roasted cherry bourbon swirl ice cream morel bourbon cream sauce fried morel mushrooms black olive tapenade


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morel boost

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Recipe: morel bourbon cream sauce

People can be so awful to others. They can also be wonderful to one another. There is no shortage of chatter about it all, and after a while my head hurts as much as my heart does. That’s when I really need to spend time outside to sort the spaghetti knot of feelings in my chest, free of that noise.


calypso orchids

hiking through the lupine

lightning strike on the mountain



We are keeping busy shuttling back and forth between Nederland and Crested Butte. I know a lot of people hate the word busy, but I don’t. Busy for me isn’t bad. Busy means a full schedule – that my time is taken up with both the things I have to do and the things I want to do. I realize I’m busy by choice, and I’m grateful for that.

Despite being over a year old now, Neva’s training is ongoing. She was introduced to the SUP (standup paddle board) last summer when she was a little puppy, but then she spent the next seven months learning to be a ski dog. While the rising snowline in the mountains translates into spring runoff, Neva is reacquainting herself with the liquid form of snow. Her first swim of the season was splashy and uncoordinated, but by the second dip, she was already getting her swim legs back and performing running jumps into the water. After a few days of confident swimming, it was time to see if she could ride the SUP and remain on the board. She only dove off a few times and once she even climbed back onto the board with a lift from Jeremy. She has a life vest coming in the mail soon, so I hope things will only improve with our little adventure pup.


she’s no longer nervous on the board, she is excited

watching for fish in the lake



I’m still keeping my eyes peeled around these parts for black morels, but they aren’t flushing like they were a couple of weeks before in one area. We scouted a couple of trails only to be left wondering if we’d lost our mojo or if the mushrooms were late, done, or just having a bad year? But on my trail run Friday morning, I found two single morels very far apart from one another – one in a somewhat unexpected environment and the other in what I consider typical surroundings. I left them in place to do their thing (send spores into the air) and kept my fingers crossed that the season isn’t over just yet.

short and squat, but in perfectly good condition



But in case the season IS coming to an abrupt end, I’ve got another winner of a morel recipe for you. This is far and away Jeremy’s *favorite* from my morel recipe testing session because it has morels and bourbon and cream, and it all goes on top of steak. This is the real reason I trail run…

cream, beef broth, pepper, morels, salt, butter, shallots, balsamic vinegar, bourbon

slice the morels in half lengthwise

rinse them clean and pat them dry



**Jump for more butter**

you knew it was coming

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Recipe: fried morel mushrooms

Two weeks away from the technical start of summer and the mountains are just beginning to sport their spring green. But what a lovely spring green it is – so brief and yet dazzling like little jewels under the intense spotlight of the high sun. After reading about all manner of “indicators” for black morels in the mountains, I’ve come to the conclusion that it basically means “when spring arrives and things start growing”. Makes sense. I’m seeing tiny pink calypso orchids, pasque flowers (still!), aspen leaves, oregon grape in bloom, false morels (toxic) and on and on and on. It’s wonderful in part because it isn’t terribly hot yet, which means foraging is more bearable when I’m crawling through forest debris. Come chanterelle and porcini seasons, I get a little cranky when the mercury rises.


refreshingly green and blue

pretty little things

a prize find



Back here on the Front Range, the morels in my area are taking their time. I’ve found a few early bolters, but that’s about it. I’ll probably miss the start of the proper flush, but I’m sharing my trail observations with my shroom buddy, Erin, because I want to know how the areas progress while I’m in Crested Butte and because I want her to get some black morels! Meanwhile, Neva is getting lots of running and playtime not associated with foraging morels. She makes it infinitely harder to concentrate on finding mushrooms and then when we do find them, she (like most dogs) will invariably and unwittingly step on at least a couple of them. I think we’re all quite happy to see the progression into spring because we know that summer will arrive like the flick of a switch. Good things happen in the mountains when the days are warm.

