roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta sparkling champagne margaritas cranberry hazelnut seed crisps cioppino


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that extra sparkle

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Recipe: sparkling champagne margaritas

The sight of snow on the Rocky Mountains represents “normal” in my mind. The months of brilliant snow-covered peaks outnumber those months of naked rock. So when I climbed to the high point of my trail run the other day and caught a glimpse of Glacier Ridge in full white, I couldn’t help but smile and mutter “beautiful” aloud. Sun, blue skies, and warm days have returned (again), but our mountain home gets nice and chilly at night. Our favorite neighbors are home from running their summer camp deep in the Canadian wilderness. This evening I welcomed their walking carpet of a dog back with hugs and ear rubs (she’s a Great Pyrenees-Bernese Mountain Dog mix). The older we get, the more Jeremy and I cherish having good neighbors. We look out for one another, I like to dessert-bomb them, and it’s great when we can get together over a glass of wine or dinner.


kicking off a dinner party in crested butte with eileen’s margaritas



When Jeremy and I hosted a New Mexican food-themed party at our place in Crested Butte last month, it was a team effort. Wendy made Spanish rice, spicy refritos, and brought fresh tortillas. Eileen brought a corn and avocado salad, wine, and champagne margaritas. Neither Jeremy nor I are huge fans of margaritas. I’m just not a drinker and Jeremy thinks they are too caustic. But when Eileen offered Jeremy a champagne margarita, he accepted – because… champagne (actually, it was a lovely sparkling wine). He liked it. A LOT. Eileen told me it was a Rick Bayless recipe and a nice change up from the standard margarita. I took a sip from Jeremy’s glass and had to agree. Very nice. VERY drinkable. Way to class up the old marg!

tequila, cointreau, bubbles, limes, kosher salt, sugar

zest the limes

lime juice, cointreau, tequila, lime zest, sugar



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more than autumn leaves

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Recipe: cioppino

The most brilliant sunsets often involve something other than the sun. A setting sun in a crystal clear sky is predictable, plain Jane. There might be color, but it helps to have something more. Smoke, volcanic ash, pollution, dust, blowing snow, and water vapor can provide particulate matter in the air to absorb, scatter, and reflect light. The atmosphere peels away the shorter wavelengths, permitting the longer ones to bounce off these particles in the air, creating a glowing canvas on the sky. Colorado gets some pretty spectacular sunsets on a regular basis, but the Front Range really knocks it out of the park with dramatic cloud formations and weather phenomena. Monday evening, we were welcomed back to Ned(erland) with a nice display.


blazing sunset

turning rosy



The following day, I tiptoed about in the dark gathering my equipment, gloves, hat, headlamp, so as not to wake Jeremy and drove into the blackness of early morning. I drive carefully at night in the mountains, because you never know what will decide to spring across the road in front of you. We have some big critters around here that could do proper damage to a car, but in all honesty, I brake for little tiny voles and mice as much as I do for moose and elk. I arrived in Rocky Mountain National Park before sunrise, but the sky was getting lighter by the minute. I had rented the Nikkor 500mm f4 telephoto lens from my friends at Pro Photo Rental to shoot the total lunar eclipse, but figured I would also shoot the elk rut in Rocky – because you really don’t want to get too close to bull elks during the rut.

elk does and aspens bathed in golden sunrise

herding his harem across the meadow

non-competing males having breakfast



Wildlife photography is a different kind of photography from what I’m used to, so I felt it was good to challenge myself and try to improve what modest skills I have. Each time I shoot with the 200-400mm or the 500mm, I become that much more acquainted with the nuances of shooting super telephoto. Speaking as a photographer, the elk weren’t in the best locations for a great shoot and the bulls were not as impressive specimens as when I photographed in 2012. You can’t move them into the right light or the right setting like you can a cookie or a sandwich, nor can you move the mountains or the shadows or the trees or the guy who parked his Honda CRV in the worst place possible (but these are things you get used to when you photograph landscapes). You must move, and when it comes to bull elk in mating season, you give them wide berth and lots of respect. The sound of elk bugling into the evening air has been my soundtrack for much of the fall shoot and my trail runs for the last few weeks. Their calls echo back and forth between the hillsides of mountain valleys, eerie and haunting, but beautiful. Quintessential autumn in the Colorado high country.

