski bins in the great room, we now have four bins for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, plus one holdout for backcountry skiing – at least for another week! Spring is dawdling. Rain and snow flirt in the high country and we expect another week of cool, wet weather around here, which means a few more days before I can swap out our flannel sheets for something cooler. Chilly mornings still require snuggy sheets.


morning reflections

scoping out the trails without skis *sniffle*

dashing through icy cold snowmelt streams



I used to regard shoulder season as a time of outdoor exercise limbo, but this season I’m embracing the coolish weather, squishy mud, and sporadic snow patches on the trails. It’s a good time for me to build up to higher mileage in what I consider comfortable temperatures. This way, I also scope out plants in bloom around my neck of the woods. To start trail running for the season when it’s already hot means there are two hurdles to deal with: the heat and trail running.

sunny and cool trail runs are just fine by me

so many pasque flowers in bloom!

neva perfects her jump-catch



Winter is good for me, I think, because it allows me to focus on snow and being a somewhat normal person. Summer is officially Crazy Time because so many wonderful mushrooms grow where I run or hike or bike – one can’t help but notice them and maybe forage a few and probably obsess over finding more because that’s the addictive property of wild mushrooms. But you all know that my true love is the tiny purple huckleberry. Erin and I have spent a few lazy winter days pondering where a good patch might be based on satellite imagery and our knowledge of the mountain trails and what our local huckleberries like. As the mountains shed their snowy mantles, we make note of healthy huckleberry plants and when they flower and when those flowers become green peas that will hopefully emerge as ripe huckleberries.

I make tons of sweet recipes with huckleberries – that’s easy to do as they play nicely with sugar, butter, flour, cream, and eggs. I’m exploring more savory recipes now that I have enough huckleberries in my freezer and I’m feeling comfortable with what the berry can and cannot do in a dish. Earlier this month I decided to make salmon poke, the salmon version of the more popular and ubiquitous tuna poke, but I didn’t want it to taste like tuna poke with salmon swapped in for the tuna. What I eventually came up with blends a little bit of Japanese cuisine with Hawaiian cuisine with the Pacific Northwest: salmon poke with huckleberries.


avocado, green onions, soy sauce, furikake, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, huckleberries, tempura crunch, salmon, sesame seeds, lemons



Think the combination of salmon and huckleberries will taste odd? Let me point out that salmon run where the huckleberries grow in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and that both foods are favorites of the locals – the bears. (If I were a bear, I would eat salmon and huckleberries and huckleberries and salmon all dang day.) When choosing a dressing for my poke recipe, I didn’t want the typical sesame oil in the mix because I feel it can and does overpower both the salmon and the huckleberries. Instead, I opted for ponzu sauce – a combination of soy sauce, lemon juice, and rice vinegar. I like that the lemon works especially well with the salmon and the hucks. You can purchase ponzu sauce from an Asian grocery store, but I find it’s pretty easy and tastier to make your own at home. If you are gluten-free, then definitely make your own ponzu sauce at home – just use tamari instead of soy sauce.

pouring rice vinegar and lemon juice into the soy sauce



A note about the salmon. You really do need to use sashimi-grade salmon in this recipe. Sashimi-grade means that the fish has been frozen down to -20°C/-4°F for at least seven days to kill off any parasites that might exist in the fish flesh. Salmon is particularly prone to parasites. While I always purchase wild salmon, in this instance my fish monger only had farmed Norwegian sashimi-grade salmon, so that’s what I bought. Creamy avocado is a no brainer for salmon poke, but I keep it separate from the actual poke because it puts a green film on everything when mixed in with the other ingredients. If you don’t care, then by all means, mix it in. My preference is to serve the poke on a bed of the avocado to preserve the aesthetics.

dice the salmon

avocado at the ready



**Jump for more butter**