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Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Recipe: porcini tagliatelle


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Hello my dearest readers! As many of you know, our lovable goofy Yuki came to us through the good people of Rezdawg Rescue. They are currently holding their Rezdawg Rescue Pawliday Auction through 8 pm MT, December 6, 2020 to raise funds so they may continue to rescue unwanted dogs and cats from the Four Corners region, educate the community, and run spay and neuter clinics. I have donated three fine art photographic prints to the auction. Two have already sold, but there is one still accepting bids: https://www.32auctions.com/organizations/48054/auctions/90182/auction_items/2590041. I encourage you to browse the auction’s selection of artwork, jewelry, services, and other great offerings to help support this wonderful nonprofit organization that saved our sweet Yuki. Thank you! -jen


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In the past three months, the leaves turned green to gold and stayed for a longer than usual season of beautiful fall colors. But a pall of smoke hung over our local mountains as wildlands burned around the state. October was our month of burning despite a summer of fires. Severe drought, warm temperatures, lack of precipitation, and windy conditions drove multiple wildfires to record-breaking sizes in a period of 24 hours. The East Troublesome Fire even jumped the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park. Two fires sprang up in our local foothills. Evacuation zones came within a few miles of our home in Nederland. We had our essentials, including our ballots, packed and ready to go for a week while others were forced to evacuate their homes. I wept over photos and web cam footage of wildlife fleeing the flames, homes left in ruins, and the most dedicated fire crews working through a pandemic under apocalyptic red skies.

We are not unaccustomed to wildfire threat, but this was surreal.


aspens reflected on the lake

a window of blue sky between periods of hazy smoke

a setting sun paints the underbelly of smoke plumes from the east troublesome fire



We waited impatiently for snow, and not just because we wanted to ski. The two largest wildfires in Colorado recorded history (East Troublesome and Cameron Peak) were separated by a mere 10 miles and on the brink of merging. Relief arrived in late October and we were able to unpack our evacuation bags. [NOTE: We always have an evacuation box ready.]

Meanwhile, Neva had developed an odd growth on the side of her back foot and we asked our vet to check it out. It was melanoma, but not invasive and most likely benign. Because Neva is so active, we agreed it was best to have it removed. As I type, Neva is sleeping off the anesthesia at the vet and we are scheduled to pick her up in an hour. Her procedure went well and she had her teeth cleaned and nails trimmed to boot!


everyone rejoiced in the arrival of snow

a mellow backcountry ski over thanksgiving

thanksgiving plates for the pups



I had grand plans to share a recipe celebrating summer’s last hurrah and maybe a couple of autumny dishes. But now we’re barreling toward winter and it feels like this year is flushing down a whirlpool headed for the sewer, where 2020 belongs. And for those who were concerned over the prolonged silence on the blog, you can always check my Instagram (@jenyuphoto) to see if I am indeed alive.

At the start of the pandemic, a friend inspired me to make porcini pasta. I don’t mean pasta served with porcini mushrooms, but ground up dried porcini or porcini powder mixed into the pasta dough. I may not have foraged many porcini this summer (I think we may have found five in total – a meager showing for what has been a craptastic year), but I do have a solid supply of dried porcini from previous seasons. Even if you don’t have your own private stash of dried porcini, they can be found in grocery stores and gourmet food shops.


olive oil, salt, eggs, dried porcini, flour

a coffee grinder or spice grinder works well to powder dried porcini

blend the flour, porcini powder, and salt together



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same, but not

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Recipe: oat milk

Colorado ski resorts are closed for the season, Rocky Mountain National Park is closed, all restaurant dining is closed, schools and universities are closed, and a stay-at-home order is in place for the state in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We have been self-isolating since March 12, which does not feel too different from our normal lives with some limitations. It’s not that way for many who have lost jobs, are staring at financial uncertainty, are already vulnerable, are sick, or are working for the good of the community. And let’s face it: the majority of those essential workers DO NOT get paid what they are worth nor enough for what they are risking for the rest of us. If you have the means, now is a particularly good time to contribute to your local food banks, shelters for people and animals, and maybe purchase some gift cards from small businesses – especially restaurants – that may not make it to the other side of this pandemic without your support. I hope you and yours are safe and well right now.

I’ve been checking in on my parents regularly to see how they are and to make sure they aren’t doing anything to put themselves or others at greater risk. So far, so good. Jeremy is working from home 100% and the dogs seem to think this is a great idea. Last Friday was Neva’s fifth birthday, so I managed a little celebration of sorts from what was on hand.


birthday plate of beef meatballs, apple, cheddar, and homemade dog treats

such good girls



We are not combating boredom over here, but making the most of the time not spent driving anywhere, meeting in person, or traveling. This coincides with my ongoing Spring Cleaning goals. You know, the ones that I started in the fall… of 2018. Time to put a dent in that To Do list as well as chip away at our freezer(s) inventory!

baking a sextuple batch of dog treats

sewed two cushions to replace those unsightly piles of old blankets

assessing what size our next backpacking tent should be (we got this one pre-Yuki)



