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Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Recipe: roasted tomato soup

“Did you finish your taxes?”

I blinked at the nice fellow on the other side of the post office counter as I handed him my yellow pick-up slip. Oh, it’s tax day! Yes, yes we finished those several weeks ago. We smiled at one another and eventually wrapped up the small talk with thank yous and have-a-nice-days. My mind was elsewhere because I had a list of things to get done before our neighbors came over for dinner. Every April, they are bustling with activity doing proper house maintenance on the exterior (something we ought to do, but tell ourselves that we can wait until May when the weather is more reliable), tidying up the yard, packing gear and equipment to take to Canada for the next 6 months where they will run their wilderness camp. And every April, we tell them, “We need to have you over for dinner before you take off!”


we started with some appetizers



These excellent people are the best kind of neighbors: friendly, generous, considerate, fun, reliable, kind, genuine. Instead of our usual quick conversations in the driveway as we’re coming and going, we could relax and enjoy a few hours together over good food and wine. We miss them in summer, when our neck of the woods is at its greatest splendor. “Walk home safely!” I joked after them as they stepped into the night. The snow was just getting started after several warm and sunny days, materializing out of the darkness as it fell into our porch light’s sphere of illumination.

flowering trees on the flats just a few days ago

and now, proper snow



I’ve learned to contain my excitement about the snow until it’s here, on the ground, and accumulating. The skis are ready, but we must be patient and wait for the base to rebuild. It might be a few hours. It might have to be tomorrow. In the meantime, we opt for hot soup over a fresh salad while the world outside turns silent and white. Soup. I love all manner of soup. Digging deep into my childhood, tomato soup was the default on those rare snow days in Virginia. Of course, it came out of a can with a red and white label. It only took me a few decades to realize the beauty of making my own tomato soup, and then a few more years to discover the flavorful roasted version. It’s easy. I’ll show you.

olive oil, pepper, chicken broth, red pepper flakes, garlic, thyme, tomatoes (not pictured: salt)

chop the herbs, pick out the garlic cloves

halve the tomatoes

wrap the unpeeled garlic in foil



**Jump for more butter**

make my day (and night)

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Recipe: split pea soup

I knew it was going to be a long day. First there was the pre-dawn wake up to check if the sunrise was worth shooting. It wasn’t, but once I’m up, I’m up. I got Jeremy to the Park-n-Ride just as the bus was pulling in. Six hours at my skate ski program gave me my cardio workout for the day. Then there was a photo shoot to finish before heading down to Boulder to attend a 3-hour avalanche safety lecture. By the time Jeremy and I were walking to the front door of the house, we had about an hour left before midnight. I looked up at our clear night skies, sparkling with a spray of stars, and suddenly remembered, “There’s supposed to be a comet in the sky!” The excitement of the comet trumped our exhaustion and we dutifully looked up star charts and stood on the deck guessing at where the comet should be. It was too faint for us to view with the naked eye, but the camera was able to pick it up.


comet lovejoy



Astronomy makes an excellent highlight of the night. But let me tell you about my highlight of the day. My ski program involves breakfast, 2 hours of skate instruction, lunch, and then 2 more hours of skate instruction. When I did the telemark ski program several years back, you could eat pretty much anything and still telemark ski. Not so with skate skiing. Because it’s so cardio-intensive, I avoid eating much before skiing. By the time I get home at 3 pm, I am ready to eat my ski boots. However, I had leftover soup in the refrigerator just waiting to be heated and devoured. Hot and hearty split pea soup after being out in the snow is a welcome thing.

It’s easy to be a soup lover year round, but winter in Colorado is the king of soup season. Making soup warms your house, filling it with comforting aromas. Eating soup nourishes and heats your body. I have dozens of great recipes that go into rotation when the snow starts to stick in the mountains, but there exists a never-ending desire to add more delectable soups to that collection. Split pea soup appealed to me as a one-bowl meal – something wholesome and easy to reheat after hours of skiing.


split peas, onions, carrots, celery, leek, black pepper, ham, ham bone, parsley, salt, olive oil, ground cloves, cayenne, bay leaf, fresh thyme

start with water, split peas, and ham bone (or ham hock)

chop and dice the vegetables and herbs

prepped and ready



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running hot and cold

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Recipe: chicken tortilla soup

I’m more patient than I was in my youth, but it’s still not my strong suit. By November, we should be getting nice deliveries of snow piling up in the mountains. As it is, we have very little due to unseasonably warm weather. Well, that’s not such a terrible thing because the lack of snow meant I could spend the weekend resting my shoulder and spending time with my favorite guy instead of reinjuring myself on early season obstacles in the snow. Saturday was our 22-year smoochiversary, so we worked all day and then got out for a quick late day hike as the sun sat low in the sky.


22 wonderful years together

ice shards piled up against the shore

neat patterns

colorful sunset



We have arrived at that stage where I inform Jeremy at least once each day, but more like three or four times a day, “I want a puppy.” It’s hard for me to tell if what I’m saying is, “I want a new puppy” or “I miss my baby puppy.” I suppose in my heart, I mean both. Jeremy isn’t ready and we will wait until he is. It just feels a little empty without some fur ball wandering around the house distributing hair and putting nose prints on the glass doors. Patience for winter. Patience for a puppy. Like I said, not my strong suit.

Actually, we are due for some snow in the morning (Monday), which is a start. A late start. Some resorts have postponed their opening days because it’s been too warm to even make snow at night. In anticipation of cooler nights, I’ve been making soup – tortilla soup. Technically, any soup with tortilla strips in it is a tortilla soup. For years I made one with all manner of leftover vegetables, but decided it was high time I looked up a proper recipe. There are so many variations, but this one I settled on is a mega winner – especially if you make your own chicken broth/stock. Of course, if you’re short on time, there is nothing wrong with using store-bought broth and chicken, which makes the recipe super easy and quick.


for the chicken and broth: whole legs, olive oil, salt, and pepper

season the chicken

brown the chicken

cover with water and simmer (or pressure cook, as I did here)



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