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Monday, March 21st, 2016

Recipe: pralines and cream ice cream

It may be spring, but snow is back in the forecast! We’re pretty psyched about this because last week our home in the Front Range got about… 40 inches of snow. We stuck it out in Crested Butte though, because we had a prior obligation, and because there are plenty of things to do here if there isn’t any powder. Although powder really is the very best thing you can ski. We took Neva uphill skiing on the mountain again and she was actually better behaved than the first time and we all had a lot of fun skiing down.


crested butte had some colorful sunsets

and it was a little windy (neva’s ears were both straight up before this snap)

this is neva having a ball



We are just now wrapping up a weekend hosting some of my dear friends (since elementary school and junior high) and their families in Crested Butte for a ski vacation. Despite the lack of fresh powder, they all enjoyed the mountain, the town, and the scenery. There were kids, too. A baby, a tweener, and a teen. I don’t really hang out with kids too much because I don’t have any by choice, but I like playing auntie. I always marvel at what incredible parents all of my friends are because my friends are incredible people. Aside from happy talk, funny faces, and bouncing babies around, I am at a loss with kids younger than 2 years. But I chuckled to myself watching the tweener and teen – two sisters – interact on the slopes, the lifts, and at our house. They are normal sisters who have their spats and know how to push buttons, but also love each other and are friends. These are good, sweet girls. I hope they recognize what an important bond they share. I know that’s hard to do when you’re that age, but a sister is one of the best things in the world.

the baby was fascinated with the lights

super sweet sisters



Even though there are plenty of great restaurants in Crested Butte for dining out, I felt the privacy and quiet of our house would be nice for a couple of dinners. I kept things simple so that I could spend quality time with my friends. For dessert, I served a couple of homemade ice creams and brownies. I think of homemade ice cream as the easiest dessert because you can make it ahead of time, you can make multiple flavors, and people can have as much or as little or as many kinds as they want. Because it is so versatile, I like to collect a variety of ice cream recipes to draw from throughout the year. I recently tried making a batch of my mom’s favorite flavor, which was also my grandma’s favorite flavor. You know those bank security questions? If there was a question that asked, “What is your mother’s favorite ice cream flavor?” the answer would be: pralines and cream.

eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean, salt, pralines (not pictured: vanilla extract)



A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for homemade pralines. They’re pretty easy to make, but if you aren’t in the candy-making mood, you can just as easily use purchased pralines. My method is straightforward: make vanilla ice cream (our favorite recipe comes from David Lebovitz) and stir chopped pralines into the freshly churned batch. Commercial varieties of pralines and cream all seem to have a ribbon of caramel swirled into the ice cream alongside the pralines. You can stir that into the ice cream with the pralines, but I just felt that sometimes it’s possible to have too much sugar.

heat milk, cream, salt, and sugar

steep a vanilla bean and the seeds in the warmed milk mixture

roughly chop the pralines



**Jump for more butter**

sweetness

Monday, March 7th, 2016

Recipe: pralines

We’re doing the happy dance over here because we finished our taxes this weekend! It’s not as bad as all that, but it isn’t a good time or something anyone chooses to do voluntarily – except for tax professionals. I will admit that taxes have gotten easier for me because I’ve learned to document and track my finances throughout the year such that it’s now a matter of tabulating the totals and entering the numbers. I like doing the incremental work so that we don’t have to spend more than a few hours getting it all together come tax time. Thanks, Past Self!

It means that we can spend our spare time skiing and doing other things – but mostly skiing! While Neva was at doggy daycare, we skied a “no dogs allowed” trail since we can’t ski it when we want to take Neva out in the snow. I had forgotten how nice it is to be able to climb hard and not have to stop for or worry about doggy issues. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my pup, but I don’t have to do everything with her. She had fun, we had fun, and we were all happy to see one another again at the end of the day.