neva, orange tennis ball, and a big field of dandelions

sleeping (on the couch) with her tongue out

jeremy admires the view at sunset



I brought about half of my morel haul home to Nederland for recipe testing. The rest of the morels were either consumed in Crested Butte or given to devoted mushroom foragers who had never tasted black morels before. Oddly enough, when I was passing through my local Costco down on the flats, I found black morels for $8 per half pound. That is quite a good deal. I picked up two boxes out of curiosity and to supplement my supply for a morel recipe testing fest over the weekend. The store-bought morels were picked wild in the Pacific Northwest and they had good flavor, but they also came with plenty of small worms who apparently also appreciate the flavor of morels. I hate mushroom worms. Thankfully, my own foraged black morels were worm free and really clean. I used the small ones for this classic recipe of fried morels. Also, I made a half recipe (the recipe below is the full recipe) to conserve my limited supply of morels.

flour, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, milk, egg, morels



There is a wide swath of this country that insists the only way to eat morels is fried. I think morels can be enjoyed in a variety of preparations, but I’m not going to turn my nose up at a fried morel! So I went in search of a good recipe. When it comes to wild mushrooms, I find that Hank Shaw’s blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, is a great resource for solid information and reliable recipes.

i leave the small ones whole

you can see they are hollow inside

a large morel gets the chop chop

hollow inside – this is how you know it’s a morel and not a toxic look alike



**Jump for more butter**

the mountains’ good tidings

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Recipe: black olive tapenade

Amidst the bustle of de-winterizing our house, we realized last week that it had been one year since we brought Neva home (May 23). The day she entered our lives isn’t as big a deal to us as the fact that she’s made so much progress in the past year. Neva is still a lot of work, but the past year’s training is definitely paying off. Most important of all, our girl is a sweet and happy dog.


i made a last minute celebratory snack of beef, egg yolk, and a strawberry

waiting for her release word

it was gone in 2 seconds



De-winterizing actually involves both homes since they are both in the mountains. En route to Crested Butte, we encountered a good bit of snow falling on two of three mountain passes and wondered aloud if we were mistaken in bringing the SUPs (stand up paddle boards) rather than our skis? But alas, winter is ever so slowly passing the baton to spring. I know this because I’ve been watching the signs of spring around the mountains where we live. And I’ve been watching for those signs because I set my mind to finding the elusive black morel mushroom this year – less for the eating and more for the hunt and the mushroom photography.

a black morel



Well, my homework paid off. We took Neva for a short hike to get her beans out and wound up spending 5 hours foraging for black morels after I spotted the first one off the trail. I left plenty behind and still managed a good hundred or so. These are by far the hardest to see compared to porcini or chanterelles. Every dang dead leaf or pine cone looks just like a black morel – and under dappled sunlight it can be even harder to find them. But they are so pretty and alien and magical and weird. It meant a crash course that evening in learning to store, clean, and cook fresh black morels. Cook them thoroughly. Never eat them raw because they will make you sick. Following the advice of several sources, we tasted a few that I had sautéed in butter and waited for any ill effects to follow as some folks react poorly to black morels. The good news is that we are okay eating them. So you might expect to see a few morel recipes in the near future. [I should note that it is important to know how to properly identify a morel and how to tell it apart from several kinds of false morels – which are toxic.]

found you!

little lanterns of the forest

a nice foursome

morels are synonymous with spring

two-fer

my morning haul



Now that I have mushroom fever a few months earlier than usual, I’m going to share a quick and easy recipe for black olive tapenade. That way I have more time to resume planning the next trails to scout out those honeycombed wonders. Until recently, I had only ever had olive tapenade in restaurants when we dined with other friends because Jeremy is not a fan of olives. But he doesn’t like kimchi either and I have a whole jar of that in our refrigerator… It was high time I made some olive tapenade of my own. It’s ridiculous how easy it is to make – like bzzzzzt! and you’re done.

olives, olive oil, lemon (juice), anchovies, garlic, capers, thyme



Since this is a black olive tapenade, use black olives – like Niçoise or Kalamata. Make sure they are pitted or else their trip around the food processor will be a short one (olive pits and food processors are not friends). If you want to add green olives to the mix, be my guest, but then you’ll have to call it an olive tapenade. Chop the herbs and garlic, juice half the lemon and you’re more than halfway there.
**Jump for more butter**