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stormy and awesome

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Recipe: ginger shrub dark and stormy cocktail

We have entered this lovely stormy pattern of snow, snow, and more snow. Hey – better late than never. Our wonderful neighbor always gets up early after a big snowfall and snow blowers his driveway, our driveway, the common driveway, and the other neighbors’ driveways. Sometimes I’ll take fresh baked cookies over, or maybe a coconut custard tart, or perhaps some cinnamon rolls. I love neighborly neighbors. Before the latest round of storms, we enjoyed a lull of 2 sunny days with no wind. NO WIND. So rare and yet so coveted! I scrambled to get my work done and then grabbed my skis for a solo skin into the mountains before the sun retired for the day.


beautiful, quiet, solitude



The clouds moved in a few days later and the snow has been falling ever since. In winter, we pay attention to the weather not just for the ski potential, but to avoid unnecessary travel when conditions in the canyon are hazardous. I managed to take care of all business in town on Wednesday morning, driving back up the canyon just as the snow and clouds blotted out the sun above, but Jeremy had meetings that went into late afternoon when the storm was fully underway. He planned to take the bus home (usually a safer option during storms), but had to wait a couple of hours at the RTD station while emergency crews cleared an accident that had closed the entire canyon. When he finally got home several hours after he had left his office, I handed him a cocktail – because I knew he needed it. It was a dark and stormy, which seemed appropriate.

But this dark and stormy was made with ginger shrub rather than ginger beer. My friend, Cindi, asked me for a ginger shrub recipe earlier this month because her husband loves the stuff, but didn’t want to keep paying major cash for bottle after bottle. I didn’t have a recipe that I had tried, but shrubs are pretty straightforward to make. I did a quick search, looked over a couple of recipes, and sent along the one that looked best with the caveat that I hadn’t tested it.


ginger, cider vinegar, sugar

slice the ginger

it’s just these three things: ginger, vinegar, sugar



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what’s new

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Recipe: sichuan pork wontons

When the weekend started, I wasn’t sure how things were going to pan out. We always have a plan in place – usually a form of weather-dependent exercise, lofty goals to clean some part of the house, and work. Because it has been so disturbingly warm, my usual ski tour with Erin turned into a snirt (snow/dirt) hike. Making our way up the ice-slicked trail, we agreed that despite the suckage of the snow conditions, it was nice to get outside. Banjo agreed. Before we set off in the morning, he spun about in dizzying white fluffy circles on the mudroom floor, filled with giddy anticipation of the adventure to come. Happy dogs can’t lie.


my weekly date with erin and banjo

such a good boy



The dearth of snowfall this season didn’t deter me and Jeremy from nabbing some new fat skis on super sale recently. We took them into town for binding mounts and new ski prep. Picking the skis up from the mountaineering store, I signed the credit card receipt and smiled at the cashier, “Do your snow dance!” and stepped outside into 65°F and bright sun. The forecast was sunshine and warmth until Sunday, when we would get some snow. We weren’t sure how much. It could go either way.

my new (very fun) skis

the start of something beautiful

15 inches of fresh powder monday morning



But before the snow would come, we took a day – Valentine’s Day – to drive two and a half hours south onto the flats. You know it has to be something important to make us leave the mountains on a weekend. This was very important. We spent 30 minutes meeting several very sweet dogs. If all goes well, we’ll be filling that dog-shaped hole in our hearts with a puppy in early May.

On the return drive home, we passed through Denver where I stopped by the big Asian grocery store (HMart) to get ingredients for our traditional Chinese New Year feast. I try to stick to my grocery list, but as I walked the aisles packed to the hilt with all manner of sauces, vegetables, frozen foods, and pickled things, I started cobbling together our weekly menu as well. We hadn’t had wontons in a while, and there was a Sichuan wonton recipe waiting in the wings. The first step is to make the Sichuan red chile oil.


chiles de árbol, canola oil, soy sauce, salt, sichuan peppercorns, star anise, garlic, cinnamon, black cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, ginger

smashing things: cinnamon, garlic, ginger

combine the oil, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, cloves, anise, cardamom, and cinnamon

heat until the garlic is golden (mine was a little more than golden)



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red

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Recipe: red chile (enchilada) sauce

What a lovely first week of fall! Jeremy drove out to Crested Butte to join me for the weekend. We’re not very good about celebrating our birthdays on time because September is typically a very busy month for both of us. We don’t buy presents for one another, we rarely throw birthday parties, we don’t even exchange cards. So the agreement was that we’d postpone our birthday dinner until we could be together. I took Jeremy to Soupçon, a truly special and exceptional restaurant in the heart of Crested Butte. You’ll hear more about it in a later post. The following evening we hosted several of our wonderful friends/neighbors for a New Mexican feast at our place. And of course, we chased a lot of fall colors both figuratively and literally – it’s the reason I’m here in Crested Butte!


dessert at soupçon

a toast before digging into the feast

goofing off while working

autumn trail run selfie



It’s been a big mix of colors this year which is far far better than anything we had last year (a total dud of a season). Aspens are predominantly golden come autumn, yet I can’t recall seeing so many brilliant stands of reds in the ten years I’ve been shooting fall colors in Colorado. I’m still waiting for a lot of the big stands to come online as they are still green. My hope is that they’ll weather these cold storms and then put on the magic show when Indian Summer returns. Even if the aspens finished tomorrow, I would still be quite pleased with the season we’ve had thus far.

handsome stands

bathed in golden light

canopy

impressive reds

daydreaming

tall and magestic aspens

lake reflection



Fall is also that amazing time of year when New Mexico’s green chiles are harvested and roasted. It’s one of the reasons we decided to host a New Mexican dinner – that and the fact that New Mexican fare is addictively good. We had three current or former New Mexico residents at dinner (Jeremy is the former) who could school us on red and green chile. If you are asked, “Red or green?” in a restaurant in New Mexico, it means “Would you like red or green chile sauce on your order?” You can answer red, green, or Christmas (both). I love green chiles so very much, but I must admit that I am a red girl. I love the red sauce. LOVE IT. I’m always annoyed when I have to buy canned enchilada sauce, because Colorado has a fear of hot enchilada sauce. It’s even a chore finding medium heat sauce. But really, you should just make it yourself because it’s ridiculously easy and – as always – far superior in quality and flavor to what you buy in the store.

red chile powder, salt, garlic, oregano, vegetable oil, onion, beef broth (or water)

minced garlic and diced onion

prepped



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