slapping skins on for the climb

soft snow in the trees (kinda crappy out of the trees)

my reward was (half of) this amazing bacon cheeseburger at oak



And it’s not like Neva didn’t get to go play in the backcountry, because the very next day Erin and Banjo joined all of us on a ski tour! Neva is getting better about minding Jeremy and keeping clear of his skis (and those sharp metal edges). She’s actually best about avoiding them when they are moving. When we all stop to rip skins or shed layers, she starts hopping around and between the skis which is when she’s most likely to cut a paw. To help her obedience when we’re on skis, we alternate days working with her while we hike. It’s all about fun for Neva, but for us, it’s all about training her so she can be safe AND have fun for many years to come.

erin and banjo on the way up

getting neva ready for trail running season



I just booked travel to see my parents in Virginia this spring. Spring is a fine time to visit my home state because Williamsburg is thick with green leaves, flowering dogwoods, azaleas, and a host of beautiful birds. Any later than mid spring and I just can’t handle the heat and humidity. There are some staples that I always bring back to Colorado with me – like Virginia country ham, Virginia peanuts, and praline pecans. I never ate a praline on its own until a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean I never ate one. I consumed more than the legal limit when I was kid – all of it in the form of ice cream because pralines and cream ice cream was a favorite in our house and my parents used to own an ice cream store. Fast forward almost 40 years and I’m thinking “how hard can it be to make your own pralines?”

sugar, light brown sugar, salt, vanilla, pecans, cream, butter



Yup, that’s all there is to it. Basically you’re cooking pecans in caramel on the stove and agitating the caramel until it turns grainy. At that point, start dropping the pralines to form the beloved candy of the South. DO get all of your equipment ready ahead of time, as caramel waits for no one when it’s time to start dropping pralines. DO use a saucepan no smaller than 4-quart capacity because this stuff wants to, and will, bubble up during cooking. DO use a candy thermometer so you can track the temperature of your caramel.

toast the pecans

place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan



**Jump for more butter**

house of powderhounds

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Recipe: huckleberry waffles

I told someone recently that we aren’t powderhounds – the types who drive around from mountain to mountain chasing down winter storms to ski the best powder. Clearly, one could do it. I follow a lot of Western ski resorts on Instagram, and some mountain somewhere is getting the goods on any given day. We just happened to get lucky a handful of times and then the rest is tracking weather forecasts for our local mountains. After our fun (but not snowy) weekend in Crested Butte, we returned home to Nederland just as – wait for it! – a snow storm dumped 11 inches on our local hill, Eldora. Is it luck or is it constant vigilance? You can mull that over while I ski the powder.


the morning commute looking pretty good

it was hip deep (for telemark) in some places



Powder days are not limited to human enjoyment. In fact, I’m pretty sure Neva loves her powder more than we do. She is just SO happy in the snow – bouncing and pouncing and digging and rolling and running and crashing. This is why we’re working so much with her this season to get her used to traveling with us into the backcountry – so that she can enjoy the snow with us, and safely.

puppy gets first tracks on the soccer field!

a little backcountry ski training with neva

skiing out on fresh powder with longs peak in the distance



All of this outdoor activity means Neva has been taking a lot of car rides. We have been working with our vet to try different medications and combinations – slowly getting closer to a solution. She is no longer vomiting, and I think that is in large part due to dramamine – or rather meclizine (which is dramamine 2), but she doesn’t like traveling in a vehicle – period. Neva’s anxiety goes through the roof when she is in the car (aka the torture-mobile), so we have a sedative for long car rides which helps her to just sleep through it. But for short drives to local trailheads, we just give her a meclizine about an hour before we leave. As we were packing up our gear for the ski tour, we found her chillaxing in the sun, on the stairs… sort of.

feeling pretty mellow



I really like that little girl. Not only does Neva share my love of snow, but she also shares my love of huckleberries. Whenever I make something with huckleberries, she always gets a few. If I empty a bag of frozen huckleberries, I’ll turn the bag inside out and let her lick the juices. So it was when I emptied a bag of frozen huckleberries last summer for a kitchen experiment. I wanted to see if there was a difference between huckleberry waffles made with fresh huckleberries versus frozen huckleberries. But really, I just wanted huckleberry waffles.

butter, flour, buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, cornstarch, eggs, frozen and fresh huckleberries

fresh hucks on the left, frozen on the right



**Jump for more butter**