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we return to our regularly scheduled program

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Recipe: peach pâte de fruits

People refer to September as if it is actual fall, but the reality is that only the last week of September is officially fall. Sure, we can feel that precious cooldown overnight in the mountains as August winds down and September steps up. Still, the daytime highs are HIGH and sadly breaking new records. Those of us loyal to seasons outside of Burn-Your-Face-Off-Hot summer are ready to move on from bug bites, sunblock, and waking at 5:00 am to beat the sun. Children’s laughs echo from the schoolyard. Morning frost crunches underfoot in the high country. Time to resume our non-summer schedule. I hope you all had a great summer. We sure did.


variety and abundance

yuki inspects one day’s haul of porcini

a morning spent foraging chanterelles

adventures with wingus and dingus

happy pups (that’s yuki’s happy face, same as all of her faces)

beating the heat on an alpine lake



In summer, Colorado relies heavily on monsoonal moisture coming from the southwest to stoke our mountain thunderstorms and deliver rain. Prolonged absence of precipitation means the flowers begin to wilt, the mushrooms shrivel up and disappear, berries stall or die, and the threat of wildfire rears its ugly head. August was awfully dry in contrast to the start of the season, but this past weekend we were able to catch some wild berries, the last of the alpine wildflowers, and even hints of the golden glory that will soon wash over our beloved aspen forests.

thimbleberries

there’s always that one tree who has to start early

yuki on her labor day hike

resting above treeline in the flowers



It’s time. It’s time. I’ve spent several weeks this summer foraging, cleaning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating, and pickling wild mushrooms, but now we are getting down to brass tacks. Time to can tomatoes, freeze corn, roast and freeze green chiles, forage late summer goodies (if any are to be had), and of course, freeze peach pie filling. I used to make peach jam every summer from luscious Colorado Palisade peaches until I realized I am not much of a jam person. Gifter? Yes! Consumer? Not so much. But peach pie in January is pure magic – hence the freezing of (a lot of) peach pie filling.

Last week, I had a dental appointment and wanted to bring a homemade sweet to the office. I know, who brings sweets to their dentist? I wanted something that could be easily shared, but my dentist is vegan and gluten-free. You may be asking where I find these people, but when you live near Boulder, Colorado, you get very used to these culinary obstacle courses. Peaches are happening now, so why not peach pâte de fruits? I adapted my strawberry pâte de fruits recipe by reducing the sugar and pectin, bumping up the lemon, and omitting the butter. I know there are a variety of pectins out there that behave differently from brand to brand, so I’m using Certo brand liquid pectin here. I haven’t invested brain cycles into how you convert between liquid and powder pectin, but it’s on that long to-do list of mine.


sugar, lemon, peaches, pectin (not pictured: pinch of salt)

peel, pit, and chop the peaches; juice the lemon

purée the peaches until smooth



**Jump for more butter**

summer magic

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

Recipe: wild rose honey

I know you guys will understand when I tell you that food blogging has been ranking low on my priority list this month. It’s summer. My parents are in Colorado. My niece came out to visit my parents and us! We’re spotting loads of wildlife. The wildflowers are exploding everywhere in the high country. And there’s work, of course.


mom and dad cooked a seafood feast for us

my wonderful niece

we took her for a hike

and she got to see her first moose!

this bear trundled through our yard the evening she stayed with us



We are wrapping up a week of hiking and trail running and flower peeping in Crested Butte. The flowers may be a month late, but they are in fine form this year – filling hillsides and meadows with colorful splashes. If you can ignore the constant swarm of mosquitoes and flies, it’s exhilarating. Neva and Yuki have enjoyed their daily adventures of hikes, bike rides, and swim-fetch sessions.

back a year later to one of yuki’s first real hikes

enjoying the view or looking for squirrels?!

tuckered out (yay!)



I’ve been photographing the wildflowers in Crested Butte for the past decade, and I think this year might be one for the books. We had a feeling it would be good after that snow-filled winter and spring, but we didn’t know it would blow our dang minds.

standing in flowers as tall as me

painted hillslopes

larkspur and mule’s ears

a mix of showy fleabane, american vetch, and wild roses



Our wild roses are normally done by the end of June, but they are popping up everywhere at the moment. I love to pause and pluck a wild rose petal and inhale the lovely scent as I continue along the trail. Gather enough of these petals and you can make some incredible treats like wild rose petal ice cream or wild rose petal jam. Do you have to use wild roses? That’s my preference, but if you use domestic roses, please make sure they are not sprayed with chemicals. My latest wild rose project (which I made last year) is wild rose honey. It’s super easy and a nice addition to a summer pantry.

you will need a jar, honey, and wild rose petals



I don’t wash my rose petals because getting them wet turns the petals into a clumpy mess. My usual method is to pluck the petals from the rose and shake all of the dry petals in a large colander covered with another colander or a tight-fitting plate. I shake the petals about for several minutes over a white poster board to see what shakes out – mostly debris and some bugs. Clear the poster board every minute or so and stop shaking the petals when nothing more appears on the white surface.

warm the honey

gently fill the jar with petals

pour warm honey into the jar



**Jump for more butter**

flowers gone wild

Monday, July 8th, 2019

Recipe: brassica poppy seed salad

Everything happens in summer. Jeremy and I sat down with our calendars last month to map commitments and schedule those “want to do” things that will never get done unless you cordon off the dates well in advance. Even then, a good percentage is usually punted to the next year because stuff invariably comes up. Since my last post, my parents have returned to Colorado for the summer, we celebrated Yuki’s one year Gotchaversary (the day we adopted her), and the high country snow has begun to melt, leaving wildflowers in its path of retreat.


out for sushi with the parents

yuki and her gotcha cake (which she shared with neva)

hiking through verdant forests

still easy to get to snow in july

stopping for flowers and a view

amazing fields of wildflowers on my trail run

colors on the ground and in the sky

dandelion and larkspur carpet the hillslope

lupine at peak bloom



With my parents in town for the summer, we are dining out a lot more than we usually do when left to our homebody tendencies. It happens every summer because getting together to eat is the de facto way Chinese people hang out. At home, I’ve been sticking to exercise, simple meals, and lots of salads to counteract the effects of indulgent restaurant food. One of my favorites happens to be a homemade take on a prepackaged salad. They look so tempting, but I never buy them because I start calculating how much it costs to make it myself. Plus, this kale and cabbage salad never has enough dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds for my taste.

the salad: kale, cabbage, red cabbage, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries

the dressing: apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, canola oil, poppy seeds, salt, sugar, mustard, onion



**Jump for more butter**