Despite all of the ski hill closures, the snow keeps falling in between those sunny spells because it’s Colorado and it’s springtime in the Rockies. The stay-at-home order makes a few exceptions, including getting outside for exercise in your own backyard/town. Flatlanders flocking to mountain towns has been problematic because mountain communities don’t have the capacity to handle the COVID-19 outbreak let alone any boneheads that get caught in an avalanche and require scarce rescue resources. We’ve been playing it safe on our local low-risk terrain for cardio workouts in fresh air. The turns can wait.

yuki loves that smell of freshly fallen snow

social distancing is how we roll

the girls get to ski tour, too

one day at a time



One thing I’ve noticed on our weekly trips to the grocery stores are the sections of empty shelves. Flour, rice, beans, bread, milk, eggs, chicken, toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer. As we gathered the items from my grocery list last week, Jeremy pointed to a couple lonely cartons of oat milk and asked if I needed any. I shook my head, because I make my own oat milk. Months ago when I first tried oat milk, I figured this was the solution to my lactose-intolerant needs. I sought out organic oat milk, which is not only hard to find (for me), it’s expensive. Around the same time, a reader (Yvonne) had also written to me about glyphosate levels in oat milk. Glyphosate is an herbicide, the main active ingredient in Roundup. Another push for me to just make my own oat milk. As longtime readers already know, I like making food from scratch which gives me greater control over the quality of what I’m eating.

water, salt, steel-cut oats



You can use rolled oats or steel-cut oats. The difference is that the steel-cut oats require a 12-hour soak in water the night before. I had a giant bag of organic steel-cut oats intended for breakfasts but admittedly neglected because I don’t actually like to eat breakfast. The perfect excuse to use them for oat milk! And if you need this to be gluten-free, just make sure that the oats you are using are certified as such. The salt is for enhancing the flavor of the oat milk. You can make sweetened or flavored versions (sugar, honey, soak a dried date with the oats, maple syrup, vanilla extract, etc.), but I like my milk to be neutral.

soak steel-cut oats overnight



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cold buzz

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Recipe: cold brew coffee

People, I am feeling it. I am feeling that excitement about spring and green things sprouting from the ground and sunshine warming my back in the mornings and bright afternoons and bird song riding gentle breezes that dance through open windows. Winter has been decent with a slightly above average snowpack. Higher sun angles and longer days mean we can look forward to crust cruising in the mornings, swooshing soft or slushy stuff in the afternoons, big spring snow storms, increased (avy) stabilization, and more backcountry fun.


bluebird backcountry day

skijor with the pups

celebrated 23 years of marriage with an early morning uphill ski

and we grabbed a surprise 13-inch powder day



I used to resent the loss of an hour as we adjusted to Daylight Saving, but I was pretty happy to shift ahead this weekend. It’s partly for the later sunsets and mostly because Neva has the annoying habit of waking before daybreak and standing next to the bed, moaning/growling at us until we get up and feed her or until she pukes. So we’ve gained a little more sleep time in the mornings for another month. It’s not that bad, because I’m a morning person. Jeremy isn’t so much of a morning person, but he gets up early because that’s the best time to get things done and because he has coffee. If there wasn’t coffee, I’m just not sure Jeremy would be a functional member of society.

Last summer when I was out foraging with Erin and Jay, we stopped for a snack break and Erin handed Jay a large Nalgene bottle of dark half-frozen liquid. “Is that coffee?” Yep, it was cold brew. Erin told me cold brew is easy to make and a lot cheaper than buying it. I would occasionally get Jeremy a bottle of cold brew coffee, but he rarely requested it – probably because it’s so spendy. I made a mental note to read up on it and to try making some.

There is good news with regard to making your own cold brew such that I can’t wrap my head around shelling out the bucks to buy it anymore. First off, you don’t need to use the fancy high end stuff like that fair trade, light roast, single-origin, unwashed Ethiopia bean. Save that for your extra special hot cuppa. The lighter, brighter, more acidic and floral notes of regular coffee don’t really come out in the cold brew process. Instead, you’ll hit the earthy, chocolatey, nutty characteristics of a darker roast. And it will be smoother since heat is required to extract the acidity you find in hot brewed coffee. I use Trader Joe’s Colombia Supremo medium roast whole beans. As for equipment, you can get away with a $14 coffee grinder, a $2 1-quart wide-mouth canning jar (or a few more bucks for a 2-quart wide-mouth jar), some coffee filters (or a nut milk bag), and a sieve. You could use a large plastic container, but glass doesn’t retain odors and I find it much easier to wash the oily residue off of glass.


coffee beans and water



Don’t grind your beans too fine because it makes for a murky final beverage and a lot more sediment. A quick few pulses work great in my Krups spice grinder and I process the beans in 1/4 cup batches. I’ve started following the general rule of thumb of about 1/4 cup of beans per cup of water, but the recipe below starts off a tad more conservatively. It’s all very forgiving. Scale the amount accordingly to accommodate your tastes and the volume of your brewing vessel. The grounds go into your jar with the water (I happily use cold tap water) and get stirred until there are no dry pockets floating about. I cover the mouth of the jar with a coffee filter and secure it with the canning lid ring (but not the actual lid). You can use a towel or cheesecloth, but I think the idea is to allow airflow without introducing undesired extras like floaty pet hairs.

coarse grind works best

stir with water until all grounds are wet

the grounds float at first, but will mostly sink with time

cover with a cloth or a coffee filter



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