braised chicken with forty cloves of garlic roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta sparkling champagne margaritas cranberry hazelnut seed crisps


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the wonders never cease

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Recipe: braised chicken with forty cloves of garlic

As a result of hoisting that 500mm telephoto lens around while chasing after or running from bull elk a few weeks ago and then processing client photos for hours on end at the computer, my shoulder and neck have been sources of unrelenting pain. The night of the Orionids meteor shower peak, I half wished to be clouded out so I could try to get a proper night’s rest since the previous morning, I woke up at 3 am to make and pack Jeremy’s breakfast and lunch for his flight to the East Coast. But the skies were clear and dark, and the stars were so sparkly and beautiful. I managed a 2-hour nap and then wandered around the house at 1 am with the red lantern of my headlamp illuminating where my socks were, where my hat was, grabbing the tripod and camera and remote cord to set up on the deck. I checked weather radar and muttered a few choice words under my breath at the neighbor who had left their flood light on.

I tiptoed back inside to grab a sleeping bag and my pillow. I don’t know what it is about the dark that makes me feel like I have to sneak around quietly in my own empty house. Once I settled onto the deck, I listened to my shutter release tick off every 30 seconds. In between actuations, I heard a critter down on the ground, chewing on something. Then I noticed that my neighbor had finally shut their light off. Thank you. It was windless, dark, and silent (except for that animal having a midnight snack). Click-click. I saw a meteor streak across the sky like a dancer. Then a smaller one in my peripheral vision. Was that out of my camera’s field of view? Click-click. In all, I witnessed about 30 shooting stars before the clouds materialized from the east. I could feel the air turn damp against my cheeks as the moisture stretched across more and more of the sky. Pulling my hat down around my head, I looked at the time. 3:34 am.


a fireball on the horizon



Night photography in Nederland isn’t so great because Boulder creates a lot of light pollution to the east, and downtown Ned (if you can call it downtown) has a lot of annoying lights too. But I just love that I can step out onto my deck and lie down, looking up at the sky. That’s so much easier than when we lived in Southern California and had to drive 4 hours to the nearest proper dark skies location in the Mojave Desert. If it’s really really cold, I can duck back into the house for a cup of hot cider or a down jacket. Meteor showers make me feel like a kid – and every kid should experience at least one, if not many, meteor showers. I used to leave my curtains open at night when I was in elementary school, so I could watch the moon cross the sky. My dad would always come into the room before he went to bed to close the curtains. Sometimes I would wait til he left and open them back up. Sometimes I would pipe up and say, “Leave the curtains open, Daddy!” First he would scold me for not being asleep (I had trouble sleeping, I really liked being awake in general), then he would say, “If you keep staring at the moon, you will turn into a lunartic.” Sharing geek jokes with my dad late at night is a treasured childhood memory.

clouds reflecting light from town, orion in the upper left, the pleiades in upper center



My parents are back in Boulder tonight (Wednesday). They landed in Denver on the late side, so I prepared dinner for them and left it in their refrigerator earlier in the day. I made kale salad, tomato soup, and braised chicken with forty cloves of garlic. The chicken was cooked in my new Dutch oven. I’ve always been an All-Clad stainless steel girl, but this Le Creuset round wide (6.75 quarts) pan was calling my name. I can’t believe I resisted getting one for this long and now… I can’t believe I resisted getting one for this long!

they even had my favorite color

braises so beautifully



I’ve never made chicken with forty cloves of garlic before, although I had heard about it for years and always figured I’d make it in a slow cooker. It’s probably awesome in a slow cooker, but I am really loving the braises right now. Rather than dealing with a whole bird, I went for whole legs because we’re 100% fans of dark meat in this house.

olive oil, sauvignon blanc, pepper, chicken broth, parsley, thyme, rosemary, lemon, chicken, garlic, paprika, salt

to peel or not to peel?



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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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