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archive for soup

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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more than autumn leaves

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Recipe: cioppino

The most brilliant sunsets often involve something other than the sun. A setting sun in a crystal clear sky is predictable, plain Jane. There might be color, but it helps to have something more. Smoke, volcanic ash, pollution, dust, blowing snow, and water vapor can provide particulate matter in the air to absorb, scatter, and reflect light. The atmosphere peels away the shorter wavelengths, permitting the longer ones to bounce off these particles in the air, creating a glowing canvas on the sky. Colorado gets some pretty spectacular sunsets on a regular basis, but the Front Range really knocks it out of the park with dramatic cloud formations and weather phenomena. Monday evening, we were welcomed back to Ned(erland) with a nice display.


blazing sunset

turning rosy



The following day, I tiptoed about in the dark gathering my equipment, gloves, hat, headlamp, so as not to wake Jeremy and drove into the blackness of early morning. I drive carefully at night in the mountains, because you never know what will decide to spring across the road in front of you. We have some big critters around here that could do proper damage to a car, but in all honesty, I brake for little tiny voles and mice as much as I do for moose and elk. I arrived in Rocky Mountain National Park before sunrise, but the sky was getting lighter by the minute. I had rented the Nikkor 500mm f4 telephoto lens from my friends at Pro Photo Rental to shoot the total lunar eclipse, but figured I would also shoot the elk rut in Rocky – because you really don’t want to get too close to bull elks during the rut.

elk does and aspens bathed in golden sunrise

herding his harem across the meadow

non-competing males having breakfast



Wildlife photography is a different kind of photography from what I’m used to, so I felt it was good to challenge myself and try to improve what modest skills I have. Each time I shoot with the 200-400mm or the 500mm, I become that much more acquainted with the nuances of shooting super telephoto. Speaking as a photographer, the elk weren’t in the best locations for a great shoot and the bulls were not as impressive specimens as when I photographed in 2012. You can’t move them into the right light or the right setting like you can a cookie or a sandwich, nor can you move the mountains or the shadows or the trees or the guy who parked his Honda CRV in the worst place possible (but these are things you get used to when you photograph landscapes). You must move, and when it comes to bull elk in mating season, you give them wide berth and lots of respect. The sound of elk bugling into the evening air has been my soundtrack for much of the fall shoot and my trail runs for the last few weeks. Their calls echo back and forth between the hillsides of mountain valleys, eerie and haunting, but beautiful. Quintessential autumn in the Colorado high country.

bull elk bugling

this guy bugles constantly

handsome fellow

another bull elk chowing down on aspen bark



Whenever I set an alarm, I usually wake up five minutes before it goes off. But last night when my alarm sounded at 3 am for the total lunar eclipse, I was not awake, but in a deep slumber. I slunk out of bed and into warm clothes as Jeremy turned on his side and pulled the covers over his face. It’s funny that the resident astrophysicist is the one who sleeps while I stumble outside to photograph the moon, the planets, the stars, the meteors. It was not to be. A uniform layer of high clouds stretched from every corner of the world above me and I debated whether or not to stay up in the hopes that it would clear. The radar and the forecasts told me to go back to bed, so I dutifully obeyed. At least I got some elk.

We are on our fifth or sixth oscillation between warm and cold weather since late summer. During the first cold snap, Jeremy and I were driving to Crested Butte in freezing rain and quickly failing daylight. We agreed to pick up dinner on the road and my stomach turned at all of the fast food options. Pulling into Frisco (near Breckenridge) we discovered a Whole Foods had opened this spring. I knew exactly what I wanted as I ran through driving rain and snow into the store – hot soup. Jeremy rarely knows what he wants to eat, but because we were short on time, I told him he was having soup. In the parking lot, spooning hot cioppino into our mouths, I felt warmth spreading from my tummy to my limbs and up the back of my neck. Jeremy kept making mmm mmm mmm sounds because he loves cioppino. Behind the steamy windows of our Subaru, I swore a silent oath to myself that I would find a good recipe for cioppino and make it at home.


fennel, leek, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, green pepper, parsley, crushed tomatoes, olive oil

dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne, tomato paste, flour, butter, chardonnay, water

halibut filet, large sea scallops, medium sea scallops, crab meat, shrimp, clams



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