spiced plum jam red chile (enchilada) sauce huckleberry shrub and huck gin fizz cocktail salmon corn chowder


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the little chill

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Recipe: salmon corn chowder

Life always comes to a head before the fall shoot. There are piles of things to wrap up and it feels like an impossibility that everything in need of getting done before I leave for the shoot will actually get done. But it gets done, somehow. Jeremy is stocked with meals to last him 2-3 weeks and I’ve got my own meals prepped or planned. I finished all of my shoots, cleaned and stored ALL of the huckleberries in the chest freezer, and squared away financial records. The drive to Crested Butte was quick with one stop to shoot some colors for reference. I took mental notes on the state of the aspens for the length of the 200-mile route to send my photog pal the color report. Once here, it was as if I had slammed on the brakes and life came to a halt.


on the way to cottonwood pass

lots of reds and oranges this year

confetti

that lovely kind of afternoon

deep fluffy stands of golden aspen

conifers peeking through the aspen canopy



I like this shift in gears. I spend a lot of time alone with the trees and the trails and the road – thinking about weather, colors, mountains, trees, sky, light. Right now, I’m in scouting mode, but there is a calm that settles over me when I’m scrambling up a slope or gaining a ridge to check out the view’s potential. I’m all in my head, thinking to myself, talking to myself. The colors are building, though still this side of peak colors. Lots of greens juxtaposed with big splashes of vibrant golds, oranges, and reds – the color of fire. It’s been warm and sunny, until this morning when I woke to hear rain tapping away at our metal roof.

from our deck, rainy and misty over the mountain



Overcast and foggy, I’m fine with shooting. Drizzle, that’s tolerable. Steady rain, not so much. The temperature hung at 48°F for much of the day while I worked on the computer. The forecast was for two days of rain, but by afternoon the weather broke and we had blue skies, puffy clouds, and sunshine. I gave it a few hours (to let the trails firm up) and then grabbed my trail runners for a much needed run. You have to grab the opportunity when it comes! This doubled as a trail run and scouting run to see what the leaves are up to.

hello cow

view from the climb

i love running into the aspens



A couple of days of rain is nothing to worry about as the weather should bounce back to Colorado sunshine. The leaves are fine and doing their thing. There may be some snow getting thrown into the mix this coming weekend, which makes things very exciting for both the photographer and the skier in me! But any cool down at the tail end of summer is an excuse to make soup in my book. In my efforts to clean out the refrigerator before hitting the road, I wanted to use up the last few ears of local corn… some sort of corn chowder? Perhaps a salmon corn chowder?

cream, lemon, corn, green onions, celery, white pepper, olive oil, chicken broth, onion, potatoes, dill, salt, coho salmon

removing the pin bones



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chinese new year recipe round up

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Chinese New Year (or the Lunar New Year) is a week away! It will be the Year of the Horse, which is special because my sister was born in the Year of the Horse and would have been 48 this year. I’m busy cleaning the house, prepping special foods, and doing those things that are supposed to bring luck in the new year. Maybe you are a traditionalist or perhaps the lunar new year doesn’t have any significance to you, but you want to make a celebratory meal or throw a Chinese-themed party. Either way, I’ve got a recipe round up for you!


traditional dishes



These are the dishes I make year after year. They symbolize luck, fortune, health, happiness, promotion.

Cellophane noodle soup: It’s a big pot of goodies – sort of a catchall for lucky things. The cellophane noodles (bean thread noodles or glass noodles) represent long life – so for goodness’ sake, DON’T CUT THE NOODLES. Meatballs and fish balls are round, which the Chinese like and their meaning is reunion.

Chinese dumplings and potstickers: Theoretically you are supposed to make dumplings (boiled or steamed), but I always make potstickers because I’m a crunch-junkie. My mom always told us that eating dumplings meant more money in the new year because they are shaped like gold ingots. Then I found out later that dumplings also symbolize having sons. I’m sticking with the money story.