bull elk bugling

this guy bugles constantly

handsome fellow

another bull elk chowing down on aspen bark



Whenever I set an alarm, I usually wake up five minutes before it goes off. But last night when my alarm sounded at 3 am for the total lunar eclipse, I was not awake, but in a deep slumber. I slunk out of bed and into warm clothes as Jeremy turned on his side and pulled the covers over his face. It’s funny that the resident astrophysicist is the one who sleeps while I stumble outside to photograph the moon, the planets, the stars, the meteors. It was not to be. A uniform layer of high clouds stretched from every corner of the world above me and I debated whether or not to stay up in the hopes that it would clear. The radar and the forecasts told me to go back to bed, so I dutifully obeyed. At least I got some elk.

We are on our fifth or sixth oscillation between warm and cold weather since late summer. During the first cold snap, Jeremy and I were driving to Crested Butte in freezing rain and quickly failing daylight. We agreed to pick up dinner on the road and my stomach turned at all of the fast food options. Pulling into Frisco (near Breckenridge) we discovered a Whole Foods had opened this spring. I knew exactly what I wanted as I ran through driving rain and snow into the store – hot soup. Jeremy rarely knows what he wants to eat, but because we were short on time, I told him he was having soup. In the parking lot, spooning hot cioppino into our mouths, I felt warmth spreading from my tummy to my limbs and up the back of my neck. Jeremy kept making mmm mmm mmm sounds because he loves cioppino. Behind the steamy windows of our Subaru, I swore a silent oath to myself that I would find a good recipe for cioppino and make it at home.


fennel, leek, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, green pepper, parsley, crushed tomatoes, olive oil

dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne, tomato paste, flour, butter, chardonnay, water

halibut filet, large sea scallops, medium sea scallops, crab meat, shrimp, clams



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pieces of a broken heart

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Recipe: hot smoked salmon and asparagus pasta

Jeremy and I want to thank you all for the touching comments, emails, messages, and other notes on Kaweah’s passing. We are in awe of your love for our dear pup and grateful for your kindness and well wishes. Thank you so very much. xo

The past week has been a bit of a blur as we try to resume life without Kaweah. Everywhere we turned we expected to see that cute little face staring back at us (presumably wondering if we had beef or cheese or apples to offer). And when I didn’t find Kaweah, I just sat down and sobbed. Or I stood and sobbed. I sobbed as I folded her freshly laundered towels and beddings. I sobbed as I put away her dog bowls. I did a lot of sobbing. It was hard being in the house without her – so we packed up and headed southwest. Kaweah’s absence is still felt, but it’s slightly less pronounced here in Crested Butte. Just slightly.


kaweah’s last sunset

my last photo of kaweah on the way to the vet

tags, leashes, and collars by the front door



I still miss hearing her soft snoring in the middle of the night, or watching her little legs chase bunnies in her dreams, or the funny way she would sniff sniff sniff EVERYTHING in the yard until it culminated in a giant sneeze. Getting outside has helped tremendously. Most of you know that the mountains are my therapy sessions. It’s incredibly beautiful right now too.

i spotted a gorgeous bull moose on my trail run last week

brilliant stormy sunset over paradise divide

wildflowers dot the hillslopes of the crested butte high country



While trail running alone, I can lose myself in thought for hours and think about Kaweah without crying. Occasionally, one of her nicknames will push from my lungs into the mountain air and I’ll smile at the memory of her goofy shenanigans. Cooking helps too. I went through one day of depression eating before I bounced back to a normal meal pattern. Prepping vegetables has been especially meditative. My mom told me keeping busy will help, and she’s right. I shot this pasta recipe a few weeks ago, with Kaweah at my side to catch any stray pieces of salmon. Blogging will help me find my way back to normal.

hot smoked salmon, salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, white wine, fettuccine, cream, parmesan, butter, asparagus

drizzle olive oil over the asparagus

season with salt and pepper and grill (or roast)

slice asparagus into bite-size pieces



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