Chinese egg dumplings: The Chinese have a thing for dumplings, because they are like purses, and purses hold money. These egg dumplings typically go in the cellophane noodle soup, but they are wonderful eaten on their own too.

Lucky ten ingredient vegetables: Lucky lucky lucky! Ten is a lucky number. Don’t make this with nine or eleven ingredients – you’ll screw up the new year! Also, don’t use hollow vegetables (green onions, water spinach – these are hollow and bad luck). Tofu is okay, but no meat is allowed in the dish.

Stir-fried rice cakes: These rice cakes are sticky, chewy disks of rice flour. The name of the rice cake, nian gao, sounds like “higher year”. Eating the rice cakes is good luck for a promotion or toward greater prosperity.

Stir-fried soybean sprouts: These are my favorite and plentiful in most Asian markets this time of year (because everyone wants luck!). Eating soybean sprouts (or bean sprouts in general) ensures a good start to the new year.


appetizers



There’s something you should know about tofu. It’s a big deal. Fu is “luck” in Chinese. So tofu is pretty popular in the new year festivities because everyone wants lots of luck. The thing is, you shouldn’t eat white tofu because white is bad – it’s the color of mourning/death. That’s bad luck. But don’t fret, there are a bazillion ways to eat tofu: fried, dried, marinated, sheets, pressed.

Bean curd rolls: You can find bean curd sheets or tofu skin in Asian grocery stores. They are either dried or frozen. This tofu skin roll is filled with savory pork and vegetables, and then braised til soft. I order it at dim sum all the time.

Chinese tea eggs: Eggs represent fertility, but I just love the subtle flavor of the tea infusion as well as the delicate crackle pattern on the peeled egg.

Fried shrimp wontons: Terrific nibbles with the added bonus that shrimp symbolize happiness and good fortune.

Pickled Chinese cabbage: Served cold, this sweet, salty, sour, spicy, crunchy pickled cabbage wakes your mouth up in the best way possible. I could snack on a bowl of this all by myself. Cabbage means money, prosperity.

Scallion pancakes: One of the best savory snacks, ever. I’m not sure if it has any symbolism, but it’s delicious!

Shrimp toast: More shrimp goodness (happiness and fortune).

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different kinds of winter

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Recipe: black bean soup

We’re back home on the Colorado Front Range where the weather seems unseasonably warm compared to Crested Butte. I know the whole country (except for California) was dogged by frigid winter weather for several days, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for us in the mountains. The thing is, Crested Butte has ruined me. It is my idea of perfect winter. The snow is fluffy and powdery, the temperatures are quite cold which preserves that nice powdery snow for a long time (in January, the average low is -8°F, but we measured as low as -22°F last week), there is a lot of sunshine, and there is no wind. Okay, they can get a little wind from time to time, but nothing like the winds that ravage us in Nederland and along the Front Range. So it’s a bit of an adjustment coming home to weather that feels so antagonistic at times.


there was decent snow in the trees



The wind is a real bitch here on the Front Range. But it makes you tough. Skiing ground blizzards, getting pummeled on the ski lift in gale force winds, navigating death cookies and busting wind slab – it all builds character. And then you have those blow outs where the winds have scoured bare ground right next to a 20 foot snowdrift. It makes the good days REALLY good, but winters here are not for dilettantes.

jeremy carries his skis across a giant blowout in 45 mph gusts



Once home our usual routine is to put the gear away, set the boots out to dry, remove sunblock, change into warm clothes, check that Kaweah is alive and well, and get something hot in our bellies. It doesn’t always go in that order (we usually check Kaweah first), but the need to warm up with a bowl of soup ranks high the moment we set foot in the house. I like to make a lot of soup and keep it handy in the refrigerator for these very occasions.

let’s start with black beans

black bean soup: pepper, olive oil, sherry, salt, cumin, oregano, onion, garlic, bell pepper, beans, chicken broth, tomato paste



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